On the S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial
Tradition: the Suvar>asaptati,S@:khyavPtti, and
Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
*Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Five of the extant commentaries on the S@:khyak@rik@bear strong
resemblances to each other. These are the Suvar>asaptati, S@:khyavPtti,
Gaunap@dabh@Xya, S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti. Therefore, they
are generally considered to share a common origin. These commentaries on
the S@:khyak@rik@, however, also signiﬁcantly diverge from each other. This
article explores the peculiar connections among the Suvar>asaptati,
S@:khyavPtti, and Gaunap@dabh@Xya. By focusing on passages that feature
metaphors, this article discusses how and why the authors of the
Suvar>asaptati, S@:khyavPtti, and Gaunap@dabh@Xya may have appropriated
portions of their texts or to the contrary dissociated from each other.
S@:khya metaphysical and soteriological ideas can be traced to early layers of
Sanskrit literature. Their diffusion prior to its classical formulation in the
S@:khyak@rik@and its commentaries is well-known among Indologists and it has
generated a number of discussions.
The S@:khya ideas are also extensively
referred to, or appropriated by, several Indic traditions, such as S
and Ved@nta. In this context, Raffaele Torella observed that ‘[...] no other dars
has ever exported its doctrines so far and to spheres of Indian civilization so
varied, and for so long’ (Torella 1999, p.553). In the seventh century CE, Kuiji
(632–682 CE), the disciple of Xuanzang (602–664 CE), reports the existence of
eighteen sub-groups of the S@:khya school (Larson and Bhattacharya 1987,
p.133; Torella 2011, p.78), while the Yuktidapik@(ca. 7–8th c. CE)
number of different philosophical positions of early S@:khya teachers, such as
Vindhyav@sin, V@rXaga>ya, Pan
˜jali (the S@:khya teacher), Paurika,
˜c@dhikara>a. This textual evidence not only points to the signiﬁcance of
S@:khya as a philosophical school until the seventh or eighth century CE, but also
to the existence of diverse views within the school itself.
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Nevertheless, there remains a lack of knowledge about its history, thinkers, and
texts. Erich Frauwallner, noticing this gap, wrote in 1958:
The S@:khya system is recognised as one of the most signiﬁcant phenomena of
ancient Indian philosophy. As the oldest system, it arose in pre-Christian times.
[...] And its impact extended widely. Epics and Pur@>a-s, as well as VaiX>ava
´aiva systems, testify to its inﬂuence and have preserved features im-
pressed on them by S@:khya. Nevertheless, the system of classical time is
poorly known to us. Essentially, only one work from this period has survived,
the S@:khyak@rik@by `s
´varakPX>a. [...] What led to the development of par-
ticular doctrines, the lines of thought, which underlie them, and the ﬁgures,
who thought them, remain in the dark. We can only speculate about the rich
philosophical work that have found its last expression in the k@rik@. But the
important works of the classical S@:khya system and its leading thinkers,
except for a few names and scanty fragments, remain unknown.
The S@:khyak@rik@, attributed to `s
´varakPX>a, consists of verses, i.e., k@rik@-s, which
synthesise ancient ideas in a new formulation. The compilation date of this text
has been variously hypothesised as follows: around the second half of the fourth
century CE by Chakravarti (1951, pp.153, 158), before the ﬁfth century CE by
Frauwallner (1973, pp.225–6), between 350 and 450 CE by Larson and
Bhattacharya (1987, pp.11–5, 149), or around 550 CE by Edeltraud Harzer (2006,
pp.107–9). The terminus ante quem of the S@:khyak@rik@is known to us thanks to
Param@rtha (499–569 CE), an Indian commentator who travelled to China and
translated, among other texts, the S@:khyak@rik@and one of its commentaries
from Sanskrit into Chinese. Param@rtha reached China in 546 CE. Thus, it is pos-
sible to assume that the original Sanskrit text predates this year (Funayama 2010,
p.144) and that Param@rtha subsequently translated the S@:khya work, commonly
known as the Suvar>asaptati.
The composition dates of the Suvar>asaptati (mid-6th
c. CE), Yuktidapik@(ca. 7–8th c. CE),
M@bharavPtti (after the 8th c. CE),
´ra’s Tattvakaumuda(mid-10th c. CE)
can be established with some
conﬁdence. The date of the Jayaman
qgal@’s composition is uncertain, but it is gen-
erally placed between the Yuktidapik@and the Tattvakaumuda.
As for the S@:khyavPtti,
tion of dating is far from solved. The S@:khyavPtti is extant in a single, incomplete,
and impaired manuscript and there exists no critical edition of the
Gaunap@dabh@Xya. In addition, information regarding their authors is lacking.
Quotations from other dated authors or texts and direct arguments in reaction
to contemporaneous thinkers or theories are also largely missing from these texts,
which complicates the task of dating these commentaries. Another difﬁculty lies in
the numerous characteristics they share at some instances, while substantially
diverging from each other in other cases. They indeed present peculiar
connections that lead to the question of how exactly they relate to each other.
´mie Verdon 293
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Notable commonalities among the Suvar>asaptati,S@:khyavPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya,
S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti are, for instance, their descriptive explan-
ations of metaphors and analogies, which are often elliptically mentioned in the
The present article ﬁrst outlines the major philological studies that address the
connections between the above-mentioned commentaries on the S@:khyak@rik@.
The article then offers an analytical comparison of passages of the Suvar>asaptati,
S@:khyavPtti, and Gaunap@dabh@Xya with a focus on the way in which they explain
certain metaphors in the root text.
These three commentaries have been selected
for three key reasons: (i) they are chronologically close to the compilation of the
S@:khyak@rik@, (ii) they contain puzzling similarities and discrepancies, and (iii)
they have been the subject of several scholarly debates, including speculation on
the Sanskrit source of the Suvar>asaptati.
This essay supports the current understanding that the Suvar>asaptati,
S@:khyavPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti form a group
of ﬁve commentaries, due to their similarity in style and content, and that, among
those, two pairs of commentaries emerge, i.e., Suvar>asaptati–S@:khyavPtti and
S@:khyasaptativPtti–M@bharavPtti. This survey, however, reﬁnes the current state
of scholarly knowledge by providing evidence that furthers our understanding
of their connections. The article also addresses the question of Param@rtha’s add-
itions to the original Sanskrit texts.
The main hypothesis of this exploratory
research is to consider the existence of several S@:khya commentaries that the
author of the S@:khyavPtti and Gaunap@da would have drawn on to compose their
works. This explanation, which remains tentative, not only has bearing on the
multiplicity of S@:khya sub-schools, but also enables us to elucidate the intricate
relations among these S@:khya commentaries.
Scholarly Debate on S@:khya Commentaries
Junjiro Takakusu, who translated the Suvar>asaptati into French in 1904
(Suvar>asaptati [Takakusu 1904a]), also undertook a philological study on the com-
mentaries of the S@:khyak@rik@in order to determine the exact nature of their
connections (1904 b). Takakusu compared the three following texts: the Chinese
Suvar>asaptati,Gaunap@dabh@Xya—the only Sanskrit commentary on the
S@:khyak@rik@available to him—and the Arabic translation by al-Bar+naof a
S@:khya text known as the Kit@bS@nk (ca. 1017–1030 CE).
Takakusu, the works of Param@rtha and al-Bar+naare not based on the
Gaunap@dabh@Xya, but the Suvar>asaptati,Gaunap@dabh@Xya, and Kit@bS@nk may
draw on the same source (1904 b, pp.2–4, 25, 35).
In 1917, Shripad Krishna Belvalkar published an article on a manuscript con-
taining a new S@:khya text, the M@bharavPtti, which he considered to be the source
of the Suvar>asaptati (1917, p. 174). A. Berriedale Keith, however, argued that nei-
ther the Gaunap@dabh@Xya nor M@bharavPtti was the source of the Suvar>asaptati,on
294 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
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the ground that the existence of a common source for the three texts was equally
possible. Keith explained the differences between these commentaries by suggest-
ing that they did not accurately transmit the content of their common source
(1918, pp.69–70; 1924, pp.551–3).
N. Aiyaswami Sastri (1944, pp.x–xxxiii), who reconstructed a Sanskrit commen-
tary from the Chinese text, rejected the identiﬁcation of the M@bharavPtti with the
source of the Suvar>asaptati.
As a foreword to his Sanskrit version of the
Suvar>asaptati, Sastri provided extensive notes comparing explanatory and illus-
trative examples of the Suvar>asaptati and M@bharavPtti, which showed important
discrepancies between the two works. He, however, also remarked that ‘[t]he
afﬁnities [i.e., between these two commentaries] are of such a nature that they
cannot be considered as accidental’ and that ‘[i]t will not be unreasonable, there-
fore, to suppose that one commentary borrowed such matter [i.e., explanatory and
illustrative examples] from the other’ (Sastri 1944, p.xxx).
