Purusha Suktam - The Song of Man
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)
पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात्
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).
सर्वं यद् भूतं यच्च भव्यम्
This Purusha is all that yet has been and all that is to be, The Lord of Immortality which waxes greater still by food.
महिमातो ज्यायांश्च पूरुषः
He is great, He is greater than himself. All creatures are one-fourth of him, three-fourths eternal life in heaven.
उदैत् पुरुषः पादोऽस्येहाभवत्
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.)
अजायत विराजो अधि पूरुषः
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
हविषा देवा यज्ञमतन्वत
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.
सर्वहुतः सम्भृतं पृषदाज्यम्
From that great sacrifice the dripping fat was gathered up. He formed the creatures of the air and animals both wild and
सर्वहुत ऋचः सामानि जज्ञिरे
From that great sacrifice Rchas and Sama-hymns were born. Therefrom were spells and charms produced; the Yajus were born
अजायन्त ये के चोभयादतः
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.
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?
मुखमासीद् बाहू राजन्यः
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.
जातश्चक्षोः सूर्यो अजायत
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.
शीर्ष्णो द्यौः समवर्तत
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
परिधयस्त्रिः सप्त समिधः
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
देवास्तानि धर्माणि प्रथमान्यासन्
ते ह नाकं महिमानः
सचन्त यत्र पूर्वे साध्याःसन्ति
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.