In this episode we speak with return guest Dr. Philipp Maas about the ancient school of Sāṅkhya—which he describes as India's philosophy par excellence for its wide and enduring influence on Indian culture. Giving us a taste of his upcoming course: YS 204 | The Sāṅkhyakārikā: Stanzas on All-Embracing Insight, Maas discusses Sāṅkhya‘s relationship with the Yoga of Patañjali, and dives into the Kārikā—the oldest surviving text of the tradition. We discuss what little we know about the work's author Īśvarakṛṣṇa, its roots in the lost treatise, the ancient Śaṣṭitantra, and much more.
Philipp Maas is currently a research associate at the Institute for Indology and Central Asian Studies, University of Leipzig in Germany, where he works on a digital critical edition of the Nyāyabhāṣya, a Sanskrit work on spiritual liberation through proper reasoning. Previously he had served as an assistant professor and postdoc researcher at the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Vienna, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the University of Bonn Germany.
He received his M.A. (1997) and Dr. phil. (2004) degrees from the University of Bonn, where he had completed studies in Indology, Comparative Religious Studies, Tibetology and Philosophy. His first book (originally his PhD thesis) is the first critical edition of the first chapter (Samādhipāda) of the Pātañjala Yogaśāstra, i.e. the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali together with the commentary called Yoga Bhāṣya. He has published extensively on classical Yoga and Sāṅkhya philosophy and meditation, Āyurveda, the relationship of Pātañjalayoga to Buddhism as well as on the textual tradition of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra. He is a member of the “Historical Sourcebooks on Classical Indian Thought” project, convened by Prof. Sheldon Pollock, to which he contributes with a monograph on the development of Yoga-related ideas in pre-modern South Asian intellectual history.