Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Purushottama Mean?

Purushottama is a term which can be directly translated from the Sanskrit as “foremost amongst all men,” and is often defined as meaning “supreme being," “supreme god” or "supreme purusha." It derives from the root words purusha meaning “spirit” or “male” and uttama meaning “highest”.

As a name, Purushottama is used as an epithet of both Lord Krishna and Lord Vishnu. In the Mahabharata, it appears as the 24th name of Vishnu.


Yogapedia Explains Purushottama

The deeper, more symbolic meaning of Purushottama is said to be, "One who is the supreme being beyond the destroyable, or kshara and the undestroyable, or akshara." Supporting this concept, in the Bhagavad Gita, Purushottam is described as an omnipotent cosmic being. With this understanding, the existence of Purushottama does away with the duality between kshara and akshara, and they become simply aspects of one single being, complementing one another.

According to philosopher Haridas Chaudhuri, Purushottama represents an ineffable phenomenon, something beyond even the undifferentiated Godhead.

In Hindu mythology, Lord Rama as an avatar of Lord Vishnu is referred to as Maryada Purushottama, while Lord Krishna as Lord Vishnu’s avatar is called Leela or Purn Purushottama.

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