Sānkhya Aphorisms of Kapila

The Sānkhya Aphorisms of Kapila.


a. Salutation to the illustrious sage, Kapila!

b. Well, the great sage, Kapila, desirous of raising the world [from the Slough of Despond in which he found it sunk], perceiving that the knowledge of the excellence of any fruit, through the desire [which this excites] for the fruit,

is a cause of people’s betaking themselves to the means [adapted to the attainment of the fruit], declares [as follows] the excellence of the fruit [which he would urge our striving to obtain]:

The subject proposed.

Aph. 1

Well, the complete cessation of pain [which is] of 3 kinds is the complete end of man.

Aph. 2.

The effectuation of this [complete cessation of pain] is not [to be expected] by means of the visible [such as wealth, &c.];

for we see [on the loss of wealth, &c.,] the restoration [of the misery and evil,] after [its temporary] cessation.

Aph. 3.

[Let us consider the doubt] that the soul’s desire [the cessation of pain, may result] from exertions for the obviation [of pain], as is the case with the obviation of daily hunger.

Aph. 4.

This [method of palliatives (§3)] is to be rejected by those who are versed in evidence;

because it is not everywhere possible [to employ it at all],

and because, even if this were possible, there would be an impossibility as regards [ensuring] the perfect fitness [of the agents employed].

Aph. 5.

Also [an inferior method ought not to be adopted,]

because of the pre-eminence of Liberation [as proved] by the text [of Scripture declaratory] of its pre-eminence above all else.

Aph. 6.

And there is no difference between the two.

Aph. 7.

There would be no rule in the enjoining of means for the liberation of one bound essentially.

Aph. 8.

Since an essential nature is imperishable,

unauthoritativeness, betokened by impracticableness, [would be chargeable against the Scripture, if pain were essential to humanity].

Aph. 9.

There is no rule, where something impossible is enjoined:

though it be enjoined, it is no injunction.

Aph. 10.

If [someone says] as in the case of white cloth, or of a seed, [something essential may be not irremovable, then he will find his answer in the next aphorism].

Aph. 11.

Since both perceptibleness and [subsequent] non-perceptibleness may belong to some power [which, is indestructible], it is not something impracticable that is enjoined, [when one is directed to render some indestructible power imperceptible].

Aph. 12.

Not from connexion with time [does bondage befall the soul]; because this, all-pervading and eternal, is [eternally] associated with all, [and not with those alone who are in bondage].

Aph. 13.

Nor [does bondage arise] from connexion with place, either, for the same [reason].

Aph. 14.

Nor [does the bondage of the soul arise] from its being conditioned [by its standing among circumstances that clog it by limiting it]; because that is the fact in regard to [not the soul, but] the body.

Aph. 15.

Because this soul is [not associated with any conditions or circumstances that could serve as its bonds, it is] absolute.

Aph. 16.

Nor [does the bondage of soul arise] from any work; because [works are] the property of another [viz., the mind], and because it [the bondage] would be eternal, [if the case were as you imagine].

Aph. 17.

If it were the property of any other, then there could not be diverse experience.


If [you say that the soul's bondage arises] from Nature, as its cause, [then I say] ‘no’ [because] that, also, is a dependent thing.

Aph. 19.

[But] not without the conjunction thereof [i.e., of Nature] is there the connexion of that [i.e., of pain] with that [viz., the soul,] which is ever essentially a pure and free intelligence.

Aph. 20.

Not from Ignorance, too, [does the soul’s bondage arise]; because that which is not a reality is not adapted to binding.

Aph. 21.

If it [‘ Ignorance ’] be [asserted, by you, to be] a reality, then there is an abandonment of the [Vedāntic] tenet, [by you who profess to follow the Vedanta].

Aph. 22.

And [if you assume ‘Ignorance’ to be a reality, then] there would be a duality, through [there being] something of a different kind [from soul; which you asserters of non-duality cannot contemplate allowing].

Aph. 23.

If [the Vedāṅtin alleges, regarding ‘Ignorance,’ that] it is in the shape of both these opposites, [then we shall say ‘no,’ for the reason to be assigned in the next aphorism].

