Kapila Rishi

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Biographical Sketch by Universal Theosophy

-600 kapila_240x360At the outset it must be admitted that the composition of a historical biography of Rishi Kapila is, in our age, a near impossibility. As with many other ancient sages, available records are scant and unverifiable. What we can say is that there can be no doubt that such an individual as the founder of the Sankhya philosophy did live at some exceedingly remote age, did teach a specific doctrine, and did leave traces of both his grandure as a rishi and the grandure of his knowledge. We will therefore attempt a brief survey of these traces with the aim of suggesting an idea or two as to the nature of both the man and the teaching.

Upon review of several ancient texts, primarily the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana, it becomes clear that when dealing with the name Kapila, we are not dealing with one individual man in one historical epoch, but rather, as H.P. Blavatsky suggests 1, we see that there are, in fact, several Kapilas. 1b Blavatsky further suggests that “the Kapila who slew King Sagara’s progeny 2—60,000 men strong—was undeniably Kapila, the founder of the Sankhya philosophy”. We see a second use of the name Kapila in denoting one of the Kumaras (or also as a generic name for the Kumaras collectively), this being the Kapila who is the “fifth incarnation of Vishnu” of the Bhagavata Purana and one of the seven “sons of Brahman” of the Mahabharata. 3 Another Kapila is said to have been a brahmin and a boddhisattva, whose followers named their newly-founded city after him (Kapilavastu), which later became the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. 4 Other Kapilas no doubt play into the blended mythology of the character we seek to know, leading to a curiously mythical single individual, bound up in the stories of these many. When attempting to reveal to ourselves the life of the founder of Sankhya, we must carefully distinguish between these Kapilas, and this is itself a tall task. 5

Our first order of business may be to ascertain some notion of the age in which the original founder of Sankhya lived. It takes little effort in this direction to conclude that such a Kapila belongs not to the ages of which we have true historical records, but rather to some previous era of which we have little more than hints and myths. We first recognize that Kapila belongs to a time anterior to the initial composition of the Mahabharata. 6 We second recognize that as his teachings are put forth in that work as being already, at that time, considered ancient, 7 already having been handed down through the Sankhya school in a formal system of teaching, 8 and that many Sankhyas are therein said to have already attained the goal of Yoga since the time of Kapila; 9 we recognize from this that his life must have been not merely anterior to, but far before the composition of the Mahabharata.

Furthermore, in that great epic, when the schools of Indian thought are mentioned, they are given as the “Sankhya, Yoga, the Pancha-ratra, Vedas, and Pasupati”, among others. No mention is given of many schools of thought to which the modern reader is familiar, including the four other darshanas common to Indian history. Furthermore, it is made clear that the Yoga spoken of here is not the yoga system of Patanjali, but rather the yoga of Hiranyagarbha. 10 Thus we see that of the modern six darshanas of Indian philosophy, the Sankhya is by far the eldest, and Kapila is by far the most ancient of founders. 11

Another avenue used in attempting to locate the sage Kapila is through a review of Sankhya texts, but we quickly find this to be a dead-end (though it will reveal something of importance). The text most commonly used as the foundation of modern Sankhya is the Samkhya Karika of Ishvara Krishna, but this text itself admits to being drawn up based on earlier texts of which we currently have no trace. 12 Furthermore, The date of Ishvara Krishna is itself open to debate. The text of the Samkhya Karika was commented upon by Gaudapada (along with several others), and if this be the same Gaudapada who commented upon the Mandukya Upanishad, then we may place Ishvara Krishna in the century immediately preceding Gautama Buddha. 13 If the Gaudapada be a different one, and Ishvara Krishna is seen to have lived much later, it makes no change in the fact that the Sankhya works we have today are not the original Sankhya texts.

These and similar considerations caused Prof. Max Müller to wonder aloud:

“Everybody has wondered, therefore, what could have become of the real Samkhya-Sutras, if they ever existed; or, if they did not, why there should never have been such Sutras for so important a system of philosophy as the Samkhya. There is clearly a great gap between the end of the Upanishad period and the literary period that was able to give rise to the metrical work of Isvara Krishna. In what form could the Samkhya-philosophy have existed in that interval?” 14

Müller goes on to propose that the Tattva Samasa, of which we do have extant copies, is an original work of Kapila, the founder of Sankhya, but this remains to be verified. It is no doubt an older work than the Samkhya Karika, and while it may indeed be an original work of the original Kapila, it must certainly not be the sole work of both that great founder and all Sankhyas who lived between him and Ishvara Krishna!

Of the extant texts T. Subba Row comments that:

“Some strange ideas are afloat about this system. It is supposed that the Sutras we possess represent the original aphorisms of Kapila. But this has been denied by many great teachers, including Sankaracharya, who say that they do not represent his real views, but those of some other Kapila, or the writer of the book. The real Sankya philosophy is identical with the Pythagorean system of numerals, and the philosophy embodied in the Chaldean system of numbers. The philosopher’s object was to represent all the mysterious powers of nature by a few simple formulae, which he expressed in numerals. The original book is not to be found, though it is possible that it still exists. The system now put forward under this name contains little beyond an account of the evolution of the elements and a few combinations of the same which enter into the formation of the various tatwams.” 15

Indeed, all extant Sankhya works treat of little more than the basics of these tattvas. 16

H.P. Blavatsky takes a similar position as T. Subba Row:

“The numerous schools begotten by Kapila, reflect his philosophy no clearer than the doctrines left as a legacy to thinkers by Timon, Pyrrho’s “Prophet,” as Sextus Empiricus calls him.” 17

What begins to present itself here is the existence of a later school of Sankhya thought, spearheaded perhaps by a later Kapila and carried forward by Ishvara Krishna into the system we have today, but as we will see, this cannot be the same as the original Sankhya teachings, nor can this Kapila be the same as the original founder of Sankhya.


H.P. Blavatsky relates an interesting idea in relation to the antiquity of the true founder of Sankhya when she discussed the allegory of Sagara’s sixty-thousand sons who are burnt to ashes by his glance. 2 She first proposes that the story is allegorical and then gives one interpretation, that the sons:

“… are the personification of the human passions that a “mere glance of the sage”—the SELF who represents the highest state of purity that can be reached on earth—reduces to ashes.” 1

From this is revealed a similar story as that of Gautama Buddha, who sat under the Bodh tree in meditation until all ‘lower elements’ were conquered (represented in the case of that story by Mara and his helpers)—we see Kapila sitting in meditation (at the foot of the Ganges, as tradition tells us), until all ‘lower elements’ (the sons of Sagara) are conquered, bringing Enlightenment or Liberation to that great sage.

H.P.B. continues:

“But it [the allegory] has also other significations—cyclic and chronological meanings,—a method of marking the periods when certain sages flourished.” 1

Building on this idea, she then relates the following:

“Now it is as well ascertained as any tradition can be, that it was at Hardwar (or Gangadwara, the “door or gate of the Ganges”) at the foot of the Himalayas, that Kapila sat in meditation for a number of years. Not far from the Sewalik range, the “pass of Hardwar” is called to this day “Kapila’s Pass”; and the place, “Kapilasthen,” by the ascetics. It is there that Ganga (Ganges) emerging from its mountainous gorge, begins its course over the sultry plains of India. And it is as clearly ascertained by geological survey that the tradition which claims that the ocean ages ago washed the base of the Himalayas—is not entirely without foundation, for there are traces left of this. . . .
Now Sagara is the name of the Ocean, and even of the Bay of Bengal, at the mouth of the Ganges, to this day in India (Vide Wilson’s Vishnu Purâna, Vol. III. p. 309). Have geologists ever calculated the number of millenniums it has taken the sea to recede to where it is now, from Hardwar, 1,024 feet above the level of the sea at present? If they did, those Orientalists who show Kapila flourishing from the 1st to the 9th cent. A.D., might change their opinions, if only for one of two very good reasons: the true number of years elapsed since Kapila’s day is in the Purânas unmistakably, though the translators fail to see it. And secondly—the Kapila of the Satya, and the Kapila of the Kali-Yugas may be one and the same INDIVIDUALITY, without being the same PERSONALITY.” 1

She furthermore relates that:

“The Sankhya philosophy may have been brought down and taught by the first, and written out by the last Kapila.” 1

Now, these ideas may not appeal to all, and certainly they cannot be used as evidence for any purely modern-style historical biography, but the notions may be well worth considering. One thing is clear, at the very least, that H.P. Blavatsky considered the Kapila who “brought down” the Sankhya philosophy to have belonged to a remote, pre-historical age, and there to have been a much later Kapila, from whom extant teachings may find their source. This is supported, in its own way, by the traditions of other schools, who similarly view an original Kapila as having lived in an era western historians would consider impossible. 18


Moving on now from these considerations, we must take up some biographical notes on the sage, keeping always in mind that we are dealing with more than one individual in this mixed bag of history and myth.

We first take up the primary biographical source on Kapila, the Bhagavata Purana. 19 We find this Kapila’s parentage in Canto 2, thus:

“He [[the Lord]] took birth in the house of the twice-born Kardama [‘the shadow of the Creator’] from the womb of Devahûti [‘the invocation of the Gods’] together with nine sisters.” (BP 2:7:3)

Kapila’s father is self-described as a “ordinary householder” (BP 3:24:30), and is said to have “left for the forest” (BP 3:25:6), i.e. retired from householder life to pursue spiritual life. He is referred to in the above verse as “twice-born” (dwija), a Brahman or an Initiate, as the case may be.

The high purpose of Kapila’s birth is described later, in words attributed to Brahmā himself:

“[Brahmâ said:] … I know that the original enjoyer, the bestower of all that is desired by the living entities, descended by dint of His internal potency and has assumed the body of Kapila Muni oh sage. By spiritual knowledge and the science of the yogic uniting of consciousness He who is known by His golden hair, His lotus eyes and lotus-marked feet, will uproot the foundation of profit-minded labor. Know oh Devahûti that the killer of the demon Kaithabha has entered your womb and with cutting the knot of ignorance and doubt will travel all over the world. This personality will be the leader of the perfected ones,His Vedic analysis will carry the approval of the teachers of example [the âcâryas] and to your greater fame, He will be celebrated in the world as Kapila.’” (BP 3:24:16-19)

We see here, as with many other sages, that Kapila’s purpose was not solely to bring knowledge and teachings, but also to enact reforms in the world—in this case Kapila is said to have come in part to “uproot the foundation of profit-minded labor”. We are reminded of the words of Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita:

“… When Righteousness
Declines, O Bharata! when Wickedness
Is strong, I rise, from age to age, and take
Visible shape, and move a man with men,
Succouring the good, thrusting the evil back,
And setting Virtue on her seat again.” 20

Upon his father’s departure, Kapila is said to have remained with his mother, Devahuti, and it is from this point that the teachings of this Kapila are recorded in the Purana, through words ascribed to Maitreya.

There is little else of biographical nature in the Bhagavata Purana, nor in any other text, for the majority of references to Kapila are directed towards his teachings, as opposed to the details of his earthly life. We have then, but these small fragments describing the sage:

He was born of Kardama and Devahuti.
He taught Devahuti his doctrine.
He sat in meditation for many years at the mouth of the Ganges river.
He founded the sect of the Sankhyas.

And even these may be treating of two or more Kapilas!

It is thus to the teachings of Kapila that we must naturally progress, just as the Purana does, if we wish to gain some concept of the nature of the sage, but we must ever keep in mind that we do not have the original teachings of Kapila in any detailed treatise; what we have are fragments, recorded by others and colored by their own perceptions.

For more on Kapila, through an exploration of his teachings, see Part Two of this biography here:


^^^^^1. See “The Antiquity of the Kapilas”, Secret Doctrine, II:571-2.

^1b. The Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, by G.P. Malalasekera (1938), lists a total of 12 Kapilas (p. 513-15), only one of which is suggested to have possibly been the same as the founder of Sankhya.

^^2. For the story of Kapila and Sagara’s sixty-thousand sons, see Mahabharata, Book 3, Sections 107-08, and Bhagavata Purana, 9:8:1-30. (see here for both texts)

“That the story is an allegory is seen upon its very face: the 60,000 Sons, brutal, vicious, and impious, are the personification of the human passions that a “mere glance of the sage” — the SELF who represents the highest state of purity that can be reached on earth—reduces to ashes. But it has also other significations — cyclic and chronological meanings, — a method of marking the periods when certain sages flourished, found also in other Purânas.” (Secret Doctrine, II:571)

^3. See Bhagavata Purana, 1:3:10, and Mahabharata, 12:341.

“Kapila, besides being the name of a personage, of the once living Sage and the author of Sankhya philosophy, is also the generic name of the Kumâras, the celestial ascetics and virgins; therefore the very fact of Bhagavata Purâna calling that Kapila—which it showed just before as a portion of Vishnu — the author of Sankhya philosophy, ought to have warned the reader of a blind containing an esoteric meaning. . . . There are several well-known Kapilas in the Purânas. First the primeval sage, then Kapila, one of the three “Secret” Kumâras; and Kapila, son of Kasyapa and Kadrû—the “many-headed Serpent,” (See Vayu Purâna placing him on the list of the forty renowned sons of Kasyapa), besides Kapila, the great sage and philosopher of the Kali Yuga. Being an Initiate, “a Serpent of Wisdom,” a Nâga, the latter was purposely blended with the Kapilas of the former ages.” (Secret Doctrine, II:572)

“The Exoteric four [Kumaras] are: Sanat-Kumara, Sananda, Sanaka, and Sanatana; and the esoteric three are: Sana, Kapila, and Sanat-sujata.” (Secret Doctrine, I:457)

^4. See introduction to the Dhammapada by Harischandra Kaviratna. See also the Buddha Charita, 1:82-89, 5:83-84 and 8:5-6. (see here). See also the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, by G.P. Malalasekera (p. 513-15). Kaviratna gives a date of three centuries prior to the birth of Buddha as the time in which this Kapila lived. We have not been able to verify this specific date from other sources.

^5. It may be that this latter Kapila (who may have lived 3 centuries prior to Buddha and who gave his name to the city of Buddha’s birth (see note 4)) is the “sage and philosopher of the Kali Yuga” mentioned by Blavatsky (see note 3), and the same sage of whom Ishvara Krishna, author of the Samkhya Karika claims descent from (see note 12). It is largely from Ishvara Krishna that the modern version of Sankhya philosophy comes down to us, but that this is not the full or original Sankhya philosophy is all too apparent (see note 13).

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, along with other proponents of a “theistic” interpretation of Vedanta, view this latter Kapila as an “atheistic Kapila” (as the author of modern Sankhya philosophy), and distinguish between him and a “theistic Kapila” (being the incarnation described in the Bhagavata Purana). (see Teachings of Lord Kapila: The Son of Devahuti (1977), page 2)

Theosophists may likewise come to view there as being two primary Kapila’s involved in the dissemination of Sankhya philosophy, but perhaps will rather mark the distinction between the elder Kapila as he whose teachings are hinted at in the Mahabharata (see here) and further hinted at by H.P.B. (see here), this being perhaps the “Kapila of the Satya Yuga”, and the later Kapila who lived and taught during the Kali Yuga, and from whom Ishvara Krishna obtained his philosophy—these two perhaps correspond in some degree to her statement that: “The Sankhya philosophy may have been brought down and taught by the first, and written out by the last Kapila.” (Secret Doctrine, II:572). This is, of course, but one possible interpretation.

^6. The Mahabharata is commonly attributed by western scholars to the 8th or 9th century BCE, however tradition places the era of its events in the third millenium BCE, during the life of Krishna (Krishna’s death is traditionally given as 3102 BCE and we see little reason to argue against this date). Whether it was composed soon after 3102 BCE or well after (and we would lean towards the former), it is important to note that Sankhya philosophy is taken for granted within the Mahabharata, and both its founder and its teachings are viewed as ancient and prevalent therein.

^7. See, for instance, Mahabharata, Book 12, Sections 268-270, wherein Bhishma describes a dialogue between Kapila and a cow (Syumarasmi). Bhishma relates the dialogue as being “an old narrative”.

^8. See, for instance, Mahabharata, Book 12, Section 302.

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen now to what the subtile principles are of the followers of the Sankhya doctrine have been established by all the great and puissant Yatis having Kapila their first. In that doctrine O chief of men, no errors are discoverable. Many, indeed, are its merits. In fact, there is no fault in it. Comprehending with the aid of knowledge that all objects exist with faults … and understanding truly what the highest limit is of one’s period of existence in this world, and apprehending also the great truth, O foremost of eloquent men, about what is called felicity here, having a clear knowledge of what the sorrows are that overtake when the hour comes all those that are concerned with (transitory) objects … and all the demerits that attach to the declarations of the Vedas and all the excellencies that are connected with them … and truly apprehending the path that is followed by all objects when destruction overtakes them and what the course is of self knowledge, the Sankhyas, possessed of knowledge and experience and exalted by their perceptions of causes, and acquiring thorough auspiciousness, attain to the felicity of Emancipation like the rays of the Sun, or the Wind taking refuge in Space.”

“The Sankhyas or followers of Kapila, … are conversant with all paths and endued with wisdom. … indeed, O Bharata, aided by the Yoga of knowledge, these Yatis crowned with success,—cross the Ocean of life.”

Etc., etc.

^9. Ibid.

^10. “There are diverse kinds of cults, O royal sage, that go by diverse names such as Sankhya, Yoga, the Pancha-ratra, Vedas, and Pasupati. The promulgator of Sankhya cult is said to be the great Rishi Kapila. The primeval Hiranyagarbha, and none else, is the promulgator of the Yoga system. The Rishi Apantaratamas is said to be the preceptor of the Vedas, some call that Rishi by the name of Prachina-garbha. The cult known by the name of Pasupata was promulgated by the Lord of Uma, that master of all creatures, viz., the cheerful Siva, otherwise known by the name of Sreekantha, the son of Brahma. The illustrious Narayana is himself the promulgator of the cult, in its entirety, contained in the Pancharatra scriptures.” (Mahabharata, 12:350)

^11. “Sankhya is now found in Hinduism as one of the six darsanas, worldviews, or systems of philosophical thought. It is studied along with the other five darsanas, but … for centuries it has had virtually no followers of its own. However, things were not always this way. It was once the prevailing worldview throughout ancient India. It is taken for granted in the epic, Mahabharata, including the Bhagavadgita, and in the Puranas. It is found in the ancient medical work of Caraka. It is shown in the Buddha-carita being taught to the young Gautama in his quest for enlightenment. It is considered to be the original darsana, and its propounder, the sage Kapila, to be the first knower (adi-vidvan).” (“Samkhya and the Wisdom-Religion”, by David Reigle)

^12. See Samkhya Karika, “Karika A”.

^13. In the Samkhya Karika, Ishvara Krishna claims himself to be in a lineage that runs thus: Kapila, Asuri, Panchasika, then himself. In our biographies of Sankaracharya and Patanjali we put forth arguments that would place Gaudapada either contemporary with Gautama Buddha or in the century preceding him. Since there was a great teacher named Kapila, who lived prior to Buddha (perhaps three centuries prior (see note 4)), and who gave his name to the city of Buddha’s birth, and if the Gaudapada that commented upon the work of Ishvara Krishna be the same Gaudapada who commented upon the Mandukya Upanishad and who was a teacher of Sankaracharya, then it may stand that Ishvara Krishna lived at the latest one century before Gautama Buddha. While this cannot be proven, it remains a viable hypothesis.

^14. See Six Systems of Indian Philosophy (1899), page 224 etc.

^15. Notes on the Bhagavad Gita, T Subba Row.

^16. See The Sacred Books of the Hindus, Volume XI: Samkhya Philosophy (including translations of the principle Sankhya texts), tr. Nandalal Sinha (1915), for an extensive review of Sankhya philosophy as it stands today. The introduction, including an overview of the system of thought, can be read here.

^17. Isis Unveiled, II:530-31.

^18. See, for example, the text for Plate One, in A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda’s Teachings of Lord Kapila: The Son of Devahuti, which reads, in part:

“Some hundreds of thousands of years ago Lord Krsna appeared as Kapiladeva, the son of Devahūti and Kardama Muni. …”

See also Page 2 in the same work, where the Swami’s position on an early and later Kapila are described (see also note 5).

^19. See complete translation by Anand Aadhar Prabhu, http://bhagavata.org/. The details of Kapila’s life and teachings fall primarily within Canto 3, Chapters 25-33.

It may also be worth keeping in mind the following statement on this Purana:

“The Purâna is in duty bound to speak as it does [in regards to Kapila]. It has a dogma to promulgate and a policy to carry out—that of great secrecy with regard to mystical divine truths divulged for countless ages only at initiation.” (Secret Doctrine, II:571)

^20. Bhagavad Gita, 4:7-8, poetic translation by Sir Edwin Arnold.

Entries from Theosophical Glossaries

Kapila Rishi (Sk.). A great sage, a great adept of antiquity; the author of the Sankhya philosophy.

Sânkhya (Sk.). The system of philosophy founded by Kapila Rishi, a system of analytical metaphysics, and one of the six Darshanas or schools of philosophy. It discourses on numerical categories and the meaning of the twenty-five tatwas (the forces of nature in various degrees). This “atomistic school”, as some call it, explains nature by the interaction of twenty-four elements with purusha (spirit) modified by the three gunas (qualities), teaching the eternity of pradhâna (primordial, homogeneous matter), or the self-transformation of nature and the eternity of the human Egos.

Sânkhya Kârikâ (Sk.). A work by Kapila, containing his aphorisms.

Sânkhya Yoga (Sk.). The system of Yoga as set forth by the above school.

Tattwa (Sk.). Eternally existing “That”; also, the different principles in Nature, in their occult meaning. Tattwa Samâsa is a work of Sânkhya philosophy attributed to Kapila himself.

Theosophical Glossary, H. P. Blavatsky

Sankhya or Samkhya (Sanskrit) Sāṃkhya [from samkhyā to reckon, enumerate] The third of the six Darsanas or Hindu schools of philosophy, founded by Kapila, called thus because it divides the universe, and consequently man, into 25 tattvas (elementary principles), of which 24 represent the various more or less conscious vehicles or bodies in which lives and works the 25th, Purusha or the true self. The whole purpose of this school is to teach the essential nature of the universe and of man as an inseparable part of the universe; so that this Purusha — the ultimate thinking spiritual ego, composed in its essence of pure bliss, pure consciousness, and pure being — may be freed from the clinging bonds of the other 24 tattvas.

Blavatsky suggests that there was a succession of Kapilas; but that the Kapila who slew King Sagara’s 60,000 progeny was the founder of the Sankhya philosophy as stated in the Puranas. Further, the Sankhya philosophy may have been brought down and taught by the first, and written out by the last, Kapila, the great sage and philosopher of the kali yuga (cf SD 2:571-2).

As concerns the 24 tattvas, all derivative from the spiritual originant Purusha, they are divided into eight original prakritis (producers), and 16 derivatives of these eight prakritis called vikaras (productions). The eight prakritis themselves spring forth from mulprakriti (original nature or root-substance). In and through these 24 tattvas Purusha manifests itself during the manvantaric period. This system of tattvas therefore is applicable either to the universe or to any entity as a component part of the universe, since the fundamental law of things repeats itself in the great and the small.

The Sankhya school is closely related both in system and philosophical substance to the Yoga school founded by Patanjali.

Sankhya-karika or Sankhya-saptati (Sanskrit) Sāṃkhya-kārikā, Sāṃkhya-saptati A well-known textbook of the Sankhya philosophy; a collection of 72 verses by Isvara-Krishna, perhaps the oldest extant systematic exposition of the Sankhya system.

Sankhya-sara (Sanskrit) Sāṃkhya-sāra A work on the Sankhya philosophy by Vijnana-bhikshu.

Sankhya Yoga, Samkhya Yoga (Sanskrit) Sāṃkhya-yoga The realization, union, or at-one-ment with the higher self by the methods of the Sankhya system of philosophy. It is treated of in the second chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita.

Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary

The Antiquity of the Kapilas (from the Secret Doctrine)

The Antiquity of the Kapilas

from the Secret Doctrine, Volume II, p. 571-2

There are many Kapilas; but the Kapila who slew King Sagara’s progeny — 60,000 men strong — was undeniably Kapila, the founder of the Sankhya philosophy, since it is so stated in the Purânas; although one of them flatly denies the imputation without explaining its esoteric meaning. It is the Bhagavata Purâna (IX. viii., 12 and 13), which says that “the report that the sons of the King were reduced to ashes by the mere glance of the sage is not true.” “For,” as it argues, “how can the quality of darkness, the product of anger, exist in a sage whose goodness was the essence that purified the world — the earth’s dust, as it were, attributed to Heavens! How should mental perturbation distract that sage, identified with the Supreme Spirit, and who has steered here (on earth) that solid vessel of the Sankhya (philosophy), with the help of which he who desires to obtain liberation crosses the dreaded ocean of existence, that path to death?”

