The Meaning of Purusha Suktam Sloka

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Who we are, what is the purpose of our lives, our existence here on Earth? Are we the spiritual conscious beings connected to the cosmic thread in this material world? What is the life after death? All of this, have attracted attention of great thinkers to seek insight and share knowledge to the world. The religious and wise men from India, have walked on the foot hills of Himalayas, meditated and gained answers to these puzzling questions.

In the present age, all the research on “Origin of Life”, “Creation of Universe”, “The Big Bang Theory” has been greatly attributed to the material aspects of the Universe, what we call as the “Cosmic dust”. But what about looking beyond the material aspects of life and dwelling into the spiritual principle to understand the purpose of this Creation? This is what the great ancient sacred texts of India – ‘The Vedas’ teach us. “The creation of Brahman”, has been described in many religious vedic texts. Isn’t it captivating, how the millennium old Sanskrit Vedic texts have shared profound insight on creation of Brahman – The Universe.

From time immemorial, ancient Vedic texts of India (Vedas and Upanishads) have given to deep profound insight on the Creation of Universe. One such vedic hymn is Purusha Suktam, a powerful hymn of the Rigveda, the seer of this verse is Rishi Narayana. The Purusha Sukta  describes the spiritual unity of the universe. It provides the seeker the reality to enter in the state of super-consciousness. The mantras of Purusha Suktam are composed in a way that they drive the spiritual force during the recitation of the hymn. The intonation of the mantras brings about the ideal meaning that is intended to be conveyed by its recital. An ancient Indian belief is that any kind of error in its recital can produce undesirable or different effect. The ‘Diety’ addressed in this hymn is the ‘Universal Supreme Being- Lord Narayana’.

Purusha Suktam is a divine meditation , in which seeker sees himself not as a Universal Being , but as a part of much greater consciousness. The hymn describes all the creation in this world is none but one – ‘The Purusha’. Humans are living in the world of illusion and ignorance, in the world of materialistic demands – physical, material and social desires. The hymn explains , all this worldly existence and all the creations are nothing but the divine light of God – ‘The Supreme Being’. The verses explain that , God exist beyond space and time , the luminosity of ‘His’ divine being is unimaginable and unfathomable.

The “Hymn of the Cosmic Man” explains that the universe was created out of the parts of the body of the Supreme Cosmic Being – Lord Vishnu when His body was offered at the primordial sacrifice. 

Purusha Suktam – Meaning:

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ōm sahasraśīrṣā puruṣaḥ sahasrākśaḥ sahasrapāt,
sa bhūmiṁ viśvato vṛtvā’tyatiṣṭaddaśāgulam.

The transcendent totality of all creation is conceived as the Universal Cosmic Person -“The Purusha” who is thousand-headed, thousand-eyed, and thousand-legged. He is enveloping the Earth from all the sides as He pervades each part of creation, He transcends it by ten fingers’ length. ‘Dasangulam’ is interpreted as ten fingers’ meaning, He extends beyond ten directions.

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puruṣa evedaṁ sarvam yadbhūtaṁ yacca bhavyam,
utāmṛtattvasyeśāno yadannenātirohati.
etāvānasya mahimā ato jyāyāgïśca pūruṣaḥ,
pādo’sya viśvā bhūtāni tripādasyā’mṛtaṁ divi.

Purusha, He is the essence of all creation—everything that is created in the past and everything that will be created in future. The entire creation is woven by the immortal essence of Lord Purusha. He is the Lord of Immortality, for He transcends all in His Form as food (the universe). Such is His Glory that transcends across all Worlds. Purusha is greater than His greatness. One-fourth of Him are the visible worlds, while three-fourth of Him rises above as the Immortal Being.

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tripādūrdhva udaitpuruṣaḥ pādo’syehābhavātpunaḥ,
tato viśvaṅ vyakrāmatsāśanānaśane abhi.
tasmādvirāḍajāyata virājo adhipūruṣaḥ,
sa jāto atyaricyata paścādbhūmimatho puraḥ.

That, three parts of immortal cosmic being – Purusha stood high above the Transcendental Realm , and His one part is the creation of world. He pervades everything, the living (conscious) as well as the non-living (unconscious). From That (Supreme Being) did the Cosmic Body (Virat) originate, and in this radiant form His omnipresent being manifests itself.

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yatpuruṣeṇa haviṣā devā yajñamatanvata,
vasanto asyāsīdājyam grīṣma idhmaḥ śaraddhaviḥ.
taṁ yajaṁ barhiṣi praukśan puruṣaṁ jātamagrataḥ,
tena devā ayajanta sādhyā ṛṣayaśca ye.

As there is no material essence other than Purusha, the shining one revered in the Virat form, the Devas performed a universal sacrifice, with the Purusha Himself as the sacred offering, the spring season was created as the clarified butter for the Yagna, summer was created as the fuel for Yagna, autumn was created as Havis (sacrificial offering, the oblation) for the Yagna. The Divine men were created by the Holy water sprinkled with Kusa Grass. The Yagna was performed with Purusha as their focus of divine meditation—Him who was prior to all creation; and the Divine men -the Devas, Sadhyas and Rishis, performed the Yagna.

