The Sankhya Sutras of Kapila, Book 4

Translated by James R. Ballantyne

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Now, by means of a collection of narratives, recognized in the Institutes, the means of discriminative knowledge are to be displayed: so, for this purpose the Fourth Book is commenced.

Soul set right by hearing the truth.

Aph. 1. * As in the case of the king's son, from instruction as to the truth [comes discrimination between soul and Nature].

a. 'Discrimination' is supplied from the concluding aphorism of the preceding section. The meaning is: as, in the case of the king's son, discrimination is produced by instruction as to the truth. The story, here, is as follows: A certain king's son, in consequence of his being born under the [unlucky] star of the tenth portion 2 [of the twenty-seven portions into which the ecliptic is divided], having been expelled from his city, and reared by a certain forester, remains under the idea, that 'I am a forester.' Having learned that he is alive, a certain minister informs him: 'Thou art not a forester; thou art a king's son.' p. 285 As he, immediately, having abandoned the idean of his being an outcast, betakes himself to his true royal state, saying, 'I am a king,' so, too, it [the Soul], in consequence of the instruction of some kind person, to the effect that 'Thou, who didst originate from the First Soul, which manifests itself merely as pure Thought, art [thyself,] a portion thereof,' having abandoned the idea of its being Nature [or of being something material or phenomenal], rests simply upon its own nature, saying, 'Since I am the son of Brahma, I am, myself, Brahma, and not something mundane, different therefrom:' such is the meaning.

b. He exhibits another story, to prove that even women, p. 286 Śadras, &c., may gain the [one desirable] end, through a Brahman, by hearing the instructions of a Brahman:

Even when the instruction is not addressed to the hearer.

Aph. 2. * As in the case of the goblin, even when the instruction was for the sake of another, [the chance hearer may be benefited].

a. That is to say: though the instruction in regard to the truth was being delivered, by the venerable Kṛishṉa, for Arjuna's benefit, knowledge of the distinction [between Soul and Nature] was produced in the case of a goblin standing near [and overhearing the discourse]: and so it may happen in the case of others, too.

b. And, if knowledge is not produced from once instructing, then a repetition of the instruction is to be made; to which effect he adduces another story:

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Necessity of inculcation.

Aph. 3. * Repetition [is to be made], if not, from once instructing, [the end be gained].

a. That is to say: a repetition of instruction, also, is to be made; because, in the Chhandogya [Upanishad], 1 and the like; there is mention of aruṉi, and others, as having more than once instructed Śwetaketu and others.

b. With a view to the removal of desire, he sets forth, with an illustration, the fragility, &c., of Soul's accompaniments:

Transitoriness of mundane things.

Aph. 4. * As in the case of father and son; since both are seen; [to one, to die, and the other, to be born].

a. That is to say: Discrimination takes place, through dispassion, in consequence of its being inferred, in respect of one's own self, also, that there is death and birth; since these are seen in the case of father and son. This has p. 288 been stated as follows: 'The coming into being, and the departure, of Soul [entangled in Nature], 1 may be inferred from [the case of] father and son.'

b. He next explains, by illustrative stories, the subservients to the perfecting of knowledge in him in whom knowledge has arisen, and who is devoid of passion:

Voluntary abandonment distinguished from involuntary.

Aph. 5. * One experiences pleasure or pain [alternatively], from [voluntary] abandonment or [forcible] separation; as in the case of a hawk.

a. That is to say: since people become happy by the abandonment of things, and unhappy by [forcible] separation from them, acceptance of them ought not to be made; 'as in the case of a hawk.' 4 For a hawk, when he has food [before him], if he be driven away 5 by any one, is grieved p. 289 at being separated from the food; [but] if, of his own accord, he leaves it, then he is free from grief.

How Soul ought to abandon Nature.

Aph. 6. * As in the case of a snake and its skin.

a. That is to say: as a snake readily abandons its old skin, from knowing that it ought to be quitted, just so he who desires liberation should abandon Nature, experienced through a long period, and effete, when he knows that it ought to be quitted. Thus it has been said: 'As a snake . . . its old skin,' &c.

