As has already been observed, the Sankhya system has Tamas for its Guna, Ether for its element, and Magnetic energy for its creative power and as Ether has a twofold character, Purushic and Prakrtic, and a magnet its north and south poles, one of which may be regarded as Purushic and the other Prakrtic, this system conceives of the union of Purusha and Prakrti as the basis of the origin of life, even as the Yoga does. But whereas in the Yoga system the two are co-eternal, and Purusha, like the higher potential of electricity, is regarded as greater than Prakrti, in the Sankhya system Purusha is conceived as having been created out of Prakrti herself; or, if he is co-eternal with her, he is either but an equal of Prakrti, like the two magnetic poles of Ether, or else a mere spectator and onlooker of her work. Accordingly, Prakrti is the real creator of life in this system and inasmuch as Tamas Guna is associated with this scheme of thought, Tamas is identified with Prakrti herself.
Real Meaning of Tamas: The real meaning of Tamas is often misunderstood. It is generally conceived as Darkness, Ignorance, Delusion, and regarded as possessed of all the ugly attributes ascribed to it in the Bhagavad Gita. But the original idea of Tamas is very different. We are told in the Mahabharata that:
"The Sruti declares, Day was not. Night was not. Aught was not. Naught was not. In the beginning there was only Tamas".
It (Tamas) was the form of the universe; and it is the night of Narayana of universal form. This is the meaning of the word Tamas. Thus we see that Tamas is conceived as Prakrti or the night of Narayana (day being regarded as Purusha, out of which, according to the Sankhya system, the whole universe is brought into being.
Sankhya System and Ether or Magnetic Energy: It has been said that the Sankhya system is based on Ether or Tamas Guna; and as Ether is characterised by electro-magnetic energy, this, according to it, is the creative energy of life. In the realm of the Unmanifest, the Ether of the Sankhya is "Ether of the Heart", while in the realm of the Manifest it is the element of that name. The energy of the former is super-electro-magnetic, while the latter is characterised by electromagnetic energy.
Form of Magnetic Energy: The form of this magnetic energy has already been explained. It will be noticed that, according to this conception, either there is no Supreme Purusha at all, or he is but a mere spectator and onlooker of Prakrti, who alone creates.
Defect in the Sankhya System: It is obvious that the idea of the electro-magnetic energy of the universe, upon which the Sankhya system is based, is incomplete and defective; for the electro-magnetic energy postulates the pre-existence of the electric energy, which this theory ignores. In the Yoga system we have to consider the electric, and in the Vedanta the super-electric energy of life; and both these systems have, accordingly, a deeper foundation of truth.
Two Aspects of Sankhya System: It has already been pointed out that every system of thought may be examined from three points of view one unmanifest and the remaining two manifest. Thus the Sankhya has a twofold aspect in the realm of the manifest, the one related to Purushic and the other to Prakrtic Ether. According to the one the Supreme Purusha is given a nominal place as a spectator and onlooker, while according to the second his very existence is denied.
But, whatever the scientific and philosophical value of Agnosticism, it is easy enough to show that it is difficult if not impossible to deny altogether the existence of the Supreme Purusha; and so the Sankhya system, as taught by Kapila, is careful not to deny his existence; it only holds that by accepting it no purpose can be served. It may be of interest to note that Buddhism too which follows the line of thought of Kalipa in this respect, accepts the same position, and it is Jainism alone that definitely denies the existence of the Supreme Purusha.
The other aspect of the Sankhya system, according to which the Supreme Purusha has a place as a spectator or onlooker, cannot be lightly dismissed and even the individual soul is regarded in the same light in this system of thought.
Sankhya and Vedanta: It will be noticed that the Sankhya and Vedanta systems are fundamentally opposed to each other. According to the one the Supreme Purusha either does not exist, or, if he does, has a nominal place as a mere spectator of life; whereas according to Vedanta, the Supreme Purusha is the sole creator, and Prakrti herself is created out of him. The two systems correspond to two cases of Parthenogenesis, as has already been explained.
But, as has already been pointed out, the three systems of Hindu philosophy are not exclusive of one another; and both the Sankhya and Vedanta meet in the region of the Mind, the unmanifest energy of the one, and the lower manifest energy of the other.
Sankhya and Yoga: The connection between the Sankhya and Yoga systems is a yet closer one. It has already been pointed out that two aspects of the one are common to two of the other; accordingly the two systems are often identified. They meet in the regions of Mind and Purushic Ether; hence, where the Sankhya system is founded on Prakrtic Ether and denies the very existence of the Supreme Purusha, it has nothing in common with the Yoga system; but where it is based on Purushic Ether or Mind, and assigns a place, however nominal, to him, it is connected with the Yoga system of thought.