Esther A. Solomon (1973a, 1973b) edited the manuscripts of the
anonymous S@:khyavPtti and S@:khyasaptativPtti. In 1974, she published a study
comparing the S@:khyavPtti and S@:khyasaptativPtti with the Suvar>asaptati,
Gaunap@dabh@Xya, and M@bharavPtti, alongside references to the Kit@bS@nk,
qgal@, and V@caspatimis
´ra’s Tattvakaumuda. For Solomon, the
S@:khyavPtti, or a similar text, is the source used by both Param@rtha in the
mid-sixth century CE and al-Bar+nain the beginning of the eleventh century CE,
and the earliest extant Sanskrit commentary on the S@:khyak@rik@(1973a, pp.6–7;
1974, pp.100, 106, 130–53). Wilhelm Halbfass, in the reviews of her comparative
study published in 1974, however, casts doubt on her identiﬁcation of the
S@:khyavPtti with the oldest available commentary, because her ‘chronological
construction appears often rather hypothetical’ and that ‘alternatives and possible
counter-arguments are two easily dispensed with’ (Halbfass 1977, pp.372).
Nevertheless, Solomon’s editions of the S@:khyavPtti and S@:khyasaptativPtti
offer valuable material for the study of the history of S@:khya. It clearly emerges
from her study that the Yuktidapik@,Jayaman
qgal@, and Tattvakaumudastand apart
from the Suvar>asaptati,Gaunap@dabh@Xya,S@:khyavPtti,S@:khyasaptativPtti,
M@bharavPtti, and Kit@bS@nk (1974, p.1). She also noticed afﬁnities between the
M@bharavPtti and S@:khyasaptativPtti, on the one hand, and between the
S@:khyavPtti and Suvar>asaptati, on the other. In addition, Solomon’s meticulous
comparative study, published in 1974, highlights the intricate connections
among the Suvar>asaptati,Gaunap@dabh@Xya,S@:khyavPtti,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and
Gerald James Larson and Ram Shankar Bhattacharya summarised the debate in
the volume of the Encyclopaedia of Indian Philosophies on S@:khya (1987, p.167).
On several occasions, they noted that the Suvar>asaptati,S@:khyavPtti,
S@:khyasaptativPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya, and M@bharavPtti constitute a group of ﬁve
commentaries on the S@:khyak@rik@, and inferred from this observation that this
´mie Verdon 295
group of ﬁve texts should be based on an original missing Ur-commentary (1987,
pp.167, 169, 208, 291).
Lastly, Larson and Bhattacharya concluded that the unknown Sanskrit source
of the Chinese Suvar>asaptati could be considered as the earliest of these
ﬁve commentaries and proposed that the S@:khyavPtti,S@:khyasaptativPtti,
and Gaunap@dabh@Xya were all composed a short period of time after the
Suvar>asaptati, sometime between 500 and 600 CE. The compilation date of the
M@bharavPtti is placed later, i.e., after 800 CE (1987, pp.15–6, 169, 193, 208, 291).
The above account highlights that no satisfying solution has been reached so far
with regard to the relations of the Suvar>asaptati,S@:khyavPtti,S@:khyasaptativPtti,
Gaunap@dabh@Xya, and M@bharavPtti. The Gaunap@dabh@Xya and M@bharavPtti are now
deﬁnitely excluded from being the source of the Suvar>asaptati. Takakusu, Keith,
Larson, and Bhattacharya posited the existence of a lost work on which this group
of ﬁve commentaries on the S@:khyak@rik@was based, while Solomon identiﬁed
the source of the Suvar>asaptati with a single commentary, i.e., the S@:khyavPtti or
a text very much like it. The author of the source of the Suvar>asaptati and those of
the S@:khyavPtti,S@:khyasaptativPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya, and M@bharavPtti were cer-
tainly acquainted with one text whose content resembled this group of ﬁve.
Some of the discrepancies between these commentaries may, however, be ex-
plained by the fact that they used several texts, instead of assuming that each
author borrowed or drawn from one single work. Explaining the peculiar connec-
tions among these ﬁve commentaries by the existence of an Ur-commentary has
not led, in my view, to satisfactory conclusions. The objective of the subsequent
sections is thus to explore the hypothesis that several S@:khya commentaries
were available to the authors of Suvar>asaptati,S@:khyavPtti, and Gaunap@da.
This working hypothesis does not solve the question of the dating of the commen-
taries, problem which would need further investigation, including that of other
S@:khya texts. However, if it is accepted, it is possible to better understand the
relations among some S@:khya commentaries.
Commentaries in comparison
A source common to the S@:khyavPtti and Suvar>asaptati
This section discusses three instances of commonalities between the
Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti that contrast with the content of the
S@:khyasaptativPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya,andM@bharavPtti. The ﬁrst instance is
found in the comments on k@rik@2. Verses 1 and 2 of the S@:khyak@rik@advocate
knowledge as the permanent method of removing suffering (du$kha) inherent to
life, in opposition to other traditional teachings, such as those of the Veda-s and
of ?yurveda, considered as temporary means. This knowledge consists in the
understanding of the true nature of twenty-ﬁve principles (tattva) constituting
296 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
The Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti present a quotation on k@rik@2. The
Suvar>asaptati reads ‘he who knows the twenty-ﬁve (principles), wherever he is,
by whatever way he goes, whether he has braided hair, only a forelock, or shaved
head, he is without doubt liberated’.
The S@:khyavPtti quotes that ‘the knower of
the twenty-ﬁve principles, being attached to any hermitage,
[hair], a shaved head, or a tuft of hair on the top of the head, he is liberated.
There is no doubt about this.’ (pan˜cavi:s
´atitattvajn˜o yatra yatr@s
´ikhav@pi mucyate n@tra sa:s
´aya$kS@:khyavPtti 2 in Solomon [1973a, p.7]).
Both commentaries reiterate the same quotation on k@rik@37.
Gaunap@dabh@Xya,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti also refer to a similar
quote, yet not in the exact same way as the S@:khyavPtti and Suvar>asaptati. The
Gaunap@dabh@Xya cites the verse on k@rik@-s 1 and 23,
the S@:khyasaptativPtti only
and the M@bharavPtti on k@rik@22,
and none of these three com-
mentaries present the citation on k@rik@37.
The authors of the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti conclude their comments on
k@rik@2 with this quotation in order to describe the knowledge leading to per-
manent liberation (kaivalya) from suffering. On k@rik@37, these two works use this
quote to illustrate the connection between knowledge and liberation. Gaunap@da
introduces k@rik@1 with the citation and characterises in this manner the type of
knowledge needed for liberating oneself. On k@rik@23, he makes use of it to intro-
duce an enumeration of the twenty-ﬁve principles (tattva). Gaunap@da also refers
to the citation at the end of his comment on k@rik@2 as follows: ‘and it has been
said “the knower of the twenty-ﬁve principles, etc.”’ (ukta:ca – pan˜ca-
´atitattvajn˜a ity @di;Gaunap@dabh@Xya 2 in Sharma [1933, p.4]). This reference
to the ﬁrst compound of the quotation indicates that Gaunap@da knew a work
resembling the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti, which provided the complete
quotation in the same place of their texts, i.e., as a conclusion to their comments
on k@rik@2. Gaunap@da, however, also dissociates himself from these two commen-
taries by his partial reference to the quote.
The S@:khyasaptativPtti also concludes k@rik@2 with the quotation, but it pro-
poses a verse whose meaning differs from that of the quotes found in the
Suvar>asaptati,S@:khyavPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya, and M@bharavPtti.
the S@:khyasaptativPtti quotes the ﬁrst compound of the verse (ukta:ca – pan˜ca-
´atitattvajn˜o;S@:khyasaptativPtti 37 in Solomon [1973b, p. 53]), in the same way
as Gaunap@da did on k@rik@2, thus indicating acquaintance with a work similar to
the Suvar>asaptati or S@:khyavPtti. The M@bharavPtti makes use of the quote to
conclude its comment on k@rik@22.
It also attributes this quotation to
´ikha, a name associated with the transmission of S@:khya’s teachings.
As a well-known quotation related to S@:khya, it is unsurprising to ﬁnd it in
several commentaries on the S@:khyak@rik@. The commentators, however, used the
quotations differently and rearranged their texts according to their own logic. In
contrast with the other texts considered here, the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti
display a similar structure regarding the use of this quote.
´mie Verdon 297
The subsequent examples pursued in this section focus on metaphors and exam-
ine how the commentaries presented them. Verse 46 of the S@:khyak@rik@de-
scribes emanation originating from intellect (pratyayasarga) as consisting of four
stages, i.e., error or misapprehension (viparyaya), inability (as
(tuXbi), and accomplishment (siddhi). An analogy is given by the commentaries
here in order to illustrate this division. The Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti
depict the story in a more descriptive way than the Gaunap@dabh@Xya,
S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti.
The Suvar>asaptati narrates the analogy as follows:
A brahmin, with his four disciples, was coming back from a large kingdom in
his country. On the way, before sunset, one disciple told the master: ‘Master, I
see an object on the road; I do not know whether it is a pole or a man having
bad intentions.’ This disciple has doubt [viparyaya] about the pole. The master
tells the second disciple: ‘Go and make sure whether it is a pole or a man.’ This
disciple, according to the master’s words, looks from afar, but dares not to
approach, and tells his master: ‘Master, I am unable to approach.’ This second
disciple is unable to approach [as
´akti]. Then (the master) speaks to the third
disciple: ‘Go and see what it is!’ The disciple looks and says: ‘Master, what is
the point to examine it closely now? At sunrise a large caravan will come here
which we can join.’
