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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Sastitantra, SaSTitantra, Sashtitantra

Saṣṭitantra literally means ‘science of sixty topics’.

Origin of Saṣṭitantra

The Sāṅkhyadarśana is one of the oldest systems of philosophy whose origins can be traced even to the Upaniṣads. The Ahirbudhnya Samhitā[1] refers to an ancient work on the Sāṅkhya known as the Śastitantra. Whether it was one particular ancient work or referred in general to any work of Śāṅkhya philosophy dealing with sixty topics, is difficult to say.

Classification of Saṣṭitantra

According to one version, Pañcaśikha, the third of the three original teachers of Sāṅkhya, is said to have composed this work. The work is divided into two parts:

  1. The prākṛtamaṇḍala with 32 sub divisions
  2. The vaikṛtamaṇḍala with 28 sub divisions

Overview of Saṣṭitantra

The following is a general overview of the topics dealt with:

  • Pakṛti
  • Puruṣas
  • Relation of the prakṛti with the puruṣas
  • Evolution of the categories from the prakrti
  • Inactivity of the puruṣas
  • Five viparyayas or misconceptions
  • Nine tuṣṭis or contentment
  • Twenty-eight kinds of defects of organs
  • Eight siddhis or attainments

It is believed that the Sāṅkhya of Kapila and Āsuri was theistic whereas Pañcaśikha made it atheistic.


  1. Ahirbudhnya Samhitā 12.19-30
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore