Purusha, the Sanskrit designation of primal man, is a term often associated with kundalini yoga and praktiri. A whole book was dedicated to him, “Puran purush”.
It is also a term associated with papa purusha, but wrongly because it remains two different concepts.
Here we shall not speak of Samsara and Samkhya, but rather of the definition of the authentic spirit which has been a true source of inspiration for many great yogi who have shaped our art.
How to define Purusha?
In yoga, two realities constantly interact. The result of these interactions is all experience as well as the cosmos. Our perceptions and the “tools” that enable us to perceive are the direct results of these interactions. Why are we talking about this?
Simply because the first of these realities is purusha. Purusha, then, the observer, the consciousness, is all that was and will be.
The ultimate essence of man, therefore, the Self, is what designates this famous purusha. This only observes, motionless and in silence, prakriti. Purusha is above all “madhyasta”, that is to say impartial, objective. In Samkhya-karika, verse 56, we speak of pratipurusha, which refers to all purusha.
By inference, there are many purusha. This is the activity of Prakriti, the cosmic man that goes from the Great Principle to the specific coarse elements. It exists for the liberation of all Purusha (pratipurusha).
Though it seems to itself, it is to others." (S-K. 56) For the liberation of all Purusha" (pratipurusha) means that all beings are designed to be liberated.
A bit like the Baghad Vita, all these collections of Rigveda India’s oldest texts are indispensable in a total understanding of yoga.
These universal principles of life are fundamental in this way of life, and even if it is not obligatory to read them fully (given the price and the time it takes, you must be really motivated), it is always very beneficial to take a closer look at them.
Take the time, immerse yourself in this culture totally different from ours, and it will only bear fruit in the longer or shorter term.
Purusha’s place in Indian philosophy
If one is interested in the origins of this Sanskrit term, Purusha is a rather vast word that can mean «male, person, hero, servant, spirit,» and even «body of the universe».
In Indian philosophy, on the other hand, we remain on a more abstract definition, because it means «the divine Being» among others. This term is often associated with Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga who are primitive individuals from whom the microcosm emanates.
At the level of pure etymology, Purusha is based on the name of the «pure» fire which designates heroes or men.
The comparison between Purusha and Prakriti
If purusha is the first entity that constantly interacts, prakriti is the second. It is the primordial matter which consists of 3 primary forces. Some even define it as the first of the particles of the cosmos, the one that, as it evolves, gives birth to all kinds of matter and energy.
To simplify, any aspect of our person, that is, our body, mind, mind, senses, … everything is a manifestation of prakriti. On an even larger scale, everything in our universe that we perceive or not is only prakriti.
The link between purusha and prakriti is obviously very powerful, because purusha observes prakriti through prakriti. The problem with this interaction is that purusha tends to forget its true nature, which is the basic cause of suffering, of the ill-being of being.
This is where yoga comes in, because as breathing exercises (for example pranayama) seek to soothe your mind, yoga will have as its objective to liberate purusha from prakriti.