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Books > Hindu > Purusha Sukta (Text, Transliteration, Translation and Commentary)
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Purusha Sukta (Text, Transliteration, Translation and Commentary)
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Purusha Sukta (Text, Transliteration, Translation and Commentary)
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Vidyalankara, Shastra-Chudamani, Sangitakalaratna, Veda kamala, Professor Saligrama Krishna Ramachandra Rao was a well-known scholar who combine traditional learning with modern research. Well versed in Sanskrit, Pali. Ardamagadhi and several modern Indian languages and acquainted with Tibetan and some European languages, he has written extensively on Vedanta, Buddhism, Jainism, Indian Culture, Art and Literature.

In his professional career, however, he was a Professor of Psychology. He headed the Department of Clinical Psychology in the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience, Bangalore and he also headed the department of Indian Culture in the Bangalore campus of the University of the Pacific, US, for several years.

He has written more than sixty books in Kannada, a play in Sanskrit, and a Pali commentary on a Buddhist classic. One of his books on Iconography in Kannada has won the State Sahitya Academi Award, as also another of his book on the Tirupati Temple.

Among his numerous English Publications are: three volumes of Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine (Popular Prakashan, Mumbai), Tibetan Tantrik Tradition and Tibetan Meditation (Arnold Heinemann, Delhi), Consciousness in Advaita, and a series of six books on Indian temples (IBH Prakashana, Bangalore) and Origins of Indian Thought (Bangalore University); Kalpatharu Research Academy has published his Pratima-Kosha in six volumes. Agama-Kosha in Twelve volumes, Art and Architecture of Indian Temples in three volumes.

His detailed translation and essays on the highlights of Veda is in ‘Rgveda-Darsana’, published in 18 volumes.

He was also musicologist, sculptor and painter.

 

Note to the Readers

We are happy to present to the readers the second edition of the book, ‘Purusha Sukta’ by the eminent scholar Veda Kamala Professor S.K. Ramachandra Rao. Clearly the Purusha Sukta is the most well-known hymn in all the Vedas. But its deep meaning has not been explained in some detail anywhere using the traditional sources. In his preface to the first edition, he states that ‘the idea of the Purusha has been explained in some detail and the enigmatic concept of Purusha-medha has also been considered in its proper perspective. It is hoped that by presenting this traditional interpretation, many of the misconception will be removed.’

The author’s great contribution is to give excerpts from the Veda books such as the massive ‘Shatapatha Brahmana, Taittiriya Aranyaka, Taittiriya Brahmana and other Upanishad and Brahmana books. The concept of Purusha has been discussed in some detail by all the major Upanishads, and this fact is not widely known. This book contains many of the relevant excerpts and their translation. Another great contribution is the handling of the topic of Creation and Prajapati. We are not concerned here with the simplistic views of these topics in the Purana. But the Brahmana and Aranyaka books throw a wealth of light on this topic. We are immensely grateful to Professor S.K. Ramachandra Rao for making all this knowledge accessible to a wider audience. He gives the Sanskrit quotations in Devanagari or Roman script, and also their translations.

The first edition of the book was published by the Kalpataru Research Academy, Bangalore, under the chief editorship of Daivagna K.N. Somayaji. It was issued as volume 4 of the series, ‘Rig Veda-Darshana’. All the material in this book dealing with Purusha Sukta is from the above mentioned edition. To make this book reader-friendly, all the material in Sanskrit whether in Devanagari or Roman Script have been shifted to the bottom of the relevant page as footnotes. The long introduction has been divided into several sections and their subtitles are given by us.

It is worthwhile emphasizing that the material found in this book is not easily available elsewhere. Professor Rao has refrained from explaining topics which can be found elsewhere.

Our gratitude to Professor S.K. Ramachandra Rao, for giving us an opportunity to publish this edition and to the chief editor Sri Daivagna K.N. somayaji, the chief administrator Sri V.R. Gowri Shankar and Sri Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Swamiji of Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetha for bringing the knowledge of Indian Culture, tradition, philosophy, spirituality, medicine, architecture etc., to a wider public through the series of books under the auspices of Kalpataru Research Academy.

 

Introduction

1. Versions in the four Vedas
The hymn known as Purusha Sukta (or Paurusha) which is to be found originally in RV (10.90), is also found in VS (31.1), SB (13.6.2.11), TA (3.12.1), and Apastamba Shrauta Sutra (16.28.3;20.20.2). It is referred to as ‘Sahasra Shirsha Sukta’ in Vrddhaharita Samhita (5.3.86), and as ‘Sahasraksha Sukta’ in Baudhayana Dharma Shastra (4.7.5). There is another hymn in Taittiriya Aranyaka (10.11), (Mahanarayana U. 13) which begins with the words sahasra shirsham devam, and which is also a eulogy of Purusha, and significantly this is named maha narayaniyam, pertaining to Narayana who is the seer of the Purusha-Sukta.

2. Relation to Gayatri Mantra
It is said that the Savitr of the Gayatri mantra occurring in RV (3.62.10) is identical with the Purusha of Purusha-Sukta RV (10.90), and that the entire Vedic canon follows the lead of Purusha Sukta (vedah purusha suktagah). The chhandogya Upanishad (3.12.5,6), while eulogizing the Gayatri mantra cites a mantra from (10.90.3), with the words tad etad rchabhyanuktam, and draws a correspondence between the four padas (lines) of Gayatri and the four padas (quarters) of Purusha. Shankara’s comments thereon are illuminating: Gayatri is the name for Brahman. But Gayatri represents the mutable world of names and forms, and Brahman is beyond this; higher then this; for Brahman is the reality, immutable and indescribable, Brahman is called Purusha, for he completes the three pads of Gayatri, perfecting it (purushah sarva puranat), and he abides in the human heart without really revealing himself (puri shayanat). All phenomena, although distinguished into three realms, three branches of learning, and three vital currents (corresponding with the three pads of Gayatri) is in fact but one aspect of Gayatri (or Brahman); comprising of all phenomena, mobile and immobile; and beyond this is the fourth pada of Gayatri (darshata), which is the spirit that is responsible for the three other padas. The part that is manifest is no doubt suggestive of the Purusha’s glory and majesty; but the real nature of Purusha is higher than this. “Purusha is perfection. And the entire Veda and all the scriptural lore are a statement of this transcendental nature of Purusha”, according to Ananda-tirtha.1

3. Meaning of Purusha
The expression purusha is not to be construed in the sense of ‘man’ (human being), although this meaning became prevalent at a later age. It is never employed in the Vedic hymns in this sense.

