Psychology of Consciousness in Sankya Yoga

The Sankya Yoga is one of the oldest and most influential systems of Indian philosophy. It is considered a dualist philosophy that explains the nature of reality and the human experience of consciousness. The Sankya Yoga system explains that consciousness is the fundamental essence of reality and the source of all knowledge and experience. The psychology of consciousness in Sankya Yoga is an integral aspect of its philosophy, which explains the nature and function of the mind and the process of human consciousness. The following text examines the conceptual basis of Sankya Yoga and how it is exercised in practice.

Sāmkhya Darśana: Epistemology

The Sāṅkhya philosophy recognizes three independent sources of valid knowledge (Pramān̩a). These are: perception, inference, and verbal testimony (śabda). According to the Sāṅkhya, the self-possesses knowledge. There should be contact between an object and sense organs to know an object. Again, the connection must be found between the mind and sense organs. Lastly, the mind is related to mahat for cognition.

Thus the mahat becomes transformed into the form of particular objects. Mahat being an unconscious and physical entity, cannot generate knowledge alone. Hence, it requires a conscious and eternal entity like Purus̩ a. The Sāṅkhya Philosophy accepts two sorts of perception, savikalpaka, and nirvikalpaka, as Nyāya advocates. Sāṅkhya holds that vyāpti is found in all sorts of inference. For them, inferences Sāṅkhya-Yoga is of two sorts; i) affirmative and ii) negative.

In the case of the former, inferences are constituted of universal affirmative propositions. However, in the case of the latter, it consists of universal negative propositions. The Sāṅkhya accepts the five-membered syllogism of the Nyāya as the adequate pattern of inference. The Sāṅkhya School adores śabda as an independent source of valid knowledge. Śabda, or verbal testimony, is of two kinds, ‘laukika’ and ‘vaidika.’

Components of Sankya Yoga

According to the Sankya Yoga, the mind comprises three basic components: the intellect, the ego, and the mind-stuff (Chitta). The intellect is responsible for thinking, reasoning, and understanding. The ego is responsible for the sense of self, while the mind-stuff is the repository of all memories and experiences. Together, these three components make up the mind and are responsible for the process of consciousness

Sankya Yoga in Practice

The Sankya Yoga explains that consciousness is a continuous change and evolution process. It is a process that begins with the perception of an object and leads to the understanding and knowledge of that object. The process of consciousness is divided into three stages

  • The perception stage or the one where the mind receives information.

  • The reflection stage or the state of consciousness

  • The understanding stage or the full understanding of the object

All the stages are elaborated on below.

The Perception Stage

The perception stage is the first stage of consciousness. It is the stage in which the mind receives the impressions of an object. The mind is open to receiving the impressions of the objects and experiences of the senses. The perception stage is where the mind still needs to be actively involved in the process of consciousness, and it is simply receiving the impressions and registering them in the mind-stuff. The mind is passive and is not yet actively engaged in the process of consciousness. For example, one walking through a crowd may receive the visual input of people being around yet unaware of any specific information.

The Reflection Stage

The reflection stage is the second stage of consciousness. It is the stage in which the mind reflects on the impressions received in the perception stage and begins to understand the nature of the object. In this stage, the mind is active and engaged in the process of consciousness, and it is beginning to understand the object and form concepts and ideas about it. The reflection stage is where the mind begins to gain knowledge and understanding of the object. For example, while walking through a crowd, one encounters a man who looks strangely similar to an old friend he knew.

The Understanding Stage

The understanding stage is the third and final stage of consciousness. It is the stage in which the mind fully understands the object and knowledge is gained. In this stage, the mind has fully understood the object and has formed a complete and accurate concept of it. The understanding stage is where the mind has reached the highest level of consciousness and gained the fullest understanding and knowledge of the object. An example of this stage of consciousness is rare as most of us rarely employ our mental faculties adequately to reach this stage. However, an example could be two people who have spent a long time together and developed a complete understanding of each other's nature and personality.

Two Types of Influences in Sankya Yoga

The Sankya Yoga also explains that the mind is affected by two types of influences: internal and external. External influences in Sankya Yoga include various cultural, historical, and social factors that have shaped the development of the system over time. For example, the influence of other Indian philosophical systems, such as Vedanta and Buddhism, can be seen in Sankya Yoga's ideas about consciousness and liberation.

Additionally, the influence of various spiritual traditions from other parts of the world, such as Chinese Taoism, may have also shaped Sankya Yoga's understanding of the nature of reality. Internal influences in Sankya Yoga refer to the individual's psychological and emotional factors that shape their understanding and practice of the system. For example, one's personal experiences, beliefs, and values can influence their understanding of the concepts of Purusha and Prakriti. Additionally, one's level of spiritual development can also affect their ability to understand and apply the principles of Sankya Yoga in their own life.

Overall, Sankya Yoga is a complex system that both external and internal influences have shaped over time. Understanding these influences can help practitioners understand the system and how it can be applied to their own lives. However, it is important to note that the ultimate goal of Sankya Yoga is not to become an expert in the system but to use its principles to achieve liberation and inner peace.


Dualistic realism is how Sankya's Philosophy is seen. It is dualistic because it adheres to the idea that Prakti and Purusas are the two supreme realities. It also upholds the presence of matter and the diversity of Purusas (selves). Hence it is pluralistic. They believed that matter and spirit are equally real, making them realistic. According to the Sankya school, the self (Purusa) and the non-self (Prakriti) are fundamentally different from one another, much like subject and object. An object can never be a subject, just as a subject can never be an object. The Sankya responds that all objects, including our mind, body, and sense organs, have Prakriti as their ultimate (initial) cause.

Every effect, it is said, must have a cause. For all types of creation in the cosmos, cause and effect are two interdependent components. All items in the world are consequently linked together in a cause-and-effect chain. This connection Sankya is known as "satkryavda" and is filled with the "theory of causality."

Sānkhya Darśana on Bondage and Liberation

Due to ignorance, the self, who is everlasting, pure awareness, and all-pervasive, identifies with the manas, ahṁkāra, and mahat, which are the byproducts of Prakti. As a result, it goes through agony and suffering in this world. g. Because the cosmos is made up of various items, each of which is imbued with a personality and even connected to other objects, pain is unavoidable. e. This is the case since the Skhya religion holds that there will be suffering whenever there is a gun. Furthermore, they said that gun also governs life in paradise. Since there are hardships and bonds, there are also routes that lead to emancipation, liberty, or salvation.

According to the Skhya narrative, there are two different types of liberation. These are Videh and Jvanmukti. Jivanmukti is when one is liberated from pain and understands what it means to live honestly. For instance, in the case of videhamukti, the self-achieves total emancipation from all forms of pain. This is only accomplished upon death. Videhamukti is hence referred to as Kaivalya. This is seen as being free from the gross body. The phrase "apavarga," "Purusha," or "summum bonum" is used to describe the Sankya philosophy of liberation life.


The psychology of consciousness in Sankya Yoga is an integral aspect of its philosophy. It explains that consciousness is the fundamental essence of reality and the source of all knowledge and experience. The Sankya Yoga also explains that the mind is made up of three basic components and that the process of consciousness is a continuous change and evolution that goes through different stages, affected by internal and external influences. Understanding the psychology of consciousness in Sankya Yoga can provide a deeper understanding of the nature of the mind and the process of human consciousness. It can also help attain knowledge and understanding of the self and the world.

Updated on: 06-Feb-2023


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