25 Tattva in Samkhya Philosophy
Tattvas in Samkhya Philosophy
Tattva is a Sanskrit word meaning 'thatness', 'principle', 'reality' or 'truth'. According to various Indian schools of philosophy, a tattva is an element or aspect of reality conceived as an aspect of deity. Although the number of tattvas varies depending on the philosophical school, together they are thought to form the basis of all our experience. The Samkhya philosophy uses a system of 25 tattvas, while Shaivism recognises 36 tattvas.
The Samkhya philosophy regards the Universe as consisting of two eternal realities: Purusha and Prakrti. It is therefore a strongly dualist philosophy. The Purusha is the centre of consciousness, whereas the Prakriti is the source of all material existence. The twenty-five tattva system of Samkhya concerns itself only with the tangible aspect of creation, theorizing that Prakriti is the source of the world of becoming. It is the first tattva and is seen as pure potentiality that evolves itself successively into twenty-four additional tattvas or principles.
Tattvas in Shaivism
Main article: The 36 tattvas
In Shaivite philosophy, the tattvas are inclusive of consciousness as well as material existence. The 36 tattvas of Shaivism are divided into three groups:
The first five tattvas are known as the shuddha or 'pure' tattvas. They are also known as the tattvas of universal experience.
The next seven tattvas (6–12) are known as the shuddha-ashuddha or 'pure-impure' tattvas. They are the tattvas of limited individual experience.
The last twenty-four tattvas (13–36) are known as the ashuddha or 'impure' tattvas. The first of these is prakriti and they include the tattvas of mental operation, sensible experience, and materiality.
Tattvas in Vaishnavism
Within Puranic literatures and general Vaishnava philosophy tattva is often used to denote certain categories or types of being or energies such as :
Any incarnation or expansion of Vishnu.
The living souls (jivas).
The total material energy (prakrti).
In Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy that there are a total of five primary tattvas described in terms of living beings, which are collectively known as the Pancha Tattva and described as follows:
"Spiritually there are no differences between these five tattvas, for on the transcendental platform everything is absolute. Yet there are also varieties in the spiritual world, and in order to taste these spiritual varieties one should distinguish between them".
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