Purusha (puruṣa or Sanskrit: पुरुष) is a complex concept[1] whose meaning evolved in Vedic and Upanishadic times. Depending on source and historical timeline, it means the cosmic being or self, awareness, and universal principle.[2][1][3]

In early Vedas, Purusha was a cosmic being whose sacrifice by the gods created all life.[4] This was one of many creation myths discussed in the Vedas. In the Upanishads, the Purusha concept refers to the abstract essence of the Self, Spirit and the Universal Principle that is eternal, indestructible, without form, and is all-pervasive.[4]

In Sankhya philosophy, Purusha is the plural immobile cosmic principle, pure consciousness, unattached and unrelated to anything, which is “nonactive, unchanging, eternal, and pure”.[5] Purusha uniting with Prakṛti (matter) gives rise to life.

In Kashmir Shaivism, Purusha is enveloped in five sheaths of time (Kāla), desire (Raga), restriction (Niyati), knowledge (Vidya) and portion of time (Kalā); it is the universal Self (Paramatman) under limitations as many individual Selfs (Jīvātman).[6]