Samkhya Karika 9, Rules of Cause and Effect for Evolution

Asadakarnaad upaadaana grahnaat  sarva sambhava-abhaavaat |

Shaktasya shakya-karanaat kaaranabhavaachcha sat kaaryam ||


Asad – that which does not exist

Akarnaad – without a cause

Upaadaana – the material cause of all things

Grahnaat – thorugh grasping, collection

Sarva – all

Sambhava – hidden potential, possibility of creating something

Abhaavaat – absence

Shaktasya – of who has the power of capability

Shakya Karanaat – from the manifestation of the effect of the cause

Karanabhavaachcha – effect has the same nature, essence as of cause

Sat Kaaryam – the existence of the effect


Every element in the universe is the effect of certain a cause, no effect can come from something that never existed. The material of which the effect is made up of has to be a part of, or come from its cause. This Samkhya karika 9 clearly outlines the theory that everything we see around us comes from something which is the reason, cause behind its existence. The parents are the cause behind the existence of their effect, their children. 


How Cause and Effect theory explains Evolution


Every entity that makes up the universe exists because of some cause that has given it the existence as its effect. Like a piece of cloth is the effect which is caused by cotton threads which are in turn are caused by the cotton in the cotton tree.  All the effects are present in their causes materially before they are manifested in the universe. The cotton thread – an effect – is materially made up of the same cotton as present in its cause the cotton in the cotton tree. Similarly the cotton in the cloth – an effect – is materially similar to the cotton in cotton threads, which are its cause.


Next, this karika puts forth the fact that all causes cannot be the reason behind all effects, that means that each effect has its own specific cause. An apple tree – as a cause – can only bear apples – as an effect – and not mangoes. Likewise humans can produce only humans and not any other creature. Since the material aspect of the effect needs to be present in its cause we cannot extract oil from sand as oil isn’t present in the sand. Oil can be only extracted from something which has oil present in it like in linseeds.


Because of the same reason we use milk and not water to produce curd.  The next rule of creation as explained by the cause and effect theory of Samkhya philosophy is that the potential – efficiency – of the effect is produced from a cause is similar to the efficiency of the cause itself, or the essence of the cause as well as the effect will remain the same.  The efficiency of the children of humans is same as that of their parents and not as that of some animal. A baby bird can fly because its cause the parent bird has the potential to fly, a human child lacks the ability to fly because his cause, the human parents, lack the same potential.


Cause and Effect theory Use for life in general


The rules as proposed for the theory of Cause and effect in Samkhya can help one easily understand a lot of phenomenon in life which otherwise appear to be very complex. Out of ignorance we keep building unreasonable expectations from every situation and person we encounter and get ourselves hurt when they are not fulfilled. We on our own invite this frustration on us when we expect effects like mangoes from a cause like banana tree. 


The behavior of a person – an effect – is bound to be rude if the cause of that person – parents environment - have had similar behavioral essence. There is no point in feeling bad about it, rather one re-adjust one’s expectations from such a person in case one desires to maintain one’s peace. It would be foolish o expect a crow to sing like a nightingale. Thus expecting others to change is a wrong expectation, this theory advices one to re-plan one’s path around such obstacles, one faces on daily basis, in order to avoid getting affected by the related instances.


Even situations like earthquakes have their own essence of causing destruction and pain, there is no point in blaming anyone or anything for it. Thus, Samkhya philosophy clearly explains the relation between the cause and the effect and how the potential of the effect remains latent within the cause.  This theory is known as the theory of “ Satkaryavada”, the effect ( karya) is present in latent or potential form in the Cause ( sat) prior to its manifestation.


This means that everything – effect - that will happen in the future is lying latent in its cause in the present, and whatever is happening in the present – effect – has its cause in the past. This is how the evolution keeps unfolding continuously with the manifestation of the effects caused by the past events taking place with the interplay of the three gunas. The purpose of Samkhya philosophy is to make one comprehend the presence of immense potential in the present to shape one’s future. One must become, realize the goals of higher spiritual attainments at present in order for it to manifest in the future.


This is how, as per Samkhya, evolution takes place. As per the theory of cause and effect there is definitely a cause behind every effect on experiences. One must strive to understand that cause in order to be able to positively influence the causes which are going to be created in the present so that similar effects can be expected in the future. Mahat – universal intelligence – is an effect the cause of which is inherent within Prakriti from where it takes its existence.


One need to realize the fact that Purusha  - pure consciousness - exists withing all living beings which place an important role as the cause for the evolution to begin.  Pure consciousness is within all but remains clouded by wrong knowledge or avidya. Because of Avidya one remains entangled in the material world and do not make effort to search for the truth. 


The crux of Samkhay karika 9 is that everything and every event in this world has a cause, a principle, a logic which needs to be answered. 






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Contact - Randeep Singh

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