This third [one], although he is not sure whether it is a
man or a pole, is not worried about it (contentment) [tuXbi]. Then the master
speaks to the fourth disciple: ‘Go and examine closely the object.’ The latter,
who has good eyesight, perceives a creeper wrapped around this object and a
few birds perched on it; he approaches it, touches it with the foot, and coming
back near his master, says to him: ‘Master, this object is a pole.’ This fourth
disciple thus reaches perfection [siddhi].
The S@:khyavPtti reads:
5A teacher set out at dawn for a town with four young religious students4. One
student5said4to [his] teacher: ‘This, [which] is seen on this path, is it a pole or
a thief?’ This student had a doubt about the pole. 5The teacher said to the
second student: ‘Let [me] know what this is.’ He [i.e., the student] observes [the
pole] from afar. Then, he said to the teacher: ‘I am not able to approach [it ?].’
Thus, inability arose to him. The teacher 5said4to the third student: ‘Let [me]
know what this is.’ The third student, having looked at [it], said to the teacher:
‘What is the use of determining it? Let us approach it at sun5rise4, with the
caravan.’ Having [thus] spoken, and having not ascertained [what is], he fell
asleep at dawn. Thus, satisfaction arose to the third student. Again, the teacher
asked the fourth student: ‘Let [me] know what this is.’ This one, having looked
at this pole, sees a plant climbing on the pole, and a bird on top of it.
Thereafter, having gone [there], having touched the pole with his foot, he
298 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
returned back to the teacher and said: ‘This is a pole.’ 5This is accomplish-
´cit kila up@dhy@ya$anudite s+rye caturbhir babubhi$saha nagaram
´cid babu$up@dhy@ya:5bravati4eXo ’tra pathi dPs
sth@>u$sy@t cora$sy@d iti. tasya babo$sth@>au sa:s
babu$ukta$jn˜@yat@:ko ’yam iti, dur@t nirakXate4tata$up@dhy@ya ukta$n@ha:
´akto ‘dhigantum [?] iti. evam asy@s
´aktir utpann@.up@dhy@yena tPtayo babu$5ukta$4
jn˜@yat@m ko ’yam iti. sa tPtayo babu$nirakXya up@dhy@ya:bravati kim
anen@vacchinnena, s+rya5udite4s@rthena saha y@sy@ma$iti. uktv@ajn˜@tveXattamasi
prasupta$. eva:tPtayasya babo$tuXbir utpann@up@dhy@yo bh+yas
bravati jn˜@yat@:ko ’5ya4m iti. sa nirakXya tasmin sth@>au valla:pas
´akuna:[ca]. tato gatv@p@dena sth@>u:spPXbv@
punar @gata up@dhy@ya:bravati sth@>ur ayam iti. 5eX@siddhi$4;S@:khyavPtti 46
in Solomon [1973a, pp.56–7]).
There is a number of features common to the two accounts, notably due to their
explanatory and descriptive narratives, which are absent from the
Gaunap@dabh@Xya,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti.
The Suvar>asaptati and
S@:khyavPtti recount the dialogue at length and designate the characters involved
in it by speciﬁc terms, i.e., a teacher (Fr. maı
ˆtre or brahmane; Skt. up@dhy@ya) and
four students (Fr. disciple; Skt. babu). The other three commentaries brieﬂy refer to
the illustration and do not introduce the dialogue with speciﬁc ﬁgures, but with
Some portions in the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti are strikingly close to
each other in the above illustration. The following table highlights these
These similarities, which can be observed regardless of Solomon’s emendations
and additions, are probably not coincidental and the narrative elements common
Figure 1. Descriptions common to the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti on k@rik@46.
´mie Verdon 299
to both commentaries can be seen in other parts of their texts. For instance, verse
31 describes the activity of some ontological principles (tattva) as being only
motivated by the goal of the self – termed puruXain S@:khya and hereafter
translated as the Subject – which is liberation. In the S@:khyak@rik@tradition,
kara>a(instrument) refers to thirteen of the twenty-ﬁve principles and their ac-
tivity. Three of them, i.e., intellect (buddhi), “I” consciousness (ahan
qk@ra), and mind
(manas), constitute the internal instrument (anta$kara>a), while the other ten
principles, namely the senses of perception and action (buddhandriya and karmen-
driya), consist of the external instrument.
When commenting on k@rik@31, the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti set forth an
analogy in order to illustrate the function of each principles contained in the
instrument, which is metaphorically described as a religious student (brahmac@ra).
Subsequent to it, the two commentaries provide a second analogy comparing the
intellect to a leader of a thieves’ or bandits’ group, while the other principles are
likened to the members of the group. The Gaunap@dabh@Xya omits both illustra-
tions. The S@:khyasaptativPtti and M@bharavPtti only provide the second metaphor,
i.e., that of the thieves.
The Suvar>asaptati spells out details of the metaphor in
the following way:
A brahmin engaged in brahmacarya [i.e., study of the Veda-s], learns that, in a
certain place, there is a master of the Veda-s ready to teach and surrounded by
disciples who study under him, according to their desire; he decides that he will
study under him. This determining knowledge is the function of mahat [i.e.,
intellect]. The sense of “I” [i.e., ahan
qk@ra], grasping the intention of mahat,
thinks, ‘I will bring all school supplies which a brahmin student must possess,
so that my soul may not be distracted.’ The manas [i.e., mind] accepts the desire
of the sense of “I”, and thus ponders: ‘Which Veda will I study ﬁrst? Will I study
S@maveda,Yajurveda,orOgveda?’ The external [sense] organs, grasping the de-
termination of manas, perform their respective functions, that is to say, the eye
sees the path, the ear hears the others speaking, the hand holds the water pot,
and the feet walk.
The S@:khyavPtti presents a similar analogy:
A young religious student hears an invitation in another village. His intellect does
the determination: ‘I will go there.’ [...] Having known the intention of the
intellect, the “I” consciousness undertakes self-consideration: ‘I shall bring
sweets and boiled rice with curd’ Having known the intention of the “I” con-
sciousness, the mind begins the decision: ‘Would it be boiled rice with sugar or
boiled rice with curd?’ Thus, having known the intention of [these] three, the
external instruments also perform their own function. The eye sees the places.
The ear hears the answer. The hands proceed for giving the water pot, the two
feet for moving (kas
´cit kila brahmac@rababu$gr@m@ntare @mantra>a:s
300 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
buddhir adhyavas@ya:karoti tatra y@sy@mi iti.[...]ahan
qk@ro buddher @k+ta:
jn˜@tv@bhim@na:prapadyate. modak@n@nayiXy@mati. dadhyodana:ceti.
qk@rasy@k+ta:jn˜ @tv@mana$sa:kalpa:pratipadyate gunaudana:ca sy@d
dadhyodana:firstname.lastname@example.org:trayasa [@k+]ta:jn˜@tv@b@hy@ny api kara>@ni sv@:
sv@:vPtti:pratipadyante. cakXu$sth@n@ni pas
hasta$ku>nik@d@ne pratipadyate. p@dau vihara>e;S@:khyavPtti 31 in Solomon
The Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti are the only two commentaries to give the
illustration of the brahmac@ra. They also substantially differ from each other regard-
ing the details of the analogy and the context in which the episode occurs. Their
message, however, is similar as are the functions of each principle: the determin-
ation (adhyavas@ya) to go is attributed to the intellect (buddhi); self-consideration
(abhim@na) to the “I” consciousness (ahan
qk@ra), which decides to bring items; and
decision (sa:kalpa) to the mind (manas), which considers several options.
Thus, the excerpts presented above indicate that at times the Suvar>asaptati and
the S@:khyavPtti concur in their structure and in content, in contrast with the
other three commentaries belonging to the group of ﬁve that are the
Gaunap@dabh@Xya,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti. These commonalities are,
in my view, no accident, as Solomon noticed. However, as their texts also substan-
tially diverge in several places, rather than identifying the S@:khyavPtti with the
Sanskrit source of the Suvar>asaptati, it is more likely that these two commentaries
draw from a common source, while also using each a distinct text. The subsequent
section explores this hypothesis.
An inspiration for the Suvar>asaptati distinct from the S@:khyavPtti
The passage examined above highlights correspondences between the Suvar>asaptati
and S@:khyavPtti, and at the same time shows that they also differ from each other
within these shared commonalities. The two commentaries recount the illustration
in two contexts, i.e., one is related to the study of the Veda-s and the other to a
gathering in a village where food is brought. Despite her conclusions, Solomon,
noticing these differences and similarities between the two commentaries on
k@rik@31, writes that in the S@:khyavPtti ‘the boy [i.e., the brahmac@ra]goesto
attend a feast, while according to [Param@rtha] he goes for study’ and ponders
whether Param@rtha was ‘apt to reﬁne illustrations’ or whether his source was
‘quite a different commentary’ from the S@:khyavPtti (1974, p.61). Based on this
sole example and without access to the original Chinese version of Param@rtha, it
is difﬁcult to answer the question.
