Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Kapila included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Kapila

A fierce sage.

Genealogy and birth.

Kapila was the son of Kardamaprajāpati, son of Brahmā, born to him of his wife Devahūti, grand-daughter of Brahmā and daughter of Svāyambhuva Manu.

Svāyambhuva Manu got two sons named Priyavrata and Uttānapāda and three daughters named Ākūti, Devahūti and Prasūti. The daughters were married to Ruci, Kardama and Dakṣa respectively. To Ruci was born of Ākūti a boy named Yajña. He was a partial incarnation of Viṣṇu. To Kardama was born of his wife Devahūti Kapilācārya, a great sage and the celebrated exponent of the Sāṅkhya philosophy. Prasūti got many daughters (8th Skandha, Devī Bhāgavata).

Sage Kapila was known as Cakradhanus also. (Śloka 17 Chapter 109, Udyoga Parva).

Kardama married the daughter of Vaivasvata Manu called Devahūti. They spent their honeymoon in the air travelling throughout the world. Devahūti delivered nine daughters and a son named Kapila. Kardamaprajāpati gave his daughters in marriage to Marīci and the other sages.

Kapila—incarnation of Viṣṇu.

The Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa states that Kapila was the incarnation of Viṣṇu. In Chapter 93 there is this statement: "Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa will protect us all. The Lord of the universe has now been born in the world as Kapilācārya."

Kapila imparts spiritual knowledge to his mother.

Kapila started a severe penance. At that time Kardamaprajāpati died and Devahūti wife of Kardama and mother of Kapila approached Kapila and asked him to instruct her on the path of Bhakti Yoga. Kapila imparted to her spiritual knowledge and gave her instructions to follow the path of Bhakti Yoga for Salvation. She entered into a life of austerities and attained Samādhi. (3rd Skandha, Bhāgavata).

How Kapila burnt to ashes the Sagarputras.

Once there was a king called Sagara in the Solar dynasty. He had two wives named Keśinī and Sumati. Keśinī got a son named Asamañjasa and Sumati got sixtythousand sons. Once Sagara conducted an Aśvamedha Yāga at a place where the rivers Sindhu and Gaṅgā meet. Aṃśumān, son of Asamañjasa led the sacrificial horse. Indra disguised as a demon stole the horse when it came to a mountain side and hid it in the nether worlds.

Sagara sent his sixtythousand sons in search of the horse. They dug the whole continent of Jambūdvīpa surrounded by mountains. Devas, gandharvas and bhujaṅgas complained to Brahmā. Then Brahmā said: "The whole of this world belongs to Viṣṇu. He has incarnated himself as sage Kapila to kill the sons of Sagara and is now in the nether-world bearing this world. In the fire of his anger the Sagaraputras will be burnt to death". On hearing this all of them came back.

The Sagaraputras returned to their father when they could not find the horse. But Sagara ordered "Go and dig again till you find it". They went to the nether world. After circling the eight elephants who carry the world they dropped down to the nether world through the north-east corner of the earth. There they saw sage Kapila engaged in penance and the sacrificial horse grazing by his side. The sons of Sagara made a great hubbub there and Kapila produced a big sound of rebuke and stared at them. All the sixtythousand sons of Sagara were reduced to ashes. For more details see under Bhagīratha. (Sargas 39 and 40, Bālakāṇḍa. Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa).


Kapila made the renowned Kapilaśāstra sitting in his Āśrama and taught it to his mother Devahūti. Kapila was a great yogin. The yoga Śāstra itself is based on the Sāṅkhya philosophy of Kapila. His Sāṅkhya Śāstra, known as Kāpila Śāstra also, contains the distinctive yoga of meditation and it creates in you spiritual knowledge removing your ignorance totally. After teaching his mother his 'Kāpila' he went to the Āśrama of Pulaha and lived there. (8th Skandha, Devī Bhāgavata).

Other details regarding Kapila.

(i) Kapila was the preceptor of the King of Sindhu. 5th Skandha, Bhāgavata).

(ii) Kapila visited Bhīṣma while the latter was lying on his bed of arrows before his death. (Śloka 8, Śānti Parva, Mahābhārata).

(iii) There occurred a discussion once between Kapila and a Sage named 'Gau' on the subject whether Gṛhasthadharma (doing one’s duty as a house-holder) or yogadharma (doing yoga practices) was superior. (Chapter 286, Śānti Parva).

(iv) Kapila was a sage of great brilliance of body. When the sons of Sagara went to the nether world in search of the horse they saw the sage Kapila sitting there radiating a brightness equal to that of fire. (Chapter 107, Araṇya Parva).

(v) Kapila was an authority on Sāṅkhya and Veda and was a worshipper of Śiva. (Śloka 4, Chapter 18, Anuśāsana Parva).

(vi) He has written two books, namely, Sāṅkhyapravacana and Tattvasamāsa.

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