The Purâna is in duty bound to speak as it does. It has a dogma to promulgate and a policy to carry out — that of great secrecy with regard to mystical divine truths divulged for countless ages only at initiation. It is not in the Purânas, therefore, that we have to look for an explanation of the mystery connected with various transcendental states of being. That the story is an allegory is seen upon its very face: the 60,000 Sons, brutal, vicious, and impious, are the personification of the human passions that a “mere glance of the sage” — the SELF who represents the highest state of purity that can be reached on earth—reduces to ashes. But it has also other significations — cyclic and chronological meanings, — a method of marking the periods when certain sages flourished, found also in other Purânas.

Now it is as well ascertained as any tradition can be, that it was at Hardwar (or Gangadwara, the “door or gate of the Ganges”) at the foot of the Himalayas, that Kapila sat in meditation for a number of years. Not far from the Sewalik range, the “pass of Hardwar” is called to this day “Kapila’s Pass”; and the place, “Kapilasthen,” by the ascetics. It is there that Ganga (Ganges) emerging from its mountainous gorge, begins its course over the sultry plains of India. And it is as clearly ascertained by geological survey that the tradition which claims that the ocean ages ago washed the base of the Himalayas — is not entirely without foundation, for there are traces left of this.

The Sankhya philosophy may have been brought down and taught by the first, and written out by the last Kapila.

Now Sagara is the name of the Ocean, and even of the Bay of Bengal, at the mouth of the Ganges, to this day in India (Vide Wilson’s Vishnu Purâna, Vol. III. p. 309). Have geologists ever calculated the number of millenniums it has taken the sea to recede to where it is now, from Hardwar, 1,024 feet above the level of the sea at present? If they did, those Orientalists who show Kapila flourishing from the 1st to the 9th cent. A.D., might change their opinions, if only for one of two very good reasons: the true number of years elapsed since Kapila’s day is in the Purânas unmistakably, though the translators fail to see it. And secondly — the Kapila of the Satya, and the Kapila of the Kali-Yugas may be one and the same INDIVIDUALITY, without being the same PERSONALITY.

Kapila, besides being the name of a personage, of the once living Sage and the author of Sankhya philosophy, is also the generic name of the Kumâras, the celestial ascetics and virgins; therefore the very fact of Bhagavata Purâna calling that Kapila — which it showed just before as a portion of Vishnu — the author of Sankhya philosophy, ought to have warned the reader of a blind containing an esoteric meaning. Whether the Son of Vitatha, as Harivansa shows him to be, or of anyone else, the author of Sankhya cannot be the same as the Sage of the SatyaYuga — at the very beginning of the Manvantara, when Vishnu is shown in the form of Kapila, “imparting to all creatures true Wisdom”; for this relates to that primordial period when “the Sons of God” taught to the just created men the arts and sciences, which have been cultivated and preserved since then in the sanctuaries by the Initiates. There are several well-known Kapilas in the Purânas. First the primeval sage, then Kapila, one of the three “Secret” Kumâras; and Kapila, son of Kasyapa and Kadrû — the “many-headed Serpent,” (See Vayu Purâna placing him on the list of the forty renowned sons of Kasyapa), besides Kapila, the great sage and philosopher of the Kali Yuga. Being an Initiate, “a Serpent of Wisdom,” a Nâga, the latter was purposely blended with the Kapilas of the former ages.

On Kapila's relation to Kapilavastu (birthplace of the Buddha)

From the Buddha Charita (tr. Charles Johnston)

There was a city, the dwelling place of the holy man of old, Kapila; surrounded on all sides by a fair, broad upland, set in hills that girt it round like clouds. The lofty pinnacles of the city soared towards heaven; and its rule was a white mountain of holiness,—that might draw away the clouds from the snowy peaks, misleading them, yet repaying all their hopes by its beauty. And darkness and misery found no refuge there, for the bright shining, and wealth of the city. And smiling Fortune dwelt there gladly, amid such worthy dwellers. And, for that nowhere throughout the whole earth was seen the like of it, for gardens and arches and jeweled spires, the city could vie only with itself, one palace striving with another. (see “The Nativity of the Buddha”, Universal Brotherhood, 1898)


From the Buddha Charita (tr. E. H. Johnston)

Canto I: Birth of the Holy One

82. The king too, delighted at the birth of a son, threw open all the prisons in his realm and in his affection for his son caused the birth ceremony to be properly performed for him in the manner that befitted his family,

83. And, when the ten days were fulfilled, in the piety of his mind and the excess of his joy, he offered for the supreme welfare of his son sacrifices to the gods together with incantations, oblations and other auspicious rites.

84. Moreover for the prosperity of his son he bestowed of himself cows full of milk, in the prime of their age, with gilded horns and healthy sturdy calves, to the full number of a hundred thousand, on the twice-born.

85. Thereon, self-controlled, he prescribed the performance of ceremonies directed to many ends which. delighted his heart, and when a fortunate, auspicious day had been determined, he gladly decided to enter the city.

86. Then the queen, taking the babe, did obeisance to the gods and entered for good fortune a costly ivory litter, bedecked with, white sitapuspa flowers and lit by precious stones.

87. The king then made the queen, attended by aged women and accompanied by her child, enter tho city in front of him, and himself also advanced, saluted by hosts of citizens, like Indra, when on entering heaven he was saluted by the immortals,

88. The Sakya king thereon proceeded into his palace in good heart, like Bhava on the birth of his six-faced son, and, with countenance beaming with joy, directed every arrangement to be made which would lead to many kinds of prosperity and renown.

89. Thus the town named alter Kapila rejoiced with, its surrounding territory at the prosperous birth of the prince, just as the town of the Wealth-giver, which was thronged with Apsarases, rejoiced at the birth of Nalakubara.

Canto V: Flight (Buddha leaves Kapilavastu)

83. Then he went forth out of his father’s city, in the firmness of his resolve quitting without concern his father, who was devoted to him, his young son, his affectionate people and his unequalled magnificence.

84. Thereon he, whose eyes were long like stainless lotuses born of the mud, looked back at the city and uttered a lion-roar: “I shall not be entering the city named after Kapila, till I have seen the further shore of life and death.”

Canto VIII: Lamentations of the Palace

5. Then in clue course they approached the city named after Kapila, which seemed empty like tho sky without the sun, now that it was deserted by the magnanimous prince, whose being was concentrated on the weal of the world.

6. That very same city-grove though still gay with lotus-covered waters and adorned with trees in full bloom, was now like a forest and no longer brilliant with citizens; for all their happiness had gone.


From the Dhammapada, introduction, by Harischandra Kaviratna

Almost thirty miles to the south of the foothills of the Himalayas, a rolling plain extends for hundreds of miles along the Nepalese frontier, verdant and picturesque, rich in scenic delights and silent forest glades through which flow sparkling streams. In this ideal retreat Buddhist tradition has it that a bodhisattva, Kapila Gautama Muni, lived about three centuries before the advent of Gautama Buddha.

Sometime between 950 and 900 b.c.e. there reigned a mighty king named Virudhaka, lord of a vast confederation of vassal states, and descendant of the Ikshvaku dynasty. On a pleasure trip he beheld a most charming young princess and felt himself compelled to make her a matrimonial proposal, which the princess accepted only on condition that the king appoint her youngest son, instead of her eldest, to be his heir to the throne of Kosala. In due time the queen reminded her lord of the promise he had made; the king was distressed by the demand that he break the Vedic convention, but the four older sons volunteered to accept banishment. They loaded their chariots and rode towards the Himalayas whose snow-covered peaks glittered on the far horizon. After some days they reached the monastery of the celebrated sage Kapila Gautama.

The princes were well received and, instructed by the sage, they founded a flourishing metropolis which became known as Kapilavastu.

H.P. Blavatsky on Kapila

Isis Unveiled

“Even Positivism and Nihilism find their prototype in the exoteric portion of Kapila’s philosophy, as is well remarked by Max Muller.” (IU I:98)

“From Kapila, the Hindu philosopher, who many centuries before Christ demurred to the claim of the mystic Yogins, that in ecstasy a man has the power of seeing Deity face to face and conversing with the “highest” beings, down to the Voltaireans of the eighteenth century, who laughed at everything that was held sacred by other people, each age had its unbelieving Thomases. Did they ever succeed in checking the progress of truth? No more than the ignorant bigots who sat in judgment over Galileo checked the progress of the earth’s rotation.” (IU I:121)

“Kapila cuts with the sharp sword of his sarcasms the Brahman-Yoggins, who in their mystical visions pretend to see the HIGHEST one.” (IU I:307)

“The grandiose poetry of the four Vedas; the Books of Hermes; the Chaldean Book of Numbers; the Nazarene Codex; the Kabala of the Tanaim; the Sepher Jezira; the Book of Wisdom, of Schlomah (Solomon); the secret treatise on Muhta and Badha** attributed by the Buddhist kabalists to Kapila, the founder of the Sankhya system; the Brahmanas;*** the Stan-gyour,**** of the Thibetans; all these volumes have the same ground-work. Varying but in allegories they teach the same secret doctrine which, when once thoroughly eliminated, will prove to be the Ultima Thule of true philosophy, and disclose what is this LOST WORD.
** The two words answer to the terms, Macroprosopos, or macrocosm — the absolute and boundless, and the Microprosopos of the “Kabala,” the “short face,” or the microcosm — the finite and conditioned. It is not translated; nor is it likely to be. The Thibetean monks say that it is the real “Sutras.” Some Buddhists believe that Buddha was, in a previous existence, Kapila himself. We do not see how several Sanscrit scholars can entertain the idea that Kapila was an atheist, while every legend shows him the most ascetic mystic, the founder of the sect of the Yogis.” (IU I:580)

“This very philosophy of the unreality of mundane things and the illusion of the senses — whose whole substance has been plagiarized in our own times by the German metaphysicians — forms the groundwork of Kapila’s and Vyasa’s philosophies, and may be found in Gautama Buddha’s enunciation of the “four truths,” the cardinal dogmas of his doctrine.” (IU I:626)

“Alone the highest and invisible originals emanated from the thought of the Unknown are real and permanent beings, forms, and ideas; on earth, we see but their reflections; more or less correct, and ever dependent on the physical and mental organization of the person who beholds them. Ages untold before our era, the Hindu Mystic Kapila, who is considered by many scientists as a skeptic, because they judge him with their habitual superficiality, magnificently expressed this idea in the following terms:
“Man (physical man) counts for so little, that hardly anything can demonstrate to him his proper existence and that of nature. Perhaps, that which we regard as the universe, and the divers beings which seem to compose it, have nothing real, and are but the product of continued illusion — maya — of our senses.”” (IU II:158)

“In the Sanchoniathonian Cosmogony, men are also evolved out of the ilus of the chaos,* and the same evolution and transformation of species are shown.
And now we will leave the rostrum to Mr. Darwin: “I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors.”**
Again: “I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth, have descended from some one primordial form.*** . . . I view all beings, not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited.”****
In short, they lived in the Sanchoniathonian chaos, and in the ilus of Manu. Vyasa and Kapila go still farther than Darwin and Manu. “They see in Brahma but the name of the universal germ; they deny the existence of a First Cause; and pretend that everything in nature found itself developed only in consequence of material and fatal forces,” says Jacolliot.*****
Correct as may be this latter quotation from Kapila, it demands a few words of explanation. Jacolliot repeatedly compares Kapila and Veda Vyasa with Pyrrho and Littre. We have nothing against such a comparison with the Greek philosopher, but we must decidedly object to any with the French Comtist; we find it an unmerited fling at the memory of the great Aryan sage. Nowhere does this prolific writer state the repudiation by either ancient or modern Brahmans of God — the “unknown,” universal Spirit; nor does any other Orientalist accuse the Hindus of the same, however perverted the general deductions of our savants about Buddhistic atheism. On the contrary, Jacolliot states more than once that the learned Pundits and educated Brahmans have never shared the popular superstitions; and affirms their unshaken belief in the unity of God and the soul’s immortality, although most assuredly neither Kapila, nor the initiated Brahmans, nor the followers of the Vedanta school would ever admit the existence of an anthropomorphic creator, a “First Cause” in the Christian sense.” (IU II:261)

“There were no Atheists in those days of old; no disbelievers or materialists, in the modern sense of the word, as there were no bigoted detractors. He who judges the ancient philosophies by their external phraseology, and quotes from ancient writings sentences seemingly atheistical, is unfit to be trusted as a critic, for he is unable to penetrate into the inner sense of their metaphysics. The views of Pyrrho, whose rationalism has become proverbial, can be interpreted only by the light of the oldest Hindu philosophy. From Manu down to the latest Swabhavika, its leading metaphysical feature ever was to proclaim the reality and supremacy of spirit, with a vehemence proportionate to the denial of the objective existence of our material world — passing phantom of temporary forms and beings. The numerous schools begotten by Kapila, reflect his philosophy no clearer than the doctrines left as a legacy to thinkers by Timon, Pyrrho’s “Prophet,” as Sextus Empiricus calls him. His views on the divine repose of the soul, his proud indifference to the opinion of his fellow men, his contempt for sophistry, reflect in an equal degree stray beams of the self-contemplation of the Gymnosophists and of the Buddhist Vaibhashika. Notwithstanding that he and his followers are termed, from their state of constant suspense, “skeptics,” “doubters,” inquirers, and ephectics, only because they postponed their final judgment on dilemmas, with which our modern philosophers prefer dealing, Alexander-like, by cutting the Gordian knot, and then declaring the dilemma a superstition, such men as Pyrrho cannot be pronounced atheists. No more can Kapila, or Giordano Bruno, or again Spinoza, who were also treated as atheists; nor yet, the great Hindu poet, philosopher, and dialectician, Veda-Vyasa, whose principle that all is illusion — save the Great Unknown and His direct essence — Pyrrho has adopted in full.” (IU II:530-31)

“Kapila, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Plato, Basilides, Marcian, Ammonius and Plotinus, founded schools and sowed the germs of many a noble thought, and disappearing left behind them the refulgence of demi-gods. But the three personalities of Christna, Gautama, and Jesus appeared like true gods, each in his epoch, and bequeathed to humanity three religions built on the imperishable rock of ages.” (IU II:536)

“This secret of secrets, that soul is not knit to flesh, was practically demonstrated in the instance of the Yogis, the followers of Kapila. Having emancipated their souls from the fetters of Prakriti, or Mahat (the physical perception of the senses and mind — in one sense, creation), they so developed their soul-power and will-force, as to have actually enabled themselves, while on earth, to communicate with the supernal worlds, and perform what is bunglingly termed “miracles.”” (IU II:565)

The Secret Doctrine

“It has been repeatedly stated that evolution as taught by Manu and Kapila was the groundwork of the modern teachings, but neither Occultism nor Theosophy has ever supported the wild theories of the present Darwinists — least of all the descent of man from an ape.” (SD I:186)

“The “BEING” [the “Great Sacrifice”] just referred to, which has to remain nameless, is the Tree from which, in subsequent ages, all the great historically known Sages and Hierophants, such as the Rishi Kapila, Hermes, Enoch, Orpheus, etc., etc., have branched off.” (SD I:207)

“The day may come, then, when the “Natural Selection,” as taught by Mr. Darwin and Mr. Herbert Spencer, will form only a part, in its ultimate modification, of our Eastern doctrine of Evolution, which will be Manu and Kapila esoterically explained.” (SD I:600)

“Both Occult and Eastern philosophies believe in evolution, which Manu and Kapila* give with far more clearness than any scientist does at present.” (SD II:259)

[see “On the Antiquity of the Kapilas”, SD II:571 etc.]

“”. . . Darwin puts in the place of a conscious creative force, building and arranging the organic bodies of animals and plants on a designed plan, a series of natural forces working blindly (or we say) without aim, without design. In place of an arbitrary act of operation, we have a necessary law of Evolution . . . . ” (So had Manu and Kapila, and, at the same time, guiding, conscious and intelligent Powers)” (SD II:652)


“Now although I admire with all my soul the lofty philosophy of Siddhartha, or Sakya-Muni, I bow quite as much before the moral grandeur and the powerful logic of the Hindu Kapila, the great Acharya, who was, however, the most implacable enemy of the Buddha.” (The Real Madame Blavatsky, La Revue Spirite)


“The Yogin is able to enter a dead or a living body by the path of the senses, and in this body to act as though it were his own.

The “path of the senses”; our physical senses, supposed to originate in the astral body, the ethereal counterpart of man, or the jîvâtma, which dies with the body; the senses are here meant in their spiritual sense—volition of the higher principle in man. The true Râja Yogin is a stoic; and Kapila, who deals but with the latter—utterly rejecting the claim of the Hatha Yogins to converse during Samâdhi with the Infinite Îshvara—describes their state in the following words:

To a Yogin in whose mind all things are identified as spirit, what is infatuation? What is grief? He sees all things as one; he is destitute of affections; he neither rejoices in good nor is offended with evil. . . . A wise man sees so many false things in those which are called true, so much misery in what is called happiness, that he turns away with disgust. . . . Me who in the body has obtained liberation (from the tyranny of the senses) is of no caste, of no sect, of no order, attends to no duties, adheres to no shastras, to no formulas, to no works of merit; he is beyond the reach of speech; he remains at a distance from all secular concerns; he has renounced the love and the knowledge of all sensible objects; he flatters none, he honours none, he is not worshipped, he worships none; whether he practises and follows the customs of his fellow-men or not this is his character.

And a selfish and a disgustingly misanthropical one this character would be were it that for which the True Adept was striving. But it must not be understood literally, and we shall have something more to say upon the subject in the following article, which will conclude Dr. Paul’s essay on Yoga Philosophy.” (Yoga Philosophy)


“If Science is right then the future of our Solar System–hence of what we call the Universe–offers but little of hope or consolation for our descendants. Two of her votaries, Messrs. Thompson and Klansius, have simultaneously reached the conclusive opinion that the Universe is doomed, at some future and not so very remote period, to utter destruction. Such is also the theory of several other astronomers, one and all describing the gradual cooling off and the final dissolution of our planet in terms nearly identical with those used by the greatest Hindu, and even some of the Greek sages. One might almost think he were reading over again Manu, Kanada, Kapila and others.” (The Pralaya of Modern Science)


“The line of philosophical heredity, from Kapila through Epicurus to James Mill; from Patanjali through Plotinus to Jacob Böhme, can be traced like the course of a river through a landscape.” (What are the Theosophists?)


“… “Magic” is brought into every line of the sacred books of the Aryans. Magic is indispensable for the comprehension of either of the six great schools of Âryan philosophy. And it is precisely to understand them, and thus enable ourselves to bring to light the hidden summum bonum of that mother of all Eastern Philosophies known as the Vedas, and the later Brâhmanical literature, that we study it. Neglect this study, and we, in common with all Europe, would have to set Max Müller’s interpretations of the Vedas far above those of Svamî Dyanand Sarasvati, as given in his Veda Bhâshya. And we would have to let the Anglo-German Sanskritist go uncontradicted, when he says that with the exception of the Rik, none other of the four sacred books is deserving of the name of Veda, especially the Atharva Veda, which is absurd, magical nonsense, composed of sacrificial formulas, charms and incantations (see his Lecture on the Vedas). This is, therefore, why, disregarding every misconception, we humbly beg to be allowed to follow the analytical method of such students and practitioners of “Magic” as Kapila—mentioned in the Shvetâshvatara Upanishad as

The Rishi nourished with knowledge by the God himself—

Patanjali, the great authority of the Yoga, Shankarâchârya of theurgic memory, and even Zoroaster …” (Magic)


“Kapila, in common with all Eastern Philosophers, despised the purely psychical nature. It is this agglomeration of the grosser particles of the soul, the mesmeric exhalations of human nature imbued with all its terrestrial desires and propensities, its vices, imperfections and weakness, forming the astral body, which can become objective under certain circumstances, which the Buddhists call the Skandhas …” (Views of the Theosophists)


“The very limitations of modern languages prevent any rapid communication of ideas about Eastern Philosophy. I defy the great Max Müller himself to translate Kapila’s Sutras so as to give their real meaning. We have seen what the best European authorities can do with the Hindu metaphysics; and what a mess they have made of it, to be sure!” (A Society without a Dogma)


“Although twenty-two and a half centuries have elapsed since the death of Plato, the great minds of the world are still occupied with his writings. He was, in the fullest sense of the word, the world’s interpreter. And the greatest Philosopher of the pre-Christian era faithfully mirrored in his works the spiritualism of the Vedic Philosophers, who lived thousands of years before himself, with its metaphysical expression. Vyâsa, Jaimini, Kapila, Patanjali, and may others, will be found to have transmitted their indelible imprint through the intervening centuries, by means of Pythagoras, upon Plato and his school. Thus is warranted the inference that to Plato and the ancient Hindu Sages the same wisdom was alike revealed. And so surviving the shock of time, what can this wisdom be but divine and eternal?” (Old Philosophers and Modern Critics)

Traditional Biographical Sources

From the Bhagavata Purana

Translation by Anand Aadhar Prabhu, http://bhagavata.org/

The Incarnation of The Supreme Lord (Vishnu)

1:3:10 Fifth [[of the incarnations of Vishnu]] with the name of Kapila He gave an exposition to the brahmin Âsuri on the nature of metaphysics and the elements of creation because in the course of time the knowledge was lost.

2:7:3 … He [[the Lord]] took birth in the house of the twice-born Kardama [‘the shadow of the Creator’] from the womb of Devahûti [‘the invocation of the Gods’] together with nine sisters. As Lord Kapila [‘the analytic one’] He spoke to His mother about spiritual realization because of which she in that life was freed from the material modes that cover the soul and achieved liberation.

3:24:16-19 [Brahmâ said:] … (16) I know that the original enjoyer, the bestower of all that is desired by the living entities, descended by dint ofHis internal potency and has assumed the body of Kapila Muni oh sage.(17)By spiritual knowledge and the science of the yogic uniting of consciousness He who is known by His golden hair, His lotus eyes and lotus-marked feet, will uproot the foundation of profit-minded labor.(18)Know oh Devahûti that the killer ofthe demon Kaithabha has entered your womb and with cutting the knot of ignorance and doubt will travel all over the world.(19)This personality will be the leader of the perfected ones,His Vedic analysiswill carry the approval of the teachers of example [the âcâryas] and to your greater fame, He will be celebrated in the world as Kapila.’

3:24:26-40: (26) Kardama knowing that He had descended who appears in the three yugas [Vishnu, only seen as a covered ‘channa’ – avatâra in the last, fourth yuga] as the supreme intelligence of all the wise, then approached Him in seclusion. He offered his obeisances and spoke to Him as follows: (27) ‘Oh, finally after such a long time the gods are of mercy for those who have to suffer being entangled in their own misdeeds in this world. (28) After many births, mature yogis perfect by their absorption in yoga endeavor in seclusion to see His feet. (29) That very same Supreme Lordship, He who is there to support His devotees, has today appeared in our homes, despite the negligence of us ordinary householders high and low. (30) To be true to Your words You have descended in my house with the wish to disseminate the spiritual knowledge of the Fortunate One who is there to the greater honor and glory of the devotees. (31) While You Yourself are without a material form, You please the ones following Your path with whichever of those truly apt forms that You assume. (32) The seat of Your feet is always worth the worshipful respect of all men of learning who desire to understand the Absolute Truth. I surrender myself to You who are full of riches, renunciation, fame, knowledge, strength and beauty [the so-called six opulences of the Lord]. (33) I surrender myself to You Lord Kapila, who are the supreme, transcendental personality, the origin of the world, the full awareness of time and the three modes of nature, the Maintainer of All the Worlds and the sovereign power who by His own potency absorbs the manifestations after their dissolution. (34) Today I ask You the following, oh father of all created beings. Since You relieved me of my debts and fulfilled my desires, I ask You to accept me as someone on the path of an itinerant mendicant so that I may wander about with You in my heart and keep myself far from lamentation.’
(35) The Supreme Lord said: ‘That what I have to say of the scriptures or from My own mind concerns in fact the [spiritual] authority for the people. I as promised took My birth with you for the sake of that authority, oh sage. (36) This birth of Mine in the world is there to explain to the ones who seek liberation from the troubles of a material existence, the truths [of Sânkhya yoga] so highly celebrated in self-realization. (37) Please know that because this path is so difficult to comprehend and has been lost in the course of time, this body was assumed by Me to introduce it again. (38) Go now to operate with My approval, as you wish, in accord with the renounced order. In order to conquer insurmountable death, for the sake of eternal life please engage in My devotional service. (39) With your intellect always fixed upon Me, the supreme, self-effulgent soul present in the heart of every living being, you will see Me in your own heart and achieve freedom from fear and lamentation. (40) I will give this knowledge of the soul that leads to a spiritual life and puts an end to all fruitive activity, also to Mymotherso that she also will conquer the fear.’


