The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Dialogue between Kapila and Devahuti: Importance of the Bhakti-yoga which is chapter 25 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-fifth chapter of the Third Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 25 - Dialogue between Kapila and Devahūti: Importance of the Bhakti-yoga

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śaunaka said:

1. Kapila, the expounder of the Tattvas[1] (fundamental principles) i.e. of Sāṅkhya Śāstra is himself devoid of birth.[2] But for the exposition of the true nature of the Self (ātman) to men, he directly manifested himself of his own accord through his own Māyā.[3]

2. I have heard many times about the Lord[4] (Kapila). But really my senses are not fully satisfied by hearing his glory. Kapila is the senior-most (best) among all persons and the greatest among the Yogins.

3. I am full of faith (in him). Narrate to me the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord who, though of absolutely in dependent mind, assumes body through his own Māyā power for (the fulfilment of) the wishes of his devotees.

Sūta said:

4. (Just as you now ask me), venerable Maitreya, the friend of Dvaipāyana was also urged (by Vidura) to explain the Science of Soul. Being pleased, he expounded this (doctrine) to Vidura.

Maitreya said:

5. When his father (Kardama) left for the forest, (they say that) praiseworthy Lord Kapila stayed in the Bindusaras with a desire to do good to his mother.

6. Devahūti who remembered the words of the creator (Brahmā), spoke the following words to her son who was sitting quietly (actionless), and who guided through, to the end of the Path of Knowledge (or Sāṅkhya Śāstra).

Devahūti said:

7. Oh All-pervading Lord, I am extremely disgusted with the thirst for enjoying the objects of wicked senses. By catering to the (urge of the) senses, I find myself lost in the darkness of ignorance.

8. Today, at the end of many births, and by your grace, I have secured you as a good vision (insight) which leads to the end of this blinding darkness of ignorance which is very difficult to cross.

9. Your Honour is verily the first glorious Lord, the controller of all human beings. Just like the rising Sun (enabling people to see) you are an eye to the world which is blinded with the darkness of ignorance.

10. Hence, Oh Lord, you should dispel my delusion—the delusion viz. strong attachment to my body and my belongings (as ‘me and mine’) which has been created by you (in us).

11. With a desire to know (the real nature) of Prakṛti and Puruṣa, I have come for shelter to you who are worth resorting to for protection. I bow to you who are like an axe (to cut down and put an end) to the tree of Saṃsāra of your devotees and are the greatest among the knowers of true dharma.[5]

Maitreya said:

12. Having heard his mother’s laudable (lit. non-objectionable) desire which would create in men liking for the Liberation (mokṣa),[6] Kapila was rejoiced at heart. He who was the ultimate goal[7] of self-controlled saintly people[8] spoke with his face beautified by gentle smile[9].

The Lord said:

13. The yoga, which leads to the realization of the Self[10] (ātman), is for men the path to Liberation (mokṣa). Herein is the complete cessation of pain as well as pleasure.

14. Oh sinless one, I shall explain to you the Yoga complete in all respects[11] which in ancient times, I expounded to sages desirous of hearing.

15. The mind is certainly regarded as (the cause of) bondage and liberation of the Soul[12]. When attached to the objects of senses, it causes bondage. But when attached to the Supreme Man, it leads to liberation.

16. When the mind is cleansed of impurities like lust, avarice etc. born of ahaṃkāra (ego) about one’s self and one’s belongings, it becomes pure, free from (non-responsive to) pleasure and pain, and is perfectly tranquil and in balanced state.

17-18. Then the man with his mind filled with knowledge, non-attachment (to the world) and devotion, realizes[13] bis Self (ātman) to be absolute, distinct from and beyond Prakṛti, immutable, self-luminous, atomic, indivisible, passive (non-participant) and (finds) Prakṛti to be powerless[14].

19. In order to attain Brahman, for Yogins, there is no other auspicious way comparable to devotion directed to the Lord who is the Soul of all (as sarvāntaryāmin).

20. The wise know that attachment (to objects of senses) is the unbreakable chain that fetters down the Soul (ātman) in the Saṃsāra. But that very attachment, if applied to the good (saintly persons) is the open gate-way to Liberation (Mokṣa).

21. The Saints (i.e. those who follow the path described in Śāstras) are forbearing (tolerant), compassionate, friendly to all beings. They have no enemies[15]. They are quiet[16], good[17] and regard good character as their ornament[18].

22. With their hearts fixed on me only, they practise firm devotion to me. For my sake, they have abandoned all other activities and their friends and relatives.

23. Taking refuge in me, they listen and narrate sweet stories (about me). As their minds are fixed on me, various kinds of troubles do not affect them[19].

24. Oh pious Lady, there are the saints who have dissociated themselves from all attachments. Hence association with such deserves to be sought by you. (You should associate yourself with them) as they remove the evil of attachment (to worldly objects).

25. In association with saints, there are (discussions about my) stories which give proper and complete knowledge about my power and which are pleasant to the ears and the heart. By serving (listening to) them, there will soon develop intense faith in, love for and devotion to Hari—which is the path that leads to Liberation.

