Two Kapilas and Real Samkhya darshana


  1. Atheistic Samkhya philosophy refuted in the Vedanta Sutra of Srila Vyasadeva.
  2. Purports by Srila Prabhupada.

From the Govinda Bhashya (Vedanta sutra commentary) of Srila Baldeva Vidyabhushana Acharya:

Adhikarana 1

The Sankhya Philosophy Refuted

Introduction By Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana

Vishaya—In the First Chapter was proved that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is faultless, is the master of unlimited inconceivable potencies, has unlimited transcendental virtues, is the Supersoul present everywhere, is different from everything, is the creator of the material world and the ingredient of which the creation is made, is the controller and master of everything, is the object of Vedanta study, and is described by all the Vedas.

     In the Second Chapter the arguments claiming that this Vedanta philosophy is contradicted by the smriti- shastra and by logic will be refuted, the sankhya theory that pradhana is the original cause of creation will be refuted with clear logic, and the Vedanta explanation of creation will be proved to be the only truth. These are the topics that will be described. In the beginning the idea that the shruti-shastra contradicts the Vedanta view will be refuted.     

Samshaya—Is the view that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the original cause of everything refuted by the sankhya-smriti or not?

Purvapaksha—According to Vedanta philosophy the sankhya-smriti is untrue. The sankhya smriti was written by the great sage Kapila as a commentary to explain the jnana-kanda portion of the Vedas. He hoped in this way to teach the path of liberation. Kapila firmly approved of the agnihotra-yajnas and other rituals described in the karma-kanda portion of the Vedas. The shvetashvatara Upanishad (5.2) glorifies him in the words rishim prasutam kapilam (the great sage Kapila). In his Kapila-smriti, which contains statements like atha tri-vidha-duhkhatyanta- nivrittir atyanta-purusharthah (the complete cessation of the threefold miseries of the material world is the ultimate goal of human life) and na drishtartha-siddhir nivritter apy anuvritti-darshanat (The threefold miseries cannot be completely stopped by any method seen in this world, for whenever they are stopped it is seen that they always return) he explained in the words vimukta-mokshartham svartham va pradhanasya (the pradhana creates the material world either to fulfill the living entities’ material desires or grant them liberation), the words acetanatve ‘pi kshiravac ceshtitam pradhanasya (although it is lifeless and unconscious, the pradhana creates this world just as milk spontaneously creates cheese), and other statements of his writings, the truth that insentient pradhana is the independent creator of the material universes. If the idea that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the original cause of everything is accepted, then the statements of the Kapila-smriti must be held to be useless. This is especially so because the Kapila-smriti is a book of philosophy with the understanding of the ultimate truth as its sole objective. For this reason the Vedanta texts must be interpreted in such a way that they do not contradict the great Kapila-smriti. This interpretation, even if it contradicts the Manu-smriti and other smriti- shastras would not make these scriptures useless. Because these scriptures explain the karma-kanda portion of the Vedas, and because they explain the path of dharma (and not theoretical philosophy), they would not be made useless by contradicting their philosophical basis.

Siddhanta—To this argument he replies—


Sutra 1

smrity-anavakasha-dosha-prasanga iti cen nanya-smrity- anavakasha-dosha-prasangat

If someone objects that the Vedanta philosophy should not be accepted because it contradicts the Kapila-smriti, then I say: No. The Kapila-smriti should not be accepted because it contradicts the other smriti-shastras.

Purport By Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana

The word anavakasha in this sutra means “without any proper place.” This means “useless and irrelevant.” the sutra says: If someone says “When interpreted literally, the Vedanta texts seem to denounce the Sankhya-smriti as untrue. This is a great mistake. For this reason the Vedanta texts should be interpreted metaphorically (so not to contradict the sankhya- smriti),” then I say no. Why? The sutra says: anya-smrity- anavakasha-dosha-prasangat (The Kapila-smriti should not be accepted because it contradicts the other smriti-shastras). To reject the Manu-smriti and the other smritis that follow the Vedanta philosophy and declare the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be the sole original cause of all causes is a great mistake. In these scriptures the Supreme Personality of Godhead is proved to be the original cause of the creation, maintenance, and destruction of the material universes. These scriptures do not accept Kapila’s conclusions.

