10A: Cause & Effect

10A: Cause and Effect


created everything in the universe, so our souls can also create same things, if we learn how to meditate. In this chapter we learn about soul directly from Veda, that is, from nature.

This chapter briefly covers the philosophy of Samkhya. It brings out the features of Samkhya that helped to create the contents of this book, or in other words, it describes the relevant parts of Samkhya. The entire Samkhya Karika [SK] has about 70 two-line verses and we will probably discuss about 30 of them.

Meaning of the word Samkhya is not known for sure. Many people say it will be numbers, based on the idea that Samkhya talks about many kinds of numbers, like three Gunas, five input sensors, eight forms of success, twenty eight disabilities, etc. As a result some use the spelling Sankhya, which means numbers.

But this meaning does not adequately capture the profoundness of truth that the philosophy or the principles the subject reveals; it truly shows that there is no knowledge greater than this. Samkhya Karika represents revelations that can only be captured by a yogi with the highest level of third eye vision.  It appears that the Sanskrit spelling should be शङ्ख्य, which should indicate conch shell sound, that is, Dibya bani, (Bengali: শঙ্খ ধ্বনি ), which is considered as divine message. Krishna uses conch shell to deliver his messages, and to guide Arjun in the battle field. Vishnu also holds conch shell in one of his hands; and it represents an attribute of Vishnu. Gita used the word sankhye in verse [G.2.39] to mean analytical study.

Vedas cannot be explained by anybody to anybody. Whatever is written and is available is the final document. Only yogis who acquire the divine vision can explain Vedas. All other explanations are like that of the blind men in the elephant story discussed in chapter one. Veda is about nature, we are created by nature, and the creation cannot understand the creator. Only yogic power can allow us to understand Vedas or observe Vedas. Vedas are not manmade.

Samkhya is credited to Kapila muni. Without the knowledge of Samkhya, Vedas (including Ramayan, Mahabharat, and Gita) cannot be understood properly. Samkhya gives the foundation of the theory that explains yogic power and other laws of nature. Samkhya is the most ancient of all philosophical thoughts. Its ideas have been mentioned in Rig Veda [SK, p.3]. In [Gita, 10:26] Krishna has been defined as – “… among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila”. Mahabharat says [Roy, Vol. 10, p.8] –“There is no knowledge that is equal to this (Sankhyas). Do not yield to any kind of doubt. The knowledge which is described in the system of the Sankhyas is regarded as the highest.” Swami [Vivekananda], a famous Indian philosopher of modern time, says the following – “This wonderful man, the most ancient of philosophers, is mentioned even in the shruti – O lord, thou who produced the sage Kapila in the Beginning”.

Happiness is the goal of every living person. But to achieve happiness one must know the truth. Samkhya describes that truth. The prescription is that practice complete isolation of soul from prakrti or nature. If you can achieve that using yogic means then you will be happy. This shows again that Yoga is the foundation to achieve happiness. Of course yoga gives many other benefits that can do miracles to individuals and to societies at large. Thus Veda, which includes Samkhya, is a very practical theory.

3.  Cause and Effect Law

Samkhya Karika [SK] describes many laws of nature. In this subsection we will briefly mention the law of conservation and the cause and effect law. The SK also talks about the law of reincarnation, but we will discuss that in another subsection. In a previous chapter we have seen that in physics there is basically only one law, that is the sigma law, or the law of conservation. In SK also we see only one law, the cause and effect law, which as SK says, depends on the law of conservation. In fact there is only one verse that states both the laws.

Consider the Figures 10.1 and 10.2. Figure-10.1 is taken from the website [Billiard]. In real life we see a man behind a force. Notice the difference with modern physics, the action reaction law of Newton in Figure-10.2.

make the root material an active material. We will discuss them in another subsection.

Active: the manifested objects are active. It creates a body and then gives up or dies. It is active because it will create another body. Manifested objects are effects of causes. Since the causes and effects are similar the root material cause or the root material is also active.

Inert: At equilibrium the root material is inert. It cannot produce any product. When a soul joins the root material, then the Rajas guna becomes mobile and active and makes the other two gunas modify their characteristics to help make different types of products

Root Cause – Soul

Along the same line we see in our world everything is created by chain of action and reaction or cause and effect. This is the efficient cause analysis problem and not the material cause. Here again we can keep on asking what is the cause of this effect, but at some point we will have to stop, because we cannot ask this question for infinite times. As mentioned before, every object has a finite length cause and effect chain, because of finite life time. The efficient cause where we stop asking this question is called the root efficient cause. Everything else is caused by this root cause. In SK this root cause is called Purusha in Sanskrit. The synonyms are soul, knower, cognizer, spirit etc. Again this finite deductive logic proves the existence of soul.

Just like the environment of earth is filled with oxygen and nitrogen molecules, similarly the entire universe is filled with these root materials and root causes or souls. Just like all oxygen molecules are different but same so are the root materials and souls. The word efficient is used to mean that you must use correct or efficient materials to make a product. Similarly you must also bring the correct expertise to create the product. Anybody cannot make everything.

