Kapila was a Vedic sage and an incarnation of Supreme Godhead Vishnu, credited as one of the founders of the Samkhya school of philosophy. He is prominent in the Bhagavata Purana, which features a theistic version of his Samkhya philosophy. Traditional Hindu sources describe him as a descendant of Manu, a grandson of Brahma.
The Bhagavad Gita depicts Kapila as a yogi hermit with highly developed siddhis, or spiritual powers.
Many of the details about sage Kapila's life are described in Book 3 of the Bhagavata Purana, where it is mentioned that his parents were Kardama Muni and Devahuti.
Kapila is considered an incarnation of the supreme-being (Narayana) and listed as such in the list of incarnations in Bhagavata Purana .After his father left home, Kapila instructed his mother, Devahuti in the philosophy of yoga and devotional worship of Lord Vishnu, enabling her to achieve liberation (moksha). Kapila's Sankhya is also given by Krishna to Uddhava in Book 11 of the Bhagavata Purana, a passage also known as the "Uddhava Gita".
Kapila is also mentioned by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:
"Of all trees I am the banyan tree, and of the sages among the demigods I am Narada. Of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.(10.26)"
Birth of the Ganges
The sons of Sagara discover the stolen sacrificial horse grazing near Vasudeva, who had assumed the form of Kapila.
Kapila is a major figure in the story associated with the descent of the Ganges (Goddess Ganga) river from heaven. King Sagar, an ancestor of Rama, had performed the Aswamedha yagna ninety-nine times. On the hundredth time the horse was sent around the earth Indra, the King of Swarga (Heaven), grew jealous and kidnapped the horse, hiding it in the hermitage of Kapila.
The 60,000 sons of Sagara found the horse, and believing Kapila to be the abductor assaulted him. Kapila turned his assailants to ashes. Anshuman, a grandson of King
Sagara, came to Kapila begging him to redeem the souls of Sagara's 60,000 sons. Kapila replied that only if the Ganges descended from heaven and touched the ashes
of the 60,000 would they be redeemed. The Ganges was eventually brought to earth, redeeming the sons of Sagara, through the tapasya of King Bhagiratha, a
descendent of Sagara.
Kapila's Samkhya is taught in various Hindu texts:
"Kapila said, "Acts only cleanse the body. Knowledge, however, is the highest end (for which one strives). 5 When all faults of the heart are cured (by acts), and when
the felicity of Brahma becomes established in knowledge, benevolence, forgiveness, tranquillity, compassion, truthfulness, and candour, abstention from injury, absence
of pride, modesty, renunciation, and abstention from work are attained. These constitute the path that lead to Brahma. By those one attains to what is the Highest."
(Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: Section CCLXX, p. 270-271).
"Bhishma said (to Yudhisthira), 'Listen, O slayer of foes! The Sankhyas or followers of Kapila, who are conversant with all paths and endued with wisdom, say that there
are five faults, O puissant one, in the human body. They are Desire and Wrath and Fear and Sleep and Breath. These faults are seen in the bodies of all embodied
creatures. Those that are endued with wisdom cut the root of wrath with the aid of Forgiveness. Desire is cut off by casting off all purposes. By cultivation of the quality
of Goodness (Sattwa) sleep is conquered, and Fear is conquered by cultivating Heedfulness. Breath is conquered by abstemiousness of diet. (Book 12: Santi Parva: Part III, Section CCCII.)
"My appearance in this world is especially to explain the philosophy of Sankhya, which is highly esteemed for self-realization by those desiring freedom from the
entanglement of unnecessary material desires. This path of self-realization, which is difficult to understand, has now been lost in the course of time. Please know that I
have assumed this body of Kapila to introduce and explain this philosophy to human society again." (3.24.36-37)
"When one is completely cleansed of the impurities of lust and greed produced from the false identification of the body as "I" and bodily possessions as "mine," one's
mind becomes purified. In that pure state he transcends the stage of so-called material happiness and distress." (3.25.16)