The expression purusha etymologically signifies that which goes ahead (purati agre gachchhati), ‘that which fills all with strength’ (piparti purayati balam yah), ‘that which lies inside the township (puri shete yah)(SB) (purah kushan Unadi-Sutra, 4.74). It is derived from the root pr which has the sense of protecting, pervading, filling (palana-puranayah). The word has the meaning of the spirit in contradistinction to matter (prakrti); in the Sankhya system of thought, Purusha (masculine gender) is distinguished from prakrit (matter, nature, feminine gender). Prakrti evolves, changes and binds; but it is inert and has therefore to depend upon the presence of Purusha, to enliven, impel and vivify. Purusha here corresponds to Savitr in the sense of stimulator or creator of all things. All things in their individual forms are regarded as ‘embodied’ (viz. having bodies, which are filled by souls, and hence called puras). We read in Bhagavata(7.14.37):2

The Purusha is so called because he creates all the species of beings (puras), humans, beasts, sages and gods, and lies in each of the beings in the form of soul. Elsewhere, purusha is identified with Vishnu, for he abides within the body which is called pura:3

It is in this sense that the lexicon, Amara-kosha, takes the word Purusha as synonymous with ‘atman’ (3.3.218). Purusha, as the ultimate and unitary cosmological principle as well as the subtlest psychic reality, occurs in the hymns of Rig Veda, and in the Upanishads.

4. Prashna Upanishad (5.5)
Here Purusha is identified with the person who is the inner spirit of the Sun (surya antargata-purusha), who is to be contemplated upon Om (with three constituent Sounds: a, u and ma). One who meditates on this supreme and transcendental Purusha, resplendent with the luster of the sun, will be freed from all sins, even as the serpent discards its old and worn out skin.4

In this state of liberating enlightenment, the devotee has the vision of Purusha, who abides hidden within his own body (or heart), and who is beyond this ‘soul-mass’ (jivaghana), which is available for immediate experience:5

The idea of ‘soul-mass’ refers to Hiranya-garbha, the primeval source of all beings. This Hiranyagarbha is explained by Shankara6 as the very own self of all transmigrational and embodied souls; it is the inner spirit which is the distinguishing mark of the beings? In it are settled all the souls.8 It is the inner reality of all physical constitution (sarva shariranu pravishtam), which can be contemplated upon as the very principle that abides in the solar orb. Isha Upanishad (16) speaks of this indwelling reality as the Purusha,9 whose limbs are the three vyahrtis. The same reality fills and animates the entire universe as the spirit (vital energy) and consciousness.10

5. Katha Upanishad
The Purusha is decribed in (2.1.12) (or(4.12)) as of the size of the thumb (angushtha-matrah), and dwelling in the centre of ones own being (Madhya atmani). The measure of the thumb signifies the extent of the heart-lotus, within the opening of which the spirit rests and where the yogis can visualize it with case. And the Purusha is luminous like fire, but devoid if smoke (4.13, jyotir ivadhumakah). This reality is all-inclusive and transcendent: sense-functions (indriya) are superior to the physical organs; mind (manas) is higher than the sense-functions; consciousness (buddhi, sattva) is higher than mind; and the soul (mahan) is superior to consciousness. Higher than the soul is the unmanifest ground of all phenomenal existence (avyakta). Transcending even this unmanifest is Purusha.Transcendence or superiority is in terms of inclusion (vyapakatva), Ka. U. (2.3.7,8) (or(6.7,6.8)).11 What is higher includes the lower.

The unmanifest which is the highest in the phenomenal series is also called akasha, which is all pervasive. Akasha, ‘vayu’ and prana’ signifies the soul (jiva),12 according to Brahma Vidyopanishat (14). And Purusha who transcends akasha, cannot be perceived or identified by my sign that is valid in the phenomenal sphere, therefore it is called alinga, (Shankara).13

6. Mundaka Upanishad
It not only identifies Purusha with immutability and eternity, but speaks of him as filling all things from within and without, although devoid of form.1 He is not to be mistaken for the undifferentiated, unmanifest, unchanging and undying world-principle (akshara) which is the ultimate stuf and source of all existence; he is in fact beyond it (aksharat paratah parah). Given below is the explanation offered by Shankara:2

Here, two aspects of akshara are distinguished: one which has names and forms, and constitutes the source of all effects (bodies) and their instruments (senses); and the other free from all such conditions. The latter is undifferentiated (avyakrta), and is unchanged amidst all change in the phenomenal presentation. This is the undying world-principle; and the aspect transcending it is Purusha that is free and pure, altogether unconditioned by phenomenal processes.

Mundaka Upanishad (2.1.2) also points out that it is from the former aspect of Purusha that the World proceeds: life-processes, mind, sense-functions, elemental bricks of the material world and the entire universe. In a sense, the universe itself is this Purusha (2.1.10purusha evedam vishvam), and it is hidden in the heart-cave of all living beings (nihitam guhayam’, op.cit.).And this Purushais conceived in human image (purusha-vidha cf. also Brahadaranyaka (1.4.1) atmaivedam agra asit purusha vidhah), and is identified with Prajapati3 and Ramanuja described him as the primordial creator, (adi-karta cha bhutanam). The human imagery regards Agni as the Purusha’s head, Sun and Moon as his eyes, the directions all-round as his ears, the Veda as his speech (viz. open mouth); Vayu is his vital current, and the whole universe is settled in his heart. The earth itself emanates from his feet. And this Purusha is the inner spirit of all creatures.4

The Upanishat proceeds to remind us of what the Purusha Sukta itself elaborates; that the three Vedas emanate from the Purusha as also all the sacrifices and offer the initiations into them, the year with all the seasons, the performers of rituals, the worlds, and all kinds of creatures (human, angels, beasts, birds and so on). The text adds that in-breathing and out-breathing, the ritual offerings, the penances and austerities, faith, truthfulness and duties devolving on us, all come out of this Purusha and take shape.5

The account is completed by drawing our attention to the fact that this Pursha is in fact the indwelling spirit of beings; he abides in the interior of the being, like the very Self of the self, enveloped by the gross body and the elemental ingredients thereof:6

Prashna Upanishad
Here is a similar account of the Purusha as the indwelling spirit in all creatures, and as the ground on which all factors of physical existence arise. The factors constitute the form of the Purusha. They incline towards the Purusha image (purushayanah). But when they reach the Purusha, they lose their individual distinguishing marks and become known as the Purusha himself, even as the rivers that flow towards the ocean. The factors that constitute our physical existence are all settled in the Purusha, like spokes of the wheel in the hub (Prashna U. 6.2,6.5,6.6).7

7. Brhadaranyaka U.
Brh. U. (1.4.1)8 derives the word ‘Purush’ in an altogether different manner. It is said here that the word has two parts, pura (purvam, at the beginning) and aushat (burnt up, destroyed). The first part refers to the period prior to the creative process, while the second to the elimination of all obstructions and deficiencies. The entire passage (1.4.1) begins with the statement that at the very beginninh was this Self (atma) alone (and nothing other than this), and it assumed (for purposes of creation) the figure of a human being (purusha-vidha), viz. a composite being with organs like head, hands etc. (according to Shankara), or with the well-known sheaths, three (speech, mind and vital current) or five (anna-maya, prana-maya, mano-maya, vijnana-maya and ananda-maya) (according to Ramanuja). The three sheaths in fact represent the three realms (loka): Speech is this earth (prthivi), mind or manas is the mid-region (antariksha, and vital current or prana is the yonder world (dyauh). Alternately, they stand for celestial beings (devah), the ancient fathers (pitarah) and the human beings (manushyah) respectively. The three realms constitute the body of this Purusha or Prajapati; and in this sense he is viraj. The pre-viraj state is Brahman (absolute, undifferentiated, unconditioned, independent of all transactional modes of names and forms). Sureshvara’s Vartika on the above text, however, states that from Brahma came out the Viraj, and from Viraj the Purusha; from that, was brought forth all creatures.9 In this explanation, Purusha is identified with Manu, the first-born and the progenitor of all beings. The Upanishadic passage speaks of Atman in the sense of the primordial creative urge, which involves the human image.

This Atman with the human image is indeed Prajapati, the creator of all beings. He reflected on the situation prior to creation, and found that there was nothing whatsoever besides himself viz. no one to lord over himself or restrain in any way. He ehaculated ‘I am’ (aham asmi), and that became his nomenclature. That is the way in which all beings began identifying themselves. The ‘I’, pointing out to the self (atman), was devoid of all limiting conditions.

Prajapati, in other words, was perfectly free to create whatever he fancied; he had nothing to curtail his powers or his choice. This is what is meant by his having burnt all obstructions at the very beginning. (End of 1.4.1)

Brhadaranyaka Upanishat (2.3.1) points out that Brahman has two dimensions: with form (murta) and without form (amurta). The former is accessible for transaction, while the latter is not. The former is available for direct observation (pratyaksha), while the latter is only indirectly experienced (paroksha). The purport of this distinction is to explain that the Purusha who is the indwelling spirit of the solar orb is also the Pumsha who abides in the right eye of a being. The formless details include air (vayu) and the atmosphere (antariksha). They are devoid of death of destruction, and are unmoving as well as pervasive. These two elements are in contrast to the third element, namely earth (prthvi), which is subject to death, decay and destruction. The essence of the three elements is the solar orb (Mandala) which word is derived from manda, having the sense of essence, cream, substance) (cf. Br. 2.2.2) according to Sureshvara.10

Brh. U. (5.5.2)
The expression Mandala which occurs in Brh U. (5.5.2) (given in footnote 15) is a technical one, which is employed in the context of the own-nature of the ultimate and indivisible constituents of the universe (niravayava paramanunam svarupam), which are operational nevertheless; they are the causes for elements to come into existence. The solar orb or the Mandala, short for aditya-mandala, (in 5.5.2) is the causative essence of the three realms or elements: vayu, antariksha and prthvi. In this sense it is Hiranya-garbha or the golden womb, and also Prana, the main life-principle (2.3.3).11

In the adhyatma context, the right eye is regarded as the essence (rasa) of a being, who in turn is the essence of the three factors (vak, manas and prana). And the ‘person in the right eye’ is the embodied soul (lingatma), for it is the right eye that is mainly the basis for the individual’s transactions and phenomenal existence (2.3.4):12

[There is no separate section for Chhandogya U. because the quotations from it are given elsewhere. Chapter 2 dealing with Gayatri mantra refers to the Chhandogya U. (3.12.5,6), is RV (10.90.3). Chh. U. (1.6.6) is discussed below. Note that the word ‘uttama purusha’ with explanation is already found in Chh. U. (8.12.3).]

8. Purusha and Sun
According to Maitrayaniya Upanishat (6.6), the Sun is the visual apparatus. The special processes of a person are dependent upon this, which therefore is real (satya), and the Purusha is settled in the eyes.

The correspondence between the solar orb in the universe and the visual apparatus in the individual is a prevailing idea in the Upanishadic lore. The eye is often termed the inner sun for the individual. Even as the sun measures out day and night, life-span of all beings, development and decay of all things , directions and durations, the eye also perceives, determines, resolves, plans and helps behavior in general. The principle behind the sun and behind the eye is the Purusha. Chhandogya Upanishat (1.6.6) describes the Purusha as the resplendent spirit dwelling inside the solar orb, brilliant like burnished gold, as well as in the creature’s body filling it all over down to the very nail-tips, again luminous like gold.

Brhadaranyaka (5.5.2) makes an explicit statement to the effect that the Purusha indwelling in the solar orb and the Purusha abiding in the right eye (the left eye being represented by Moon) of a being are established in one another, Both are full of light and energy, If one is established by rays of light, the other is established by the vital currents.

Shatapatha Brahmana (6.2.2.9) speaks of a seventeen-limbed Purusha, which is, for appearances, more human than solar. The limbs are: (1-10) the pranas (five major and five minor), (11-14) organs (two arms and two legs), (15) body as a whole (called here atma), (16) neck, and (17) head. This Purusha is designated as Prajapati, whose extent is equal to that of Agni.

Prajapati is here identified with Agni, who is the representative of Aditya on earth.

9.Creation and Prajapati
This Sukta refers, albeit in an indirect way, to the creation of the world by Purusha. There is another sukta, which likewise makes a reference to creation, the well-known Nasadiya-sukta RV (10.129). Taittiriya-aranyaka (1.23) (given in footnote 17) calls the Purusha by the expression Prajapati, and describes how he became responsible for creation. At the beginning there was only water, and Prajapati took shape and floated on its surface on the leaf of a lotus plant (pushkara-parna). In his interior, in his mind, there then arose a desire (urge, impetus, primordial will) to create all this (what we see now ). Whatever now a person desires, he gives expression to it in speech and in action. This is the bridge between what is known as ‘tapas’ , which word means austerity, penace, reflection, brooding, intense heat. Creation proceeds only through ‘tapas’.

In the exhilaration of tapas, Prajapati shook his form vigorously. Form the flesh-like constituents of his form came forth the sages known as Arunas, Ketus and Vatarashanas; from his nail-like parts the sages known as Vaikhanasas; and from his hair like parts Valakhilyas. However, the essential aspect of the watery mass solidified in the form of a tortoise and issued out. Prajapati inquired if this was the offspring of his own skin and flesh. The tortoise replied: ‘No, I have been there all the time, even prior to all these beings that have now come out’. The tortoise-form was what appeared now, but the spirit of it was always there, and this was Purusha. This indeed is the Purusha nature of the Purusha; the expression ‘Purusha’ signifying ‘what was there earlier’ (purvam samabhut). The Purusha, to demonstrate his power, arose then with a thousand heads, with a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. The number ‘thousand’ indicates vastness and immeasurable immensity of creation.

