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The Purusha Sukta

Purusha sukta

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Purusha Sukta)
The first two verses of the Purusha sukta,  with Sayana's commentary. Page of Max Müller's Rig-Veda-sanhita, the Sacred Hymns of the Brahmans (reprint, London 1974).
The first two verses of the Purusha sukta, with Sayana's commentary. Page of Max Müller's Rig-Veda-sanhita, the Sacred Hymns of the Brahmans (reprint, London 1974).

Purusha sukta (puru?a sukta) is hymn 10.90 of the Rigveda, dedicated to Purusha, the "cosmic man". It has 16 verses, 15 in the anushtubh meter, and the final one in the triishtubh meter. It is the only Rigvedic hymn dedicated to Purusha, and thus, even though appearing in a late book of the Rigveda, the oldest attestation of the Purusha myth.[1]

As a creation hymn, its archaic mythological setting is in striking contrast to the famous creation account of RV 10.129-130 with its monotheistic and philosophical speculation. Vaishnavite scholars such as Shukavak N. Dasa [1] have commentated that Purusha sukta identifies Vishnu as the Supreme Being, and it is regularly chanted in Hindu worship.

The Purusa-sukta is found in all the four Vedas and is therefore mentioned in the Pancaratras and the Puranas as the most important Vedic hymn (along with the Gayatri mantra).

Contents

 

[edit] Content

Purusha is described as a primeval giant, not unlike the Norse Ymir, that is sacrificed by the gods (see Purushamedha) and from whose body the world and the varnas (castes) are built. He is described as having a thousand heads and a thousand feet. He emanated Viraj, the female creative principle, from which he is reborn in turn before the world was made out of his parts.

In the sacrifice of Purusha, the Vedic chants were first created. The horses and cows were born, the Brahmins were made from Purusha's mouth, the Kshatriyas from his arms, the Vaishyas from his thighs, and the Shudras from his feet.[2] The Moon was born from his spirit, the Sun from his eyes, the heavens from his skull. Indra and Agni emerged from his mouth.

The parallel to Norse Ymir is often considered to reflect the myth's origin in Proto-Indo-European religion.

 Text

The hymn is repeated in the Atharvaveda (19.6), the Samaveda (6.4), the Yajurveda (VS 31.1-6), the Taittiriya Aranyaka (3.12,13), and it is commented upon in the Shatapatha Brahmana, the Taittiriya Brahmana, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad and the Mudgala Upanishad. It is one of the popular hymns of the RigVeda in Hinduism (like, for example, the Gayatri mantra), its Vedantic interpretation taking it to allegorize the principles of meditation (upasana), knowledge (jnana), devotion (bhakti), and rituals and duties (dharma and karma).

 Translation

In the Translation of Ralph T.H. Griffith (1896) and summaries of interpretations cited from Swami Amritananda's translation of Sri Rudram and Purushasuktam,, Ramakrishna Mission, Chennai.:

1. A thousand heads hath Purusa, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet.
On every side pervading earth he fills a space ten fingers wide.
2. This Purusa is all that yet hath been and all that is to be;
The Lord of Immortality which waxes greater still by food.
3. So mighty is his greatness; yea, greater than this is Purusa.
All creatures are one-fourth of him, three-fourths eternal life in heaven.
4. With three-fourths Purusa went up: one fourth of him again was here.
Thence he strode out to every side over what eats not and what eats.
5. From him Viraj was born; again Purusa from Viraj was born.
As soon as he was born he spread eastward and westward o'er the earth.
6. When Gods prepared the sacrifice with Purusa as their offering,
Its oil was spring, the holy gift was autumn; summer was the wood.
7. They balmed as victim on the grass Purusa born in earliest time.
With him the Deities and all Sadhyas and Rsis sacrificed.
8. From that great general sacrifice the dripping fat was gathered up.
He formed the creatures of-the air, and animals both wild and tame.
9. From that great general sacrifice Reas and Sama-hymns were born:
Therefrom were spells and charms produced; the Yajus had its birth from it.
10. From it were horses born, from it all cattle with two rows of teeth:
From it were generated kine, from it the goats and sheep were born.
11. When they divided Purusa how many portions did they make?
What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet?
12. The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rajanya made.
His thighs became the Vaisya, from his feet the Sudra was produced.
13. The Moon was gendered from his mind, and from his eye the Sun had birth;
Indra and Agni from his mouth were born, and Vayu from his breath.
14. Forth from his navel came mid-air the sky was fashioned from his head
Earth from his feet, and from his ear the regions. Thus they formed the worlds.
15. Seven fencing-sticks had he, thrice seven layers of fuel were prepared,
When the Gods, offering sacrifice, bound, as their victim, Purusa.
16. Gods, sacrificing, sacrificed the victim these were the earliest holy ordinances.
The Mighty Ones attained the height of heaven, there where the Sidhyas, Gods of old, are dwelling.

 Interpretations

The President of the Ramakrishna Mission, at Chennai, in commentating on the introduction to Swami Amritananda's translation of Sri Rudram and Purushasuktam, stated that the Vedas describe the essential nature of the Supreme Being and the Purusha sukta is one of those hymns which describe Parabrahman.

Shukavak N. Dasa states, "surprisingly, the name of Vishnu is not mentioned anywhere in the hymn, but still Vaisnavas universally take it as an address to Vishnu."

Verse 1: According to two commentators, Sayana and Bhatta Bhaskara, this verse identifies the Supreme Being, Vishnu in Vaishnavism. According to this site, [2], the Vaishnavite saint, Raghavendra Swami comments that Vishnu is in all Purushas or souls and that He is complete even in dust, grass,wood and in the small particles.

Verse 2: The same commentators state that the Supreme Lord is greater than the sum of His creation. The manifested world is only a fraction of Vishnu. This verse is an allusion to panentheistic concepts in Vaishnavism. Raghavendra Swami comments that "Vishnu is in the Past, is in the Present and will be in the Future,as He is the Complete- the Omniscient and Omnipotent."

Verse 3: The saint comments that everything in the universe acts as per the order of Hari.

Verse 4: Bhatta Bhaskar, the commentator has stated that many things such as elements and sense organs were created. Raghavendra Swami comments that Vishnu is omnipresent.

Verse 5: Raghavendra Swami comments that Sriman Narayana is the Lord of everything created.

Verse 6: Sayana states since many substances were not yet created so the devas mentally performed a yajna. The spring season became ghee, summer season became faggots and autumn season became havis, purodasa.

Raghavendra Swami comments that Vishnu created the seasons for this yajna.

Verse 7: The saint states that Vishnu, is the ultimate creater, preserver and destroyer.

Verse 8: Bhatta Bhaskara interprets this verse to mean that both wild and domesticated animals were created from Purusha who is the soul of everything. Sayana states a similar interpretation and like Bhatta, agrees that that Vayu, the wind deva is the presiding deity over space and animals are from the deity of space.

Verse 9: Bhatta Bhaskara, the commentator states that the Vedas such as Rig Veda and yajus were born from the sacrifice. Sayana additionally includes creation of the Gayatri mantra from this sacrifice. Raghavendra Swami states that Vishnu created the Vedas, the Gayatri mantra, etc.

Verse 10: Bhatta Bhaskara interprets the animal creation from this Purusha. He states that horses, animals with two rows of teeth in the upper and lower jaws such as donkeys were born. Additionally, cows, goats and sheep were created.

Raghavendra Swami states that Vishnu created horse, donkey, sheep, cow and goats for this yajna.

Verse 12: Both commentators state that the four classes of human society (castes) were born from Him.

Warriors were created from the arms of God and the priests were from his head and the merchants from his abdomen and the laborers from his legs. This may be interpreted as meaning that no one caste is more important than the other and that society cannot survive without all parts working together.

Verse 13: Both commentators state that the devas such as Indra, Agni and Vayu were born from various parts of the Supreme Being, The saint comments that Hari has created Chandra by his mind, Surya by his eyes, Indra and other devas from his face. Sri Hari created Vayu by his breath.

Verse 14: Sayana states that heaven emerges from his head, the earth from his feet and from his ears, the quarters were created. Bhatta Bhaskara interprets this verse to mean the various worlds were created from the Supreme Being.

Verse 16: Sayana states that from such worship came the dharmas which sustained the world emerged and the fruits of such worship. Bhatta Bhaskara states that all the elements which sustain the world emerged and the great ones reached heaven where there is only happiness.

The saint comments that all the devas performed the yajna and attained the fruits by Vishnu, i.e., moksha.

References

Swami Amritananda's translation of Sri Rudram and Purushasuktam,, Ramakrishna Mission, Chennai.

Notes

  1. ^ the term purusha itself is attested in other hymns of the tenth book, 10.51.8 and 10.165.3, but not in any of the older books, and not in connection with the Purusha myth
  2. ^ The terms Vaishya and Shudra only occur in the Purusha Sukta hymn in the Rig Veda.


 

 Further reading

  • Rigveda 10.901 aty atisthad dasangulam. Ananda Coomaraswamy, Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 66, no. 2. 1946.

 External links



 

        The Purusha Sukta is a most commonly used Vedic Sanskrit hymn. It is recited in almost all Vedic rituals and ceremonies. It is often used during the worship of the Deity of Vishnu or Narayana in the temple, installation and fire ceremonies, or during the daily recitation of Sanskrit literature or for one's meditation.

        The Purusha Sukta is an important part of the Rig-veda (10.7.90.1-16). It also appears in the Taittiriya Aranyaka (3.12,13), the Vajasaneyi Samhita (31.1-6), the Sama-veda Samhita (6.4), and the Atharva-veda Samhita (19.6). An explanation of parts of it can also be found in the Shatapatha Brahman, the Taittiriya Brahmana, and the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. The Mudgalopanishad gives a nice summary of the entire Purusha Sukta. The contents of the Sukta have also been reflected and elaborated in the Bhagavata Purana (2.5.35 to 2.6.1-29) and in the Mahabharata (Mokshadharma Parva 351 and 352).

        The most commonly used portion of the Sukta contains 24 mantras or stanzas. The first 18 mantras are designated as the Purvanarayana, and the rest as the Uttaranarayana. Sometimes 6 more mantras are added. This part is called the Vaishnavanuvaka since it has been taken from another well known hymn called the Vishnusukta, a part of the Rig-veda Samhita. Though the mantras of the Uttaranarayana and the Vaishnavanuvaka do not seem to have any coherence with the 16 mantras of the Rig-veda Samhita, tradition has somehow tied them together.

        The Purusha Sukta is a rather difficult text to explain in a modern way. This is primarily because of the archaic language that cannot always lend itself to interpretations based on the classical Sanskrit, and that many of the words can be taken in several different ways, both literal and symbolic.

