Prakriti

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Prakrti or Prakriti or Prakruti (from Sanskrit प्रकृति, prakṛti) means "nature". It is, according to Hinduism, the basic nature of intelligence by which the Universe exists and functions. It is described in Bhagavad Gita as the "primal motive force".

Quotes[edit]

Devi-Bhagavata: Vishnu is said to be beyond purusa and prakriti or to include both. … prakriti, like maya and shakti, in the Bhagavata, is something Vishnu possesses and controls. With prakriti becoming a goddess, or even identified with the Goddess, Devi,...
Bansi Pandit:In Prakriti and Gunas, the concept of prakriti is used in Sankhya philosophy to explain the evolution of the universe. Prakriti is defined as the ultimate primal matter 'below' human consciousness or the ultimate cosmic energy, the material cause of the universe.
Bansi Pandit:Prakriti is the source of the five great elements earth, water, fire, air, and ether known as Panchamahabhutas. These five great elements comprise all material objects and the bodies of plants, trees, insects, animals, and human beings. All beings in the world are the products of the union of atman (or Purusha of Sankhya philosophy) and Prakriti.
Adi Shankara:In Samkhya, since atman (Purusa) is pure consciousness, which cannot be defined further, and Prakrti is responsible for the creation of the empirical world, Purusa is regarded as essentially inactive. But, while in Advaita, the multitude of souls (of course, the karmic chain of transmigration might hold together one and the same soul but they are supposed to be innumerable chains representing different souls) is only valid on the empirical, lower stage of reality.
  • The Samkya philosophers say that of the two principles, Purusa and Prakriti, it is Prakriti, the creatrix of the world, that is devoid of consciousness (caitanya).
    • C. Mackenzie Brown, in "The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of … (29 August 1990)]", p. 30
  • The Devi-Bhagavata, expounding the sakta perspective, explicitly rejects the Samkhyan view of matter, prakriti.
    • Devi-Bhagavata, in "The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of … (29 August 1990)]", p. 30
  • Gandhi's understanding of 'nature' was a far more inclusive one, rooted in the Gujarati word Prakruti, which derived from the Sanskrit Prakriti, meaning ‘ the original or natural form or condition of anything, original or primary substance’, and ‘the personified will of the Supreme in creation...For Gandhi, the power of Prakriti made a mockery of even the most advanced technology of the day.
  • Prakriti is the source of the five great elements earth, water, fire, air, and ether known as Panchamahabhutas. These five great elements comprise all material objects and the bodies of plants, trees, insects, animals, and human beings. All beings in the world are the products of the union of atman (or Purusha of Sankhya philosophy) and Prakriti.
    • Bansi Pandit, in "The Hindu Mind: Fundamentals of Hindu Religion and Philosophy for All Ages (1 January 2001)", p. 62
  • One should understand that the Atman is always like the King, distinct from the body, senses, mind and intellect, all of which constitute the matter (Prakriti); and is the witness of their functions.
  • In Samkhya, since atman (Purusa) is pure consciousness, which cannot be defined further, and Prakrti is responsible for the creation of the empirical world, Purusa is regarded as essentially inactive. But, while in Advaita, the multitude of souls (of course, the karmic chain of transmigration might hold together one and the same soul but they are supposed to be innumerable chains representing different souls) is only valid on the empirical, lower stage of reality.

A Study of the Sankhya Philosophy[edit]

Vivekananda]], in A Study of the Sankhya Philosophy

  • Prakriti is called by the Sânkhya philosophers indiscreet, and defined as the perfect balance of the materials in it; and it naturally follows that in perfect balance there cannot be any motion. In the primal state before any manifestation, when there was no motion but perfect balance, this Prakriti was indestructible, because decomposition or death comes from instability or change.
  • The Chit in the Purusha plus Prakriti is what we see around us. Whatever is pleasure and happiness and light in the universe belongs to Purusha; but it is a compound, because it is Purusha plus Prakriti.
  • ...if we ask the Sankhya the question, "Who created nature?" — the Sankhya says that the Purusha and the Prakriti are uncreate and omnipresent, and that of this Purusha there is an infinite number. We shall have to controvert these propositions, and find a better solution, and by so doing we shall come to Advaitism.

The Idealistic Philosophy of Swami Vivekananda[edit]

Gurumayum Ranjit Sharma:The Samkhya system is associated with the name of the ancient sage Kapila. The basic contention of Samkhya is that the world evolves out of Prakriti through the interplay of gunas. Prakriti is constituted by three gunas – Sattva, Rejas and Tamas. Sattva is the quality of serenity or repose. Rajas stands for activity or movement. Tamas is inertia.

Gurumayum Ranjit Sharma, in The Idealistic Philosophy of Swami Vivekananda (1January1987)

  • The Samkhya system is associated with the name of the ancient sage Kapila. The basic contention of Samkhya is that the world evolves out of Prakriti through the interplay of gunas. Prakriti is constituted by three gunas – Sattva, Rejas and Tamas. Sattva is the quality of serenity or repose. Rajas stands for activity or movement. Tamas is inertia.
    • In p. 97
  • Prakriti is the fundamental substance out of which the world evolves...Parkriti evolves under the influence of Purusa
  • The most perplexing of Samkhya system is the problem of relation between Purusa and Prakriti. Prakriti evolves a world full of woe and desolation to raise the soul from its slumber. The unrolling of the tragedy of the world is said to be necessary for the self, which remains inactive though it sees all that is presented to it...The evolution of Prakriti implies spiritual agency. But the spiritual centers admitted by Samkhya are incapable of exerting any direct influence on Prakriti; the Samkhya says that the mere presence of Purusas excited Prakriti to activity and development. Though Purusa is not endowed with creative might, Prakriti, which produces the manifold universe, is so on account of its union with Purusa. Prakriti is blind, but with the guidance of Purusa it produces the manifold universe. The union of the two is compared to a lame man of good vision mounted on the shoulders of a blind man of sure foot.
  • Know therefore that Prakriti is maya and the controlled of maya is the Supreme Lord. All this world with all its beings are but parts of Him.
  • Though the physical world and the individual souls are real they are not independent of the supreme. They are para-tantra, while God alone is sva-tantra. Prakriti, Purusa, Kala,Karma, Svabhava are dependent. Though eternal they do not exist by their own right but by the will of the Supreme.
    • Madhvacharya, in p. 76
  • In Paramatma Sahita, [ Sankara says] that the Supreme Self regards him as His very self. The self in the body is generally absorbed by the world of dualities, cold and heat, pain and pleasure but when it controls the senses and masters the world, the self becomes free when the self is bound by the modes of Prakriti or nature as it is called Kshetragna, when it is freed from them, the same self is called the Supreme Self.
    • S. Radhakrishnan, p. 129
  • Universal self which is beyond the universal modification of ‘Prakriti’ is what is called ‘Ishvara’, the Supreme Ruler, God.

External links[edit]

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