This account appears to be an introduction to Purusha Sukta. The first words of the mantra of the sukta are repeated here, with the suggestion of the context; illustrating the Purusha nature of the Purusha (purushasya purushatvam). The innumerable forms of creation are all emanations from a common foundation: the kama of Prajapati (viz. Purusha). The text of Purusha sukta presupposes this. The primeval tortoise, which is but the essence (rasa) of the waters on which Prajapati floated, represents Prakrti; and Prakrti, in the presence of Purusha, unfolds its manifold power and evolves into the entire universe. This is called the ‘Virat’ (illumining itself in different and multiple forms), an aspect of Prakrti, which also is referred to in the sukta. Here is the text of the Aranyaka passage:

The same text further identifies Prajapati as the first born of the universal order (prathamaja rtasya); and the word rta used in this context signifies not only the order that is universally relevant and operative, but also reality that is unaltered by space and time. The first expression of this rta is the desire (kama) which distinguished Prajapati. The tortoise as the essence of the primeval water is itself the articulation of ‘desire’. Consider the continuation of the above account, where a mantra is cited in support (Taittiriya Aranyaka 1.23.9):

The cited mantra (said to be from Rig Veda, but not traceable in the present Samhita text) explains that Prajapati, the first-born of rta, constituted (viz. Created) all the worlds, all the beings and all space, out of the material provided by the primordial waters, or by their essence in the form of the tortoise. And, having created all things out of himself, he himself enters into all things (atmana atmanam abhisamvivesha). In other words, he becomes the spirit of all the worlds, all the beings, and of all space. The universe is but an emanation or unfoldment of Prajapati. The Aranyaka-passage adds that by ‘entering’ is meant pervasion and accommodation. He pervades over all things, in the sense that he obtains all these things (aptva); and he accommodates all these things in himself so that they are all restrained by him, and nothing over-reaches him (avaruddhya). The created universe does not exhaust him; in fact, he transcends it and abides in his own nature. This aspect of Prajapati is known as Purusha.

Purusha is identified with Narayana in Shatapatha Brahmana (13.6.1.1), where it is this Purusha Narayana who desires to transcend the created world, to pervade all things and become all things.

This reference is interesting in as much as the rishi of the Purusha Sukta is given as Narayana, and the devata as Purusha. The two being one in actuality, the hymn would answer to Yaska’s description of self-laudatory hymns or adhyatmika. The word Narayana is explained by Manu (1.10) as indicating primeval waters (nara,apah) as the resting place (ayana) in pre-creation stage for the Spirit:

The waters are the offsprings of the very Spirit (nara) that produced them; and they are the Spirit’s natural abode. The Spirit abiding in its own natural state is Purusha (puri shete, sleeps in the abode, filling it through and through’). The same Spirit animated by the desire to create is Prajapati, the creator (srashta or srashteshvara) and protector (palaka) of all beings. To become the Purusha, the condition is to be sacrificed (viz. Abandoned partially). This is technically known as purusha-medha. When we read in the Brhadaranyaka(5.5.1) that the waters (apah) were all that were there in the beginning, and that these waters produced Satya (the real) which is also Brahma (the growing inclination), and that Prajapati came forth from this Brahma, the Brahma is to be recognized as Purusha. The passage notes that the devas (rhe shining beings responsible for all creation) worship not Prajapati, their immediate progenitor, but satya, who is Brahma. This is so because the three-lettered word satya (sa+ti+ya) signifies that the world of creation (which is unreal and ephemeral) represented by the middle letter (‘ti’) sandwiched between two letters which signify immutability, and transcendental nature (‘sa’ and ‘ya’), viz. reality. What is real is the source of all that appears, and also the ultimate destiny. Thus the real is to be resorted to by all the wise ones (viz. the devas).

The middle letter, which represents all creation, involves the sacrifice of the initial and the final letters (which indicates brahma).

This is the real meaning of purusha-medha. The expression purusha-medha occurs in Shatapatha brahmana (13.6.1.1) in the sense of the five-fold sacrifice (pancha-ratra-yajna-kratu), which was the means of transcending all creation and of becoming all. This is what the Purusha himself saw and employed.

Elsewhere SB (12.3.4.1), this self-sacrifice was said to have been prescribed for Purusha by Prajapati:

What was required to be sacrificed (viz. given up for a purpose), in this case was the own nature of purity, formlessness and transcendence of Purusha. Prajapati could become the creator (srashta) and the lord of the created universe only as a result of Purusha’s sacrifice. And the offsprings of Prajapati, viz. the devas, also sacrificed Purusha in their turn. This theme, which becomes the thrust of Purusha-sukta, has been pointed out in another context in the same text (Shatapatha Brahmana 13.6.2.1). Purusha is so called because he fills and enlivens all universe and yet lies hidden (viz. sacrificed) in all the things and beings.

10. Mudgala Upanishat
‘’This brief Upanishad seeks to unravel the hidden import of Purusha-Sukta, on the basis of Purusha Samhita which is no longer available (according to S.K.R.). It interprets creation as a ritual as well as liberation from worldly fetters’’.

It belongs to the family of 108 Upanishads. It is said to belong to the family of Upanishads associated with Rig Veda since all of them have the same shanti mantra, ‘om; vang me manasi pratishthita’.

The explanation given here involves the glory and majesty of the four vyuha forms of Vishnu namely: Vasudeva, sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. It relates these 4 vyuhas to the 4 symbolic padas of Purusha referred in (10.90.3,4). The first three exist in heaven. By the fourth, Aniruddha (or Narayana), all the worlds have come to be.

The text of this brief Upanishad is in the first edition of this book published by Kalpataru Research Academy. It is also available in the book ‘Samanya Vedanta Upanishads’, published by Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chennai. This society has also published in a separate book the English translation done by A.G. Krishna Warrier, (without text).

 

Contents

 

(i) Note to the Readers iv
(ii) Abbreviations vi
(iii) Transliteration Scheme vii
I. Introduction 1
1 Versions in the Four Vedas 1
2 Relation to Gayatri Mantra 1
3 Meaning of Purusha 2
4 Prashna Upanishad 3
5 Katha Upanishad 4
6 Mundaka Upanishad 5
7 Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 8
8 Purusha and Sun 11
9 Creation and Prajapati 12
10 Mudgala Upanishat 17
II. Mantras with Explanations  
1 Mantra: 10.90.1 19
2 Mantra:10.90.2 24
3 Mantra: 10.90.3 34
4 Mantra: 10.90.4 40
5 Mantra: 10.90.5 44
6 Mantra: 10.90.6 49
7 Mantra: 10.90.7 54
8 Mantra: 10.90.8 60
9 Mantra: 10.90.9 64
10 Mantra: 10.90.10 67
11 Mantra: 10.90.11 69
12 Mantra: 10.90.12 71
13 Mantra: 10.90.13 73
14 Mantra: 10.90.14 74
15 Mantra: 10.90.15 75
16 Mantra: 10.90.16 79
III. Epilogue 82
  Appendix 83
  Mantra-Text 83

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Purusha Sukta (Text, Transliteration, Translation and Commentary)

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About the author

Vidyalankara, Shastra-Chudamani, Sangitakalaratna, Veda kamala, Professor Saligrama Krishna Ramachandra Rao was a well-known scholar who combine traditional learning with modern research. Well versed in Sanskrit, Pali. Ardamagadhi and several modern Indian languages and acquainted with Tibetan and some European languages, he has written extensively on Vedanta, Buddhism, Jainism, Indian Culture, Art and Literature.

