Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Kapila Mean?

Kapila was a Vedic sage who lived around the 6th century BCE and is considered a founder of Samkhya, the oldest of the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy, or darshans. His name comes from the Sanskrit meaning “reddish brown” and is translated as “the red one.”

Kapila is considered an incarnation of Vishnu who came to earth to restore spiritual order. He is also known for teaching Bhakti yoga, the spiritual path of liberation or enlightenment.


Yogapedia Explains Kapila

In Buddhism, Kapila is known as either the Buddha in a previous life or as a philosopher whose students built the city believed to be the birthplace of Buddha. Like Buddha, Kapila emphasized meditation as a method for removing suffering.

The Bhagavad Gita depicts Kapila as a hermit with highly developed spiritual powers (siddhis). The Samkhya system attributed to him constitutes the philosophical background of the Gita and is closely associated with yoga. Likewise, the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali were deeply influenced by Samkhya.

A dualistic philosophy, Samkhya teaches that the universe consists of purusha (souls) and prakriti (primal matter). Enlightenment is the realization that purusha and prakriti are different.

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