Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Purusha Suktam - The Song of Man

Suktas


The Purusha Sukta (पुरुष सूक्त), is the hymn [R.V.10.90]. It describes primeval man, whose praises it sings. It is also the song of creation. It tells the story of the first sacrifice, where Man was both the sacrificial animal, as well as the object of the sacrifice. It narrates how the various classes of men, animals and the celestial objects were created from this Man.

The above explanation is based on a literal translation of the verses in this hymn. Various commentators have attributed a deeper meaning to these verses, according to which, this hymn symbolizes the union of man with God. The infamous caste system of hinduism, makes its first appearance in this hymn.

From [R.V.10.90]: (The explanation is based on a translation by Ralph T.H. Griffiths)

सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात् ।
सभूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वात्यतिष्ठद् दशाङ्गुलम् ॥

A Thousand heads has Purusha (the primeaval man), a thousand feet, On every side pervading earth he fills a space ten fingers wide. The second line can also be translated as, "The Purusha is so immense, that his size is larger than anything that can be measured." (The fingers form a system of counting, and can count up to any number you wish).

पुरुष एवेदं सर्वं यद् भूतं यच्च भव्यम् ।
उतामृतत्वस्येशानो यदन्नेनातिरोहति ॥

This Purusha is all that yet has been and all that is to be, The Lord of Immortality which waxes greater still by food.

एतावानस्य महिमातो ज्यायांश्च पूरुषः ।
पादोऽस्यविश्वा भूतानि त्रिपादस्यामृतं दिवि ॥

He is great, He is greater than himself. All creatures are one-fourth of him, three-fourths eternal life in heaven.

त्रिपादूर्ध्व उदैत् पुरुषः पादोऽस्येहाभवत् पुनः ।
ततो विष्वं व्यक्रामत् साशनानशने अभि ॥

With three-fourths Purusha went up, one fourth of him again was here, thence he strode out to every side over what was not and what was. (This is a very early reference to the three steps taken by Vishnu in his Vamana Avatar. See this story.)

तस्माद् विराळ् अजायत विराजो अधि पूरुषः ।
स जातोअत्यरिच्यत पश्चाद् भूमिमथो पुरः ॥

From him Viraj was born; again Purusha from Viraj was born. As soon as he was born he spread eastward and westwared over the earth.

यत् पुरुषेण हविषा देवा यज्ञमतन्वत ।
वसन्तोअस्यासीदाज्यं ग्रीष्म इध्मः शरद् धविः ॥

When the Gods prepared the sacrifice with Purusha as the their offering, Its oil was spring, summer was the wood.

तं यज्ञं बर्हिषि प्रौक्षन् पुरुषं जातमग्रतः ।
तेन देवा अयजन्त साध्या ऋषयश्च ये ॥

They balmed as victim on the grass Purusha born in earliest time. With him the Deities and all Sadhyas and Rishis sacrificed.

तस्माद् यज्ञात् सर्वहुतः सम्भृतं पृषदाज्यम् ।
पशून्तांश्चक्रे वायव्यानारण्यान् ग्राम्याश्च ये ॥

From that great sacrifice the dripping fat was gathered up. He formed the creatures of the air and animals both wild and tame.

तस्माद् यज्ञात् सर्वहुत ऋचः सामानि जज्ञिरे ।
चन्दांसिजज्ञिरे तस्माद् यजुस्तस्मादजायत ॥

From that great sacrifice Rchas and Sama-hymns were born. Therefrom were spells and charms produced; the Yajus were born from it.

तस्मादश्वा अजायन्त ये के चोभयादतः ।
गावो हजज्ञिरे तस्मात् तस्माज्जाता अजावयः ॥

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.

यत् पुरुषं व्यदधुः कतिधा व्यकल्पयन् ।
मुखं किमस्य कौ बाहू का ऊरू पादा उच्येते ॥

When they divided Purusha how many portions did they make? What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet?

ब्राह्मणोऽस्य मुखमासीद् बाहू राजन्यः कृतः ।
ऊरूतदस्य यद् वैश्यः पद्भ्यां शूद्रो अजायत ॥

The Brahmana was his mouth, the Rajanya (Kshatriya) were his two arms. His thighs became the Vaishya and the Shudra was born from his feet.

चन्द्रमा मनसो जातश्चक्षोः सूर्यो अजायत ।
मुखादिन्द्रश्चाग्निश्च प्राणाद् वायुरजायत ॥

His mind became the moon (Chandra) and the Sun (Surya) were born from his eye. Indra and Agni emerged from his mouth, and his breath brought forth Vayu.

नाभ्या आसीदन्तरिक्षं शीर्ष्णो द्यौः समवर्तत ।
पद्भ्यां भूमिर्दिशः श्रोत्रात् तथा लोकानकल्पयन् ॥

From his navel came the space between earth and sky, and the sky from his head, Earth from his feet and thus the worlds were formed.

सप्तास्यासन् परिधयस्त्रिः सप्त समिधः कृताः ।
देवायद् यज्ञं तन्वाना अबध्नन् पुरुषं पशुम् ॥

Seven fencing-sticks had he, thrice seven layers of fuel were prepared, When the Gods, offering sacrifice, bound, as their victim, Purusha.

यज्ञेन यज्ञमयजन्त देवास्तानि धर्माणि प्रथमान्यासन् ।
ते ह नाकं महिमानः सचन्त यत्र पूर्वे साध्याःसन्ति देवाः ॥

Gods, Sacrificing, sacrificed the victime these were the earliest holy ordinances. The Mighty ones attained the height of heaven, there were the Sidhyas, Gods of old, are dwelling.


Last Modified At: Sat Nov 6 00:27:35 2004