• Religion

    When Shankarāchārya Composed Erotica

    Shankarāchārya’s life is full of amazing incidents, but there is one incident that I find particularly interesting. It is the story of how Shankarāchārya debated the husband-wife couple— Maṇḍana Miśra and Ubhaya Bhārati—on the primacy of Mimānsa vs. Vedanta. Aside from the significant philosophical shift that Shankarāchārya’s victory in this debate resulted in, the debate is also a watershed moment because Shankarāchārya had to debate Ubhaya Bhārati while being an sannyasi (who are forbidden from talking to women), and the topic of this debate included human sexuality (of which Shankarāchārya had no direct experience as he had entered sannyasa at the age 12). How Shankarāchārya navigated this treacherous battle, and came…

  • Philosophy,  Psychology

    What is the Power of Kundalini?

    In an earlier post, I discussed how the Sāńkhya notion of manifest and unmanifest matter addresses some fundamental problems related to perception and realism. In a later post, I discussed how the unmanifest becomes manifest through several stages—para, pasyanti, madhyama and vaikhari. In a subsequent post, we talked about how the agency to cause this manifestation is prāna, which acts as the “force” of nature, under the control of free will, time, karma, and God. This description leads to a natural doubt: is prāna an objective entity by itself, or is it simply a combined effect of other entities (soul’s choice, time, karma and God)? This post discusses how prāna…

  • Philosophy,  Physics,  Psychology

    The Five Forces of Nature

    Modern science describes nature as comprised of matter and forces. According to Sāńkhya, this description is both false as we have seen here and true as we have seen here. It is false because material properties such as mass and charge pertain to the observer’s senses, not to the material objects and therefore forces formulated based on such properties are fictions rather than reality. It is true in the sense that the external world still has properties such as redness and bitterness which are “matter” and these properties are connected to the senses through a “force” called prāna. Both matter and force are thus different in Sāńkhya than in modern…