What exactly is Purusha as per samkhya philosophy? Since samkhya doesn't speak of God or a supreme creator being, then could this purusha be our soul, aka the self, aka jeeva-atma which is full of consciousness?

... If Purusha is actually the soul within us, then how exactly this Purusha (trillions and trillions of jeeva atmas) create the physical universe (galaxies, planets etc.) simply by uniting with MulaPrakriti?

... How can us jeeva atmas be responsible for the materialization or manifestation of the cosmos?

  • Related: Is there a possibility of GRADUAL conversion of “Purusha” to “Jeeva-s” and similar gradual return?. You can find out part of your answer here: How many souls are there in our universe?. IMO, it's safe to assume "Purusha = Jeeva".
    – iammilind
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 8:37
  • Most of your post (the one that you reffered to) speaks of Brahman, and it whether jeevas came out of Brahman or not. That is not the topic of Samkhya but of vedanta. But in the beginning of that very post, you have mentioned that according to samkhya , Brahman = Purusha + Prakruti ... Jeeva = Purusha(part) + Prakruti(part) ... May i know in which scripture of samkhya philosophy do they speak of Brahman. As far as i know samkhya only speaks of prakriti and purush aka jeevas , not Brahman. Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 12:58
  • As noted in that post, it's Saguna Brahman, which is the whole universe (i.e. BrahmAnda). You may refer the linked wiki article on SAmkhya saying: "Sāmkhya philosophy regards the universe as consisting of two realities, puruṣa (consciousness) and prakṛti (matter). Jiva (a living being) is that state in which puruṣa is bonded to prakṛti in some form." Like how Universe contains everything and nothing is outside it, similarly philosophically [Saguna] Brahman is everything and nothing is outside of it. People may have different interpretations.
    – iammilind
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


There is no such thing called JivAtma in the SAmkhya doctrine. At least it is not there in SAmkhya KArika.

There is only Purusha and Prakriti in SAmkhya. However, there are infinite number of Purushas.

As shown in this answer, the infinitude of Purushas is established in KArika 18 of the text and which is as follows:

JanmamaranakaranAnAm pratiniyamAdyugapat pravitteshcha |
Purushavahutam siddham traigunyaviparjayAcchaiva ||

Due to the difference of rules (Pratiniyama) regarding life, death and the Indriyas (Karana), due to the fact that none of these occur simultaneously [for anyone] and due to the fact that differences among the three states (Traigunya viparjaya) are everywhere to be seen, the multitude of the Purushas is thus been established (Purusha vahutam siddham).

SAmkhya KArikA verse 18.

Now, due the fact that Purushas are infinite in number (just like the JivAtmas are in other doctrines), if you want the answer providers to draw an analogy between the "Purushas of SAmkhya" and "JivAtmas of other doctrines", then that will be nothing more than just speculations as no such thing has been explicitly indicated in the SAmkhya KArika.

So, IMHO, the question as it stands now, is not possible to be answered from SAmkhya's doctrine alone without adding our personal opinions.


The Purusha is the soul, and is the original creator of everything, but we think we are not responsible because we, of fragmented consciousness, perceive total separation from Prakriti and other Jivas.

Kapila Muni himself asserts the cause of bondage in his text "Samkhya Sutra":

Aph. 56.* Bondage arises from the error [of not discriminating between Nature and soul].

Purport: The true cause of bondage, in other words, non-discrimination.

Aph. 50.* [We cannot admit that the soul is other than all-pervading; because] by its being limited, since it would come under the same conditions as jars, &c., there would be a contradiction to our tenet [of its imperishableness].

Purport: Were the soul limited, it might be perishable.

Aph. 51.* The text regarding the motion [of the soul], moreover, is [applicable, only] because of the junction of an attendant; as in the case of the Ether [or Space, which moves not, though we talk of the space enclosed in a jar, as moving with the jar].

Purport: Soul moves not, any more than Space.

Aph. 52.* Nor, moreover, [does the bondage of the soul result from the merit or demerit arising] from works; because these belong not thereto.

Purport: The bondage of the soul is no result of any merit or demerit.

Aph. 53.* If the case were otherwise [than as I say], then it [the bondage of the soul might extend unduly, even to the emancipated].

Purport: Else, bondage might cling even to the emancipated.