In his professional career, however, he was a Professor of Psychology. He headed the Department of Clinical Psychology in the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience, Bangalore and he also headed the department of Indian Culture in the Bangalore campus of the University of the Pacific, US, for several years.

He has written more than sixty books in Kannada, a play in Sanskrit, and a Pali commentary on a Buddhist classic. One of his books on Iconography in Kannada has won the State Sahitya Academi Award, as also another of his book on the Tirupati Temple.

Among his numerous English Publications are: three volumes of Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine (Popular Prakashan, Mumbai), Tibetan Tantrik Tradition and Tibetan Meditation (Arnold Heinemann, Delhi), Consciousness in Advaita, and a series of six books on Indian temples (IBH Prakashana, Bangalore) and Origins of Indian Thought (Bangalore University); Kalpatharu Research Academy has published his Pratima-Kosha in six volumes. Agama-Kosha in Twelve volumes, Art and Architecture of Indian Temples in three volumes.

His detailed translation and essays on the highlights of Veda is in ‘Rgveda-Darsana’, published in 18 volumes.

He was also musicologist, sculptor and painter.

 

Note to the Readers

We are happy to present to the readers the second edition of the book, ‘Purusha Sukta’ by the eminent scholar Veda Kamala Professor S.K. Ramachandra Rao. Clearly the Purusha Sukta is the most well-known hymn in all the Vedas. But its deep meaning has not been explained in some detail anywhere using the traditional sources. In his preface to the first edition, he states that ‘the idea of the Purusha has been explained in some detail and the enigmatic concept of Purusha-medha has also been considered in its proper perspective. It is hoped that by presenting this traditional interpretation, many of the misconception will be removed.’

The author’s great contribution is to give excerpts from the Veda books such as the massive ‘Shatapatha Brahmana, Taittiriya Aranyaka, Taittiriya Brahmana and other Upanishad and Brahmana books. The concept of Purusha has been discussed in some detail by all the major Upanishads, and this fact is not widely known. This book contains many of the relevant excerpts and their translation. Another great contribution is the handling of the topic of Creation and Prajapati. We are not concerned here with the simplistic views of these topics in the Purana. But the Brahmana and Aranyaka books throw a wealth of light on this topic. We are immensely grateful to Professor S.K. Ramachandra Rao for making all this knowledge accessible to a wider audience. He gives the Sanskrit quotations in Devanagari or Roman script, and also their translations.

The first edition of the book was published by the Kalpataru Research Academy, Bangalore, under the chief editorship of Daivagna K.N. Somayaji. It was issued as volume 4 of the series, ‘Rig Veda-Darshana’. All the material in this book dealing with Purusha Sukta is from the above mentioned edition. To make this book reader-friendly, all the material in Sanskrit whether in Devanagari or Roman Script have been shifted to the bottom of the relevant page as footnotes. The long introduction has been divided into several sections and their subtitles are given by us.

It is worthwhile emphasizing that the material found in this book is not easily available elsewhere. Professor Rao has refrained from explaining topics which can be found elsewhere.

Our gratitude to Professor S.K. Ramachandra Rao, for giving us an opportunity to publish this edition and to the chief editor Sri Daivagna K.N. somayaji, the chief administrator Sri V.R. Gowri Shankar and Sri Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Swamiji of Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetha for bringing the knowledge of Indian Culture, tradition, philosophy, spirituality, medicine, architecture etc., to a wider public through the series of books under the auspices of Kalpataru Research Academy.

 

Introduction

1. Versions in the four Vedas
The hymn known as Purusha Sukta (or Paurusha) which is to be found originally in RV (10.90), is also found in VS (31.1), SB (13.6.2.11), TA (3.12.1), and Apastamba Shrauta Sutra (16.28.3;20.20.2). It is referred to as ‘Sahasra Shirsha Sukta’ in Vrddhaharita Samhita (5.3.86), and as ‘Sahasraksha Sukta’ in Baudhayana Dharma Shastra (4.7.5). There is another hymn in Taittiriya Aranyaka (10.11), (Mahanarayana U. 13) which begins with the words sahasra shirsham devam, and which is also a eulogy of Purusha, and significantly this is named maha narayaniyam, pertaining to Narayana who is the seer of the Purusha-Sukta.

2. Relation to Gayatri Mantra
It is said that the Savitr of the Gayatri mantra occurring in RV (3.62.10) is identical with the Purusha of Purusha-Sukta RV (10.90), and that the entire Vedic canon follows the lead of Purusha Sukta (vedah purusha suktagah). The chhandogya Upanishad (3.12.5,6), while eulogizing the Gayatri mantra cites a mantra from (10.90.3), with the words tad etad rchabhyanuktam, and draws a correspondence between the four padas (lines) of Gayatri and the four padas (quarters) of Purusha. Shankara’s comments thereon are illuminating: Gayatri is the name for Brahman. But Gayatri represents the mutable world of names and forms, and Brahman is beyond this; higher then this; for Brahman is the reality, immutable and indescribable, Brahman is called Purusha, for he completes the three pads of Gayatri, perfecting it (purushah sarva puranat), and he abides in the human heart without really revealing himself (puri shayanat). All phenomena, although distinguished into three realms, three branches of learning, and three vital currents (corresponding with the three pads of Gayatri) is in fact but one aspect of Gayatri (or Brahman); comprising of all phenomena, mobile and immobile; and beyond this is the fourth pada of Gayatri (darshata), which is the spirit that is responsible for the three other padas. The part that is manifest is no doubt suggestive of the Purusha’s glory and majesty; but the real nature of Purusha is higher than this. “Purusha is perfection. And the entire Veda and all the scriptural lore are a statement of this transcendental nature of Purusha”, according to Ananda-tirtha.1

3. Meaning of Purusha
The expression purusha is not to be construed in the sense of ‘man’ (human being), although this meaning became prevalent at a later age. It is never employed in the Vedic hymns in this sense.

