The Purushottama Reconciles the Akshara and the Kshara Purusha Aspects

The Gita applies the paradigm of thesis–antithesis–synthesis in addressing the apparent contradictions between the status of the Akshara Purusha, silent, immobile, unaffected by life in the world, and that of the Kshara Purusha, involved in the activities of Nature, and apparently bound by desire and the action o the Gunas and suffering as a result. The Gita proposes another status, called the Purushottama, which incorporates both that of the Akshara and the Kshara, and finds in that new status the reconciling principle that allows them to be seen as complementary aspects, not contradictory and irreconcilable opposites.

As long as the soul is totally immersed in and involved in the actions of the Gunas of Nature, it cannot attain to the status of the Purushottama which would liberate it from its bondage to nature. Those who recognize this have tended in the past to focus on attainment of the status of the Akshara Purusha through abandonment of an active life and the fulfillment of desires. This method has the advantage of at least providing the soul some amount of distance from the day to day activities and thus, the potential to achieve a higher status. But attainment of the Akshara status does not address the other side of the manifestation, the world, the actions and forces and forms and the status of mastery within the world, which the Purushottama aspect adds to that of the Akshara.

Sri Aurobindo discusses the issue: “But yet is he more even than a highest unmanifest Akshara, more than any negative Absolute, neti, neti, because he is to be known also as the supreme Purusha who extends this whole universe in his own existence. He is a supreme mysterious All, an ineffable positive Absolute of all things here. He is the Lord in the Kshara, Purushottama not only there, but here in the heart of every creature, Ishwara….It is by knowing him at once in the Akshara and the Kshara, it is by knowing him as the Unborn who partially manifests himself in birth and even himself descends as the constant Avatar, it is by knowing him in his entirety…that the soul is easily released from the appearances of the lower Nature and returns by a vast sudden growth and broad immeasurable ascension into the divine being and supreme Nature. For the truth of the Kshara too is a truth of the Purushottama. The Purushottama is in the heart of every creature and is manifested in his countless Vibhutis; the Purushottama is the cosmic spirit in Time and it is he that gives the command to the divine action of the liberated human spirit. He is both Akshara and Kshara, and yet he is other because he is more and greater than either of these opposites.”

“But other than these two is the highest spirit called the supreme Self, who enters the three worlds and upbears them, the imperishable Lord.” “This verse is the keyword of the Gita’s reconciliation of these two apparently opposite aspects of our existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 15, The Three Purushas, pp. 426-427

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