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Kapila: Founder of Samkhya and Avatara of Visnu

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Kapila: Founder of Samkhya and Avatara of Visnu
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Item Code: IDK409
Author: Knut A. Jacobsen
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: (With a Translation of Kapilasurisamvada)
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788121511940
Pages: 250 (24 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.8" X 5.8"
About the Author

Knut A Jacobsen is Professor in the History of Religions at the University of Bergen, Norway, and author or editor of fifteen books and more than sixty articles in journals and edited volumes on various aspects on religions in South Asia and in the South Asian diasporas. He is the author of Prakrti in Samkhya-Yoga: Material Principle, Religious Experience. Ethical Implications (1999; Indian edition, 2002). Recent publications include the edited volumes, South Asians in the Diaspora: Histories and Religious Traditions (2004) (with P. Pratap Kumar); Theory and Practice of Yoga: Essays in Honour of Gerald James Larson (2005); and South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora (2008).

About the Book

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 firthas 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 can't be reduced to a single figure. In general, pluralism characterizes the religious traditions and religious life in 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.

Knut A. Jacobsen is Professor in the History of Religions at the University of Bergen, Norway, and author or editor of fifteen books and more than sixty articles in journals and edited volumes on various aspects on religions in South Asia and in the South Asian diasporas. He is the author of Prakrti in Samkhya-Yoga: Material Principle, Religious Experience. Ethical Implications (1999; Indian edition, 2002). Recent publications include the edited volumes, South Asians in the Diaspora: Histories and Religious Traditions (2004) (with P. Pratap Kumar); Theory and Practice of Yoga: Essays in Honour of Gerald James Larson (2005); and South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora (2008).

Foreword

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 Kapilasuri-samvada, 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 characterizes the religious traditions and religious life in 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.

Preface

Pluralism characterizes the religious traditions and religious life in 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 individual religious phenomena. A risk is there that the intellectual search for order and coherence might result in a disregard for this plurality and a projection of unity on a material that is not there. The modern concept of Hinduism was in itself a result of such a search for order and coherence.

The book is about Kapila, a significant figure in the Hindu traditions. The word Kapila here refers to a pluralistic phenomenon. There are many Kapilas and several Kapila traditions. In this book I have used the pluralistic approach to the history of the Kapila traditions in India. To search for a single coherent Kapila tradition would mean to misunderstand the plurality of the phenomena classified under the label Hinduism. The pluralism of the situation makes it impossible to construct a single Kapila figure on the basis of the literature. The words "Kapila" and "him" in this book could at many places instead have been written "Kapilas" and "them" to emphasize the pluralism of Kapila figures.

Every research project is a collective undertaking. Many persons have shared their knowledge of Indian cultures, religions and languages with me and added pieces to the puzzle of Kapila. I am thankful to all them: in Santa Barbara, California, Gerald James Larson; in Varanasi, Mark S.G. Dyczkowski, Sri Narayan Mishra, K.N.P. Shashi, and Rana P. B. Singh; in Madhupur, Swami Bhaskara Aranya, and Adinath Chatterjee; in Kolkata, Amitav Das; and in Oslo, Lars Martin Fosse and Georg von Simson. Thanks also to priests, ascetics, and pilgrims in Amarakantaka, Bhanwargarh, Ganga Sagara, Gaya, Hardwar, Kampil, Kapileswar, Kolayat, Kolyad, Madhupur, Prayaga, Sidhpur, Tirumala, Tirupati, and Varanasi.

Some part of the book have previously been published in journals and as chapters of books. I thank the publishers for permission to reprint. Some parts of chapter Two were previously published in "Kapila in the Mahabharata" in The Mahabharata: What is not here is nowhere else, edited by T.S. Rukmani (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2005), pp. 35-48. Some parts of chapters Two and three were previously published in "Kapila: Founder of Samkhya and Avatara of Visnu," in Orientalia Suecana, vol. 47 (1998), pp. 69-85. Some parts of chapter Five were previously published in "What Similes in Samkhya do: A Comparison of the Similes in the Samkhya texts of the Mahabharata, the Samkhyakarika and the Samkhyasutra," in Journal of Indian Philosophy 34 (2006): 587-605. Some parts of chapter Six were previously published in "The Sacred Geography of Kapila: The Kapilasrama of Sidhpur," in Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, vol. 18: Ritualistics (2003), pp. 82-91, and the "The Tirtha of Sage Kapila," in Manushi, no. 150 (2005): pp. 26-29.

 

Contents

 

Illustrations
vii
Preface
xi
Chapter One
 
Kapila in the Hindu Tradition
1
Chapter Two
 
Kapila in the Veda, the Sramana-tradition, and the Mahabharata
9
Chapter Three
 
Kapila in Samkhya and Samkhya-Yoga
31
Chapter Four
 
Kapila in the Puranas: The Visnu Avatara
57
Chapter Five
 
Kapilasurisamvada: Sanskrit Text and Translation
71
Chapter Six
 
The Sacred Geography of Kapila
149
Chapter Seven
 
Worship of Kapila: Sanskrit Hymns
189
Chapter Eight
 
Competing Interpretations of Kapila in the Hindu Tradition
213
Appendix
 
Verse Lines in the Kapilasurisamvada
299
Bibliography
233
Index
245

Sample Pages






















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