The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Kapila-Incarnation which is chapter 24 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the twenty-fourth chapter of the Third Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 24 - Kapila-Incarnation

Maitreya said:

1. When the praiseworthy daughter of Manu spoke despondently, the merciful sage, remembering the words of Viṣṇu (of white complexion) addressed her thus:

The sage said:

2. Oh blameless princess, do not thus torment yourself (and me as well). The imperishable and immutable[1] Lord will soon enter your womb.

3. You have been observing vows. God bless you. Be devoted to the Lord with faith, self-control (dama), niyama (observance of the ten prescribed restraints), penance and charitable donation of wealth.

4. Viṣṇu, so propitiated by you will be born to you as a son and spread my fame. He will instruct you about Brahman[2] and thus He will cut the knot (of ahaṃkāra) in your heart.

Maitreya said:

5. With great respect Devahūti trusted the advice of the Lord of Prajās (Kardama). She devoted herself to the immovable, unchangeable Supreme Soul, the preceptor[3] (of the Vedas).

6. After a lapse of long period, Lord Viṣṇu (Madhusūdana) was born of her by Kardama’s seed just as the fire does in a piece of wood.

7. At that time, showering clouds appeared. Gods sounded the heavenly musical instruments in the sky. The celestial singers (Gandharvas) began to sing and the heavenly damsels (apsarās) danced in joy.

8. Heavenly flowers showered by gods (who move through the sky fell (on the earth). All directions became clear, waters translucent and minds tranquil.

9. God Brahmā accompanied by Marīci and other sages came to the hermitage of Kardama surrounded by the Sarasvatī.

10. God Brahmā who has inborn perfect knowledge knew that the Supreme Lord had taken birth through his Sattva attribute for the promulgation of the true knowledge of the Principles (Sāṃkhya Śāstra), Oh Vidura (destroyer of enemies)!

11. With a pure heart, Brahmā expressed his respects for what he intended to do (viz. propagation of Sāṃkhya Śāstra). With his spirits (senses) ebullient with joy, he spoke to Kardama (and Devahūti) as follows:

Brahmā said:

12. Oh child, you have sincerely offered me worship in obeying respectfully my words. (In this way) you honour others.

13. This much service should be rendered by children to their father, viz. the words of the father should respectfully and willingly be complied with.

14. Oh courteous child, these beautiful daughters of yours will multiply manifold and increase the creation of the world with their progeny.

15. Today, therefore, you give your daughters to the chief sages with proper regard to their tastes and character.

16. Oh sage, I know that the First Puruṣa (i.e. Viṣṇu) has incarnated through his Māyā and assumed the person (body) called Kapila who is a treasure (of blessings) to all beings.

17-18. Oh daughter of Manu, this (Puruṣa) of golden locks of hair, of lotuslike eyes and of lotuslike feet marked with lotuses has entered your womb, for uprooting all karmas by means of the śāstric knowledge, Direct Perception or knowledge (vijñāna) and yoga. This enemy (killer) of Kaiṭabha will cut the knot of Nescience and doubt, and wander over the earth.

19. He is the chief of the category of Siddhas (who have obtained Perfect Knowledge). He will be deeply respected by the Masters of the Sāṃkhya Śāstra.[4] He will be known as Kapila in the world. He will increase your fame.

Maitreya said:

20. Cheering up the couple (Kardama-Devahūti) Brahmā, the creator of the world, with four Kumāras (Sanaka etc.) and Nārada mounted his swan-vehicle and went back to Satya- Ioka, the uppermost region above Svarga, the third world.

21. Oh Vidura, when god Brahmā departed, Kardama as per Brahmā’s instruction gave, as per Vedic rituals, his daughters to the procreators of the universe.

22. He gave (in marriage) Kalā to Marīci, Anasūyā to Atri, Śraddhā to Aṅgirasas and married Havirbhū to Pulastya.

23. He gave Yuktā to Pulaha, the virtuous Kriyā to Kratu, Khyāti to Bhṛgu and Arundhatī to Vasiṣṭha.

24. To Atharvan he gave Śānti who is the presiding deity of a Yajña (lit. who extends Yajña in the world). He satisfied the prominent Brāhmaṇas who were thus married and their wives as well.

25. Oh Vidura, then the sages, after the completion of marriages, took their leave of him (Kardama). They set out with great joy to their respective hermitages.

26. Having learnt that Viṣṇu, the great God, had taken incarnation, Kardama approached him while alone (privately), bowed to him and spoke:

27. “Oh! It is really after a very long time that gods are kindly disposed here to souls who are being roasted in the hell (-like Saṃsāra) by their own sins.

28. Ascetics (who have renounced the world) try to visualize the Lord’s feet, in secluded places, by following correct course of concentration in the Bhakti-yoga (path of devotion) which has been properly developed by them through many (previous) births.

29. That Supreme Lord who supports the cause of his devotees, is born today in the house of lowly (rustic) persons (like us), disregarding the humiliation therein.

30. You have taken incarnation in my house for the purpose of proving true to your word, as well as for propagating the knowledge of the Sāṃkhya doctrine. (Thus) you increase the veneration for your devotees.

31.[5] Oh Lord, although you are devoid of forms[6], whatever forms (e.g. four-armed god, etc.) are liked by your devotees, are the proper forms for you.

