Prakruti Purusha

Prakruti (Prakriti) can be defined or understood as anything that’s energy, both as pure energy and tangible material (which is also energy), in short, it’s the nature and creation around us that constantly changes. Prakruti is the fundamental building block of this creation which includes the elements of creation and its realities. In short, Prakruti is the force of Bhagavan with which creation is manifested. Though creation (Sristi) and its reality (jagath) on the highest purview is an illusion (maya), for us, we are a part of that illusion and yet to realize the light which will clarify our true nature, as Brahman. In the internment of this illusion, Prakruti becomes our means to reach the state of realizing that Brahman. It’s like a ladder with various steps, wherein devotion (bhakti) is one such step, exploration is another step, and so on. Purusha is that title of the limitless singular conscience, out of which every other conscience (within a jiva) is but an extension making it the jiva’s final destiny. In short Purusha is our destiny.  As long as a jiva indulges oneself only in Prakruti, the being operates out of compulsion and self-created identity. The extent to which Prakruti can allure a jiva is limitless and can push jiva deeper into maya. However, when an honest and conscience effect is made towards realizing the self, Prakruti can become a stepping stone for a jiva to seek Purusha. If Prakruti is like a mother, then one can be nourished and pampered in Her lap as She can make us aware of the father. Samkhya is considered to be one of six astika (having a place or existence or basis) of Sanatana Dharma expounds these concepts (Prakriti & Purusha) as a duality for us to distinguish existence in two separate modes of operation. During the initial course of this exploration we might seek their difference, however, eventually, these two concepts are one, perceived as two. This duality can be understood by an analogy, say there are only two entities, one is an ocean, second is the air or space encapsulating it. Now, say a little disturbance happens in the water and bubbles form on its surface, these bubbles are nothing but a film of water that captured some air/space. These bubbles are created, and we ourselves are a bubble with a body (physicality) manifested from Prakriti and captured an aspect of Purusha, which we are yet to realize.

In the Samkhya school (one of six astika) there are twenty-four principles in Prakriti, with the twenty-fifth principle called Purusha. The 24th principle is called avayktha Prakriti, which is also called as Maya. Ayaktha means that which is there but not yet available to our reach or our understanding. (Jinasu. 2017)

 the first manifestation of this Prakriti in the cosmos is what the Sankhya calls “Mahat”. We may call it intelligence — the great principle, its literal meaning. The first change in Prakriti is this intelligence; I would not translate it by self-consciousness, because that would be wrong. Consciousness is only a part of this intelligence. Mahat is universal. It covers all the grounds of sub-consciousness, consciousness, and super-consciousness; so any one state of consciousness, as applied to this Mahat, would not be sufficient. In nature, for instance, you note certain changes going on before your eyes which you see and understand, but there are other changes, so much finer, that no human perception can catch them. They are from the same cause, the same Mahat is making these changes. Out of Mahat comes universal egoism. These are all substance. There is no difference between matter and mind, except in degree. The substance is the same in finer or grosser form; one changes into the other, and this exactly coincides with the conclusions of modern physiological research. By believing in the teaching that the mind is not separate from the brain, you will be saved from much fighting and struggling. Egoism again changes into two varieties. In one variety it changes into the organs. Organs are of two kinds, organs of sensation and organs of reaction. They are not the eyes or the ears, but back of those are what you call brain-centres, and nerve-centres, and so on. This egoism, this matter or substance, becomes changed, and out of this material are manufactured these centres. Of the same substance is manufactured the other variety, the Tanmatras, fine particles of matter, which strike our organs of perception and bring about sensations. You cannot perceive them but only know they are there. Out of the Tanmatras is manufactured the gross matter — earth, water, and all the things that we see and feel. I want to impress this on your mind. It is very, hard to grasp it, because in Western countries the ideas are so queer about mind and matter. It is hard to get those impressions out of our brains. I myself had a tremendous difficulty, being educated in Western philosophy in my boyhood. These are all cosmic things. Think of this universal extension of matter, unbroken, one substance, undifferentiated, which is the first state of everything, and which begins to change in the same way as milk becomes curd. This first change is called Mahat. The substance Mahat changes into the grosser matter called egoism. The third change is manifested as universal sense-organs, and universal fine particles, and these last again combine and become this gross universe which with eyes, nose, and ears, we see, smell, and hear. This is the cosmic plan according to the Sankhya, and what is in the cosmos must also be microcosmic. Take an individual man. He has first a part of undifferentiated nature in him, and that material nature in him becomes changed into this Mahat, a small particle of this universal intelligence, and this particle of universal intelligence in him becomes changed into egoism, and then into the sense-organs and the fine particles of matter which combine and manufacture his body. I want this to be clear, because it is the stepping-stone to Sankhya, and it is absolutely necessary for you to understand it, because this is the basis of the philosophy of the whole world. There is no philosophy in the world that is not indebted to Kapila.