The expression purusha etymologically signifies that which goes ahead (purati agre gachchhati), ‘that which fills all with strength’ (piparti purayati balam yah), ‘that which lies inside the township (puri shete yah)(SB) (purah kushan Unadi-Sutra, 4.74). It is derived from the root pr which has the sense of protecting, pervading, filling (palana-puranayah). The word has the meaning of the spirit in contradistinction to matter (prakrti); in the Sankhya system of thought, Purusha (masculine gender) is distinguished from prakrit (matter, nature, feminine gender). Prakrti evolves, changes and binds; but it is inert and has therefore to depend upon the presence of Purusha, to enliven, impel and vivify. Purusha here corresponds to Savitr in the sense of stimulator or creator of all things. All things in their individual forms are regarded as ‘embodied’ (viz. having bodies, which are filled by souls, and hence called puras). We read in Bhagavata(7.14.37):2

The Purusha is so called because he creates all the species of beings (puras), humans, beasts, sages and gods, and lies in each of the beings in the form of soul. Elsewhere, purusha is identified with Vishnu, for he abides within the body which is called pura:3

It is in this sense that the lexicon, Amara-kosha, takes the word Purusha as synonymous with ‘atman’ (3.3.218). Purusha, as the ultimate and unitary cosmological principle as well as the subtlest psychic reality, occurs in the hymns of Rig Veda, and in the Upanishads.

4. Prashna Upanishad (5.5)
Here Purusha is identified with the person who is the inner spirit of the Sun (surya antargata-purusha), who is to be contemplated upon Om (with three constituent Sounds: a, u and ma). One who meditates on this supreme and transcendental Purusha, resplendent with the luster of the sun, will be freed from all sins, even as the serpent discards its old and worn out skin.4

In this state of liberating enlightenment, the devotee has the vision of Purusha, who abides hidden within his own body (or heart), and who is beyond this ‘soul-mass’ (jivaghana), which is available for immediate experience:5

The idea of ‘soul-mass’ refers to Hiranya-garbha, the primeval source of all beings. This Hiranyagarbha is explained by Shankara6 as the very own self of all transmigrational and embodied souls; it is the inner spirit which is the distinguishing mark of the beings? In it are settled all the souls.8 It is the inner reality of all physical constitution (sarva shariranu pravishtam), which can be contemplated upon as the very principle that abides in the solar orb. Isha Upanishad (16) speaks of this indwelling reality as the Purusha,9 whose limbs are the three vyahrtis. The same reality fills and animates the entire universe as the spirit (vital energy) and consciousness.10

5. Katha Upanishad
The Purusha is decribed in (2.1.12) (or(4.12)) as of the size of the thumb (angushtha-matrah), and dwelling in the centre of ones own being (Madhya atmani). The measure of the thumb signifies the extent of the heart-lotus, within the opening of which the spirit rests and where the yogis can visualize it with case. And the Purusha is luminous like fire, but devoid if smoke (4.13, jyotir ivadhumakah). This reality is all-inclusive and transcendent: sense-functions (indriya) are superior to the physical organs; mind (manas) is higher than the sense-functions; consciousness (buddhi, sattva) is higher than mind; and the soul (mahan) is superior to consciousness. Higher than the soul is the unmanifest ground of all phenomenal existence (avyakta). Transcending even this unmanifest is Purusha.Transcendence or superiority is in terms of inclusion (vyapakatva), Ka. U. (2.3.7,8) (or(6.7,6.8)).11 What is higher includes the lower.

The unmanifest which is the highest in the phenomenal series is also called akasha, which is all pervasive. Akasha, ‘vayu’ and prana’ signifies the soul (jiva),12 according to Brahma Vidyopanishat (14). And Purusha who transcends akasha, cannot be perceived or identified by my sign that is valid in the phenomenal sphere, therefore it is called alinga, (Shankara).13

6. Mundaka Upanishad
It not only identifies Purusha with immutability and eternity, but speaks of him as filling all things from within and without, although devoid of form.1 He is not to be mistaken for the undifferentiated, unmanifest, unchanging and undying world-principle (akshara) which is the ultimate stuf and source of all existence; he is in fact beyond it (aksharat paratah parah). Given below is the explanation offered by Shankara:2

Here, two aspects of akshara are distinguished: one which has names and forms, and constitutes the source of all effects (bodies) and their instruments (senses); and the other free from all such conditions. The latter is undifferentiated (avyakrta), and is unchanged amidst all change in the phenomenal presentation. This is the undying world-principle; and the aspect transcending it is Purusha that is free and pure, altogether unconditioned by phenomenal processes.

Mundaka Upanishad (2.1.2) also points out that it is from the former aspect of Purusha that the World proceeds: life-processes, mind, sense-functions, elemental bricks of the material world and the entire universe. In a sense, the universe itself is this Purusha (2.1.10purusha evedam vishvam), and it is hidden in the heart-cave of all living beings (nihitam guhayam’, op.cit.).And this Purushais conceived in human image (purusha-vidha cf. also Brahadaranyaka (1.4.1) atmaivedam agra asit purusha vidhah), and is identified with Prajapati3 and Ramanuja described him as the primordial creator, (adi-karta cha bhutanam). The human imagery regards Agni as the Purusha’s head, Sun and Moon as his eyes, the directions all-round as his ears, the Veda as his speech (viz. open mouth); Vayu is his vital current, and the whole universe is settled in his heart. The earth itself emanates from his feet. And this Purusha is the inner spirit of all creatures.4

The Upanishat proceeds to remind us of what the Purusha Sukta itself elaborates; that the three Vedas emanate from the Purusha as also all the sacrifices and offer the initiations into them, the year with all the seasons, the performers of rituals, the worlds, and all kinds of creatures (human, angels, beasts, birds and so on). The text adds that in-breathing and out-breathing, the ritual offerings, the penances and austerities, faith, truthfulness and duties devolving on us, all come out of this Purusha and take shape.5

The account is completed by drawing our attention to the fact that this Pursha is in fact the indwelling spirit of beings; he abides in the interior of the being, like the very Self of the self, enveloped by the gross body and the elemental ingredients thereof:6

Prashna Upanishad
Here is a similar account of the Purusha as the indwelling spirit in all creatures, and as the ground on which all factors of physical existence arise. The factors constitute the form of the Purusha. They incline towards the Purusha image (purushayanah). But when they reach the Purusha, they lose their individual distinguishing marks and become known as the Purusha himself, even as the rivers that flow towards the ocean. The factors that constitute our physical existence are all settled in the Purusha, like spokes of the wheel in the hub (Prashna U. 6.2,6.5,6.6).7

7. Brhadaranyaka U.
Brh. U. (1.4.1)8 derives the word ‘Purush’ in an altogether different manner. It is said here that the word has two parts, pura (purvam, at the beginning) and aushat (burnt up, destroyed). The first part refers to the period prior to the creative process, while the second to the elimination of all obstructions and deficiencies. The entire passage (1.4.1) begins with the statement that at the very beginninh was this Self (atma) alone (and nothing other than this), and it assumed (for purposes of creation) the figure of a human being (purusha-vidha), viz. a composite being with organs like head, hands etc. (according to Shankara), or with the well-known sheaths, three (speech, mind and vital current) or five (anna-maya, prana-maya, mano-maya, vijnana-maya and ananda-maya) (according to Ramanuja). The three sheaths in fact represent the three realms (loka): Speech is this earth (prthivi), mind or manas is the mid-region (antariksha, and vital current or prana is the yonder world (dyauh). Alternately, they stand for celestial beings (devah), the ancient fathers (pitarah) and the human beings (manushyah) respectively. The three realms constitute the body of this Purusha or Prajapati; and in this sense he is viraj. The pre-viraj state is Brahman (absolute, undifferentiated, unconditioned, independent of all transactional modes of names and forms). Sureshvara’s Vartika on the above text, however, states that from Brahma came out the Viraj, and from Viraj the Purusha; from that, was brought forth all creatures.9 In this explanation, Purusha is identified with Manu, the first-born and the progenitor of all beings. The Upanishadic passage speaks of Atman in the sense of the primordial creative urge, which involves the human image.

