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Purusha – The Concept of Purusha in Hinduism

The concept of Purusha cannot be understood in independence as it is always related to Prakriti. Purusha is spirit and Prakriti is matter and the union of these two factors results in the visible world. Before creation Purusha and Prakriti lay merged as the Supreme Energy (God in common terms) without separate existence. But when the desire for creation was aroused, this Supreme Spirit divided itself into Prakriti and Purusha. The right half becomes ‘Purusha’ and the left half ‘Prakrti’.

Purusha is the male aspect and Prakriti is the female aspect.

There are some schools of thought which consider the Supreme Truth to be Purusha, which sets in action the creation.

The word purusha has been coined metaphorically: puri sete iti purushah - who sleeps or dwells in apura (city) is Purusha. The term pura, which literally means a town or city, here stands for the body of a living being or for the universe.
Purusha in the Samkhya perspective is neither cause nor effect and is indifferent to all else, pushkara palasavat nirlepah (like water drop on a lotus leaf).

In Vedanta literature, especially Upanishads, the term purusha denotes both the individual being or self and the universal being or God (Brahman). The word purusha is synonym of the word atma (self), which has been frequently used for both individual self as well as Brahman in Upanishads, Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita.


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