Prakriti (devanāgarī: प्रकृति prakṛti) is a Sanskrit word that means "nature". It is used to refer to principle of matter (not only in its physical aspect) as opposed to that of spirit (Puruṣa). Prakriti is composed of three gunas, which are its tendencies or modes of operation, known as sattva (equilibrium), rajas (activity), and tamas (inertia).
In the Theosophical view, when used in a general sense, Prakriti is the universal sixth principle upon which the seventh (the Purusha) is perpetually acting and manifesting through. More specifically, it is the cosmic matter that forms the lowest of the planes in the solar system. The Prakritic plane, in its turn, has seven subdivisions, the lowest of which is our physical plane. As H. P. Blavatsky stated, Prakriti is a lower reflection of Akasha:
The Tibetan esoteric Buddhist doctrine teaches that Prakriti is cosmic matter, out of which all visible forms are produced; and Akâsa that same cosmic matter—but still more imponderable, its spirit, as it were, “Prakriti” being the body or substance, and Akâsa-Sakti its soul or energy.
- Prakriti at Theosopedia
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 262.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. III (Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Publishing House, 1968), fn. 405.