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Varshaganya is one of the many older teachers of Samkhya and Yoga. The earliest reference to Varsaganya is found in Moksha Dharma (XII.306.57), dated around the 1st century CE, in which the name figures as one among many older teachers of Samkhya and Yoga philosophies. Further references to Varsaganya albeit muddled, appear in Chinese Buddhist sources.

Paramartha, who translated Samkhya Karika together with a prose commentary into Chinese during 557-569 CE also composed a biography of Vasubandhu in which a reference to Varshaganya and Vidhyavasi as his disciples is made.

There is another account of Varshaganya by Hiuen Tsang’s direct disciple Kuei-Chi. Takakusu in his book ‘The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy (1975)’ resolves the two accounts ingeniously by identifying Varsaganya, Vidhyavasa and Ishvara Krishna as names of the same person.

Until the discovery of the oldest commentary, Yuktidipika, on Samkhya Karika, the solution of Takakusu, which was the resolution of the Chinese accounts was widely accepted. Yuktidipika, which contains incontrovertible testimony that Varasaganya, Vindhyavasa and Ishwarakrishna are three distinct teachers, whose views diverge on a number of crucial points, radically changed the opinion of the scholarly world.

Yuktidipika refers to Vrishaganya, Varshaganya and Varshaganah. Varshaganya is the correct proper name and Vrishaganvira simply means son of Vrishagana; and Varshaganah refers to the followers of Varshaganya.

Turning now to the difficult problem of the date of Varshaganya, there is much uncertainty. Putting together evidence based on references in Paramartha’s work (he translated Samkhyakarika with a prose commentary in Chinese during 557-569 CE) and Yuktidipika’s position that Varshaganya was earlier than Vindhyavasa and Vacaspati Mishra claim in his Tattvavaisaradi that the expression ‘Pancaparva Vidya’ is attributed to Varshaganya and the occurrence of the same expression in Asvaghosa’s Buddhacarita, makes it plausible to place Varshaganya before the 1st century CE. But an important item is recorded in Isibhasiyaim of the Jaina tradition, where many views are ascribed to Varisavakanha Rishi restored to Varshaganya in the Sanskrit gloss. The said text enjoys high respect, being classified in a Kaliya text and under the influence of Parsvanatha, earlier than Mahavira, and therefore safely placed before the 4th - 5th century BCE.

Varshaganya is credited with the revised text of the older Samkhya text Sashtitantra. A glimpse of the tenets of the older school represented by Varshaganya can be had from references in Yuktidipika, Yogacarabhumi of Asanga, Abhidharmakosha of Vasubandhu, Yogasutra Bhashya of Vyasa, etc.