Complete Works Vol 2, A Study of Shankya by Swami Vivekananda

Iśvara (Ishwara) means the supreme authority and the Principle. The title Iśvari (Ishwari) is the same from the aspect of Cit:Shakti (Vibration/energy/momentum). Seekers and devotees dwelling in this endless illusion of cosmos known as jagath, titled the entity who controls it as Ishwara/Ishwari. This illusion we perceive as the cosmos is called Maya. Hence, the title Jagadishwara (Jagat:ishwara), means the authority over the cosmos (jagath), and Pāramishwara or Maheswara, which means ‘The Highest Authority. Similarly, Pārameshwari or Jadadishwari, is referred to in the aspect of Shakti (not gender).  The submission of oneself, in service of this supreme authority as their master, titled this same entity as Bhagavan or Bhagavati, in other words, Bhagavan is an emotional title given by the servile group known as bhakta (devotees).

Prakruti is considered feminine because it’s through Prakruti that everything manifests, including our very body, our life source which is called jiva, and everything around us as this creation. Since Prakruti is our source and abode She is referred to as feminine, and not to be misinterpreted as a biological female. Purusha as said earlier is the supreme conscience (Para:matma) and our atman is nothing but an extension to it, making our existence an act to reaching a destiny which is THE Purusha. It’s we who are yet to realize that this physical existence is a shell that we wear to sustain in this physical realm. This physical body is a means to strive towards realizing our eternal existence as Atman and not limit ourselves to just a bundle of five elements. Hence, the entire essence of Pooja is to use the physical materials around us as a means and offer them to the Supreme Conscience. By doing so we relinquish our fixation on the physical, intern foster gratitude, and move towards realizing our true self, which is Atman, this approach leads to Jivabhramikyasiddhi (Jiva:bhram:ikya:siddhi).

Pashupatinath Lingam (Mandsaur Temple, Madhya Pradesh India)(2006)

The title ‘Pathi’ usually is related to a male, however, doesn’t necessarily mean husband, Pathi means, that which is to be attained or a target to be reached or followed, like a steer or a shepherd. And ‘Patni’ is not a female or a wife, it means the one who does ‘Anuvartana’ meaning the one who follows and strives towards reaching a Pathi. These two titles are given to a husband and wife in Sanatana Dharma who enter Gruhast Ashram and follow its dharma through a system known as Vivaha (marriage). Hence, after the ceremony of Vivaha (holy matrimony) the woman is not referred to as just Patni, she is referred to as Dharma Patni, meaning the one donated by the bride’s father (Kanyadan) to Sri Vishnu (the groom is considered Sri Vishnu, and bride as Sri Lakshmi) so that they can walk the path of dharma and she is the one to support and follow the man in his efforts in the following dharma and to uplift each other in the cycle of dharma. Hence, we (human beings), are all considered as ‘Pashu’ meaning animals who need to be steered by Ishwara, hence the title ‘Pashupathi’, meaning the lord or steer of animals, as He is the one we all have to attain and follow. Therefore He (Ishwara), is the only pathi and we (irrespective of human gender) are all who have to attain Him and Him alone. Kindly continue your reading of the topics of Kanyadan & Dharma Patni.