Aph. 24.

[To the suggestion that ‘Ignorance’ is at once real and unreal, we say] no; because no such thing is known [as is at once real and unreal.]

Aph. 25.

[Possibly the Vedāṅtin may remonstrate] ‘We are not asserters of any six Categories, like the Vaiśeṣikās and others.’

Aph. 26.

Even although this be not compulsory [that the categories be six, or sixteen], there is no acceptance of the inconsistent; else we come to the level of children, and madmen, and the like.


27. [The bondage] thereof, moreover, is not caused by any influence of objects from all eternity.

Aph, 28.

Also [in my opinion, as well as in yours, apparently], between the external and the internal there is not the relation of influenced and influencer; because there is a local separation; as there is between him that stays at Srughna and him that stays at Pāṭaliputra.

Aph. 29.

[It is impossible that the soul's bondage should arise] from an influence received in the same place [where the object is; because, in that case], there would be no distinction between the two, [the bond and the free].

Aph. 30.

If [the heretic, wishing to save his theory, suggests that a difference between the two cases (see § 29) does exist] in virtue of the unseen, [i.e., of merit and demerit, then he will find his answer in the next aphorism].

Aph. 31.

They cannot stand in the relation of deserver and bestower, since the two do not belong to one and the same time.

Aph. 32.

If [the heretic suggests that of the ceremonies in regard to a son, [then he will find his reply by looking forward].

Aph. 33.

[Your illustration proves nothing;] for, in that case, there is no one permanent soul which could be consecrated by the ceremonies in anticipation of conception, &c.

Aph. 34.

Since there is no such thing as a permanent result [on the heretical view, the momentariness [of bondage, also, is to be admitted].

Aph. 35.

No, [things are not momentary in their duration]; for the absurdity of this is proved by recognition.

Aph. 36.

And [things are not momentary;] because this is contradicted by Scripture and by reasoning.

Aph. 37.

And [we reject the argument of this heretic;] because his instance is not a fact.

Aph. 38.

It is not between two things coming simultaneously into existence, that the relation of cause and effect exists.

Aph. 39.

Because, when the antecedent departs, the consequent is unfit [to arise, and survive it].

Aph. 40.

Moreover, not [on the theory of the momentary duration of things, can there be such a relation as that of cause and effect]; because, while the one [the antecedent] exists, the other [the consequent] is incompatible, because the two keep always asunder.

Aph. 41.

If there were merely antecedence, then there would be no determination [of a substantial or material cause, as distinguished from an instrumental cause].

Aph. 42.

Not Thought alone exists; because there is the intuition of the external.

Aph. 43.

Then, since, if the one does not exist, the other does not exist, there is a void, [i.e., nothing exists at all].

Aph. 44.

The reality is a void: what is perishes; because to perish is the habit of things.

Aph. 45.

This is a mere counter-assertion of unintelligent persons.

Aph. 46.

Moreover, this [nihilistic theory is not a right one]; because it has the same fortune as both the views [which were confuted just before].

Aph. 47.

In neither way [whether as a means, or as an end,] is this [annihilation] the soul’s aim.

Aph. 48.

Not from any kind of motion [such as its entrance into a body, does the soul’s bondage result].

Aph. 49.

Because this is impossible for what is inactive, [or, in other words, without motion].

Aph. 50.

[We cannot admit that the soul is other than all-pervading; because] by its being limited, since it would come under the same conditions as jars, &c., there would be a contradiction to our tenet [of its imperishableness].

Aph. 51.

The text regarding the motion [of the soul], moreover, is [applicable, only] because of the junction of an attendant; as in the case of the Ether [or Space, which moves not, though we talk of the space enclosed in a jar, as moving with the jar].

Aph. 52.

Nor, moreover, [does the bondage of the soul result from the merit or demerit arising] from works; because these belong not thereto.

Aph. 53.

If the case were otherwise [than as I say], then it [the bondage of the soul] might extend unduly, [even to the emancipated].

Aph. 54.

And this [opinion, that the bondage of the soul arises from any of these causes alleged by the heretics,] is contrary to such texts as the one that declares it [the soul] to be without qualities: and so much for that point.