Here Kapila is asserting that mere emancipation is not a switch which gets rid of any sort of bondage which prevents us from identifying the Purusha as the Jiva.

Aph. 54.* And this [opinion, that the bondage of the soul arises from any of causes alleged by the heretics,] is contrary to such texts as the one that declares it [the soul] to be without qualities: and so much for that point.

Purport: A single text of Scripture upsets, equally, all the heretical notions of the soul's relation to bondage.

But then, in that case, [some one may say], this conjunction of Nature and of the soul, whether it be essential, or adventitiously caused by Time or something else, must occasion the bondage even of the emancipated. Having pondered this doubt, he disposes of it as follows:

Aph. 55.* Moreover, the conjunction thereof does not, through non-discrimination, take place [in the case of the emancipated]; nor is there a parity, [in this respect, between the emancipated and the non-emancipated].

Purport: How the true cause of bondage affects not the emancipated.

This leads to Aphorism 56, which I've mentioned at the beginning.

Aph. 58.* It is merely verbal, and not a reality [this so-called bondage of the soul]; since it [the bondage] resides in the mind, [and not in the soul].

Purport: The bondage of the soul is merely verbal, not real.

The existence of a bondage factor in these philosophies indicate that it is bondage indeed which prevents the Supersoul (Purusha) from identifying itself in a limiting condition (Jiva). However I have stated Kapila's exact verdict on how to remove this so-called unreal bondage.

Now lets skip over to Aphorism 71 and continue along to answer your second question.

Aph. 71.* The first product [of the Primal Agent, Nature], which is called 'the Great one,' is Mind.

By 'the Great one' is meant Mind.

Aph. 72.* 'Self-consciousness' is that which is subsequent [to Mind].

Purport: The relation of Self-consciousness to Mind.

Aph. 73.* To the others it belongs to be products thereof, [i.e., of Self-consciousness].

Purport: All products, save Mind, result from Self-consciousness.

Aph. 74.* Moreover, immediately, through that [i.e., the 'Great one' (Aph 71)] the first [cause, viz., Nature,] is the cause [of all products]; as is the case with the Atoms, [the causes, though not the immediate causes, of jars, &c.].

Purport: Nature, immediately the cause of Mind, is, immediately, the cause of all other products.

Aph. 75.* While both [Soul and Nature] are antecedent [to all products], since the one [viz., Soul,] is devoid [of this character of being a cause], it is applicable [only] to the other of the two, [viz., Nature].

Purport: Why Nature is the sole cause.

Aph. 76.* What is limited cannot be the substance of all [things].

Purport: Why the theory of a plastic Nature is preferable to that of Atoms.

Aph. 77.* And [the proposition that Nature is the cause of all is proved] from the text of Scripture, that the origin [of the world] is therefrom, [i.e., from Nature].

Purport: Scripture declares in favour of the theory.

So basically its Prakriti (nature), according to Samkhya, which is the sole cause of creation. Purusha is immovable without Prakriti.

Jivatmas are ultimately responsible for this manifestation, there's no why? for it. Its simply that the Jivatmas are themselves Purusha which had undergone the various procedures of Prakriti and have acquired this body-form. In reality the body is perishable, and without the limiting constraints of the body, all that remains is Purusha (ultimately).

However, if you want to know the "mechanism" of creation, its not covered in Samkhya Sutra.

  • 1
    Shankhya Karika is not attributed to Kapila Muni, it's attributed to Ishvara Krishna. Shankya Sutras are attributed to sage Kapila.
    – Pandya
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 8:52
  • Okay I will edit that. Although I took the sutras from Samkhya Sutras.
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 8:54
  • @ Pandya, The sankhya of Kapila / the aetheistic sankhya, that we are discussing here, did it originate before the Mahabharata war. Im asking coz Krishna too spoke of sankhya in his Gita verses. Does this mean Krishna was mentioning the atheistic sankhya in his Gita? Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 13:13
  • hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/15363/… - is a question asked by Pandya too. This question might be helpful.
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 13:24
  • @ Arkaprabha, Thanks for the post man. To be honest i had a bit of trouble understanding the scriptural quotes, but the purports somewhat helped. It's sad, that the scriptures didn't mention how us jeeva atmas, created the entire cosmos. I guess we will never know the answer to that question. Do you have any idea, what happens to us souls after destruction (during non-manifestation) ... I mean where do we go after annihilation? Thnx. Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 13:26

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