Introduction to Hinduism - Prakriti

Prakriti

by Jayaram V

The naked eye cannot miss three basic component aspects of reality, the space, matter and oneself. The first two are experienced because of the last. The first two will exist forever, while the last one will be temporary.

Our ancient scholars studied these three basic aspects of creation and drew their own conclusions. They argued, debated and discussed about their nature and relationship. They believed that the combination of the first two resulted in the formation of the last.

They believed that if the universe had a personality consisting of space, which was filled with pure consciousness, and matter or materiality, which was essentially a form of energy, it was also reflected in the making of a being (jiva).

The body represented matter and the soul inside represented pure consciousness. Thus, life emerged out of the combination of the two eternal principles, consciousness (or ethereal space) and energy (or materiality).

Our scriptures call them Purusha and Prakriti, the two eternal and highest components of creation. Union between them results in the creation of things and beings. Separation between them results in either the dissolution of the worlds or the liberation of beings.

Purusha is the eternal and indestructible Self. He is described as the efficient cause of creation.

Prakriti is described as His materiality. It includes every modification of matter and energy that happens in the universe.

In some traditions, She is described as the material cause, while in schools of Shaktism, which hold Her as the Supreme, She is regarded as both material and efficient causes. Prakriti is that which exists in its natural state.

Whatever is original and pristine in creation is Prakriti. It imparts parts, qualities, properties and essential nature to things and beings. Regarding this eternal principle, different views and descriptions are available in Hinduism, which are summarized below.

  • Prakriti is primal Nature
  • A dependent and dynamic aspect of God
  • An independent and eternal aspect of creation
  • Source of beingness, materiality and corporeality of all beings
  • Natural state
  • The mind and body
  • Superior to even God
  • Source of bondage of beings
  • Causes delusion and ignorance
  • Veils knowledge and wisdom
  • Causes modifications, impermanence and change
  • The field (kshetra)
  • Source of all names and forms
  • Mechanical in its actions
  • Produces nothing new
  • Always constant
  • Indestructible
  • Creates diversity, duality, desires and attachment
  • Universal Mother
  • Supreme Energy

Source: Reproduced with permission from  An Introduction to Hinduism by Jayaram V; ISBN: 978-1-935760-11-5. B&W 6 x 9 in or 229 x 152 mm Perfect Bound on Creme w/Matte Lam; Page Count: 332.

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