Aph. 55.

Moreover, the conjunction thereof does not, through non-discrimination, take place [in the case of the emancipated]; nor is there a parity, [in this respect, between the emancipated and the unemancipated].

Aph. 56.

Bondage arises from the error [of not discriminating between Nature and soul].

Aph. 56.

The removal of it is to be effected by the necessary means, just like darkness.

Aph. 57.

Since the non-discrimination of other things [from soul] results from the non-discrimination. of Nature [from soul], the cessation of this will take place, on the cessation of that [from which it results].

Aph. 58.

It is merely verbal, and not a reality [this, so-called bondage of the soul]; since it [the bondage] resides in the mind, [and not in the soul].

Aph. 59.

Moreover, it [the non-discrimination of Soul from Nature,] is not to be removed by argument; as that of the person perplexed about the points of the compass [is not to be removed] without immediate cognition.

Aph. 60.

The knowledge of things imperceptible is by means of Inference; as that of fire [when not directly perceptible,] is by means of smoke, &c.

Aph. 61.

Nature (prakṛti) is the state equipoise of Goodness (sattva), Passion [rajas), and Darkness (tamas):

from Nature [proceeds] Mind (mahat);
from Mind, Self-consciousness (Ahaṅkāra),
from Self-consciousness, the five Subtile Elements (tanmātra), and both sets [external and internal,] of Organs (indriya);
and, from the Subtile Elements, the Gross Elements (sthūla-bhūta).
[Then there is] Soul (Purusha). Such is the class of twenty-five.

Aph. 62.

[The knowledge of the existence] of the five ‘Subtile Elements’ is [by inference,] from the ‘Gross Elements.

Aph. 63.

[The knowledge of the existence] of Self-consciousness is [by inference,] from the external and internal [organs], and from these [‘Subtile Elements,’ mentioned in Aph. 62].

Aph. 64.

[The knowledge of the existence] of Intellect is [by inference,] from that [Self-consciousness, § 63].

Aph. 65.

[The knowledge of the existence] of Nature is [by inference,] from that [‘Intellect,’ § 64].

Aph. 66.

[The existence] of Soul [is inferred] from the fact that the combination [of the principles of Nature into their various effects] is for the sake of another [than unintelligent Nature, or any of its similarly unintelligent products].

Aph. 67.

Since the root has no root, the root [of all] is rootless.

Aph. 68.

Even if there be a succession, there is a halt at some one point; and so it is merely a name [that we give to the point in question, when we speak of the root of things, under the name of ‘Nature'].

Aph. 69.

Alike, in respect of Nature, and of both [Soul and Nature, is the argument for the uncreated existence].

Aph.. 70.

There is no rule [or necessity, that all should arrive at the truth]; because those who are privileged [to engage in the inquiry] are of three descriptions.

Aph. 71.

The first product [of the Primal Agent, Nature], which is called ‘the Great one’ is Mind.


‘Self-consciousness’ is that which is subsequent [to Mind.]

Aph. 73.

To the others it belongs to be products thereof, [i.e., of Self-consciousness].

Aph. 74.

Moreover, mediately, through that [i. e., the ‘Great one’ (§71)], the first [cause, viz., Nature,] is the cause [of all products]; as is the case with the Atoms, [the causes, though not the immediate causes, of jars, &c.].

Aph. 75.

While both [Soul and Nature] are antecedent [to all products], since the one [viz., Soul,] is devoid [of this character of being a cause], it is applicable [only] to the other of the two, [viz., Nature].

Aph. 76.

What is limited cannot be the Substance of all [things].

Aph. 77.

And [the proposition that Nature is the cause of all is proved] from the text of Scripture, that the origin [of the world] is therefrom, [i. e., from Nature].

Aph. 78.

A thing is not made out of nothing.

Aph. 79.

It [the world] is not unreal; because there is no fact contradictory [to its reality], and because it is not the [false] result of depraved causes, [leading to a belief in what ought not to be believed].

Aph. 80.

