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Book: Indian Religions

Chapter: Faculties, Breaths and Offices: Some Vedic and Sâ›khya Notions of the Body and Personality

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.21449


The Veda and Sâmkhya both include the analysis of personality among their concerns, and groups of five, or pentads, feature in both. The pentad of speech, breath, sight, hearing, mind is frequent in the Veda, together with many variants; sometimes these are referred to as breaths (prâša), a term which can also refer to the orifices of the body. This pentad includes two of Sâmkhya’s five sense faculties and one of its five action faculties, and some of the variants include further items from the Sâmkhya lists. This chapter gives examples of these variants, comparing them with each other and with Sâmkhya, and tracing their development.

Chapter Contributors

  • Dermot Killingley ( - dkillingley)