The Difficulties of the Spiritual Seeker : 17.
The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita
This difficulty arises on account of a lack of sufficient understanding, and understanding is called samkhya in the language of the Bhagavadgita. "Arjuna, you have no samkhya-buddhi," says Sri Krishna. "You are unable to discriminate between the real and the unreal, the true and the false, which means to say you have no right understanding, and samkhya is right understanding." The word 'samkhya' is used in the Bhagavadgita in a different sense from the way you are likely to understand it in the schools of thought. Here the samkhya word does not necessarily mean the jargon of the traditional school which goes by the name of Samkhya, propounded by a sage called Kapila, as one of the six systems of thought in India.
Though it has some connection with what the Bhagavadgita is telling us, it is not identical with the meaning of the word 'samkhya' as it is used in the Bhagavadgita. In a general way we may say that samkhya means right knowledge. It is not easy to have right knowledge when we are not having sufficient information regarding things, and the information conveyed to us by the senses is not ultimately reliable. We cannot wholly rely upon what the senses are telling us. Therefore, the knowledge which is based on these reports of the senses may not be entirely reliable. Hence, our understanding of the world may not be regarded as adequate to the purpose. Thus it follows that we cannot know what we are supposed to do in this world. One cannot know what one's duty is because knowledge of things is based on understanding, which we lack, since we are sensorily conditioned and not so very rational, purely, as we may sometimes imagine ourselves to be.
So samkhya was not there in the mind of Arjuna; right understanding was not coming forth. I am now slowly entering into the second chapter of the Bhagavadgita which is called Samkhya Yoga. The difficulty, the melancholy, the despondency, the fear which was the subject of the first chapter arises on account of a lack of samkhya. What is samkhya? What is knowledge? What is right understanding? Before I touch upon the core of the meaning of the term 'samkhya' as used in the Bhagavadgita, I would give, in a few words, the way in which the cosmological principles are described in the school going by the name of Samkhya, under the authorship of Kapila. As I mentioned, though it has no direct relevance to the Bhagavadgita, it would be profitable for you to know what it actually means, and how it differs from the samkhya of the Bhagavadgita.
To be continued ...