In the very nature of a lingam, the top spherical shape is called the Linga, representing Purusha (which is the atman) and is the ultimate destination for a jiva to become one with para:matma in the process of Laya. Hence, as discussed earlier He is Pashupati. The base on which the spherical Linga rests is called the Yoni or Peetham and represents Prakruti, which is our abode (for a jiva and the physical body) in which we get created and sustained so that the jiva can strive to realize itself to be more than just a physical body.

Lord Jagannath at Bhubaneswar Temple

Let’s dive into Vishnu tatva by exploring the title Jagannatha, a title that applies to Sri Vishnu and His sampurna (whole) avatara which is Sri Krishna. In the title Jagannatha,  ‘Jagan’ means Jagatha and ‘Natha’ means our lord or master to whom we have to surrender. So what is Jagath?

Jagath: Shastra defines Jagath as “Jayate gachate iti Jagat“, meaning that which sprouts (comes out) and dissolves back. Jagath means the reality of the current creation (sristi) (please note, there exist many realities in sristi and within each of us), which emerges and dissolves. Some realities dissolve during Pralaya, and some out of Gyana (Jnana).  On the highest purview, creation is maya (an illusion) created through the aspect known as Prakruti which is ever-changing and in constant flux.

So, Ishwara is the Supreme Authority of this reality, and it’s to Him that we all have to surrender. For us, Jagannath is not some designation or post, it should mean something to us as devotees. As devotees, our emotions and destiny are invested in His sublime and enchanted charm (Sri Vishnu), and our affections seek His warmth, hence rather than referring to Him as Ishwara, a more affectionate title through which He is addressed is ‘Bhagavan’. This title applies to Sri Vishnu due to His role as the preserver of realities in creation.

Let’s understand Prakruti and Purusha through a story:

Why Shiva Killed his own son, Ganesha?

In the story of Ganesha jananam, Devi Parvati (the concept of Prakruti) creates a doll (a boy) using turmeric and flour, meaning She the Prakruit created a being devoid of the essence of the Purusha. When Shiva arrives, the boy fails to realize his own father and resists Him. Similar to us who identify ourselves as this body and not the atman. Shiva makes attempts to help the boy realize atman but, He continues to resist. At this Shiva intervenes a recreates the boy in a new image. Since they (Shiva and Parvati) are the adikutumbam (adi:kutumba) meaning the first family, and Parvati as Prakruti is adikutumbini, their child should be an example of creation hence, this is a divine act to show us that Prakruti is the means to reach the Purusha, as He is the only Pathi (destination). A similar situation happens with Daksha (Father of Sati), out of pride and ego renounces Shiva and starts a Yagna devoid of Ishwara (Shiva). He called this Yagna Nir:ishwara Yag, meaning a Yag (Fire ritual) devoid of Ishwara. Both Sri Maha Vishnu and Lord Brahma don’t attend this event as they know the foolishness of such Yag. Shiva still doesn’t intervene, it was Devi Sati (Devi Parvati’s prior manifestation) who notices the level of ignorance in Her father and others, and steps in to teach them a lesson about Purusha (Her Pati Shiva). She dissolves Her current manifestation into a  yogic fire, which triggers Shiva to create a fears entity called Veerabadhra who then goes and prevents such Yag. Upon Daksha’s Dharma Patni’s strong pious nature Shiva recreates Daksha with the head of a goat so that he can be an example for others.

Are Parvati and Sri Vishnu Siblings (Brother and Sister)? Who are Narayana and Narayani?

Parvati is the essence and the concept of Prakruti, and as discussed earlier is the abode for our existence, wherein the creation is transformed, sustained, fostered, and preserved (for a certain time). Hence, She assimilates the very nature of preservation and creation in this physicality. On the other hand (Vishnu tattva) Sri Maha Vishnu attains the nature of preservation, and hence is the concept of sustainability, and well-being of creation in His purview, especially the upliftment of Dharma. Hence, the sloka from Srimad Bhagavat Gita, part of Sri Maha:bharath(am), composed by Rishi Veda Vyasa, said in chapter 4, sloka 8:

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे।।

(Gita Supersite. n.d.)

Meaning, I (Sri Maha Vishnu as Sri Krishna) will take care of those who are pious, rishis, and humble, and eradicator those who perform wicked deeds and to establish dharma, I will manifest again and again. The same essence can be found in Devi Bhagavatam as well.

