Prakriti of Sāmkhya Yoga and the Parā Prakriti of Krishna

भूमिरापोऽनलो वायु: खं मनो बुद्धिरेव च |

अहङ्कार इतीयं मे भिन्ना प्रकृतिरष्टधा || 4||

bhūmir-āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva cha

ahankāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛitir aṣhṭadhā

This prakriti of mine is divided eightfold thus; earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intellect, and also egoism.

~ Chapter 7, Verse 4

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अपरेयमितस्त्वन्यां प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम् |

जीवभूतां महाबाहो ययेदं धार्यते जगत् || 5||

apareyam itas tvanyāṁ prakṛitiṁ viddhi me parām

jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat

O mighty armed one, this is the inferior prakriti, Aparā Prakriti. Know the other prakriti of mine, which however is higher than this which has taken the form of individual souls and by which this world is upheld.

~ Chapter 7, Verse 5

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Acharya Prashant (AP): So, he says all these eight should be known as lower Prakriti, inferior Prakriti, Aparā Prakriti. And then there is that which is Prakriti, however, higher than these eight elements of the lower Prakriti. All these should be known; the eight lower elements, plus the higher element of Prakriti.

Questioner (Q): When I compare these two verses with Sāmkhya Darshan, then all the elements stated under the Prakriti of Sāmkhya are listed as Aparā Prakriti. Please help me understand what is Parā Prakriti and how is it different from Shri Krishna or Brahma?

AP: That which watches. That which watches is the Parā Prakriti. The audience would remember, yesterday we were talking of Kṣetra and Kṣetragya.