In this article you will find a collection of Swami Vivekananda‘s quotations on the Purusha — the unchangeable, omnipotent, omniscient Supreme Being or the cosmic being.
Note: This article will include Sankhya’s, Kapila’s commentaries on Purusha, but these are mainly Vivekananda’s notes on those commentaries.
Purusha accordint to Kapila
From Complete Works, Volume: II—[Source]According to Kapila, from undifferentiated nature to thought or intellect, not one of them is what he calls the “Enjoyer” or “Enlightener”. Just as is a lump of clay, so is a lump of mind. By itself the mind has no light; but ate see it reasons. Therefore there must be some one behind it, whose light is percolating through Mahat and consciousness, and subsequent modifications, and this is what Kapila calls the Purusha, the Self of the Vedantin. According to Kapila, the Purusha is a simple entity, not a compound; he is immaterial, the only one who is immaterial, and all these various manifestations are material.
Purusha according to Patanjali’s Raja Yoga, Notes by Swami Vivekananda
From chapter “Powers”—[Source]
- Samyama on the self-centred one gives knowledge of the Purusha.
- The highest philosophy of the Yogi is based upon this fact, that the Purusha is pure and perfect, and is the only “simple” that exists in this universe.
- To the Yogi knowledge of the enjoyments of the world comes by the junction of the Purusha and the mind. If he wants to make Samyama on the knowledge that they are two different things, nature and soul, he gets knowledge of the Purusha. From that arises discrimination. When he has got that discrimination, he gets the Pratibha, the light of supreme genius.
- When nature has been conquered, and the difference between the Purusha and nature realised — that the Purusha is indestructible, pure and perfect — then come omnipotence and omniscience.
- When this power of discrimination has been attained, man sees that everything in this world, mental and physical, is a compound, and, as such, cannot be the Purusha.
- When Sattva is free from egoism and illuminated with the pure intelligence of Purusha, it is called the self-centred one, because in that state it becomes independent of all relations.
From chapter “Independence”‘—
- Bad deeds put a bar to the manifestation of the nature of the Purusha; good deeds take the obstacles off, and the glory of the Purusha becomes manifest. The Purusha itself is never changed.
- If the mind were self-luminous it would be able to cognise itself and its objects at the same time, which it cannot. When it cognises the object, it cannot reflect on itself. Therefore the Purusha is self-luminous, and the mind is not.
- The essence of knowledge (the Purusha) being unchangeable, when the mind takes its form, it becomes conscious. Patanjali says this to make it more clear that knowledge is not a quality of the Purusha. When the mind comes near the Purusha it is reflected, as it were, upon the mind, and the mind, for the time being, becomes knowing and seems as if it were itself the Purusha.
- The mind is a compound of various things and therefore it cannot work for itself. Everything that is a combination in this world has some object for that combination, some third thing for which this combination is going on. So this combination of the mind is for the Purusha.
- The practice of Yoga leads to discriminating power, to clearness of vision. The veil drops from the eyes, and we see things as they are. We find that nature is a compound, and is showing the panorama for the Purusha, who is the witness; that nature is not the Lord, that all the combinations of nature are simply for the sake of showing these phenomena to the Purusha, the enthroned king within. When discrimination comes by long practice, fear ceases, and the mind attains isolation.
- The Purusha alone is self-luminous, and gives its light to everything. It is the power of the Purusha that is percolating through all matter and force.
- The Purusha is happiness and blessedness by its own nature.
Purusha according to the Sankhyas
From a lecture of Swami Vivekananda, delivered on 18 July 1895, recorded by Miss S. E. Waldo—[Source]
The Sankhyas say that consciousness is a compound, and beyond that, the last analysis gives us the Purusha, Witness, but that there are many Purushas — each of us is one. Advaita, on the contrary, affirms that Purushas can be only One, that Purusha cannot be conscious, unconscious, or have any qualification, for either these qualities would bind, or they would eventually cease; so the One must be without any qualities, even knowledge, and It cannot be the cause of the universe or of anything. “In the beginning, existence only, One without a second”, says the Vedas.
From CW, Volume: II—[Source]
- The Purusha is the unwitting cause of all the changes in the universe. That is to say, this Purusha, taking Him in the universal sense, is the God of the universe.[Source]
- What then is this Purusha? It is neither intelligence nor will, but it is the cause of all these. It is its presence that sets them all going and combining. It does not mix with nature; it is not intelligence, or Mahat; but the Self, the pure, is Purusha. “I am the witness, and through my witnessing, nature is producing; all that is sentient and all that is insentient.”[Source]
Purusha is not consciousness, because consciousness is a compound; buts whatever is light and good in consciousness belongs to Purusha. Purusha is not conscious, but whatever is light in intelligence belongs to Purusha. Sentiency is in the Purusha, but the Purusha is not intelligent, not knowing. The Chit in the Purusha plus Prakriti is what we see around us. Whatever is pleasure and happiness and light in the universe belongs to Purusha; but it is a compound, because it is Purusha plus Prakriti. “Wherever there is any happiness, wherever there is any bliss, there is a spark of that immortality which is God.” “Purusha is the; great attraction of the universe; though untouched by and unconnected with the universe, yet it attracts the whole; universe.” You see a man going after gold, because behind it is a spark of the Purusha though mixed up with a good deal of dirt. When a man loves his children or a woman her husband, what is the attracting power? A spark of Purusha behind them. It is there, only mixed up with “dirt”. Nothing else can attract. “In this world of insentiency the Purusha alone is sentient.” This is the Purusha of the Sankhya.
More comments on Sankhya’s commentaries on Purusha
- Activity, according to Sankhya, belongs to Prakriti, to nature, not to Purusha or soul.[Source]
Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on the Purusha
- How can the Purusha join itself to Prakriti (nature)? It does not; it is only illusively thought to do so. . .[Source]
- Prana appears in it as psychic forces, and Akasha as Tanmatras or fine particles. Beyond this is the Electric Sphere; that is to say, a condition inseparable from Akasha, and you can hardly tell whether electricity is force or matter. Next is the Brahmaloka, where there is neither Prana nor Akasha, but both are merged into the mind – stuff, the primal energy. And here — there being neither Prana nor Akasha — the Jiva contemplates the whole universe as Samashti or the sum total of Mahat or mind. This appears as Purusha, an abstract Universal Soul, yet not the Absolute, for still there is multiplicity.[Source]
- The Purusha Himself sacrificed Himself to create this world.[Source]
- This great Purusha, this great One — He is this universe, He is the work, He is the sacrifice. He is Brahman, and He is the trinity. He who knows Him frees his own soul from the bond of ignorance and becomes free.[Source]
- When this Golden One, who is to be seen, is seen — the Creator, the Lord, the Purusha, the God of this universe — then the sage has washed off all stains of good and bad deeds. (Good deeds are as much stains as bad deeds.) Then he attains to total sameness with the Pure One. The sage knows that He who is the Soul of all souls — this Atman — shines through all.[Source]