Chapter 5: Lord Kapila Takes Charge of His Mother, Devahūti
pitari prasthite ’raṇyaṁ
tasmin bindu-sare ’vātsīd
bhagavān kapilaḥ kila
Maitreya said: When Kardama left for the forest, Lord Kapila stayed on the strand of the Bindu-sarovara to please His mother, Devahūti.
In the absence of the father it is the duty of the grown son to take charge of his mother and serve her to the best of his ability so that she will not feel separation from her husband. It is also the duty of the husband to leave home as soon as there is a grown son to take charge of his wife and family affairs. That is the Vedic system of household life. One should not remain continually implicated in household affairs up to the time of death. He must leave. Family affairs and the wife may be taken charge of by a grown son.
Being a great yogī, Kardama Muni was not very interested in family life. Nonetheless, he decided to marry, and Svāyambhuva Manu brought his daughter Devahūti to him to serve as a wife. Kardama Muni was a yogī living in a cottage, and Devahūti was a princess, a king’s daughter. Not being used to work, she became very skinny, and Kardama Muni took compassion upon her, thinking, “This girl has come to me, but now she is not in a very comfortable position.” Therefore by his yogic powers, Kardama Muni created a large palace with many servants, gardens and other opulences. Not only that, but he also created a great spaceship as large as a small city. Modern airlines have prepared a 747, and although these are very big, Kardama Muni, by his yogic powers, was able to create a spaceship wherein there were lakes, palaces and gardens. This spaceship could also travel all over the universe. Modern scientists labor very hard to make a small spaceship to go to the moon, but Kardama Muni could create a great spaceship that could travel to all planets. This is possible by yogic powers.
There are different siddhis, or yogic perfections – aṇimā, laghimā, prāpti, and so on – and whatever yogīs choose to do, they can do. That is the real yoga system. It is not that one becomes a yogi simply by pressing his nose and performing some gymnastics. One must actually attain the yogic siddhis. By these siddhis, the yogī can become very small or very large, very heavy or very light. Whatever he wants, he can immediately produce in his hand, and he can travel wherever he desires. Kardama Muni was such a perfected siddhi-yogī. By his wife, Devahūti, he had nine daughters, who were distributed to the Prajāpatis like Dakṣa Mahārāja and many others. The only son of Kardama Muni was Kapiladeva, an incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. This Kapiladeva was one of the mahājanas. The word mahājana means “authority,” and according to the Vedic śāstras there are twelve authorities. These are Svayambhū, Nārada, Śambhu, Kumāra, Kapila, Manu, Prahlāda, Janaka, Bhīṣma, Bali, Śukadeva Gosvāmī and Yamarāja. Svayambhū is Brahmā, and Śambhu is Lord Śiva. These authorities should be followed if we want to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead and understand the purpose of religious life. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. These mahājanas follow the principles set forth by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, in Bhagavad-gītā.
We cannot very easily understand the actual truth of religious systems, but if we follow these mahājanas, we can understand. Kapila Muni explained the glories of devotional service to His mother, Devahūti. If we follow Him, we may learn the truth of devotional service. According to the system of varṇāśrama-dharma, one who is over ﬁfty years of age must leave home, go to the forest and completely devote his life to spiritual realization. This is the actual varṇāśrama-dharma system. It is not a Hindu system, for the word “Hindu” is a name given by the Muslims and does not occur in any Vedic literature. However, the varṇāśrama-dharma is mentioned. Civilized human beings should strictly follow the varṇāśrama institution. If one is born a brāhmaṇa, he is trained nicely as a brahmacārī, and then he becomes a gṛhastha, a householder. When he gives up his home, he is called a vānaprastha, and after that he may take sannyāsa. Being a yogī, Kardama Muni strictly followed these principles; therefore as soon as Kapiladeva was grown, Devahūti was placed in His charge. Kardama Muni then left home. As stated in this verse: pitari prasthite ’raṇyaṁ mātuḥ priya-cikīrṣayā.