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b. And, when abandoned, he should not again accept Nature and the rest. So, in regard to this, he says:

Its resumption prohibited.

Aph. 7. * Or as an amputated hand.

a. As no one takes back again an amputated hand, just so this [Nature], when abandoned, he should not readmit: such is the meaning. The word 'Or' is used in the sense of moreover;' [the import of the conjunction being superadditive, not alternative].

Duty to be sacrificed to salvation.

Aph. 8. * What is not a means [of liberation is] not to be thought about, [as this conduces only] to bondage; as in the case of Bharata.

a. That which is not an immediate cause of Discrimination, even though it may be a duty, still is 'not to be thought about;' i.e., intention of the mind towards the performance thereof is not to be made; since it tends to Bondage, from its making us forget Discrimination. 'As in the case of Bharata:' that is to say, as was the case p. 291 with the royal sage Bharata's cherishing Dananatha's 1 fawn, though [this was] in accordance with duty.

Company to be avoided.

Aph. 9. * From [association with] many there is obstruction to concentration, through passion, &c.; as in the case of a girl's shells. 4

a. Association is not to be made with many; because, when there is association with many, there is disturbance, through the manifestation of Passion, &c., which destroys concentration; as a jingling is produced by the mutual p. 292 contact of the shells on a girl's wrist: such is the meaning.

Even that of one.

Aph. 10. * Just so, from [the company of] two, also.

a. Just so, even from two there is obstruction to concentration; therefore one ought to abide quite alone: such is the meaning.

Blessedness of those who expect nothing.

Aph. 11. * He who is without hope is happy; like Pingala. 3

a. Having abandoned hope, let a man become possessed of the happiness called contentment; 'like Pingala;' that is to say, as the courtesan called Pingala, desiring a lover, having found no lover, being despondent, became happy, when she had left off hoping.

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b. But then, granting that Pain may cease, on the cessation of hope, yet how can there be happiness, in the absence of causes thereof? It is replied: That natural happiness, resulting from the predominance of Purity in the mind, which remains obscured by hope, itself resumes its influence, on the departure of hope; as is the case with the coolness of water which [supposed natural coolness] had been hindered [from manifesting itself,] by heat: there is not, in this case, any need of means. And it is laid down that precisely this is happiness of Soul.

c. Since it is an obstructer of Concentration, exertion with a view to experience is not to be made, since this will be effected quite otherwise; as he states:

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Exertion needless.

Aph. 12. * [One may be happy,] even without exertion; like a serpent happy in another's house.

a. Supply, 'he may be happy.' The rest is simple. So it has been said: 1 'The building of a house is, assuredly, painful, and in no way pleasant. A serpent, having entered the dwelling made by another [e.g., a rat], does find confort.'

b. From Institutes, and from preceptors, only the essence is to be accepted; since, otherwise, it may be impossible to concentrate the attention, from there being, by reason of implications, 3 discussions, &c., discrepancies in declared unessential parts, and from the multiplicity of topics. So he says:

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A bee-like eclecticism recommended.

Aph. 13. * Though he devote himself to many Institutes and teachers, a taking of the essence [is to be made]; as is the case with the bee.

a. Supply 'is to be made.' The rest is simple. Thus it has been said: 'From small Institutes, and from great, the intelligent man should take, from all quarters, the essence; as the bee does from the flowers.'

b. Be the other means what they may, the direct possession of Discrimination is to be effected only by intentness, through maintaining Meditation; as he tells us:

Intentness on one object.

Aph. 14. * The Meditation is not interrupted of him whose mind is intent on one object; like the maker of arrows. 3

a. As, in the case of a maker of arrows, with his mind intent solely on the making of an arrow, the exclusion of p. 296 other thoughts is not interrupted even by a king's passing at his side, so, too, of him whose mind is intent on one point there is in no way an 'interruption of meditation,' i.e., a failure to exclude other thoughts.

Rules not to be transgressed with impunity.

