KAPIL'S JOURNEY

P. Capildeo July 2003.
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This account of Kapil's journey to Trinidad almost 110 years ago is by no means wholly complete or accurate. Kapil died nearly 80 years ago and there is no survivor alive today who can recount his journey. This article is not a biography. It only examines the little that is known of Kapil's life story in the context of his background and the social and economic circumstances of his time.

KAPIL

Kapil was born in 1873, in the village of Mahadevadubey, in the county of Gorakhpur, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He was a descendant of the Dubeys, a subsect of the Brahmin caste. The Dubeys were firmly established in the village by the time of Kapil's birth. No one knows how long Dubeys had been living in Mahadevadubey, but by 1894, it is possible that they had been there for many centuries. After all, it was from this caste that the village derived part of its name (Mahadeva meaning Great God and Dubey the name of the sub-caste).

Kapil's father Raghunath and his male antecedents had fulfilled the function of the brahmin in the caste system. They had been pundits who served the spiritual needs of the village. Kapil*, like his ancestors, had been groomed to be a pundit. He had been trained to take over this sacred role that could only be performed by those of the brahmin caste. His father prepared him for spiritual service by giving him a foundation in Hindi, Sanskrit and the religious epics.

Religion, however, did not limit its influence to Kapil's studies, values or philosophies. Its importance also lay in the region from which he came. For from ancient times, U.P. had been an area of great religious significance and its history overshadowed the village of the Dubeys.

UTTAR PRADESH IN INDIAN HISTORY

Madhya Desh as it was known in ancient times bears few sites comparable to civilisation of the Indus Valley. Yet in the later vedic age it was the favoured abode of the Hindu Gods when they chose to descend to the earth. It was also home to many of India's saints and sages*. U.P. thus came to be called Brahma Rishi Desh or land of sages and saints. The events of the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata unfolded and were recorded here. Krishna's Vrindavan and Mathura, and Rama's birthplace of Ayodhya are located in U.P..
U.P. was also the birthplace of Buddhism and Jainism in the sixth century B.C.. At this time eight states existed in what is modern U.P. and they were constantly at war with each other. Gorakhpur, the district from which Kapil came was part of one of these mahajanpadas. A succession of dynasties occupied what today is U.P.: the Nands from the fourth century B.C.; the Kushans from the first century AD; the Guptas from the 4th century, followed by an age of instability until the rise of the Mughals in the 16th century AD.


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P. Capildeo July 2003
The author asserts the right of copyright. It is a term of viewing this website that the navigator will not reproduce in any manner or form information contained within. By navigating this website the navigator is deemed to have consented to this term. Reproduction of the verbal or pictorial content of this website from any source without permission from the author infringes copyright law and will be prosecuted.

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*1 Kapil was named after Kapila Muni, a saint who lived in this region during the time of Manu. He was famous for preaching liberation from all sensual enjoyment in order to achieve self - knowledge. Desireless devotion or nishkaam bhakti liberates a man from the illusions of the world. Kapila Muni advocated worship of Vishnu to achieve freedom from the cycle of rebirth. He was one of the twelve revered teachers of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the sacred Hindu texts. Kapila after performing his duty on earth went to Ganga Sagar in West Bengal and began penance in the ocean. There is a shrine dedicated to Kapila Muni in Ganga Sagar and devotees still go there to this day.
One famous legend involves Kapila Muni and King Sagar of Ayodhya, an ancestor of Rama. King Sagar had performed the Aswamedha sacrifice ninety-nine times. Each time a horse was sent around the earth. Indra the King of the Gods grew jealous and kidnapped the horse, hiding it in the hermitage of Kapila Muni during the hundredth sacrifice. The 60 000 sons of Sagar found the horse, and believing Kapila to be the abductor assaulted him. Kapila turned the assailants to ashes. Bhagirath, a grandson of King Sagar, came to Kapila begging him to redeem the souls of the 60 000. Kapila replied that only if the Ganges descended from heaven and touched the ashes of the 60 000 would they be redeemed.
No one today knows how the name Kapil transformed into Capildeo. It is possible that Kapil added dev meaning God from his village's name of Mahadevadubey to his name. Translation from Hindi to English was not well developed in the nineteenth century and words were spelt differently then from the way they are now. So kapil was changed to capil and dev to deo, giving Kapil's descendants the surname of Capildeo.