Analytical Yoga
Analytical Yoga

Purusha Sukta

 

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dedicated to the Vedas and their translation.

The Primeval Man (Purusha)

The Yajur Veda Ch.31

From my book The Yajur Veda: A Rendering of Ritual Hymns

 





सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात् भूमिँ सर्वत स्पृत्वात्यतिष्ठद्दशाङ्गुलम् 31.1


पुरुषएवेदँ र्वँ यद्भूतँ यच्च भाव्यम् उतामृतत्वस्येशानो यदन्नेनातिरोहति 31.2


एतावानस्य महिमातो ज्यायाँश्च पूरुषः पादोस्य विश्वा भूतानि त्रिपादस्यामृतं दिवि 31.3


त्रिपादूर्ध्वउदैत्पुरुषः पादोस्येहाभवत्पुनः ततो विष्वङ्व्यक्रामत्साशनानशनेअभि 31.4



Thousand (countless) heads has Purusha;


So he has thousand eyes and thousand feet.


Pervading Earth on all sides (spanning ten directions) and


Spanning ten senses and heart measuring ten fingers,


He (yet) exceeds[1] (all, within and without). ¶31.1


Purusha verily is all this that exists (in this creation) and


What had been (in earlier creation cycles) and what would be (in future).


And as lord (Īsāna) of immortality exceeds


What (physical body) feeds on food and grows (and decays). ¶31.2


Such is his pre-eminence; greater still stands that Purusha.


A quarter of him is all contingent beings;


Three quarters of him are seated in immortal heaven.[2] ¶31.3


With three quarters Purusha sits above;


His one quarter alone manifests here, over and again.


He (vishvan) pervades all spaces and becomes all beings—


That eat and eat not (or worldly and liberated ones). ¶31.4


 

तो विराडजायत विराजोअधि पूरुषः जातोअत्यरिच्यत पश्चाद्भूमिमथो पुरः 31.5


तस्माद्यज्ञात्सर्वहुतः सम्भृतं पृषदाज्यम् शूँस्ताँश्चक्रे वायव्यानारण्या ग्राम्याश्च ये 31.6


तस्माद्यज्ञात्सर्वहुतऽऋचः सामानि जज्ञिरे न्दाँसि जज्ञिरे तस्माद्यजुस्तस्मादजायत 31.7


तस्मादश्वाअजायन्त ये के चोभयादतः गावो जज्ञिरे तस्मात्तस्माज्जाताअजावयः 31.8


तँ यज्ञं बर्हिषि प्रौक्षन्पुरुषं जातमग्रतः तेन देवाअयजन्त साध्याऽऋषयश्च ये 31.9


यत्पुरुषँ व्यदधुः कतिधा व्यकल्पयन् मुखं किमस्यासीत्किं बाहू किमूरू पादाउच्येते 31.10


ब्राह्मणोस्य मुखमासीद्बाहू राजन्यः कृतः ऊरू तदस्य द्वैश्यः द्भ्याँ शूद्रोअजायत 31.11


चन्द्रमा मनसो जातश्चक्षोः सूर्योअजायत श्रोत्राद्वायुश्च प्राणश्च मुखादग्निरजायत 31.12


नाभ्याआसीदन्तरिक्षँ शीर्ष्णो द्यौः समवर्तत पद्भ्यां भूमिर्दिशः श्रोत्रात्तथा लोकाँ२॥ऽअकल्पयन् 31.13


यत्पुरुषेण हविषा देवा यज्ञमतन्वत वसन्तोस्यासीदाज्यं ग्रीष्मइध्मः शरद्धविः 31.14


सप्तास्यासन्परिधयस्त्रिः सप्त समिधः कृताः देवा यद्यज्ञं तन्वानाअबध्नन्पुरुषं पशुम् 31.15


यज्ञेन यज्ञमयजन्त देवास्तानि धर्माणि प्रथमान्यासन् ते नाकं महिमानः सचन्त यत्र पूर्वे साध्याः सन्ति देवाः 31.16


अद्भ्यः सम्भृतः पृथिव्यै रसाच्च विश्वकर्मणः समवर्तताग्रे तस्य त्वष्टा विदधद्रूपमेति तन्मर्त्यस्य देवत्वमाजानमग्रे 31.17


 

Thence emerged (manifested) Virat[3];


From Virat emerged the Purusha (man) surpassing rest of creation.


Next (in eminence) appeared creations: terrestrial and corporeal. ¶31.5


From that Yajña (i.e. Purusha) invoked by all,


There appeared invigorating Ajya (edible and sacrificial fat and foods).


He created those animals and birds—what are domestic and wild. ¶31.6


From that Yajña invoked by all,


There issued forth the Riks and Saman hymns;


From him issued the chhandas (Atharvan hymns);


From him the Yajus hymns issued. ¶31.7


From him (Purusha) were born the horses and


Cattle with two rows of teeth (or senses of two kind behaving dually);


From him are said to have sprung cows; from him, sheep and goats. ¶31.8


Contemplating that first-born Yajña Purusha


In Barhis (Yajña altar, waters, or devout heart),


Gods, Rishis and Sadhyas (perfect/adorable ones) worshipped him


In Yajña form (or made offerings to him in the Yajña).[4] ¶31.9


In what ways Purusha they contemplated was conceived—


What formed his mouth; what arms;


What thighs; what are called his feet? ¶31.10


Brahmana (priest) was his (Purusha’s) mouth;


His arms were named/made Kshatriya (nobility);


His thighs, the Vaisya (merchant class);


From feet was born Sudra (low workers).[5] ¶31.11


Moon was born from (Purusha’s) mind; Sun born from eyes;


From ear/space (were born) Vayu (wind) and Prana (life breath);


From mouth was born Agni (fire). ¶31.12


From navel emerged the Mid-region (antariksha);


From head, the Heaven emerged.