Kapila’s Teachings to his Mother, Devahuti


Chapter 25: The Glories of Devotional Service

(1) S’rî S’aunaka said: “Although unborn Himself, the Supreme Lord personally from His own potency took birth as Lord Kapila, the analyst of the ultimate truth, in order to disseminate transcendental knowledge for the human race. (2) Hearing repeatedly about Him, the foremost of all yogis and the godhead of the Vedas the greater of whom cannot be found among men, pleases me in all my senses. (3) Please describe to me faithfully all the praiseworthy, self-inspired actions of the Supreme Lord who is so full of the delight of the soul.”

(4) Sûta said: “Being a friend of Vyâsadeva the venerable sage Maitreya who was pleased with being asked about transcendental knowledge then spoke as follows to Vidura. (5) Maitreya said: ‘When the father had left for the forest, Lord Kapila stayed behind at lake Bindu-sarovara with the desire to please His mother. (6) When He [some day] comfortably sat down before her, Devahûti remembered the words of Brahmâ and addressed Him. He, her son, could show her the path to the goal of the ultimate reality.

(7) Devahûti said: ‘Oh my Lord, I am very disgusted with the prevalence of untruth of my agitated senses because of which I fell into the abyss of ignorance. (8) At the end of many births, by Your mercy I now have attained You who are my transcendental eye to overcome the darkness of ignorance that is so difficult to defeat. (9) He who is the origin, de Supreme Lord of all beings and the Master of the Universe has, with You, alike the sun, risen to the eye that was blinded by the darkness of ignorance. (10) You engaged me in this misconception of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ [of false ego], so now be pleased my Lord to dispel the delusion. (11) With the desire to know about the material and personal aspect [prakriti and purusha],I offer Youmy obeisanceswho are the greatest of all the seers of the true nature. I have taken to the shelter of Your feet because You are the person deserving it, You are for the ones depending on You the ax that cuts the tree of an existence ruled by matter.’

(12) Maitreya said: ‘Thus hearing about His mother’s innocent and commonly human wish to be successful on the path of liberation, He with a gladdened mind slightly smiling with His beautiful face, expounded on the way of the transcendentalists. (13) The Supreme Lord said: ‘The discipline of yoga of relating to the soulforthe sake of complete detachment from whatever pleasure and distress, isthe ultimate benefitfor mankind that carries My approval. (14) Oh pious mother, I will now explain that to you what I formerly explained to the sages who were eager to hear about all the ins and outs of the yoga system. (15) The living being its [state of] consciousness is considered [responsible] for its bondage and liberation.In attraction to the three modes of nature one is materially conditioned, but if one attaches to the soul of the universe [the Original Person], one is of liberation.(16) From the impurities of lust and greed and such, that result from the misconception of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, one is freed when the mind is pure in being equipoised, without distress and pleasure. (17) It is in that state that the person, who pure and transcendental to the material world is not bound and fragmented, does not see himself as someone different but as innerly enlightened. (18) With a mind full ofspiritual knowledge, renunciation and connectedness in devotion one is indifferent about one’s material existence, which is then less of influence. (19) There is no yogic path as auspicious for the perfection of the spirit as the performance of devotional service for the Supreme Lord, the complete of the Soul. (20) Any man of knowledge knows that strong attachment constitutes the entanglement of the soul, but that that same attachment for devotees opens the door to liberation. (21) Being tolerant, compassionate, friendly to all living beings and inimical to no one, peaceful and abiding by the scriptures, the sâdhu [the man of virtue, of holiness, a seer] is adorned with sublime qualities. (22) They who are persistent in performing devotional service unto Me, staunch for My sake refrain from acting in desire and give up family ties and friendships. (23) Delighted to listen to the stories about Me they fix their minds upon Me and chant [My names], without causing distress with their various penances. (24) Oh virtuous mother, try to develop attachment to these devotees who are free from all attachments, for they are the ones who compensate for the harmful effects of being materially entangled. (25) Through association with those who cherish the truth, the stories cultivated in discussing My heroism become a joy to the ear and heart, so that, when one firmly convinced experiences the attraction, soon devotion will follow. (26) A person finding himself situated in devotional service will sincerely strive to control his mind on the path of yoga when he, constantly thinking about My management, in his bhakti has developed a distaste for gratifying his senses in relation to what he sees [now] and hears about [the past and future]. (27) As a person not serving the modes of nature, one attains through spiritual knowledge, with renunciation developed in yoga fixed on Me and devoted to Me, in this very life the Supersoul within.’

(28) Devahûti said: ‘What is unto You the proper concept of devotion that is fit for me and from which I immediately will find liberation at Your feet? (29) What oh embodiment of truth, is the nature of the yoga to perceive the Supreme One you spoke about and with how many divisions is reality understood by it? (30) Please explain this to me whose intelligence is but slow oh my Lord, so that I by Your grace may easily comprehend what is so difficult to understand for a woman.’

(31) Maitreya said: ‘Kapila understanding what His mother wanted, born from her body sympathized with her and described thus the truths handed down in disciplic succession of what one calls analytical yoga, a form of yoga which in fact concerns a development of mystical yoga in devotional service. (32) The Fortunate One said: ‘The divine of [by one’s senses and their ruling divinities] relating to the qualities of matter works in accord with the scriptures when someone in relation to the goodness [the Lord] innerly is not divided. Factually the devotional service free from desires unto the Lord – that is better than the single mastery [of the state of salvation] – is something to which one is naturally inclined. (33) The way food is consumed by the fire of digestion this service quickly dissolves the subtle internal dealings of one’s material motivation [the ‘subtle body’]. (34) Pure devotees who engaged in the service of My lotus feet endeavor to attain Me, never ever desire to be one with Me. They assemble to glorify My personal activities in association. (35) Oh mother, they see My smiling face and eyes as beautiful as the morning sun and speak with Me in favorable terms about the benevolence of My transcendental forms. (36) By those forms who are so charming in all their limbs, exalted pastimes, smiling glances and their words, their minds and senses are captivated because of which unwillingly in their devotion the subtlety of My heavenis secured. (37) As a consequence they do not desire My opulence or the eightfold mastery over the material illusion [the siddhis, see 3.15:45], nor do they follow a desire for the splendor of Supreme Divinity. Those devotees full of bliss about Me as the Supreme One, just enjoy their simple lives. (38) Oh mother, My devotees will never, by no [change of] time or weapon of destruction, lose Me [and My opulence] who was chosen by them as their dearest self, son, friend, preceptor, benefactor and deity. (39-40) That way roaming in both this world and the world of subtle experiences, those who in relation to My embodiment in this world have given up on wealth, cattle, houses and everything else, unflinching in their devotion worship Me, the all-pervading Lord of liberation, because I take them to the beyond of birth and death. (41) No other person or anything else but Me, the Supreme Lord and original ruler over matter and the person, the Soul of all souls, can put an end to the terrible fear [of birth and death]. (42) In fear of Me the wind blows and the sun shines, in fear of Me Indra showers rain and fire burns and in fear of Me death is all around. (43) United in spiritual knowledge and renunciation, yogis free from fear in bhakti yoga take shelter of My feet for the ultimate benefit. (44) The only way for people to find in this world the ultimate perfection of life is to steadily focus their mind in an intensive practice of devotional service to Me.’

Chapter 26:Fundamental Principles of Material Nature

(1) The Supreme Lord said: ‘I will now describe to you the different categories of reality, knowing which anyone can be released from the [yoke of the] modes of material nature. (2) I will explain that to you about which one speaks as the spiritual knowledge [the jñâna] that cuts the knots [of egoism] in the heart and constitutes the ultimate truth of one’s self-realization. (3) The Supreme Soul, the Original Person is beginningless and is, situated in the beyond of all matter, transcendental to the modes of nature. He can be perceived everywhere as the self-effulgence of the entire creation that is maintained by Him. (4) That very person, the greatest of the great, accepted out of his own free will as His pastime the subtle material energy that is invested with the three modes and relates to the divinity [of Vishnu]. (5)Nature by means of the modes created the variegated forms of the materially living beings. They in this world being confronted with it, were from the first day on illusioned by it because they [those forms] constitute the covering of their spiritual knowledge. (6)Because the living entity identifies himself with the material action that was brought about by the modes of nature and is other than himself, he unjustly considers himself the doer. (7) He because of that bound to a conditioned life thus became dependent, even though he is the naturally joyful and independent witness who does not do anything. (8) The knowers of truth understand that the body and the senses of one’s respect are subject to the causation of the material modes of nature and that the spiritual soul above all matter is responsible for the experience of happiness and distress [see also B.G. 13: 21].’

(9) Devahûti said: ‘Kindly explain to me the characteristics of the energies and the Original Person [prakriti and purusha] who together constitute the cause of the manifest and unmanifest reality this creation consists of.’

(10) The Supreme Lord said: ‘The undifferentiated, eternal reality that differentiated in the form of material nature [prakriti] as a combination of the three modes, this cause belonging to the effect [of this material manifestation], is called the primary nature [the primal ether or pradhâna]. (11) That primary nature is known as the basis from which the five gross and five subtle elements, the ten senses of perception and action and the four internal sense departments [of mind, ego, consciousness and intelligence] evolved who together add up to a number of twenty-four [see also elements]. (12) The five gross elements are to be exact: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Of the subtle elementsthere are, to My notion, as many. They are the smell and so on [taste, color, touch and sound]. (13) The ten senses are the organs of [perception of] hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling, with the [organs of action known as the] mouth, the hands, the legs, the genitals and the organs of excretion as the tenth. (14)Mind, intelligence, ego and consciousness are the four aspects of the internal, subtle sense one distinguishes when one pays attention to the different characteristics of the [brain] functions. (15) Thus are with the classification I provided the material qualities of the Absolute Truth of Brahman summed up [called saguna brahman]. One speaks thereto of time as the twenty-fifth element.

(16) The influence of the Original Personality of God is said to be the time factor that is feared by some who are deluded by the ego of being in contact with the material nature of one’s individual existence. (17) The [expanding, accelerating] movement of material nature without her interaction of the modes and their specific qualities o daughter of Manu, is the [space]time [the fourth dimension] from which we in our world know Him, the Supreme Lord. (18)He who abides within in the form of the original person [purusha] and without in the form of time [the twenty-fifth element], exists by [exhibiting] His potencies as the Lord of All Opulence [Bhagavân, the Fortunate One] for all living entities [and elements]. (19) She [material nature] whose equilibrium of the modes was agitated by the grace, the divine ordinance, of the Supreme Person who impregnated her womb with His semen, His internal potency, delivers the sum total of the cosmic intelligence [the mahat-tattva] of Brahmâ’s effulgent golden reality [known as hiranmaya]. (20) The universe which contains this unchangeable root cause of the cosmic manifestation within itself, swallowed by its own effulgence the dense darkness of the Self in its primordial slumber. (21) The mode of goodness, which is the clear and sober position of understanding the Supreme Lord, is known by the name of Vâsudeva; it is the consciousness that constitutes the nature of the intellect [see also S.B. 1.2: 23]. (22)The characteristic traits of one’s [reason inthis state of Krishna or natural time] consciousnessthus are similarto those of the natural state of pure water: clarity, invariability and serenity.

(23-24) From the complete reality [of the mahat-tattva] that undergoes changes brought about by the Supreme Lord His energies, the in five divided elements, the material ego [or I-awareness] and the therefrom generated mind in combination with the different senses of action and perception sprang up. Moved by that active potency of the Lord the ego manifested itself in the three forms of goodness, passion and ignorance. (25) All of that ego consisting of the elements, senses and mind is in person the Supreme Personality of Ananta with His thousands of heads [Vishnu’s snake-bed] who is known by the name of Sankarshana [and also as the Supreme Lord’s first plenary expansion]. (26) The false ego, the materially identified self, can thus [according to the three gunas] be characterized as being the one acting, the instrument that is handled [the body] as also the effect of the actions [or that what was realized]. One may in that context also speak of the ego as being serene, active or dull. (27) With the transformation [of the ego in three false forms] from its emotions [in goodness] the principle of mind evolved that with its thoughts and reflections gives rise to desires. (28) The name of that principle is Aniruddha, He who [as the personal expansion of the mind of Vâsudeva] is known as the supreme ruler of the senses. He is bluish like a lotus in autumn and is only gradually realized by the yogis. (29) From the brilliance of the light of the transformation arose the principle of intelligence [the primal expansion of the Lord named Pradyumna] o virtuous lady, in order to assist in sensually ascertaining the objects that can be perceived [see also S.B. 1.5: 37]. (30) Doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory and sleep are thus said to be the different characteristics of the functions of intelligence.

(31) From the forceful action of the ego we have the senses for arriving at actions and the acquiring of knowledge according to the active powers of respectively the vital energy and the intelligence. (32) Impelled by the potency of the Supreme Lord from the ignorance of the ego in transformation the subtle element of sound was manifested. Then from the ether the sense of hearing to catch the sounds rose. (33) Persons of learning define sound as that which is indicative of an object, as that which betrays the presence of a speaker [who remembered no longer might be present] and as that which characterizes the subtle element of the sky [the ether]. (34) As for its action and characteristics the ether is described as the element internally and externally giving room to the living beings and as the field of activities of the vital air [prana], the senses and the mind. (35) From the ether evolving from the subtlety of sound the evolution of the subtle element of touch takes place under the transforming impulse of time and thus the air is found as also the sense organ for it and of that sense of touch the active perception. (36) Softness and hardness as well as cold and heat are of this subtle element of touch the distinguished attributes in the sensual experience of the air. (37) By the different characteristics of the air in action, which moves and mixes, brings close and transports particles [of dust] and waves of sound, the other senses are stimulated to function properly. (38) As arranged by fate from the element of the air and the subtle element of touch the form [one has] evolved in which with fire the sense of sight arose for perceiving color and form.

(39) O virtuous one, the characteristics of the form element are the dimension, the quality and the individuality of an object. For fire this is the effulgence. (40) The functions of fire consist of illumining, digesting, heating, evaporating, to give rise to hunger and thirst and to serve with food and drink. (41) From the form element that under divine ordinance transforms under the influence of fire the element of taste manifested from which with the water the tongue appeared that perceives the taste. (42) Even though taste is one, it is in contact with all the different substances divided into the sensations of the astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent [salt] and sour. (43) The typicality of water is to be moistening, coagulating, quenching, life-sustaining, refreshing, softening, cooling and to be available in abundance. (44) Because of the transformations of the element of taste in relation to the water, by superior arrangement finding earth, the measure of odor manifested so as to smell the aromas. (45) The oneness of odor is, depending the proportions of the substances, divided in the separate realizations of odors being mixed, offensive, fragrant, mild, strong, acidic and so on. (46) The characteristic function of the earth is to be modeled into forms of the Supreme Brahman with places of residence, pots to contain substances etc. that constitute the place for the presence of anything that can be separated in space. (47) The sense that has the distinctive character of the sky [sound] as its object is called the auditory sense and that sense which has the different features of the air [touch] as its object of perception is known as the tactile sense. (48) The sense which has as its object that what is distinguished by fire [viz. form] is called the sense of sight, the specific perception of the characteristics of water is known as the sense of taste and the perception of that what characterizes earth is called the sense of smell.

(49) In the characteristics of the effect of something the characteristics of the cause can be recognized. Hence one can retrace in the earth element only [being the element created last] the peculiarities of all the preceding elements. (50) When [in the beginning of creation] the seven primary elements [the five material elements, ego and cosmic intelligence – the mahat-tattva]were not yet mixed, [the Lord,] the origin of creation endowed with kâla, karma and guna [time, workload and the modes] entered the universe. (51) Next were by Him [in the form of time] these seven elements roused into activity and united in an egg-shape in an unconscious state. From that egg the celebrated Cosmic Being [or the original ‘gigantic’ person, the virâth purusha] manifested. (52) This egg is called vis’esha [‘the differentiated reality’]. It is the outer form of Lord Hari, the Supreme Personality extending as the planetary systems [see S.B. 2.1: 24-37] that consist of successive layers of water and the other elements, each ten times thicker than the previous one. On the outside they are enveloped by pradhâna, the unevolved state of matter [the primal ether]. (53) From the golden [sunshine of the] universal egg arose, from within the waters that He pervaded and was lying in, the greatness of God [Mahâdeva] divided in many cells [kham, ethereal apertures in control of the light]. (54) The first to appear from Him was a mouth with next the organ of speech. Thereafter the divinity of fire [Vahni, the godhead ruling the fire of digestion] also appeared which was followed by the nostrils and the olfactory sense and life breath [prâna] belonging to them. (55) From the olfactory sense the divinity of the wind [Vâyu] appeared, then from the sense of sight of the two eyes the divinity of the sun [Sûrya] manifested and from the auditory sense of the two ears [next] the divinity that rules the directions appeared. (56) Then the skin appeared of the universal form with its hair growth and such, whereupon the curative herbs appeared followed by the sexual organs. (57) From them there was semen and the manifestation of the divinity of the waters. Also an anus appeared and from that anus the capacity to evacuate. Then [the god of] death appeared who causes fear throughout the world. (58) Also two hands manifested together with the power they have and thereafter Lord Indra [the sovereignty] appeared. From the manifestation of the two legs the onward movement manifested itself with next the appearance of the Lord [Lord Vishnu who rules them]. (59-60) The veins of the universal form manifested themselves together with the blood produced with them. Therewith the rivers appeared as also a stomach with which hunger and thirst are found. After their appearance the ocean and the heart of the universal form manifested. Then from the heart the mind appeared. (61) From the mind the moon [Candra] came into view and therefrom intelligence manifested itself. From that intelligence the Lord of speech [Brahmâ] manifested. False ego identifying itself with matter then led to the appearance of Rudra [S’iva], reason and the divinity ruling reason.

(62) All these divinities who thus found their existence were not at all capable of awakening the Original Person and thus they one after the other returned to the source from which they generated, in order to awaken Him. (63) The god of the fire of digestion went back to the mouth, but failed to bring Him to life. The god of the wind returned to the olfactory sense of the nostrils but could not awaken the Original One. (64) The divinity of light going for His two eyes could not make the Authentic One rise and with the divinity of orienting by the auditory sense on His two ears, the Greatness of the Person was not brought to life either. (65) The divinity of the skin could, with its growth and blessing of herbs, not wake up the Celebrated Person, nor could the divinity of water with the procreation performed by the organs of reproduction rouse the Great Person. (66) With the capacity to defecate the god of death could by approaching His anus not stir the Cosmic One into action and not even the two hands of Lord Indra with their power of control could find a way to awaken the Master of Rule. (67) Viṣṇu with the power of progress entering His two feet was not capable of making the Greatness of the Complete move into action and the divine flow of the river returning to His vessels with the blood and power of circulation neither was able to move the Celebrated Person. (68) The ocean that followed along with hunger and thirst, going to His abdomen could not raise the Gigantic Person and the heart with the mind according to the divinity of the moon also failed to awaken the One and Only Gigantic Person. (69) Also Brahmā who entered His heart with intelligence did not make the Celebrated Person stand up, nor could the complete of the Puruṣa be awakened by Lord Śiva sending the ego to His heart. (70) But, the very moment the divinity ruling consciousness with reason entered the heart as the knower of the field, the Cosmic Being rose from the causal waters. (71) It is like with a man asleep whose vital air, working and knowing senses, mind and understanding out of their own cannot wake him up without Him being present. (72) Therefore someone who practices yoga should conscientiously, with the help of spiritual knowledge, detachment and devotion, consider the thought of Him, the Supersoul as being present within.’

Chapter 27: Liberation from Falsehood

(1) The Supreme Lord [as Kapila] said: ‘Even though the living entity abides in a material body, he is not affected by the modes of nature when he does not claim proprietorship and thus is not subject to change, just like the sun that is not affected by being reflected in water. (2) But when this very living entity is absorbed in false ego and thus is possessed by the modes of material nature, the individual soul is bewildered and thinks: ‘I am the doer’. (3) Because of the faulty actions resulting from dealing with material nature in such a way, he thus in discontent helplessly undergoes the repeated occurrence of birth and death in being born from different wombs [or species] depending the good or bad life he led or a combination of these. (4) Like having landed in a nightmare in which the things happening do not really exist, there is for the living entity who [only] contemplates what occurs to his senses no end to his materially conditioned existence [of illusion]. (5)Therefore the mind of attachment to material pleasure must consequently without attachment graduallybe brought under controlon the path of bhakti yoga. (6)Beginning with yama [meaning the great vow of yoga of nonviolence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy and non-possessiveness in the practice of detachment], practice the different forms of yoga and develop, endowed with faith, by listeningto My storiesunalloyed devotion unto Me. (7) Be therein without enmity and regard all living beings as equal, do not entertain intimate relations and be celibate, be silent and offer the results of your labor. (8) Be satisfied with whatever comes of its own, eat little and live thoughtfully in a secluded place and be peaceful, kind, compassionate and self-realized. (9) Do not follow the physical concept of life in relating to others and your own body but rather see, through spiritual knowledge, the factual truth of [both] the material and the personal aspect. (10) Transcend the stages of consciousness [of waking, dreaming and deep sleep] and stay away from other conceptions of life. Thus with a purified intellect see the true self, the soul of your realization inside, alike the sun before your eyes [outside]. (11) Arrive at the realization ofthe transcendental Support of the Material Cause [the Supreme Soul] that is manifest as a reflection within the untrue, as an eye for the illusory of matter that penetrated everything as one without a second. (12) It is like the sun in the sky that above water is seen as a reflection on that water or on a wall. (13)Thus the truth of the self is revealed by its reflections in the threefold of the materially identified ego consisting of body, senses and mind. (14)Someone who in this material world falsely unites with the material elements, the objects of enjoyment, the material senses, the mind, intelligence and so on,is situated in sleep, but awakened [in the devotion of yoga] he is freed from false ego.(15) Even though he is not lost, someone [who awakens] unjustly [at first] thinks that he is lost because he, just like someone upset because of losing his fortune, as the silent witness realizes the demise of his false ego. (16) Coming to understand this, knowing the situation he accepted under the false ego, such a person realizes the mercy of the original position of his true self, his original individuality [svarûpa].’

(17) Devahûti said: ‘Dear brahmin, is it not so that material nature never releases the soul because the two are eternally attracted to each other o Best One? (18)As there is no separate existence of aroma and earth or of water and taste, so it is also with intelligence and consciousness. (19) How then can there be the soul free from material nature? For the soul as a non-doer existing with those modes, is bound to the karma associated with them. (20) The great fear one sometimes may avoid by contemplating the fundamental principles, will reappear because the cause [the gunas] continued to be.’

(21) The Supreme Lord said: ‘[One will realize the freedom,] when one with a pure mind serious unto Me and faithfully listening to My stories in devotional service manages to perform one’s duties without desiring the fruits thereof. (22)By means of spiritual knowledge someone, with the vision of the Absolute Truth in yoga strongly being connected in penance, gets detachedand firmly fixed in being absorbed in the soul. (23) Bound to its material nature a living entity is day by day consumed, disappearing gradually like firewood on fire. (24) Giving up on the pleasure he tasted [in the material world] because he sees the wrong of the desire to enjoy it always and the harm that dependence gives, he stands in his own glory. (25) The way it is with someone who in his sleep has a dream that brings him many bad things, that same dream with him being awake will not in the least daunt him. (26) The same way someone who is always contented within and fixes his mind upon Me, thus knowing the Absolute Truth, has nothing to fear from material nature. (27) When someone wise thus for many years and many births is engaged in self-realization, he will develop a distaste for anything up to the highest spiritual position [of Satyaloka]. (28-29) Someone devoted to Me who under My protection for the sake of awakening his intelligence, by My unlimited mercy goes for the ultimate goal of his existence of what is called kaivalya [enlightenment, emancipation, beatitude], will in this life attain a steady self-awareness and be free from doubt. The yogi who departed for that heavenly abode will, after leaving behind the subtle as also the gross body, never return. (30) When the attention of the perfected yogi is not drawn towards yogic powers my dear mother, he then, having no other purpose in his life, in his progress towards Me will never be frustrated, because he will not find the power of death therein.’