32. I take shelter in you whose foot-stool is always worthy of paying obeisance by the learned ones who wish to perceive the Truth directly (as) you are perfect in the divine faculties (of omnipotence, omnipresence etc.), non-attachment, glory, knowledge, prowess (or strength) and majesty (or splendour).

33. I resort to Kapila[7] who is the Supreme God. All the powers are within his control. He is in the form of Prakṛti, Puruṣa (who presides over Prakṛti), Mahat, Kala (Time—the agitator), Ahaṃkāra[8] (of three types as per three guṇas), the protector of the world. By his power of intelligence, he has absorbed the whole of the universe within himself. He is omniscient (mūla Brahma: a witness to the evolution and devolution of al] principles like Prakṛti etc.).

34. You are the Lord of all creation. Hence I would like to ask something of you today. By you (being born as a son to me) I have repaid all the three debts (pertaining to gods, sages and forefathers). All of my desires have been really satisfied. Having taken to the path of Saṃnyāsa (recluse) I shall now wander meditating on you in my heart, free from all sorrow.

The Lord said:

35. Oh Sage, whatever I state about Vedic and worldly karmas[9] is authoritative to the world. It is for validating what I told (promised) to you that I am born (as your son).

36. In this world, this incarnation of mine is for the exposition of the true knowledge of principles (like Prakṛti, Puruṣa etc.) leading to self-realization to those who seek liberation from the Liṅga śarīra (subtle body).

37. This subtle course of realization of the Soul (ātman) is lost for a long period. Please note that it is for the reinstitution of that path that I have assumed this body.

38. You have my permission. You may go at will. Dedicate all karmas tome. Having thereby conquered Death (i.e. saṃsāra) which is difficult to achieve, you resort to me for Liberation (Mokṣa);

39. By your mind realize within yourself Me, the Supreme Soul, the self-illuminating Light within the (cave of) hearts of all beings. (Thereby) being free from sorrow you will attain to Liberation.

40. I shall enunciate to my mother this spiritual lore which annihilates all karmas. She will thereby transgress Saṃsāra (cause of fear) and attain to the Highest bliss.

Maitreya said:

41. Prajāpati Kardama who was thus addressed by Kapila, was pleased. He circumambulated Kapila and went to the forest.

42. The Sage took the vow (e.g. ahiṃsā etc.) of the recluse’s way of life. He took resort only in the Supreme Soul. Free from attachment and renouncing fire-worship and home, he wandered all over the world.

43-45. He concentrated his mind on the Brahman which is different from cause and effect, which (though) devoid of attributes—(guṇas)—manifests the three guṇas and which is experienced only by complete unswerving devotion. Kardama became free from ahaṃkāra (ego), attachment. He transcended the pairs of opposites (e.g. pleasure-pain; heat-cold). He looked upon all equally and concentrated himself on self-realization only. His mental capacities turned inward (to Brahman) and became calm (and serene). Full of wisdom, he was (quiet) like a calm ocean unperturbed by waves. With highest devotion to Lord Vāsudeva, the Omniscient, the inner controller (antaryāmin) of all beings, he realized his Supreme Soul and became free from bondage (of ignorance).

46. He saw his Supreme Soul abiding in all beings and realized all beings within God and within his own Self (Atman) as well.

47. He became free from desires and hatred (likes and dislikes). He looked upon all as equals. With highest devotion to the Lord, he attained Liberation (place where all bhāgavatas reach).

Footnotes and references:


akṣara—(i) Immutable. Hence unrelated to the chromosomes of the parents—Padaratnāvalī

(ii) Knowledge incarnate; the Inner Controller—antaryāminSubodhinī

(iii) Not assuming ordinary boḍy (due to its independence of the semen etc. of the parents)—Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa


Brahma-bhāvana [bhāvanaḥ]—The creator of God Brahmā—Padaratnāvalī


puru—(i) One who dispels ignorance (Bhāgavata Candrikā,Siddhāntapradīpa).

(ii) Propounder of knowledge about Brahman (Padaratnāvalī)


On the strength of Padma P. Padaratnāvalī, Kramasandarbha., VC., Dīpinī and Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa record that Kapila the founder of the atheistic Sāṃkhya is different from this teacher of the Theistic Sāṃkhya.


Oh Lord, you are devoid of ordinary or vulgar forms. Your superhuman forms (e.g. that of four-armed god etc.) are proper for you. (But) whatever form (e.g. that of a human being) is liked by your devotees is (also) liked by you.—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā


arūpiṇaḥ [arūpin]—(i) Devoid of vulgar forms—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā

(ii) Having no form of god or man (etc.) which one gets due to karmasBhāgavata Candrikā Bālaprabodhini

(iii) The forms liked by your devotees are not your real forms. All your forms are due to Māyā. This is what Bhāvāratha Dīpikā means by Prākṛtarūpa- rahita [rahitaḥ],—VC.


One who protects ka (Brahmā) and pi (PinakinŚiva). Hence Viṣṇu—Padaratnāvalī


tri-vṛt—(i) One who is covered (described) by three Vedas—Padaratnāvalī

(ii) Of the form of jīva in whom development of three guṇas takes place—Bhāgavata Candrikā


Satya-laukika: (i) Path leading to dharma, artha and kāma and mokṣaBhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa

(ii) Brahman and the means of realizing it—Bhāgavata Candrikā

(iii) Means leading to Liberation (mukti) and enjoyment (bhukti)—Siddhāntapradīpa

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