Aph. 15. * Through transgression of the enjoined rules there is failure in the aim; as in the world.

a. Whatever rule, for the practisers of Concentration, has been laid down in the Institutes, if it be transgressed, then the end, viz., the effecting of knowledge, is not attained. 'As in the world.' That is to say: just as, in ordinary life, if the enjoined procedures, &c., in regard to a medicine, or the like, be neglected, this or that effect thereof will not be obtained.

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b. He states, further, that, if the rules be forgotten, the end will not be gained:

Rules must not be forgotten.

Aph. 16. * Moreover, if they be forgotten; as in the case of the female frog.

a. This is plain. And the story of the female frog is this: A certain king, having gone to hunt, saw a beautiful damsel in the forest. And she, being solicited in marriage by the king, made this stipulation: 'When water shall be shown to me by thee, then I must depart.' But, on one occasion, when wearied with sport, she asked the king, 'Where is water?' The king, too, forgetting his agreement, showed her the water. Then she, having become the she-frog Kamarapiṇa, 2 daughter of the king of the frogs, entered the water. And then the king, though he sought her with nets, &c., did not regain her.

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b. He mentions a story with reference to the necessity of reflecting on the words of the teacher, as well as hearing them:

Reflexion necessary, as well as hearing.

Aph. 17. * Not even though instruction be heard is the end gained, without reflexion; as in the case of Virochana. 4

a. By 'reflexion' is meant such consideration as determines the import of the teacher's words. Without this, though the instruction be heard, knowledge of the truth does not necessarily follow; for it is written, that, though hearing the instruction of Prajapati, Virochana, as p. 299 between Indra and Virochana, wanted discrimination, from want of reflexion:

Of this further.

Aph. 18. * Of those two, it [reflexion,] was seen in the case of Indra [only].

a. Of those two who are mentioned, [indicated] by the expression 'of those two,' reflexion [was seen, &c.]. And, as between those two, viz., Indra and Virochana, reflexion was seen in the case of Indra: such is the meaning.

b. And he tells us, that, by him who desires to understand thoroughly, attendance on the teacher should be practised for a long time:

p. 300

The process requires time.

Aph. 19. * Having performed reverence, the duties of a student, and attendance, one has success after a long time; as in his case.

a. 'As in his case.' That is to say: as in the case of Indra, so in the case of another, too, only after having practised, under a preceptor, reverence, study of the Vedas, service, &c., is there 'success,' i.e., the revelation of truth; not otherwise.

The time for the process may embrace successive states of being.

Aph. 20. * There is no determination of the time; as in the Case of Vamadeva. 3

a. In the arising of knowledge, there is 'no determination of the time,' as, for instance, in its taking place only from causes dependent on the senses. 'As in the Case of Vamadeva.' That is to say: as, in consequence of causes pertaining to a previous life, knowledge arose, in the case of Vamadeva, even when in embryo, so it may in the case of another.

p. 301

b. But then, since it is written, that the means of knowledge need be nothing other than devotion to those [viz., Brahma, &c.,] who [unlike the Absolute,] have Qualities, knowledge may result from this. Why, then, a hard and subtle process of Concentration? To this he replies:

Inferior means not altogether unprofitable.

Aph. 21. * Through devotion to something under a superinduced form, [attainment to, or approach towards, knowledge takes place] by degrees; as in the case of those who devote themselves to sacrifices.

a. Supply 'there is attainment.' Through devotion to Souls, e.g., Brahma, Vishṉu, Śiva, under the forms superinduced on them, the effecting of knowledge takes place 'by degrees,' i.e., by the successive attainment of p. 302 the worlds of Brahma, &c., or else through the purification or the Good principle, &c., but not directly; as is the case with sacrificers [whose slaughter of animals, requiring to be expiated, throws them back, so far, in the road to emancipation]: such is the meaning.

b. He tells us, that, moreover, there is no certainty that successive rise to the worlds of Brahma, &c., would effect knowledge:

Scriptural proof that heaven gives not liberation.

Aph. 22. * Moreover, after the attainment of what [like the world of Brahma,] is other [than the state of emancipated soul], there is return [to mundane existence]; because it is written [in the 5th Prapaṭhaka of the Chhandogya Upanishad 4 ]: 'From conjunction with the five fires there is birth,' &c.

p. 303

a. He exhibits an illustration, to the effect that the effecting of knowledge takes place only in the case of him who is free from passion:

Discrimination illustrated.