        Nonetheless, the Purusha Sukta gives us the essence of the philosophy of Vedanta, the Vedic tradition, as well as the Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavat Purana. It incorporates the principles of meditation (upasana), knowledge (jnana), devotion (bhakti), and rituals and duties (dharma and karma). This is why it is highly regarded and extensively used today as much as thousands of years ago.

 

The Text

 

Peace Invocation

 

Om taccham yoravrini mahe

ghatun yajnaya

ghatun yajnapataye

daivi svastirastu naha

svastir manushebhyaha

urdhvam jigatu bheshajam

sham no astu dvipade

sham chatushpade

 

Om shantih shantih shantihi

 

We worship and pray to the Supreme Lord for the welfare of all beings. May all miseries and shortcomings leave us forever so that we may always sing for the Lord during the holy fire ceremonies. May all medicinal herbs grow in potency so that all diseases may be cured. May the gods rain peace on us. May all the two-legged creatures be happy, and may all the four-legged creatures also be happy. May there be peace in the hearts of all beings in all realms.



 

Text One

 

Om sahasra shirsha purushaha

sahasrakshas sahasrapat

sa bhumim vishvato vritva

atyatishthad dhashangulam

 

The Purusha (the Supreme Being) has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. He has enveloped this world from all sides and has (even) transcended it by ten angulas or inches.



 

Text Two

 

purusha evedagam sarvam

yadbhutam yaccha bhavyam

utamritatva syeshanaha

yadanne natirohati

 

All this is verily the Purusha. All that which existed in the past or will come into being in the future (is also the Purusha). Also, he is the Lord of immortality. That which grows profusely by food (is also the Purusha).



 

Text Three

 

etavanasya mahima

ato jyayagamshcha purushaha

padosya vishva bhutani

tripadasya mritam divi

 

So much is His greatness. However, the Purusha is greater than this. All the beings form only a quarter (part of) Him. The three-quarter part of His, which is eternal, is established in the spiritual domain.



 

Text Four

 

tripadurdhva udaitpurushaha

padosyeha bhavatpunaha

tato vishvajya kramat

sashana ashane abhi

 

The Purusha with the three-quarters (of His energy) ascended above (the spiritual energy). His one quarter of material energy becomes this creation again (and again). Then He pervades this universe comprising a variety of sentient beings and insentient objects.



 

Text Five

 

tasmad viradajayata

virajo adhi purushah

sa jato atyarichyata

pashchad bhumimatho puraha

 

From Him (the Adipurusha or original Supreme Being) was born the Virat (or Virat Purusha, the immense universal form). Making this Virat as the substratum (another) purusha (or being, Brahma) (was born). As soon as he was born, he multiplied himself. Later, he created this earth and then, the bodies (of the living beings).



 

Text Six

 

yatpurushena havisha

deva yajnam atanvata

vasanto asyasidajyam

grishma idhmash sharaddhavihi

 

When the devas (the demigods or beings of light) performed a yajna (or sacrificial ritual), using the Purusha as the havis (sacrificial material) for the yajna (ritual), the Vasanta (spring) became the ajya (ghee), the Grishma (summer) served as idhma (pieces of wood) and the sharad (autumn) filled the place of havis (oblatory material like the purodasha or rice-cake).



 

Text Seven

 

saptasyasan paridhayaha

trissapta samidhah kritaha

deva yadjajnam tanvanaha

abadhnan purusham pashum

 

For this (yajna or spiritual ceremony) there were seven paridhis (fuel pieces serving as borders). And, twenty-one items were made the samit or sacrificial fuel sticks. When the devas were performing this yajna or ceremony, they tied the purusha (himself) as the pashu (sacrificial animal).



 

Text Eight

 

tam yajnam barhishipraukshan

purusham jatamagrataha

tena deva ayajantaha

sadhya rishayashchaye

 

The devas, the sadhyas and the rishis performed the sacrifice by using that Purusha as the means of yajna, the Purusha who had been born in the beginning, after sprinkling him with water by the barhis (or sacrificial grass).



 

Text Nine

 

tasmad yajnat sarvahutaha

sambhritam vrishadajyam

pashugamstya gashchakre

vayavyan aranyan gramashcaye

 

From that yajna (or sacrificial ritual) wherein the Cosmic Being was Himself the oblation, was produced the prasajya (or curds mixed with ghee). Birds flying in the air, wild animals of the forest as also the domesticated animals of the villages were also produced.



 

Text Ten

 

tasmad yajnat sarvahutaha

richassamani jijignire

chandhagamsi jijignire tasmat

yajus tasmad ajayata

 

From that yajna (or sacrifice) wherein the Cosmic Being was Himself the oblation, were born the riks (the mantras of the Rig-veda) and the samans (the mantras of the Sama-veda). From that (yajna) the metres (like Gayatri) were born. From that (yajna again) the yujas (the Yajur-veda) was born.



 

Text Eleven

 

tasmadashva ajayata

ye ke cobhaya dataha

gavo ha jijignire tasmat

tasmad jnata ajavayaha

 

From that were born the horses, as also animals (like donkeys and mules) which have two rows of teeth. From that were born the cattle. From that (again) were born goats and sheep.



