Verse 3: Generative Causality

On this current experiment with the Sāṃkhya Kārikā, I made a choice to approach it as a generative process. Verse 3 is a great place to demonstrate what that means.

I feel that it is important to re-iterate that I am not really reading the text itself. Maybe one day I will acquire sufficient knowledge of Sanskrit to attempt this. But for now, I am reading commentaries. In the commentaries there is a recurring tendency to mention principles that have not yet been laid out.

For example, the commentaries for verse 3 mention some specific examples of evolvents and evolutes. However, in my summaries I only mention things that are explicitly mentioned in the sanskrit verse (my Sanskrit is good enough for that). Verse 3 does mention the concept of Mahat and I have also mentioned it in my summary. However I ommitted the other principles which were given as examples in the commentaries but are not in the verse itself.

This is a leap-of-faith on my part. I am curious to see if the text itself is really a generative process. In a good generative process each step builds on the previous steps by adding a change which enhances the overall picture that forms in my mind. For this to work, in a good generative process, the change that is introduced is minimal: it should induce a noticeable and coherent refinment of the image in my mind without conflicting with established parts of the image and without introducing distractions. References to unexplained future prinicples, I feel, are distractions that diminish the generative quality.

I suspect that these “future mentions” are offered with an intention of providing clarity. I also suspect that the commentaries are this way because they are a kind of historical recording of real-life teaching settings in which a teacher guided students through the text. Such references have a different quality in a living student-teacher-teaching relationship. The resonance of that experience does not translate well in the “transcription” of these settings.

As a case in point of this distractive quality: I initially viewed verse 3 as a kind of overview of the 25 principles of Samkhya. In fact, that was the title I’d given it before I decided to explicitly change titles into questions. One reason for this was the commentaries references to future principles. The examples drew me in to the specific of the map and distracted me from seeing the map as a whole. Once I Set aside the “future examples” I was left with a clearer and more focused understanding of verse3: it IS a map of the principles of Samkhya but, more importantly, that map is placed on a “causality-matrix”:

I believe this casuality-matrix is the real centerpiece of this verse. The specifics of what is in each location on the matrix can distract from the vitality of the matrix itself. I felt I had a decent grasp of causality until I was able to set aside my preconceptions and take in the implications of this seemingly simple matrix which shines a bright light on the elephant in the room: that which is neither caused nor causes?

Leave a Reply