Chapter 28: Kapila’s Instructions on the Execution of Devotional Service

(1) The Supreme Lord said: ‘O royal daughter, I will now describe the characteristics of the yoga system, the object of which is to restrain the mind in following the regulative principles and thus filled with joy be successful on the path of the Absolute Truth. (2) One must perform one’s duties to the best of one’s ability and avoid everything in the way of this. One should be satisfied with that what was achieved by the grace of the Lord and worship the feet of a self-realized soul [a spiritual master]. (3) One should put an end to conventional religious practices and be attracted to religious practices that lead to salvation. Eating little and pure [vegetarian food], one should always live in seclusion and thus dwell in peace. (4) Nonviolent, truthful, free from unrighteous acquisition and not possessing more than one needs, one should in celibacy, austerity and cleanliness studying the Vedas exercise respect for the appearance of the Original Personality. (5) Observing silence and acquiring steadiness in control of yoga postures and one’s breath, one should gradually withdraw from the objects of the senses and direct one’s mind to the heart. (6) With either fixing one’s mind and prâna upon one of the [six] cakras [or energy nodes] or when one one-pointed focusses one’s mind upon the pastimes of [the Lord of] Vaikunthha, one finds oneself absorbed [or in samâdhi]. (7) With these and other methods of yoga engaging one’s intelligence and controlling one’s breathing the mind that is contaminated by material enjoyment must be gradually subdued. (8) After exercising one’s body postures one should do this when one has taken place in a sanctified spot where one sitting in an easy posture keeps one’s body erect. (9) For the mind to become steady and free from fluctuations one should clear the passage of the life breath or prâna by inhaling, holding one’s breath and exhaling again – or the other way around. (10) The mind of the yogi in such a self-control is soon free from disturbances, just like gold put in fire fanned with air quickly is freed from contaminations. (11) By means of breath control [prânâyâma] one eradicates contaminations, by turning inward [pratyâhâra] material association recedes, by focussing the mind [dhâranâ] sin is overcome and by meditation [dhyâna] one rises above the power of the modes of nature.

(12) When one’s thinking by the practice of yoga is purified and controlled, one should looking at the tip of one’s nose meditate upon the Supreme Lord’s form and measure of time [a mechanical clock or water clock fixed on the sun’s summit with the division of time according to the Bhâgavatam]. (13) With His club, conch and discus in His hands, with ruddy eyes resembling the interior of a lotus and a dark complexion like the petals of a blue lotus, He has a cheerful lotuslike countenance. (14) Clad in silk garments as yellow as the filaments of a lotus, He has the mark of S’rîvatsa [a few white hairs] on His chest and wears the brilliant Kaustubha jewel around His neck. (15-16) There is a garland of forest flowers humming with intoxicated bees, a priceless necklace and also bracelets, a crown, armlets, anklets and a girdle of the finest quality around His waist. He who has His seat in the lotus of the heart is most charming to behold, a feast to the eyes with a serenity which gladdens the mind and the heart. (17) He is always very beautiful to see, worshipablefor all people of all places, as youthful as a boyand eager to bestow His blessings upon those who serve Him. (18) His fame adding to the repute of the devotees is worth singing. One should meditate on the godhead and all His limbs until one’s mind stops wandering. (19) One should visualize the beneficial acts of the beautiful pastimes of Him standing, moving, sitting and lying down or dwelling in the heart. (20) The one contemplating should, when he with his mind fixed on the one form distinguishes all His limbs, in his concentration attend to each and every part of the Lord separately [see also S.B. 2.2: 13]. (21) One should meditate on the lotus feet of the Lord that are adorned with the marks of the thunderbolt, the goad, the banner and the lotus, as also on the prominence of the brilliant red nails with the splendor of the crescent moon which dispel the thick darkness of the heart. (22) One should meditate on the Lord’s lotus feet for a long time for the holy water of the Ganges that washed down from His feet blessed Lord S’iva who bore it on his head. They became a thunderbolt that was hurled at the mountain of sin present in the mind of the meditator.

(23) In relation to His knees one should meditate on the Goddess of Fortune, Lakshmî, the lotus-eyed mother of the entire universe that was created by Brahmâ. She who with her caring fingers massages the lower legs of the Almighty Lord transcendental to material existence, is worshiped by all the God-conscious ones. (24) One has to meditate on His two beautiful legs standing on the shoulders of Garuda which, extending down with the luster of the [whitish blue] linseed flower, are the storehouse of all energy. One should also meditate on His round hips in the exquisite yellow cloth that are encircled by the girdle. (25) Next one meditates on the expanse of His navel, which is the foundation of all the worlds situated in His abdomen. From that navel the lotus, the residence of the self-born one [Lord Brahmâ], sprang up containing all the planetary systems. One should meditate on the two most delicate nipples of the Lord that are like emeralds in the whitish light of the pearls from His necklace. (26) The chest of the Lord of Wisdom which is the abode of Mahâ-Lakshmî, bestows on the minds and eyes of persons all the transcendental pleasure. One should also direct one’s mind to meditate on the neck of the One who is adored throughout the universe which enhances the beauty of the Kaustubha jewel. (27) On His arms, from which the controllers of the universe originated and of which the ornaments were polished by the revolving of Mount Mandara, one should also meditate, as also on the dazzling luster of the Sudarshana discus [with its thousand spokes] and the swanlike conch in the lotus hand of the Lord. (28) One should remember the Supreme Lord’s mace that is named Kaumodakî and is very dear to Him, smeared as it is with the bloodstains of the soldiers of the enemy. And also attention should be paid to the garland humming with the sound of the bumblebees around it and the necklace of pearls about His neck which represents the principle of the pure living entity [see B.G. 7: 7]. (29) One should meditate on the lotuslike countenance of the Supreme Lord who assumed His different forms in this world out of compassion for the devotees and on His glittering alligator-shaped earrings that oscillating crystal clear illumine His prominent nose and His cheeks. (30) Then one should attentively meditate in one’s mind’s eye the elegance of His face adorned with an abundance of curly hair and His lotus eyes and dancing eyebrows that would put to shame a lotus surrounded by bees and a pair of swimming fish. (31) He who has a heart full of devotion for long should meditate upon the frequent, compassionate glances of His eyes, for these glances that are accompanied by the abundance of His graceful, loving smiles, soothe the three fearful agonies [as caused by oneself, by others and by material nature]. (32) The most benevolent smile of the Lord that dries up the ocean of tears of all persons who in their grief bowed before Him must be meditated as also His arched eyebrows that by His internal, creative potency were manifested to bewilder the god of sexuality for the sake of all sages. (33) Easy to meditate is the generous laughter of His lips that reveals the splendor of His small teeth that are like a row of jasmine buds. With devotion steeped in love for Him fixing one’s mind and not wishing to see anyone else, one should meditate upon Him, Lord Vishnu who resides in the core of one’s heart.

(34) Because of the pure love one thus through devotion has developed towards Hari, the Supreme Lord, one’s heart melts and therefrom one constantly experiences that one’s hairs stand on end out of extreme joy and that there is a flow of tears out of intense love. In that state the mind like [a fish] on a hook gradually gives up. (35) The moment the mind is in the liberated position, it immediately turns indifferent and dies away with one’s detachment from the sense objects. The person of such a mind at that time like a flame is no longer separated [from the ‘big fire’ of the Supersoul] and experiences oneness being freed from the flow of the operating modes of nature. (36) When he is situated in his ultimate glory because of the cessation of the mind that responds to material impulses, he on top of that in his position of transcendence above happiness and distress, sees that indeed the cause of pleasure and pain is found in the ignorance of falsely identifying oneself in ego. In that ego he attributed to himself [viz. the control, that] what now is realized by the form and measure of time [the kâshthhâ] of the Supersoul [the localized aspect of the Lord]. (37) As for the body the perfected soul has, because he achieved his predestined real identity [svarûpa], no notion of not continuing physically, or that he would remain or again take birth. Just as it is with someone who blinded by intoxication fails to realize whether he has any clothes on or not. (38) Thus one is faced with the activities one undertook with one’s body that by divine ordinance will continue for as long as it takes. One is then because of one’s yoga situated in self-absorption, the state of consciousness in which he who awakened to his constitutional position, no longer accepts as his own the body with its sensuality and ‘by-products’ that was born as in a dream. (39) The way a mortal man is understood as being different from his son and wealth, irrespective his natural inclination for them, the person in his original nature the same way differs from his body, senses, mind and such, [irrespective his identification with them]. (40) Even though a fire through its flames, sparks and smoke is intimately connected with itself, it differs from itself in the way it blazes. (41) The elements, the senses, the mind and the primary nature [see 3.26: 10] of the individual soul even so differ from the seer, who is the Supreme Lord we know as the spiritual complete [Brahman]. (42) The way one with an equal mind sees all creatures as being part of the same natural order one should also see the soul as being present in all manifestations and all manifestations in the soul. (43) The way the oneness of fire manifests itself in different types of wood, so too the one spiritual soul in its position in material nature knows different births under different natural conditions. (44) When one thus has conquered the difficult to comprehend operation of the cause and effect of one’s own, God-given material energy, one is situated in the position of self-realization [in one’s svarûpa].’

Chapter 29: Explanation of Devotional Service by Lord Kapila

(1-2) Devahûti said: ‘Dear master, you described the specific characteristics of the material and personal nature of the complete reality the way they in the analytical philosophy of [Sânkhya] yoga are discussed as being the primary ones. Please elaborate now at length on the path of bhakti yoga that is considered its ultimate purpose. (3) Dear Lord, describe to me and for the people in general, the different ways in which birth and death repeat themselves, for someone may become completely detached by such a description. (4) And yes, what can You say about Eternal Time that represents the eternal and original form of the Supreme Ruler ruling over all the other rulers and under the influence of which the common people act piously? (5) You have appeared as the sun of the yoga system for the sake of the living beings whose intelligence, in their propensity for material actions, is blinded by false ego, [an attachment] because of which they without finding shelter fatigued for a long time slumber in darkness.’

(6) Maitreya said: ‘Appreciating the words of His mother o best of the Kurus, the great and gentle sage satisfied and moved by compassion said the following. (7) The Supreme Lord said: ‘Devotion in the discipline of yoga that is so diverse in its appearance, knows many paths o noble lady, [ways] proving how people follow their own course according to their natural qualities. (8) What one does out of love for Me in violence, pride and envy or being angry from a different point of view, is considered to be in the mode of ignorance. (9) He who in a different spirit worships Me with idols or is after material things, fame and opulence, is in the mode of passion. (10) He who worships Me as distinct from himself or who is of worship with offering the results of his actions or for the sake of transcendence wants to be free from fruitive actions is in goodness. (11-12)Simply hearing about My transcendental qualities continuously will result in a mind moving towards Me, the One residing in the heart of everyone, that flows the way the water of the Ganges flows towards the sea. Such a manifestation of unadulterated devotional yoga – yoga performed without ulterior motives – is devotional service to the Supreme Personality. (13)Without being of My service, pure devotees will notaccept it, not even when being offered these, to live on the same planet, to have the same opulence, to be a personal associate, to have the same bodily features or to be joined in oneness [the so-called five forms of liberation of sâlokya, sârshthi, sâmîpya, sârûpya and ekatvaor sâyujya]. (14) When one by means of this bhakti yoga- that one calls the highest platform- succeeds in dealing with the three modes of naturethe way I explained it, one attains My transcendental nature. (15) When one performs one’s duties without attachment to the results one is stronger [in one’s yoga] and when one without unnecessary violence [without eating meat e.g.] is regular in the performance of one’s yoga exercises one will find happiness. (16) Being in touch with the ritual of seeing, offering respect, doing mantras and being of a positive approach with My [original] form and abode, and thinking of Me as present in all living beings, one lives by the mode of goodness and detachment. (17-19) By means of sense control and proper regulation [yama and niyama, the do’s and don’ts of yoga], being of the greatest respect for the great souls, being compassionate with the poor and by being friendly in association with equals; by hearing about spiritual matters, chanting My holy names, being straightforward, by association with the ones civilized and not entertaining false ego, the consciousness of a person who with these qualities is dutiful towards Me is completely purified. No doubt he by simply hearing about My excellence will reach Me without delay. (20) The way the sense of smell catches the aroma that is carried from its source by means of the air, similarly consciousness catches by means of yoga the Supreme Soul that is unchanging.

(21) A mortal human being who has no respect for Me as the Supersoul always situated in every living being, but nevertheless worships the deity, is just imitating. (22) Someone who in worship of the deity disregards Me as the Supreme Ruler and Supersoul present in all beings, is in his ignorance only offering oblations into the ashes. (23) He who offers Me his respects but is envious with others being present, lives in his campaigning against others in enmity and will never find peace of mind. (24) O sinless one, I am certainly not pleased when they who manage to worship Me in My deity form with all paraphernalia, are not of respect for other living beings. (25) One has to worship the idol of Me the Controller and such, for as long as one is of profit minded labor [is building karma] and not of the realization that I reside in one’s heart and in the hearts of all. (26) I in the form of death, will create fear in those who with a different perspective on their physical frame discriminate between themselves and other living beings. (27) Therefore one should with charity, respect and in friendship regarding everyone as an equal, propitiate Me, the One abiding in all as the True Self.

(28) Living entities are better than inanimate objects, better than entities with life symptoms o blessed one, are entities with a developed consciousness and better than those are they who developed their sense perception. (29) Further, those who developed their taste are better than those who [only] developed their sense of touch and better than they are those who developed their sense of smell. Even better are the ones who developed their hearing faculty. (30) Better than those are the ones distinguishing differences of form and those who have teeth in both their jaws are better than these. Those who have many legs are superior to them. Of them the four-legged creatures are the better ones while the two-legged ones [the human beings] are even better. (31) Among human beings a society with four classes is the better one and of those classes the brahmins are the best. Among the brahmins the better one is further he who knows the Vedas and the one who knows its purpose is still better [viz. to know the absolute of the truth in three phases: brahman, paramâtmâ and bhagavân]. (32) The one who puts an end to all doubts is better than he who knows what the purpose of the Vedas is and the brahmin among them who performs his duty is better than him. He who is free from worldly attachment is still better and the one who does not do his righteous duty for himself alone is the best of them all. (33) Therefore I know of no greater being than a person who with a dedicated mind has offered all of his actions, wealth and life without any reservation to Me and with persistence is of service without any other interest. (34) Such a one who regards the Supreme Lord, the Controller of the individual soul, as having entered all the living beings by His expansion in the form of the Supersoul [the Paramâtmâ], thus is mindfully of respect in regard to all. (35) O daughter of Manu, someone can achieve the Original Person by following either of these two paths of bhakti and mystic yoga alone that I have described. (36) This [original] form of the Supreme Lord of Brahman [the Supreme Spirit] and Paramâtmâ [the personalized local aspect] is the transcendental, ethereal personality of the primal reality [pradhâna] whose activities are all spiritual.

(37) [Natural] time known as the divine cause of the different manifestations of the living entities, constitutes the reason why all living beings live in fear who motivated by cosmic intelligence and such matters consider themselves as separated. (38) He who from within enters all the living entities, constitutes the support of everyone and annihilates [them again] by means of other living beings, is named Vishnu, the enjoyer of all sacrifices who is that time factor, the master of all masters. (39) There is no one who is specially favored by Him nor is He bound or averse to anyone; He cares for those who are attentive and of persons inattentive He is the destroyer. (40-45) He for whom out of fear the wind blows and this sun is shining, for whom out of fear Indra sends his rains and the heavenly bodies are shining; He because of whom out of fear the trees, creepers and herbs each in their own time bear flowers and produce their fruits; He afraid of whom the rivers flow and the oceans do not overflow, because of whom fire burns and earth with her mountains does not submerge; He because of whom the sky provides air to the ones who breathe and under the control of whom the universe expands its body of the complete reality [mahat-tattva] with its seven layers, He for whom out of fear the gods of creation and more in charge of the modes of nature within this world carry out their functions according to the yugas [see 3.11], He of whom afraid all the beings animate and inanimate find their control; that infinite, final operator of beginningless Time is the unchangeable Creator who creates people out of people and puts an end to the rule of death by means of death.’

Chapter 30: Lord Kapila Describes the Adverse Consequences of Fruitive Activities

(1) Kapila said: ‘Just like a mass of clouds has no knowledge of the powerful wind, a person has no knowledge of this time factor, even though he is being conditioned by it. (2) Whatever the goods are that one with difficulty acquired for one’s happiness are destroyed by the Supreme Lord [in the form of Time] and because of this the person laments. (3) In his ignorance he foolishly thinks that the temporality of having a home, land and wealth for the sake of his body, would be something permanent. (4) The living being finding its satisfaction in this worldly existence, will irrespective the birth that was acquired, be in consonance with it. (5) Even physically living in hell a person, who in truth is deluded by the illusory material potency of God, does not want to give up his hellish pleasures. (6) With his body, wife, children, home, animals, wealth and friendships deeply rooted in his heart, he thinks of himself as being a great success. (7)Burning with anxiety about maintaining all the members of his dear family, he is constantly of sin and with a bad mind acting like a fool.(8) With his heart and senses charmed by a woman he sees in private and by the display of the sweet words of his children, he is of the falsehood of the outer illusion [of non-permanent matters being eternal]. (9) Involved in the household duties of his family life that gives rise to all kinds of trouble, he is busy countering these miseries attentively and thinks that that will make him happy as a householder. (10) By means of the wealth that here and there with violence [and victims] was secured, he maintains his family, but he goes down himself when he for his own maintenance may eat what was left over from the meal. (11) When he time and again ruled by greed [enviously] desires the wealth that is enjoyed by others, hehimself gets into trouble inexercising his profession and is thus ruined. (12) No longer capable of maintaining his family the unfortunate wretch bereft of wealth and beauty then sighs with a bewildered intelligence full of grief overeverything he tried in vain.

(13) No longer capable of maintaining his wife and so on, he finds himself not respected as before, just as an old ox is not respected the same way by his farmer. (14) Even though he now is maintained by those he once maintained, he does not develop any aversion. He, getting deformed of old age, rather stays at home to await his death. (15) There he remains and eats like a pet dog that what indifferently is placed before him and falls sick with indigestion, eating little and doing little. (16) Because of the inner pressure his eyes bulge out and with his windpipe congested with mucus he coughs and has difficulty breathing, only saying ‘ugha ugha’.(17) Lying down surrounded by his lamenting friends and relatives he, unconscious in the grip of the noose of time, cannot speak although it’s the time for it. (18) Thus, having engrossed in maintaining his family, he has no control over his mind and senses and dies in great pain, while his relatives cry as he passes away. (19) Witnessing the arrival of the servants of death with their terrible eyes full of wrath he because of the fear in his heart passes stool and urine. (20) They like the king’s soldiers immobilize his body by binding him in ropes for his punishment and then drag him like a criminal forcefully by the neck over a long distance. (21) In his heart broken by their threatening presence he, overtaken, trembles on the road and is bitten by dogs in the distress of remembering his sins. (22) Afflicted by hunger, thirst and the radiation of scorching forest fires and winds on hot and sandy roads, he feels how he painfully is beaten on his back with a whip, while he unable to move finds no refuge or water.(23) Falling now and then he gets tired and loses consciousness, and then reawakens on the road of his misery where he quickly is led before the eternal ruler of death [Yamarâja]. (24) He sees his entire life pass by in a few moments [he passes ‘ninety-nine thousand yojanas‘] and then receives the punishment he deserves. (25) Then with his limbs covered by firewood he is cremated or sometimes sees that he eats his own flesh or that it is done by other creatures. (26) Vividly he then witnesses how dogs pull out his entrails at his last resting place where serpents, scorpions, gnats and so on pester him to his abhorrence. (27) He sees how one by one his limbs come off being seized by big and small animals who tear him apart, throw him from heights or drag him under water or into caves. (28) Because of loose association [not being of a steady sexual relationship] one must, whether one is a man or a woman, undergo the requital in hellish states of anger, self-destruction and bewilderment [tâmisra, andha-tâmisra and raurava and such, see 5.26].

(29) O mother, because one can observe [the downside of] these hellish pains here, one speaks of [finding] heaven as well as hell in this world. (30) He who thus [in greed, attachment and infidelity] maintained his family or lived for his stomach only, will upon leaving this world after he died have to face the consequences for himself as well as for his family. (31) After quitting this vehicle of time he will enter the darkness all alone and pay the price for the harm that he in the care of his own interest did to others in envy of their fortune. (32) By divine ordinance the man sustaining a family has to undergo the hellish condition that resulted from his foul play, just like someone who lost his wealth. (33) Someone who in his eagerness to care for his family is simply godless in his actions, thus heads for the darkest region of self-destruction [andha-tâmisra]. (34) After he beginning from the lowest position [of an animal existence] prior to a human birth in due order has underwent all the requital and such, he being purified may again return to the human world on this planet.’

Chapter 31: Lord Kapila’s Instructions on the Wanderings of the Living Entities

(1) The Supreme Lord said: ‘Because of its karma the living entity as ordained by God through the particle of semen of a man enters the womb of a woman in order to dwell there for obtaining a body. (2) On the first night the sperm and ovum mix, at the fifth night there is a bubble and in about ten days it is thereafter like a plum, lump of flesh or an egg. (3) Within a month a head appears and within two months limbs like arms and feet form. The nails, [the beginnings of] hair, bones, skin, reproductive organs and the apertures appear within three months. (4) In about four months the seven ingredients separate [body-fluids and other elements], in five months feelings like hunger and thirst occur and in six months the fetus starts to move around at the right in the amnion [males at the right, females at the left so one says]. (5) From the nutrition taken from the mother the body of the fetus grows as it stays in that impossible hollow whereabout stool and urine form a breeding place for germs. (6) All the time aching for food, it is, being so tender, affected by infestations [‘worms’] and thus all over its body has to suffer a great deal residing there, moment after moment lapsing into unconsciousness. (7)The living being because of theexcessive bitterness, heat, pungency, saltiness, dryness, the sourness etc. of the food taken by the mother, is affected in every limb and thus feels pain. (8) Enclosed by the amnion in that place surrounded by the intestines it lies with a bent neck and back arched with its head in its belly. (9) Like a bird in a cage with no freedom of movement, it [the soul] still remembers – when it is lucky – what has happened in all its hundreds of births. Remembering such a long history it may sigh over them, for what peace of mind can it then achieve? (10) From the seventh month on it is endowed with consciousness, but at the same time pushed down by the pressure of the womb where it cannot stay, just like the worm stemming from the same belly.

(11) The fearful living entity bound to its seven constituents [nails, skin, fat, flesh, blood, bone, marrow], then in its disgust, with folded hands and words of prayer, appeals to the Lord who placed him in that womb. (12)The human soul says: ‘May He protect me who protects the entire universe and who with assuming His different forms walks the earth with His lotus feet. Let me take refuge in that shelter that will take my fears away, in Him who decided that I deserved this untrue condition. (13)I, the pure soul covered by the grossness of matter which consists of the elements, the senses and the mind, have because of my being bound to activities, fallen into this delusional state [mâyâ]. Let me offer my obeisances so that I may hold on to the completely pure Changeless One of unlimited knowledge who resides in the heart of the repentantone. (14) I am, contrary to what it should be, [as a spiritual soul] separated by the covering of this material body that is made of the five elements and based upon senses, material preferences [gunas], interests and cognitions, and so I offer my obeisances to You, the Supreme Person transcendental to material nature and its living entities, whose glories are not obscured by such a material body. (15) By the deluding quality of Your outer appearance this body that by the modes and its karma is bound to wander on the path of repeated birth and death, has to suffer considerably with a spoilt memory. May again this entity realize Your true nature. How else would one find Your divine mercy? (16)What else but Your divinity, that as a partial representation [the Paramâtmâ] dwells in both the animate and the inanimate, would give us the knowledge of the threefold of Time, of past, present and future? In order to be freed from the threefold misery [as caused by oneself, nature and others] we as individual souls engagedon the path of fruitive activitieshave to surrender to that divinity. (17) Embodied within the abdomen of another body, having fallen into a pool of blood, stool and urine and strongly scorched by gastric fire, this [individual soul with its] body desiring to leave that place, counts his months when it as a miser will be released o Lord. (18) You granted me, [not even] ten months old o Lord, [the light of] Your incomparable, supreme mercy. What else can I do but to pray in return with folded hands in gratitude for that incomparable and unique grace of You who are the refuge of the fallen ones? (19) This living being can, from its bondage to the seven layers of matter [3.29: 40-45], only understand what is agreeable and disagreeable, but by You endowed with another body of self-control within myself, I am really able to recognize inside of me You, the original person who constitutes the inner guidance, as residing within my heart as well as outside of me. (20) O Almighty One, even though I who has to live with all the miseries outside of this abdomen, rather not depart from here to land in that pitfall, I [just as everyone] who enters this world at once will be captured by Your mâyâ and be entangled in the false identification [of the ego] that is fundamental to the eternal cycle of birth and death. (21) Therefore I will, well-disposed to the soul no longer being agitated, deliver myself quickly again from that darkness, by placing the feet of Lord Vishnu in my heart and thus spare me this fate of having to enter so many wombs.’