However, some observations on his work can complement this discussion. Toru
Funayama, who identiﬁed some of Param@rtha’s translational methods, observed
that in his commentaries and translations, Param@rtha changed Indian names,
such as Devadatta and Yajn
˜adatta, found in illustrative examples, into Chinese
names, as for instance Zhang and Wang. Funayama also discussed techniques
´mie Verdon 301
that appear to have been employed by Param@rtha in his interpretations. One such
method consists in adding cultural elements in order to explicate some parts of the
original text. In some instances, Param@rtha deﬁned Sanskrit terms with a gloss
that included two Chinese characters providing different deﬁnitions of these char-
acters, a procedure that is relevant only to a Chinese readership. In addition,
Param@rtha complemented his translations by proposing explanatory notes on
Indian names and on traditions, unnecessary to an Indian audience, but beneﬁcial
to his Chinese readers, who lacked such cultural background (Funayama 2010,
pp.161–2, 170–5, 177–8).
Further, in contrast with most of Param@rtha’s commentaries and translations,
the Suvar>asaptati is not a Buddhist text. The main reason behind the translation of
aS@:khya text was most probably so that it could be refuted,
which does not
entirely lack pedagogical value since the process of refutation also helps to clarify
and distinguish one’s own position. Keeping these preliminary remarks in mind, a
few passages in which the Suvar>asaptati stands apart from the S@:khyavPtti,
S@:khyasaptativPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya, and M@bharavPtti, are presented below and,
to the extent possible, reasons for these discrepancies are discussed.
According to verse 22 of the S@:khyak@rik@, the twenty-ﬁve ontological prin-
ciples are connected to each other by a cause–effect relationship as follows: the
primordial evolutionary cause (m+laprakPti,prakPti,orpradh@na) is the unmanifest
source of the world. It, ﬁrst, produces intellect (buddhi or mahat), which in turn,
generates “I” consciousness (ahan
qk@ra). “I” consciousness evolves in a twofold
emanation: one side, designated as related to sattva (s@ttvika), includes the
eleven sense organs, i.e., mind (manas), ﬁve senses of perception (buddhandriya),
and ﬁve senses of action (karmendriya); and the other side, pertaining to tamas
(t@masa), is constituted by the ﬁve subtle elements (tanm@tra), which themselves
bring forth ﬁve gross elements (mah@bh+ta). The twenty-ﬁfth principle is the
Subject (puruXa), which does not produce any S@:khya principles and thus
stands outside of this developmental process and only observes it. Passages ex-
tending from verses 22 to 38 describe the characteristics of the S@:khya onto-
This evolution, which represents the classical form of S@:khya
ontology and metaphysics, is termed sarga, or emanation.
In several passages, the Suvar>asaptati proposes an arrangement in the evolution
scheme of twenty-four principles, which differs from the above presentation
(Sastri 1944, p.6, footnote 2; Solomon 1973a, p.72; 1974, p.10). At least in one
instance, this idiosyncratic presentation is likely to be due to Param@rtha’s inter-
pretation. On k@rik@8, which discusses the existence of the unmanifest, the
Suvar>asaptati explains the following: ‘What are its [i.e., of the cause] effects?
Nature [i.e., cause] produces mahat,mahat produces the sense of “I” [i.e., ahan
the sense of “I” produces the ﬁve subtle elements, the ﬁve subtle elements pro-
duce the remaining sixteen, that are eleven organs of senses and actions, and the
ﬁve gross elements.’
Both Takakusu’s translation and Sastri’s Sanskrit recon-
struction of the text indicate the same arrangement.
The last part of
302 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
Takakusu’s rendering, that is the naming of the sixteen principles produced by the
subtle elements, appears to be Takakusu’s addition, as it does not occur in Sastri’s
version of the text. The idiosyncratic presentation of the S@:khya principles,
however, most probably existed in the Chinese composition of Param@rtha.
In a similar way, the S@:khyavPtti and Gaunap@dabh@Xya offer a list of twenty-
four principles when commenting on k@rik@8. The S@:khyavPtti enumerates: ‘in-
tellect, “I” consciousness, ﬁve subtle elements, eleven sense capacities, ﬁve gross
elements, this is the effect’ (buddhir ahan
pan˜camah@bh+t@ni ity etat k@ryam;S@:khyavPtti 8 in Solomon [1973a, p.13]). The
Gaunap@dabh@Xya reads: ‘intellect, “I” consciousness, ﬁve subtle elements,
eleven sense capacities, ﬁve gross elements; this is the effect’ (buddhir
´endriy@>i pan˜ca mah@bh+t@ny eva tat k@ryam;
Gaunap@dabh@Xya 8 in Sharma [1933, p.9]). The two Sanskrit commentaries here
only name the ontological principles one after the other, and do not specify any
causal links between them, nor hint at the twofold emanation arising from ‘I’
The peculiar interpretation found in the Suvar>asaptati on k@rik@8 shows that
Param@rtha followed a commentary, such as the S@:khyavPtti, which did not con-
tain any information here on the exact causal link of the principles. Thus, he may
have presumed a sequence from a mere list found in his Sanskrit source.
There are, however, passages of the Suvar>asaptati that suggest that divergences
between this commentary and the S@:khyavPtti were not due to Param@rtha, but to
him having used a different text. From verses 17 to 19, the S@:khyak@rik@defends
the existence of the Subject and deﬁnes some of its characteristics. The Subject
(puruXa) is contrasted with the other twenty-four principles: it is conceived as
plural, witnessing the emanation, not having any active role in it, and being
isolated from it. Emanation occurs because the Subject and the cause, along
with its products (prakPti), are erroneously identiﬁed with each other. Liberation
occurs when this belief is dispelled by the knowledge of the true nature of the
On k@rik@17, the Suvar>asaptati supports the existence of the Subject as follows:
If there was only our body, we would not need ﬁnal liberation taught by the
sages. In ancient times, a PXi[i.e., seer] approached brahmins and spoke in this
way: ‘All of you are rich in Veda; all of you drink soma; all of you see the face of a
child; may you later become bhikXu-s [i.e., religious mendicant]!’ What is the
point in such idea, if we would only have the body? We know then that besides
the body, there should naturally exist a soul. If there were no separate soul
besides the body, religious practices such as cremation or abandonment of the
remains of parents or dead masters in water would have no merit, but could
attract demerit. For this reason, we know that the soul exists. Here are some
other words (in verse) from sages: ‘The nerves and bones are the cords and
pillars, the blood and ﬂesh are the earth and plaster; (the body is a house of)
´mie Verdon 303
impurity, impermanence, and suffering. We must get rid of this aggregate.
Reject what is fair and unfair; reject what is real and unreal; and the very
idea of rejecting, reject it! What is pure alone will remain. If the soul did not
exist, nothing would remain (after such an elimination). By the words of sages,
we know for sure that the soul exists’.
This passage presents a unique explanation staging a confrontation between Vedic
brahmins and ancient sages, who advocated for the existence of a self that is
separate from the body.
There is another instance in which the Suvar>asaptati
echoes the tensions between traditional Vedic teachings and S@:khya’s doctrines,
in contrast with the S@:khyavPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and
M@bharavPtti. On k@rik@68, the Suvar>asaptati provides a supplementary explanation
on the nature of liberation. It states the following: ‘because of the true knowledge,
we reject the non-ﬁnal remedies and opinions of the different schools. “Final
isolation” means: for it, we abandon the sequence of causes and effects taught
in the four Veda-s, as well as the fruits promised due to the absence of passion, the
fruits not caused by true knowledge.’
While Param@rtha might have creatively developed these narratives, there are
reasons to believe that these descriptions – at least partly – existed in his source.
As mentioned above, Param@rtha’s main intention when supplementing his
sources was to facilitate the understanding of his Chinese Buddhist readership
and, in the case of the S@:khya text, probably to refute the doctrines detailed
in it. These additions, however, recall disagreements that S@:khya thinkers had
with the teaching of the Veda-s, an issue beyond the purview of such motives. It is
not clear why Param@rtha would have intentionally emphasised commonalities
between Buddhism and S@:khya; namely, their shared opposition to traditional
Brahmanical teachings. The recurrent references to the Veda-s in the
Suvar>asaptati may reveal that the author of Param@rtha’s source felt the need
to defend S@:khya theories against Vedic traditions.
However, passages that are only found in the Suvar>asaptati do not always make
references to the Veda-s’ teachings. For instance, verses 36 and 37 describe the
intellect (buddhi) as that which receives the objects of sense from twelve onto-
logical principles; i.e., ‘I’ consciousness (ahan
qk@ra), mind (manas), ﬁve senses of
perception (buddhandriya), and ﬁve senses of action (karmendriya). On this account,
the intellect (buddhi) presents the world experience to the Subject (puruXa), while
discerning between it and the cause (prakPti). The Suvar>asaptati, when comment-
ing on k@rik@36, presents the following metaphor:
The twelve organs illuminate the objects of the three worlds [i.e., divine,
human, and animal], which are all different, and transmit them to the intellect.
Just as the ministers and people of the kingdom pass on wealth to the king, so
the twelve organs bring all objects to the intellect, and the intellect makes them
see the soul [i.e., Subject].
