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Yoga Practice

The state of Sankhya emancipation is also the same, but more stress is laid there upon knowledge as the means of its attainment. So far as the need of the performance of outward morality is concerned Sankhya and Yoga are one. The stage of liberation is one that transcends the sphere of moral works, and is only for those who have attained perfection in the latter. Yet it is not sufficient for a man to purge his mind of all immoral desires only, but in order to obtain salvation it is necessary that he should by continual thinking come to the thorough conviction that "he is not all that he had been supposing himself to be, nor is the world nor even the mind his in any way, he does not exist at all (nasmi, naham, na me). In Buddhism also we find a similar echo, when we find that their object also consisted in the extinction of the will to be, which is the cause of all suffering; it is the Nirvana, the extinction of what we call self and of all that we attribute to it, that is the summum bonum of the Buddhist. But the distinction remains that the destruction of the ego in Sankhya is only the annihilation of the phenomenal qualities of the self, which caused the notion of ego and its relation to the environing mental states and the world of matter and the consequent restoration of the self to its individuality—the self which, though noumenally always free, had been in the sphere of suffering owing to ignorance or a mere nondistinction of its own nature with that of prakrti. In Buddhism there is no such permanent entity as the self and the Nirvana is an inconceivable existence which though a state of annihilation is regarded in many texts as being a happy one. The Sankhya and Yoga liberation has nothing of happiness in it, it is the restoration of the individual to its own true and pure state.

The reason why Sankhya does not think the Yoga method indispensable, as we can understand from a discourse of Bhishma and Yudhishthira in the Mahabharata is that here self-knowledge is regarded as the culmination of all culture. The Sankhya sage will on the one hand try to attain the highest moral perfection attainable, and on the other proceed on a scientific enquiry through all the departments of human knowledge. He must try to attain the highest and most widespread culture, until he can know the distinction of his self from the buddhi and all the products of the prakrti. The true knowledge of self is thus regarded not as a shrinking away from all science and culture but as their highest culmination.

Yoga however holds that this self-knowledge is attainable by the methodical processes of trance; and fixed faith in the surety of this process as the means of salvation is the most essential desideratum of success. Proceed on the way, the Yoga says, you will have miraculous powers and miraculous experiences, which will convince you of the truth of this method. Yoga salvation is thus attained through the perfected discipline of the will as the Sankhya goal is achieved through knowledge. As to the nature of the last existence in the emancipated states there is a view which is not only advocated by Vijnana Bhikshu but anticipated in the puranas as well, which holds that the emancipated souls return into the self of the Ishvara. It is through the highest moral elevation that this transcendent state comes when the soul attains its freedom, and then lives in eternal peace with itself. The saint is not merged in him in the Vedanta fashion but holds his individuality all the same as a pure intelligence.

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