The Teachings of Lord Kapila -- The Son of Devahuti
Kapila Muni, a renowned sage of antiquity, is the author of the philosophical system known as Sankhya, which forms an important part of India's ancient philosophical heritage.
Sankhya is both a system of metaphysics, dealing with the elemental principles of the physical universe, and a system of spiritual knowledge, with its own methodology, culminating in full consciousness of the Supreme Absolute. Kapila, however, is not an ordinary philosopher or sage. According to Vedic tradition, the tradition of India's ancient scriptural literature, He Himself is an avatara (incarnation) of the Supreme Absolute Truth.
Kapila's teachings are originally inscribed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, or Bhagavata Purana, one of the most important scriptural documents of Vedic theism. Within the Bhagavatam Kapila's teachings comprise Chapters twenty-five through thirty-three of the Third Canto. This book, Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahuti, is based on a unique series of lectures presented in Bombay, India, in the spring of 1974, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In this series Prabhupada spoke from the twenty-fifth chapter, which contains the beginning of Lord Kapila's teachings.
The text begins with the words of Saunaka, the foremost of the sages of Naimisaranya, the vastly learned sages to whom Srimad-Bhagavatam was originally spoken to some thousands of years ago. The sages have already heard about Lord Kapiladeva from Suta Gosvami, an exalted spiritual master, and it is clear from Saunaka's words that they accept Kapila Muni as being an incarnation of the Lord Himself and as therefore being the highest authority on yoga and transcendental knowledge.
It is interesting to note that long after Lord Kapila's descent an imitation Kapila appeared on the Indian subcontinent and propounded an nontheistic Sankhya. That which is generally studied as Sankhya in the contemporary academic context is actually the later, nontheistic, materialistic Sankhya. The Sankhya philosophy, propounded by the original Kapila, is practically unknown in the West. Teachings of Lord Kapila, the son of Devahuti (along with Srila Prabhupada's complete commentary on Kapila's Sankhya in his edition of Srimad-Bhagavatam) is probably the first major exposition in the English language on the original, theistic Sankhya. It should therefore be of considerable interest to scholars in this field.