अपरेयमितस्त्वन्यां प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम् |
जीवभूतां महाबाहो ययेदं धार्यते जगत् || 5||
apareyam itas tvanyāṁ prakṛitiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
aparā—inferior; iyam—this; itaḥ—besides this; tu—but; anyām—another; prakṛitim—energy; viddhi—know; me—my; parām—superior; jīva-bhūtām—living beings; mahā-bāho—mighty-armed one; yayā—by whom; idam—this; dhāryate—the basis; jagat—the material world
O Arjuna! This is the inferior (described in the previous verse), Know My other nature, the Higher – Para Prakriti, the life-element by which the universe is upheld.
The Lord now explains the ‘Para Prakriti’ the Higher Nature. It is the life-element by which the whole universe is upheld. Even this, like the ‘apara prakriti‘ is under the control of the Lord, the Purusha. Let us understand the distinction between the para and apara Prakriti by means of an illustration. There is a pot filled with water, and the orb of the Sun is reflected in it. Here the pot and water are apara Prakriti- inferior nature, and the reflected orb of the sun shining in the water is para prakriti, Higher nature. The pot stands for the body, the water for the mind, and the reflected sun for the individual self (ego) by which man is deluded into thinking that he is a distinct and real personality. The real sun shining in the sky is Atma, Pursha, the Lord. When the pot and water are destroyed, the sun is not at all affected by it. He shines in his own pristine glory. So the falling away of the body does not make any difference to Atma which is Eternal. Sankaracharya in the Viveka Chudamani explains this idea very clearly.
The wise man leaves the pot, water and the reflection, and looks at the real self-luminous Sun. So also the man of knowledge does not attach himself to the body, mind, and egoism, which appears as his individual self. He takes refuge in Atma which is distinct from all these three, in the same way as the Sun in the sky is absolutely separate from that which is reflected in the water.
All the changes pertain to the pot water and the reflection in it. The real Sun does not change. The pot may be big or small, the water pure or muddy. This does not affect the sun. So also the changes that take place in the body and mind of man does not affect Atma. The para and apara prakriti of the Lord undergoe all sorts of modification, but the Lord, Purusha, is not touched by them at all. The elements (apara prakriti) are insentient. According to the Advaitic concept, both the Prakritis are unreal. What is real is Atma. The seeker has to give up both the lower and higher Prakriti in order to reach Atma. Of course, the life element, the personality state, is superior to the gross insentient matter. But it is also a component part of nature and cannot claim the attribute of Reality. The man in a dream may be superior to the rocks and trees of the dream, but to the awakened man both the dream-man and dream world are utterly unreal. Thus we arrive at the one supreme Reality in para and apara Prakriti dwell, subject to the control of the Purusha. Knowing that the individual ego and the world are both unreal, the seeker has to take refuge in the Supreme Brahman.
Question: What is Para Prakriti?
Answer: It is the life-element. By it, the universe is sustained. It is superior to the apara prakriti.