Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 3 - Chapter 1 - Verse 1


शौनक उवाचकपिलस्तत्त्वसंख्याता भगवानात्ममायया ।जात: स्वयमज: साक्षादात्मप्रज्ञप्तये नृणाम् ॥ १ ॥


śaunaka uvācakapilas tattva-saṅkhyātābhagavān ātma-māyayājātaḥ svayam ajaḥ sākṣādātma-prajñaptaye nṛṇām


Śrī Śaunaka said: Although He is unborn, the Supreme Personality of Godhead took birth as Kapila Muni by His internal potency. He descended to disseminate transcendental knowledge for the benefit of the whole human race.


The word ātma-prajñaptaye indicates that the Lord descends for the benefit of the human race to give transcendental knowledge. Material necessities are quite sufficiently provided for in the Vedic knowledge, which offers a program for good living conditions and gradual elevation to the platform of goodness. In the mode of goodness one’s knowledge expands. On the platform of passion there is no knowledge, for passion is simply an impetus to enjoy material benefits. On the platform of ignorance there is no knowledge and no enjoyment, but simply life almost like that of animals. The Vedas are meant to elevate one from the mode of ignorance to the platform of goodness. When one is situated in the mode of goodness he is able to understand knowledge of the self, or transcendental knowledge. This knowledge cannot be appreciated by any ordinary man. Therefore, since a disciplic succession is required, this knowledge is expounded either by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself or by His bona fide devotee. Śaunaka Muni also states here that Kapila, the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, took birth, or appeared, simply to appreciate and disseminate transcendental knowledge. Simply to understand that one is not matter but spirit soul (ahaṁ brahmāsmi: “I am by nature Brahman”) is not sufficient knowledge for understanding the self and his activities. One must be situated in the activities of Brahman. Knowledge of those activities is explained by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Such transcendental knowledge can be appreciated in human society but not in animal society, as clearly indicated here by the word nṛṇām, “for the human beings.” Human beings are meant for regulated life. By nature, there is regulation in animal life also, but that is not like the regulative life as described in the scriptures or by the authorities. Human life is regulated life, not animal life. In regulated life only can one understand transcendental knowledge.