(22) Kapila said: ‘Thus desiring from within the womb, the [almost] ten months old living entity extols the Lord at the time of being pushed downwards by the pressure of labor to take birth. (23) Because of that pressure the child with its head turned downwards suddenly, with great difficulty and bereft of all memory, comes out breathless. (24) Like a worm falling down to earth it smeared with blood moves its limbs and cries loudly now it has lost the wisdom in reaching the opposite [material] position. (25) Being maintained by its folks who do not understand what it wants it, not being able to refuse, has fallen into circumstances it did not desire. (26) Laying down in fouled linen [dirty diapers etc.] the child is pestered by germs [suffering rashes on its body] it cannot scratch away from its limbs, for it is not able to sit, stand or move around. (27) Flies, mosquitos, bugs and other creatures bite the baby its tender skin and being just like vermin pestered by other vermin, it, deprived of wisdom, cries. (28) This way undergoing infancy in distress and even in its childhood out of its ignorance not achieving what it wants, it gets angry and sad. (29) As a lusty person being destructive towards other lusty people it with the pride of its developing body, because of that anger, then develops enmity at the cost of the soul. (30) The embodied soul in ignorance holding on to non-permanent things then constantly reasons from the physical reality made of the five elements and thus thinks foolishly in terms of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. (31) Engaged in actions in the service of the body he because of his bondage to the dark motives of fruitive labor is followed by trouble [consisting of the so-called kles’as] and time and again moves in the direction of yet another birth in the material world. (32) When he on the materialistic path again [only] is interested in human association for the sake of the pleasure of his genitals and his stomach, the living entity lands in darkness as before. (33) For associated thus he loses his sense of truth, purity, compassion and gravity, his spiritual intelligence, prosperity, modesty and his good name, as also his mercy, the control over his mind and senses and his fortune. (34) One should not seek association with coarse and immoral fools bereft of self-realization who like pitiable dogs dance to the tune of the ladies. (35) Nothing in the world makes a man as infatuated and dependent as the association with a man who is attached to women or with a fellowship of men fond of women. (36) The father of man [Brahmâ] bewildered at the sight of his own daughter as a stag shamelessly ran after her when he saw her in the form of a deer [compare 3.12: 28]. (37) Except for sage Nârâyana, among all the living entities born from Brahmâ there is not a single man whose intelligence is not distracted by mâyâ in the form of a woman.

(38) Behold the strength of My mâyâ in the shape of a woman that even makes the conquerors of the world follow her closely behind by the mere movement of an eyebrow. (39) One who aspires to reach the culmination of yoga should never develop worldly attachment to a [young, attractive] woman; they say that to someone who arrived at self-realization in My service, thus associating with her is the gateway to hell. (40) The woman created by God is as an overgrown well [one falls into when one is inattentive], she represents the slowly encroaching mâyâ, the illusory power of the material world which one must regard as death to the soul. (41) She who from being attached to women [in his previous life] became a woman, due to illusion in regard of My mâyâ thinks that aiming at the form of a man [her husband] will bring her wealth, progeny and a house. (42) She [on her turn] should consider His mâyâ consisting of her husband, children and house, as death brought about by the authority of God alike the call of a hunter. (43) Because the person incessantly delights in working for the fruit of his actions, the embodied individual soul wanders from one world to the other. (44) Thus he gets a suitable body composed of the material elements, the senses and the mind. When that comes to an end it is called death but when it manifests one speaks of birth. (45-46) When one [staring in meditation] cannot perceive the fixed position of an object that implies the death of one’s sense perception, and when one regards the body as being oneself that implies one’s birth [in a material sense]. He who perceives cannot at the same time regard an object as well as the witness of the perception himself, just as the eyes are not capable either to see at once all the different parts of a single object. (47) One must not be horrified about death, one must not stingily cherish poverty nor be concerned about any material gain; when one understands the true nature of the living being one should on this planet move about steadfast and free from attachment. (48) When one relegates one’s body to this world composed of mâyâ one should, endowed with the right vision, move around therein in detachment basing oneself upon reason in being connected in the science of the [three forms of] yoga.’

Chapter 32: The Entanglement in Fruitive Activities

(1) Kapila said: ‘Well then, the person living at home doing the duties of a householder, enjoys again and again the advantages of sense gratification, economic benefits and religious activities. (2) Moreover he in his faithful worship of the gods and the forefathers with sacrificial ceremonies [called pravritti-dharma], infatuated by lust has turned his face away from emancipating in devotional service to the Supreme Lord [for the sake of what one calls nivritti-dharma]. (3) Overcome by a mind of belief being vowed to those forefathers and demigods, the person who thus by drinking soma [a beverage drunk by the sacrificing brahmin] left this world in respect of the lunar order [of his sacrifices], will again return [see also B.G. 8: 25]. (4) When Lord Hari lies Himself down on the snake bed of Ananta S’esha those worlds of the attached householders find their end. (5) Those intelligent ones [though] who in the performance of their personal duties did not take advantage for the sake of sense gratification and material benefits, but rather free from material attachment gave up on their fruitive activities, will find the perfection of peace because their consciousness was purified. (6) When one without fail [in nivritti-dharma] is righteously engaged for the sake of the detachment of forsaking claims of property and egoism, one is in the performance of one’s personal duties completely purified by the goodness of consciousness. (7)By following the path of enlightenmentthey approach the Original Personality of God,the cause of the manifestation and dissolution of the world who is reflected in the faces of all as the Controller of the spiritual and material worlds. (8) Until the end of the long time period of two parârdhas in which the life of Brahmâ himself finds its conclusion [see 3.11], they dwell in the transcendental world immersed in thoughts about the Supreme One. (9) After having experienced for the time of two parârdhas the natural self [of creation] consisting of the three modes, the Lord of the Beyond [Brahmâ] desiring to dissolve the material covering composed of earth, water, fire, ether, mind, senses, objects, ego and so on, at that time enters the changeless spiritual sky. (10) The yogis who did not forsake the responsibility for their bodies in controlling their breath and mind, after having spent such a long period of time with Lord Brahmâ, enter thus detached together with him the Original Person, the embodiment of happiness who is the oldest, primary reality of the spirit. (11) Dear mother, therefore take by devotional service to the shelter of Him you now heard about, He who resides in each his lotus heart. (12-15) [But remember that] even Brahmâ, the Creator of the mobile and immobile manifestations who is the source of Vedic wisdom, as also the sages and the masters of yoga, theKumâras and the other perfected ones and original thinkers of yoga who attained the original Person of the Absolute Truth, the first one of all the souls, by dint of their detached, egoless actions, despite of their independent vision and all their spiritual qualities, again take birth to assume their positions when this manifestation of the Lord is recreated through the operation of time and the three modes. And that is also true for all others who enjoyed the divine opulence that resulted from their pious deeds, they also return when the interaction of the modes again takes place.

(16) They whose minds in this world are addicted to fruitive activities engage with conviction in their prescribed duties in attachment to the result of their labor and do that time and again. (17)Fully engaged in their households they engage in the worship of their forefathers and, being driven by passion, have minds that aspiring for gratification are full of anxieties and senses they cannot control. (18) Those [trai-vargika]persons dedicated to the three civil virtues [of economy, sense gratification and religious service] are not interested in the pastimes of Lord Hari, the killer of the demon Madhu, whose transcendental excellence is so worthy of being described. (19) Having given up on the nectar of the stories about the Infallible One, they repelled by God rather listen to the stories of materialism, and in that respect they are just like stool eating hogs.

(20) When the sun goes through the south, they after their cremation along with their families again take birth in the world of their forefathers in order to perform their fruitive activities to the [bitter] end [compare B.G. 8: 25]. (21) When they have exhausted the merit of their pious deeds, they directly by divine arrangement fall down from their elevated position to return to this planet, o virtuous one[compare B.G. 9: 21].

(22) Worship therefore with all your heart the Supreme One of your refuge by whose feet devotional service is connected with good qualities. (23) The discharge of devotional service unto Vâsudeva the Supreme Personality of Godhead, will very soon result in the detachment and spiritual knowledge that lead to self-realization. (24) When the mind of the devotee in every circumstance is equipoised to the activity of the senses, it thus makes no distinction between like and dislike. (25) He who then because of the detached mindfulness of his soul is of an equal vision, is free from likes and dislikes and sees himself elevated to the transcendental position. (26) Even though the Supreme Personality constitutes the unique completeness of transcendental knowledge, He in philosophical research and other processes of understanding is differently perceived as the Spirit of the Absolute [Brahman], the Supersoul [Paramâtmâ] and the Lord personally present [Bhagavân, see also S.B. 1.2: 11]. (27) The only purpose for a yogi to realize in this world is to achieve by the practice of yoga complete detachment from everything. (28) For someone averse to the knowledge of spirituality the Absolute Truth beyond the modes appears as a relativity of forms that can be perceived through the senses [but is] misconceived in all kinds of [speculative] considerations. (29) [But] just as from the mahat-tattva with the three modes and the five elements, the material body of the living entity was formed with its individual consciousness, eleven senses [the five senses of action and perception, including the mind] and false ego, also the universe was formed out of the cosmic egg of all universes [and may thus be concluded that no essential difference exists between the local covering of the individual soul and the gigantic universal covering of the Supersoul; or briefly stated, that the universe must be seen as a person]. (30) With faith and devotion ever being steadfast in yoga he understands this whose mind is fixed in the detachment of disassociating oneself from material involvement.

(31) Thus My respectful mother, I have described this spiritual knowledge that reveals the vision of the Absolute Truth by which the reality of the material and personal aspect [prakriti and purusha] is understood. (32) By means of both jñâna-yoga [the yoga of spiritual knowledge] and the freedom from the modes that is directed towards Me and is called bhakti, – rather than by each of them alone – the purpose is achieved that is denoted by the word Bhagavân. (33)Just as one and the same object having many qualities is differently perceived by the senses, similarly the one and only Lord of All Fortune is seen differently depending the different paths described in the scriptures. (34-36) Through material actions, sacrifices, charity, austerities, study of the scriptures, philosophical research, subduing the mind and senses, as also through renunciation and forsaking profit-minded labor, practicing the different types of yoga, doing devotional service and fulfilling one’s individual duties – in case of an active life as also a contemplative life [pravritti- and nivritti-dharma] -, one will with consequent detachment and knowledge of the science of self-realization, perceive the Supreme Lord in His true nature: as being present in the material world as also in transcendence [saguna and nirguna]. (37) I explained to you the four divisions of identity [svarûpa] in devotional service [in combination with the modes and their transcendence], as also the imperceptible action of time [the conditioning] that drives the living entities. (38) For the living entity My dear mother, there are many ways of engaging in material action in ignorance [about one’s original identity]. They are all the result of working for a material outcome [karma], and he who gets entangled in it has therefore lost his way.

(39) This what I said is not meant for instructing the wicked ones and the ones of bad conduct, nor to be told to obstinate and offensive people or to anyone who only in name does his duty. (40) One mustn’t tell this to greedy persons and neither to someone attached to hearth and home, nor to those who are not devoted to Me or detest My devotees. (41) It is meant for the faithful, the devotees, the respectful, those not spiteful towards anyone, the friendly eager to render their services conscientiously. (42) Tell this to those who with a peaceful mind developed detachment for what’s outside of them, to those who are not envious, who are clean and to whom I am the dearest of the dear. (43) O mother, he who but once with faith heard about this or repeats this for himself in being fixed on Me [doing japa], will certainly attain My heaven.’

Chapter 33: The Renunciation of Devahûti

(1) Maitreya said: ‘After the dear wife of Kardama, the mother named Devahûti, thus had listened to the words of Lord Kapila, she, being freed from the veil of ignorance and having offered Him her obeisances, recited prayers to the author in the matter of the fundamental [Sânkhya-yoga] truths that constitute the foundation of liberation. (2) Devahûti said: ‘One says that the Unborn One [Brahmâ] who was born from the lotus flower [sprouting] from Your abdomen, meditated upon Your body lying in the water that is the source of the stream of the modes of nature and the seed pervading all that is manifest of the material elements, the senses, the sense-objects and the mind. (3) As that single person of the universe who through the interaction of the modes divided the creation and all of that, You stand firm on the basis of Your heroism. You thereto with distinguishing Yourself as the infallible non-doer make the difference as the Lord of all living beings whose thousands of energies are inconceivable. (4) How can it be that You as that same person took birth from my abdomen o my Lord, You whose powers are inconceivable and in whose belly this universe has its place, o You who as a baby licking Your toe all alone lay Yourself down on the leaf of a banyan tree at the end of the millennium? (5)You have assumed this body to counter sinful activities o my Lord and provide instructions for devotional service. Just as with Your incarnations as the boar incarnation and others, You are there also as this one in order to reveal the path of self-realization. (6) With You even someone of the lowest birth is at any moment with hearing the chanting of Your name, offering obeisances to You or even by simply remembering You, immediately enabled to perform the Vedic rituals, and how would it be if they would see You face to face o Fortunate One! (7) O how blessed and hence worshipable is he who has Your holy name on his tongue, even when he’s but cooking for himself alone. For Your sakethe ones of spiritual education [the Aryans] who studied the Vedas and have accepted Your holy name, perform austerities, execute fire sacrifices and take a bath in the sacred rivers. (8) I offer You my obeisances, You the Highest Spirit, the Supreme Personality, Lord Vishnu carrying the name of Kapila, He who is the source of the Vedas, to whom I turned inwards to listen, whom I perceived in my mind, meditated upon and by whose potency the influence of the modes vanished.’

(9) Maitreya said: ‘The Supreme Lord carrying the name of Kapila thus being praised full of love for His mother replied with words of gravity. (10) Lord Kapila said: ‘By following this easy to execute path I instructed to you My dear mother, you very soon will attain the supreme goal. (11) You may rest assured that with this instruction of Mine that is followed by the transcendentalists, you shall reach Me free from fear, while [the cycle of birth and] death is what is attained by the ones not conversant with this.’

(12) Maitreya said: ‘After this instruction the venerable Supreme Lord of the path of self-realization, Kapila, the teacher of the Absolute Truth took permission from His mother and left. (13)The way her son had told her in His instruction on yoga, she in that abode [Kardama’s palace], that with its wealth of flowers was the jewel of the Sarasvatî river, fixed her attention to be connected in the science of uniting consciousness. (14) As she bathed regularly, her curly matted hair turned gray and her body, clad in old garments, got thin because of the severe austerities. (15) By the austerity of his yoga Kardama Muni, the progenitor of mankind, had developed his unequaled home with all its paraphernalia, which was even envied by the denizens of heaven. (16) The ivory beds white as the foam of milk had gold filigree covers and the chairs and benches were made of gold and had cushions soft to the touch. (17) The walls were of pure marble inlaid with valuable emeralds and lamps shone with the same jewels the women decorated themselves with. (18) The garden of the house was beautiful with its flowers and fruits, many trees with pairs of singing birds and the humming of intoxicated bees. (19) When she entered the pond fragrant with lotuses, the heavenly associates sang to her about the great care of Kardama.

(20) [But] leaving that most desirable garden that was even envied by the wives of Indra, she had a sorry look on her face because she was afflicted by her being separated from her son. (21) With her husband having left for the forest and her son separated from her she, despite of the truth she knew, became as sad as a caring cow that lost her calf. (22) Meditating upon Him, her divine son Lord Kapiladeva, she very soon o dear Vidura, became detached from her fine home. (23) Meditating upon the form of the Supreme Lord the way He instructed it, she kept as her object of meditation the complete and the parts of the smiling face of her son in mind. (24-25) By performing her duties the proper way on the basis of the knowledge of the Absolute Truth, she was continuously engaged in devotional service and very strong in renunciation. Spiritually purified in meditation upon the Great Soul whose face is seen everywhere, she then saw how in her self-realization the symptoms of the modes of nature disappeared. (26) With her mind situated in Brahman and engaged in serving the Supreme Lord who resides in all living beings, the material pangs of the unfortunate condition of her soul disappeared and she attained transcendental bliss. (27) Situated in the eternal state of absorption she being freed from the modes no longer was reminded of her material body, just as someone who awakened forgets what he saw in a dream. (28) Her body was maintained by others [by her heavenly maidens] but because she suffered no fears she didn’t lose weight; with the impurities [of her luxury] she shone just like a fire covered by smoke. (29) With her body engaged in the austerity of yoga she under divine protection being absorbed in thoughts about Vâsudeva, lost the awareness of her hair hanging loose or her clothes being in disarray. (30) She thus following the path as instructed by Kapila, soon without fail in the spirit of the Absolute Truth of the Supreme Soul achieved the cessation of her material existence and the [abode of the] Supreme Lord.

(31) That most sacred place where she attained perfection o brave one, was known in the three worlds under the name of Siddhapada [the refuge of perfection]. (32) The material elements of her mortal body that was relinquished by the practice of yoga became a river that is the foremost of all rivers o gentle one, sought by all who desire perfection for conferring that fulfillment. (33) When Lord Kapila, the great yogi and Supreme Lord, after taking leave of His mother left the hermitage of His father, He headed in the northeastern direction. (34) He was extolled by the Siddhas, the Cânaras, the Gandharvas, munis and Apsaras, and the ocean offered Him oblations and a place to stay. (35) There being worshiped by the teachers of example who practice the Sânkhya yoga system, He remains permanently in samâdhi to ensure the deliverance of [all the souls in] the three worlds. (36) Dear sinless one, this what I upon your request told you about Kapila and His conversation with Devahûti, purifies [the one who hears about it]. (37) Whoever listens to or expounds on these confidential teachings of Kapila Muni about the union of the soul and thus has set his mind to the Fortunate One who carries the banner of Garuda, will attain the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.’


The Sons of Sagara Meet Lord Kapiladeva

9:8: (1) Srî S’uka said: ‘Harita was the son of King Rohita [see previous chapter] and his son Campa built a city called Campâpurî. After him there was Sudeva who also had a son called Vijaya. (2) Bharuka was the son of Vijaya, he had one called Vrika and Vrika had Bâhuka of whom all the land he owned was taken by his enemies so that the king had to enter the forest with his wife. (3) When he died of old age his queen wanted to die with him but sage Aurva, understanding that she was pregnant with a son in her womb, forbade it. (4) The co-wives who knew this gave her poison with her food, but with that poison Sagara [‘with poison’] was born who became an emperor of great repute. His sons were responsible for [leading the Ganges to the] ocean [that was therefore called Sâgara]. (5-6) He did not kill the antisocial elements [Tâlajanghas, or tree-people], nor the ones opposing [the Yavanas, also: invaders like the Muslims and the Europeans], the godless ones [the S’akâs], the ruffians [Haihayas] and the barbarians [Barbaras]. He instead, following the orders of the guru, allowed them to appear in odd dresses, shaved clean and wearing mustaches. Some [he accepted as appearing] with loose hair, being half shaven, without any underwear or not being clad at all. (7) Following the words of Aurva he, being of yoga with the Supersoul, worshiped the Lord, the Original Self and Controller of all Vedic knowledge and all enlightened souls, with horse sacrifices. One day he discovered that the horse that was used for the sacrifice had been stolen by Purandara [Indra, see also 4.19: 17]. (8) The proud sons born from Sumati [a wife of Sagara] then, to the instruction of their father, all together searched throughout the entire country for the horse. (9-10) In the northeastern direction they saw the horse near the âs’rama of Kapila. They said: ‘Now we know where that horse thief lives with his eyes closed. Kill him, kill him that sinner!’ The sixty thousand men of Sagara thus raised their weapons and approached him. That very moment the muni opened his eyes. (11) With their minds stolen [by Indra] and in offense with such a great personality [as Kapila, see also 3.25-33], their bodies self-ignited instantly and turned to ashes. (12) It is not the viewpoint of the sages to say that the sons of the emperor burned to ashes on the spot because of the anger of the muni, for how could in the self of him [Him] who always resides in goodness and by whose grace the entire universe is purified, the mode of ignorance manifest itself so that anger could rise? How can earthly dust pollute the ether? (13) How can with him who so thoroughly explained the world in analytical terms [see 3.25-33] and who is present in this world as a boat for the seeker to cross over the ocean of nescience that is so hard to overcome in one’s mortal existence, there be a sense of distinction between friend and foe with such a learned person elevated in transcendence [for such a one is always jubilant: prasannâtmâ]?

(14) He who was born from Kes’inî [another wife of Sagara] was called Asamañjasa. This prince fathered a son known as Ams’umân who always served his grandfather to the best of his ability. (15-16) In a former life Asamañjasa had been a yogi, so he could remember, who had fallen from the path of yoga because of bad association. In this life [not tolerating any association] he therefore personally proved himself in a most disturbing way. Once sporting with his relatives he acting most offensively had thrown all the boys into the river the Sarayû. He thus caused his family a lot of grief. (17) Because of these deeds he was banned by his father who gave up his affection for him. By the power of his yoga he then showed the boys [to their parents] and went away. (18) Oh King, all the inhabitants of Ayodhyâ were astounded to see their sons having returned again. The king was therefore truly sorry [that his son was gone].

(19) The king ordered Ams’umân [Asamañjasa’s son] to search for the horse [that was stolen by Indra]. He went after it and followed the path his uncles purportedly had taken. Thus he found the horse near a pile of ashes. (20) When the great yogi saw the Transcendental Lord, [the Vishnu avatâra] known as Kapila, sitting there he, prostrating himself, offered attentively prayers with folded hands.

(21) Ams’umân said: ‘No one among us, living beings, is able to envision You as the Transcendental Person. Up to the present day not even Lord Brahmâ is able to fathom You. And by whatever meditation or guesswork would others be able to do so, we creatures of the material world who, mistaking the body for the [real] self, are groping in the dark [see also B.G. 7: 27]? (22)The consciousness of those people who under the influence of the three modes [the gunas, see also B.G. 14: 5] revere the body, is obscured by the deluding material energy. They see, also when they sleep, nothing but those modes. Those who only have eyes for the external world cannot know You who reside within the body. (23) How can I, this fool of matter, keep You in mind who are full of spiritual knowledge, You who are heeded by Sanandana and other sages free from the contaminating and bewildering illusion of the material diversity that is caused by the gunas[see B.G. 14: 26 & 2: 45]? (24) Oh Peaceful One, I offer You, the Original Person, my obeisances, You who, free from a specific name and form, are transcendental to both the manifest and non-manifest material energies but, in order to distribute the transcendental knowledge, have assumed a material body that is characterized by fruitive actions in relation to the modes of nature. (25) Those whose minds are bewildered by lust, greed, envy and illusion wander around in this world and take their hearth and home, these products of Your material energy, for real. (26) Oh Supreme Lord, by simply seeing You this hard and tight knot of our illusion today has been broken, this bewildered state because of which one in one’s sensuality, oh Soul of all living beings, is ruled by lust and selfishness.’

(27) S’rî S’uka said: ‘Oh master of man, the great sage and Supreme Lord Kapila this way having been glorified, with a mind filled with mercy told Ams’umân the following. (28) The Supreme Lord said: ‘Take this horse, My son, it is the sacrificial animal of your grandfather, but for your forefathers who burned to ashes, there is no other way to be saved but by Ganges water.’ (29) After having circumambulated Him and having bowed down to His satisfaction, he brought the horse back to Sagara whereupon with that animal the ceremony was completed. (30) After delivering his kingdom to Ams’umân he [Sagara] being freed from his material bonds, attained the supreme destination by following the path delineated by Aurva.’

