Maharshi Kapila the great sage

ॐ आदिविदुषे कपिलाय नमः ॥
Our homage to Kapila, the first wise one.

Maharshi Kapila the founder of Samkhya was “the first enlightened one” to attain liberation and show others the way to eternal peace.

Rsi Kapila

This image is a hand drawn picture of the great sage Kapila. He had a human body but the artist who drew the picture had never seen him. However, the significance of this picture is that it symbolizes the most appropriate visual of the great sage. Whatever might have been his outward physical appearance, his mental state must have been that of one in meditation and at perfect peace with the world.

He has therefore been shown as seated underneath a tree in a lonely forest with a crystal clear stream flowing by. The influence of an overwhelming sensation of peace emanating from the great sage makes it possible for a deer and a tiger to rest peacefully by his side free of fear for life and violent instincts. Peace or serenity of the picture, should be felt within.

Ideas are meant to be realized mentally and cannot be depicted physically. A picture can at best depict a figure which is supposed to be permeated by a particular idea. Till the time the mind is able grasp that sublime idea and its true significance, the image does serve the useful purpose of projecting that idea. Eventually when the mind can hold on to that idea represented by the image, the picture is no longer necessary.

The great rishi Kapila whom Svetasvatara Upanisad has hailed (5.2) as the ‘the first human being who came into the world fully endowed with knowledge (of self)’. Mahabharata refers to him as Maharshi, the great sage. Gita calls him (10.26) ‘the greatest among the adepts’. Kapila, however, wrote no books. He only taught rishi Asuri who had both the capability and the ardour to assimilate and practise that knowledge.

It was Asuri’s disciple Pancasikhacarya who wrote ‘Sastitantra’, the first treatise on Samkhya. The original work has been lost by the ravages of time. Only a few citations in Vysya’s commentary on Yoga aphorisms have survived. But it had had its effects.

Kapila became a legendary figure. It is widely believed right from the ancient times that Kapila is the greatest of all adepts. Lord Krishna’s unequivocal announcement in the Gita that ‘I am Kapila among the adepts'(10.26) firmly establishes that fact. Kapila achieved realization known as kaivalya, which is complete eradication of all kinds of sufferings for all times. Such eternal peace as kaivalya must be achieved through adoption of the purest practices viz. non-violence, truth, non-stealing, continence, non-acquisitiveness, cleanliness (in body and in mind), contentedness, and then becoming proficient in samadhi or concentration, and finally in discriminative enlightenment. The pioneer sage Kapila was the first to accomplish all these without the help of a fellow human, which is why he is called the greatest of all adepts.

The names of Kapila’s parents has been mentioned Srimad-bhagavata. Mother’s name was Devahuti (means call to the gods) and father’s name was Kardama (means mud or earth). Kapila’s appearance in this world was preceded by sincere appeal for divine intervention for redress from endless sufferings of living beings.

Samkhya preached by Kapila has been the backbone of all religious tenets of this world. The eternal spirituality which has been the source of joy and relief for billions of individuals since time immemorial  has its origin in Kapila. There has been no greater saviour in this world than him, nor can there ever be. The lofty spirit of Buddhism too is based on Samkhya principles.

The place where Kapila had his hermitage or asrama came to be known as Kapilavastu later on. According to another legend, his asrama was at the confluence of the river Ganges. This river has always symbolized great wisdom. We have no doubt that Kapila exists with his unparalleled intellect where discriminative enlightenment of the Ganges flows into the ocean of pure consciousness. The worship of this sage is enjoined on the winter solstice day, which heralds the northward journey of the sun. It ushers in a period propitious for the passing away of saints. It is thus fitting that the sage, who has benefitted the greatest number of human beings, is worshipped on a day which brings peace and prosperity to all.

Let us bow to the noble soul who became adept at such a pious religion as Samkhya-yoga and remember his pious deeds.

(taken from Samkya Across The Millenniums by  Samkhya-yogacharya Swami Hariharananda Aranya)