Vedanta, Yoga, and Sankhya: War of the Mahabharata: Thus we see that there is a fundamental connection between the three systems of thought yet, in many ways, they are as definitely opposed. It may be of interest to mention, in this connection, that the "story" of the Mahabharata is not a history or a tale of romance, but a pictorial representation of the three great systems of Hindu philosophy, their agreement and difference, connection and conflict. The "story" will be examined in detail in due course; and it is enough to mention here that the final "battle" of Kurukshetra is but a contest between the system of Vedanta on the one hand, and the systems of Yoga and Sankhya on the other.
Significance on the Number Eighteen: In this connection it might be mentioned that the relation of the three systems, in their manifest form, is expressed by the number Eighteen; for Vedanta has Buddhi for its first manifest energy, Yoga has Mind, and Sankhya Purushic Ether; and Buddhi consists of seven energies, itself. Mind and the five elements; Mind of six; and Purushic Ether of five; making a total of eighteen. This is the explanation of the eighteen days of "battle" between the contending forces; eighteen Aksouhinis or, divisions of armies they brought into the field; eighteen Parvas or sections of the Mahabharata; eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita; and this also the significance of the eighteen Puranas of the Hindus. All of them refer to the three energies of life, Buddhi, Mind, and Ether, or Heat, Electricity, and Magnetism; the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas; the three systems of philosophy, Vedanta, Yoga, and Sankhya; and the three religions, of Vishnu, Mahadeva and Brahma, all of which are connected with one another.
The contest between Vedanta on the one hand and the two remaining systems of thought on the other, is further indicated in the Mahabharata by assigning to the Pandavas seven Aksouhinis or divisions, and to the Kauravas eleven; and the number seven stands for Buddhi, while eleven is made up of six and five, representing the union of Mind and Ether, or the corresponding systems of philosophy and religion.
Energies of Life according to Sankhya: We may now enumerate the energies of life according to the Sankhya system. They are (1)Prakrti of Pradhana; (2) Buddhi or Mahat; (3) Ahankara or Abhimana (or Egoism); (4) Mind; (5-9) five Subtle Elements (10-14) five Gross Elements; (15-19) five Senses of Knowledge; (20-24) five Senses of Action.
It will be noticed that there is no place for the Supreme Purusha in this list; and if one is given to him as an onlooker or spectator only, the number of energies, as in the Yoga system, will increase to twenty five. Further, we see that there is a new energy. Ahankara or Egoism, conceived as a modification of Buddhi. This Ahankara must be distinguished from Consciousness or I-ness, characteristic of the individual as well as the Supreme Purusha. As this system affirms the existence of the individual soul, and could not conceive of it in the same manner as either the Vedanta or Yoga, an inferior type of soul was conceived in association with Egoism or Ahankara created out of Buddhi. In both the Vedanta and Yoga systems, on the other hand, the individual soul always ranks higher than Buddhi and corresponds in character to the Supreme Soul. It may be of interest to note that in the Yoga sutras or aphorisms of Patanjali, the word for Egoism is Asmita (I-ness), obviously to distinguish it from Ahankara of the Sankhya system, and prevent confusion of thought.
Prakrti and Individual Soul in Sankhya: The relation of the individual soul to Prakrti in this system has already been examined. The Sankhya affirms the existence of the individual soul, and conceives of a multitude of souls, each distinct from the other. He is a witness and a bystander, a passive spectator of the work of Prakrti and it is only by reason of union with her, that he appears to be an agent, whereas it is the Gunas that act. The union of the individual soul with Prakrti exists for his contemplation of her, and the manifestation of Prakrti, from Buddhi to the five elements is meant for the deliverance of each soul. It is the duty of Prakrti to liberate the soul from her bonds and, as a dancer, having exhibited herself to the spectators, desists from the dance even so does Prakrti desist, having manifested herself to the soul. Having once been seen, Prakrti does not again expose herself to the gaze of the soul. He desists because he has seen her; she does so because she has been seen; and in their union there is no further motive for creation and so is the individual soul made free.
Summary of Conclusions: Thus we have traced the origin of all life to the idea of the Cell, generalized into Brahmanda; and seen how the universe is conceived as made manifest in different ways, out of Purusha alone, or Prakrti alone, or the union together of both. The ideas of Science have been woven into different schemes of Philosophy and Religion, but with one single system of thought at the foundation of them all. We have understood the character of Purusha, Prakrti, Soul, Buddhi, Mind, and the five elements; and have seen how the three different ways of manifestation of life have developed into three systems of Hindu philosophy Vedanta, Yoga, and Sankhya and three systems of Hindu religion, of Vishnu or Krshna, of Mahadeva, and of Brahma, associated in after years with the name of Buddha. These again have been connected with the three Gunas Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, and the three great energies of life made manifest below, Heat, Electricity, and Magnetism. This is the substance of the great systems of Hindu thought.