It’s because of this very nature, both Sri Maha Vishnu and Devi Parvati manifest into different forms at different times in their own creation (especially Bhumi/Earth). Sri Vishnu takes birth mostly from the womb of Prakruti (female) and Shakthi as ayonija (meaning not born out of a womb). Sri Maha Vishnu manifests as Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Vamana, Varaha and more. Similarly, Devi Parvati (as Shakthi or Prakruti) manifests as Himavati (as a daughter of Parvata Raja or Himavat), Dakshayani (Daughter of Daksha Prajapathi), Katyayani (daughter of Sage Katyayna), Bhargavi (daughter of Rishi Bhrugu) and many more. Both manifest time and again, sometimes together (Sri Krishna and Durga) and sometimes apart, to uphold Dharma and preserve creation. Hence, they are siblings and bear the same color or hue, and so are addressed as Narayana (Sri Maha Vishnu) and Narayani (Devi Parvati/ Shakthi). Hence, the title in Parvati Astotarashatanamavai as ‘Vishnu Sodariyai Namaha’.

Comprehension of the concept of Prakruti and Purusha will keep evolving as we journey through our discussion as it’s both vital and magnificent. This topic is covered across Ishwara & Shakthi, Jagan:Maatha, Path to Devotion, and most important of all, the concept of Laya which explains how Prakruti blooms out of Ishwara, but for now let’s take a peek into the unified tatva(m) of both.

When Sri Adi Shankaracharya (henceforth addressed as Sri Shankara) composed Kanakadhara stotram, He didn’t address Sri Maha Lakshmi alone. Though Kanaka Dhara is often addressed as a Sri Lakshmi Stotram, one should speculate on the question: Where does Sri Lakshmi reside. It can be seen in Rig Veda (one of 4 compartmentalized Veda by Rishi Vyasa), Sri Suktam, Sloka 27:

“लक्ष्मीं क्षीरसमुद्र राजतनयां श्रीरङ्गधामेश्वरीम्”
“Lakshmi Ksheera Samudra Raaja Tanayam Sree Ranga Dhaameshvarim”

(Green Message Sri Suktam. n.d.)

Lakshminarayana at Shaivism Temple Karnataka (2017)

From the above sloka, it can be understood that Sri Lakshmi should always be addressed by Her concert. Once, Sribhashyam Appalacharyulu (a renowned scholar) was presenting in Vishakapatanam, Andhra Pradesh, said, when I address Sri Lakshmi with just the first phrase ‘Lakshmi Ksheera Samudra Raaja Tanaya’ (which means Sri Lakshmi the daughter of King of the Oceans) She would feel a little incomplete because She always feels proud to be addressed through Her in-laws. Hence, Sribhashyam Appalacharyulu said, I should always say the next phrase ‘Sree Ranga Dhaameshvari’ (meaning the concert of Vishnu). The message that is conveyed is, where Sriman Narayana is worshiped and respected, Sri Lakshmi resides there.

If Sri Vishnu and Sri Lakshmi are one, then before Kshera:sagara Madan(am) (from which Sri Lakshmi emerged) was Sri Vishnu just Vishnu (along)? Kshera:sagara Madan(am) was an event in Kaal(am) (time) that was enacted by Ishwara to give perspective and a lesson to those who were interested in the amruta (elixir of immortality) as they were not satisfied with what was already given to them. As a father, Ishwara helped both Devatas and Dayityas (since both are children) by manifesting as a Kurma (Sri Vishnu who manifested as a tortoise) holding the mountain. And as Shiva He consumed the halahala (anti-creation element) that emerged from it, to protect His children. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.16)

The same is said in Soundarya Lahiri, which might be considered to emphasize on Devi Parvathi, however, it starts with the phrase ‘Shivas Shakthi’ where Shiva was addressed first. Without raising the word Shiva, Shivaa (Parvathi or Parvati) will not answer.