From the Mahabharata

Translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm

The Story of Kapila and Sagara’s Sixty-thousand Sons

(Book 3, Sections 107-08)

“Lomasa said, ‘O most righteous of kings! When he heard these words (proceeding) from the sky, he had faith therein, and did all that he was directed to do, O chief of the men of Bharata’s race! Then the ruler of men took separately each of the seeds and then placed these divisions (of the gourd) in vessels filled with clarified butter. And intent on the preservation of his sons, he provided a nurse for every (receptacle). Then after a long time there arose sixty thousand exceedingly powerful sons of that same king–gifted with unmeasured strength, they were born, O ruler of earth! to that saint-like king, by Rudra’s favour. And they were terrible; and their acts were ruthless. And they were able to ascend and roam about in the sky; and being numerous themselves, despised everybody, including the gods. And they would chase even the gods, the Gandharvas, and the Rakshasas and all the born beings, being themselves valiant and addicted to fighting. Then all people, harassed by the dull-headed sons of Sagara, united with all the gods, went to Brahma as their refuge. And then addressed the blessed grandfather of all beings (Brahma), ‘Go ye your way, ye gods, together with all these men. In a not very long space of time, there will come about, O gods! a great and exceedingly terrible destruction of Sagara’s sons, caused by the deed perpetrated by them.’ Thus addressed, those same gods, and men, O lord of the sons of Manu! bade adieu to the grandfather, and went back to whence they had come. Then, O chief of Bharata’s race! after the expiry of very many days, the mighty king Sagara accepted the consecration for performing the rites of a horse-sacrifice. And his horse began to roam over the world, protected by his sons. And when the horse reached the sea, waterless and frightful to behold–although the horse was guarded with very great care–it (suddenly) vanished at the very spot (it stood upon). Then, O respected sir! those same sons of Sagara imagined the same fine horse to have been stolen; and returning to their father, narrated how it had been stolen out of sight. And thereupon he addressed them, saying, ‘Go ye and search for the horse in all the cardinal points.’ Then, O great king! by this command of their father, they began to search for the horse in the cardinal points and throughout the whole surface of the earth. But all those sons of Sagara, all mutually united, could not find the horse, nor the person who had stolen it. And coming back then, they with joined palms (thus addressed) their father, (standing) before them, ‘O Protector of men! O ruler of the earth! O king! by thy command, the whole of this world with its hills and its forest tracts, with its seas, and its woods, and its islands, with its rivulets and rivers and caves, hath been searched through by us. But we cannot find either the horse, or the thief who had stolen the same.’ And hearing the words, the same king became senseless with wrath, and then told them all, carried away by Destiny, ‘Go ye all, may ye never return! Search ye again for the horse. Without that sacrificial horse, ye must never return, my boys!'”

“And those same sons of Sagara, accepted this command of their father, and once more began to search through the entire world. Now these heroes saw a rift on the surface of the earth. And having reached this pit, the sons of Sagara began to excavate it. And with spades and pickaxes they went on digging the sea, making the utmost efforts. And that same abode of Varuna (namely the ocean), being thus, excavated by the united sons of Sagara and rent and cut on all sides round, was placed in a condition of the utmost distress. And the demons and snakes and Rakshasas and various (other) animated beings began to utter distressful cries, while being killed by Sagara’s sons. And hundreds and thousands of animated beings were beheld with severed heads and separated trunks and with their skins and bones and joints rent asunder and broken. Thus they went on digging the ocean, which was the abode of Varuna and an exceedingly long space of time expired in this work, but still the horse was not found. Then, O lord of earth! towards the north-eastern region of the sea, the incensed sons of Sagara dug down as far as the lower world, and there they beheld the horse, roaming about on the surface of the ground. And they saw the magnanimous Kapila, who looked like a perfect mass of splendour. And having beheld him shining with his brightness, just as the fire shineth with its flames, they, O king! seeing the horse, were flushed with delight. And they being incensed, sent forward by their fate, paid no heed to the presence of the magnanimous Kapila, and ran forward with a view to seizing the horse. Then, O great king! Kapila, the most righteous of saints,–he whom the great sages name as Kapila Vasudeva–assumed a fiery look, and the mighty saint shot flames towards them, and thereby burnt down the dull-headed sons of Sagara. And Narada, whose practice of austerities was very great, when he beheld them reduced to ashes, came to Sagara’s side, and gave the information to him. And when the king learnt this terrible news which proceeded from the mouth of the saint, for nearly an hour he remained sad, and then he bethought himself of what Siva had said. Then sending for Ansuman, the son of Asamanjas, and his own grandson, he, O chief of Bharata’s race! spake the following words, ‘Those same sixty thousand sons of unmeasured strength having encountered Kapila’s wrath, have met their death on my account. And, O my boy of stainless character! thy father also hath been forsaken by me, in order to discharge my duty (as a king), and being desirous of doing good to my subjects.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O saint, whose sole wealth consists in religious practices! Tell me for what reason, Sagara, the foremost of kings, abandoned his own begotten son, endued with valour–an act so difficult (for all other men).”

“Lomasa said, ‘A son was born to Sagara, known by the name of Asamanjas, he who was given birth to by the princess of Sivi. And he used to seize by throat the feeble children of the townsmen, and threw them while screaming into the river. And thereupon the townsmen, overwhelmed with terror and grief, met together, and all standing with joined palms, besought Sagara in the following way, ‘O great king! Thou art our protector from the dreaded peril of attack from a hostile force. Therefore it is proper for thee to deliver us from the frightful danger, proceeding from Asamanjas.’ And the most righteous of the rulers of men, having heard this frightful news from his subjects, for nearly an hour remained sad and then spake to his ministers, saying, ‘This day from the city let my son Asamanjas be driven forth. If ye wish to do what will be acceptable to me, let this be quickly done. ‘And, O protector of men! those same ministers, thus addressed by the king, performed in a hurry exactly what the king had commanded them to do. Thus have I narrated to thee how the magnanimous Sagara banished his son, with a view to the welfare of the residents of the town. I shall now fully narrate to thee what Ansuman of the powerful bow was told by Sagara. Listen to me!

“Sagara said, ‘O my boy! sore am I at heart for having abandoned thy father, on account of the death of my sons, and also on being unsuccessful in getting back the horse. Therefore, O grandson! harassed with grief and confounded with the obstruction to my religious rites as I am, thou must bring back the horse and deliver me from hell.’ Thus addressed by the magnanimous Sagara, Ansuman went with sorrow to that spot where the earth had been excavated. And by that very passage he entered into the sea, and beheld that illustrious Kapila and that same horse. And having beheld that ancient saint, most righteous of his order, looking like a mass of light, he bowed with his head to the ground, and informed him of the reason of his visit. Then, O great king, Kapila was pleased with Ansuman, and that saint of a virtuous soul told him to ask for a favour from him. And he in the first place prayed for the horse, for the purpose of using it in the sacrifice; in the second place he prayed for the purification of his fathers. Then the mighty chief of saints, Kapila spake to him, saying, ‘I shall grant thee everything that thou desirest, O stainless (prince). May good luck be thine! In thee are fixed (the virtues of) forbearance, and truth, and righteousness. By thee hath Sagara had all his desires fulfilled. Thou are (really) a son to thy father. And by thy ability the sons of Sagara will go to heaven (i.e., will be delivered from the consequences of their unhallowed death). And the son of thy son, with a view to purifying the sons of Sagara, will obtain the favour of the great god Siva, (by means of practising great austerities), and will (thus) bring (to this world) the river that floweth in three (separate) streams, Ganga, O chief of men! May good luck be thine! Take thou with thee the sacrificial horse. Finish, my lad! the sacrificial rites of the magnanimous Sagara.’ Thus addressed by the illustrious Kapila, Ansuman took the horse with him, and came back to the sacrificial yard of the mighty-minded Sagara. Then he fell prostrate at the feet of the high-souled Sagara, who smelt him on the head and narrated all the events to him, all that had been seen and heard by him, and likewise the destruction of Sagara’s sons. He also announced that the horse had been brought back to the sacrificial yard. And when king Sagara heard of this, he no more grieved on account of his sons. And he praised and honoured Ansuman, and finished those same sacrificial rites. His sacrifice finished, Sagara was greeted honourably by all the gods; and he converted the sea, Varuna’s dwelling place, into a son of himself. And the lotus-eyed (King Sagara) having ruled his kingdom for a period of exceeding length, placed his grandson on the throne, (full of) responsibilities and then ascended to heaven. And Ansuman likewise, O great king! virtuous in soul, ruled over the world as far as the edge of the sea, following the foot-prints of his father’s father. His son was named Dilipa, versed in virtue. Upon him placing the duties of his sovereign post, Ansuman like-wise departed this life. And then when Dilipa heard what an awful fate had overtaken his forefathers, he was sorely grieved and thought of the means of raising them. And the ruler of men made every great effort towards the descent of Ganga (to the mortal world). But although trying to the utmost of his power, he could not bring about what he so much wished. And a son was born to him, known by the name of Bhagiratha beauteous, and devoted to a virtuous life, and truthful, and free from feelings of malice. And Dilipa appointed him as king, and betook himself to the forest life. And, O best of all the scions of Bharata’s race! that same king (Dilipa), devoted himself to a successful course of austerities, and at the end of (sufficient) period, from the forest departed to heaven.”

“Lomasa said, ‘That same king, of a powerful bow, standing at the head of the surrounding, (i.e., the occupant of an imperial throne) of a powerful car, (i.e., possessing every great fighting power) became the delight of the eyes and the soul of all the world. And he of the powerful arm came to learn how his forefathers had met an awful end from Kapila of mighty soul, and how they had been unable to attain the region of gods. And he with a sorrowful heart made over his kingly duties to his minister, and, O lord of men! for practising austerities, went to the side of the snowy Mountain (the Himalayas). And, O most praiseworthy of men, desirous of extinguishing his sins by leading an austere life, and (thereby) obtaining the favour of the (goddess) Ganga, he visited that foremost of mountains–Himalaya. And he beheld it adorned with peaks of diverse forms full of mineral earth; besprinkled on all sides with drops from clouds which were resting themselves upon the breeze; beautiful with rivers and groves and rocky spurs, looking like (so many) palaces (in a city); attended upon by lions and tigers that had concealed themselves in its caves and pits; and also inhabited by birds of checkered forms, which were uttering diverse sounds, such as the Bhringarajas, and ganders, and Datyuhas, and water-cocks, and peacocks and birds with a hundred feathers, and Jivanjivakas, and black birds, and Chakoras of eyes furnished with black corners, and the birds that love their young. And he saw the mountain abounding in lotus plants growing in delightful reservoirs of water. And the cranes rendered it charming with their sounds; and the Kinnaras and the celestial nymphs were seated on its stony slabs. And the elephants occupying the cardinal points had everywhere robbed its trees with the end of their tusks; and the demi-gods of the Vidyadhara class frequented the hill. And it was full of various gems, and was also infested by snakes bearing terrible poison and of glowing tongues. And the mountain at places looked like (massive) gold, and elsewhere it resembled a silvery (pile), and at some places it was like a (sable) heap of collyrium. Such was the snowy hill where the king now found himself. And that most praiseworthy of men at that spot betook himself to an awful austere course of life. And for one thousand years his subsistence was nothing but water, fruit and roots. When, however, a thousand years according to the calculation of gods had elapsed, then the great river Ganga having assumed a material form, manifested to him her (divine) self.’

“Ganga said. ‘O great king! what dost thou desire of me? And what must I bestow on thee? Tell me the same, O most praiseworthy of men! I shall do as thou mayst ask me.’ Thus addressed, the king then made his reply to Ganga, the daughter of the snowy Hill, saying, ‘O grantress of boons! O great river! my father’s fathers, while searching for the horse, were sent by Kapila to the abode of the god of death. And those same sixty thousand sons of Sagara of mighty soul, having met with the majestic Kapila, perished, (to a soul) in an instant of time. Having thus perished, there hath been no place for them in the region of heaven. O great river! So long as thou dost not besprinkle those same bodies with thy water, there is no salvation for these same Sagara’s sons. O blessed goddess! carry thou my forefathers, Sagara’s sons, to the region of heaven. O great river! on their account am I beseeching thee forsooth.”

“Lomasa said, ‘Ganga, the goddess saluted by the world, having heard these words of the king, was well pleased, and spake to Bhagiratha the following words: ‘O great king! I am prepared to do what thou dost ask me; there is no doubt therein. But when I shall descend from the sky to the earth, the force of my fall will be difficult to sustain. O protector of men! In the three worlds there exists none who is able to sustain the same, excepting Siva, the most praiseworthy of gods, the great Lord with the throat of sable blue. O (prince) of a powerful arm! Obtain the favour, by practising austerities, of that same Siva-giver of boons. That same god will sustain my descent upon his head. Thy desire he will fulfill, the desire, namely, to be of service to thy fathers, O king!’ Then the great king Bhagiratha having heard the same, went to the Kailasa hill, and betaking himself to a severe course of penances, at the expiration of a certain length of time obtained the favour of that worker of blessings (Siva). And, O protector of men! that same best of men, in order that his forefathers might have a place in heaven secured to them, received from that very Siva the fulfilment of his wish, namely the wish that the descending Ganga might be sustained.'”

Kapila’s teachings to Syumarasmi

(Book 12, Sections 268-270)

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast already explained to me, O grandsire, how the religion of Yoga, which leads to the six well-known attributes, may be adopted and practised without injuring any creature. Tell me, O grandsire, of that religion which leads to both results, viz., Enjoyment and Emancipation. Amongst these two, viz., the duties of domesticity and those of Yoga, both of which lead to the same end, which is superior?’

“Bhishma said, ‘Both courses of duty are highly blessed. Both are extremely difficult of accomplishment. Both are productive of high fruits. Both are practised by those that are admittedly good. I shall presently discourse to thee on the authoritativeness of both those courses of duty, for dispelling thy doubts about their true import. Listen to me with concentrated attention. In this connection is instanced the old narrative of the discourse between Kapila and the cow. Listen to it, O Yudhishthira! It has been heard by us that in days of old when the deity Tvashtri came to the place of king Nahusha, the latter, for discharging the duties of hospitality, was on the point of killing a cow agreeably to the true, ancient, and eternal injunction of the Vedas. Beholding that cow tied for slaughter, Kapila of liberal soul, ever observant of the duties of Sattwa, always engaged in restraining his senses, possessed of true knowledge, and abstemious in diet, having acquired an excellent understanding that was characterised by faith, perfectly fearless, beneficial, firm, and ever directed towards truth, uttered this word once, viz.,–‘Alas ye Vedas!’–At that time a Rishi, of the name of Syumarasmi, entering (by Yoga power) the form of that cow, addressed the Yati Kapila, saying, ‘Hist O Kapila! If the Vedas be deserving (in consequence of those declarations in them that sanction the slaughter of living creatures), whence have those other duties (fraught with entire harmlessness to all creatures) come to be regarded as authoritative? Men devoted to penances and endued with intelligence, and who have the Srutis and knowledge for their eyes, regard the injunctions of the Vedas, which have been declared through and compiled by the Rishis, to be the words of God himself. What can anybody say (by way of censure or praise) with respect to the contents of the Vedas when these happen to be the words of the Supreme Being himself who is freed from desire of fruit, who is without the fever (of envy and aversion), who is addicted to nothing, and who is destitute of all exertion (in consequence of the immediate fruition of all his wishes)?’

“Kapila said, ‘I do not censure the Vedas. I do not wish to say anything in derogation of them. It hath been heard by us that the different courses of duty laid down for the different modes of life, all lead to the same end. The Sannyasin attains to a high end. The forest-recluse also attains to a high end. Both the other two also, viz., the householder and the Brahmacharin, reach the same end. All the four modes of life have always been regarded as Deva-yana ways. The relative strength or weakness of these, as represented by their relative superiority or inferiority, hath been declared in the character of their respective ends.–Knowing these, accomplish acts which lead to heaven and other blessings,–this is a Vedic declaration.–Do not accomplish acts,–this also is another binding declaration of the Vedas. If abstention from acts be meritorious, then their accomplishment must be exceedingly reprehensible. When the scriptures stand thus, the strength or weakness of particular declarations must be very difficult to ascertain. If thou knowest of any course of duty which is superior to the religion of harmlessness, and which depends upon direct evidence instead of that of the scriptures, do thou then discourse to me upon it.’

“Syumarasmi said, ‘One should perform sacrifice from desire of heaven,–this Sruti is constantly heard by us. Thinking first of the fruit (that is to be attained), one makes preparations for sacrifice. Goat, horse, cow, all species of birds, domestic or wild, and herbs and plants, are food of (other) living creatures. This is heard by us. Food again has been directed to be taken day after day morning and evening. Then again the Sruti declares that animals and grain are the limbs of Sacrifice. The Lord of the universe created them along with Sacrifice. The puissant Lord of all creatures caused the deities to perform sacrifices with their aid. Altogether seven (domestic) and seven (wild) animals are indicated as fit for sacrifice. Instead of all being equally fit, each succeeding one is inferior to each preceding one. The Vedas again declare that the whole universe is appointed for sacrifice. Him also that is called Purusha the Vedas have appointed for the same purpose. This again hath been sanctioned by men of remote and remoter times. What man of learning is there that does not select, according to his own ability, individuals from among living creatures for sacrifice? The inferior animals, human beings, trees, and herbs, all wish for the attainment of heaven. There is no means, however, except sacrifice, by which they can obtain the fruition of that desire. The deciduous herbs, animals, trees, creepers, clarified butter, milk, curds, meat and other approved things (that are poured on the sacrificial fire), land, the points of the compass, faith, and time which brings up the tale of twelve, the Richs, the Yajuses, the Samans, and the sacrificer himself bringing up the tale to sixteen, and Fire which should be known as the householder,–these seventeen are said to be the limbs of sacrifice. Sacrifice, the Sruti declares, is the root of the world and its course. With clarified butter, milk, curds, dung, curds mixed with milk, skin, the hair in her tail, horns, and hoofs, the cow alone is able to furnish all the necessaries of sacrifice. Particular ones amongst these that are laid down for particular sacrifices, coupled with Ritwijas and presents (to the priests themselves and other Brahmanas) together sustain sacrifices. By collecting these things together, people accomplish sacrifices. This Sruti, consistent with the truth, is heard that all things have been created for the performance of sacrifice. It was thus that all men of ancient time set themselves to the performance of sacrifices. As regards that person, however, who performs sacrifices because of the conviction that sacrifices should be performed and not for the sake of fruit or reward, it is seen that he does not injure any creature or bear himself with hostility to anything, or set himself to the accomplishment of any worldly task. Those things that have been named as the limbs of sacrifice, and those other things that have been mentioned as required in sacrifices and that are indicated in the ordinances, all uphold one another (for the completion of sacrifices) when used according to the approved ritual. I behold also the Smritis compiled by he Rishis, into which the Vedas have been introduced. Men of learning regard them as authoritative in consequence of their following the Brahmanas. Sacrifices have the Brahmanas for that progenitor, and truly they rest upon the Brahmanas. The whole universe rests upon sacrifice, and sacrifice rests upon the universe. The syllable Om is the root from which the Vedas have sprung. (Every rite, therefore, should commence with the utterance of that syllable of vast import). Of him who has uttered for him the syllables Om, Namas, Swaha, Svadha, and Vashat, and who has, according to the extent of his ability, performed sacrifices and other rites, there is no fear in respect of next life in all the three worlds. Thus say the Vedas, and sages crowned with ascetic success, and the foremost of Rishis. He in whom are the Richs, the Yajuses, the Samans, and the expletives necessary for completing the rhythm of the Samans according to the rules laid down in Vedic grammars, is, indeed, a Brahmana. Thou knowest, O adorable Brahmana, what the fruits are of Agnihotra, of the Soma-sacrifice, and of the other great sacrifices. I say, for this reason, one should sacrifice and assist at other people’s sacrifices, without scruples of any kind. One who performs such sacrifices as lead to heaven (such as Jyotishtoma, etc.) obtains high rewards hereafter in the form of heavenly beatitude. This is certain, viz., that they who do not perform sacrifices have neither this world nor the next. They who are really conversant with the declarations of the Vedas regard both kinds of declarations (viz., those that incite to acts and those that preach abstention) as equally authoritative.'”

“Kapila said, ‘Beholding that all the fruits that are attainable by acts are terminable instead of being eternal, Yatis, by adopting self-restraint and tranquillity, attain to Brahma through the path of knowledge. There is nothing in any of the worlds that can impede them (for by mere fiats of their will they crown all their wishes with success). They are freed from the influence of all pairs of opposites. They never bow down their heads to anything or any creature. They are above all the bonds of want. Wisdom is theirs. Cleansed they are from every sin. Pure and spotless they live and rove about (in great happiness). They have, in their own understandings, arrived at settled conclusions in respect of all destructible objects and of a life of Renunciation (by comparing the two together). Devoted to Brahma, already become like unto Brahma, they have taken refuge in Brahma. Transcending grief, and freed from (the equality of) Rajas, theirs are acquisitions that are eternal. When the high end that is these men’s is within reach of attainment, what need has one for practising the duties of the domestic mode of life?’

“Syumarasmi said, ‘If, indeed, that be the highest object of acquisition, if that be truly the highest end (which is attained by practising Renunciation) then the importance of the domestic mode of life becomes manifest, because without the domestic mode no other mode of life ever becomes possible. Indeed, as all living creatures are able to live in consequence of their dependence on their respective mothers, after the same manner the three other modes of life exist in consequence of their dependence upon the domestic mode. The householder who leads the life of domesticity, performs sacrifices, and practises penances. Whatever is done by anybody from desire of happiness has for its root the domestic mode of life. All living creatures regard the procreation of offspring as a source of great happiness. The procreation of offspring, however, becomes impossible in any other mode of life (than domesticity). Every kind of grass and straw, all plants and herbs (that yield corn or grain), and others of the same class that grow on hills and mountains, have the domestic mode of life for their root. Upon those depend the life of living creatures. And since nothing else is seen (in the universe) than life, domesticity may be looked upon as the refuge of the entire universe. Who then speaks the truth that says that domesticity cannot lead to the acquisition of Emancipation? Only those that are destitute of faith and wisdom and penetration, only those that are destitute of reputation that are idle and toil-worn, that have misery for their share in consequence of their past acts, only those that are destitute of learning, behold the plenitude of tranquillity in a life of mendicancy. The eternal and certain distinctions (laid down in the Vedas) are the causes that sustain the three worlds. That illustrious person of the highest order who is conversant with the Vedas, is worshipped from the very date of his birth. Besides the performance of Garbhadhana, Vedic mantras become necessary for enabling persons of the regenerate classes to accomplish all their acts in respect of both this and the other world. In cremating his body (after death), in the matter of his attainment of a second body, in that of his drink and food after such attainment, in that of giving away kine and other animals for helping him to cross the river that divides the region of life from that of Yama, in that of sinking funeral cakes in water–Vedic mantras are necessary. Then again the three classes of Pitris, viz., the Archishmats, the Varhishads, and the Kravyads, approve of the necessity of mantras in the case of the dead, and mantras are allowed to be efficient causes (for attainment of the objects for which these ceremonies and rites have been directed to be performed). When the Vedas say this so loudly and when again human beings are said to owe debts to the Pitris, the Rishis, and the gods, how can any one attain to Emancipation? This false doctrine (of incorporeal existence called Emancipation), apparently dressed in colours of truth, but subversive of the real purport of the declarations of the Vedas, has been introduced by learned men reft of prosperity and eaten up by idleness. That Brahmana who performs sacrifices according to the declarations of the Vedas is never seduced by sin. Through sacrifices, such a person attains to high regions of felicity along with the animals he has slain in those sacrifices, and himself, gratified by the acquisition of all his wishes succeeds in gratifying those animals by fulfilling their wishes. By disregarding the Vedas, by guile, or by deception, one never succeeds in attaining to the Supreme. On the other hand, it is by practising the rites laid down in the Vedas that one succeeds in attaining to Brahma.’