 

Text Twelve

 

yatpurusham vyadadhuhu

kadhita vyakalpayan

mukham kimasya kau bahu

kavuru padavuchayate

 

(Now some questions are raised by the sages:) When the gods decided to (mentally) sacrifice the Viratpurusha (and produce further creation), in how many ways did they do it? What became of his face or mouth? What became of his two arms? What became of His two thighs? What were (the products of) the two feet called?



 

Text Thirteen

 

brahmanosya mukhamasit

bahu rajanyah kritaha

uru tadasya yadvaishyaha

padhyagam shudro ajayata

 

From His face (or the mouth) came the brahmanas. From His two arms came the rajanya (the kshatriyas). From His two thighs came the vaishyas. From His two feet came the shudras.



 

Text Fourteen

 

chandrama manaso jataha

chakshoh suryo ajayata

mukhad indrash chagnishcha

pranadvayur ajayata

 

From His mind was born the moon. From His two eyes was born the sun. From His mouth were born Indra and Agni. From His breath was born the air.



 

Text Fifteen

 

nabhya asidanta riksham

shirshno dyauh samavartata

padhyam bhumirdishash shrotrat

tada lokagamm akalpayan

 

From (His) navel was produced the antariksha (the space between the earth and the heavens). Dyuloka (or heaven) came into existence from His head. The bhumi (the earth) evolved out of His feet, and deek (or spacial directions) from His ears. Similarly (the demigods) produced the worlds (too).



 

Text Sixteen

 

vedahametam purusham mahantam

adityavarnam tamasastu pare

sarvani rupani vichitya dhiraha

namani kritva abhivadan yadaste

 

"I know (through intuitive experience) this great Purusha (the Supreme Being), the wise one, who, having created the various forms and the nomenclatures (for those forms), deals with them by those names, and who is beyond darkness and is brilliant like the sun."



 

Text Seventeen

 

dhata purastadya mudajahara

shakrah pravidvan pradishashcha tasraha

tamevam vidvan amrita iha bhavati

nanyah pantha ayanaya vidyate

 

In the ancient days, Prajapati (Brahma) praised Him. Indra who knows all the four quarters also spoke about Him. Anyone who knows Him thus, will become immortal even in this life. For attaining liberation there is no other path (than knowledge of this Purusha, the Supreme Lord).



 

Text Eighteen

 

yajnena yajnam ayajanta devaha

tani dharmani pradhamanyasan

te ha nakam mahimanas sacante

yatra purve sadhyah santi devaha

 

The (demi)gods worshiped (the Supreme Creator in the form of) yajna through yajna (sacrifical ceremonies). Those very processes became the primary dharmas (laws guiding humanity). Those great ones attain that heaven where the ancient devas (demigods) and sadhyas live.



 

Text Nineteen

 

adbhyas sambhutah prithivyai rasacca

vishvakarmanas samavartatadhi

tasya tvashta vidadhad rupameti

tatpurushasya vishvamajanamagre

 

The Viratpurusha manifested Himself from out of (the all-pervading) water as also the essence of the element of earth. This Viratpurusha was born out of the greatness of the Paramapurusha, the Creator. The (Paramapurusha, known as) Tvashta engaged Himself in the act of creating (the fourteen planetary systems), (which form of the expanded) figure (of the Viratpurusha). (Thus) the entire creation (related to the Viratpurusha) came into existence in the very beginning of creation.



 

Text Twenty

 

vedahametam purusham mahantam

adityavarnam tamasah parastat

tamevam vidvan amrita iha bhavati

nanyah pantha vidyate'yanaya

 

"I have known that great Purusha (Supreme Being) who is brilliant like the sun and who is beyond all darkness. One who knows Him thus becomes immortal (even) here. There is no other path for liberation than this."



 

Text Twenty-one

 

prajapatishcharati garbhe antaha

ajayamano bahudha vijayate

tasya dhirah parijananti yonim

marichinam padamicchanti vedhasaha

 

Prajapati (the Supreme Creator) moves inside the cosmic womb. (Though) unborn He takes birth in a variety of ways. The wise ones know His (real nature) as the origin (of the universe). The (secondary) creators desire to attain the positions of Marichi and others.



 

Text Twenty-two

 

yo devebhya atapati

yo devanam purohitaha

purvo yo devebhyo jataha

namo ruchaya brahmaye

 

Obeisances to Him, the self-luminous Brahman, who shines for the (demi)gods, who is the leader of the rituals of the gods and who was born even before the gods.



 

Text Twenty-three

 

rucham brahmam janayantaha

deva agre tadabruvan

yastvaivam brahmano vidyat

tasya deva asanvashe

 

In the beginning of creation, the gods, manifesting the light of Brahman, addressed Brahman thus: "That brahmana who realizes (You) thus, all the gods will come under his control."



 

Twenty-four

 

hrishcha te lakshmishcha patnyau

ahoratre parshve

nakshatrani rupam

ashvinau vyattam

ishtam manishana

amun manishana

sarvam manishana

 

Om shanti shanti shantihi

 

O Purusha! The goddesses Hri (modesty) and Sri (Lakshmi, wealth) are Your consorts. Day and night are Your lateral limbs. The stars are Your form. The Ashvins are your widely opened (mouth). (O Purusha) fulfill our desire for self-knowledge as also our desire for the enjoyments of this world (like longevity, cows, and horses). Give us all that we need. Om, let there be peace, peace, peace.
 

 

[These prayers are available at www.stephen-knapp.com]
 


The Purusha Sukta

Purusha sukta

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Purusha Sukta)
The first two verses of the Purusha sukta,  with Sayana's commentary. Page of Max Müller's Rig-Veda-sanhita, the Sacred Hymns of the Brahmans (reprint, London 1974).
The first two verses of the Purusha sukta, with Sayana's commentary. Page of Max Müller's Rig-Veda-sanhita, the Sacred Hymns of the Brahmans (reprint, London 1974).

Purusha sukta (puru?a sukta) is hymn 10.90 of the Rigveda, dedicated to Purusha, the "cosmic man". It has 16 verses, 15 in the anushtubh meter, and the final one in the triishtubh meter. It is the only Rigvedic hymn dedicated to Purusha, and thus, even though appearing in a late book of the Rigveda, the oldest attestation of the Purusha myth.[1]

As a creation hymn, its archaic mythological setting is in striking contrast to the famous creation account of RV 10.129-130 with its monotheistic and philosophical speculation. Vaishnavite scholars such as Shukavak N. Dasa [1] have commentated that Purusha sukta identifies Vishnu as the Supreme Being, and it is regularly chanted in Hindu worship.

The Purusa-sukta is found in all the four Vedas and is therefore mentioned in the Pancaratras and the Puranas as the most important Vedic hymn (along with the Gayatri mantra).

Contents

 

[edit] Content

Purusha is described as a primeval giant, not unlike the Norse Ymir, that is sacrificed by the gods (see Purushamedha) and from whose body the world and the varnas (castes) are built. He is described as having a thousand heads and a thousand feet. He emanated Viraj, the female creative principle, from which he is reborn in turn before the world was made out of his parts.

In the sacrifice of Purusha, the Vedic chants were first created. The horses and cows were born, the Brahmins were made from Purusha's mouth, the Kshatriyas from his arms, the Vaishyas from his thighs, and the Shudras from his feet.[2] The Moon was born from his spirit, the Sun from his eyes, the heavens from his skull. Indra and Agni emerged from his mouth.

The parallel to Norse Ymir is often considered to reflect the myth's origin in Proto-Indo-European religion.

 Text

The hymn is repeated in the Atharvaveda (19.6), the Samaveda (6.4), the Yajurveda (VS 31.1-6), the Taittiriya Aranyaka (3.12,13), and it is commented upon in the Shatapatha Brahmana, the Taittiriya Brahmana, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad and the Mudgala Upanishad. It is one of the popular hymns of the RigVeda in Hinduism (like, for example, the Gayatri mantra), its Vedantic interpretation taking it to allegorize the principles of meditation (upasana), knowledge (jnana), devotion (bhakti), and rituals and duties (dharma and karma).

 Translation

In the Translation of Ralph T.H. Griffith (1896) and summaries of interpretations cited from Swami Amritananda's translation of Sri Rudram and Purushasuktam,, Ramakrishna Mission, Chennai.:

1. A thousand heads hath Purusa, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet.
On every side pervading earth he fills a space ten fingers wide.
2. This Purusa is all that yet hath been and all that is to be;
The Lord of Immortality which waxes greater still by food.
3. So mighty is his greatness; yea, greater than this is Purusa.
All creatures are one-fourth of him, three-fourths eternal life in heaven.
4. With three-fourths Purusa went up: one fourth of him again was here.
Thence he strode out to every side over what eats not and what eats.
5. From him Viraj was born; again Purusa from Viraj was born.
As soon as he was born he spread eastward and westward o'er the earth.
6. When Gods prepared the sacrifice with Purusa as their offering,
Its oil was spring, the holy gift was autumn; summer was the wood.
7. They balmed as victim on the grass Purusa born in earliest time.
With him the Deities and all Sadhyas and Rsis sacrificed.
8. From that great general sacrifice the dripping fat was gathered up.
He formed the creatures of-the air, and animals both wild and tame.
9. From that great general sacrifice Reas and Sama-hymns were born:
Therefrom were spells and charms produced; the Yajus had its birth from it.
10. From it were horses born, from it all cattle with two rows of teeth:
From it were generated kine, from it the goats and sheep were born.
11. When they divided Purusa how many portions did they make?
What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet?
12. The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rajanya made.
His thighs became the Vaisya, from his feet the Sudra was produced.
13. The Moon was gendered from his mind, and from his eye the Sun had birth;
Indra and Agni from his mouth were born, and Vayu from his breath.
14. Forth from his navel came mid-air the sky was fashioned from his head
Earth from his feet, and from his ear the regions. Thus they formed the worlds.
15. Seven fencing-sticks had he, thrice seven layers of fuel were prepared,
When the Gods, offering sacrifice, bound, as their victim, Purusa.
16. Gods, sacrificing, sacrificed the victim these were the earliest holy ordinances.
The Mighty Ones attained the height of heaven, there where the Sidhyas, Gods of old, are dwelling.

 Interpretations

The President of the Ramakrishna Mission, at Chennai, in commentating on the introduction to Swami Amritananda's translation of Sri Rudram and Purushasuktam, stated that the Vedas describe the essential nature of the Supreme Being and the Purusha sukta is one of those hymns which describe Parabrahman.

Shukavak N. Dasa states, "surprisingly, the name of Vishnu is not mentioned anywhere in the hymn, but still Vaisnavas universally take it as an address to Vishnu."

Verse 1: According to two commentators, Sayana and Bhatta Bhaskara, this verse identifies the Supreme Being, Vishnu in Vaishnavism. According to this site, [2], the Vaishnavite saint, Raghavendra Swami comments that Vishnu is in all Purushas or souls and that He is complete even in dust, grass,wood and in the small particles.

Verse 2: The same commentators state that the Supreme Lord is greater than the sum of His creation. The manifested world is only a fraction of Vishnu. This verse is an allusion to panentheistic concepts in Vaishnavism. Raghavendra Swami comments that "Vishnu is in the Past, is in the Present and will be in the Future,as He is the Complete- the Omniscient and Omnipotent."

Verse 3: The saint comments that everything in the universe acts as per the order of Hari.

Verse 4: Bhatta Bhaskar, the commentator has stated that many things such as elements and sense organs were created. Raghavendra Swami comments that Vishnu is omnipresent.

Verse 5: Raghavendra Swami comments that Sriman Narayana is the Lord of everything created.

Verse 6: Sayana states since many substances were not yet created so the devas mentally performed a yajna. The spring season became ghee, summer season became faggots and autumn season became havis, purodasa.

Raghavendra Swami comments that Vishnu created the seasons for this yajna.

Verse 7: The saint states that Vishnu, is the ultimate creater, preserver and destroyer.

Verse 8: Bhatta Bhaskara interprets this verse to mean that both wild and domesticated animals were created from Purusha who is the soul of everything. Sayana states a similar interpretation and like Bhatta, agrees that that Vayu, the wind deva is the presiding deity over space and animals are from the deity of space.

Verse 9: Bhatta Bhaskara, the commentator states that the Vedas such as Rig Veda and yajus were born from the sacrifice. Sayana additionally includes creation of the Gayatri mantra from this sacrifice. Raghavendra Swami states that Vishnu created the Vedas, the Gayatri mantra, etc.

Verse 10: Bhatta Bhaskara interprets the animal creation from this Purusha. He states that horses, animals with two rows of teeth in the upper and lower jaws such as donkeys were born. Additionally, cows, goats and sheep were created.

Raghavendra Swami states that Vishnu created horse, donkey, sheep, cow and goats for this yajna.

Verse 12: Both commentators state that the four classes of human society (castes) were born from Him.

Warriors were created from the arms of God and the priests were from his head and the merchants from his abdomen and the laborers from his legs. This may be interpreted as meaning that no one caste is more important than the other and that society cannot survive without all parts working together.

Verse 13: Both commentators state that the devas such as Indra, Agni and Vayu were born from various parts of the Supreme Being, The saint comments that Hari has created Chandra by his mind, Surya by his eyes, Indra and other devas from his face. Sri Hari created Vayu by his breath.

Verse 14: Sayana states that heaven emerges from his head, the earth from his feet and from his ears, the quarters were created. Bhatta Bhaskara interprets this verse to mean the various worlds were created from the Supreme Being.

Verse 16: Sayana states that from such worship came the dharmas which sustained the world emerged and the fruits of such worship. Bhatta Bhaskara states that all the elements which sustain the world emerged and the great ones reached heaven where there is only happiness.

The saint comments that all the devas performed the yajna and attained the fruits by Vishnu, i.e., moksha.

References

Swami Amritananda's translation of Sri Rudram and Purushasuktam,, Ramakrishna Mission, Chennai.

Notes

  1. ^ the term purusha itself is attested in other hymns of the tenth book, 10.51.8 and 10.165.3, but not in any of the older books, and not in connection with the Purusha myth
  2. ^ The terms Vaishya and Shudra only occur in the Purusha Sukta hymn in the Rig Veda.


 

 Further reading

  • Rigveda 10.901 aty atisthad dasangulam. Ananda Coomaraswamy, Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 66, no. 2. 1946.

 External links



 

        The Purusha Sukta is a most commonly used Vedic Sanskrit hymn. It is recited in almost all Vedic rituals and ceremonies. It is often used during the worship of the Deity of Vishnu or Narayana in the temple, installation and fire ceremonies, or during the daily recitation of Sanskrit literature or for one's meditation.

        The Purusha Sukta is an important part of the Rig-veda (10.7.90.1-16). It also appears in the Taittiriya Aranyaka (3.12,13), the Vajasaneyi Samhita (31.1-6), the Sama-veda Samhita (6.4), and the Atharva-veda Samhita (19.6). An explanation of parts of it can also be found in the Shatapatha Brahman, the Taittiriya Brahmana, and the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. The Mudgalopanishad gives a nice summary of the entire Purusha Sukta. The contents of the Sukta have also been reflected and elaborated in the Bhagavata Purana (2.5.35 to 2.6.1-29) and in the Mahabharata (Mokshadharma Parva 351 and 352).

        The most commonly used portion of the Sukta contains 24 mantras or stanzas. The first 18 mantras are designated as the Purvanarayana, and the rest as the Uttaranarayana. Sometimes 6 more mantras are added. This part is called the Vaishnavanuvaka since it has been taken from another well known hymn called the Vishnusukta, a part of the Rig-veda Samhita. Though the mantras of the Uttaranarayana and the Vaishnavanuvaka do not seem to have any coherence with the 16 mantras of the Rig-veda Samhita, tradition has somehow tied them together.

        The Purusha Sukta is a rather difficult text to explain in a modern way. This is primarily because of the archaic language that cannot always lend itself to interpretations based on the classical Sanskrit, and that many of the words can be taken in several different ways, both literal and symbolic.

        Nonetheless, the Purusha Sukta gives us the essence of the philosophy of Vedanta, the Vedic tradition, as well as the Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavat Purana. It incorporates the principles of meditation (upasana), knowledge (jnana), devotion (bhakti), and rituals and duties (dharma and karma). This is why it is highly regarded and extensively used today as much as thousands of years ago.

 

The Text

 

Peace Invocation

 

Om taccham yoravrini mahe

ghatun yajnaya

ghatun yajnapataye

daivi svastirastu naha

svastir manushebhyaha

urdhvam jigatu bheshajam

sham no astu dvipade

sham chatushpade

 

Om shantih shantih shantihi

 

We worship and pray to the Supreme Lord for the welfare of all beings. May all miseries and shortcomings leave us forever so that we may always sing for the Lord during the holy fire ceremonies. May all medicinal herbs grow in potency so that all diseases may be cured. May the gods rain peace on us. May all the two-legged creatures be happy, and may all the four-legged creatures also be happy. May there be peace in the hearts of all beings in all realms.



 

Text One

 

Om sahasra shirsha purushaha

sahasrakshas sahasrapat

sa bhumim vishvato vritva

atyatishthad dhashangulam

 

The Purusha (the Supreme Being) has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. He has enveloped this world from all sides and has (even) transcended it by ten angulas or inches.



 

Text Two

 

purusha evedagam sarvam

yadbhutam yaccha bhavyam

utamritatva syeshanaha

yadanne natirohati

 

All this is verily the Purusha. All that which existed in the past or will come into being in the future (is also the Purusha). Also, he is the Lord of immortality. That which grows profusely by food (is also the Purusha).



 

Text Three

 

etavanasya mahima

ato jyayagamshcha purushaha

padosya vishva bhutani

tripadasya mritam divi

 

So much is His greatness. However, the Purusha is greater than this. All the beings form only a quarter (part of) Him. The three-quarter part of His, which is eternal, is established in the spiritual domain.



 

Text Four

 

tripadurdhva udaitpurushaha

padosyeha bhavatpunaha

tato vishvajya kramat

sashana ashane abhi

 

The Purusha with the three-quarters (of His energy) ascended above (the spiritual energy). His one quarter of material energy becomes this creation again (and again). Then He pervades this universe comprising a variety of sentient beings and insentient objects.



 

Text Five

 

tasmad viradajayata

virajo adhi purushah

sa jato atyarichyata

pashchad bhumimatho puraha

 

From Him (the Adipurusha or original Supreme Being) was born the Virat (or Virat Purusha, the immense universal form). Making this Virat as the substratum (another) purusha (or being, Brahma) (was born). As soon as he was born, he multiplied himself. Later, he created this earth and then, the bodies (of the living beings).



 

Text Six

 

yatpurushena havisha

deva yajnam atanvata

vasanto asyasidajyam

grishma idhmash sharaddhavihi

 

When the devas (the demigods or beings of light) performed a yajna (or sacrificial ritual), using the Purusha as the havis (sacrificial material) for the yajna (ritual), the Vasanta (spring) became the ajya (ghee), the Grishma (summer) served as idhma (pieces of wood) and the sharad (autumn) filled the place of havis (oblatory material like the purodasha or rice-cake).



 

Text Seven

 

saptasyasan paridhayaha

trissapta samidhah kritaha

deva yadjajnam tanvanaha

abadhnan purusham pashum

 

For this (yajna or spiritual ceremony) there were seven paridhis (fuel pieces serving as borders). And, twenty-one items were made the samit or sacrificial fuel sticks. When the devas were performing this yajna or ceremony, they tied the purusha (himself) as the pashu (sacrificial animal).



 

Text Eight

 

tam yajnam barhishipraukshan

purusham jatamagrataha

tena deva ayajantaha

sadhya rishayashchaye

 

The devas, the sadhyas and the rishis performed the sacrifice by using that Purusha as the means of yajna, the Purusha who had been born in the beginning, after sprinkling him with water by the barhis (or sacrificial grass).



 

Text Nine

 

tasmad yajnat sarvahutaha

sambhritam vrishadajyam

pashugamstya gashchakre

vayavyan aranyan gramashcaye

 

From that yajna (or sacrificial ritual) wherein the Cosmic Being was Himself the oblation, was produced the prasajya (or curds mixed with ghee). Birds flying in the air, wild animals of the forest as also the domesticated animals of the villages were also produced.



 

Text Ten

 

tasmad yajnat sarvahutaha

richassamani jijignire

chandhagamsi jijignire tasmat

yajus tasmad ajayata

 

From that yajna (or sacrifice) wherein the Cosmic Being was Himself the oblation, were born the riks (the mantras of the Rig-veda) and the samans (the mantras of the Sama-veda). From that (yajna) the metres (like Gayatri) were born. From that (yajna again) the yujas (the Yajur-veda) was born.



 

Text Eleven

 

tasmadashva ajayata

ye ke cobhaya dataha

gavo ha jijignire tasmat

tasmad jnata ajavayaha

 

From that were born the horses, as also animals (like donkeys and mules) which have two rows of teeth. From that were born the cattle. From that (again) were born goats and sheep.