This Atman with the human image is indeed Prajapati, the creator of all beings. He reflected on the situation prior to creation, and found that there was nothing whatsoever besides himself viz. no one to lord over himself or restrain in any way. He ehaculated ‘I am’ (aham asmi), and that became his nomenclature. That is the way in which all beings began identifying themselves. The ‘I’, pointing out to the self (atman), was devoid of all limiting conditions.

Prajapati, in other words, was perfectly free to create whatever he fancied; he had nothing to curtail his powers or his choice. This is what is meant by his having burnt all obstructions at the very beginning. (End of 1.4.1)

Brhadaranyaka Upanishat (2.3.1) points out that Brahman has two dimensions: with form (murta) and without form (amurta). The former is accessible for transaction, while the latter is not. The former is available for direct observation (pratyaksha), while the latter is only indirectly experienced (paroksha). The purport of this distinction is to explain that the Purusha who is the indwelling spirit of the solar orb is also the Pumsha who abides in the right eye of a being. The formless details include air (vayu) and the atmosphere (antariksha). They are devoid of death of destruction, and are unmoving as well as pervasive. These two elements are in contrast to the third element, namely earth (prthvi), which is subject to death, decay and destruction. The essence of the three elements is the solar orb (Mandala) which word is derived from manda, having the sense of essence, cream, substance) (cf. Br. 2.2.2) according to Sureshvara.10

Brh. U. (5.5.2)
The expression Mandala which occurs in Brh U. (5.5.2) (given in footnote 15) is a technical one, which is employed in the context of the own-nature of the ultimate and indivisible constituents of the universe (niravayava paramanunam svarupam), which are operational nevertheless; they are the causes for elements to come into existence. The solar orb or the Mandala, short for aditya-mandala, (in 5.5.2) is the causative essence of the three realms or elements: vayu, antariksha and prthvi. In this sense it is Hiranya-garbha or the golden womb, and also Prana, the main life-principle (2.3.3).11

In the adhyatma context, the right eye is regarded as the essence (rasa) of a being, who in turn is the essence of the three factors (vak, manas and prana). And the ‘person in the right eye’ is the embodied soul (lingatma), for it is the right eye that is mainly the basis for the individual’s transactions and phenomenal existence (2.3.4):12

[There is no separate section for Chhandogya U. because the quotations from it are given elsewhere. Chapter 2 dealing with Gayatri mantra refers to the Chhandogya U. (3.12.5,6), is RV (10.90.3). Chh. U. (1.6.6) is discussed below. Note that the word ‘uttama purusha’ with explanation is already found in Chh. U. (8.12.3).]

8. Purusha and Sun
According to Maitrayaniya Upanishat (6.6), the Sun is the visual apparatus. The special processes of a person are dependent upon this, which therefore is real (satya), and the Purusha is settled in the eyes.

The correspondence between the solar orb in the universe and the visual apparatus in the individual is a prevailing idea in the Upanishadic lore. The eye is often termed the inner sun for the individual. Even as the sun measures out day and night, life-span of all beings, development and decay of all things , directions and durations, the eye also perceives, determines, resolves, plans and helps behavior in general. The principle behind the sun and behind the eye is the Purusha. Chhandogya Upanishat (1.6.6) describes the Purusha as the resplendent spirit dwelling inside the solar orb, brilliant like burnished gold, as well as in the creature’s body filling it all over down to the very nail-tips, again luminous like gold.

Brhadaranyaka (5.5.2) makes an explicit statement to the effect that the Purusha indwelling in the solar orb and the Purusha abiding in the right eye (the left eye being represented by Moon) of a being are established in one another, Both are full of light and energy, If one is established by rays of light, the other is established by the vital currents.

Shatapatha Brahmana (6.2.2.9) speaks of a seventeen-limbed Purusha, which is, for appearances, more human than solar. The limbs are: (1-10) the pranas (five major and five minor), (11-14) organs (two arms and two legs), (15) body as a whole (called here atma), (16) neck, and (17) head. This Purusha is designated as Prajapati, whose extent is equal to that of Agni.

Prajapati is here identified with Agni, who is the representative of Aditya on earth.

9.Creation and Prajapati
This Sukta refers, albeit in an indirect way, to the creation of the world by Purusha. There is another sukta, which likewise makes a reference to creation, the well-known Nasadiya-sukta RV (10.129). Taittiriya-aranyaka (1.23) (given in footnote 17) calls the Purusha by the expression Prajapati, and describes how he became responsible for creation. At the beginning there was only water, and Prajapati took shape and floated on its surface on the leaf of a lotus plant (pushkara-parna). In his interior, in his mind, there then arose a desire (urge, impetus, primordial will) to create all this (what we see now ). Whatever now a person desires, he gives expression to it in speech and in action. This is the bridge between what is known as ‘tapas’ , which word means austerity, penace, reflection, brooding, intense heat. Creation proceeds only through ‘tapas’.

In the exhilaration of tapas, Prajapati shook his form vigorously. Form the flesh-like constituents of his form came forth the sages known as Arunas, Ketus and Vatarashanas; from his nail-like parts the sages known as Vaikhanasas; and from his hair like parts Valakhilyas. However, the essential aspect of the watery mass solidified in the form of a tortoise and issued out. Prajapati inquired if this was the offspring of his own skin and flesh. The tortoise replied: ‘No, I have been there all the time, even prior to all these beings that have now come out’. The tortoise-form was what appeared now, but the spirit of it was always there, and this was Purusha. This indeed is the Purusha nature of the Purusha; the expression ‘Purusha’ signifying ‘what was there earlier’ (purvam samabhut). The Purusha, to demonstrate his power, arose then with a thousand heads, with a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. The number ‘thousand’ indicates vastness and immeasurable immensity of creation.