Aph. 23. * By him who is free from passion what is to be left is left, and what is to be taken is taken; as in the case of the swan and the milk.

a. That is to say: only by him who is free from passion is there a quitting 'of what is to be left,' i.e., of Nature, &c., and a taking 'of what is to be taken,' i.e., of Soul; as it is only the swan,aand not the crow, or the like,athat, out of milk and water mingled, by means of leaving the unimportant water, takes the valuable milk, [as the Hindus insist that it does].

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b. He tells us that both of these also take place in consequence of association with a perfect 1 man:

Benefit of good society.

Aph. 24. * Or through association with one who has obtained excellence; 4 as in the case thereof.

a. That is to say: moreover, from association with him by whom 'excellence,' i.e., excellence in knowledge, has been obtained, the aforesaid [discrimination] takes place; just as in the case of the swan, [a 23]; as, in the case of Alarka, Discrimination manifested itself spontaneously, merely through simple association with Dattatreya.

b. He tells us that we ought not to associate with those who are infected with desire:

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Danger of unsuitable society.

Aph. 25. * Not of his own accord should he go near one who is infected with desire; like the parrot.

a. Association is not to be made, voluntarily, with a person infected with desire. 'Like the parrot.' That is to say: just as the bird [called a] parrot, by reason of its being exceedingly beautiful, does not [by going near people,] act in a rash manner, through fear of being imprisoned by those who covet it for its beauty.

b. And he states the harm of association with those who labour under desire:

Of this further.

Aph. 26. * [Else he may become] bound, by conjunction with the cords; as in the case of the parrot.

a. And, in the case of associating with those persons, he may become bound, 'by conjunction with the cords,' i.e., by conjunction with their Desire, &c., [the Qualities, punningly compared to cords]; just 'as in the case of the p. 306 parrot;' that is to say, just as the bird [called a] parrot becomes bound by the cords, i.e., the ropes, of the hunter.

b. He determines, by two [aphorisms]. the means of [effecting] dispassion:

Means of dispassion.

Aph. 27. * Not by enjoyment is desire appeased; as in the case of the saint.

a. That is to say: as, in the case of the saint, Saubhari, 3 desire was not appeased by enjoyment, so, also in the case of others, it is not.

b. But, further:

Of this further.

Aph. 28. * From seeing the fault of both.

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a. That is to say: only 'from seeing the fault,' e.g., of being changeable, of consisting of pain, &c., 'of both,' i.e., of Nature and her productions, does the appeasing of desire take place; just as in the case of the saint [a 27]. For it is written, that Saubhari, just from seeing the evil of society, was afterwards dispassionate.

b. He tells us that incompetency even to accept instruction attaches to him who is infected with the fault of desire, &c:

Agitation excludes instruction.

Aph. 29. * Not in the case of him whose mind is disturbed does the seed of instruction sprout; as in the case of Aja.

a. In him whose mind is disturbed by desire, &c., not even does a sprout spring up from that seed of the tree of knowledge which is in the shape of instruction. 'As in the case of Aja.' That is to say: as not a sprout from p. 308 the seed of instruction, though delivered to him by Vasishṭha, sprang up in the king named Aja, whose mind was disturbed by grief for his wife. 2

b. What need of more?

Of this further.

Aph. 30. * Not even a mere semblance [of this true knowledge arises in him whose mind is disturbed]; as in the case of a foul mirror.

a. Even superficial knowledge does not arise, from instruction, in one whose mind is disturbed, through the obstruction caused by its wandering away, e.g., to other objects; as an object is not reflected in a foul mirror, through the obstruction caused by the impurities: such is the meaning.

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b. Or, if knowledge should spring up in any kind of way, still it may not, he tells us, be in accordance with the instruction:

Knowledge not necessarily perfect knowledge.

