According to legends, Lord Brahma the creator of the Universe realised that he had to create a race which could procreate in order to ensure the continuous existence of humanity. Hence, he created the first man Swayambhu Manu whose name indicates that he was ‘self-formed’. The first woman was Shatrupa meaning ‘very beautiful’. According to the Bhagavatha Purana, Swayambhu Manu and Shatrupa then united to create progeny and perpetuate the human race. They are said to have had five children, three daughters and two sons. One of the daughters was the chaste and pure Devahuti.
Birth and early life
From the time of her birth, she was endowed with exemplary qualities. She grew up to be a beautiful and graceful woman. As she grew up, she heard about the great sage Prajapati Kardama’s attainments and character and decided that only he would be her husband.
Sage Kardama was said to have been created from Brahma’s shadow. He lived on the banks (Bindu Sarovar) of the River Saraswati and practised austerities for many years. Lord Brahma had instructed him to beget children so when Lord Vishnu appeared before him Kardama requested him to grant him a suitable bride. Vishnu blessed him that he would marry a chaste and pure woman who would bear him nine daughters and a son. The daughters would be the mothers of great rishis, and the son would be none other than Lord Vishnu reborn. He blessed Kardama that he would then spend the rest of his life in meditation until he attained the Lotus feet of the Lord.
The marriage of Kardama and Devahuti
As foretold by Lord Vishnu soon Swayambhu Manu who was directed by Lord Brahma arrived at the ashram of Sage Kardama. He was impressed by the glowing countenance of the sage and his wisdom and knowledge and knew he had found the ideal match for his beautiful and virtuous daughter Devahuti. Kardama too was happy to see Devahuti but agreed to marry her only on the condition that once the children were born he would go away to continue his penances. Devahuti agreed to the condition, and the marriage was performed to the joy and happiness of all. The marriage of Kardama and Devahuti is described in detail in chapters 21 and 22 of the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana.
Devahuti served her husband with love and devotion for many years. It is said that though she had lived a comfortable life in her parental home she adjusted to the life in the hermitage performing selfless service with humility and patience. It is said that then Sage Kardama using his yogic powers created a flying palace with gardens, resting chambers and maids to facilitate the atmosphere conducive to begetting progeny. In the flying palace, they visited many places including the valley of Mount Meru and the Manasarovar Lake. They then returned to the hermitage, and it is said that Sage Kardama split himself into nine personalities and enabled his wife to beget nine daughters.
Birth of Kapila
Later from her sacred womb, a son was born who was none other than Lord Vishnu, and the Gods and heavens are said to have rejoiced at his birth and petals were showered on the holy mother, Devahuti. Later Lord Brahma came with the nine Prajapatis whom he had created and the nine daughters of Kardama were given in marriage to the nine Prajapatis, who took their wives back to their ashramas. Kardama then realised that it was time for him to continue his austerities. He bowed before his son Kapila, the Divine Lord and went around him. Then he left the ashram and retired to continue his penances.
Devahuti’s son Kapila grew up to be a great sage and was one of the founders of Samkhya philosophy. He was the brother and teacher of the chaste woman Anusuya. The Bhagavata Purana gives details of his life and extols his virtues. Devahuti was proud of her son’s knowledge and calibre. Time passed by and one day Devahuti approached Kapila and requested him to remove her ignorance and desires for material objects and to teach her the knowledge that would give her freedom from the infinite cycles of birth and death. Pleased by her pure desire for spiritual enlightenment Kapila agreed and Chapters twenty five to thirty three of the third Canto of the Bhagavatha Purana expounds in detail the teachings of Sage Kapila to his mother.
Teachings of Kapila
Kapila explained to his mother the necessity to first have a fervent desire to seek the path of knowledge. The next prerequisite was a pure heart with a deep and abiding love and devotion to God. He then explained to her the aspects of Prakriti and Purusha, the three Gunas and taught her the principles of divine love and the yoga of meditation. He then expounded the Lord’s divine nature and the ways to reach him. Book 11 of Bhagavata Purana gives Kapila’s Samkhya philosophy which was expounded by Lord Krishna to Uddhava and referred to as Uddhava Gita.
Devahuti heard these enlightened words of her son. Lord Brahma had already prophecied to her about the birth of the Lord as her son who would help her to gain ultimate knowledge. She realised that even though he was her son he was the dispeller of her ignorance and the Supreme Godhead reincarnated as her son. Consequently, she then gained the ultimate knowledge and attained liberation.
The purity and chastity of Devahuti resulted in the beautiful exposition of the Samkhya philosophy which states bhakti or devotion to be the basic principle and ultimate goal linking man to God. The final realisation of Devahuti in hearing and understanding the sublime philosophical teachings from her great son had elevated her to the status of great women in India who attained spiritual enlightenment and glory. The teachings of Kapila Muni through Devahuti indirectly benefited mankind as a whole as the philosophy of devotional service as a path to liberation was expounded lucidly to her by him benefitting all generations to come.