In this question the Manu-smriti (1.5-9) says:

asid idam tamo-bhutam aprajnatam alakshanam apratarkyam avijneyam prasuptam iva sarvatah 

“The material universe was dark, unconscious, amorphous, inconceivable, and unknowable. It was as if completely asleep.     

tatah svayambhur bhagavan avyakto vyanjayann idam maha-bhutadi-vrittaujah pradurasit tamonudah       

“The self-manifested Supreme Personality of Godhead, who had been unmanifested, then manifested within this world. He manifested the material elements and dispelled the darkness.

yo ‘sav atindriya-grahyah sukshmo ‘vyaktah sanatanah sarva-bhutamayo ‘cintyah sa esha svayam udbabhau

“He who is beyond the reach of the material senses, who is subtle, unmanifested, eternal, inconceivable, and within whom everything rests, then personally appeared i this world.

 so ‘bhidhyaya sharirat svat sishrikshur vividhah prajah apa eva sasarjadau tasu bijam avashrijat

“Desiring to create the many living beings from His own body, He meditated and then created the waters. In the waters He placed a seed. 

tad andam abhavad dhaimam sahasramshu-sama-prabham tasmin jajne svayam brahma sarva-loka-pitamahah

 “That seed became a golden egg as splendid as the sun. In that egg was born the demigod Brahma, the grandfather of all living beings.”

Parashara Muni (Vishnu Purana 1.1.31-32) also says:

 vishnoh sakashad udbhutam jagat tatraiva ca sthitam sthiti-samyama-kartasau jagato ‘sya jagac ca sah

 “From Lord Vishnu this material was manifested. In Him it rests. He controls it. This material world is His property, and He is this material world.

 yathornanabho hridayad urnam santatya vaktratah taya vihritya bhuyas tam grasaty evam janardanah

“As a spider creates a web within its chest and then manifests it from its mouth, so does Lord Vishnu manifest this world and then swallow it again.”


The other smritis also present the same view. They are not merely explanations of karma-kanda duties. They teach karma-kanda duites as a means to purify the heart so knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead may arise there. In this way they may be understood as explanations of the jnana-kanda portion of the Vedas. This effort to purify the heart is seen in the following statement of the Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad ( tam etam vedanuvacanena (By studying the Vedas and performing spiritual activities, the brahmanas understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead). Although in some places they grant results such as the attainment of rain, sons, or residence in Svargaloka, these results are intended to bring faith in the words of the Vedas. This is confirmed by the Katha Upanishad (1.3.15) in the words sarve vedah yat-padam amananti (All the Vedas aspire to attain the feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead) and the shrimad- Bhagavatam (2.5.15) in the words narayana-para vedah (The Vedic literatures are made by and are meant for the Supreme Lord). Because it contradicts the conclusions of the Vedas, the Sankhya-smriti cannot properly explain the meanings of the Vedas. A text that agrees with the conclusions of the Vedas may properly explain the Vedas. The Sankhya-smriti does not even agree with the conclusion of the Vedas. The Sankhya-smriti invented by Kapila contradicts the Vedas. It is not a genuine scripture. Because it is thus worthless we do not fear to reject it. Even if it was written by a famous author, a book that contradicts the Vedas should not be accepted. There are many smritis presenting many different philosophies that are all worthless because they contradict the truths of the Vedas. Smriti that contradicts the Vedas should be rejected, and smriti that follows the teachings of the Vedas should be accepted.

Using evidence from the smritis that support the Vedas, we shall refute the smritis that reject the Vedas. In this way we shall proclaim those smritis to be in error because they contradict the other smritis.

The quotation from shvetashvatara Upanishad (5.2) rshim prasutam kapilam yas tam agre jnanair bibharti (The great sage Kapila is full of knowledge) does not give authority to the Sankhya-smriti. Because the Upanishads would not glorify a sage who opposed the Vedic conclusion, the Kapila here must be a person different from the author of the Sankhya-smriti. The Taittiriya Brahmana, however, considers Manu (the author of Manu- smriti) an exalted authority in these words: yad vai kincana manur avadat tad bheshajam (Whatever Manu has said is certainly the cure for the ills of this world). In the same way the smriti says that by the mercy of Pulastya Muni and Vasishtha Muni, the sage Parashara (the author of the Vishnu Purana) attained transcendental knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. However, the Kapila who wrote a book contradicting the Vedas, and who was born in the family of Agni, was an ordinary jiva bewildered by the illusory potency maya. He was not the same Kapila who was born as the son of Kardama Muni and who was an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vasudeva. This is so because the Padma Purana says:

 kapilo vasudevakhyah sankhyam tattvam jagada ha brahmadibhyash ca devebhyo bhrigv-adibhyas tathaiva ca tathaivasuraye sarvam vedarthair upabrimhitam sarva-veda-viruddham ca kapilo ‘nyo jagada ha. . .sankhyam asuraye ‘nyasmai kutarka-paribrimhitam

