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Re: Kapila muni's sAnkhyA

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Thu Dec 14 2000 - 18:37:20 PST

Chandrasekaran Venkatraman writes:
> Dear members,
>    I have a doubt. Please clarify. It's held that the sAnkhya
> theory is against vedAnthA since it doesn't approve of the 
> possibility of a Supreme Universal controller viz., paramAthmA.

>    Can scholars please shed some light and clarify this apparent 
> contradiction between Kapila muni's svarUpam and His theory?

Traditionally speaking, it is recognized that there are multiple
Kapilas.  The Kapila who originated the non-theistic (nirISvara)
sAnkhyA philosophy is considered different than the Kapila who is 
described as an avatAra of the Lord in Srimad Bhagavatam and other 
Puranas. What is interesting is that in Srimad Bhagavatam this 
Kapila propounds a theistic form of sAnkhyA which is acceptable
to Vedanta. (Please not that "sAnkhyA" by itself simply means
"enumeration" or "analysis".  It is a way of discerning that the
true self is distinct from matter, i.e., the body.  sAnkhyA as
a general system is held in great respect in the Gita.)

The latter may be a purely mythological figure; we do not know.  
We also do not really know much about the former Kapila.  The
main source of information about the sAnkhyA school these days
comes from Isvara-Krishna's sAnkhya-kArika.

The main problem Vedantins have with most sAnkhyA schools, 
both theistic and non-theistic, is that they do not accept that
Brahman is both the material and efficient cause of the universe.
That is to say, they taught that world-creation occurred through
the commingling of two separate and distinct entities, purusha
and prakRti. Some theistic sAnkhyA schools accepted an Absolute God
but still held that God created the universe ex nihilo, i.e., from 
without, meaning that God used prakRti as clay external to Himself.

The Vedantic conclusion, of course, is that not only did God create
the universe, God Himself *became* the universe.  The various Vedantic
schools elaborate on this fundamental idea. [*]

The reason this is important is that it is taught in the Vedanta
that the knowledge of the One will lead to the knowledge of all,
including that which has not been heard or seen before. That One
is Brahman. This means that the creative cause and creation
are one and the same.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani

[*] P.S. Interestingly, the Dvaita school of Vedanta does not accept this 
         fundamental principle.


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