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Pradhana and Prakrti.

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Contributed by: Shukadeva dasa, Bangalore.

The Lord points out material nature in its subtle stage, which is called pradhana, and He analyzes this pradhana. The explanation of pradhana and prakrti is that pradhana is the subtle, undifferentiated sum total of all material elements. Although they are undifferentiated, one can understand that the total material elements are contained therein. When the total material elements are manifested by the interaction of the three modes of material nature, the manifestation is called prakrti. Impersonalists say that Brahman is without variegatedness and without differentiation. One may say that pradhana is the Brahman stage, but actually the Brahman stage is not pradhana. Pradhana is distinct from Brahman because in Brahman there is no existence of the material modes of nature. One may argue that the mahat-tattva is also different from pradhana because in the mahat-tattva there are manifestations. The actual explanation of pradhana, however, is given here: when the cause and effect are not clearly manifested (avyakta), the reaction of the total elements does not take place, and that stage of material nature is called pradhana. Pradhana is not the time element because in the time element there are actions and reactions, creation and annihilation. Nor is it the jiva, or marginal potency of living entities, or designated, conditioned living entities, because the designations of the living entities are not eternal. One adjective used in this connection is nitya, which indicates eternality. Therefore the condition of material nature immediately previous to its manifestation is called pradhana.

- Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.10 Purport

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