The Supreme Purusha, the Purushottama

Philosophers have struggled with the question of how to reconcile the mutable involved soul (Kshara Purusha) with the immutable and disengaged soul (Akshara Purusha) and this has led to concepts such as the world being an illusion, Maya, and the reality being the consciousness that is silent, aloof and disengaged. Essentially they accept a duality of one sort or another. This leads however to the idea that the action of the world should be abandoned in favor of a higher Reality and higher Truth.

The Gita does not accept this solution. It proposes instead the idea that there is a supreme Purusha, the Purushottama, that holds within itself both the Kshara and the Akshara, and that the two are aspects or poises of one Self, not in opposition to one another, but supportive and complementary to each other.

Sri Aurobindo presents the Gita’s solution: “The supreme Soul is the Ishwara, God, the Master of all beings….He puts forth his own active nature, his Prakriti,….manifest in the Jiva, worked out by the svabhava, “own-becoming”, of each Jiva according to the law of the divine being in it, the great lines of which each Jiva must follow, but worked out too in the egoistic nature by the bewildering play of the three Gunas upon each other….That is the …Maya hard for man to get beyond,…–yet can one get beyond it by transcending the three Gunas. For while all this is done by the Ishwara through his Nature-Power in the Kshara, in the Akshara he is untouched, indifferent, regarding all equally, extended within all, yet above all. In all three he is the Lord, the supreme Ishwara in the highest, the presiding and all-pervading Impersonality…in the Akshara, and the immanent Will and present active Lord in the Kshara. He is free in his impersonality even while working out the play of his personality; he is not either merely impersonal or personal, but one and the same being in two aspects; he is the impersonal-personal…of the Upanishad. By him all has been willed even before it is worked out…and the working out by Nature is only the result of his Will; yet by virtue of his impersonality behind he is not bound by his works….”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 22, Beyond the Modes of Nature, pg. 220

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