A psychological analysis of the sense of agency in the Sāṅkhyakārikā and Yogasūtra




Trivedi, Hemal Pradip

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Sāṅkhya, with its rigorous introduction to metaphysics, revolutionizes Indian philosophy by delineating the constituents of reality: puruṣa (consciousness) and prakṛti (matter). Yoga, the sister school of Sāṅkhya, borrows from the latter’s metaphysics and introduces a psychologically based paradigm that allows for practitioners to apply the metaphysical teachings of Sāṅkhya. Using the metaphysical and psychological constructs of the mind in both schools, this paper serves to ask the question: Which school of thought, through their authoritative texts, generates more of a sense of agency for the practitioner? In other words, which text encourages the practitioner to feel that he is an agent of his actions? Using the Sāṅkhyakārikā to represent Sāṅkhya, this paper explores the impersonal feelings evoked by the predominance of metaphysics in this text. Using the Yogasūtra to represent Yoga, this paper reveals the highly personal and egoic reading provided by psychology and practice based verses. Using four concepts to measure an SoA (frequency, variety of choices, centralizing and results of personal effort) it is clear that theoretically, the Yogasūtra provides the practitioner with a more promising feeling of ownership over his pursuits


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