According to the Manu-saṁhitā, a woman should never be given freedom. When she is not under the protection of her husband, she must be under the protection of her sons. Women cannot properly utilize freedom, and it is better for them to remain dependent. A woman cannot be happy if she is independent. That is a fact. In Western countries we have seen many women very unhappy simply for the sake of independence. That independence is not recommended by the Vedic civilization or by the varṇāśrama-dharma. Consequently Devahūti was given to her grown son, Kapiladeva, and Kapiladeva was fully aware that He had to take care of His mother. It is the duty of the father to protect his daughter until she attains puberty and is married to a suitable young man. The husband then takes care of the wife. Generally a man should marry at around twenty-ﬁve years of age, and a girl should marry no later than sixteen. If this is the case, when the man is ﬁfty years old, his eldest son should be around twenty-ﬁve, old enough to take charge of the mother. According to this calculation, Kapiladeva was about twenty-ﬁve years old and was quite able to take charge of His mother, Devahūti. He knew that because His father left His mother in His charge, He should take care of her and always please her. Mātuḥ priya-cikīrṣayā. Kapiladeva was not irresponsible, but was always ready to please His mother. Kapiladeva was a brahmacārī, and His mother took lessons from Him. That is the prerogative of the male. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (9.32):
māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya
ye ’pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās
te ’pi yānti parāṁ gatim
“O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth – women, vaiśyas [merchants] as well as śūdras [workers] – can approach the supreme destination.” Women are considered on the same platform with śūdras, and although a woman may be married to a brāhmaṇa, she is not given the sacred thread. It is also said that the Mahābhārata was compiled by Vyāsadeva because the direct Vedic knowledge could not be understood by women, śūdras and dvija-bandhus, those who are born in brāhmaṇa families but are not qualiﬁed brāhmaṇas. Strī-śūdra-dvija-bandhūnāṁ trayī na śruti-gocarā (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.4.25). Consequently Mahābhārata is called the ﬁfth Veda. The four preceding Vedas are the Sāma, Yajur, Ṛg and Atharva. The essence of Vedic knowledge, Bhagavad-gītā, is given within the Mahābhārata. Women are inferior to men, and Vedic civilization is so perfect that men are given full charge of the women. It is therefore said: mātuḥ priya-cikīrṣayā. The son is always ready to see that the mother is not unhappy. Kapiladeva was anxious that His mother not feel the absence of His father, and He was ready to take the best care of her and give her knowledge. Because women are supposed to be less intelligent, they should be given knowledge, and they should also follow this knowledge. They should follow their father’s instructions, their husband’s instructions and the instructions of their grown, scholarly sons like Kapiladeva. In this way, their lives can be perfect. In all cases, women should always remain dependent.
Tasmin bindu-sare ’vātsīd bhagavān kapilaḥ kila. It is noteworthy that in this verse Kapiladeva is referred to as Bhagavān, which indicates that He possesses all wealth, fame, knowledge, beauty, strength and renunciation. These six opulences are fully represented in Kṛṣṇa; therefore Kṛṣṇa is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead (kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam), and others are accepted as His expansions, or incarnations (viṣṇu-tattva). In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Rūpa Gosvāmī has analyzed the characteristics of Bhagavān. The ﬁrst Bhagavān is Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, but some of His opulences are also bestowed upon Lord Brahmā. Lord Brahmā is a jīva-tattva, a living being like us. If we become spiritually powerful, we can also have the post of Lord Brahmā. Superior to Lord Brahmā is Lord Śiva, and superior to Lord Śiva is Viṣṇu, or Lord Nārāyaṇa, and superior to all is Kṛṣṇa. That is the analysis of the Vedic śāstras and Brahma-saṁhitā. Even Śaṅkarācārya, the Māyāvādī impersonalist philosopher, accepts Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead (sa bhagavān svayaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ). All the ācāryas – Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī, Nimbārka and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu – also accept Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord.
Kapiladeva is an incarnation of Kṛṣṇa, and He gave instructions to His mother, Devahūti. We must distinguish between the two Kapilas. One Kapila is this Bhagavān Kapila, and the other Kapila is the atheist Kapila. Bhagavān Kapila is also known as Devahūti-putra Kapila. Both Kapilas expounded Sāṅkhya philosophy, but the atheist Kapila expounded it without understanding, perception or realization of God. On the bank of the Bindu-sarovara Lake, Kapiladeva personally expounded Sāṅkhya philosophy to His mother, Devahūti, just as Kṛṣṇa personally expounded the knowledge of Bhagavad-gītā to His friend Arjuna. Like Arjuna, Devahūti was aware that she was before her spiritual master, as indicated in the following verse. Indeed, Lord Brahmā had informed her that her son was a powerful incarnation.
tam āsīnam akarmāṇaṁ
sva-sutaṁ devahūty āha
dhātuḥ saṁsmaratī vacaḥ
When Kapila, who could show her the ultimate goal of the Absolute Truth, was sitting leisurely before her, Devahūti remembered the words Brahmā had spoken to her, and she therefore began to question Kapila as follows.
The ultimate goal of the Absolute Truth is Kṛṣṇa consciousness, devotional service. The liberated stage is not ﬁnal. If we simply understand that we are not the body, that we are spirit soul, our knowledge is insufﬁcient. We must also act as Brahman; then our position will be ﬁxed.
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Bhagavad-gītā 18.54) Bhakti is obtainable for a liberated person; it is not for the conditioned soul. How is this possible? In Bhagavad-gītā (14.26) Kṛṣṇa says:
māṁ ca yo ’vyabhicāreṇa
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
“One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.”