From feet, the Earth; from ear, the Directions/Regions—


Thus worlds were conceived/fashioned (out of Purusha). ¶31.13


Yajña that gods performed with offerings (creations)


Of (gracious) Purusha or with submission/surrender to Purusha—


(Regenerative) spring season acted as ghrita (purified butter);


Summer, the fire-kindler; autumn, the havis (oblation). ¶31.14


Seven (metres) are his boundaries; and Trishapta (lit. 21) act as Samidhs.


Performing/elaborating the Yajña, Gods grasped Purusha


As the subject (pasu) of veneration/contemplation. ¶31.15


With Yajña (holy duty), Gods (and sages) worshipped Yajña (Purusha)—


Those verily were the First Canons (Eternal Dharmas).


They (thus) became eminent (Mahimans) and attained the highest heaven


Where past Gods and Sadhyas dwell (as of right).[6] ¶31.16


In the beginning, from flavour of Waters born of Visvakarman (Vayu)


Emerged the Earth essence (odour). Creator (Tvashtri) thus


Ordaining (the Law) shaped/assumed its (i.e. worldly) forms.


That becomes the birth and even godhead of the mortal.[7] ¶31.17


वेदाहमेतं पुरुषं महान्तमादित्यवर्णं तमसः परस्तात् तमेव विदित्वाति मृत्युमेति नान्यः पन्था विद्यतेयनाय 31.18


प्रजापतिश्चरति गर्भेअन्तरजायमानो बहुधा विजायते तस्य योनिं परि पश्यन्ति धीरास्तस्मिन्ह तस्थुर्भुवनानि विश्वा 31.19


यो देवेभ्यआतपति यो देवानां पुरोहितः पूर्वो यो देवेभ्यो जातो नमो रुचाय ब्राह्मये 31.20


रुचं ब्राह्मं जनयन्तो देवाअग्रे तदब्रुवन् यस्त्वैवं ब्राह्मणो विद्यात्तस्य देवाअसन्वशे 31.21


श्रीश्च ते लक्ष्मीश्च पत्न्यावहोरात्रे पार्श्वे नक्षत्राणि रूपमश्विनौ व्यात्तम् इष्णन्निषाणामुं इषाण सर्वलोकं इषाण 31.22



I know the Purusha of astronomical dimensions, golden like Sun,


Far beyond darkness/ignorance (tamas). On knowing him alone,


One surpasses death (suffering). Alternative way there exists none. ¶31.18


Prajapati moves within every womb (or heart);


Unborn though is born in myriads of life forms (manifestations).


Sages of steady vision (dhira) through and thorough behold his origin/seat;


In him are called as all worlds resting. ¶31.19


Who undergoes Tapas (i.e. nurtures enlightened Will)


For the sake of gods (and the holy);


Who is the friend and guide (purohita) of gods;


Who preceded gods in time and became their object of enquiry/worship—


Homage (namas) be to the enchanting Divine Power (Brāhma). ¶31.20


On realising the enchanting Divine Power,


Gods in the beginning sang in his glory.


Whosoever wise knows him like this,


Gods become docile to that wise. ¶31.21


Sri (beauty) and Lakshmi (fortune) are your consorts (patni); Day-Night, your sides; Nakshatras (lunar mansions), your spectacular form; two Asvins (Sun-Moon), your open jaws. For me full of aspirations, wish (grant) that (what I aspire); wish that for me; wish whole world for me. ¶31.22




[1] The preposition ‘ati’ signifies this sense.

[2] ‘One quarter’ can be explained as waking state, out of four states (waking, dream, deep sleep and universal) mentioned in the Mandukya Upanishad.

Three quarters can also refer to existence, consciousness and bliss. Nature (Prakriti) is existence; contingent beings are existence and consciousness; Universal Self (Purusha), all the three (including bliss).

[3] Virat is to waking; as Hiranyagarbha to dream state.

[4] Purusha is seen as Yajña itself, in form and spirit. He is venerable. All offerings/bounties belong to him and are owed to him. Sages offer/submit their egos and actions to him.

[5] Division of society is natural, not forced. It was conceived as flexible. In vibrant society, people move freely between roles. Moreover, as in body all organs are useful and collectively serve the Self, so is the case with Purusha, the Cosmic Man.

[6] What were those Dharmas like? Seeing Purusha/Brahman in all and respecting and supporting all as oneself. In other words, Brahmacharya and Yajña are examples of Dharma (Holy Law). See section Brahman in the introductory pages.

[7] In Vedic cosmogony, from space (ākāsa) emerges air (vayu); from air, fire (agni); from fire, waters (apas); from waters, earth.

Last line of the mantra refers to dual purpose of the world: enjoyment and liberation. Tvashtri has become all this. This will be reconfirmed in 32.11.

 






 
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