Traditionally and historically it is affirmed that Kapila is the real founder of the philosophical school known as Sankhya, or Enumeration. The school is so termed on account of it having given rise to twenty-four categories of existence or what may be called evolutes. Prior to Kapila, Indian philosophical scene was in a state of diffusion, in that the Sankhya elements of thought were scattered in various Upanisadic texts, which meant no systematic presentation existed insofar as philosophical reflection was concerned. The task of giving a systematic shape to philosophical reflection fell upon Kapila, which he accomplished with dexterity in his aphorisms. Kapila accomplished this task by synthesizing the scattered elements of philosophical reflection as well as by giving birth to technical terms that would give appropriate expression to the problems of ontology and epistemology. In this way Kapila laid the proper foundation for the future development of Indian philosophy, which with the passage of time, found its proper expression in such diverse schools of thought as Vedanta and Tantrism.
The present translation of Aphorisms of Kapila by J.R. Ballantyne is so rendered as to make it possible for an average reader to understand the complex thought structure of Sankhya philosophy in a language that is easy and graspable. It will be of great help to those who are desirous of knowing not only the historical background of Indian thought, but also want to know as to how existential questions of life and death have been tackled.
James Robert Ballantyne (1813-64) was Principal of the College at Benares, 1845-61; became librarian of India Office; while in India studied the highest Sanskrit ethical and philosophical literature; published Sanskrit works and lectures on systems of Indian philosophy. He also published an English translation of Laghu Kaumudi of Varadaraja and Sahitya Darpana or Mirror of Composition of Visvanatha.
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