304 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
This metaphor is not found in the S@:khyavPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya,
S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti.
Further, on k@rik@65, which summarises
the process of separation between the cause and the Subject, the Suvar>asaptati
offers an illustration that is absent from the four above Sanskrit commentaries. It
By virtue of this true knowledge, nature [i.e., the cause] no longer produces
intellect, sense of ‘I’, ﬁve subtle elements, etc. It is said in a stanza: ‘Just as
husked rice no longer grows in water or in soil, so nature ceases to be proliﬁc,
when it is tamed by knowledge’.
The Suvar>asaptati thus compares the cessation of production from the cause to a
rice grain whose husk has been removed and therefore no longer sprouts; know-
ledge being the reason for this cessation. Whereas this metaphor is absent from
the S@:khyavPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti, a similar
illustration is found in the bh@Xya-part of the P@tan˜jalayogas
´@stra (2.13), which runs
As long as afﬂictions exist, the accumulation of karma keeps ripening. This
is not the case if its root, i.e., the afﬂictions, is cut off. Rice grains that
are covered by their husk and whose seeds are not parched can sprout;
not, however, if their husk is removed or if their seeds are parched. In the
same way, the accumulation of karma if covered by afﬂictions keeps
ripening; not, however, if afﬂictions have been removed, or if the seeds, i.e.,
afﬂictions, have been burned by contemplation
´ayo vip@kaprarohabhavati n@panatakles
´o na pra-
´@stra 2.13 in ?g@s
There are ﬁve mental afﬂictions: ignorance (avidy@), egoism (asmit@), passion
(r@ga), aversion (dveXa), and clinging to life (abhinives
´a). Whereas both the
Suvar>asaptati and P@tan˜jalayogas
´@stra refer to the same analogy, they use it differ-
ently. First, the Suvar>asaptati presents the illustration in a quoted verse in con-
trast to the P@tan˜jalayogas
´@stra, which narrates it in the ﬂow of its text. Secondly,
the S@:khya text compares the primordial cause and its emanation to a rice grain
and its sprouting; knowledge is what removes the ability of the cause to emanate.
´@stra likens afﬂictions to the rice husk and karma to the sprout-
ing of the grain; the removal of afﬂictions prevents the ripening of karma in the
same way as the removal of a rice grain husk prevents its sprouting. Despite these
differences, the two texts recount the metaphor in connection to their soteriology.
A further example points to another context in which the Suvar>asaptati differs
from the other commentaries. It also strongly suggests that Param@rtha consulted
´mie Verdon 305
a text different from the S@:khyavPtti. The S@:khyak@rik@’s commentaries appear
to disagree about what constitutes the subtle body (s+kXmas
Verse 40 of the
S@:khyak@rik@deﬁnes the subtle body with the compound ‘starting with mahat up
to the subtle’ (mahad@di s+kXmaparyantam). This leaves room for several possible
On this verse, the Suvar>asaptati comments:
‘Composed of mahat, the sense of “I”, the ﬁve subtle elements.’ Of how many
substances the subtly body is composed? ‘Of the seven subtle substances.’ But as
for the sixteen gross substances, what functions does the subtle body exert on
them? ‘It transmigrates ...’. The subtle body, associated with the eleven organs
transmigrates across the three regions, assuming one of the four births (of each
The Suvar>asaptati thus holds that the subtle body contains seven ontological
principles; namely, intellect, “I” consciousness, and ﬁve subtle elements. The
Gaunap@dabh@Xya asserts that the subtle body is constituted by eight principles,
i.e., intellect, “I” consciousness, mind, and ﬁve subtle elements. It offers the fol-
It is ‘starting with mahat and ending with the subtle’: that which has mahat in
the beginning, that is ‘starting with mahat’, that is intellect, “I” consciousness,
and mind. There are the ﬁve subtle elements. ‘Up to the subtle’ [in the verse]
means ‘up to the subtle elements.’ It transmigrates across the three worlds, just
as a red ant on S
´iva (tac ca mahad@dis+kXmaparyantam. mah@n@dau yasya tan
mahad@di, buddhir ahan
qk@ro mana iti. pan˜ca tanm@tr@>is+kXmaparyanta:
´+lagrahapipalik@vat tran api lok@n;Gaunap@dabh@Xya
40 in Sharma [1933, p.38]).
In contrast to both the Suvar>asaptati and Gaunap@dabh@Xya, the S@:khyavPtti ap-
pears to include the ten sense organs (buddhandriya-s, karmendriya-s) in its deﬁn-
ition of the subtle body, and to exclude the subtle elements (tanm@tra-s) from it. It
It is ‘starting with mahat’–mahat is said to be the intellect – ‘starting with
mahat’ [means] whose beginning is mahat. ‘Intellect, “I” consciousness, ﬁve
senses of perception, ﬁve senses of action, and mind’ these [principles] are
‘starting with mahat’; This, whose beginning is that of the subtle body, is
‘starting with mahat’. It is combined with the thirteenfold instrument (tan˜ca
email@example.com@n ity ucyate buddhi$. mah@n yasy@dau tad ida:mahad@di. buddhir
qk@ra$pan˜ca buddhandriy@>i pan˜ca karmendriy@>i manas
´ca. et@ni mahad@dani
´ararasya tad bhavati mahad@di,trayodas
sa:yuktam ity artha$;S@:khyavPtti 40 in Solomon [1973a, p.54]).
306 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
According to the S@:khyavPtti, the subtle body contains thirteen of the twenty-ﬁve
principles and corresponds to the instrument (kara>a). The Suvar>asaptati and
Gaunap@dabh@Xya did not, however, equate the subtle body with the instrument.
Two main observations emerge from the above. First, these passages indicate a
confusion on the deﬁnition of the subtle body among the commentators of the
S@:khyak@rik@. This lack of consensus is also reﬂected in the Yuktidapik@.
commentary details the diverging positions of Pan
S@:khya teacher), and V@rXaga>ya on the nature and existence of the subtle
body (Yuktidapik@, pp.229–30). The plurality of views concerning the subtle body
suggests that its conceptualisation had been highly debated by different teachers
afﬁliated to the S@:khya system and that S@:khya philosophers struggled to
elaborate this concept in precise and consistent terms.
Secondly, and more relevant to the present article, the author of the
Suvar>asaptati appears to have understood the term paryanta (i.e., ‘up to’ or
‘ending with’) as applied to one part of the twofold evolution emanating from
“I” consciousness which is related to tamas, excluding however from it the gross
elements (mah@bh+ta). Gaunap@da added the mind (manas) to this deﬁnition.
contrast, the author of the S@:khyavPtti interpreted the term paryanta as applied to
the other part of the emanation from ahan
qk@ra that is related to sattva, and thus
included the eleven sense organs (manas,buddhandriya, and karmendriya) in its
deﬁnition of the subtle body.
Solomon (1974, p. 68) noticed these discrepancies but did not deem them im-
portant enough to rule out her hypothesis that the S@:khyavPtti is the source of
the Suvar>asaptati. However, these two commentaries are too doctrinally divergent
in this passage to identify the S@:khyavPtti as the sole Sanskrit source of
Param@rtha’s Suvar>asaptati. Further, since there is at least one Sanskrit commen-
tary, the Gaunap@dabh@Xya, which interpreted the subtle body in a rather similar
way as the Suvar>asaptati, this difference, in my view, is not due to Param@rtha’s
interpretations of the text.
To summarise, the two above sections highlighted the way in which the
Suvar>asaptati relates to other S@:khya commentaries, especially to the
S@:khyavPtti. While in some passages, the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti resemble
each other in content and style in comparison to the S@:khyasaptativPtti,
Gaunap@dabh@Xya, and M@bharavPtti, there are also a sufﬁcient number of diver-
gences. Whereas some differences between the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti
are due to Param@rtha’s choices of interpretation, other discrepancies, not easily
explained in this way, emerge from this study, such as special mention of the Veda-
s’ teachings, divergent metaphors, a metaphor associated with the Yoga tradition,
and doctrinal disagreements. This variety suggests that Param@rtha used a source
other than the S@:khyavPtti.
A tentative explanation for the intricate relationship between the Suvar>asaptati
and S@:khyavPtti is that several early S@:khya texts existed and were used by
Param@rtha and the S@:khya commentators, rather than a single Ur-commentary,
´mie Verdon 307
as is usually assumed. It is not surprising that Indian thinkers and philosophers
would use several texts when preparing their commentaries and translations. The
possibility of an oral commentary can also be taken into account; such commen-
taries, whether written or oral, survive only in the form of traces in the extant
S@:khya commentaries. With this hypothesis in mind, the connections between
the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti become less puzzling, as do those among the
group of ﬁve commentaries. Thus, Param@rtha may have accessed (at least) two
distinct S@:khya commentaries, which resemble each other: one of them was his
main source (S1), while the second (S2) only partly inﬂuenced his work. In add-
ition, the Suvar>asaptati is related to the S@:khyavPtti by a common source (S1),
which was unknown to Gaunap@da, the author of the S@:khyasaptativPtti and
M@bhara. The second source (S2) used by Param@rtha was unknown to, or
unused by, the author of the S@:khyavPtti, which explains the divergences between
these two commentaries.
