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Complete Freedom From Suffering In Samkhya School – Aikantikamukti

The state of complete freedom from bondage, suffering, pain and pleasure in Samkhya school of thought is known as Aikantikamukti. This state of liberation is paramapurushartha (the ultimate goal of life) for all the schools of Hindu philosophy (barring the materialists). The Samkhya system speaks of aikantikamukti. This state is achieved only after the destruction of the body.

 Samkhya is a dualistic system which believes in the two eternal realities – purusha (self or spirit) and prakriti (primordial nature) which is the source or cause of the material world. Prakriti is jada (unconscious) but active, while purusha is conscious but inactive. Though conscious, purusha is ever free, yet, on account of ignorance, mistakes its reflection in the intellect for itself and wrongly identifies itself with the product of prakriti, such as ego, and confuses itself with the body, the senses and the mind. This identification is called bondage of the purusha. On account of this confusion, it considers itself to be an agent of action, which it really is not. It is lack of discrimination between the self and prakriti (the not-self) that is responsible for bondage and all our sorrows and sufferings.

Samkhya philosophy speaks of three kinds of sufferings in life caused by internal, external and supernatural sources known as adhyatmika, adhibhautika, and adhidaivika, respectively. The main aim of life is to get rid of these three kinds of sufferings. The annihilation of this three-fold suffering is possible only through viveka-jnana (discriminative knowledge) between self and not-self. The jiva (individual self) has to realize itself as the pure conscious self through discrimination between purusha and prakriti. Once this is realized, then the self ceases to be affected by pleasures and sorrows. Once the self knows that it is a pure conscious being and has nothing to do with the unconscious prakriti, it is liberated.

The Samkhya School admits of two kinds of liberation, viz., jivanmukta (liberation while one is alive) and videhamukti (liberation after death). The moment right knowledge dawns, the person becomes liberated here and now, even though he may be embodied due to prarabdhakarma (accumulated karma or the consequences of past deeds). This is known as jivanamukti – liberation while being alive, here and now. Due to the momentum of past deeds, the body continues to exist for some time, just as the wheel of a potter goes on revolving for some time due to previous momentum, even though the potter has withdrawn his hand from it. As the liberated person, though embodied, feels no association with the body, no new karma gets accumulated as all karmas lose causal energy.

The final and the absolute liberation, the complete disembodied isolation of the purusha automatically results after death. This is known as aikantikamukti or kaivalya (Samkhyakarika 68). It is a state of absolute freedom, complete freedom from pain and pleasure, cycle of births and deaths, a return of the purusha, the self, to its svarupa (its given nature) as consciousness.