Eastern Spirituality

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Kapila was a Vedic sage credited as one of the founders of the Samkhya school of philosophy. He is prominent in the Bhagavata Purana, which features a theistic version of his Samkhya philosophy. Traditional Hindu sources describe him as a descendant of Manu, a great-grandson of Brahma. The Bhagavad Gita depicts Kapila as a yogi hermit with highly developed siddhis, or spiritual powers.

Many of the details about sage Kapila's life are described in Book 3 of the Bhagavata Purana, where it is mentioned that his parents were Kardama Muni and Devahuti. He was also the brother and teacher of Anusuya. Kapila is considered an incarnation of the supreme-being Vishnu and listed as such in the list of incarnations in Bhagavata Purana. After his father left home, Kapila instructed his mother, Devahuti in the philosophy of yoga and devotional worship of Lord Vishnu, enabling her to achieve liberation (moksha). Kapila's Sankhya is also given by Krishna to Uddhava in Book 11 of the Bhagavata Purana, a passage also known as the "Uddhava Gita".

Kapila is described within the Puranas as an incarnation of Vishnu, an avatar come to earth to restore the spiritual balance through his teachings. He is known for teaching a process of liberation known as bhakti yoga. Buddhist sources present Kapila as a well-known philosopher whose students built the city of Kapilavastu. Buddha lived and grew up in Kapilavastu for the first 29 years of his life! Kapila shared many similarities with Buddha, including an emphasis on meditation as a technique for removing suffering, belief that the Vedic gods were subject to limitations and conditions, and dislike for ritual and Brahmanic doctrines. Kapilavastu means the substance of Kapila.

Kapila is also mentioned by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:

Of all trees I am the banyan tree, and of the sages among the demigods I am Narada. Of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.(10.26)

Glossary Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z