Kapilopadesha (From the Srimad Bhagavatam)

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Item Code: IDG435
Author: Swami Tapasyananda
Language: (Sanskrit Text and English Translation)
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 8175051175
Pages: 235
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 7" X 4.8"
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Book Description

Kapilopadesh occurs in the third skandha of the Bhagvata Purana, comprising nine of its concluding chapters. It is well known that the Bhagavata is dedicated to the narration of the stories of the great incarnations of Shri Vishnu, the Protector among the Hindu Trinity. The Bhagavata is essentially a scripture on Bhakti or devotion to God, by means of which one attains Mukti. That apart, there are also flashes of philosophical expositions in different skandhas.

Bhagavan Kapila is looked upon as one of the divine incarnation. In Kapilopadesha, which is in the form of the dialogue between Kapila and his mother, Devahuti, the son gives sermons on a variety of subjects, but never deviates from the central theme of the Bhagavata, namely, Mukti or Freedom from bondage. The method advocates here towards this emancipation, Kaivalya, is the Samkhya philosophy. It recognizes two realities, Purusha and Prakriti, and insists on the need to develop a faculty to discriminate between these two by self-effort and by knowing their true nature. When that knowledge dawns, Moksha or Freedom results. Kapila is, therefore, reagarded as the propounder of the Samkhya system of Indian philosophy.

In the course of his dialogue, Kapila stakes a note that has a message relevant to our times and emphasizes the necessity to 'serve all beings', looking upon them as the manifestations of the Supreme Beings (V.21-27), by 'overcoming the separativeness of a self-centered life' and offering 'gifts, honor, and love' to all creatures.

The translator, Swami Tapasyanandaji Maharaja, has written a scholarly and informative Introduction to this book, wherein he has discussed in detail the intricacies of the Samkhya philosophy. The whole of the Kapilopadesha is an excerpt from the Swami's highly readable translation of Srimad Bhagavata, complete in four volumes, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Madras. We are beholden to the translator, who is a Vice-President of the Ramakrishna Matha and the Ramakrishna Mission, as well as Sri Ramakrishna Mission, as well as President of Sri Ramakrishna Matha, Madras, for granting us permission to print the book in this format.

We consider our efforts fruitful if this book finds its way to earnest seekers and stimulate the dormant urge in them to strive to attain the highest spiritual goal - Freedom from bondage, Moksha.


12 January 1990

Swami Vivekananda's Birthday

Advaita Ashrama

Mayavati, Pithoragarh, Himalayas



What is Kapilopadesha?

The Bhagavata Purana is essentially a text on Bhakti or love of God. It proudly proclaims its exclusive concern with Bhakti thus: 'In other scriptural texts, Hari, the eraser of the evils of Kali and the Lord of all, is not described again and again with such devotional exuberance as is done in this Text, the Bhagavata. Through innumerable narratives, in fact through every word in it, the one topic highlighted is the Bhagavan, the One embracing all that exists' (XII.12.65). Again it says in another context, referring to the accounts given in it of the royal dynasties and to the other narratives, historical or otherwise, described in it: '0 great King! I have narrated to you these stories of great men, who after spreading their fame in the world have died and disappeared, only to generate in you discriminative wisdom and spiritual enlighten- ment. They form only a literary device to drive home those great lessons, and are not the ultimate Truth in themselves. Then, as for that ultimate Truth, it is this: Those who aspire to have pure and undiluted devotion to Krishna should constantly hear about His sin-destroying acts and excellences sung or chanted or discoursed upon by great devotees. Let them hear that alone always' (XII.3.14-15).

The topic of God-love as treated in the Bhagavata takes two main forms that may be called as jnana-bhakti and Bhava-bhakti. jnana- bhakti or love based on a vivid awareness of Divine majesties makes one sink into Him in utter self-surrender and become one with His being through His grace. Bhava-bhakti or senti- mental devotion, on the other hand, is based on sense of loving intimacy with Him, analogous to various forms of loving human relationships. It does not seek dissolution in Him but eternal service to Him. While all the narratives of the Bhagavata are meant to illustrate God-love in both these aspects, this is done more directly through the great hymns and discourses with which the narratives are interspersed. Among these discourses the most comprehensive ones are Sri Krishna's sermon to Uddhava in the eleventh Skandha and Kapila's sermon to Devahuti, his mother, in the third Skandha.

The latter sermon, forming the theme of this book, is as charming in its setting as it is in the profundity of the teachings it sets forth. A son instructing his mother in Brahma-vidya is no less romantic than a husband doing the same with his wife in the great Brihadaranyaka episode of Yajnavalkya imparting the knowledge of Brahman to his wife Maitreyi. Kapila, according to Hindu tradition, is an incarnation of Maha- vishnu. His father was Kardama Prajapati and mother, Devahuti, the daughter of Svayambhuva Manu. Kardama was a great ascetic, but he had been commissioned by his father Brahma to propagate the species in those early days of the world. So when Manu Svayambhuva, seeking a suitable husband for his daughter Devahuti, approached him, he accepted that offer of a bride and thus he married Devahuti on the stipulation that after the ninth child was born, he would abandon home to resume his ascetic life. He had nine daughters by Devahuti. In due course he arranged for their marriage. After having thus fulfilled his duties, he was, according to the old stipulation, about to go forth as a wan- dering ascetic. Thereupon, Devahuti prayed to him that he should stay on with her for sometime more, until she had a boy born. Kardama agreed, and soon the male child came. That was Kapila. Kardama was now free to go forth as a wandering ascetic but before he did so, he approached his son, about whose divinity he already knew, and recited a hymn in his praise. As a parting message the son told the father as follows: '... I have fulfilled my promise of being born as your son. The object of this incarnation of mine is to distinguish and enumerate the various categories in order that Truth seekers may be enabled to realize the Atman, dis- tinguishing It from the perishable body-mind combination with which It is confused. ... ' (111.24.35-37).

Kapila's birth had been heralded by Divine visions to his parents, intimating that their son was none other than Mahavishnu incarnated to teach mankind the science of the Spirit. Fully enlightened as he was at his very birth, Kapila also wanted to leave hearth and home very early in life, but his mother Devahuti prayed to him that he should do so only after imparting the Saving Knowledge to her. Accordingly Kapila stayed back and began to teach her this recondite subject. We get Kapila's sermons to his mother Devahuti, interspersed with her questions, in Chapters 25 to 33 of the third Skandha of the Bhagavata Purana.



  Introduction 11
Chapter I Nature of Bhakti 59
Chapter II The Categories 77
Chapter III The Way of Release 110
Chapter IV Disciplines for Realization 123
Chapter V Some details of the Path of Devotion 144
Chapter VI The Destiny of the Sinful 162
Chapter VII The Jiva's Cycle of Births and Deaths 175
Chapter VIII The Spiritual Goal 197
Chapter IX Conclusion 215
  Index to the First Words of the Shlokas 229
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