The Science of Non-Dual Yoga

What Is Samkhya?

[Mt. Kailash]
Figure 1: Mt. Kailash

Samkhya and Philosophy

Samkhya is one of six orthodox philosophies (astika darshanas) of Hinduism. [1]  The other five are Nyaya, Purva Mimamsa, Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta), Vaisheshika, and Yoga.  Being the oldest of the six, Samkhya influenced the others. [2]  It was originally expounded by the Sage Kapila, sometimes considered the father of Indian philosophy. 

Samkhya and Science

In ancient times, there was no division between philosophy and science.  The sages (rishis) simply described reality as they saw it.  They didn’t use microscopes or telescopes as we do today, though.  Instead, they relied on their five senses and intuition.  Moreover, they adhered to a scientific method of experiment, deduction, and corroboration (pratyaksha, anumana, and shabda). [3]  Thus, Kapila discovered a set of twenty-five principles (tattvas) that describe the fundamental properties of the universe.

Samkhya and Yoga

Yoga subsequently adopted these principles.  Consequently, Samkhya is the theoretical basis of Yoga. [4]  And conversely, Yoga is the practical application of Samkhya.  So, they’re really two sides of the same coin.

Samkhya and Advaita

Many people associate non-duality (advaita) strictly with Advaita Vedanta.  However, any philosophy can be non-dual, provided that it posits only one absolute reality (paramarthika satya).  As the theoretical basis of Yoga, Samkhya determines whether Yoga is non-dual.  Historically, Samkhya was dualistic (dvaita) because it posited two absolute realities.  But it was recently recompiled into a non-dual version, which has some exciting connections with modern string theory.  To understand it though, we must first review its predecessor.

Dual Samkhya

[Spirit and Nature]
Figure 2: Spirit and Nature

[Twenty-Three Evolutes]
Figure 3: Twenty-Three Evolutes

Samkhya Karika

Samkhya was originally recorded in the Science of Sixty Topics (Shashtitantra), which is no longer extant. [5]  Thankfully, it’s survived by the Samkhya Karika [6] of Ishvarakrishna.  It contains seventy-two verses (karikas).  It’s considered an atheistic work because it doesn’t include God (ishvara) [4].  It herein defines “Dual Samkhya” (Dvaita Samkhya).

Spirit and Nature

Dvaita Samkhya presents a dualistic view wherein spirit and nature (purusha and prakriti) are two ultimate yet separate realities. [7]  They don’t share a common origin (mula), nor do they ever resolve into each other.  Spirit is the conscious (chetana) witness.  Nature is the subconscious (jada) actor.  It merely reflects the consciousness of spirit.

One Primary Evolvent

In this context, “evolution” refers to the manifestation of a complex existence from a simpler, unmanifest existence.  An evolvent is a cause of evolution; an evolute is an effect of evolution.  In Dvaita Samkhya, spirit isn’t an evolvent.  Instead, all evolution occurs through the three qualities (triguna) [7] of nature.  They are purity, passion, and darkness (sattva, rajas, and tamas).  They’re the basic building blocks of all manifestation.  Though, nature is counted as one.

Twenty-Three Evolutes

The union (samyoga) of spirit and nature produces the creation (sarga) [8].  Consequently, twenty-three principles (tattvas) evolve from nature. [9]  Some of which are subsequent evolvents.  First, comes intellect (buddhi).  From it, comes ego (ahamkara).  And from it, come the group of sixteen (shodashaka), which includes mind (manas), the ten senses (indriyas), and the five subtle elements (tanmatras).  And from the latter, come the five gross elements (mahabhutas).  Like nature itself, these twenty-three evolutes are insentient.

Non-Dual Samkhya

[Spirit, Nature, and the Oversoul]
Figure 4: Spirit, Nature, and the Oversoul

[Seven Evolutes]
Figure 5: Seven Evolutes (Pillar Configuration)

Advaita Samkhya Sutras

Like the Samkhya Karika [6], the Advaita Samkhya Sutras of Sam K. Vyas [10] contain seventy-two aphorisms (sutras).  They herein define “Non-Dual Samkhya” (Advaita Samkhya).  Advaita Samkhya inherits and builds upon the tradition of Kapila using compatible insights from modern science and other ancient philosophies.  It doesn’t blindly assert non-duality, though.  Instead, it shows how all the pieces fit together into one whole.  Like the Yoga philosophy, it includes God (ishvara), which is translated as the “oversoul.”

The Unqualified Source

Advaita Samkhya states that the unqualified source (nirguna brahman) is the absolute reality (paramarthika satya). [11]  It has no qualities (gunas) yet it’s the origin (mula) of all qualities.  Therefore, it’s beyond description.  The universe (jagat) is merely the vibration (eva the spanda) of the unqualified source. [12]

Three Primary Evolvents

In addition to “quality,” the term “guna” also means “string.”  Hence, the qualities can be considered vibrating strings.  Three strings (triguna) [13] preexist inside the origin.  They are spirit, nature, and the oversoul (purusha, prakriti, and ishvara).  The oversoul is the union (samyoga) of spirit and nature. [14]  Spirit and nature are like the positive and negative poles of a magnet.  Consequently, all three together are evolvents.

Seven Recursive Evolutes

From these three evolve existence, bliss, consciousness, the soul, mind, emotion, and physics (sat, ananda, chit, jiva, sattva, rajas, and tamas). [15]  Moreover, these seven strings (saptaguna) are also evolvents.  Each of them containing a recurring tenfold principle (dashatattva). [16]  They include the classical intellect (buddhi or vijnana) [17], ego (ahamkara) [17], mind (manas) [18], senses (indriyas) [19], subtle elements (tanmatras) [20], and gross elements (mahabhutas) [21].


  1. Flood, G. D., 1996. An Introduction to Hinduism. p. 231. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Flood, G. D., 1996. An Introduction to Hinduism. p. 232. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Ishvarakrishna. Samkhya Karika 4.
  4. Flood, G. D., 1996. An Introduction to Hinduism. p. 235. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  5. Bawra, B. V. et al., 2012. Samkhya Karika With Gaudapadacarya Bhasya. p. 97. USA: Brahmrishi Yoga Publications.
  6. Ishvarakrishna. Samkhya Karika.
  7. Flood, G. D., 1996. An Introduction to Hinduism. p. 234. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  8. Ishvarakrishna. Samkhya Karika 21.
  9. Ishvarakrishna. Samkhya Karika 22.
  10. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras.
  11. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 4.19.
  12. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 7.1.
  13. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 4.10.
  14. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 4.7.
  15. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 4.13.
  16. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 5.1.
  17. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 5.7.
  18. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 5.8.
  19. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 5.12.
  20. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 5.13.
  21. Vyas, S. K. Advaita Samkhya Sutras 5.14.