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Pradhana In Samkhya Philosophy

In Samkhya philosophy, the word pradhana is applied to prakriti (primordial nature), which is the mother of first cause whole of the material world with all objects of experience, gross as well as subtle. That is because it is the chief entity among all the objects which form the material world. Actually, the purusha (self) is para (higher, greater) than the prakriti. This fact is explicitly stated in the Katha Upanishad (I.3.11) (avyaktapurusha parah). But the purusha is a spiritual principle outside the domain of the three gunas, while prakriti or avyakta is a material  principle inside the domain of the triguna. Hence there is really no comparison between the purusha and prakriti, and it is customary to apply the world ‘pradhana’ to the prakriti, and not the purusha, because it transcends the material world.

Pradhana, like purusha, is an eternal principle. It is called avaykta, alinga (unpredicated), prakriti, or mulaprakriti. As it constituted of three gunas, it constantly undergoes modifications (parinama). In its original state, the three gunas are perfectly balanced in relation to each other. It is called sajatiya parinama. But due to the inherent changing and modifying nature of the three gunas, this state does not continue indefinitely and the process of creation (vijatiya parinama) starts, at the end of which objects of the world become manifest from the five mahabhutas as also the gross bodies of different living beings. The pradhana binds each being to the cycle of re-births (samsara).