avyakta

(‘the unmanifest’)

The Sāṅkhya system, one of the six systems of Indian philosophy, posits two fundamental principles of creation: prakṛti (also called ‘pradhāna’) and puruṣa. Prakṛti is the primeval insentient material cause; and puruṣas, of infinite number, are the conscious entities or souls. The whole world is a creation that comes out of the association of the puruṣas with the various evolutes of prakṛti.

Prakṛti, which consists of the three guṇas—sattva, rajas and tamas—is in a state of perfect internal balance and equilibrium. This is its natural state before evolution into the world. Hence it is also called ‘avyakta’ or the unmanifest.

In Vedānta, the term is sometimes used to indicate Brahman, the Absolute.

See also PRADHĀNA and PRAKṚTI.