Understanding Purusha and Prakriti by

Felise Berman E-RYT Director of Shivashanti Yoga School

Purusha (Sanskrit puruṣa पुरुष) is a complex concept whose meaning evolved in Vedic and Upanishadic times. Depending on source and historical timeline, it means the cosmic being or self, consciousness, and universal principle. In early Vedas, Purusha was a cosmic being whose sacrifice by the gods created all life. the Self, pure consciousness, and the only source of consciousness. The word literally means “man.” Prakriti is that which is created. It is nature in all her aspects.

Prakriti literally means “creatrix,” the female creative energy.  Prakriti or Prakruti (from Sanskrit language प्रकृति, “nature”. It is a key concept in Hinduism, formulated by its Samkhya school, and refers to the primal matter with three different innate qualities (Guṇas) whose equilibrium is the basis of all observed empirical reality.

Purusha is the soul, it is identified with masculine energy.

Prakṛiti means Nature, in its female creative energy.

Prakriti, (Sanskrit: “nature,” “source”) in the Samkhya system (darshan) of Indian philosophy, material nature in its germinal state, eternal and beyond perception. When prakriti (female) comes into contact with the spirit, purusha (male), it starts on a process of evolution that leads through several stages to the creation of the existing material world. Prakriti is made up of three gunas (“qualities” of matter), which are the constituent cosmic factors that characterize all nature. In the Samkhya view, only prakriti is active, while the spirit is confined within it and only observes and experiences. Release (moksha) consists in the spirit’s extrication from prakriti by its own recognition of its total difference from it and noninvolvement in it. In early Indian philosophical texts the term svabhava (“own being”) was used in a sense similar to prakriti to mean material nature. Publisher: Encyclopedia Britannica, inc.