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
  • Perform all work carefully, guided by compassion. All actions are performed by the gunas of Prakriti. Deluded by identification with the ego, a person thinks, “I am the doer.” But the illumined man or woman understands the domain of the gunas and is not attached. Such people know that the gunas interact with each other; they do not claim to be the doer.
  • 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.

The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi[edit]

Lotus representing Karma - Gandhi:No one ceases from karma [action] even for a moment. To listen and not to listen, both are forms of karma. Sattva, rajas, and tamas, the three forces or modes [gunas] of Prakriti [nature], drive everyone to action, whether he will or no...
Lakshmi - Gandhi: He [God] is a magician. He simply puts the seed in his imagination –which is Prakriti, Lakshmi or Mother Goddess of the world and the universe comes into existence.

Gandhi in The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi (15 June 2010)

  • For none ever remains inactive even for a moment; for all are compelled to action by the gunas inherent in Prakriti.
    • Gita, “The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi (15 June 2010)”. p. 37
  • No one ceases from karma [action] even for a moment. To listen and not to listen, both are forms of karma. Sattva, rajas, and tamas, the three forces or modes [gunas] of Prakriti [nature], drive everyone to action, whether he will or no... A tamasic man is one who works in a mechanical fashion; a rajasic man is one who rides too many horses, who is restless and is always doing something or the other; and the sattvic man is one who works with peace in his mind. One is always driven to work by one or another of these three modes of Prakriti or by a combination of them.
  • All action is entirely done by the gunas of Prakriti. Man deluded by the sense “I”, thinks, “I am the doer.”
  • Resorting to my Prakriti, I send forth again and again this multitude of beings, powerless under the sway of Prakriti.
  • God acts according to His Prakriti, and yet He does nothing since He is above even His Prakriti.
  • With me as presiding witness, Prakriti gives birth to all that moves and does not move, and because of this,
    • Gita, p. 123
  • He [God] is a magician. He simply puts the seed in his imagination –which is Prakriti, Lakshmi or Mother Goddess of the world and the universe comes into existence. the wheel of the world keeps going.
  • The mahatmas [great souls] who are ruled by their divine Prakriti worship Me with their minds illuminated by knowledge and with single minded devotion – Me who am the creator of all beings.
  • Know that Prakriti [nature] and Purusha [soul] are both without beginning. Know that all the modifications and gunas [qualities of nature] are born of Prakriti. Prakriti is described as the cause in the creation of effects from causes.
  • God is described as having two aspects. Under one aspect we should know Him as Prakriti and under the other as Purusa. Prakriti is the cause of creation of karya, anything done under compulsion of desires, and karan, the desires. Purusa is the cause of experience of happiness and misery.
  • For the Purusha, residing in Prakriti, experiences the gunas born of Prakriti. Attachment to these gunas is the cause of his birth in good or evil wombs.
  • The Purusha dwelling in this body is para, that is “beyond” Prakriti, but He witnesses and gives consent. He sustains everything, and is also the Enjoyer. He is moreover, the God of gods and is described as Paramatman.
  • The great Prakriti is for me the womb in which I deposit the germ. From it all beings come to birth, O Barata.
  • Sattva, rajas, and tamas, are the gunas [qualities] sprung from Prakriti. It is they, O, Mahabahu, that keep the imperishable Dweller bound to the body.
  • Those persons whose food, recreation, and thoughts are sattvic are healthy. A person who merely eats sattvic food but not sattvic in his general way of living and in his thoughts should be looked upon as a diseased person.
  • A part indeed of Myself, which has been eternal jiva [the individual soul] in this world of life attracts the mind and the five senses from their place in the Prakriti.
    • Gita, “The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi (15 June 2010)”. p. 173
  • There is no being, either on earth or in heaven among the gods, that can be free from the three gunas born out of Prakriti.

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.

Myth = Mithya (2008)[edit]

Devdutt Pattanaik: The first fish incarnation of Vishnu after Pralaya:The period before the split between Purusha and Prakriti is Pralaya.
Devdutt Pattanaik:Chinnamastika is Tantrik goddess who embodies rasa, the juice of life...By sitting on top of her lover. Prakriti is forcing Purusha to partake of life and thus create new life. By cutting her own head and drinking her blood, Prakriti reminds Purusha that no life can be sustained without consumption of another life. Rasa is what makes the world go round. Tantra is alchemy, the art of making the juice or rasa move in a desired direction.
Devdutt Pattanaik, in Myth = Mithya : A Handbook of Hindu Mythology (2008)
  • The split portion of Purusha is identified as Prakriti. The two complement each other. In common parlance , Purusha is translated to mean ‘man’ while Prakriti means ‘nature’. Thus Purush can also mean ‘culture’, while Prakriti can also mean ‘woman’.
    • In p. 35
  • The object is Prakriti. Purusha is the soul; Prakriti is mind and matter. Purusha is the inner reality, without gender, name or form. Prakriti is the outer reality of gender, names and forms. Purusha is still unchanging, unaffected by time of a space; it is that which makes the body alive. Prakriti is restless and ever-changing, a product of history and geography; it is the enactment of the soul. Purusha is perfect, hence not of this world, to be defined by negation, neti-neti, not this, not that. Prakriti is everything in this world hence never perfect.
    • In pp.35-36
  • That Purusha and Prakriti exist after the androgynous beings splits itself informs us that neither does Purusha create Prakriti nor does Prakriti create Purusha. They come into existence simultaneously. Neither is autonomous. Neither can exist independent of the other. Purusha needs Prakriti and Prakriti needs Purusha.
    • In P.36
  • ...the north, the right side and all things masculine came to represent Purusha while the south, the left side and all things feminine came to represent Prakriti. Left was chosen for Prakriti because it was associated with the beating heart while the silent right was reserved for Purusha.
    • In P.36
  • The period before the split between Purusha and Prakriti is Pralaya.
    • In P.40
  • In Rig Samhita, culture is described, as is Purusha, with a head, arms, trunk and legs. Thus culture is creation of the conscious being, the jiva. An imposition over Prakriti.
    • In p. 106
  • Men and women who seek to celebrate the union of Purusha and Prakriti and enjoy worldly life prefer coloured clothes; red for brides, green for mothers,
    • In p. 149
  • Chinnamastika is Tantrik goddess who embodies rasa, the juice of life...By sitting on top of her lover. Prakriti is forcing Purusha to partake of life and thus create new life. By cutting her own head and drinking her blood, Prakriti reminds Purusha that no life can be sustained without consumption of another life. Rasa is what makes the world go round. Tantra is alchemy, the art of making the juice or rasa move in a desired direction.
    • In P,166
  • It is desire that links Purusha with Prakriti.
    • In P.166

External links[edit]

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