पुरुष and प्रकृति

In this title, there are two words पुरुष and प्रकृति, which are closely related, especially from the metaphysical perspective as propounded in प्रकृतिं पुरुषं चैव विद्ध्यनादी उभावपि (13’19). Both पुरुष and प्रकृति have no beginning (and hence have no ending ?!)

Thinking of the word पुरुष, what comes to mind is पुरुषसूक्तम्, which should be The scripture, which should be giving the best knowledge of what पुरुष is.

But thinking of the word पुरुष in the context of गीता, I tend to think more specifically of उत्तमपुरुषः. The entire fifteenth chapter merits an independent study in this context, because it has the title पुरुषोत्तमयोगः.

There is great difference in the grammars of उत्तमपुरुषः and पुरुषोत्तमयोगः

  • उत्तमः पुरुषः इति उत्तमपुरुषः is simple कर्मधारयविग्रहः
  • पुरुषेषु उत्तमः इति पुरुषोत्तमः / तेन सह योगः तस्य योगः वा पुरुषोत्तमयोगः (!)

Anyway, thinking first of उत्तमपुरुषः, there are many, many instances or quotes in गीता, wherein श्रीकृष्णभगवान् speaks of Himself, using grammatical उत्तमपुरुषः i.e. forms in singular of अस्मद्-सर्वनाम (अस्मद्-सर्वनाम्नः एकवचन-रूपाणि) – अहम्, माम् (मा), मया, मह्यम् (मे), मत् (मत्तः), मम (मे) and मयि, as also मामिकाम् (see 9’7) and also मत् as the first component of compound words e.g. मत्स्थानि in 9’4.

Now, what I am musing upon is, whether browsing through all such quotes would reveal some knowledge of Who He is, OR What He is, what His basic, innate nature प्रकृति is, why He is there for ….. Maybe, studying all those quotes may itself become sort of आध्यात्मिकी साधना ?!

Let me acknowledge that this thought-process is provoked by Mr. Valerio Virgini, who pointed my attention to the word प्रकृति

  1. mentioned as सर्वभूतानि मामिकां प्रकृतिं यान्ति in 9’7
  2. as मयाध्यक्षेण प्रकृतिः सचराचरम् सूयते in 9’10
  3. also as इमं कृत्स्नम् अवशं भूतग्रामं प्रकृतेर्वशात् पुनः पुनः विसृजामि in 9’8

The word प्रकृति as appearing in the three quotes above seems to connote different things. OR are they different aspects of one and the same thing ? At this point one must also take note of परा and अपरा प्रकृति-s detailed in 7’4 and 7’5.

  • भूमिरापोऽनलो वायुः खं मनो बुद्धिरेव च / अहङ्कार इतीयं मे भिन्ना प्रकृतिरष्टधा (7’4)
  • अपरेयमितस्त्वन्यां प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम् / जीवभूतां महाबाहो ययेदं धार्यते जगत् (7’5)

One common factor in all these quotes (except 9’8) is some form or the other of अस्मद्-सर्वनाम्नः एकवचनस्य रूपम्, which I have marked in red. I have also everywhere made  the word प्रकृति bold.

At this point it would be appropriate to also take note of the mention of प्रकृति in Chapter 13.

  • प्रकृतिं पुरुषं चैव विद्ध्यनादी उभावपि / विकारांश्च गुणांश्चैव विद्धि प्रकृतिसंभवान् (13’19)
  • कार्यकारणकर्तृत्वे हेतुः प्रकृतिरुच्यते / पुरुषः सुखदुःखानां भोक्तृत्वे हेतुरुच्यते (13’20)
  • पुरुषः प्रकृतिस्थो हि भुङ्क्ते प्रकृतिजान् गुणान् / कारणं गुणसङ्गोऽस्य सदसद्योनिजन्मसु (13’21)

Having compiled as many quotes containing the word प्रकृति, a curiosity crops up, where else does one find this word प्रकृति all across गीता ? Does the word have any different connotation anywhere there ? One does not have to do any big exercise on this, because there is an interesting index श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतान्तर्गतपदानाम् अकारादिवर्णानुक्रमः in श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता (शाङ्करभाष्य हिन्दी-अनुवादसहित)  by गीताप्रेस, गोरखपूर It seems that the book was first published in विक्रमसंवत् १९८८ i.e. 1931 AD. What I have is a copy of 26th reprint in विक्रमसंवत् २०६३ i.e. 2006 AD. One can also refer to BhagavadgitaWordIndex.pdf linked here. This publication as per the Editorial note is of 1943, though author’s Preface is of 1945 (?!)

Anyway tabulated below are the extracts for the word प्रकृति from Page 121 of the pdf. Here author P. C. Diwanji gives two meanings of प्रकृति as primordial matter or one’s innate nature.

I am tempted to question, how good the meaning “primordial matter” is. Note, primordial means “existing at or since the beginning of the world or the universe”. This meaning of primordial is close enough to प्रकृतिं पुरुषं चैव विद्ध्यनादी उभावपि (13’19). My question is about the word “matter”. The detailing of अष्टधा अपरा प्रकृति in (7’4) includes खम्, मनः, बुद्धिः and अहङ्कारः. By my knowledge, none of these have any material content. The other four components of अष्टधा अपरा प्रकृति viz. भूमिरापोऽनलो वायुः do have material content.


