Definition - What does Samkhya mean?

Samkhya is a Sanskrit word meaning “number," “empirical" or “enumeration" that is used to describe one of the classic schools of Indian philosophy. This is a dualist philosophy that perceives the world as being made out of two elements: matter (prakriti) and consciousness, or the eternal spirit (purusha). This means that when a person’s body dies, their consciousness can move on to a new body.

This concept is also native to yogic philosophies. Yoga practice can help expand one's consciousness so that it moves on in a wiser, more enlightened form.

Yogapedia explains Samkhya

The philosophy of samkhya also refers to gunas (innate qualities or tendencies) that we all have, which cover the likes of good, chaotic and destructive behavior. It is how these gunas interact in each person that defines their character.

In terms of yoga practice, this is an important term to bear in mind while meditating. Knowledge of the duality of samkhya can allow the practitioner to understand the world around them and how they form part of it. In a way, it also shows how different parts of a human work and the functions they carry out.

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