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Prakṛti (Skt., ‘making first’). In Sanskrit literature, primordial material nature. In mythology prakṛti is personified as a goddess of cosmic creative energy, Śakti, the female counterpart of every god. In Vedānta, prakṛti is synonymous with cosmic manifestation, hence as appearance, māyā. In Sāṃkhya-yoga prakṛti plays an important role as the ultimate material reality juxtaposed with puruṣa, the ultimate spiritual reality. Here prakṛti is the matrix of the universe, the material cause of all manifest matter and energy. As such, prakṛti is composed of three balanced guṇas (Skt., ‘strands’) or constituent modes which, in disequilibrium, combine to generate all other material principles (tattvas).

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