Kapila: Founder of Samkhya & Avatara of Visnu

By Jacobsen, Knut A.
December 2008
Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
ISBN: 9788121511940
243 pages
$52.50 Hardcover

In the Hindu tradition Kapila is admired and worshipped as a philosopher, a divinity, an avatara of Visnu and as a powerful ascetic. This book is the first monographic study of this important figure. The book deals with Kapila in the Veda, the Sramana traditions, the Epics and the Puranas, in the Samkhya system of religious thought and in the ritual traditions of many contemporary Hindu traditions. Kapila is an important figure in the sacred geography of India and the study of the rituals and narrative traditions of the tirthas of kapila is an important contribution of this book. The book also contains a translation into English of the text Kapilasurisamvada, Kapila's teaching of Asuri, found in a few manuscripts of the Southern recension of the Mahabharata.

Kapila refers to a pluralistic phenomenon. The Kapilas in the Hindu tradition cannot be reduced to a single figure. In general, pluralism characterises the religious traditions and religious life of South Asia, ancient, medieval, modern, as well as contemporary. Openness for the greatest possible plurality is therefore often a good way to approach religion in South Asia. This is the case also with the study of Kapila. The approach of the book therefore is pluralistic.


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