We must engage in the nine processes of devotional service, the ﬁrst of which is hearing (śravaṇa). Then, under the direction of the spiritual master and the śāstras, one can immediately become a liberated person. One doesn’t have to endeavor separately to become liberated if he immediately engages in devotional service. One must have a ﬁrm conviction that he is engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service and is free from all material contamination. This is imperative. The words tattva-mārgāgra-darśanam are elucidated elsewhere in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate. The Absolute Truth is understood differently according to the position of the student. Some understand the Absolute Truth as impersonal Brahman, some as localized Paramātmā, and others as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu. Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are not different. They are simply different aspects of the complete Godhead. Looking at a mountain from a distance, we may see a hazy cloud, and if we come nearer, we may see something green. If we actually climb the mountain, we will ﬁnd many houses, trees and animals. Our vision is of the same mountain, but due to our different positions we see haze, greenery or variegatedness. In the ﬁnal stage, there are varieties – trees, animals, men, houses, and so on. The Absolute Truth is not without variety. Just as there is material variety, there is spiritual variety. Because the Māyāvādī philosophers are seeing the Absolute Truth from a distance, they think that the Absolute Truth has no variety. They consider variety to be material, but this is a misunderstanding. The Absolute Truth is described as variegated in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.29):
lakṣāvṛteṣu surabhīr abhipālayantam
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the ﬁrst progenitor, who is tending the cows, fulﬁlling all desires, in abodes built with spiritual gems and surrounded by millions of desire trees. He is always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune.”
There are Vaikuṇṭha planets in the spiritual world, and there are devotees who are all liberated. These devotees are akṣara, which means they do not fall down into the material world. They remain in the spiritual world of the Vaikuṇṭhas. They are also persons like us, but they are eternal persons, complete with full knowledge and bliss. That is the difference between them and us. That is tattva-jñāna. Unless we understand the variegatedness of the Absolute Truth, there is a chance that we will fall down. It is not sufﬁcient simply to stick to the indeﬁnite, impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth:
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho ’nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ
Because the impersonalists are not allowed to enter the Vaikuṇṭha planets, they simply remain in the Brahman effulgence. Thus they fall down again into material variety. We have seen many impersonalist sannyāsīs who ﬁrst of all give up the world as false (brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā). They consider themselves Brahman (ahaṁ brahmāsmi), consider the world false (jagat is mithyā), and, having nothing more to do with the material world, ﬁnally say, “I have become Nārāyaṇa.” Then they come to the stage of daridra-nārāyaṇa (poor Nārāyaṇa). They become Nārāyaṇa, but for want of anything better to do, for want of variegatedness, they take up material humanitarian activities. Although they consider their wives mithyā (false), they return. “You have already left. Why do you come back again?” the wives ask. This means that these so-called sannyāsīs have nothing to do. They undergo severe penances and austerities to reach the platform of impersonal Brahman, but because there is no pleasure there, they again descend to enjoy material variety.
We may build a nice spaceship and send it off into space, and the astronauts may go up there and ﬂy in the impersonal sky, but eventually they will become tired and pray to God, “Please let us return to land.” We have read that the Russian astronauts were simply missing Moscow while they were traveling in space. This impersonal traveling is actually very agitating; similarly, impersonal realization of the Absolute Truth cannot be permanent because one wants variety. A falldown is inevitable. When one gentleman read my book Easy Journey to Other Planets, he became very enthusiastic about going to other planets. “Oh, yes,” I said, “we can go with this book.” “Yes,” the gentleman said, “then I shall come back.” “Why return? You should remain there.” “No, no,” he said. “I don’t want to remain. I just want to go and come back.” This is the “enjoying” mentality. Without variety, we cannot enjoy. Variety is the mother of enjoyment, and Brahman realization or Paramātmā realization does not give us steady ānanda, bliss. We want ānanda. Ānanda-mayo ’bhyāsāt. The living entities are Brahman; Kṛṣṇa is Para-brahman. Kṛṣṇa is enjoying perpetual ānanda, and, being part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, we also want ānanda. Ānanda cannot be impersonal or void; ānanda entails variety. No one is simply interested in drinking milk and eating sugar, but with milk and sugar we can make a variety of foods – perā, barfī, kṣīra, rabrī, dahī, and so on. There are hundreds of preparations. In any case, variety is required for enjoyment.
The last word of tattva-jñāna is to understand Kṛṣṇa, who is full of variety. Kapiladeva is tattva-mārgāgra-darśanam. He is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He will explain to His mother what tattva is, how one can approach the tattva-jñāna, and how one can actually enjoy tattva-jñāna. This is not simply dry speculation. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness philosophy includes spiritual variety. People sometimes misunderstand this variety to be material, and they hanker for nirviśeṣa, nirākāra, void. However, our philosophy is not void; it is full of variety and transcendental bliss. This will later be speciﬁcally enunciated by Lord Kapiladeva.