26. Due to devotion generated by contemplation of my sportive work (viz. the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe), a man gets disgusted with the pleasures of senses and to the objects seen (in this world) and to those reported (available in the world beyond)[20]. Being alert, and by practising Yoga, he tries to control his mind by easy and straight courses of bhakti Yoga.

27. By not enjoying the guṇas of Prakṛti[21] and by his knowledge reinforced by Vairāgya (non-attachment) and by Yoga and devotion concentrated on me, he attains to me, who reside in all beings, in this very human body[22].

Devahūti said:

28. What type of devotion is proper for you? Of what description is it? So that thereby I can quickly and easily attain to your place namely Liberation (Mokṣa).

29. Oh embodiment of Liberation (nirvāṇa)[23], what is the nature of the yoga spoken of by you as reaching the Supreme Lord directly like a shaft (hitting its target)? How many parts (aṅgas or auxiliaries) has it whereby one gets the comprehension of the reality.

30. Oh Hari! As I am a woman of slow understanding, please explain this to me so that I shall easily understand this difficult yoga by your favour.

Maitreya said:

31. Having thus understood the object of his mother, Kapila felt affection for her from whom he was born (lit. got a body for manifesting himself). He explained to her the enumeration of tattvas or Fundamental Principles which they call Sāṃkhya śāstra and also the extensive course of Bhakti-yoga (Path of devotion).

The Lord said:

32-33. In the case of man whose mind is one, i.e, unswerving the natural, effortless, abiding disposition (devotion) of the presiding deities of the cognitive sense organs (lit. sense organs which cognise objects)and of the conative senses (which perform the acts prescribed in the Vedas) to Hari, the embodiment of Sattva is Bhakti. This unselfish (free from worldly desires) devotion to the Venerable Lord is superior to Liberation (Mokṣa) as it makes the vesture or sheath of the Liṅga Śarīra (subtle body) dissolve just as the fire in the stomach digests the food that is swallowed (eaten).

34. Some do not desire to get oneness with myself (i.e. Sāyujya Mukti).[24] They are delighted in serving (worshipping) my feet and are happily engaged in activities for my sake[25]. With deep interest and affection, the devotees of the Supreme Lord enjoy in describing to one another my exploits.

35. Oh mother, these saints see my splendid heavenly forms with beautiful kindly face and reddish eyes—forms which bestow blessings on them. They speak with them in affectionate terms.

36. Even though the devotees do not covet for it, Bhakti takes to the subtle state (Mokṣa)[26] the devotees, with their minds enchanted by and with their sense organs attached to those beautiful limbs of mine; my dignified movements, smiles, glances and sweet speeches.

37. After (the disappearance of Avidyā) they do not aspire after the magnificent enjoyments and prosperity (in Satyaloka and other places) of mine, the Lord of Māya. Nor do they wish for the eight super-human powers (siddhis) which naturally flow form Bhakti. Nor do they long for the auspicious wealth of the Supreme Lord in Vaikuṇṭha. But they do enjoy it in my region, the Vaikuṇṭha.

38. Oh Mother of perfectly serene mind, in Vaikuṇṭha, my devotees are never ruined. My weapon, the Winkless Time, does not affect them as I am their beloved Soul, (and am like) a son, friend, preceptor, relative and their beloved God.

39-40. I take them beyond Death (i.e. saṃsāra)—those who abandon this world as well as the next and their Self which wanders in both these worlds along with their Liṅga Śarīra (subtle body) and who give up their wealth, cattle, houses and such other belongings and resort with devotion to me who am Omnipresent (or have faces on all sides).

41. The terrible fear (of Saṃsāra) cannot be removed by anyone else except me, the Supreme Lord, the controller of Prakṛti and Puruṣa and the in-dwelling Soul of all beings.

42. It is through my fear that the wind blows, the Sun shines, Indra showers rain, the fire burns and the Death does its duty.

43. By means of Bhakti-yoga strengthened by knowledge and renunciation, yogins resort to my feet, the (seat of) Mokṣa for eternal blessings.

44. If mind is firmly set on me by intense Bhakti-yoga, it becomes quiescent and steady. This is the only way for attaining the highest bliss in this world.

Footnotes and references:


tattva-saṅkhyāta—(i) Expounder of the correct knowledge of avyakta and other tattvasPadaratnāvalī

(ii) Exponent of the Sāṅkhya system of philosophy.—VC., Bālaprabodhini


ajaḥ [aja]—(i) Devoid of birth as a result of previous karmasBhāgavata Candrikā, Bālaprabodhini

(ii) Śrī Nārāyaṇa himself and not an āveśaPadaratnāvalī

(iii) Whose līlā of taking birth is superhuman—not the ordinary one—VC.


ātma-māyā [māyayā]—(i) Out of his compassion for devotees—Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa

(ii) Of his own free will—Padaratnāvalī, Bālaprabodhini

(iii) By his incomprehensible power called Māyā—VC.