Sri Shankara  gratified us with Shiva:nandha Lahiri and gave us the same tatva in its very first sloka:

” कलाभ्यां चूडालङ्कृतशशिकलाभ्यां निजतपः फलाभ्यां भक्तेषु प्रकटितफलाभ्यां भवतु मे ।शिवाभ्यामस्तोकत्रिभुवनशिवाभ्यां हृदि पुन- र्भवाभ्यामानन्दस्फुरदनुभवाभ्यां नतिरियम्”

“Kalabhyam choodalankrutha sasi kalabhyam nija thapa  Phalabhyam bhaktheshu prakatitha phalabhyam bhavathu me Shivabham sthoka thri bhuvana shivabhyam hridhi punar Bhavaabhyam ananda sphura dhanubhavabhyam natheeriyam”

(Abode of God Shiva On the Internet. n.d., Sanskrit Documents. S.L. 2010)

Umamahesvaramurti (British Museum) 2010

Meaning, Shiva, and Devi Parvathi are the fruit of one another’s tapasya and hence never to be prioritized over the other.

Sri Chandrashakarendhra Saraswathi, the successor of Sri Shankara, decorated as the 68th Jagadguru of Kanchij Kamakoti Peetham, once said, to understand Soundarya Lahiri one should recite Shiva-Anandha Lahiri, by doing so, will automatically attain the ability to grasp the tatva(m) (essence) of Soundaraya Lahiri.

To gain Sri Lakshmi’s blessings, one should always get the blessings of Sri Vishnu. Worshiping Sri Lakshmi alone is not prosperous, even if one tries to obtain wealth through force and illegal means and hopes to prosper, it will only lead to one’s own demise. This happened when Ravana forcefully kidnapped Sita Devi (incarnation of Sri Lakshmi), which ended up in his own demise. Similarly, Surpanaka (Sister of Ravana) also wanted to obtain Rama without Sita, and so met with Her demise. However, Hanuman who filled His heart with both Sita and Sri Ram became the future Brahma.

Brahma & Saraswati Mallikarjuna temple Basaralu (2014)

There exists meaning and completeness when both Sri Lakshmi and Sri Vishnu are seen together and worshiped as one. An attempt to encompass self-created belief or priority over Sri Lakshmi or Sri Vishnu (The same applies to the case of Shiva and Parvati or Hiranyagarbha and Saraswathi) out of ignorance, and implementing them in one’s life or enforcing upon others without the contemplation of tatva is not beneficial and is ill-advised.  (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.4)

A good reference would be the story of Gajendra Moksha(m) from Srimad Bhagavatam (Sri Bhagavata Puranam) where Sri Vishnu forgot Himself for the submission of Gajendra who surrendered himself fully to the preserver of creation. Sri Vishnu in His haste to reach out to Gajendra forgot that He was holding the pallu (tip of the sari worn around the shoulder) of Sri Lakshmi and so dragged Her with Him. The tatva in this scenario is that Sri can never be separated from Purusha, so Sri Vishnu never let go of Sri Lakshmi even in the midst of His haste. Later, Sri Vishnu asked Sri Lakshmi about His actions for which She said to His astonishment, that it was Her pleasure to always watch His feet, and always walk by His side. This is exactly what Sri Lakshmi, as Sita Devi did in Ramayana by following Ram through His exile. This behavior is called ‘Auvarthi’ (meaning to follow or accompany someone’s actions and stand by their side always).  Sri Lakshmi watches Sri Vishnu while He watches us during our Upasana, in return making us fall in the eyes of Sri Lakshmi. And She as Prakruti makes sure to support our needs as our very existence is in the abode of Her Prakruti. Sir Vishnu shrines in the luminescence of Sri Lakshmi and provides His anugraham (grace) through Her. This nature of Sri Lakshmi to follow Sri Vishnu (Anuvarthi) made Her the icon for padasevana (one of the nava:vidha bhakthi) and because of this Sri Vishnu coronated Her in His hrudaya. In other words, She with Her Anuvartana and devotion conquered the hrudayam of Sri Vishnu. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.15-16)

Important Note: Please continue your reading of Ishwara & Shakthi, Jagan:Maatha, Path to Devotion, Augraham and most important of all, the concept of Laya to comprehend the concept of Prakruti and Purusha.

REFERENCE ENTRY (APA Style citation)

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