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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Puruṣottama literally means ‘the best of human beings’.

Puruṣottama, General Epithet[edit]

The literal meaning of the word is ‘the best of men.’ However, it is often used to indicate God, especially in his aspect as Lord Viṣṇu.

Puruṣottama as per Bhagavadgītā[edit]

After dividing this world into two classes of puruṣas, the kṣarapuruṣas[1] and the akṣarapuruṣas[2] the Bhagavadgītā[3] declares that God is Puruṣottama, the best of beings, who has transcended the other two.

Puruṣottama as per Viṣṇusahasranāma[edit]

The well-known Viṣṇusahasranāma[4] uses this word also to indicate the Lord Viṣṇu. Out of the several interpretations a few may be given here:

  1. He is the best of men.
  2. It is Brāhman who is called Puruṣottama.
  3. He is complete and perfect.
  4. He is superior even to the creator Brahmā.
  5. He makes human beings superior to animals and the subhuman species.


  1. Kṣarapuruṣas means the bound souls.
  2. Akṣarapuruṣas means the liberated ones.
  3. Bhagavadgītā 16.16-18
  4. Viṣṇusahasranāma 24
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math,


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