Aph. 31. * Nor, even though sprung therefrom, is that [knowledge, necessarily,] in accordance therewith; like the lotus.

a. Though sprung 'therefrom,' i.e., from instruction, knowledge is not [necessarily,] in accordance with the instruction, in case this has not been entirely understood. 'Like the lotus.' That is to say: just as the lotus, though the seed be of the best, is not in accordance with the seed, when the mud is faulty. The mind of the student is compared to the mud [in which the lotus-seed was sown].

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b. But then, since the Soul's end is, indeed, gained by [the attainment of] supernatural power in the worlds [a 21. a.] of Brahma, &c., to what purpose is the effecting of knowledge, with so much toil, for liberation? To this he replies:

Heaven not perfect bliss.

Aph. 32. * Not even on the attainment of glorification has that been done which was to be done; as is the case with the perfection 4 of the objects worshipped, as is the case with the perfection of the objects worshipped.

a. Even though one attain to supernatural power, 'that has not been done which was to be done,' i.e., the end has not been gained; because it is attended by the grief of deficiency and excess. 'As is the case with the perfection of the objects worshipped.' That is to say: as, though the possession of perfection [so called,] belongs to 'the objects p. 311 worshipped,' i.e., to Brahma, &c., [still] that has not been done which was to be done; since it is written, that even these, while in the sleep of Concentration, &c., [still] practise Concentration, [from fear of losing what they have attained to]. Just in like manner is the case with him who, by the worship of these, has attained to their supernatural power. Such is the meaning.

b. So much for the Fourth Book, that of Tales, in the Commentary, composed by Vijnana Bhikshu, on Kapila's Declaration of the Sankhya.


Bhagavadgita Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V Avaialbe in USA/UK/DE/FR/ES/IT/NL/PL/SC/JP/CA/AU

Suggestions for Further Reading


p. 284

2 The Sanskrit yields 'under the star [named] Gaṇḍa.' Ed.

p. 287

1 VI., i., &c. Ed.

p. 288

1 Read, instead of 'of Soul,' &c., 'of one's self.' Ed.

4 See the Mahabharata, xii., 6648. Ed.

5 Read, 'molested' (upahatya). Dr. Ballantyne followed an error of the press, apahatya, which he did not observe that I had pointed p. 289 out in the corrigenda to my edition of the Sankhya-pravachana-bhashya. Ed.

p. 291

1 The original, dananatha, compounded of dana and anatha, 'miserable and having no master,' is an epithet of 'fawn.'

For the story of Bharata and the fawn, see the Vishṇu-puraṇa, Book ii., Chap. xiii. Ed.

4 See the Mahabharata, xii., 6652. Ed.

p. 292

3 See the Mahabharata, xii., 6447. Ed.

p. 294

1 Quoted from the Mahabharata, xii., 6649. Ed.

3 Abhyupagama, 'acceptings' (of positions, &c.). Ed.

p. 295

3 See the Mahabharata, xii., 6651. Ed.

p. 297

2 Probably this is an epithet, 'changing one's form at will,' not a proper name. Ed.

p. 298

4 See the Chhandogya Upanishad, viii., viii., 4.

p. 300

3 See the Aitareya Upanishad, ii., iv., 5. Ed.

p. 302

4 This reference is taken from Vijnana, who, however, does not p. 303 represent that the original of the words 'From conjunction,' &c., is found, literally, in the Chhandogya Upanishad. Ed.

p. 304

1 Siddha. Vide supra, p. 115, note 3. For the cognate siddhi, vide infra, p. 310, note 4. Ed.

4 See the Markaṇḍeya-puraṇa, ch. xvi. Ed.

p. 306

3 See the Vishṇu-puraṇa, Book iv., Ch. ii. and iii. Ed.

p. 308

2 See Kalidasa's Raghuvanśa, Book viii. Ed.

p. 310

4 Nageśa, commenting on this aphorism, explains siddhi, here rendered 'perfection,' by aiśwarya, 'supernatural power.' Ed.

Source: The Sankhya Aphorisms of Kapila with illustrative extracts from the commentaries translated by James R. Ballantyne third edition edited by Fitzedward Hall [London, Tr bner & Co.] [1885]

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