The root cause has some similarities with the root material, but they are quite different also. The most important similarity is that soul is unmanifested. It is plural, but equal, and spans the entire universe. Another important property is that it is conscious. It is eternal; it remains in every object but without any change, i.e. it is constant. According to SK, the soul is inactive, contrary to what normally we would have expected. It is the root material that is active.

The Law

With the above ideas of material and efficient causes we can now try to understand the cause and effect law of Samkhya;

[SK, 9]
The effect is ever existent, because (1) what is non-existent can by no means be brought into existence; (2) because effects take adequate material cause; (3) because all effects are not producible from all causes; (4) because an efficient cause can produce only that for which it is efficient; and finality, (5) because the effect is of same essence as the cause.

The conservation law part says – effect is ever existent; non-existent cannot be brought into existence. This is very similar to what we have in modern physics.

The cause and effect part can be described the following way. Consider the example of making a pot out of clay. Here we need a man and a wheel, then place the mud or clay on the wheel, turn the wheel, use his special skills to convert the clay to a pot. Here SK.9 explicitly states that two types of causes are necessary: material cause and efficient cause to create a product. You cannot make a pot out of any material, you must select appropriate materials – this is the material cause. Also not any procedure will make the pot. You must use a skilled person and his tools to make the pot – this is the efficient cause. Both are included in all modern engineering procedures, but not so in physics.

The law says that every material effect is inside the material cause. The material effect is pot and the material cause is the clay. To distinguish the two items we gave them two names, clay and pot. In the same way to distinguish the two material shapes, for general cases, we called them cause and effect. The experiment only changed the shape of the material, from clay to pot. We have discussed this as part of law of conservation in a previous chapter.

Without the efficient cause, which is the work performed by humans, the efficient effect, the pot, cannot be produced. The human work done, transformed the clay into the pot. The shape of the pot now hides the work done. This is so because the law says cause and effect are similar. The physical work got transformed into two sequential stages, efficient cause and then efficient effect.

This description of the law leads to the search for root material cause and root efficient cause. Like in physics, cause and effect are two same words. In a chain of cause and effect, anyone can be called cause and other one the effect. However, there will be two end points, starting point will be the root cause, and the end point will be the final effect.

This is true for both material causes and efficient causes. Efficient cause is a work or activity and is produced by humans only; the efficient cause only changes the shape of material or gives a motion to the material object.

Interesting thing to remember is that there are two types of causes:

  • Material and efficient.
  • Also, the effect (pot) is already there in the material cause (clay). It only changed the shape.

4. Existence of Soul


This is about the existence of the unmanifested root material cause, only it has three attributes. The root efficient cause is described later.

The unmanifest cause exists because of (1) the finite nature of special objects; (2) homogeneity; (3) evolution being due to the efficiency of the cause; (4) the differentiation between cause and effect; (5) the non-differentiation or merging of the whole world of effects; (6) its operation through the three attributes by combination and modification, like water, through differences arising from diverse nature of the several receptacles of the attributes.

Finiteness: We see that in nature everything is finite. We have discussed this before as the finiteness law of nature. A potter makes only a finite number of pots out of a finite amount of clay. The number of potters is also finite. The verse then implies that if the there were no unmanifest material cause, then we would have found infinite number of products. The finiteness would happen because of the desire of the soul, finite life time of objects, and finite size of the objects. All manifested objects are non-eternal.

In our world we have two objects which are infinite – the real numbers and the money. Both are infinite, you can print as much money as you want, it is abundant and free at its source, the central bank. So are the real numbers. On our computers we can create infinite amount of real numbers and artificial money. The verse this way proves that mathematics and economics are false because it does not have an unmanifested cause. In fact both of them do not have any material cause.

Homogeneity: We see that all objects in nature are homogeneous in character. They all have three attributes – Sattava, Rajas, and Tamas gunas. That means there is a common cause for all of them. This is the root material cause.

Efficiency: The evolution of different objects in the world is because of the different efficient cause of the soul. A potter makes only pot and not cloth. Since different effect indicates different efficient cause, these causes must exist in the unmanifest.

Differentiation: The cause and effect are different. In the case of pot, it has a different shape than the clay. But the clay is the cause of the pot. Thus pot remains as unmanifested effect inside clay. In the same way clay remains unmanifested in another cause. Sequentially we will arrive at the unmaniseted root material cause. This root material cause is causeless.

Merging: At dissolution the pot becomes clay. In the same way all objects merge with the root material.

Combination and modification: Every product is made by modifying the three attributes – Savatta, Rajas, and Tamas. It is like making a color on a TV screen by using three basic colors RGB, Red, Green, and Blue. The root material remains in equilibrium with the three gunas. But all objects are made by combining objects with varying proportions of the attributes. Just like water, when it rains all drops are same, but on ground, where it gets stored, based on the characteristics of the storage place water acquires different tastes.


Samkhya Karika says two kinds of objects exist in nature. They are manifested and unmanifested objects. The soul is unmanifested. Its characteristics are described by the following verse:

[SK, 10]
The manifested is producible, non-eternal, non-pervasive, active, multiform, dependant, serving as a mark (of inference), aggregate of parts and subordinate. The unmanifest is the reverse of this.

