Purusha


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Purusha means the pure consciousness or absolute self, a synonym of the word [wiki]atman[/wiki]. It can be derived from the etymology puru+usha, where ‘pur’ can mean before and ‘usha’ dawn, creation or beginning. Thus that which was present even before the dawn of creation or the beginning of time. The purusha is first described in the [wiki]Vedas[/wiki] in the Purusha suktam where the purusha is described as the cosmic self which transforms itself to create from a quarter of itself the entire phenomenal creation. This quarter of purusha is described to be repeatedly created and destroyed(perhaps an early precursor of the notion of [wiki]yuga[/wiki]), whereas three quarters of the purusha remain abstract and beyond sensory perception.

In the formal Hindu philosophical school Samkhya, purusha is described as the observer or witness who by the very act of observation causes primordial matter [wiki]prakriti[/wiki] to collapse out of its undifferentiated and unmanifest([wiki]avyaktam[/wiki]) state and manifest into existence. In the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna describes himself to be the eternal purusha who impregnated prakriti with the seed of creation and thus gave birth to creation.

Purusha and prakriti are often described to be a couple and as interdependent; one cannot exist without the other. The purusha is described as the male principle and prakriti as the feminine principle. In Tantra there is a similar concept: Shiva and Shakti. However, the difference is that while creation is described as the union of purusha and prakriti, in Tantra it is the separation of shiva and [wiki]shakti[/wiki] which brings about creation. In Hatha Yoga, hatha yogis try to bring shakti into union with shiva through physical practices by attempting to awaken shakti present as cosmic energy at the base of the spine known as kundalini. This kundalini then ascends up the spine to the crown of the head peircing and activating each of the [wiki]chakras[/wiki] on the way resulting in total physio-spiritual transformation or enlightenment.

In Hinduism purusha and prakriti is deified as the god and goddess, Vishnu and Lakshmi. Vishnu is the one that governs the presevation of the universe in the hindu trinity. Lakshmi is one of the nine forms of the divine mother([wiki]shakti[/wiki]) and is considered the goddess of wealth and power. The coupling of gods with goddesses is a central theme in Hindu mythology and art. Other popular couplings include: Brahma and Saraswati; Shiva and Parvarti.