The Purusha is a very complex term whose meaning evolved through thousands of years in the Vedas and theUpanishads.
According to the Rig Veda,
A thousand head has the Purusha, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet
everywhere pervading the Earth, occupies the space of ten fingers.
This is the Purusha: all that is and all that will be
The Bhagavad Ghita speaking of the Purusha affirms the same thing:
Everywhere That had hands and feet,
everywhere eyes, heads and faces,
everywhere in the world hears
According to the Yoga Vashista:
The soul called the Purusha or inner person, whether it abided in the body or not,
and whether it is intelligent or otherwise never dies
upon the death of the body.
After the mind is set at rest, there remains the principle of the living soul.
This is called the Purusha or embodied spirit, which is the source of the energies of the body and mind.
Sri Aurobindo adds that:
In a certain sense the various Purushas or beings in us, psychic,
mental, vital, physical are projections of the Atman,
but that gets its full truth only when we get into our inner being and know the inner truth of ourselves.
On the surface, in the Ignorance, it is the mental, vital, physical Prakriti
that acts and the Purusha is disfigured, as it were,
in the action of the Prakriti.
It is not our true mental being, our true vital being, our true physical being even that we are aware of; these remain behind, veiled and silent. It is the mental, vital, physical ego that we take for our being until we get knowledge.
THE PARA PURUSHA OR PURUSHOTTAM
According to Sri Aurobindo,
is the Self containing and enjoying both the stillness and the movement,
but conditioned and limited by neither of them.
It is the Lord, Brahman, the All, the Indefinable and Unknowable.
It is this supreme Self that has to be realised in both
the unmoving and the mutable.
THE KSHARA PURUSHA
According to Sri Aurobindo, the Kshara Purusha
is the Self reflecting the changes and movements of Nature,
participating in them,
immersed in the consciousness of the movement and seeming in it to be born and die, increase and diminish, progress and change.
The Atman, as the Kshara, enjoys change and division and duality; controls secretly its own changes but seems to be controlled by them;
enjoys the oppositions of pleasure and pain, good and bad, but appears
to be their victim; possesses and upholds the action of Nature,
by which it seems to be created.
For, always and inalienably, the Self is Ishwara, the Lord. Akshara Purusha is the Self standing back from the changes and movements of Nature, calm, pure, impartial, indifferent, watching them and not participating, above them as on a summit, not immersed in these Waters.
This calm Self is the sky that never moves and changes looking down
upon the waters that are never at rest. The Akshara
is the hidden freedom of the Kshara.
THE AKSHARA PURUSHA
Note: like in Greek, in Sanskrit an A before a word implies its negation, therefore Akshara means beyond or without the Kshara.
The Upanishads define it as
Indefinable: neither big nor small, neither long nor short, neither hot nor cold,
neither bright nor dark, neither air nor space, without the senses,
without mind, movement, limitation, inside or outside…
As Sri Aurobindo said,
Akshara Purusha is the Self standing back from the changes and movements
of Nature, calm, pure, impartial, indifferent, watching them
and not participating,
above them as on a summit, not immersed in these Waters. This calm Self is the sky that never moves and changes looking down upon the waters that are never at rest.
The Akshara is the hidden freedom of the Kshara.
According to the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the Akshara
is the Imperishable and has no qualities as we know them, cannot be perceived
by the physical senses, is without shadow, without darkness,
without air, without ether, attachment…without mind.
By its command (just a few examples):
– Sun and Moon, Heaven and Earth, days and nights stand apart.
– Some rivers flow to the East from the white mountains, others to the West…
– Men praise those who give, the gods follow the sacrifice.
Whoever departs this world without knowing this Akshara
miserable a slave, but he who departs it
knowing Akshara, he is a Brahmana.