Prakriti and coarising

I am looking for good books or articles on samkhya or other pan Indian background thought about prakriti so as to get a better understanding of how thought and physical matter work together to make dependent co-arising. I do understand that the prakriti/ purusha relationship is not the Buddhist ontology, but I would like to get a clear idea of how the Buddha made use of and modified these common concepts

1 Like

“According to Samkhya and the Bhagavad Gita Prakrti or Nature is composed of the three gunas which are tendencies or modes of operation, known as Rajas (creation), Sattva (preservation), and tamas (destruction).”—Wikipedia

The Buddha saw creation, preservation, and destruction in the form of the cycle of impermanence.


You could look into Jacobsen’s article here: Primal Elements - Mahabhuta : Baumer, Bettina Ed : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

And if you like it consider to find somewhere in a library his book: Prakrti in Samkhya-Yoga


My impression was that the prakrti / purusa paradigm is from Samkhya / Yoga, and comes from several hundred years after the time of the Buddha. Later Buddhists such as Mahayana Yogacarins did discuss Samkhya concepts about prakrti / purusa, the three gunas, and the 23 tattvas, when refuting non-Buddhist positions on dharmas.

If you are just looking for background on the concepts of prakrti / purusa, as they apply to Samkhya / Yoga (i.e. not Buddhism), I thought that Edwin F. Bryant’s translation and commentary on the Yoga Sutra did a good job of providing some of that background.

1 Like

Very useful, thanks for the link!

Thanks for this reference! I see that Bryant teaches Indology at Rutgers, which is quite nearby. I will get his book, which seems to be excellent.

1 Like

You might also want to look at Vaiśeṣika, particularly Kaṇāda’s Vaiśeṣika Sūtra. You can find it here: Vaisheshika-sutra with Commentary

1 Like

Thanks! And transliterated Sanskrit too! A fine thing!

1 Like