“Kapila said, ‘(If acts are obligatory, then) there are the Darsa, the Paurnamasa, the Agnihotra, the Chaturmasya, and other acts for the man of intelligence. In their performance is eternal merit. (Why then perform acts involving cruelty)? Those that have betaken themselves to the Sannyasa, mode of life, that abstain from all acts, that are endued with patience, that are cleansed (of wrath and every fault), and that are conversant with Brahma, succeed by such knowledge of Brahma in paying off the debts (thou speakest of) to the gods (the Rishis, and the Pitris) represented to be so very fond of libations poured in sacrifices. The very gods become stupefied in tracing the track of that trackless person who constitutes himself the soul of all creatures and who looks upon all creatures with an equal eye. Through instructions received from the preceptor one knows that which dwells within this frame to be of a four-fold nature, having besides four doors and four mouths. In consequence of (their possession of) two arms, the organ of speech, the stomach, and the organ of pleasure, the very gods are said to have four doors. One should, therefore, strive one’s best to keep those doors under control. One should not gamble with dice. One should not appropriate what belongs to another. One should not assist at the sacrifice of a person of ignoble birth. One should not, giving way to wrath, smite another with hands or feet. That intelligent man who conducts himself in this way is said to have his hands and feet well-controlled. One should not indulge in vociferous abuse or censure. One should not speak words that are vain. One should forbear from knavery and from calumniating others. One should observe the vow of truthfulness, be sparing of speech, and always heedful.’ By conducting oneself in this way one will have one’s organ of speech well-restrained. One should not abstain entirely from food. One should not eat too much. One should give up covetousness, and always seek the companionship of the good. One should eat only so much as is needed for sustaining life. By conducting oneself in this way one succeeds in properly controlling the door represented by one’s stomach. One should not, O hero, lustfully take another wife when one has a wedded spouse (with whom to perform all religious acts). One should never summon a woman to bed except in her season. One should confine oneself to one’s own wedded spouse without seeking congress with other women. By conducting oneself in this way one is said to have one’s organ of pleasure properly controlled. That man of wisdom is truly a regenerate person who has all his four doors, viz., the organ of pleasure, the stomach, the two arms (and two feet), and the organ of speech, properly controlled. Everything becomes useless of that person whose doors are not well-controlled. What can the penance of such a man do? What can his sacrifices bring about? What cart be achieved by his body? The gods know him for a Brahmana who has cast off his upper garment, who sleeps on the bare ground, who makes his arm a pillow, and whose heart is possessed of tranquillity. That person who, devoted to contemplation, singly enjoys all the happiness that wedded couples enjoy, and who turns not his attention to the joys and griefs of others, should be known for a Brahmana. That man who rightly understands all this as it exists in reality and its multiform transformations, and who knows what the end is of all created objects, is known by the gods for a Brahmana. One who hath no fear from any creature and from whom no creature hath any fear and who constitutes himself the soul of all creatures, should be known for a Brahmana. Without having acquired purity of heart which is the true result of all pious acts such as gifts and sacrifices, men of foolish understandings do not succeed in obtaining a knowledge of what is needed in making one a Brahmana even when explained by preceptors. Destitute of a knowledge of all this, these men desire fruits of a different kind, viz., heaven and its joys. Unable to practise even a small part of that good conduct which has come down from remote times, which is eternal, which is characterised by certitude, which enters as a thread in all our duties, and by adopting which men of knowledge belonging to all the modes of life convert their respective duties and penances into terrible weapons for destroying the ignorance and evils of worldliness, men of foolish understandings regard acts that are productive of visible fruits, that are fraught with the highest puissance, and that are deathless, as fruitless after all and as deviations (from the proper course) not sanctioned by the scriptures. In truth, however, that conduct, embracing as it does practices the very opposite of those that are seen in seasons of distress, is the very essence of heedfulness and is never affected by lust and wrath and other passions of a similar kind. As regards sacrifices again, it is very difficult to ascertain all their particulars. If ascertained, it is very difficult to observe them in practice. If practised, the fruits to which they lead are terminable. Mark this well. (And marking this, do thou betake thyself to the path of knowledge).’

“Syumarasmi said, ‘The Vedas countenance acts and discountenance them.

Whence then is their authority when their declarations thus contradict each other? Renunciation of acts, again, is productive of great benefit. Both these have been indicated in the Vedas. Do thou discourse to me on this subject, O Brahmana!’

“Kapila said, ‘Betaking yourselves to the path of the good (viz., Yoga), do you even in this life realise its fruits by the direct evidence of your senses. What, however, are the visible results of those other objects which you (men of acts) pursue?’

“Syumarasmi said, ‘O Brahmana, I am Syumarasmi by name. I have come here for acquiring knowledge. Desirous of doing good to myself I have started this conversation in artless candour and not from desire of disputation. The dark doubt has taken possession of my mind. O illustrious one, solve it to me. Thou hast said that they who take the path of the good (viz., Yoga), by which Brahma is attained, realise its fruits by the direct evidence of their senses. What, indeed, is that which is so realisable by the direct evidence of the senses and which is pursued by yourselves? Avoiding all sciences that have disputation only for their foremost object, I have so studied the Agama as to have July mastered their true meaning. By Agama I understand the declarations of the Vedas. I also include la that word those sciences based on logic which have for their object the bringing out of the real meaning of the Vedas. Without avoiding the duties laid down for the particular mode of life which one may lead, one should pursue the practices laid down in Agama. Such observance of the practices laid down in Agama crowns one with success. In consequence of the certainty of the conclusions of Agama, the success to which the latter leads may be said to be almost realisable by direct evidence. As a boat that is tied to another bound for a different port, cannot take its passengers to the port they desire to reach, even so ourselves, dragged by our acts due to past desires, can never cross the interminable river of birth and death (and reach the heaven of rest and peace we may have in view). Discourse to me on this topic, O illustrious one! Teach me as a preceptor teaches a disciple. No one can be found amongst men that has completely renounced all worldly objects, nor one that is perfectly contented with oneself, nor one that has transcended grief, nor one that is perfectly free from disease, nor one that is absolutely free from the desire to act (for one’s own benefit), nor one that has an absolute distaste for companionship, nor one that has entirely abstained from acts of every kind. Even men like yourself are seen to give way to joy and indulge in grief as persons like ourselves. Like other creatures the senses of persons like yourselves have their functions and objects. Tell me, in what then, if we are to investigate the question of happiness, does pure felicity consist for all the four orders of men and all the four modes of life who and which have, as regards their inclinations, the same resting ground.’

“Kapila said, ‘Whatever the Sastras according to which one performs the acts one feels inclined to do, the ordinances laid down in it for regulating those acts never become fruitless. Whatever again the school of opinion according to which one may conduct oneself, one is sure to attain to the highest end by only observing the duties of self-restraint of Yoga. Knowledge assists that man in crossing (this interminable river of life and death) who pursues knowledge. That conduct, however, which men pursue after deviating from the path of knowledge, afflicts them (by subjecting them to the evils of life and death). It is evident that ye are possessed of knowledge and dissociated from every worldly object that may produce distress. But have any of you at any time succeeded in acquiring that knowledge in consequence of which everything is capable of being viewed as identical with one Universal Soul? Without a correct apprehension of the scriptures, some there are, fond only of disputation, who, in consequence of being overwhelmed by desire and aversion, become the slaves of pride and arrogance. Without having correctly understood the meaning of scriptural declarations, these robbers of the scriptures, these depredators of Brahma, influenced by arrogance and error, refuse to pursue tranquillity and practise self-restraint. These men behold fruitlessness on every side, and if (by chance) they succeed in obtaining the puissance of knowledge they never impart it to others for rescuing them. Made up entirely of the quality of Tamas, they have Tamas only for their refuge. One becomes subject to all the incidents of that nature which one imbibes. Accordingly, of him who hath Tamas for his refuge, the passions of envy, lust, wrath, pride, falsehood, and vanity, continually grow, for one’s qualities have one’s nature for their spring. Thinking in this strain and beholding these faults (through the aid of instructions secured from preceptors), Yatis, who covet the highest end, betake themselves to Yoga, leaving both good and ill.’

“Syumarasmi said, ‘O Brahmana, all that I have said (about the laudable character of acts and the opposite character of Renunciation) is strictly conformable to the scriptures. It is, however, very true that without a correct apprehension of the meaning of the scriptures, one does not feel inclined to obey what the scriptures really declare. Whatever conduct is consistent with equity is consistent with the scriptures. Even that is what the Sruti declares. Similarly, whatever conduct is inconsistent with equity is inconsistent with the scriptures. This also is declared by the Sruti. It is certain that no one can do an act that is scriptural by transgressing the scriptures. That again is unscriptural which is against the Vedas. The Sruti declares this. Many men, who believe only what directly appeals to their senses, behold only this world (and not what is addressed in the scriptures to Faith). They do not behold what the scriptures declare to be faults. They have, accordingly, like ourselves, to give way to grief. Those objects of the senses with which men like you are concerned are the same with which other living creatures are concerned. Yet in consequence of your knowledge of the soul and their ignorance of it, how vast is the difference that exists between you and them! All the four orders of men and all the four modes of life, however different their duties, seek the same single end (viz., the highest happiness). Thou art possessed of unquestioned talents and abilities. For ascertaining that particular course of conduct (amongst those various duties) which is well calculated to accomplish the desired end, thou hast, by discoursing to me on the Infinite (Brahma), filled my soul with tranquillity. As regards ourselves, in consequence of our inability to understand the Soul we are destitute of a correct apprehension of the reality. Our wisdom is concerned with things that are low, and we are enveloped in thick darkness. (The course of conduct, however, that thou hast indicated for enabling one to attain to Emancipation, is exceedingly difficult of practice). Only he who is devoted to Yoga, who has discharged all his duties, who is capable of roving everywhere depending only on his own body, who has brought his soul under perfect control, who has transcended the requirements of the science of morality and who disregards the whole world (and everything belonging to it), can transgress the declarations of the Vedas with respect to acts, and say that there is Emancipation. For one, however, who lives in the midst of relatives, this course of conduct is exceedingly difficult to follow. Gift, study of the Vedas, sacrifices, begetting offspring, simplicity of dealing, when by practising even these no one succeeds in attaining to Emancipation, fie on him who seeks to attain to it, and on Emancipation itself that is sought! It seems that the labour spent upon attaining to it is all fruitless. One becomes chargeable with atheism if one disregards the Vedas by not doing the acts they direct. O illustrious one, I desire to hear without delay about that (Emancipation) which comes in the Vedas after the declarations in favour of acts. Do tell me the truth, O Brahmana! I sit at thy feet as a disciple. Teach me kindly! I wish to know as much about Emancipation as is known to thee, O learned one!’

“Kapila said, ‘The Vedas are regarded as authoritative by all. People never disregard them. Brahma is of two kinds, viz., Brahma as represented by sound, and Brahma as Supreme (and intangible). One conversant with Brahma represented by sound succeeds in attaining to Supreme Brahma. Commencing with the rites of Garbhadhana, that body which the sire creates with the aid of Vedic mantras is cleansed (after birth) by Vedic mantras. When the body has been cleansed with purificatory rites (performed with the aid of Vedic mantras), the owner there of come to be called a Brahmana and becomes a vessel fit for receiving knowledge of Brahma. Know that the reward of acts is purity of heart which only leads to Emancipation. I shall presently speak to thee of that. Whether purity of heart has been attained or not (by performance of acts) is what can be known to the person himself who has attained it. It can never be known with the aid of either the Vedas or inference. They that cherish no expectation, that discard every kind of wealth by not storing anything for future use, that are not covetous, and that are free from every kind of affection and aversion, perform sacrifices because of the conviction that their performance is a duty. To make gifts unto deserving persons is the end (right use) of all wealth. Never addicted at any time to sinful acts, observant of those rites that have been laid down in the Vedas, capable of crowning all their wishes with fruition, endued with certain conclusions through pure knowledge, never giving way to wrath,–never indulging in envy, free from pride and malice, firm in Yoga, of unstained birth, unstained conduct, and unstained learning, devoted to the good of all creatures, there were in days of yore many men, leading lives of domesticity and thoroughly devoted to their own duties, there were many kings also of the same qualifications, devoted to Yoga (like Janaka, etc.), and many Brahmanas also of the same character (like Yajnavalkya and others). They behaved equally towards all creatures and were endued with perfect sincerity. Contentment was theirs, and certainty of knowledge. Visible were the rewards of their righteousness, and pure were they in behaviour and heart. They were possessed of faith in Brahma of both forms. At first making their hearts pure, they duly observed all (excellent) vows. They were observant of the duties of righteousness on even occasions of distress and difficulty, without failing off in any particular. Uniting together they used to perform meritorious acts. In this they found great happiness. And inasmuch as they never tripped, they had never to perform any expiation. Relying as they did upon the true course of righteousness, they became endued with irresistible energy. They never followed their own understandings in the matter of earning merit but followed the dictates of the scriptures alone for that end. Accordingly they were never guilty of guile in the matter of performing acts of righteousness. In consequence of their observing unitedly the absolute ordinances of the scriptures without betaking themselves ever to the rites laid down in the alternative, they were never under the necessity of performing expiation. There is no expiation for men living in the observance of the ordinances laid down in the scriptures. The Sruti declares that expiation exists for only men that are weak and unable to follow the absolute and substantive provisions of the sacred law. Many Brahmanas there were of this kind in days of old, devoted to the performance of sacrifices, of profound knowledge of the Vedas, possessed of purity and good conduct, and endued with fame. They always worshipped Brahma in the sacrifices, and were free from desire. Possessed of learning they transcended all the bonds of life. The sacrifices of these men, their (knowledge of the) Vedas, their acts performed in obedience to the ordinances, their study of the scripture at the fixed hours, and the wishes they entertained, freed as they were from lust and wrath, observant as they were of pious conduct and acts notwithstanding all difficulties, renowned as they were for performing the duties of their own order and mode of life, purified as their souls were in consequence of their very nature, characterised as they were by thorough sincerity, devoted as they were to tranquillity, and mindful as they were of their own practices, were identical with Infinite Brahma. Even this is the eternal Sruti heard by us. The penances of men that were so high-souled, of men whose conduct and acts were so difficult of observance and accomplishment, of men whose wishes were crowned with fruition in consequence of the strict discharge of their duties, became efficacious weapons for the destruction of all earthly desires. The Brahmanas say that that Good Conduct, which is wonderful, whose origin may be traced to very ancient times, which is eternal and whose characteristics are unchangeable, which differs from the practices to which even the good resort in seasons of distress and represents their acts in other situations, which is identical with heedfulness, over which lust and wrath and other evil passions can never prevail, and in consequence of which there was (at one time) no transgression in all mankind, subsequently came to be distributed into four subdivisions, corresponding with the four modes of life by persons unable to practise its duties in minute detail and entirety. They that are good, by duly observing that course of Good Conduct after adoption of the Sannyasa mode of life, attain to the highest end. They also that betake themselves to the forest mode reach the same high end (by duly observing that conduct). They too that observe the domestic mode of life attain to the highest end (by duly practising the same conduct); and, lastly, those that lead the Brahmacharya mode obtain the same (end by a due observance of the same conduct). Those Brahmanas are seen to shine in the firmament as luminaries shedding beneficent rays of light all around. Those myriads of Brahmanas have become stars and constellations set in their fixed tracks. In consequence of contentment (or Renunciation) they have all attained to Infinity as the Vedas declare. If such men have to come back to the world through the wombs of living creatures, they are never stained by sins which have the unexhausted residue of previous acts for their originating cause. Indeed, one who has led the life of a Brahmacharin and waited dutifully upon his preceptor, who has arrived at settled conclusions (in respect of the soul), and who has devoted himself to Yoga thus, is truly a Brahmana. Who else would deserve to be called a Brahmana? When acts alone determine who is a Brahmana and who is not, acts (good or bad) must be held to indicate the happiness or misery of a person. As regards those that have by conquering all evil passions acquired purity of heart, we have heard the eternal Sruti that in consequence of the Infinity to which they attain (through beholding the universal soul) and of the knowledge of Brahma (they acquire through the declarations of Srutis), they behold everything to be Brahma. The duties (of tranquillity, self-restraint, abstention from acts, renunciation, devotion, and the abstraction of Samadhi) followed by those men of pure hearts, that are freed from desire, and that have Emancipation only for their object, for acquisition of the knowledge of Brahma, are equally laid down for all the four orders of men and all the four modes of life. Verily, that knowledge is always acquired by Brahmanas of pure hearts and restrained soul. One whose soul is for Renunciation based upon contentment is regarded as the refuge of true knowledge. Renunciation, in which is that knowledge which leads to Emancipation, and which is highly necessary for a Brahmana, is eternal (and comes down from preceptor to pupil for ever and ever). Renunciation sometimes exists mixed with the duties of other modes. But whether existing in that state or by itself, one practises it according to the measure of one’s strength (that depends upon the degree of one’s absence of worldly desires). Renunciation is the cause of supreme benefit unto every kind of person. Only he that is weak, fails to practise it. That pure-hearted man who seeks to attain to Brahma becomes rescued from the world (with its misery).’

“Syumarasmi said, ‘Amongst those that are given up to enjoyment (of property), they that make gifts, they that perform sacrifices, they that devote themselves to the study of the Vedas, and they that betake themselves to a life of Renunciation after having acquired and enjoyed wealth and all its pleasures, when they depart from this world, who is it that attains to the foremost place in heaven? I ask thee this, O Brahmana! Do thou tell me truly.’

“Kapila said, ‘Those who lead a life of domesticity are certainly auspicious and acquire excellence of every kind. They are unable, however, to enjoy the felicity that attaches to Renunciation. Even thou mayst see this.’

“Syumarasmi said, ‘Ye depend upon knowledge as the means (for the attainment of Emancipation). Those who lead lives of domesticity have planted their faith in acts. It has, however, been said that the end of all modes of life is Emancipation. No difference, therefore, is observable between them in respect of either their superiority or inferiority of puissance. O illustrious one, do thou tell me then how stands the matter truly.’

“Kapila said, ‘Acts only cleanse the body. Knowledge, however, is the highest end (for which one strives). When all faults of the heart are cured (by acts), and when the felicity of Brahma becomes established in knowledge, benevolence, forgiveness, tranquillity, compassion, truthfulness, and candour, abstention from injury, absence of pride, modesty, renunciation, and abstention from work are attained. These constitute the path that lead to Brahma. By those one attains to what is the Highest. That the cure of all faults of the heart is the result of acts becomes intelligible to the wise man when these are attained. That, indeed, is regarded as the highest end which is obtained by Brahmanas endued with wisdom, withdrawn from all acts, possessed of purity and the certitude of knowledge. One who succeeds in acquiring a knowledge of the Vedas, of that which is taught by the Vedas (viz., Brahma as represented in acts), and the minutiae of acts, is said to be conversant with the Vedas. Any other man is only a bag of wind. One who is conversant with the Vedas knows everything, for everything is established on the Vedas. Verity, the present, past, and future all exist in the Vedas. This one conclusion is deducible from all the scriptures, viz., that this universe exists and does not exist. To the man of knowledge this (all that is perceived) is both sat and asat. To him, this all is both the end and the middle. This truth rests upon all the Vedas, viz., that when complete Renunciation takes place one obtains what is sufficient. Then again the highest contentment follows and rests upon Emancipation, which is absolute, which exists as the soul of all mortal and immortal things, which is well-known as such universal soul, which is the highest object of knowledge as being identical with all mobile and immobile things, which is full, which is perfect felicity, which is without duality, which is the foremost of all things, which is Brahma, which is Unmanifest and the cause also, whence the Unmanifest has sprung, and which is without deterioration of any kind. Ability to subdue the senses, forgiveness, and abstention from work in consequence of the absence of desire,–these three are the cause of perfect felicity. With the aid of these three qualities, men having understanding for their eyes succeed in reaching that Brahma which is uncreate, which is the prime cause of the universe, which is unchangeable and which is beyond destruction. I bow to that Brahma, which is identical with him that knows it.'”

Bhishma on the Sankyas and Kapila

(Book 12, Section 302)

Yudhishthira Said, ‘O king thou hast duly propounded unto me, in the way in which it should be, the path of Yoga which is approved by the wise, after the manner of a loving preceptor unto his pupil. I ask now about the principles of the Sankhya philosophy. Do thou discourse to me on those principles in their entirety. Whatever knowledge exists in the three worlds is known to thee!’

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen now to what the subtile principles are of the followers of the Sankhya doctrine have been established by all the great and puissant Yatis having Kapila their first. In that doctrine O chief of men, no errors are discoverable. Many, indeed, are its merits. In fact, there is no fault in it. Comprehending with the aid of knowledge that all objects exist with faults, indeed, understanding that the objects–so difficult to cast off–with which human beings and Pisachas and Rakshasas and Yakshas and snakes and Gandharvas and pitris and those that are wandering in the intermediate orders of beings (such as birds and animals) and great birds (such as Garuda and others) and the Maruts and royal sages and regenerate sages and Asuras and Viswedevas and the celestial Rishis and Yogins invested with supreme puissance and the Prajapatis and Brahman himself are engaged, and understanding truly what the highest limit is of one’s period of existence in this world, and apprehending also the great truth. O foremost of eloquent men, about what is called felicity here, having a clear knowledge of what the sorrows are that overtake when the hour comes all those that are concerned with (transitory) objects and knowing full well the sorrows of those that have fallen into the intermediate orders of being and of those that have sunk into hell, perceiving all the merits and all the faults of heaven, O Bharta, and all the demerits that attach to the declarations of the Vedas and all the excellencies that are connected with them recognising the faults and merits of the Yoga and the Sankhya systems of philosophy, realizing also that the quality of Sattwa has ten properties, that of Rajas has nine, and that of Tamas has eight, that the Understanding has seven properties, the Mind has six, and Space has five, and once more conceiving that the Understanding has four properties and Tamas has three, and the Rajas has two and Sattwa has, one, and truly apprehending the path that is followed by all objects when destruction overtakes them and what the course is of self knowledge, the Sankhyas, possessed of knowledge and experience and exalted by their perceptions of causes, and acquiring thorough auspiciousness, attain to the felicity of Emancipation like the rays of the Sun, or the Wind taking refuge in Space. Vision is attached to form; the sense of scent to smell, the ear to sound, the tongue to juices, and the skin (or body) to touch. The wind has for its refuge Space. Stupefaction has Tamas (Darkness) for its refuge. Cupidity has the objects of the senses for its refuge. Vishnu is attached to (the organs of) motion. Sakra is attached to (the organs of) strength. The deity of fire is attached to the stomach, Earth is attached to the Waters. The Waters have Heat (or fire) for their refuge. Heat attaches itself to the Wind; and the wind has Space for its refuge; and Space has Mahat for its refuge, and Mahat has the Understanding for its foundation. The Understanding has its refuge in Tamas; Tamas has Rajas for its refuge; Rajas is founded upon Sattwa; and Sattwa is attached to the Soul. The soul has the glorious and puissant Narayana for its refuge. That glorious deity has Emancipation for his refuge. Emancipation is independent of all refuge. Knowing that this body, that is endued with six and ten possessions, is the result of the quality of Sattwa, understanding fully the nature of the physical organism and the character of the Chetana that dwells within it, recognising the one existent Being that live in the body viz., the Soul, which stands aloof from every concern of the body and in which no sin can attach, realising the nature of that second object, viz.; the acts of persons attached to the objects of the senses, understanding also the character of the senses and the sensual objects which have their refuge in the Soul, appreciating the difficulty of Emancipation and the scriptures that bear upon it knowing fully the nature of the vital breaths called Prana, Apana, Samana, Vyana, and Udana, as also the two other breaths, viz., the one going downward and the other moving upward indeed, knowing those seven breaths ordained to accomplish seven different functions, ascertaining the nature of the Prajapatis and the Rishis and the high paths, many in number, of virtue or righteousness, and the seven Rishis and the innumerable royal Rishis, O scorcher of foes, and the great celestial Rishis and the other regenerate Rishis endued with the effulgence of the Sun, beholding all these falling away from their puissance in course of many long ages, O monarch, hearing of the destruction of even of all the mighty beings in the universe, understanding also the inauspicious end that is attained, O king, by creatures of sinful acts, and the miseries endured by those that fall into the river Vaitarani in the realms of Yama, and the inauspicious wanderings of creatures through diverse wombs, and the character of their residence in the unholy uterus in the midst of blood and water and phlegm and urine and faeces, all of foul smell, and then in bodies that result from the union of blood and the vital seed, of marrow and sinews, abounding with hundreds of nerves and arteries and forming an impure mansion of nine doors, comprehending also what is for his own good what those divers combinations are which are productive of good beholding the abominable conduct of creatures whose natures are characterised by Darkness or Passion or Goodness, O chief of Bharata’s race–conduct that is reprehended, in view of its incapacity to acquire Emancipation, by the followers of the Sankhya doctrine who are fully conversant with the Soul, beholding the swallowing up of the Moon and the Sun by Rahu, the falling of stars from their fixed positions and the diversions of constellations from their orbits, knowing the sad separation of all united objects and the diabolical behaviour of creatures in devouring one another, seeing the absence of all intelligence in the infancy of human beings and the deterioration and destruction of the body, marking the little attachment creatures have to the quality of Sattwa in consequence of their being overwhelmed by wrath and stupefaction, beholding also only one among thousands of human beings resolved to struggle after the acquisition of Emancipation, understanding the difficulty of attaining to Emancipation according to what is stated in the scriptures, seeing the marked solicitude that creatures manifest for all unattained objects and their comparative indifference to all objects that have been attained marking the wickedness that results from all objects of the senses O king and the repulsive bodies, O son of Kunti, of persons reft of life, and the residence, always fraught with grief, of human beings, O Bharata, in houses (in the midst of spouses and children), knowing the end of those terrible and fallen men who become guilty of slaying Brahmanas, and of those wicked Brahmanas that are addicted to the drinking of alcoholic stimulants, and the equally sad end of those that become criminally attached to the spouses of their preceptors, and of those men, O Yudhishthira, that do not properly reverence their mothers, as also of those that have no reverence and worship to offer to the deities, understanding also, with the help of that knowledge (which their philosophy imparts), the end that of all perpetrators of wicked acts, and the diverse ends that overtake those who have taken birth among the intermediate orders, ascertaining the diverse declarations of the Vedas, the courses of seasons, the fading of years, of months, of fortnights, and of days, beholding directly the waxing and the waning of the Moon, seeing the rising and the ebbing of the seas, and the diminution of wealth and its increase once more, and the separation of united objects, the lapse of Yugas, the destruction of mountains, the drying up of rivers, the deterioration of (the purity of) the several orders and the end also of that deterioration occurring repeatedly, beholding the birth, decrepitude, death, and sorrows of creatures, knowing truly the faults attaching to the body and the sorrows to which human beings are subject, and the vicissitudes to which the bodies of creatures are subject, and understanding all the faults that attach to their own souls, and also all the inauspicious faults that attach to their own bodies (the followers of the Sankhya philosophy succeed in attaining to Emancipation).