(iv) By his power of creating everything—Subodhinī


Śruta-devasya—also is taken to qualify Kapila and means ‘Whose glory is described in the Vedas’—Subodhinī

‘Who becomes manifest in the heart of the audience by listening to Śāstras’—Siddhāntapradīpa


saddharma: (i) nivṛtti dharmaBhāgavata Candrikā
(ii) Śama and other brahma-dharmasSubodhinī
(iii) The way to MokṣaBālaprabodhini
(iv) Path-of Bhakti—VC.


apa-varga-vardhanam [vardhana]—VC. and Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa treat this as a pun and explain: That which eliminates the three puruṣārthas.


gati—The means of Liberation (mokṣa)—Bhāgavata Candrikā
The fruit; the ultimate result—Bālaprabodhini


ātmavatāṃ satāṃ—The saintly persons who mediate on the Soul.—Bālaprabodhini
Those who realised Lord Kṛṣṇa. Self-control is their external index—Subodhinī
The devotees to whom the Self (ātmā) i.e. Kapila is the object of worship—VC.


VC., Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa state: Kapila smiled because he was amused at the anxiety and fear of his (God’s) mother of Saṃsāra. He, however, wants to explain the Sāṅkhya-Śāstra to her for the sake of others.

Kramasandarbha.: “Mokṣa is for other people. I shall give her the highest bliss of Bhakta-hood”.


ādhyātnakaḥ [ādhyātnaka]: (i) Pertaining to unswerving devotion to the Self (ātman)—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā, VC. (ii) Leading to the knowledge of the real ātman as distinguished from Prakṛti—Bhāgavata Candrikā (iii) The path of unswerving (fixed) concentration on the Supreme Soul, (iv) Yogas are of three types—(i) ādhidaivika useful in the realization of the Lord, (ii) ādhyātmika leading to the realization of the Supreme Soul—(iii) ādhibhautika—leading to the attainment of siddhisSubodhinī


sarvāṅga-naipuṇa [naipuṇam]—efficacious by Śama, dama and other complementary observances—Bhāgavata Candrikā


Cf. mana eva manuṣyāṇāṃ kāraṇaṃ bandha-mokṣayoḥ / Maitrī 6.34 Viṣṇu Purāṇa


Padaratnāvalī: Then the man (or jīva) realizes his Self to be the bimba of Hari.


hatamojasam [hatamojasa]—Prakṛti which has lost its binding power.


ajāta-śatru [śatravaḥ]—Padaratnāvalī dissolves this as aja+ata+śatravaḥ and explains: Who are the enemies of passions like kāma, lobha (avarice) etc.


śāntaḥ [śānta]: (i) possessed of śama, damaBhāgavata CandrikāKramasandarbha.

(ii) steadfastly devoted to Nārāyaṇa—Padaratnāvalī


Sādhavaḥ [Sādhu]—(i) Who help others in achieving their objects—Bhāgavata Candrikā

(ii) straightforward—VC.


sādhubhūṣaṇāḥ [sādhubhūṣaṇa]: (i) To whom devotion to God is an ornament—Padaratnāvalī, (ii) Though themselves saintly, they regard other saints highly (like ornaments)—Kramasandarbha. (iii) To whom Sādhus are dear as ornaments—VC. (iv) Who regard ūrdhva-puṇḍra and other marks as ornaments—Siddhāntapradīpa


Subodhinī enumerates sixteen characteristics of the saints. Of these three are bhautika (pertaining to bhūtas), four ādhyātmikas and seven ādhidaivikas. The commentary being very lengthy is not summarised here.


dṛṣṭa-śrutāt: Seen by persons of higher (spiritual) status and heard by those belonging to the lower status—Padaratnāvalī


guṇāṇām asevayā—Not enjoying articles of food (drink etc.) prohibited by Śāstras and polluted or desecrated by the outcastes. This emphasizes proper discrimination in enjoyment—Bhāgavata Candrikā


Bhāgavata Candrikā strongly objects to the concept of ‘Liberation—while alive’. Jīvan-mukti—This means while in meditation, a man visualizes or experiences Brahman.


nirrāṇātman—(i) unexcelled bliss incarnate—Bhāgavata Candrikā, Bālaprabodhini (ii) Embodiment of highest joy.—Padaratnāvalī VC. and Siddhāntapradīpa read: nirvāṇārthaḥ [nirvāṇārtha]—The cause or means of Liberation.


ekātmatām: (i) The state of being similar in attributes like me—Bhāgavata Candrikā

(ii) Liberation which I confer on them—Padaratnāvalī

(iii) Oneness with Brahman—VC.


madīhāḥ—They entertain a strong desire to enjoy my beauty, sweetness etc.—VC.


aṇvīṃ gatim—Commentators express their differences of opinion about this final stage called Mokṣa as per the tenets of their schools. Thus with Bhāgavata Candrikā it is ‘The subtle path called archir-mārga [arcirmārga?] leading to Mukti. It is subtle as it is traversed by few’. With Padaratnāvalī it is sāyujya-1akṣaṇā mukti wherein the jīva has similarity in attributes with God. To Kramasandarbha. and VC. it is subtle as it is beyond Prakṛti and hence difficult to grasp and giving “attendantship” (pārṣadatva) of God. To Bālaprabodhini, it is the very resplendent subtle body of the residents of Vaikuṇṭha.

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