With IIT Delhi: The animal inside us — what to do with it?

Acharya Prashant
6 min readMay 31

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): Earlier you were talking of our current systems being a whitewashed extension of what already exists in the jungle. My question is, if the animal nature is so innate, natural and core to the human experience, then does one need to embrace it and perhaps enhance it in one’s everyday life? Or should one tame it, harness it, and mold it in a way that makes us a human and different from animals?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Lovely question. You see, this is really the only spiritual question possible: what to do with Prakṛti (physical nature)? That which you are calling as one’s innate nature, classically we just call it Prakṛti. Prakṛti exists both outside us in the form of the jungle we referred to, and it exists in our person as well. This body and all its systems, they too are prakṛtik, right?

Now, that’s the question — what to do with it? You can’t live without it, and you can’t live with it as it is. So, who are you? That’s classically called as the Puruṣa. Puruṣa refers to consciousness. And what is everything that you can experience, perceive, think of, talk of, mandate? That is called as Prakṛti. Whatever you can lay your hands on, whatever your eyes can look at, that is called as Prakṛti. Whatever you can even imagine or think of, that is Prakṛti. So, you are the subject, Puruṣa, and all your objects are called as Prakṛti.

And indeed, the aim of all philosophical systems and all spiritual enquiry is to determine the right relationship between Puruṣa and Prakṛti. That’s what you have asked. Do we tame it? Do we transcend it? What do we do? It’s a very delicate thing, this relationship. You have to come very close to it, you have to understand it, but you have to avoid getting engaged. That is, again, classically called as witnessing.

You cannot run away from it, just as you cannot run away from your own body. That’s a privilege not given to us. Can one run away from the body? No. Is there consciousness without the body? No. Absolute consciousness, it is said that it is metaphysical, not corporal. But we are not creatures of absolute consciousness; we are creatures of dualistic consciousness, and our personal consciousness…

Acharya Prashant