Samkhya Philosophy and the 24 Cosmic Principles – Br. Shankara

Sunday, October 19, 2014

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Kapila

Kapila

Samkhya is a Sanskrit word that, roughly speaking, means counting. As a philosophy, Samkhya offers a comprehensive explanation of how the reality we perceive and interact with arises. Using a system of 24 individual categories, the post-Vedic sage Kapila begins his explanation with the Great Cause (Mahat, Cosmic Principle #1). By the time he gets to the Five Gross Elements (Principles 20-24), Kapila’s Samkhya can tell us why everything we experience exists and persists.

Sri Krishna said, “Of all trees I am the banyan tree, and of the sages among the demigods I am Narada. Of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.” — Bhagavad Gita 10.26

Very little is known about the life of Maharishi Kapila.* He is believed to have lived in the Indian subcontinent, some say around 500 B.C.E.; other accounts give earlier dates. He is thought to have preceded Buddha by at least several generations.

*Though Kapila is regarded as the founder of the Sāňkhya (Samkhya) philosophical tradition, the classic texts that formalize Sāňkhya are dated much later. Isvaraksna’s Sāmkhya-karika was written in the middle of the fifth century C.E., and the work traditionally ascribed to Kapila himself, the Sāňkhya-sutra, cannot reliably be dated earlier than 1380-1450 C.E.

Note: Some text adapted from New World Encyclopedia

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