Kapila Muni is the illustrious sage of antiquity and the founder of the Sankhya Philosophy, an important part of the philosophical heritage of ancient India. His teachings are described in the Srimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavad Purana.

The Sankhya philosophy describes the structure of the material universe. It formulates the principles underlying the methodology of spiritual knowledge, the highest stage of which is the comprehension of the Absolute Truth.

Kapila Muni

Birth and later life

According to Srimad Bhagavatam, the sage is the son of Kardama Muni, one of the Prajapatis, the progenitors of humanity, and Devahuti, daughter of Swayambhuva Manu. The couple was aware of the divine origin of their son.

Even before Kapila was born, Lord Brahma Himself appeared before Devahuti and revealed that an incarnation of the Supreme Lord would be born from her womb and that the Lord, incarnated as her son, would give her spiritual knowledge. However, the sage’s precise birth time and place cannot be determined. Many years later, the golden-haired Kapila Muni was born with eyes sparkling like lotus petals and feet marked with lotus marks.

According to 16 samskaras of Hindus, a man with an adult son usually renunciates (sannyasa) and leaves home, thus cutting off all ties with family and worldly life. At the same time, he entrusts the care of his wife to his son. Kardama Muni knew that his son was an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. Yet, following the Vedic tradition and desiring to emphasize its importance, he left home and accepted the renounced order of life.

Later, Lord Kapila revealed the Sankhya philosophy to his mother Devahuti and instructed her in Krishna-bhakti (devotion), after which she achieved liberation from the bondage of the material world and found pure love for Krishna.

Kapila Muni is also said to be the incarnation of the Fire God (Agni), and according to Shrimad Bhagvat, Kapila Muni is Lord Vishnu’s fifth incarnation.

Kapila Muni and the Holy River Ganga

Kapila Muni is responsible for the arrival of the Holy River Ganga. According to Purana, King Sagara once performed a ritual for the prosperity of his empire. A horse was a fundamental part of the ritual that Indra stole out of jealousy. He left the horse at Kapila’s abode, who was in deep meditation then.

King Sagara sent all his sixty thousand sons around the Earth to search for that horse. They found it near the meditative Kapila Muni; believing that the sage stole the horse, they began to insult the sage. As Kapila Muni opened his eyes, all sixty thousand of them were burnt to ashes. Their souls could not attain liberation (Moksha).

When Bhagiratha, a descendant of Sagara, heard about this misfortune, he vowed to bring the Holy Ganga water to Earth and wash away the sins of Sagara’s sons so they could attain salvation. Bhagiratha did penance to Lord Brahma and succeeded in bringing Ganga to the Earth.

What is Sankhya Philosophy

Sankhya philosophy describes the basic categories and principles of the physical world; in this sense, we can apply the term “metaphysics” to it. The word Sankhya means “to count.” The origin of this name is because the Sankhya philosophy analyzes the structure of the universe, highlighting and bringing into a system the elementary principles underlying it.

Thus, from an etymological point of view, Sankhya means “an exhaustive explanation based on the analysis of material elements.” The philosophical content of Sankhya is reduced to an analytical approach that allows us to understand the difference between matter and spirit. This analysis leads us to bhakti, the devotional service of the Lord. Thus, Sankhya and bhakti are two aspects of the same process.

According to Kapila Muni, the method of devotional service is so perfect that simply by following the principles of bhakti-yoga and following the instructions of the spiritual master, one becomes liberated and freed from the influence of Maya (worldly illusion). However, he remains in his material body. Anyone who practices other types of yoga or follows the path of philosophical search for truth never knows whether he has reached perfection or not.

But for a person who is engaged in devotional service, firmly believes in the instructions of his Guru, and follows all the principles of bhakti-yoga, liberation is guaranteed already in this life.

Sometimes doubt arises in the minds of neophytes as to whether the master is a liberated person. Often, they are distrustful of the bodily activities of their spiritual master. Still, one cannot judge whether he is a liberated person or not by the physical activities of a spiritual master. A person is in a material body; therefore, he still has some material needs because the body is material. But because he is completely absorbed in the service of the Lord, he should be considered a liberated soul.

Teaching of Kapila Muni

A beautiful description of Kapila Muni’s knowledge preached to his mother is showcased in Srimad Bhagavad. For knowledge, the mind and soul of a person must gain disinterest from all the worldly pleasures. A person’s mind will eventually control the five senses. The incapability of performing such ascetic renunciation leads a person to live a misfortune life and suffer from a misfortune death.

But with the dedication to Supreme Lord, the heart and soul are purified. Knowledge emerges only in a pure mind through devotion. Therefore, one should carefully remove the mind from the world’s miseries and place it at the feet of the Lord. This is the very brief meaning of the teaching of Lord Kapila to his mother.

(Last Updated On: July 17, 2022)