Multiple sources for the extant S@:khyak@rik@commentaries
The relation between the Gaunap@dabh@Xya and Suvar>asaptati is equally intriguing.
The Gaunap@dabh@Xyagenerally stands apart from the Suvar>asaptati,S@:khyavPtti,
S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti, due to its particularly synthetic style.
deeper analysis, however, shows its afﬁnities with the Suvar>asaptati as against
the other three commentaries. For instance, as seen above, on k@rik@40 the
Suvar>asaptati and Gaunap@dabh@Xya interpret the subtle body in a similar way;
that is, by excluding from it the ﬁve senses of perception and ﬁve senses of
action, in contrast to the S@:khyavPtti,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti,
which include them in their deﬁnition of the subtle body.
There is at least
another instance hinting at a common source shared by the Suvar>asaptati and
Verse 61 of the S@:khyak@rik@characterises the cause (prakPti) as very delicate.
Generally, the commentaries understand the extreme delicacy (sukum@ratara)of
the cause as the reason why she does not show herself again to the Subject
after the true nature of the emanation has been realised. On this k@rik@,
the Suvar>asaptati,S@:khyavPtti,Gaunap@dabh@Xya,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and
Figure 2. Two sources for the S@:khyavPtti and Suvar>asaptati.
308 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
M@bharavPtti offer and refute four views on the causes that produce the worlds.
The arrangement in which these views are elaborated in the commentaries, how-
ever, varies, as the subsequent table shows:
The Suvar>asaptati and Gaunap@dabh@Xya are similar in structure on this passage, as
they propose the same sequence: (i) god (as
´vara), (ii) nature, or spontaneity,
(svabh@va), (iii) puruXa, and (iv) time (k@la). The S@:khyasaptativPtti and the
M@bharavPtti propose a sequence in which puruXa(ii) and svabh@va (iii) are inverted.
As for the S@:khyavPtti, there is a lacuna in the ﬁrst part of the commentary and
only its presentation of the last two views is available to us, that of svabh@va and
k@la. It is, however, possible to draw a parallel between its structure with that of
the M@bharavPtti and S@:khyasaptativPtti, which contrasts with the Suvar>asaptati
and Gaunap@dabh@Xya. Thus, despite the general afﬁnities displayed above between
the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti, this example shows that they depended on
two distinct textual transmissions, while Gaunap@da might have used a text that
bore a resemblance to the source of the Suvar>asaptati (S2) that was unknown – or
unused by – the author of the S@:khyavPtti.
In conclusion, this article highlights that the Suvar>asaptati substantially differs
from the S@:khyavPtti and it suggests that the Gaunap@dabh@Xya displays knowledge
Figure 3. Table with refuted views for the cause of the world in the commentaries on
Figure 4. Multiple sources for the commentators on the S@:khyak@rik@.
´mie Verdon 309
of the content of the Suvar>asaptati as against the other commentaries. Unless it is
assumed that several commentaries of the S@:khyak@rik@were used by the authors
of the extant works, these observations are difﬁcult to explain. This essay explores
the possibility of the existence of several branches of transmission of S@:khya
commentaries, which gave birth to the group of ﬁve commentaries. It appears that
at least two branches existed: a ﬁrst on which the Suvar>asaptati and S@:khyavPtti
depended and a second which inﬂuenced the Suvar>asaptati and the
Gaunap@dabh@Xya. These two branches did not, however, differ much from each
other. While the present research is exploratory, these preliminary observations
substantiate our current understanding of the S@:khya school as multiple and
rich and may serve further investigations into the historical development of
The present study also brings to attention several questions that need to be
addressed in the future, such as the contradictions within the S@:khya commen-
tarial tradition with regard to the twofold emanation from ‘I’ consciousness
qk@ra), the instrument (kara>a), and the subtle body (s+kXmas
´arara). This article
also highlights the need to take a fresh look at these commentaries from a philo-
logical perspective by critically editing the Gaunap@dabh@Xya and comparing the
Suvar>asaptati, based on the Chinese text, with the extant Sanskrit commentaries.
I am grateful to James Madaio, Hayato Kondo, and Hyoung Seok Ham, as well as to
the anonymous reviewers for their meticulous reading of this article and for their
stimulating comments. I would also like to warmly thank Andrey Klebanov and
Philipp A. Maas for their suggestions for improvement, especially regarding some
Sanskrit passages. Any errors are my own.
?g@se, K. S
´. (ed). 1904. V@caspatimis
´raviracitatak@sa:valita Vy@sabh@Xyasamet@ni P@tan˜ja+tr@>i, tath@
Bhojadevaviracita R@jam@rta>n@bhidhavPttisamet@ni P@tan˜ja+tra@Pi, ?nand@s
47. PuPyakhyapattana: ?nand@s
Sastri, N. A. 1944. Suvarnasaptati Sastra. S@nkhya K@rik@Saptati of `svara Krs>a with a
Commentary Reconstructed into Sanskrit from the Chinese Translation of Param@rtha and
Edited with English Notes, Introduction and Appendices. Tirupati: Tiru
Sharma, H. D. (ed). 1933. Gaunap@dabh@Xya. The S@m_khy@—K@rik@. Is’vara KPX>a’s Memorable
Verses on Samkhya Philosophy with the Commentary of Gaunap@d@c@rya. s
´varakPX>apra>at@$sagaunap@dabh@Xy@$s@:khyak@rik@$. Critically edited with
`ntroduction, Translation and Notes by H. D. Sharma. Poona: The Oriental Book
Solomon, E. A. (ed). 1973a. S@:khyavPtti (V2). Ahmedabad: Gujarat University.
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312 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
1 The reader may refer to Edgerton (1924), Chakravarti (1951, pp.11–64), Frauwallner
(1973, pp.223–5), Larson (1979, pp.75–134), Larson and Bhattacharya (1987, pp.3–19),
Bakker and Bisschop (1999), Brockington (1999), and Schreiner (1999).
2 See the discussions on the compilation date of the Yuktidapik@in Wezler and Motegi
(1998, pp.xxv–xxviii), Bronkhorst (2003, p.246) and Mejor (2004, pp.404–5, 407).
3 ‘Das S@:khya-System geho
¨rt anerkanntermassen zu den bedeutendsten
Erscheinungen des a
¨lteren indischen Philosophie. Als a
¨ltestes System ist es in vor-
christlicher Zeit entstanden. [...] Und seine Wirkung erstreckte sich weithin. Epos
und Pur@>en, viX>uitische und s
´ivaitische Systeme zeigen seinen Einﬂuss und haben
die vom S@:khya ihnen aufgepra
¨ge dauernd bewahrt. Trotzdem ist uns das
System der klassischen Zeit nur mangelhaft bekannt. Im wesentlichen is nur ein
Werk aus dieser Zeit erhalten geblieben, die S@:khyak@rik@des `s
Was zur Entstehung der einzelnen Lehrsa
¨hrte, die Gedankenga
¨nge, die ihnen
zugrunde liegen, und die Perso
¨nlichkeiten, die sie dachten, bleiben im Dunkeln. Wir
ahnen noch das reiche philosophische Schaffen, das in der K@rik@seinen letzten
Niederschlag gefunden hat. Aber die grossen Werke des klassischen S@:khya-
Systems und seine fu
¨hrenden Denker sind bis auf wenige Namen und du
Fragmente verschollen’ (Frauwallner 1958, p.84).
4 See the French translation of the Suvar>asaptati by Takakusu (Suvar>asaptati
[Takakusu 1904a]), as well as his comparative analysis (1904b). See Sastri (1944)
for a Sanskrit rendering based on the Chinese original. In order to avoid any add-
itional layer of interpretation, I rely on the French translation in this article.
According to Chakravarti (1951, p.159), Param@rtha’s work in China extends from
557 to 569 CE.
5 See endnote 2.
6 It has been observed that the M@bharavPtti quotes from the Hast@malakastotra attrib-
uted to S
qkara (Keith 1924, p.551 and Sastri 1944, pp.xxx–xxxi). Frauwallner (1973,
p.226), however, situates its compilation in the early sixth century CE. See also
Larson and Bhattacharya (1987, p.291) and later discussion in this paper. See
qgaya (1970) for a printed edition of the M@bharavPtti. See Belvalkar (1917,
1924) and Keith (1924) for philological discussions on this commentary.
´ra commented on both the S@:khyak@rik@and P@tan˜jalayogas
the discussion on the dating of this author in Larson and Bhattacharya (1987, p.301).
8 See Chakravarti (1951, pp.155–68) and Frauwallner (1973, pp.225–6) for a general
outline of these commentaries.
9 See the S@:khyavPtti edited by Solomon (1973a).
10 Sharma’s (1933) edition of the Gaunap@dabh@Xya is used in the present article.
Discussion on the possible identiﬁcation of the author of the Gaunap@dabh@Xya
with Gaunap@da the author of the M@>n+kyak@rik@is brieﬂy summarised in
Larson and Bhattacharya (1987, pp.209–10). However, further research has to be
conducted on this question in order to conﬁrm or negate this identiﬁcation.
