Gurudev, what is the meaning of Purusha (the primordial all-pervading Cosmic Man or Being)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Pur means city, so, one who lives in a city is a Purusha.
Our body is also like a city. Do you know how many bacteria and micro-organisms stay inside our body? There are around 50,000 types of bacteria present in the intestines alone. When you have diarrhoea, then there is a flood of these bacteria. When there is a rumbling inside your stomach, it is these bacteria that are shaking, as if there is an earthquake!
When you suffer from gas, then it is like the bacteria are caught in a storm. So, there is a different world altogether within you.
Similarly, in our nerves and veins also, there are so many bacteria present.
It is said that on our forehead, there are three types of mites present; mites are also a kind of bacteria. One kind resides near the eyebrows, another kind on the region just above the brows, and the third kind reside on the top region of the forehead. They are all different from each other and have their own territories.
The ones on the top region do not cross over to the lower region, the ones below do not cross over to the upper region, and the ones in the middle stay where they are. So, these mites stay confined to their territories.
In ancient India, there was a practice to applying three lines of vibhuti (sacred ash) on the forehead using the three fingers of the hand. They could just as well apply only one line, but they would actually mark three lines with space in between. Maybe they knew that there are certain types of micro-organisms present on the head in three lines.
Similarly, there are bacteria in our skin also. In our ancient Indian culture, there was no practice of shaking hands. The objective was to avoid bacteria coming into contact; instead, they would fold hands and greet each other by doing pranam.
Even today, in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, there is a tribe of people who have a unique kinds of bacteria in their body. They have been offered protection and legal isolation by the Government of India. They are not allowed to meet other people. If they meet other people, they will exchange bacteria which may cause an imbalance, so they are kept away from civilization.
Similarly, in Africa, people who live in the jungles are not allowed to come into contact with people from the cities. Their body make-up is quite different from the city people. If they come to the city, they fall ill, and if people like us go to their place, then we would fall ill. Their body type is such that they have become habitual to living in those places in the jungle.
It is a scientific fact that many microorganisms are living within our body; every day many die and new ones are born. This is why our body can also be considered to be a city (Pur). There are many electrical channels and systems in the human body. There is a nervous system that receives various signals. Every cell of the body has a telephone connection with the brain, it also exercises command over the cells, and directs them to work in a particular fashion. When the cells do not obey the command of the brain, they fall ill with disease.
Our body is very extraordinary. If you take a close look at the human body, you would be very surprised. This is why the soul residing within the body is also referred to as Purusha.
Then, there is the Viraat Purusha (Giant or Huge Being). Just like there is a soul within our body, in the same way, there is a Universal Soul or Consciousness pervading the entire Creation, which is called Vishwatma.
Then, there is Parmatma (Supreme Soul or Consciousness), the collective name given to the individualized soul (atma) and Vishwatma, the Universal Soul. There is no difference between this world and Parmatma; this creation is nothing but Parmatma, and Parmatma is what the creation is; this much we should understand. And then just relax, repose in the Self.