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Kapila Sutra

Kapila Sutra is the original foundational work of the Samkhya system. The samkhya system is one of the oldest philosophical schools of India and sage Kapila is considered to be its founder-father.

Ishvara Krishna, in his Samkhya Karika, clearly mentions that the Samkhya system was fully enumerated by the supreme Sage Kapila and, out of compassion, Kapila transmitted the knowledge of Samkhya to Asuri who, in turn, handed it over to Pancasikha, and through the guru shishya tradition, knowledge of Samkhya continued to flourish up to Ishvara Krishna.

Ishvara Krishna has summarily presented the same doctrine in his Samkhya Karika. But the original work of Kapila Sutra was lost long ago. The present Samkhya Sutra, which is attributed to Kapila Muni, is certainly the work of an unknown author written in the 14th to 15th century CE, because it contains refutations of doctrines of several schools of thought and also a number of parables that could be dated to a later period.  

The word samkhya is derived from the root samkhya which means right knowledge as well as number. The right knowledge is the knowledge of the separation of consciousness (purusha) from matter (prakriti). Samkhya also means right knowledge of the 25 principles of this system. If we accept that samkhya karika of Ishvara Krishna is the summary form of Samkhya Sutra of Sage Kapila, then the philosophy of Samkhya can be summarized in the following manner –

The aim of life is freedom from three-fold sufferings. This is achieved through discriminative knowledge between self (purusha) and non-self (prakriti). The two eternal realities are spirit (purusha) and matter (prakriti). Consciousness is the nature of purusha but it is inactive. Prakriti is unconscious, but active. Its activities are the means for the enjoyment of purusha. Prakriti is made up of equilibrium of three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. Evolution of the universe takes place due to the proximity of purusha and prakriti; their closeness disturbing the cosmic equilibrium starts the process of evolution.

Samkhya does not deny the existence of god but, according to it, the existence of God cannot be proved by any valid means of knowledge.

According to the philosophical framework of Samkhya, for the creation of the universe God is not required at all. The proximity of purusha and prakriti is sufficient for creation.




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