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tasmādyajñātsarvahutaḥ saṁbhṛtaṁ pṛṣadājyam,
paśūgïstāgïścakre vāyavyānāraṇyān grāmyāścaye.
tasmādyajñātsarvahutaḥ ṛcaḥ sāmāni jajñire,
chandāgïsi jajñire tasmātyajustasmādajāyata.

From the Supreme Cosmic Being -Purusha, the sacred mixture of curds and ghee (for oblation) was produced. He created the aerial beings, the forest-dwelling wild animals, and the domestic animals. From the Supreme Purusha, Rig Veda and Sama Veda were born; from Him the Chandas (of the mantras) were born; from Him the Yajur Veda was born.

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tasmādaśvā ajāyanta ye ke cobhayādataḥ,
gāvo ha jajñire tasmāt tasmād jātā ajāvayaḥ.
yatpuruṣaṁ vyadhadhuḥ katidhā vyakalpayan,
mukhaṁ kimasya kau bāhū kā vūrū pādā vucyete.

From the Purusha, were born horses and all the animals who have teeth in both their jaws. From Him, the cows were born and from Him, goats and sheeps were born. And when they contemplated the Purusha (as the Universal Sacrifice), what did the Virat form of Purusha hold within Him? How many parts did He have? What was His mouth called, what were His arms, thighs, and feet called?

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brāhmaṇo’sya mukhamāsīd bāhū rājanyaḥ kṛtaḥ,
ūrū tadasya yad vaiśyaḥ padbhyāgï śūdro ajāyata.
candramā manaso jātaḥcakśoḥ sūryo ajāyata,
mukhādindraścāgniśca prāṇādvāyurajāyata.

The Brahmanas was His mouth; the Kshatriyas were His arms. Vaisya, were His thighs; the Sudras, were His feet. The celestial Moon was born from His cosmic mind; the radiant Sun was born from His resplendent eyes. Indra and Agni came from His mouth; from His breath, vital energy air was born.

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nābhyā āsīdantarikśam śīrṣṇo dyauḥ samavartata,
padbhyāṁ bhūmirdiśaḥ śrotrātathā lokāṁ akalpayan.
saptāsyāsṇ paridhyasṛitaḥsapta samidḥa kṛtaḥ,
devā yadyajñam tanvānā abaḍhnaṇ purūṣaṁ paśum.

In that primordial Sacrifice, the space between heavens and earth came from His navel; the heavens were created from His head; the earth from His feet; from His ears the unfathomable directions of space. This is how He created and regulated the worlds. For this Yagna, there were seven paridhis referred as the sheathing logs serving as borders. Three times seven i.e twenty one items were made the samit or sacrificial fuel sticks. The Divine men were the Devas who performed this sacred Yagna, by bounding the infinite expanse of Supreme Purusha.

yajñena yajñamayajanta devāḥtāni dharmāṇi prathamānyāsan,
te ha nākaṁ mahimānaḥ sacante yatra pūrve sādhyāḥ santi devāḥ.

The Gods performed this universal meditation through this primordial sacrifice of the Universal Being. These were the original creations and the original laws to sustain the creation by obtaining Dharma based on the Oneness of Purusha. By meditating on the Greatness of the Cosmic Being, the spiritual aspirants and worshipers of the Cosmic Being attain supreme abode and enlightenment thus becoming the Shining one themselves.

vedāhametaṁ puruṣaṁ mahāntamādityavarṇaṁ tamasaḥ parastāt,
tameva viditva’timṛtyumeti nānyaḥ panthā vidyate’yanāya.

By meditating on Great Purusha, who shines like the sun beyond darkness, one crosses beyond death. The learned ones become immortal, and seek greater knowledge.

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ōṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

Om. May there be peace individually, collectively and Universally.

The following video contains recital of Purusha Suktam with meaning explained in English . One of my favorite hymns.

Video Credit: Ramesh KrishnaKumar

Artist

H.A. Sastry|Y.N. Sharma

Album

Rudra Namakam Chamakam

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Nimisha Desai Sharma is an Indian writer who grew up in Mumbai. She developed a strong penchant for writing since her childhood. She has written more than 80 poems and continues to write articles and blogs on topics related to travel, health and fitness, spirituality, and Indian traditions and culture. Nimisha loves to take her readers on a joy ride through the incredible spiritual land of India. She is a voracious reader, and innovator who loves to grab every opportunity to learn new things. Nimisha's favorite den is a library and loves to surround herself with books. Her recreational hobbies include listening to music, reading, painting, and going on nature trails. Nimisha makes her home in Calgary, Canada with her family. She is a Nature admirer and a spiritual person who strongly believes in simple living and high thinking.

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