 फ्रकृति - 1 प्रकृति 2

The difference between परा प्रकृति and अपरा प्रकृति then seems to be hinging on the mention of the word जीवभूताम् in the context of परा प्रकृतिः in (7’5). This परा प्रकृतिः is further credited with its nature and purpose being यया इदं जगत् धार्यते (it upholds and sustains this जगत्).

  • The verb धार्यते is in passive voice, which then should have the subject-word of active voice put in तृतीया विभक्तिः. The word यया is in तृतीया विभक्तिः. But I am tempted to think that तृतीया विभक्तिः of यया i.e. तृतीया विभक्तिः of परा प्रकृतिः is more in the instrumental sense करणकारका तृतीया. The actual subject-word in the active voice can be something else. May I put it as पुरुषेण इदं जगत् अनया परया प्रकृत्या धार्यते meaning “this world is upheld and sustained by The पुरुष, by means of that जीवभूताम् परा प्रकृतिः (!)”. By this जीवभूताम् परा प्रकृतिः becomes the modus operandi of how The पुरुष upholds and sustains the world. Does that then become the bigger picture, rather, the magnificent video of विश्वरूपदर्शनम्, how the ways of the world happen ?
  • Should it not be interesting to understand at his stage the word जगत् ? In the first मन्त्र in ईशावास्योपनिषत् we have ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत्. When studying the मन्त्र I got a prompt to study the etymology of the word जगत्. It has its etymology from जज् जञ्ज् 1 P. (जजति or जञ्जति) To fight, to struggle. Struggle is replete of activity. Etymology of प्रकृतिः (प्रकृष्टा कृतिः) also leads to similar meaning, replete of activity.
  • Does not कार्यकारणकर्तृत्वे हेतुः प्रकृतिरुच्यते (13’19) also lend similar meaning ? This meaning seems to apply uniformly even to परा प्रकृति and अपरा प्रकृति. If so, लोकमान्य तिलक seems justified in his contention that philosophy of गीता is primarily कर्मयोगशास्त्रम्.
    • कार्यकारणकर्तृत्वे हेतुः प्रकृतिरुच्यते (13’19) merits some deliberation.

कार्यकारणकर्तृत्वे हेतुः प्रकृतिरुच्यते (13’19)

  • कार्यकारणकर्तृत्वे = कार्याणां कारणानां च कर्तृत्वम् तत् कार्यकारणकर्तृत्वम् → तस्मिन्निति कार्यकारणकर्तृत्वे
  • हेतुः – This word has both the meanings – the objective and the means to achieve the objective.  
  • कार्यकारणकर्तृत्वे हेतुः प्रकृतिरुच्यते = प्रकृति as is called, is the objective and the means unto occurrence of  causes and effects. For example the occurrences of the phenomena in magnetism “like poles repel and unlike poles attract”  have both, the causes and effects inherent (dictionary meaningExisting in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute”).
  • Above example and definition of प्रकृति can as well be suggestive of प्रकृति being primarily the game of “energy-potentials”, happening all across the universe or all across the cosmos, non-stop, incessantly. We individuals are always a part of that game. Even after death, the dead body withering in the grave, is also a part of that प्रकृति “the game of energy-potentials”. Knowledge of this would also make one aware and knowledgeable of the vanity of striving to become wealthier or to become more famous or striving to become happier also  (!)
  • Even happiness, even eternal bliss should be let to happen and should not be strived for. That seems to be the significance of the title of the last, eighteenth chapter being मोक्षसंन्यासयोगः (!)
  • Every occurrence, including its causes and effects is how प्रकृति runs and would continue to run the game of energy-potentials all across the cosmos, incessantly.

In continuation of the above discussion about पुरुष and प्रकृति, it should be logical to now study पुरुषः प्रकृतिस्थो हि भुङ्क्ते प्रकृतिजान् गुणान् / कारणं गुणसङ्गोऽस्य सदसद्योनिजन्मसु (13’21)

  • There is a challenge here to decipher the compound word प्रकृतिस्थः. Of the two components, the second component स्थः (= तिष्ठति) is clear. But for connecting it with the first component प्रकृति, there can be different options.
    • पुरुषः प्रकृतिस्थः भवति = पुरुषः प्रकृत्यां तिष्ठति, then सः प्रकृतिजान् गुणान् भुङ्क्ते, meaning, when पुरुषः devolves into प्रकृति, He पुरुषः (naturally) acquires प्रकृतिजान् गुणान्.
    • पुरुषः प्रकृतिस्थः भवति = पुरुषः प्रकृत्या तिष्ठति, पुरुषः manifests by means of प्रकृति, He पुरुषः becomes adorned with प्रकृतिज-गुण-s, meaning पुरुषः as such has no गुण-s. Rather, पुरुषः is गुणातीत, as advocated in the fourteenth chapter. Or पुरुषः is अक्षरब्रह्म, as mentioned in the eighth chapter.
  • श्रीकृष्णभगवान् is also that manifestation of पुरुषः when पुरुषः प्रकृतिजान् गुणान्.भुङ्क्ते (!)

शुभमस्तु !