If it [the substantial cause,] be an entity, then this would be the case, [that the product would be an entity], from its union [or identity] therewith; [but] if [the cause be] a nonentity, then how could it possibly be the case [that the product would be real], since it is a nonentity, [like the cause with which it is united, in the relation of identity]?

Aph. 81.

No; for works are not adapted to be the substantial cause [of any product].

Aph. 82.

The accomplishment thereof [i.e., of Liberation,] is not, moreover, through Scriptural rites: the chief end of man does not consist in this [which is gained through such means]; because, since this consists of what is accomplished through acts, [and is, therefore, a product, and not eternal], there is [still left impending over the ritualist,] the liability to repetition of births.

Aph. 83.

There is Scripture for it, that he who has attained to discrimination in regard to these [i.e., Nature and Soul], has no repetition of births.

Aph. 84.

From pain [occasioned, e.g., to victims in sacrifice,] must come pain [to the sacrificer, and not liberation from pain]; as there is not relief from chilliness, by affusion of water.

Aph. 85.

[Liberation cannot arise from acts]; because, whether the end be something desirable, or undesirable, [and we admit that the motive of the sacrifice is not the giving pain to the victim], this makes no difference in regard to its being the result of acts, [and, therefore, not eternal, but transitory].

Aph. 86,

Of him who is essentially liberated, his bonds having absolutely perished, it [i. e., the fruit of his saving knowledge,] is absolute: there is no parity [between his case and that of him who relies on works, and who may thereby secure a temporary sojourn in Paradise, only to return again to earth].

Aph. 87.

The determination of something not [previously] lodged in both [the Soul and the Intellect], nor in one or other of them, is ‘right notion’ (pramā). What is, in the highest degree, productive thereof [i. e., of any given ‘right notion’], is that; [i. e., is what we mean by proof, or evidence, (pramāṇa).

Aph. 88.

Proof is of three kinds:

there is no establishment of more; because, if these be established, then all [that is true] can be established [by one or other of these three proofs].

Aph. 89.

Perception (pratyakṣa) is that discernment which, being in conjunction [with the thing perceived], portrays the form thereof.

Aph. 90.

It is not a fault [in the definition, that it does not apply to the perceptions of adepts in the Yoga]: because that of the adepts in the Yoga is not an external perception.

Aph. 91.

Or, there is no fault [in the definition], because of the conjunction, with causal things, of that [mystical mind] which has attained exaltation.

Aph. 92.

[This objection to the definition of Perception has no force]; because it is not proved that there is a Lord (Īśvara).

Aph. 93.

[And, further,] it is not proved that he [the ‘Lord,’] exists; because [whoever exists must be either free or bound; and], of free and bound, he can be neither the one nor the other.

Aph. 94.

[Because,] either way, he would be inefficient.

Aph. 95.

[The Scriptural texts which make mention of the ‘Lord’ are] either glorifications of the liberated Soul, or homages to the recognized [deities of the Hindu pantheon].

Aph. 96.

The governorship [thereof, i.e. of Soul over Nature] is from [its] proximity thereto, [not from its resolving to act thereon]; as is the case with the gem, [the lodestone, in regard to iron].

Aph. 97.

In the case of individual products, also, [the apparent agency] of animal souls [is solely through proximity].

Aph. 98.

The declaration of the texts or sense [of the Veda, by Brahma, for example], since he knows the truth, [is authoritative evidence].

Aph. 99.

The internal organ, through its being enlightened thereby [i.e., by Soul], is the overruler; as is the iron, [in respect of the magnet].

Aph. 100.

The knowledge of the connected [e.g., fire], through perception of the connexion [e.g., of fire with smoke], is inference.


Testimony [such as is entitled to the name of evidence,] is a declaration by one worthy [to be believed].

Aph. 102.

Since the establishment of [the existence of] both [soul and non-soul] is by means of evidence, the declaration thereof [i.e., of the kinds of evidence, has been here made].

Aph. 103.

The establishment of both  [Nature and Soul] is by analogy.

Aph. 104.

Experience [whether of pain or pleasure,] ends with [the discernment of] Thought, [or Soul, as contradistinguished from Nature].

Aph. 105.

The experience of the fruit may belong even to another than the agent; as in the case of food, &c.

