“It is not true that Sankhya philosophy is a new system of philosophy introduced by Kapila as material philosophers introduce new kinds of mental speculative thought to supersede that of another philosopher. On the material platform, everyone, especially the mental speculator, tries to be more prominent than others. The field of activity of the speculators is the mind; there is no limit to the different ways in which one can agitate the mind. The mind can be unlimitedly agitated, and thus one can put forward an unlimited number of theories. Sankhya philosophy is not like that; it is not mental speculation. It is factual, but at the time of Kapila it was lost.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.24.37 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
In his early adulthood years, Mahesh read up on many different philosophies. Looking to find himself, to get a true meaning to life, Mahesh picked up whatever book on philosophy there was at the local library. As such, he tried out many different systems and practices, some orthodox and some not so much. For a while he meditated on the sun as it rose in the morning. For a brief period, he avoided eating on certain days of the week. Then he tried surfing, calming himself through the waves of the ocean.
During one particular stretch, he decided to be kind to all. “I’m sick of arguing,” he told himself. “I will be nice to everyone I meet. I will not let others agitate me, like they usually do.” He had read a book on this sort of philosophy. It called for universal kindness and respect. Criticism was not allowed. Violence of any kind was not tolerated. The author of this book had reached the conclusion that kindness was the way to live a virtuous life, and that from a virtuous life one automatically pleases whichever deity there is, if there was one.
Mahesh got to test this theory immediately. One morning he noticed that the driveway wasn’t cleared to perfection. This was after the next door neighbor had agreed to take care of it for him. During the most recent snowstorm, Mahesh had cleared the neighbor’s driveway out of kindness. The neighbor was away at the time, and so when he returned, he didn’t have to face a snow-filled driveway. The neighbor was so pleased with Mahesh that he promised to return the favor during the next snowstorm. “Maybe he just forgot,” thought Mahesh. “Oh well, I won’t get upset.” Mahesh then cleared the driveway himself, which made him a little late for work.
On the drive to the office, there were a few aggressive drivers on the road that violated many rules. One second they were driving very slow in their lane, and so Mahesh decided to make a legal pass. As soon as he entered the other lane, the slow driver then sped up. “They are intentionally driving dangerously. This is messed up,” Mahesh thought to himself. Normally Mahesh would have gotten upset or made some sort of visible gesture to the other driver, but this time he refrained.
When he got to the office, his boss yelled at him for being late. “I don’t care if it snowed last night. You are supposed to be here at a certain time. There are no excuses,” he said. Mahesh thought of his neighbor who didn’t come through for him, but he didn’t say anything to the boss. He remained calm. Later in the day, Mahesh got a call from his wife, who said that her mother was coming to stay with them for a week. His wife volunteered their bedroom for her, which meant that Mahesh and his wife would have to sleep in the living room that night. Again, Mahesh kept silent.
The next morning Mahesh woke up with a sore throat. The living room was not as well insulated as the bedrooms, and so the heating system wasn’t as accurate. His mother-in-law had turned the heat down in the living room prior to going to bed, thinking it would save the family energy costs. While she was nice and warm in their bedroom, Mahesh and his wife were cold in the living room. In order to alleviate the distress from his potential cold, Mahesh picked up some soup on the way home from work that day. He put it in the fridge for eating later, while he took a nap after a tough day at the office. When he awoke, he anticipated eating his soup. To his surprise, it was no longer there. A few minutes later, Mahesh’s son came into the room and said that he had eaten it.
“What do you mean you ate it?” Mahesh asked very angrily.
“I was hungry. It was really good too,” his son replied.
“That is unacceptable,” Mahesh then shouted. “How dare you eat someone else’s food without asking them? This is ridiculous. You are grounded for a month.”
“A month? Dad, that’s not fair.”
Mahesh then continued to yell, until his wife came into the room and calmed him down. “What has gotten into you?” she asked. He explained that he was fed up with everyone taking advantage of him. He wasn’t going to tolerate it anymore. And so from that episode, Mahesh gave up his philosophy of applying tolerance and kindness in all situations.
Many years later Mahesh relayed this story to his adult-aged grandchildren one day while they came over to check up on him. He explained, “You see, these philosophies are all based on mental speculation. Someone doesn’t know the universal truth, and so they try to reach it by dint of their personal experiences. I tried pretty much all of them, and none of them worked for me. But in fact, there is a real philosophy that applies to all situations. It is a philosophy that was never created by anyone, though famous personalities do descend to explain it to people from time to time.”
The grandchildren then asked for some examples of these personalities. “One is Kapiladeva,” Mahesh replied. “He is famous for the philosophy of Sankhya, which can translate to metaphysics. It describes the universe in terms of elements and how the spiritual component fits into everything. Though his philosophy has a specific name, it is actually not different from the eternal truth of the individual being a spirit soul, part and parcel of God. It’s just that Sankhya explains that truth in a specific way, one that meets the curiosity of those interested in the elements of nature.”
“Why did He have to appear in this world and explain it?” his grandchildren next asked. Mahesh explained that the science as it is sometimes appears to be lost. “You see how many philosophies there are. It’s easy to lose sight of the eternal truth when mental speculators keep trying to outdo each other. Therefore, out of the kindness of the Supreme Lord, sometimes personalities descend to reintroduce the eternal truth, in a manner suited to the time and circumstance. In the present time period it is very difficult to understand philosophy, so the same potency arrives through the simple practice of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.’”
To understand my reason for living why,
So many philosophies there for me to try.
To be kind to all is method one,
Tolerance for harsh words none.
But quickly another method to use,
Since by others to be abused.
Not with philosophy of eternal truth stated,
From God, never from mundane mind created.
Repeated again from time to time,
Like with Kapila’s wisdom to shine.
Truth stays the same do know,
So in pure devotion to God go.