This account appears to be an introduction to Purusha Sukta. The first words of the mantra of the sukta are repeated here, with the suggestion of the context; illustrating the Purusha nature of the Purusha (purushasya purushatvam). The innumerable forms of creation are all emanations from a common foundation: the kama of Prajapati (viz. Purusha). The text of Purusha sukta presupposes this. The primeval tortoise, which is but the essence (rasa) of the waters on which Prajapati floated, represents Prakrti; and Prakrti, in the presence of Purusha, unfolds its manifold power and evolves into the entire universe. This is called the ‘Virat’ (illumining itself in different and multiple forms), an aspect of Prakrti, which also is referred to in the sukta. Here is the text of the Aranyaka passage:

The same text further identifies Prajapati as the first born of the universal order (prathamaja rtasya); and the word rta used in this context signifies not only the order that is universally relevant and operative, but also reality that is unaltered by space and time. The first expression of this rta is the desire (kama) which distinguished Prajapati. The tortoise as the essence of the primeval water is itself the articulation of ‘desire’. Consider the continuation of the above account, where a mantra is cited in support (Taittiriya Aranyaka 1.23.9):

The cited mantra (said to be from Rig Veda, but not traceable in the present Samhita text) explains that Prajapati, the first-born of rta, constituted (viz. Created) all the worlds, all the beings and all space, out of the material provided by the primordial waters, or by their essence in the form of the tortoise. And, having created all things out of himself, he himself enters into all things (atmana atmanam abhisamvivesha). In other words, he becomes the spirit of all the worlds, all the beings, and of all space. The universe is but an emanation or unfoldment of Prajapati. The Aranyaka-passage adds that by ‘entering’ is meant pervasion and accommodation. He pervades over all things, in the sense that he obtains all these things (aptva); and he accommodates all these things in himself so that they are all restrained by him, and nothing over-reaches him (avaruddhya). The created universe does not exhaust him; in fact, he transcends it and abides in his own nature. This aspect of Prajapati is known as Purusha.

Purusha is identified with Narayana in Shatapatha Brahmana (13.6.1.1), where it is this Purusha Narayana who desires to transcend the created world, to pervade all things and become all things.

This reference is interesting in as much as the rishi of the Purusha Sukta is given as Narayana, and the devata as Purusha. The two being one in actuality, the hymn would answer to Yaska’s description of self-laudatory hymns or adhyatmika. The word Narayana is explained by Manu (1.10) as indicating primeval waters (nara,apah) as the resting place (ayana) in pre-creation stage for the Spirit:

The waters are the offsprings of the very Spirit (nara) that produced them; and they are the Spirit’s natural abode. The Spirit abiding in its own natural state is Purusha (puri shete, sleeps in the abode, filling it through and through’). The same Spirit animated by the desire to create is Prajapati, the creator (srashta or srashteshvara) and protector (palaka) of all beings. To become the Purusha, the condition is to be sacrificed (viz. Abandoned partially). This is technically known as purusha-medha. When we read in the Brhadaranyaka(5.5.1) that the waters (apah) were all that were there in the beginning, and that these waters produced Satya (the real) which is also Brahma (the growing inclination), and that Prajapati came forth from this Brahma, the Brahma is to be recognized as Purusha. The passage notes that the devas (rhe shining beings responsible for all creation) worship not Prajapati, their immediate progenitor, but satya, who is Brahma. This is so because the three-lettered word satya (sa+ti+ya) signifies that the world of creation (which is unreal and ephemeral) represented by the middle letter (‘ti’) sandwiched between two letters which signify immutability, and transcendental nature (‘sa’ and ‘ya’), viz. reality. What is real is the source of all that appears, and also the ultimate destiny. Thus the real is to be resorted to by all the wise ones (viz. the devas).

The middle letter, which represents all creation, involves the sacrifice of the initial and the final letters (which indicates brahma).

This is the real meaning of purusha-medha. The expression purusha-medha occurs in Shatapatha brahmana (13.6.1.1) in the sense of the five-fold sacrifice (pancha-ratra-yajna-kratu), which was the means of transcending all creation and of becoming all. This is what the Purusha himself saw and employed.

Elsewhere SB (12.3.4.1), this self-sacrifice was said to have been prescribed for Purusha by Prajapati:

What was required to be sacrificed (viz. given up for a purpose), in this case was the own nature of purity, formlessness and transcendence of Purusha. Prajapati could become the creator (srashta) and the lord of the created universe only as a result of Purusha’s sacrifice. And the offsprings of Prajapati, viz. the devas, also sacrificed Purusha in their turn. This theme, which becomes the thrust of Purusha-sukta, has been pointed out in another context in the same text (Shatapatha Brahmana 13.6.2.1). Purusha is so called because he fills and enlivens all universe and yet lies hidden (viz. sacrificed) in all the things and beings.

10. Mudgala Upanishat
‘’This brief Upanishad seeks to unravel the hidden import of Purusha-Sukta, on the basis of Purusha Samhita which is no longer available (according to S.K.R.). It interprets creation as a ritual as well as liberation from worldly fetters’’.

It belongs to the family of 108 Upanishads. It is said to belong to the family of Upanishads associated with Rig Veda since all of them have the same shanti mantra, ‘om; vang me manasi pratishthita’.

The explanation given here involves the glory and majesty of the four vyuha forms of Vishnu namely: Vasudeva, sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. It relates these 4 vyuhas to the 4 symbolic padas of Purusha referred in (10.90.3,4). The first three exist in heaven. By the fourth, Aniruddha (or Narayana), all the worlds have come to be.

The text of this brief Upanishad is in the first edition of this book published by Kalpataru Research Academy. It is also available in the book ‘Samanya Vedanta Upanishads’, published by Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chennai. This society has also published in a separate book the English translation done by A.G. Krishna Warrier, (without text).

 

Contents

 

(i) Note to the Readers iv
(ii) Abbreviations vi
(iii) Transliteration Scheme vii
I. Introduction 1
1 Versions in the Four Vedas 1
2 Relation to Gayatri Mantra 1
3 Meaning of Purusha 2
4 Prashna Upanishad 3
5 Katha Upanishad 4
6 Mundaka Upanishad 5
7 Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 8
8 Purusha and Sun 11
9 Creation and Prajapati 12
10 Mudgala Upanishat 17
II. Mantras with Explanations  
1 Mantra: 10.90.1 19
2 Mantra:10.90.2 24
3 Mantra: 10.90.3 34
4 Mantra: 10.90.4 40
5 Mantra: 10.90.5 44
6 Mantra: 10.90.6 49
7 Mantra: 10.90.7 54
8 Mantra: 10.90.8 60
9 Mantra: 10.90.9 64
10 Mantra: 10.90.10 67
11 Mantra: 10.90.11 69
12 Mantra: 10.90.12 71
13 Mantra: 10.90.13 73
14 Mantra: 10.90.14 74
15 Mantra: 10.90.15 75
16 Mantra: 10.90.16 79
III. Epilogue 82
  Appendix 83
  Mantra-Text 83

Sample Pages





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