Aph. 106.

Or, [to give a better account of the matter than that given in § 105], since it is from non-discrimination that it is derived, the notion that the agent [soul being mistaken for an agent,] has the fruit [of the act is a wrong notion].

Aph. 107.

And, when the truth is told, there is [seen to be] neither [agency, in Soul, nor experience].

Aph. 108.

[A thing may be] an object [perceptible], and also [at another time,] not an object, through there being, in consequence of great distance, &c., a want of [conjunction of the sense with the thing], or [on the other hand,] an appliance of the sense [to the thing].

Aph. 109.

Her imperceptibleness arises from [her] subtlety.

Aph. 110.

[Nature exists;] because her existence is gathered from the beholding of productions.

Aph. 111.

If [you throw out the doubt that] it [viz., the existence of Nature,] is not established, because of the contradiction of asserters [of other views, then you will find an answer in the next aphorism].

Aph. 112.

 Still, since each [doctrine] is established in the opinion of each, a [mere unsupported] denial is not [decisive].

Aph. 113.

Because [if we were to infer any other cause than Nature,] we should have a contradiction to the three-fold [aspect which things really exhibit].

Aph. 114.

The production of what is no entity, as a man’s horn, does not take place.

Aph. 115.

Because of the rule, that there must be some material [of which the product may consist].

Aph. 116.

Because everything is not possible everywhere and always, [which might be the case, if materials could be dispensed with].

Aph. 117.

Because it is that which is competent [to the making of anything] that makes what is possible, [as a product of it].

Aph. 118.

And because it [the product is [nothing else than] the cause, [in the shape of the product].

Aph. 119.

If [it be alleged that] there is no possibility of that’s becoming which already is, [then the answer will be found in the next aphorism]. 

Aph. 120.

No; [do not argue that what is cannot become; for] the employment and the non-employment [of the term ‘production'] are occasioned by the manifestation [and the non-manifestation of what is spoken of as produced, or not].

Aph. 121.

Destruction [of anything] is the resolution [of the thing spoken of as destroyed,] into the cause [from which it was produced].

Aph. 122.

Because they seek each other reciprocally, as is the case with seed and plant, [manifestation may generate manifestation, from, eternity to eternity].

Aph. 123.

Or, [at all events, our theory of ‘manifestation’ is as] blameless as [your theory of] ‘production.’

Aph. 124.

[A product of Nature is] caused, not eternal, not all-pervading, mutable, multitudinous, dependent, mergent.

Aph. 125.

There is the establishment of these [twenty-four ‘Qualities’ of the Nyāya, which you fancy that we do not recognize, because we do not explicitly enumerate them],

either by reason that these, ordinary qualities [as contradistinguished from the three Qualities of the Sānkhya], &c., are, in reality, nothing different; or [to put it in another point of view,] because they are hinted by [the term] Nature, [in which, like our own three Qualities, they are implied].

Aph. 126.

Of both [Nature and her products] the fact that they consist of the three Qualities [§ 61. a.], and that they are irrational, etc., [is the common property].

Aph. 127.

The Qualities [§ 62] differ in character, mutually, by pleasantness, unpleasantness, lassitude, &c., [in which forms, severally, the Qualities present themselves].

Aph. 128.

Through Lightness and other habits the Qualities mutually agree and differ.

Aph. 129.

Since they are other than both [Soul Nature, the only two uncaused entities], Mind and the rest are products; as is the case with a jar, or the like.

Aph. 130.

Because of [their] measure, [which is a limited one].

Aph. 131.

Because they conform [to Nature].

Aph. 132.

And, finally, because it is through the power [of the cause alone, that the product can do aught].

Aph. 133.

On the quitting thereof [quitting the condition of product], there is Nature, or Soul, [into one or other of which the product must needs have resolved itself].

Aph. 134.

If they were other than these two, they would be void; [seeing that there is nothing self-existent, besides Soul and Nature].

Aph. 135.

The cause is inferred from the effect, [in the case of Nature and her products]; because it accompanies it.

Aph. 136.

The indiscrete, [Nature, must be inferred] from its [discrete and resolvable] effect, [Mind], in which are the three Qualities, [which constitute Nature].