 “One Kapila Muni, who was named Vasudeva, spoke to Brahma and the other demigods, asuri Muni, Bhrigu Muni, and the other sages, a sankhya philosophy in perfect harmony with the Vedas. Another person, also named Kapila, spoke a different sankhya philosophy contradicting the teachings of all the Vedas. . .He spoke his illogical theories to a different asuri Muni.”

Therefore, because it contradicts the Vedas, and because its author is not a genuine spiritual authority, there is no fault in rejecting the sankhya-smriti.

Sutra  2

itaresham canupalabdheh

(The Sankhya-smriti should be rejected also) because many of its other doctrines are not seen (in the Vedas).

Purport By Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana

Because many of its other doctrines are not seen in the Vedas, the Sankhya-smriti is not an authentic scripture. Thus it teaches that the living entities are all- pervading spirit-souls and that the material energy creates the liberated and conditioned states of these souls. It teaches that both bondage and liberation are both different aspects of the material energy. It teaches that there is no one distinct person who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of all. It teaches that time is not real. It teaches that the five pranas (life-airs) are identical with the five senses. These and other similar doctrines may be seen in the Sankhya-smriti.

Purports by Srila Prabhupada

BG 2.39, Purport:

An analytical study of the soul and the body has been very graphically explained by Lord Kṛṣṇa. And this descriptive knowledge of the soul and the body from different angles of vision has been described here as Sāṅkhya, in terms of the Nirukti dictionary. This Sāṅkhya has nothing to do with Sāṅkhya philosophy of the atheist Kapila. Long before the imposter Kapila‘s Sāṅkhya, the Sāṅkhya philosophy was expounded in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by the true Lord Kapila, the incarnation of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who explained it to His mother, Devahūti. It is clearly explained by Him that the puruṣa, or the Supreme Lord, is active and that He creates by looking over the prakṛti.

SB 3.24.10, Purport:

In Bhagavad-gītā, Fifteenth Chapter, it is stated that the Lord Himself is the compiler of Vedānta-sūtra, and He is the perfect knower of Vedānta-sūtra. Similarly, the Sāṅkhya philosophy is compiled by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His appearance as Kapila. There is an imitation Kapila who has a Sāṅkhya philosophical system, but Kapila the incarnation of God is different from that Kapila. Kapila the son of Kardama Muni, in His system of Sāṅkhya philosophy, very explicitly explained not only the material world but also the spiritual world.

SB 3.21.32, Purport:

Herein the word svāṁśa-kalayā indicates that the Lord would appear as the son of Devahūti and Kardama Muni as Kapiladeva, the first propounder of the Sāṅkhya philosophy, which is mentioned here as tattva-saṁhitā. The Lord foretold to Kardama Muni that He would appear in His incarnationKapiladeva and would propagate the philosophy of Sāṅkhya. Sāṅkhya philosophy is very well known in the world as propagated by another Kapiladeva, but that Sāṅkhya philosophy is different from the Sāṅkhya which was propounded by the Lord Himself. There are two kinds of Sāṅkhya philosophy: one is godless Sāṅkhya philosophy, and the other is godly Sāṅkhya philosophy. The Sāṅkhya propagated by Kapiladeva, son of Devahūti, is godly philosophy.

SB 3.7.30, Purport:

The Sāṅkhya philosophy enunciated by Kapiladeva, the son of Devahūti, is the real source of knowledge about the Supreme Truth. Knowledge not based on the Sāṅkhya philosophy is mental speculation and can yield no tangible profit.

The real and perfect Samkhya philosophy is described in the Srimad Bhagavatam canto 3, chapter 23-33 by Lord Kapiladeva, the incarnation of Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Harr Kṛṣṇa!!

Lord Kapiladeva instructing the Sankhya Philosophy to his mother Devahuti

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