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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Purusa, PuruSa, Purusha

Puruṣa literally means ‘one who sleeps in the city of nine gates or the body’.

In common use, the word ‘puruṣa’ means a man. A good man should have these five qualities:

  • Giving gifts to deserving persons
  • Appreciating the good in others
  • Feeling happy in the company of relatives and friends
  • Erudition in the scriptures
  • Capacity to fight for a righteous cause

He should also have great self-control. In the Upaniṣads, the word has often been used to indicate the jīva[1] and also the Paramātman.[2] The Sāñkhya philosophy uses it as a technical term indicating the individual soul. In Sanskrit grammar, it is used to denote the first, the second and the third persons.


  1. Jīva means the Self.
  2. Paramātman means the Supreme Soul or God.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore