Parameśvarī परमेश्वरी (396)

She is the supreme ruler.  She is Supreme on two counts, one on Her own and second because of being the consort of Supreme ŚivaŚiva is Parameśvara and His wife is ParameśvarīViṣṇu Sahasranāma 377 is Parameśvarā.  It is interpreted as the able administrator. 

Bhagavad Gīta XIII.27 says, “He sees truly who perceives the Supreme Lord (Parameśvara) present equally in all creatures, the Imperishable (Parameśvara) amidst the perishing”.

Mūlaprakṛtiḥ मूलप्रकृतिः (397)

This nāma provides the reasoning for the previous nāma.  She is the Supreme ruler (Parameśvarī) because She is the root of origin.  Prakṛti at best can be explained as Nature.  It can also be called as māyāPrakṛti in combination with the individual soul, mind, intellect and ego form the creation.  In fact soul has to depend on prakṛti to manifest.  Prakṛti holds the three guṇa-s or qualities, sattva, rajas, and tamas and three types of creative actions icchā, jñāna, and kriya (desire, wisdom and action) śaktī.  At the time of manifestation of origin of life, the prakṛti beholds the individual soul by its sheer enticing powers of the guṇa-s and creative actions (the powers of māyā or illusion), makes the soul to manifest.  The soul on its own is passive in nature and has to purely depend upon the prakṛti to get the karma-s embedded in it to unfold. 

Prakṛti is said to be the kinetic form of energy.  This is also known as māyā or the Brahman with attributes or Śaktī or vimarśa form of the Supreme.  Without this kinetic Śaktī, the creation can never take place.  Apart from playing a significant role in creation, the prakṛti plays a vital role in sustaining the creation.  At the time of origin of the universe, the Supreme Self alone prevailed.  When the origin manifests into creation, it first becomes space then air, fire, water and earth.  From earth plants, animals, man etc unfolded.  This is the teaching of Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.1).

Prakṛti in its un-manifested form is called avyakta (next nāma).  This is the state of prakṛti where all the three guṇa-s are found in equilibrium.  Any change in this equilibrium of guṇa-s in prakṛti leads to desire, wisdom and action.  This in combination with ego and intellect give rise to further creation.  Therefore, prakṛti is the root of all creations.  This is also known as the Brahman with attributes or saguṇa Brahman.  This is also known as prakāśa-vimarśa mahā māyā svarūpinī or Śaktī.  Since Śiva has to totally depend upon this Śaktī for His creative aspect, She is known as the consort of Śiva.  Beyond the state of avyakta there is the Brahman without attributes.  Katha Upaniṣad says (III.10) “The Self is beyond thought and speech; the eyes cannot perceive it”.  The Brahman is the root of all creations as there in nothing beyond that. Śaktī is called mūlaprakṛtiḥ because She is the part of Brahman or the vimarśa form of Brahman, without which creation is never possible.

Chāndogya Upaniṣad VI.ii.3 says “The Existence (the Brahman) decided, I shall be many, which refers to prakṛtiMuṇḍaka Upaniṣad (I.i.8) also confirms the above statements of Katha Upaniṣad and Chāndogya Upaniṣad.  It says, “Brahman grows by penance.”  Whatever be the sayings of the scriptures, the root of creation is prakṛti on whom Brahman depends extensively to create and sustain the universe.  This the meaning of this nāma.

{Further reading on soul and prakṛti: Soul: In the creation of God, there are countless souls (puruṣa-s) that manifest as the living beings. These souls do not undergo any changes at any point of time. They do not have energy and will and are passive in nature. Since it is said to be smaller than an atom, it is not visible even under a powerful microscope. Though clinically the presence of soul has not yet been established, sufficient research is underway to interpret the phenomenon. As the soul is considered as the divine secret, the ultimate result of any clinical study is doubtful. However, elaborate non-clinical studies more or less describe the soul in a unified voice. Soul is considered as the reflection of the transcendental essence of the Brahman. This goes to prove the statement that souls do not have energy and will of their own. This phenomenon of the Brahman – soul concept can be explained like the moon deriving its light from the sun. The light of the moon is illusionary making one to believe that the moon has its own light. However, the fact is that it gets reflected by the light of the sun. Moon is not self illuminating. So, by and large, the soul and the Brahman are not different, though there are certain subtle differences. Probably, the one main difference is the karma. The Brahman is not bound by karma, whereas the individual soul is bound by karma-s. There is another school of thought (The second and most important part of the Mīmāṃsā or third of the three great divisions of Hindu philosophy called Vedānta either as teaching the ultimate scope of the Veda or simply as explained in the Upaniṣad-s which come at the end of the Veda), which advocates that the Brahman takes the form of Ātman or the individual soul, enabling the individual beings to act, but remains unconnected to the actions or to the results of actions. Puruṣa is the term used by Sāṃkhya school of thought (one of the three great divisions of Hindu philosophy and so called either from, discriminating in general, or, more probably, from reckoning up or enumerating twenty-five tattva-s twenty three of which are evolved out of prakṛiti the primordial essence or the first-producer viz. buddhi (intellect), ahaṃkāra (ego), the five tanmātra-s, the five mahābhūta-s (air, fire, etc)and mind and the twenty fifth being puruṣa) and Ātman is the term used by the Vedāntic school of thought. Both these terms refer to the individual soul. The soul continues to exist in a gross body as long as the body functions. Once the gross body ceases to function after death, the soul also leaves the body along with prāṇa which is also known as the vital force. The fate of the soul after death is determined by the law of karma that remains embedded in the soul, wherever it goes. Karma is like a voice recorder in an airplane, where in the results of all the actions and thoughts are recorded. If someone believes that he is doing an action unaware to anybody, he should always bear in mind that his actions are recorded in his karmic account. It is to be understood that karma is the result of various decisions made by the mind that ultimately determines the destiny of the soul after death. That is why pursuing spiritual path and firmly establishing spiritual progress are considered as essential factors in reducing the impact of karma. Karmic account is not only historical but also contains long forgotten evolutionary aspects as well. Therefore, ultimately the soul unfolds its actions in a physical body depending upon its karmic account. In such a situation, the soul does not undergo any change or modification based on the fact that it is a mere reflection of the Brahman or the Supreme Spirit. The soul can manifest only if it is associated with prakṛti

Prakṛti: The soul or puruṣa can manifest only if it interacts with prakṛti, which is also known as the nature or creative self-unfolding act. This interpretation itself will explain the nature of prakṛti. It is only the prakṛti that unfolds the act of creation. When the soul is associated with prakṛti, the latter unfolds first into the subtle non-materialistic form and later into the gross form. The gross form can be identified under three broad classifications such as sthūla (gross), sūkṣma (subtle), and kāraṇa (casual). A comparison can be drawn between an automobile tyre and the three types of bodies. An automobile tyre has an outer portion made up of rubber, beneath that lies the tube that holds the air inside. A car cannot run without the effective and coordinated functions of all the three. The outer tyre is the gross body, the tube holding the air is the subtle body and the air that is the inner most and invisible is the casual body. Similarly, without these three forms, existence is impossible. These bodies, in reality, are the reflections of the levels of consciousness. The respective bodies can be recognized only if the consciousness level is modified, refined and purified. Purer is the level of consciousness higher is the level of spirituality and finer is the type of body. These three types of bodies are the reflections of the prakṛti and this reflection is known as māyā or illusion.

The gross body reflects the materialistic world, the subtle body reflects the world of vitality and the casual body reflects the casual world. These three stages are realized in the three states of awake, dream and deep sleep. The gross and subtle bodies are the effects of the casual body. The basis of these types of bodies is the casual body, or the casual manifestation of consciousness. In certain schools of thoughts, a reference to another state called the fourth state or turya state is mentioned. In fact, this turya state is to be accepted by all. Only in this state, where the consciousness transcends all bodily afflictions gets purified and becomes fit enough to be called Cit (the Absolute or the foundational consciousness). Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad (I.7) authoritatively describes this turya state. “Turya is not consciousness of what is happening within. It is also not the consciousness of what is going on without. It is not consciousness of anything in between. It is not the consciousness of all objects simultaneously. It is not unconsciousness either. It is invisible, not susceptible to any kind of usage, not within the reach of any organ of action. It is beyond perception of any organ, beyond thought and not to be indicated by any sound. In it there is only consciousness of the Self and there is a cessation of the world as such. It is the embodiment of peace and all that is good. It is one without a second. The fourth state is turya. Wise people consider this to be the Self. This Self is to be realised”. The Self in turya state is the purest form of consciousness. In this stage, the consciousness remains all alone, without any affiliations.

The prakṛti is potentially a powerful tool that binds the soul to manifest in the form of bodies discussed above, just to manifest and unfold the karma-s embedded in the soul. When the soul is under the lustful embrace of prakṛti, the soul that was part of the Supreme Brahman forgets its own nature, and identifies itself with ego. The deceptive and illusionary nature of prakṛti engulfs the soul with all sorts of addictions, afflictions and confusions and makes the soul totally discombobulated. This particular stage of the soul is said to be ignorant or the state of avidyā contrary to vidyā or knowledge. The pure soul now stands veiled by the effects of prakṛti called māyā or illusion.