By Swami Harshananda
parāprakrti (‘the higher prakṛti or nature’)
Generally most of the Hindu systems of philosophy known as the Saḍdarśanas or the six schools, accept three basic factors as involved in the process of creation: the prakṛti (material matrix); the jīvas (individual souls, unredeemed as yet); and, īśvara (God).
īśvara creates the world out of prakṛti and involves the jīvas in the bodies made
out of that prakṛti, in accordance with their karma or deserts of previous lives.
It is only in the Bhagavadgītā (7.4,5) that we find a classification of prakṛti as aparā (lower) and parā (higher).
Both these prakṛtis are of the Lord. They belong to him.
The aparāprakṛti is jaḍa (lifeless, non-conscious) and is eightfold: bhumi (earth); āpas (water); anala (fire); vāyu (air); kham (ether or space or sky); manas (mind); buddhi (intellect); and ahaṅkāra (egoity).
The material universe is made out of this.
The jīva (individual soul) is different from this aparāprakṛti and is termed ‘parāprakrti.’ It is ‘prakṛti’ since it is also involved as a part of creation, as a basic factor. It is ‘parā’ or ‘superior’ since it is conscious and is full of life as opposed to the other which is insentient.
The whole universe is a product of these two prakṛtis and īśvara, the Lord, is responsible for its evolution or creation, sustenance, and involution or destruction.
See also aparāprakrti.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore