Kapila's Criticisms Of The Brahmans
( Originally Published 1939 )
O FOLK of the world, folk of the world, hearken, hearken, to what I proclaim with beat of the drum of my mouth by the stick of my tongue. The term of man's life is but an hundred years; fifty glide away in sleep, five more are spent in childhood, then thrice five are spent in youth, and now that seventy have passed there remain but thrice ten. Few are these days of joy, few these days of sorrow; thus wealth is like a swollen river, youth like the crumbling bank of a swoIIen river, life like a tree on the crumbling bank. Then do the one thing, the one that is needed do good, for good is needed; do it today, for today it is needed. If ye shall say "tomorrow, tomorrow!" ye know not what is your term of Iife. Whenever it may be that the Death-god cometh, when he doth come he will have naught of your worship of him, naught of your wealth, naught of your proffers, naught of your kindred. He recketh not whether one be good or poor, whether evil or rich. Fierce of eye, he halteth not for a moment; he taketh away the soul, and will have naught of body. 0 ye hapless mortals who mourn, is it the spirit or the body that is lost? Do ye aver that the spirit is lost? But ye cannot behold it even today apart from the body. Is it the body that is lost? But ye tie that very body hand and foot, like a thief who has stolen, strip it of its clothing, fasten on it a loincloth, kindle a high-mounting funeral fire, and burn it until it becometh ash, then ye dip yourselves in the stream, and go away with your folks, grieved in soul. Is this to be called a pretence, or a play?
DOTH the rain in its descent avoid certain men, or doth the wind as it bloweth leave aside certain? Doth the earth refuse to bear their weight, or the sun deny its warmth to certain? Do the four highborn races get their food from the land, and the four base-born races their food from the forest? Fortune and poverty are the fruit of our own deeds, and death is the common Iot of all children of earth; one is their race, one their family, one their death, one their birth, one the God whom they revere. To neglect not the sayings spoken by the men of old, to give alms at all times to suppliants, to eschew vice, bloodshed, and theft, to know how to stand on a sure footing in righteousness, to understand That which is neither male nor female, to be gentle of speech, — this is the blameless life. Can birth, instead of worth and virtue, bring good, fools that ye are?
LIBERATION THROUGH NATURE (PRAKRITI) KAPILA
NATURE herself shall deliver man from his pain. Man shall know and discern her truth, not that she hold him bound in ignorance, is her purport. Unconscious nature Iives and loves, in his desire. As people engage in acts to relieve desires, so nature to Iiberate soul; generous, seeking no benefit, nature accomplishes the wish of ungratefuI Soul. Her evolution goes on "for deliverance of each soul: it is done for another's sake as for self." Here is unity of spirit plucked even from the abysses of speculative analysis, of essential distinction! "Nothing," says Gaudapada, "is, in my opinion, more gentle than Nature (Prakriti), once aware of having been seen, she does not expose herself again to the gaze of soul
How delicate and genial is this sense of illusion, which makes error vanish from the eyes of truth, as one who knows she should not be seen!
Liberation is not through works, which are transient; nor through the worship of the All, which must be mingled with fancies about the world; nor through the desire of heaven, for that desire is to be shunned. It is not the excision of any special qualities; not possessions, nor magic powers; not going away to any world, since soul is immovable, and does not go away; not conjunction with the rank of gods, which is perishable; not absorption of the part into the whole; not destruction of all; not the void, nor yet joy; but more and better than aII these, to know the difference which separates the undiscerning movement of qualities, or tendencies to goodness, passion, and darkness in the senses and the mind, from free spiritual being, and so "to thirst no more"; a work not of a moment but of that complete concentration and devotion, which has many obstacles.
For the great work of liberation, Nature is but an instrument. She, the really bound, "binds herself seven ways, but becomes Iiberated in one form only," which is knowledge of the truth of things. All is thus for the ideal life of man. "The soul is the seer, the organs are its instruments." "Creation is for the soul's sake, from Brahma down to a post; till there be liberation thereof."
Nature serves soul Iike a born slave; creates for its sake, as the cart carries saffron for its master. And sense itself becomes supersensuous through this necessity for mind as the explanation of its phenomena. It is a mistake to suppose that sense is identical with that in which it is seated.
The Veda is not eternal; it is not supernatural nor superhuman; its meaning does not transcend the common intuition. He who understands the secular meanings of words can understand their sense in the Veda. There is no special Bible sense; there is no authority of Scriptures apart from their self evidence and the fruit of their teaching. They do not proceed from a supreme Person; for since one liberated could not desire to make them, and one unliberated could not have power, no such supreme Man or Lord can have been their author. They are there; a breath of self-existence; a fact in other words, traceable to no special mind. That is all that can be said.