11 Solomon (1973b) provided the only extant edition of the S@:khyasaptativPtti.
12 Metaphors are particularly important in S@:khya, as discussed by Knut A. Jacobsen
´mie Verdon 313
13 The S@:khyasaptativPtti is not the focus of this article. Due to its high degree of
resemblance to the M@bharavPtti, a comparative analysis between these two com-
mentaries is a desideratum, the results of which shall be contrasted to the present
14 Param@rtha adapted his texts (Funayama 2010, pp.168–70). Discerning Param@rtha’s
interpretations and additions from his literal translations, a challenging task, would
require a thorough examination of his works based on Chinese and Sanskrit
sources. Such extensive work lies beyond the scope of this study.
15 Only excerpts of the Kit@bS@nk are extant in al-Bar+na’s book on India, titled the
Ta$qaqm@li-l-Hind, which was translated into English by Sachau (1910).
16 See also Suryanarayanan (1932, p.iii).
17 See also the review of Solomon’s editions of the S@:khyavPtti and S@:khyasaptativPtti
by Halbfass (1976)
18 I translate all passages drawn from the Suvar>asaptati from Takakusu’s French ver-
sion into English. My English translations aim at preserving Takakusu’s termin-
ology, as well as his additions indicated in parentheses, so as to remain as close
as possible to his interpretation. My additions to Takakusu’s rendering are indicated
in square brackets, and the French text is provided in the endnotes. ‘Celui qui
ˆt les vingt-cinq (principes), ou
`qu’il se trouve, par quelque chemin qu’il
aille, qu’il ait des cheveux tresse
´s, qu’il n’ait qu’un toupet ou qu’il ait la te
`sans aucun doute est de
´’(Suvar>asaptati 2 in Takakusu [1904a,
p.982]; cf. Sastri [1944, p.5]).
19 The Sanskrit @s
´rama could also refer to the four stages of life. On different concep-
tualisations of the @s
´rama-s, see Bronkhorst (1993, p.11–44).
20 Suvar>asaptati 37 in Takakusu [1904a, p.1023]; cf. Sastri [1944, p.44]. The S@:khyavPtti
on k@rik@37 has da>na(carrying a stick) instead of s
´ikha(having a tuft of hair on the
top of the head), and yatra tatr@s
´rame instead of yatra yatr@s
´rame; which does not
however affect the meaning (S@:khyavPtti 37 in Solomon [1973a, p.52].
21 ‘The knower of the twenty-ﬁve principles, may he dwell in any hermitage, having
twisted locks of hair, a shaved head, or a tuft of hair on the top of the head, he is
liberated. There is no doubt about this.’ (pan˜cavi:s
´atitattvajn˜o yatra tatr@s
´rame vaset |
´ikhav@pi mucyate n@tra sa:s
´aya$kGaunap@dabh@Xya 1 in Sharma [1933,
p.2]). The quotation in the introductory comment on k@rik@23 is the same, except
for the reading kutr@s
´rame rata$(being attached to any hermitage) in the place of
´rame vaset (may he dwell at any hermitage) (Gaunap@dabh@Xya 23 in Sharma
[1933, p. 25]). The quotation occurs in a passage which is a transition between
k@rik@-s 22 and 23.
22 ‘The knower of the twenty-ﬁve principles, being attached to any hermitage, the
knower of the cause, the knower of the production [i.e., twenty-three principles
originating from the cause], he is liberated from all suffering’ (pan˜cavi:s
´rame rata$|prakPtijn˜o vik@rajn˜a$sarvai$du$khai$vimucyate k
S@:khyasaptativPtti 2 in Solomon [1973b, p.9]).
23 ‘The knower of the twenty-ﬁve principles, being attached to any hermitage, having
matted [hair], a shaved head, or a tuft of hair on the top of the head, he is liberated.
There is no doubt about this’ (pan˜cavi:s
´atitattvajn˜o yatra tatr@s
´ikhav@’pi mucyate n@tra sa:s
´aya$kM@bharavPtti 22 in Van
qgaya [1970, p.28]).
314 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
24 See above endnote 22.
25 The M@bharavPtti refers to the knowledge of the twenty-ﬁve principles by the com-
´atitattvajn˜@na on k@rik@37 (M@bharavPtti 37 in Van
qgaya [1970, pp.40],
but it does not contain a quotation.
26 See the study on Pan
´ikha’s teachings in the MokXadharma by Shujun Motegi
(1999). Motegi (1999, p.513 and footnote 1) gives a list of works which ascribe the
quotation to this ﬁgure. He, however, doubts this attribution, as this quotation is
not associated with Pan
´ikha in the portions of the Mah@bh@rata pertaining to his
teachings. The question of whether this attribution is authentic or not, however,
lies beyond the scope of this article.
27 Takakusu (1904a, p.1033, footnote 1) explains that the interpretation of the Chinese
term as caravan is tentative. However, in the light of the S@:khyavPtti’s reading, it is
28 ‘Un brahmane, avec ses quatre disciples, revenait d’un grand royaume dans son
pays. En route, avant le lever du soleil, un des disciples dit au maı
ˆtre : «Grand
ˆtre, j’aperc¸ ois sur la route un objet ; je ne sais si c’est un poteau ou un homme
ayant de mauvaises intentions. »Ce disciple a du doute au sujet du poteau. Le maı
dit au second disciple : «Allez vous assurer si c’est un homme ou un poteau. »Ce
disciple, selon les paroles du maı
ˆtre, regarde de loin, mais n’ose pas s’approcher, et
ˆtre : «Grand maı
ˆtre, je suis incapable de m’approcher. »Ce second
disciple est incapable. Puis (le maı
ˆtre) s’adresse au troisie
`me disciple : «Allez voir
avec soin ce que c’est ! »Le disciple regarde et dit : «Grand maı
l’examiner maintenant ? Au lever du soleil passera par ici une grande caravane a
laquelle nous pourrons nous joindre. »Ce troisie
`me, bien qu’il ne soit pas encore su
si c’est un homme ou un poteau, ne s’en soucie pas (contentement). Alors le maı
s’adresse au quatrie
`me disciple : «Allez examiner la chose. »Celui-ci, qui a une
bonne vue, aperc¸oit une liane enlac¸ ant cet objet et quelques oiseaux perche
il l’approche, la touche du pied et revenant vers son maı
ˆtre, lui dit : «Grand maı
cet objet est un poteau. »Ce quatrie
`me disciple a donc atteint la perfection’
(Suvar>asaptati 46, in Takakusu [1904a, p.1033]; cf. Sastri [1944, 46, p.65]).
29 The text is corrupt here.
30 Solomon proposed numerous emendations in her edition of the S@:khyavPtti, which
are generally followed in this article. Cases of divergences are speciﬁed. Solomon’s
additions are inserted between 5... 4in the Sanskrit text, as well as in my
translations. My own additions and omissions are marked between square brackets.
31 Gaunap@dabh@Xya 46 in Sharma [1933, p.43]; S@:khyasaptativPtti 46 in Solomon
[1973b, p.61]; M@bharavPtti 46 in Van
qgaya [1970, pp.46–7].
32 Gaunap@dabh@Xya 31 in Sharma [1933, pp.32–3]; S@:khyasaptativPtti 31 in Solomon
[1973b, pp. 47–8]; M@bharavPtti 31 in Van
qgaya [1970, pp.35–6].
33 ‘Un brahmane engage
´dans le brahmacary@[sic], apprend que dans un certain
endroit il y a un maı
ˆtre des Ve
`enseigner et entoure
´de disciples qui
´tudient sous lui selon leur de
´sir ; il de
´cide qu’il ira e
´tudier sous lui. Cette con-
´terminante est la fonction du Mahat. Le Sentiment du moi, saisissant
l’intention du Mahat, songe ainsi «Je vais me munir de toutes les fournitures
´cole qu’un e
´tudiant brahmane doit posse
´der, pour que mon a
ˆme ne soit pas
distraite. »Le Manas accepte la volonte
´du Sentiment du moi et discute ainsi :
´mie Verdon 315
´tudierai-je d’abord ? E
´tudierai-je le S@maveda ou le Yajurveda ou le
Ogveda ? »Les organes exte
´rieurs, saisissant la de
´termination du Manas, s’acquit-
tent de leurs fonctions respectives, c’est-a
`-dire, l’œil voit le chemin, l’oreille entend
les autres parler, la main tient le pot a
`eau et les pieds marchent’ (Suvar>asaptati 31
in Takakusu [1904a, pp. 1017-8]; cf. Sastri [1944, pp. 47-8]).
34 I am thankful to Prof. Funayama who brought this point to my attention
(Funayama, personal communication).
35 See Larson (1979, pp.255–77) for a translation of the S@:khyak@rik@.
36 The present article does not address the question of the S@:khyak@rik@’s emanation
as being a phenomenon related to cosmology or to individuals. See the discussions
in Franco (1991, p.124) and Bronkhorst (1999).
37 ‘Quels sont ses effets ? La Nature produit le Mahat, le Mahat produit le Sentiment du
moi, le Sentiment du moi produit les cinq e
´ments subtils, les cinq e
produisent les seize restants, c’est-a
`-dire les onze organes des sens et des actions et
les cinq grands e
´ments’ (Suvar>asaptati 8 in Takakusu [1904a, p.989]).
