The title of this chapter suggests the answer
and the theme.
The 'Uttama-Purush' means the top most
person, God Supreme or the maker of this
wonderful and perfect universe. HE is
introducing Himself in first person singular as
"I". A seeker of God has to know and
unite (Yoga) with this Purushottama or Supreme
The last six
chapters of the Gita are for intellectual
seekers of God. It is a path of God realization
by self-realization. A student has to seek an
answer to a standard question, "Who am
I?" by a path of Yoga meditation.
the Gita rank this 15th chapter as number one
for understanding body, mind, intellect,
material world, Supreme invisible God and
spirituality. Combined with logic and reason,
this chapter shows to any curious student a path
of seeing one invisible and formless (Nirakar)
God. The last verse (20) declares that this
particular chapter is an extract of all sciences
are only 20 verses in this chapter, which are
easy to memorize. The verses are in nice Chandas.
They are chanted in many Indian musical 'Ragas'
like Yaman-Kalyan, Bageshri or a melodious Raga
chapter is usually chanted at the time of final
death rituals, by the side of dead body, when
the relatives are offering last respects to
departed soul with flowers and garlands. A
student of the Gita has to memorize these verses
and repeatedly chant them for days and months.
was nine years old I had crammed this chapter of
the Gita. I did not understand any meaning of
the verses. But I was singing this chapter as a
Sanskrit prayer, years prior to learning
Sanskrit as a second language in my high school.
Even after learning some Sanskrit, I did not
understand the meaning of Purushottama. At my
age of sixty, I translated this 15th chapter in
Gujarati in 1988 and published a booklet. Again
at my age of seventy- four, I translated it in
two important lessons. (1). The understanding of
the meanings of verses is not necessary to
memorize poetry in any language. (2) It takes
years before the deeper meaning of scriptural
verses become clear to mind and one can explain
it to others in a different language.
word 'Purusha' has many meanings in Indian
scriptures. Purush = a man; Stri = a woman. Its
literal word meaning is a man or a male. In a
general sense, Purush means any human being
(male or female) One living individual (Vyakti).
Purushottama = Purush + Uttama. Uttama means
Supreme. God is only the top most Supreme
Purusha. By understanding, searching and uniting
with Supreme Being (Purushottama) an individual
becomes God like.
Many Indian Gurus and scholars understand and
explain the word Purush as Soul, Spirit or Atma.
In his Sankhya Darshana, Kapil refers to a 'Mahat
Tatva', in the sense of soul or Purusha. 'Mahat
Tatva' means the top most element (Imperishable
Soul or spirit).
According to Kapil, there are only two things in
this Universe. Prakruti and Purusha. According
to some Gurus 'Mahat Tatva' means Soul, and
according to others it means Buddhi, the highest
purified intellect within us. The 'Nir-Ishvar
Sankhya' of Kapil (Atheist Sankhya Philosophy)
does not believe in one God. There is a modified
version of Sankhya, Se-ishver Sankhya, which
believes that the maker of Prakruti (Mother
Nature) is a real Purusha or GOD.
The 13th and 14th chapters of the Gita discuss
Purusha and Prakruti in great details. According
to some Gurus both, the soul and God Supreme are
one. But according to this 15th chapter there
are three different basic elements.
and correct answer to above confusing discussion
is seen in this chapter's verses Nos., 16 and
17: - Dwavimau Purushou loke Ksharaha ch Akshara
av ch Ksharaha sarvani Bhutani Kuttastha Akshara
Uchyate (V-16) Uttama Purusha tu anya, Parmatam
eti Udahrutaha Yo lok-trayam avishya Bibharti
avayam Ishvaraha. (V-17) The first line says
there are two Purusha, one is Kshara
(Perishable), gross material body made-up of the
five basic elements of mother nature, and second
one is Akshara (Imperishable) which is the
Cosmic Atomic Energy hidden within gross body.