Shvetashvatara Upanishad 4.5

Śvetāśvataropaniṣad 4.5

अजाम् एकाम् लोहितशुक्लकृष्णम् बह्वीः प्रजाः सृजमानां सरूपाः
अजो ह्येको जुषमाणोनुशेते जहात्येनां भुक्तभोगाम् अजोन्यः

ajām ekām lohita-śukla-kṛṣṇām
bahvīḥ prajāḥ sṛjamānāṁ sarūpāḥ
ajo hy eko juṣamāṇo ‘nuśete
jahāty enāṁ bhukta-bhogām ajo ‘nyaḥ


There is one beginningless entity who is clear-white when she transmits conscious perception, reddish-hued when she inspires creativity, and dark-blue when she coagulates and destroys. There is another beginningless entity who wants to procreate with her. Yet another beginningless entity forsakes her after enjoying her.

Basic explanation

The verse mentions three “beginningless entities.” The first is prakṛti — nature, the original form of the external world. The second is a baddha-jīva — a living entity who wants to enjoy her. The third is a mukta-jīva — a living entity who forsakes her after enjoying her.

Prakṛti is so attractive. She has many “colors.” These three colors are her guṇa (attractive qualities): sattva, rajas, and tamas. Sattva is characterized as white and clear. Its purpose is to allow consciousness to interact with inert, extrinsic materials. Rajas is characterized as reddish and hued. Its purpose is to inspire creativity and expansion. Tamas is characterized as dark and blue-black. Its purpose is to allow things to cease, rest, and contract / coagulate.

The jīva is also beginningless, it becomes attracted to enjoy prakṛti’s beautiful qualities. The connotation is sexual (the word anuśete literally means “what happens after lying down together”). The verse describes two types of jīva – one is lying down in the arms of prakṛti, another is getting up and walking away after enjoying her. The implication is that the second type will achieve mokṣa – and existence not limited within the three qualities of prakṛti.

Extended Explanation: Gender Mixup

The irony expressed subtly in this verse is that both beginningless entities are prakṛti — they are both parts of the creative energies of Bhagavān. There are three categories of prakṛti. The current verse describes only two of them. The first, not described here, is the internal-prakṛti of Bhagavān Puruṣa, which delights him. The second, described here with three colors, is the external-prakṛti which makes herself available to delight a third type of prakṛti individual living beings who are not inclined towards participating in the Bhagavān-centric delight of the internal prakṛti. This third prakṛti is the jīva. It is not a part of the external prakṛti, nor is it  a part of the internal prakṛti. It is a third type of prakṛti which has the freedom to invest itself into one of the other two.

The irony is that only Bhagavān is truly the puruṣa (male). All three other beginningless entities are prakṛti (female). Thus the relationship between the jīva and the external-prakṛti is “homosexual” or “entirely imaginary.” The jīva is prakṛti, and the thing she wants to lie-down with is also prakṛti… both partners are female. But the external-prakṛti enchants the jīva so she feels like she is male (puruṣa) and foregoes identification as Bhagavān’s prakṛti in favor of embracing the imaginary fantasy of being prakṛti’s puruṣa. In other words, the soul loses her inherent female beauty to adopt the costume of a male-ego (which expresses itself as feeling worthy of being the focus of pleasure and service, and is at the root of all material life-forms, regardless of their temporary external physical gender).

Extended Explanation: Liberation is Insufficient

You can see that the jīva headed towards mokṣa is intentionally not painted in a flattering light. “After enjoying her, he gives her up.” Such a jīva is heartless and cold. So the verse subtly indicates that mokṣa is not the true glory of the jīva. It is also an embarrassment because the jīva heading towards mokṣa still has not discovered her inherent femininity as Bhagavān’s prakṛti.

Bhakti is the only condition that is not an embarrassment for the jīva, for only in Bhakti does the jīva recognize herself as prakṛti and invests herself into the internal-prakṛti which serves to delight the true Puruṣa, Bhagavān.

Hare Krishna.

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