Kapila’s Philosophy

Kapila‘s philosophy is characterised by a deep moral sentiment. Perfection is the aim of life, and perfection is to be obtained through the knowledge of the soul as distinct from matter.

Kapila (कपिल) is a given name of different individuals in ancient and medieval Indian texts, of which the most well known is the founder of the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. Kapila of Samkhya fame is considered a Vedic sage, estimated to have lived in the 6th-century BCE, or the 7th-century BCE.

Rishi Kapila is credited with authoring the influential Samkhya-sutra, in which aphoristic sutras present the dualistic philosophy of Samkhya. Kapila’s influence on Buddha and Buddhism have long been the subject of scholarly studies.

Many historic personalities in Hinduism and Jainism, mythical figures, pilgrimage sites in Indian religion, as well as an ancient variety of cow went by the name Kapila.


Kapila’s Samkhya is taught in various Hindu texts:

  • “Kapila states in the Mahabharata, “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 Brahman. By those one attains to what is the Highest.”
  • “Bhishma said (to Yudhishthira), ‘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.

His philosophy

Kapila‘s philosophy is characterised by a deep moral sentiment. Perfection is the aim of life, and perfection is to be obtained through the knowledge of the soul as distinct from matter. Virtue is the road to perfection; happiness and peace are the rewards of a virtuous life; discontent and misery are the result of a vicious life. No act is mortal, no thought perishes.

The progress of the individual is determined by his actions : man becomes angel by noble deeds, and beast by ignoble ones, for our deeds accompany us to the world beyond after physical death. Forgiveness is Divine; there is no happiness higher than that which arises from forgiving others. Dispassion is worthy of the highest praise, and passion is to be condemned because the offspring of attachment to the things of the not-self is evil, while great good arises from the philosophic virtues of dispassion, serenity, and contemplation.

Rishi Kapila

… All knowledge and all power is contained in the soul, and its glory is revealed in silence and solitude.”

With eyes covered with the film of Maya you complain that you cannot see God. If you wish to see Him, remove the film of Maya from off your eyes. Sri Ramakrishna

The sea must no longer be swept by storms, if it is to reflect the light of the sun in all its divine calmness and purity. Max Muller writing about the moral preparation for the study of The Vedanta

Let all beings be happy; let all beings be peaceful; let all beings be blissful. Swami Vivekananda

Do not hate anybody, because that force, that hatred, which comes out from you, must, in the long run, come back to you. If you love, that love will come back to you, completing the circuit. It is as certain as can be, that every bit of hatred that goes out of the heart of man comes back to him in full force; nothing can stop it, and every impulse of love comes back to him. Swami Vivekananda

By Sri Ananda Acharya

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