Aph. 137.

There is no denying that it [Nature,] is; because of its effects, [which will be in vain attributed to any other source].

Aph. 138.

[The relation of cause and effect is] not [alleged as] the means of establishing [the existence of Soul]; because, as is the case with [the disputed term] ’merit,’ there is no dispute about there being such a kind of thing; [though what kind of thing is matter of dispute].

Aph. 139.

Soul is something than the body, etc.

Aph. 140.

Because that which is combined [and is, therefore, divisible,] is for the sake of some other, [not divisible].

Aph. 141.

[And Soul is something else than the body, &c.]; because there is [in Soul,] the reverse of the three Qualities, etc.

Aph. 142.

And [Soul is not material;] because of [its superintendence [over Nature].

Aph. 143.

[And Soul is not material;] because of [its] being the experiencer.

Aph. 144.

[It is for Soul, and not for Nature;] because the exertions are with a view to isolation [from all qualities; a condition to which Soul is competent, but Nature is not].

Aph. 145.

Since light does not pertain to the unintelligent, light, [which must pertain to something or other, is the essence of the Soul, which, self-manifesting, manifests whatever else is manifest].

Aph. 146.

It [Soul,] has not Intelligence as its attribute; because it is without quality.

Aph. 147

There is no denial [to be allowed] of what is established by Scripture; because the [supposed] evidence of intuition for this [i.e. for the existence of qualities in the Soul,]  is confuted [by the Scriptural declaration of the contrary].

Aph. 148.

 [If soul were unintelligent,] it would not be witness [of its own comfort,] in profound [and dream- less] sleep, &c.

Aph. 149.

From the several allotment of birth, &c., a multiplicity of souls [is to be inferred].

Aph. 150.

[The Vedāṅtin say, that,] there being a difference in its investments, moreover, multiplicity attaches [seemingly,] to the one [Soul]; as is the case with Space, by reason of jars, &c., [which mark out the spaces that they occupy].

Aph. 151.

The investment is different, [according to the Vedāṅtins], but not that to which this belongs; [and the absurd consequences of such an opinion will be seen].

Aph. 152.

Thus, [i.e., by taking the Sānkhya view,] there is no imputation of contradictory conditions to [a soul supposed to be] everywhere present as one [infinitely extended monad].


Even though there be [imputed to Soul] the possession of the condition of another, this [i.e., that it really possesses such,] is not established by the imputation; because it [Soul,] is one [absolutely simple, unqualified entity].

Aph. 154.

There is no opposition to the Scriptures [declaratory] of the non-duality |of Soul]; because the reference [in such texts,] is to the genus, [or to Soul in general].

Aph. 155.

Of him [i. e., of that soul,] by whom the cause of Bondage is known, there is that condition [of isolation, or entire liberation], by the perception [of the fact, that Nature and soul are distinct, and that he, really, was not bound, even when he seemed to be so].

Aph. 156.

No: because the blind do not see, can those who have their eye-sight not perceive?

Aph. 157.

Vāmadeva, as well as others, has been liberated, [if we are to believe the Scriptures; therefore] non-duality is not [asserted, in the same Scriptures, in the Vedāntic sense].

Aph. 158.

Though it [the world,] has been from eternity, since, up to this day, there has not been [an entire emptying of the world], the future, also, [may be inferentially expected to be] thus [as it has been heretofore].

Aph. 159.

As now [things are, so], everywhere [will they continue to go on: hence there will be] no absolute cutting short [of the course of mundane things].

Aph. 160.

It [Soul,] is altogether free [but seemingly] multiform, [or different, in appearance, from a free thing, through a delusive semblance of being bound].

Aph. 161.

It [Soul,] is a witness, through its connexion with sense-organs, [which quit it, on liberation].

Aph. 162.

[The nature of Soul is] constant freedom.

Aph. 163.

And, finally, [the nature of Soul is] indifference [to Pain and Pleasure, alike].

Aph. 164.

[Soul’s fancy of] being an agent is, through the influence [of Nature], from the proximity of Intellect, from the proximity of Intellect.