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Theosophical Encyclopedia


(Prakriti). Sanskrit for primordial nature or matter. It is a compound word consisting of the prefix pra meaning “forwards” or “progression” and kti, from ki “do” or “make.” It follows that (prakti) can mean “bring forth” or “originating.”

In the dualistic Sānkhya philosophy, prakti is the material part of the cosmos, which combines with Puru±a (spirit) to produce the multidimensional universe. It is said that Prakti arises out of Mūlaprakrti and is to be associated with Vikti which implies “change” or “evolution.” It has three qualities or GUNAS: rajas (activity), tamas (inertia) and sattva (purity or goodness). The aim of human life is to liberate oneself from the bonds of prakti to attain moksha. In Vedānta, prakti is part of manifestation and hence is considered as part of illusion or MĀYĀ.

A better understanding of prakti may be gained if we consider that the common usage of the word “Nature,” in many contexts, is very close to the theosophical meaning of prakti. Nature is referred to as the producer of all that surrounds us — Nature is not a tree, but is the process that produces the tree. In the same way, prakti is not a tree, but is that from which trees arise. Prakti is sometimes used as a synonym of “matter,” but this is misleading because prakti encompasses that part of the process that originates matter.

Helena P. BLAVATSKY points out that there are seven forms of prakti. These are the TATTVAS, or the substances out of which the cosmos is formed. “And if the forms, or rather planes, of the latter are seven, then its forces must be seven also; that is, the degrees of the solidity of matter and the degrees of the power that ensouls it must go hand in hand” (CW XII:605).


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