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Purna – The Idea And Concept Of Fullness In Hinduism

Purna is an important concept in Hinduism. It is fullness and is a characteristic of the Supreme Reality. In Hindu tradition, purna conveys the idea of fullness, totality and perfection.

The word Purna is derived from the root ‘pr’ (to fill or to satiate). It may also have been derived from the root pur (to increase).

As a symbolic and philosophical concept, it represents the Supreme Being, the Absolute, in its unalterable fullness, as the embodiment of absolute perfection, auspiciousness, the abode of all powers, the ultimate source of the entire creation.

The idea is reflected in the Vedic literature (purnat purnamudachati purnam purnena sicyate  Atharva Veda X 8.29).

In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (V.1.1), too, the nature of the Supreme Brahman as the Integral Reality is focused as a concept which is full in itself, the one without a second, without suffering from any deficiency.

As a perfect equilibrium of the cosmic and transcendent nature, purna indicates the Supreme Being, the one integral reality from whom multiplicity emerges, remaining full as the one integral whole on account of its omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient nature.

A yogi experiences its presence everywhere by achieving the perfect concentration of mind in meditation, when the entire creation appears to him as filled with fullness through the realization of union with Brahman (antah purno bahih purnah purnah kumbha ivarnave – Hathayogapradipika IV.56).

In Tantric literature, purna signifies the fullness which is the very nature of the universal subject, as in the full, everything has its existence and everywhere fullness exists.

In the field of Hindu puja, rituals, worship, festival and art, the term is used with kumbha or kalasha as purnakumbha or purnakalasha (a full vase), one of the eight auspicious symbols, originating from Vedas (purnah kumbhodhi kale ahitah…Atharva Veda XIX 53.3) as the locus of both creation and dissolution of the world.

Kalatattvakosha – A Lexicon of Fundamental Concepts of the Indian Arts (2001) Kapila Vatsyayan and Bettina Baumer – Motilal Bnarsidass New Delhi
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VIII page 330 - IHRF