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O thou of immeasurable energy, what are those faults that thou seest attaching to one’s body? It behoveth thee to ex-pound this doubt to me fully and truly’?

“Bhishma said, ‘Listen, O slayer of foes! The Sankhyas or followers of Kapila, who are conversant with all paths and endued with wisdom, say that there are five faults, O puissant one, in the human body. They are Desire and Wrath and Fear and Sleep and Breath. These faults are seen in the bodies of all embodied creatures. Those that are endued with wisdom cut the root of wrath with the aid of Forgiveness. Desire is cut off by casting off all purposes. By cultivation of the quality of Goodness (Sattwa) sleep is conquered, and Fear is conquered by cultivating Heedfulness. Breath is conquered by abstemiousness of diet O king. Truly understanding gunas by the aid of hundreds of gunas, hundreds of faults, and diverse causes by hundreds of causes, ascertaining that the world is like the froth of water, enveloped by hundreds of illusions flowing from Vishnu, like a painted edifice, and as unsubstantial as a reed, beholding it to be (as terrible as) a dark pit, or as unreal as bubbles of water, for the years that compose its age are as shortlived (compared to the duration of eternity) as bubbles, seeing it exposed to immediate destruction, bereft of happiness, having certain ruin for its end and from which it can never escape, sunk in Rajas and Tamas, and utterly helpless like an elephant sunk in mire,–noting all this–the Sankhyas, O king, endued with great wisdom, casting off all affections arising from one’s relation towards one’s children, by the aid, O king, of that extensive and all-embracing knowledge which their system advocates and cutting off quickly, with the weapon of knowledge and the bludgeon of penances, O Bharata, all inauspicious scents born of Rajas and all scents of a like nature arising from Tamas and all auspicious scents arising from Sattwa and all pleasures of the touch (and of the other senses) born of the same three qualities and inhering to the body, indeed, O Bharata, aided by the Yoga of knowledge, these Yatis crowned with success,–cross the Ocean of life. That Ocean, so terrible has sorrow for its waters. Anxiety and grief constitute its deep lakes. Disease and death are its gigantic alligators.

The great fears that strike the heart at every step are its huge snakes. The deeds inspired by Tamas are its tortoises. Those inspired by Rajas are its fishes. Wisdom constitutes the raft for crossing it. The affections entertained for objects of the senses are its mire. Decrepitude constitutes its region of grief and trouble. Knowledge, O chastiser of foes, is its island. Acts constitute its great depth. Truth is its shores. Pious observances constitute the verdant weeds floating on its bosom. Envy constitutes its rapid and mighty current. The diverse sentiments of the heart constitute its mines. The diverse kinds of gratification are its valuable gems. Grief and fever are its winds. Misery and thirst are its mighty eddies. Painful and fatal diseases are its huge elephants. The assemblage of bones are its flights of steps, and phlegm is its froth. Gifts are its pearl-banks. The lakes of blood are its corals. Loud laughter constitutes its roars. Diverse sciences are its impassability. Tears are its brine. Renunciation of company constitutes the high refuge (of those that seek to cross it). Children and spouses are its unnumbered leeches. Friends and kinsmen are the cities and towns on its shores. Abstention from injury, and Truth, are its boundary line. Death is its storm-wave. The knowledge of Vedanta is its island (capable of affording refuge to those that are tossed upon its waters). Acts of compassion towards all creatures constitute its life-buoys, and Emancipation is the priceless commodity offered to those voyaging on its waters in search of merchandise. Like its substantive prototype with its equine head disgorging flames of fire, this ocean too has its fiery terrors. Having transcended the liability, that is so difficult to transcend, of dwelling within the gross body, the Sankhyas enter into pure space. Surya then bears, with his rays, those righteous men that are practicers of the Sankhya doctrines. Like the fibres of the lotus-stalk conveying water to the flower into which they all converge. Surya, drinking all things from the universe, conveys them unto those good and wise men. There attachments all destroyed, possessed of energy, endued with wealth of penances, and crowned with success, these Yatis, O Bharata, are born by that wind which is subtile, cooling, fragrant, and delicious to the touch, O Bharata! In fact, that wind which is the best of the seven winds, and which blows in regions of great felicity, conveys them, O son of Kunti, to that which is the highest end in space. Then space into which they are carried, O monarch, conveys them to the highest end of Rajas. Rajas then bear them to the highest end of Sattwa. Sattwa then bears them, O thou of pure soul, to the Supreme and puissant Narayana. The puissant and pure-souled Narayana at last, through himself, bears them to the Supreme Soul. Having reached the Supreme Soul, those stainless persons who have (by that time) become the body of (what is called). That attain to immortality, and they have never afterwards to return from that position. O King! That is the highest end, O son of Pritha, which is attained by those high-souled men who have transcended the influence of all pairs of opposites.'”

Yudhishthira said, ‘O sinless one, have those persons of firm vows after they have attained to that excellent position which is fraught with puissance and felicity, any recollection of their lives including birth and death? It behoveth thee to tell me properly what the truth is in respect, O thou of Kuru’s race. I do not think it proper to question any one else than thee! Observing the scriptures bearing upon Emancipation, I find this great fault in the subject (for certain scriptures on the topic declare that consciousness disappears in the emancipate state, while other scriptures declare the very reverse of this). If, having attained to this high state, the Yatis continue to live in consciousness, it would seem. O king, that the religion of Pravritti is superior. If, again, consciousness disappears from the emancipate state and one who has become emancipate only resembles a person sunk in dreamless slumber, then nothing can be more improper than to say that there is really no consciousness in Emancipation (for of all that happens in dreamless slumber is that one’s consciousness is temporarily overshadowed and suspended, but never lost, for it returns when one awakes from that slumber).’

“Bhishma said, ‘However difficult it may be to answer it, the question which thou hast asked, O son, is proper. Verily, the question is of such a kind that even they that are possessed of great learning become stupefied in answering it, O chief of Bharata’s race. For all that, hear what the truth is as expounded by me. The high-souled followers of Kapila have set their high understandings on this point. The senses of knowledge, O King, planted in the bodies of embodied creatures, are employed in their respective functions of perception. They are the instruments of the Soul, for it is through them that subtile Being perceives. Disunited with the Soul, the senses are like lumps of wood, and are without doubt, destroyed (in respect of the functions they serve) like the froth that is seen on the bosom of the ocean. When the embodied creature, O scorcher of foes, sinks into sleep along with his senses, the subtile Soul then roves among all subjects like the wind through space. The subtile Soul, during slumber, continues to see (all forms) and touch all objects of touch, O king, and taken in other perceptions, as well as when it is awake. In consequence of their inability to act without their director, the senses, during sleep, all become extinguished in their respective places (and lose their powers) like snakes deprived of poison. At such times, the subtile Soul, repairing into the respective place of all the senses, without doubt, discharges all their functions. All the qualities of Sattwa, all the attributes of the Under-standing, O Bharata, as also those of Mind, and space, and Wind, O thou of righteous soul, and all the attributes of liquid substances, of Water, O Partha, and Of Earth,–these senses with these qualities,–O Yudhishthira, which inhere to Jiva-souls, are along with the Jiva-soul itself, overwhelmed by the Supreme Soul or Brahma. Acts also, good and bad, overwhelm that Jiva-soul. Like disciples waiting upon their preceptor with reverence, the senses too wait upon the Jiva-soul transcends Prakriti, it attains to Brahma that is without change, that is highest, that is Narayana, that is beyond all pairs of opposites, and that transcends Prakriti. Freed from both merit and demerit, the Jiva-soul entering the Supreme Soul which is divested of all attributes, and which is the home of all auspiciousness, does not return thence, O Bharata. What remains, O son, is the mind with the senses, O Bharata. These have to come back once more at the appointed season for doing the bidding of their great master. Soon after, O son of Kunti, (when this body is cast off) the Yati striving after Emancipation, endued as he is with knowledge and desirous as he is of Guna, succeeds in attaining to that Peace of Emancipation which is his who becomes bodiless. The Sankhyas, O king, are endued with great wisdom. They succeed in attaining to the highest end by means of this kind of knowledge. There is no knowledge that is equal to this. Do not yield to any kind of doubt. The knowledge which is described in the system of the Sankhyas is regarded as the highest. That knowledge is immutable and is eternally fixed. It is eternal Brahma in fulness. It has no beginning, middle and end. It transcends all pairs of opposites. It is the cause of the creation of the universe. It stands in fulness. It is without deterioration of any kind. It is uniform, and everlasting. Thus are its praises sung by the wise. From it flow creation and destruction and all modifications. The great Rishis speak of it and applaud it in the scriptures. All learned Brahmanas and all righteous men regard it as flowing from Brahma, Supreme, Divine, Infinite, Immutable, and Undeteriorating. All Brahmanas again that are attached to objects of the senses adore and applaud it by ascribing to it attributes that belong to illusion. The same is the view of Yogins well observant of penances and meditation and of Sankhyas of immeasureable insight. The Srutis declare, O son of Kunti, that the Sankhya form of philosophy is the form of that Formless one. The cognitions (according to that philosophy) have, O chief of Bharata’s race, been said to be the knowledge of Brahma.

“There are two kinds of creatures on Earth, O lord of Earth, viz., mobile and immobile. Of these that are mobile are superior, That high knowledge, O king, which exists in persons conversant with Brahma, and that which occurs in the Vedas, and that which is found in other scriptures, and that in Yoga, and that which may be seen in the diverse Puranas, are all, O monarch, to be found in Sankhya philosophy. Whatever knowledge is seen to exist in high histories whatever knowledge occurs, O king, in the sciences appertaining to the acquisition of wealth as approved by the wise, whatever other knowledge exists in this world,–all these,–flow, O high-souled monarch, from the high knowledge that occurs among the Sankhyas. Tranquillity of soul, high puissance, all subtile knowledge of which the scriptures speak, penances of subtile force, and all kinds of felicity, O king, have all been duly ordained in the Sankhya system. Failing to acquire, O son of Pritha, that complete knowledge which is recommended by their system, the Sankhyas attain to the status of deities and pass many years in felicity. Lording it over the celestials as they will, they fall, upon the expiration of the allotted period, among learned Brahmanas and Yatis. Casting off this body, those regenerate ones that follow the Sankhya system enter into the superior state of Brahma like the celestials entering into the firmament by devoting themselves wholly to that adorable system which is theirs and which is worshipped by all wise men. Those regenerate persons that are devoted to the acquisition of that knowledge which is recommended in the Sankhya system, even if they fail to attain to eminence, are never seen to fall among intermediate creatures, or to sink into the status of sinful men. That high-souled person who is fully conversant with the vast, high, ancient, ocean-like, and immeasurable Sankhya system that is pure and liberal and agreeable, becomes, O king, equal to Narayana. I have now told thee, O god among men, the truth about the Sankhya system. It is the embodiment of Narayana, of the universe as it exists from the remotest time. When the time of Creation comes, He causes the Creation to start into life, and when the time comes for destruction, He swallows up everything. Having withdrawn everything into his own body he goes to sleep,–that inner Soul of the universe.'”

A Dialogue on the Many Purushas

(Book 12, Section 351)

Janamejaya said, “O regenerate one, are there many Purushas or is there only one? Who, in the universe, is the foremost of Purushas? What, again, is said to be the source of all things?”

Vaisampayana said, In the speculations of the Sankhya and the Yoga systems many Purushas have been spoken of, O jewel of Kuru’s race. Those that follow these systems do not accept that there is but one Purusha in the universe. 1 In the same manner in which the many Purushas are said to have one origin in the Supreme Purusha, it may be said that this entire universe is identical with that one Purusha of superior attributes. I shall explain this now, after bowing to my preceptor Vyasa, that foremost of Rishis, who is conversant with the soul, endued with penances, self-restrained, and worthy of reverent worship. This speculation on Purusha, O king, occurs in all the Vedas. It is well known to be identical with Rita and Truth. The foremost of Rishis, viz., Vyasa, has thought upon it. Having occupied themselves with reflection on what is called Adhyatma, diverse Rishis, O king, having Kapila for their first, have declared their opinions on the topic both generally and particularly. Through the grace of Vyasa of immeasurable energy, I shall expound to thee what Vyasa has said in brief on this question of the Oneness of Purusha. In this connection is cited the old narrative of the discourse between Brahma, O king, and the Three-eyed Mahadeva. In the midst of the Ocean of milk, there is a very high mountain of great effulgence like that of gold, known, O monarch, by the name of Vaijayanta. Repairing thither all alone, from his own abode of great splendour and felicity, the illustrious deity Brahma used very often to pass his time, engaged in thinking on the course of Adhyatma. While the four-faced Brahma of great intelligence was seated there, his son Mahadeva, who had sprung from his forehead encountered him one day in course of his wanderings through the universe. In days of yore, the Three-eyed Siva endued with puissance and high Yoga, while proceeding along the sky, beheld Brahma seated on that mountain and, therefore, dropped down quickly on its top. With a cheerful heart he presented him before his progenitor and worshipped his feet. Beholding Mahadeva prostrated at his feet, Brahma took him up with his left hand. Having thus raised Mahadeva up, Brahma, that puissant and one Lord of all creatures, then addressed his son, whom he met after a long time, in these words.

“The Grandsire said, ‘Welcome art thou, O thou of mighty arms. By good luck I see thee after such a long time come to my presence. I hope, O son, that everything is right with thy penances and thy Vedic studies and recitations. Thou art always observant of the austerest penances. Hence I ask thee about the progress and well-being of those penances of thine!’

“Rudra said, ‘O illustrious one, through thy grace, all is well with my penances and Vedic studies. It is all right, again, with the universe. I saw thy illustrious self a long while ago in thy own home of felicity and effulgence. I am coming thence to this mountain that is now the abode of thy feet. 1 Great is the curiosity excited in my mind by this withdrawal of thyself into such a lone spot from thy usual region of felicity and splendour. Great must the reason be, O Grandsire, for such an act on thy part. Thy own foremost abode is free from the pains of hunger and thirst, and inhabited by both deities and Asuras, by Rishis of immeasurable splendour, as also by Gandharvas and Apsaras. Abandoning such a spot of felicity, thou residest alone in this foremost of mountains. The cause of this cannot but be grave.

“Brahma said, ‘This foremost of mountains, called Vaijayanta, is always my residence. Here, with concentrated mind, I meditate on the one universal Purusha of infinite proportions.’

“Rudra said, ‘Self-born thou art. Many are the Purushas that have been created by thee. Others again, O Brahma, are being created by thee. The Infinite Purusha, however, of whom thou speakest, is one and single. Who is that foremost of Purushas, O Brahma, that is being meditated by thee? Great is the curiosity I feel on this point. Do thou kindly dispel the doubt that has taken possession of my mind.

“Brahma said, ‘O son, many are those Purushas of whom thou speakest. The one Purusha, however, of whom I am thinking, transcends all Purushas and is invisible. The many Purushas that exist in the universe have that one Purusha as their basis; and since that one Purushas is said to be the source whence all the innumerable Purushas have sprung, hence all the latter, if they succeed in divesting themselves of attributes, become competent to enter into that one Purusha who is identified with the universe, who is supreme, who is the foremost of the foremost, who is eternal, and who is himself divested of and is above all attributes.”

Miscellaneous Selections

“The blessed Vishnu–the slayer of Madhu–he, indeed who is known on earth as Kapila, and whose glance alone, O exalted one, destroyed the illustrious sons of Sagara, when they approached him with loud sounds in the bowels of the earth,–that illustrious and invincible Hari is capable, O Brahmana of doing us a great service.” (3:47)


“That divine spirit whose course is marked with black and white stains, who is the supporter of fire, and who, though free from sin, is the accomplisher of desired karma, whom the wise regard as a great Rishi, is the fire Kapila, the propounder of the Yoga system called Sankhya.” (3:220)


“”Garuda continued, ‘In days of yore, Vivaswat, having performed a sacrifice, gave this quarter away as a present (Dakshina) unto his preceptor, And it is for this that this region is known by the name of Dakshina (south). … This quarter is called the second door of Yama. It is here that the periods allotted to men are calculated in Trutis and Lavas. In this region always dwell the celestial Rishis, the Pitriloka Rishis, and the royal Rishis, in great happiness. Here are religion and truth. It is here that the acts (of persons) exhibit their fruits. This region, O best of the twice-born, is the goal of the acts of the dead. It is this region, O best of regenerate persons, whither all must repair. And as creatures are all overwhelmed by darkness, they cannot, therefore, come hither in bliss. … It is in this region, O Galava, that men of wicked deeds rot (in tortures). It is here that the river Vaitarani flows, filled with the bodies of persons condemned to hell. Arrived here, persons attain to the extremes of happiness and misery. … It was here that the great sage Chakradhanu took his birth from Surya. That divine sage afterwards came to be known by the name of Kapila, and it was by him that the (sixty thousand) sons of Sagara were afflicted.” (5:109)


“Vaisampayana continued, “I have thus narrated to thee, O monarch, the circumstances connected with the former birth of our revered preceptor, viz., Vyasa of unstained mind, as asked by thee. Listen to me once again. There are diverse kinds of cults, O royal sage, that go by diverse names such as Sankhya, Yoga, the Pancha-ratra, Vedas, and Pasupati. The promulgator of Sankhya cult is said to be the great Rishi Kapila. The primeval Hiranyagarbha, and none else, is the promulgator of the Yoga system. The Rishi Apantaratamas is said to be the preceptor of the Vedas, some call that Rishi by the name of Prachina-garbha. The cult known by the name of Pasupata was promulgated by the Lord of Uma, that master of all creatures, viz., the cheerful Siva, otherwise known by the name of Sreekantha, the son of Brahma. The illustrious Narayana is himself the promulgator of the cult, in its entirety, contained in the Pancharatra scriptures.” (12:350)


“The puissant Lord who is charged with the creation of all the worlds is called Aniruddha, Sana, Sanatsujata, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara, Kapila, and Sanatana numbering the seventh,–these seven Rishis are known as the spiritual sons of Brahman. Their knowledge comes to them of itself (without being dependant on study or exertion). These seven are wedded to the religion of Nivritti. They are the foremost of all persons conversant with Yoga. They are possessed also of deep knowledge of the Sankhya philosophy. They are preceptors of the scriptures on duty and it is they that introduce the duties of the religion of Nivritti and cause them to flow in the worlds.” (12:341)


“Those who are conversant with the science propounded by Kapila call the Supreme Soul by the name of Virincha. That Virincha is otherwise called the great Prajapati (or Brahman). Verily I am identical with Him, called Virincha, in consequence of my imparting animation to all living creatures, for I am the Creator of the universe. The preceptors of Sankhya philosophy, possessed of definite conclusions (regarding all topics), call me the eternal Kapila staying in the midst of the solar disc with but Knowledge for my companion. On Earth I am known to be identical with Him who has been sung in the Vedic verses as the effulgent Hiranyagarbha and who is always worshipped by Yogins.” (12:343)

Modern Biographies

See Indian Philosophy, Chapter IV, The Samkhya System, by S. Radhakrishnan



Saṣṭi-tantra Śāstra (not extant)

Tattva Samāsa

The Sāṃkhya-Kārikā * (with the Commentary of Gaudapada)

Sāṃkhyapravachana Sūtra (attributed by some to Kapila)

* Composed by Isvara-krishna, said to be based on Kapila’s Sasti-tantra.


Selected Quotes attributed to Kapila

  1. On the Purpose of His Incarnation

    The Supreme Lord [Kapila] said: "That what I have to say of the scriptures or from My own mind concerns in fact the [spiritual] authority for the people. I as promised took My birth with you for the sake of that authority, oh sage. (36) This birth of Mine in the world is there to explain to the ones who seek liberation from the troubles of a material existence, the truths [of Sânkhya yoga] so highly celebrated in self-realization. (37) Please know that because this path is so difficult to comprehend and has been lost in the course of time, this body was assumed by Me to introduce it again. (38) Go now to operate with My approval, as you wish, in accord with the renounced order. In order to conquer insurmountable death, for the sake of eternal life please engage in My devotional service. (39) With your intellect always fixed upon Me, the supreme, self-effulgent soul present in the heart of every living being, you will see Me in your own heart and achieve freedom from fear and lamentation. (40) I will give this knowledge of the soul that leads to a spiritual life and puts an end to all fruitive activity..." (Bhagavata Purana, 3:24:35-40)
  2. On Maya and Man

    "Man (physical man) counts for so little, that hardly anything can demonstrate to him his proper existence and that of nature. Perhaps, that which we regard as the universe, and the divers beings which seem to compose it, have nothing real, and are but the product of continued illusion—maya—of our senses." (see Isis Unveiled, II:158)
  3. On Different Paths Leading to the Same Ends

    "I do not censure the Vedas. I do not wish to say anything in derogation of them. It hath been heard by us that the different courses of duty laid down for the different modes of life, all lead to the same end. The Sannyasin attains to a high end. The forest-recluse also attains to a high end. Both the other two also, viz., the householder and the Brahmacharin, reach the same end. All the four modes of life have always been regarded as Deva-yana ways." (Mahabharata, 12:268)


Selected Quotes on Kapila

  1. Brahmâ on the incarnation of Kapila

    (16) I know that the original enjoyer, the bestower of all that is desired by the living entities, descended by dint of His internal potency and has assumed the body of Kapila Muni oh sage. (17) By spiritual knowledge and the science of the yogic uniting of consciousness He who is known by His golden hair, His lotus eyes and lotus-marked feet, will uproot the foundation of profit-minded labor. (18) Know oh Devahûti that the killer of the demon Kaithabha has entered your womb and with cutting the knot of ignorance and doubt will travel all over the world. (19) This personality will be the leader of the perfected ones, His Vedic analysis will carry the approval of the teachers of example [the âcâryas] and to your greater fame, He will be celebrated in the world as Kapila.' (Bhagavata Purana, 3:24:16-19)
  2. Kapila's True Teachings

    Again notice the view of Krishna respecting the Sankya philosophy. Some strange ideas are afloat about this system. It is supposed that the Sutras we possess represent the original aphorisms of Kapila. But this has been denied by many great teachers, including Sankaracharya, who say that they do not represent his real views, but those of some other Kapila, or the writer of the book. The real Sankya philosophy is identical with the Pythagorean system of numerals, and the philosophy embodied in the Chaldean system of numbers. The philosopher's object was to represent all the mysterious powers of nature by a few simple formulae, which he expressed in numerals. The original book is not to be found, though it is possible that it still exists. The system now put forward under this name contains little beyond an account of the evolution of the elements and a few combinations of the same which enter into the formation of the various tatwams. (From T. Subba Row, Notes on the Bhagavad Gita, Introduction)

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