 

Text Twelve

 

yatpurusham vyadadhuhu

kadhita vyakalpayan

mukham kimasya kau bahu

kavuru padavuchayate

 

(Now some questions are raised by the sages:) When the gods decided to (mentally) sacrifice the Viratpurusha (and produce further creation), in how many ways did they do it? What became of his face or mouth? What became of his two arms? What became of His two thighs? What were (the products of) the two feet called?



 

Text Thirteen

 

brahmanosya mukhamasit

bahu rajanyah kritaha

uru tadasya yadvaishyaha

padhyagam shudro ajayata

 

From His face (or the mouth) came the brahmanas. From His two arms came the rajanya (the kshatriyas). From His two thighs came the vaishyas. From His two feet came the shudras.



 

Text Fourteen

 

chandrama manaso jataha

chakshoh suryo ajayata

mukhad indrash chagnishcha

pranadvayur ajayata

 

From His mind was born the moon. From His two eyes was born the sun. From His mouth were born Indra and Agni. From His breath was born the air.



 

Text Fifteen

 

nabhya asidanta riksham

shirshno dyauh samavartata

padhyam bhumirdishash shrotrat

tada lokagamm akalpayan

 

From (His) navel was produced the antariksha (the space between the earth and the heavens). Dyuloka (or heaven) came into existence from His head. The bhumi (the earth) evolved out of His feet, and deek (or spacial directions) from His ears. Similarly (the demigods) produced the worlds (too).



 

Text Sixteen

 

vedahametam purusham mahantam

adityavarnam tamasastu pare

sarvani rupani vichitya dhiraha

namani kritva abhivadan yadaste

 

"I know (through intuitive experience) this great Purusha (the Supreme Being), the wise one, who, having created the various forms and the nomenclatures (for those forms), deals with them by those names, and who is beyond darkness and is brilliant like the sun."



 

Text Seventeen

 

dhata purastadya mudajahara

shakrah pravidvan pradishashcha tasraha

tamevam vidvan amrita iha bhavati

nanyah pantha ayanaya vidyate

 

In the ancient days, Prajapati (Brahma) praised Him. Indra who knows all the four quarters also spoke about Him. Anyone who knows Him thus, will become immortal even in this life. For attaining liberation there is no other path (than knowledge of this Purusha, the Supreme Lord).



 

Text Eighteen

 

yajnena yajnam ayajanta devaha

tani dharmani pradhamanyasan

te ha nakam mahimanas sacante

yatra purve sadhyah santi devaha

 

The (demi)gods worshiped (the Supreme Creator in the form of) yajna through yajna (sacrifical ceremonies). Those very processes became the primary dharmas (laws guiding humanity). Those great ones attain that heaven where the ancient devas (demigods) and sadhyas live.



 

Text Nineteen

 

adbhyas sambhutah prithivyai rasacca

vishvakarmanas samavartatadhi

tasya tvashta vidadhad rupameti

tatpurushasya vishvamajanamagre

 

The Viratpurusha manifested Himself from out of (the all-pervading) water as also the essence of the element of earth. This Viratpurusha was born out of the greatness of the Paramapurusha, the Creator. The (Paramapurusha, known as) Tvashta engaged Himself in the act of creating (the fourteen planetary systems), (which form of the expanded) figure (of the Viratpurusha). (Thus) the entire creation (related to the Viratpurusha) came into existence in the very beginning of creation.



 

Text Twenty

 

vedahametam purusham mahantam

adityavarnam tamasah parastat

tamevam vidvan amrita iha bhavati

nanyah pantha vidyate'yanaya

 

"I have known that great Purusha (Supreme Being) who is brilliant like the sun and who is beyond all darkness. One who knows Him thus becomes immortal (even) here. There is no other path for liberation than this."



 

Text Twenty-one

 

prajapatishcharati garbhe antaha

ajayamano bahudha vijayate

tasya dhirah parijananti yonim

marichinam padamicchanti vedhasaha

 

Prajapati (the Supreme Creator) moves inside the cosmic womb. (Though) unborn He takes birth in a variety of ways. The wise ones know His (real nature) as the origin (of the universe). The (secondary) creators desire to attain the positions of Marichi and others.



 

Text Twenty-two

 

yo devebhya atapati

yo devanam purohitaha

purvo yo devebhyo jataha

namo ruchaya brahmaye

 

Obeisances to Him, the self-luminous Brahman, who shines for the (demi)gods, who is the leader of the rituals of the gods and who was born even before the gods.



 

Text Twenty-three

 

rucham brahmam janayantaha

deva agre tadabruvan

yastvaivam brahmano vidyat

tasya deva asanvashe

 

In the beginning of creation, the gods, manifesting the light of Brahman, addressed Brahman thus: "That brahmana who realizes (You) thus, all the gods will come under his control."



 

Twenty-four

 

hrishcha te lakshmishcha patnyau

ahoratre parshve

nakshatrani rupam

ashvinau vyattam

ishtam manishana

amun manishana

sarvam manishana

 

Om shanti shanti shantihi

 

O Purusha! The goddesses Hri (modesty) and Sri (Lakshmi, wealth) are Your consorts. Day and night are Your lateral limbs. The stars are Your form. The Ashvins are your widely opened (mouth). (O Purusha) fulfill our desire for self-knowledge as also our desire for the enjoyments of this world (like longevity, cows, and horses). Give us all that we need. Om, let there be peace, peace, peace.
 

 

[These prayers are available at www.stephen-knapp.com]