All manifested objects are products; they are caused by some material and efficient causes. They are non-eternal; so they are destructible. They are not all pervading like the root material and the soul. For manifest is a product; a product cannot span the entire universe, like the root material, which is unmanifested.

It is active: because it migrates at the time of creation; it incarnates; it grows and dies. They are multiform: each product is different from the other. They are dependent: because they are supported by their respective causes. They are marks: because they are different from the root materials; they are objects. They are subordinate: because one is created by the other in a sequence of material and efficient causes. They are collection of parts.

The unmanifest is reverse of the manifest; it is eternal, all pervasive, inactive, without cause, independent etc. The unmanifests are root material and the root cause, which is the soul. These are thus only two types of unmanifested objects; all others are manifested.

The Soul

There is a need for soul. All the objects are created for the soul and by the soul for it to enjoy them and eventually use them to liberate itself from the pain of life.

[SK, 17]
The spirit exists because (a) the aggregate is for another’s sake; (b) of the absence of three gunas and other properties; (c) there must be some controller; (d) there must be some experiencer; and (e) of the tendency of activities towards final beatitude.

Aggregate: The manifested objects are made for somebody’s requirements. For example a bed, bed frame, mattress etc are designed for a man to sleep. Similarly all aggregates are made for the enjoyment of the soul or the spirit.

It can be argued that nature or the manifested is not for the soul, but for another aggregate. In that case every aggregate will be for the purpose for another aggregate. This process can be continued for infinity, making the logic meaningless. Thus aggregate must be for the soul. The soul cannot be an aggregate and must be unmanifest.

Gunas: Then we know from verse [SK, 11] that the three gunas are not for the soul, they are only for the manifests. Spirit is not composite. All composites have three gunas.

Controller: There must be some controller. Pleasure, pain, and delusion that humans experience must be controlled. For that we need the soul. Since these characteristics of pleasure etc. come from the matter, the entire manifest must have controller, and the spirit is that controller.

Experiencer: The soul is inactive and but conscious. Only soul does not have three gunas and so only it can experience the manifests. Only it can enjoy the pleasure and pain. Intelligence or I-principle cannot enjoy because they also have the characteristics of pleasure and pain because these characteristics are made of the three gunas.

Beatitude: The final beatitude is characterized by complete cessation of pleasure and pain from all the manifested objects. This cannot be for intelligence or great principle etc. because they are composed of pleasure and pain. It can only be for that object which does not have these gunas; and therefore soul must exist.

Observe that controller is the soul that created the object. Experiencer is also the soul. It enjoys its creation and the creations of all the other souls. Thus there is no other creator than the individual soul. There is no creator for the universe. Every object in the universe is created by their respective souls. The universe is enjoyed by all the souls. The universe does not have a soul, this is so, because it will create infinite number of objects, and infinite life time, which we do not see and will become logically meaningless.

There are many souls and not one soul. That is stated in the following verse with the observations:

[SK, 18]
The multiplicity of the Sprit is verily established (1) from the individual allotment of birth, death, and the instruments, (2) from non-simultaneity of activities, and (3) from the diverse modifications due to the three gunas.

There exists a notion that there is only one soul that controls all living being, the above verse explains the infeasibility of that concept. If the soul were one and dwelling in all bodies, then if one dies everyone else would die also, if one becomes blind all would be blind, which would cause lot of confusions.

So it may be possible that this notion is not a result of divine vision. It will contradict Samkhya. Vedas, which are laws of nature, cannot contradict itself. There is a Gita verse, which we will discuss in another chapter, which says a soul cannot be broken into pieces. Thus one soul cannot be part of a bigger or greater soul.

Soul Commands

We can see from the way the body and its organs are created, and the sequence of their creation that they do not have any kind of intelligence. Intelligence itself is created first by the interaction of the soul and the root material. Thus the body or brain cannot have any freewill. We are not our body, we are our souls.

[SK, 12]
The attributes are of the nature of pleasure, pain, and delusion; they serve the purpose of illumination, action, and restraint and they are mutually dominating and supporting, productive and cooperative.

Savatta gives pleasure, Rajas gives pain, and Tamas creates delusion. Savatta is illuminating, Rajas has action oriented characteristics, and Tamas creates restraints.

Rajas makes the root material active type; whereas root cause, the soul, is inactive. Rajas motivates the Sattava and Tamas to become active. Inherently Sattava and Tamas are inactive. Rajas is exciting because it is mobile. It is the rajas guna that keeps the other two continuously active. However if Tamas is very strong then it can restrain the power of Rajas. The root material is always in equilibrium condition with these three gunas. The activity of gunas starts only at the time of creation or when in interface with the soul.

These three properties are mutually dominating. That is, when one becomes active for some purpose, the other two remain suppressed. For example Sattava attains its calm nature only by dominating over Rajas and Tamas. They are mutually supporting also, for example Savtta gives illumination to Rajas and Tamas.

These properties thus have contradictory behavior but they also have a single objective to emancipate the soul.