38 Sastri (1944, p.11) reads: ‘mahat [i.e., intellect] is produced from pradh@na [i.e., pri-
mary cause]; “I” consciousness from mahat; the ﬁve subtle elements from “I” con-
sciousness; from the ﬁve subtle elements the sixteen [products] are produced’
(pradh@n@n mah@n utpadyate. mahata ahan
39 ‘S’il n’y avait que notre corps, nous n’aurions pas besoin de la De
´e par les Sages. Dans l’antiquite
´,unPXi alla aupre
`s des brahmanes et parla
ainsi : «Tous, vous e
ˆtes riches en Ve
´da ; tous vous buvez le soma ; tous vous voyez la
face d’un enfant ; puissiez-vous devenir plus tard des bhikXus ! »A quoi bon une
´e, si nous n’avions que le corps ? Nous savons donc qu’a
´du corps il
doit naturellement y avoir une A
ˆme. S’il n’y avait pas une Ame se
corps, des pratiques religieuses comme l’incine
´ration ou l’abandon dans l’eau des
restes de parents ou de maı
ˆtres morts n’auraient aucun me
´rite, mais pourraient
attirer du de
´rite. Pour cette raison nous savons que l’A
ˆme existe. — Voici encore
d’autres paroles (en vers) des Sages : «Les nerfs et les os sont les cordes et les
piliers, le sang et la chair sont la terre et le pla
ˆtre ; (le corps est une maison d’)
´, d’impermanence et de souffrance. Nous devons nous de
´barrasser de cet
´gat. Rejetez ce qui est juste et ce qui est injuste ; rejetez ce qui est re
´el et ce qui
´el ; et l’ide
ˆme de rejeter (2), rejetez-la ! Ce qui est pur seul restera. »Si
ˆme n’existait pas, rien ne resterait (apre
`s une pareille e
´limination). Par les pa-
roles des Sages, nous savons avec certitude que l’A
ˆme existe’ (Suvar>asaptati 17 in
Takakusu [1904a, pp.1002–3]; cf. Sastri [1944, pp.26–7]).
40 Solomon (1974, pp.46–7) noticed that the Suvar>asaptati diverges from the other
commentaries on providing these additional examples, but did not further discuss
`] cause de la vraie connaissance nous rejetons les reme
´ﬁnis et les opin-
ions des diffe
´coles. «Isolement ﬁnal »signiﬁe : pour elle nous abandonnons
ˆnement des causes et des effets enseigne
´dans les quatre Ve
´das, de me
que les fruits promis a
`l’absence de passion, fruits non cause
´s par la vraie con-
naissance’ (Suvar>asaptati 68 in Takakusu [1904a, p.1056]; cf. Sastri [1944, p.96]). See
also Solomon (1974, p.83).
316 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition
42 ‘Les douze organes illuminent les objets des trois mondes, qui sont tous diffe
et les transmettent a
`l’Intellect. Ainsi que les fonctionnaires et le peuple du roy-
aume transmettent les richesses au roi, ainsi les douze organes rame
`nent tous les
`l’Intellect, et l’Intellect les fait voir a
`l’Ame’ (Suvar>asaptati 36 in Takakusu
[1904a, p.1022]. See also the reconstruction in Sastri (1944, p.53): ‘These twelve
sense organs, having illuminated the objects of the worlds, present them all to
the intellect. In this way, all ministers in the kingdom, having collected the coun-
try’s wealth, present [it] to the king. In this manner, the objects are presented to
the intellect by the twelve sense organs. Thereafter, the intellect shows [the sense
organs] to the Subject’ (im@ni dv@das
´endriy@>i lokaviXay@n prak@s
´ya sarv@n buddhau
prayacchanti.yath@r@Xbre sarve ’m@tyajan@des
´adhan@ni sagPhya r@Xbrap@l@ya prayac-
´endriyair buddhau pradayante. ato buddhi$puruXa:[viXay@n]
´ayati). Most texts of the Suvar>asaptati read thirteen sense organs instead of
twelve. Both Takakusu (1904a, p.1022, footnote 1) and Sastri (1944, p.53, footnote 3)
emended here the number of the sense organs. This supplementary passage found
in the Suvar>asaptati is observed by Solomon (1974, pp.64–5).
43 This analogy is known to other S@:khya commentators. Takakusu (1904a, p.1022,
footnote 2) remarked that Vijn
˜@nabhikXu provides a similar example in the
S@:khyapravacanabh@Xya (mid-16th century CE), while Sastri (Sastri 1944, p.53, foot-
note 5) noticed that the Tattvakaumudasets forth a similar metaphor.
44 ‘Par cette vraie connaissance la Nature ne produit plus l’Intellect, le Sentiment du
moi, les cinq e
´ments subtils, etc. Il est dit dans une stance : «Ainsi que le riz
´ne pousse plus ni dans l’eau ni dans la terre, ainsi la Nature cesse d’e
proliﬁque quand elle est dompte
´e par la connaissance »’(Suvar>asaptati 65 in
Takakusu [1904a, p.1054]; cf. Sastri [1944, p.93]). See also Solomon (1974, pp.81–2).
45 This example, which is also found in al-Bar+na’s works, has been analysed in detail
in Maas and Verdon (2018, pp.294–7). See also O’Brien-Kop (2017) on the metaphor
and its soteriological use in both the P@tan˜jalayogas
´@stra and Abhidharmakos
46 See O’Brien-Kop (2017, pp.132–8) for a discussion on prasa:khy@na.
47 The ﬁrst portion of the translation is drawn from Maas and Verdon (2018, p.295).
See also Filliozat (2005, pp.159–61).
48 On the subtle body, see, for instance, Halbfass (2000, pp.151–2).
´du Mahat, du Sentiment du moi et des cinq e
´ments subtils ». De combien de
substances se compose le corps subtil ? Des sept substances subtiles. Mais quant aux
seize substances grossie
`res, quelles fonctions le corps subtil exerce-t-il sur elles ? «Il
transmigre ... ». Le corps subtil associe
´aux onze organes transmigre a
`travers les trois
´gions, assumant une des quatre naissances (de chaque espe
`ce)’ (Suvar>asaptati 40 in
Takakusu [1904a, p.1026]). Sastri’s Sanskrit reconstruction runs as follows: ‘made of
qk@ra, and the ﬁve tanm@tra-s. By how many principles is this [subtle] body
established? By seven subtle principles. What does this [subtle] body do with what
extends as far as the sixteen gross principles? It transmigrates, having an experience
detached from sensual support. This subtle body, connected with the eleven sense
organs, transmigrates at some time or other across the three worlds in the four
qk@rapan˜catanm@trakam iti. etac charara:katibhis tattvai$siddhyati.
´mie Verdon 317
sa:sarati, nirviXayopabhogam. tat s+kXmaXararam ek@das
janmasu trin lok@nsa:sarati;Suvar>asaptati 40 in Sastri [1944, pp.58–9]).
50 There is a lacuna in the S@:khyavPtti’s text on k@rik@-s 38, 39, and 41. However, the
commentary on k@rik@40 is preserved and provides a deﬁnition of the subtle body.
51 A separate and thorough investigation is necessary in order to fully address the
deﬁnitions of the subtle body in the commentaries on the S@:khyak@rik@. Dr Hayato
Kondo pointed out to me that the Yuktidapik@considered the subtle body as differ-
ent from the lin
qga (Kondo, personal communication; Kondo 2015). Larson (1969,
p.242) understands lin
qga as a synonym for kara>a. Commentaries also diverge on the
issue, at least in their comments on k@rik@40. In addition, the Gaunap@dabh@Xya
concludes its comment on k@rik@41 by stating that the lin
qga is the kara>a(lin
´avidha:kara>am ity artha$;Gaunap@dabh@Xya, 41 in Sharma [1933, p.39]), and
thus would contradict its deﬁnition of the subtle body on k@rik@40.
52 On the twofold emanation from ahan
qk@ra, see the discussion above.
53 For instance, on k@rik@1 the Gaunap@dabh@Xya is the only commentary that does not
recount an interaction between the sage Kapila and his future disciple, ?suri. On
k@rik@55, the Gaunap@dabh@Xya remains silent on what is the suffering created by old
age, while the Suvar>asaptati, S@:khyavPtti,S@:khyasaptativPtti, and M@bharavPtti de-
54 See the S@:khyasaptativPtti 40 in Solomon [1973b, p.56) and M@bharavPtti 40 in
qgaya (1970, p.42). See also the discussion above.
55 Suvar>asaptati 61 in Takakusu (1904a, pp.1050–1) and in Sastri (1944, pp. 88–90);
S@:khyavPtti 61 in Solomon [1973a, pp.59–60]; S@:khyasaptativPtti 61 in Solomon
[1973b, pp.72–3]; M@bharavPtti 61 in Van
qgaya [1970 pp. 55–6]. The passages are
rather lengthy and a summary of the sequence in which appear these positions
is sufﬁcient for the present purpose.
318 S@:khyak@rik@and its Commentarial Tradition