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^.i^iyyx/r**'^^^ - 

,..^x^Q.v-<^t^ • 

y — 


Purusha Sukta 

Translated & Explained 


Professor of English, H. H. Tlie Baja's College, Pndvhhottai 


Editor, The tSanskrit Jon^^ml 

MADltAB : 







ST&y ff^citket and (Spiritual Sxeceptot, 

2 The Purusha Sukta. 

spiratioii from western savants^ makes the 
following remarks on this Siikta* — "The 
hymn itself was composed centuries' after the 
time when the Eig Veda hymns were gene- 
rally composed, as is proved by its language 
and its ideas. It was composed after the Rik 
and the Saman and the Yajur Vedas had 
l)een separately classified (verse 9), and after 
the idea of the sacrifice of the Supreme 
Being (unknown elsewhere in the Rig Veda) 
had found a place in the Hindu religion. 
It was composed, as Colebrooke states, after 
the rude versification of the Rig Veda had 
given place to the more sonorous metre of 
a later age. Weber, Max MuUer, Muir 
and other scholars all agree as to this hymn 
being comparatively modern." 

Muir says that this Sukta was 'evidently 
produced at a period when the ceremonial 
of sacrifice had become largely developed, 
when great virtue was supposed to reside 

♦ Dutt's Ancient India Bk. I. Chapter 5. 

Introduction. 8 

in itS' proper celebration, and when a mys- 
tical meaning had come to be attached to 
tlie various materials and instruments of 
the ritual as Well as to the different mem- 
l)ers of the victim/ 

We leave the question of the relative 
posteriority of the several hymns to the 
scholars of Europe, who seem to have a 
special aptitude for this branch of inquiry* 
We, Indians, concern ourselves with what is 
said^ more than icho said it and when. It 
is this tendency of the Indian mind that 
accounts for the absence of historical works 
in our literature and has given a pretty 
long tether to the theorising propensities 
of western Sanskritists. But we may note 
one or two things with regard to this liymu. 
1. It will not do to say that the liyiiiu 
is of late origin simply because it contains 
references to some of the details, of cere- 
monial sacrifice or to the caste-system,: Sa^- 
ri^ce seems to be the keynote of the EiS 

4 The Purusha Sukta. 

Veda as it is indisputably of the other 
Vedas/and hymns may be found in several 
Mandilas which have sole reference to the 
technicalities of sacrificial lore. Indian 
tradition has it that the Big Veda was com- 
piled to meet the requirements of the Uotar^ 
one of the chief officiating priests at a sac- 
rifice, and the statement made by Gold- 
stUcker that some of the hymns will hard- 
ly lend themselves to the purposes of sac- 
rifice will not, even if substantiated, weaken 
our position as our contention is simply that 
the major portion of the Eig Veda hymns 
refers to sacrifice more or less directly. 

We hold that the caste-system existed 
when many of the hymns of the Rig Veda 
were composed^ though not in its present 
hide-bound form and though free from the 
blind rigidity of later times. We are aware 
that Mr. R. C, Dutt brings forward positive 
and negative proofs to show that there was 
no caste-system during the Vedic period 

Introduction. 5 

and the very words Brahmana, Vipra and 
Kshatriya are used in the Eig Veda with- 
out any reference to the castes. We are 
also aware that western scholarship will 
be shocked to see such a theory as ours 
maintained at a time when, they think, the 
question has been finally settled once for 
all. But we are of opinion that the ques- 
tion can well bear a re-examination, and 
we propose to offer a few remarks on the 
subject in our comments on Rik XIII. 

2. Mr. R. C. Dutt maintains that the 
Purusha.Sukta was composed after the Rik, 
the Saman, and the Yajur Vedas had been 
separately classified and bases this inference 
oi his on the ninth verse of this hymn, 
where Richas^ Saniani and Yajtis are men- 
tioned by name. If this verse had been 
rornjyosed after the several Vedas had been 
i'ompikd into distinct books, how came this 
verse and this hymn to be found in the 
hody of om of them ? Does he mean to say 

6 Thk Purusha Sukta. 

ihat this particular hymn was composed 
afterwards and inserted into the body 
of the book that it might not be regarded 
as a later and spurious addition ? Why 
all this torturing and twisting to uphold 
a particular theory ? There is not the 
ghost of a reference to the distinct com- 
pilations of the several Vedas in the verse. 
Richas^ Samani and Yajus do not there 
refer to the several Vedas but simply 
to Elk, Saman and Yajus verses and te.vts^ 
all of which were and must have been in 
existence long before the time of their codi- 
fication into separate treatises and each 
of which had a distinct purpose and appli- 
cation in sacrificial ceremonials. Vidya- 
ranya does not in his commentary take the 
words to refer to the several Vedas. No 
one will think of ignoring tlie plural form 
of the words used and take the trouble of 
interpreting them in the collective sense — 
to fall, as the reward of this trouble, into 


the fallacy of arguing in a circle ! 

3. The language of this hymn is parti- 
cularly sweet, rhythmical and polished and 
this has led to its being regarded as the 
product of a later age when the capabilities 
of the language had been developed. But 
the polish may be due to the artistic skill 
of the particular author, to the nature of 
the subject and to several other causes 
than mere posteriority in time. We might 
as well say that Chaucer must have lived 
centuries after Gower, because the language 
of the former is so refined and that of the 
latter, so rugged. We must at the same 
time confess that we are unable to discover 
any distinct linguistic peculiarity in the 
hymn which will stamp it as of a later 

4. Eev. Maurice Phillips observes * : — 
Though human sacrifices were known dur- 
ing the mantras or the oldest hymns of 

♦The teaching of the Vedas p. 198. 

8 The Purusha Sukta. 

the Veda, the evidence is too scanty for us 
to conclude that they were common. The 
ninetieth hymn of the tenth Mandala of 
the Rig Veda in which Pumsha^ the prime- 
val male, is described as * cut to pieces and 
oflfered as a sacrifice by the Gods' shows 
that the idea of offering a man, Punisha^ 
was familiar to the ancient Aryans. It is 
true that the Purusha in the hymn is an 
imaginary being ; but the description of 
his immolation is so real and minute as to 
justify the conclusion that it was taken 
from the well-known manner in which hu- 
man beings were sacrificed. Professor Max 
MUller also is of opinion that human sacri- 
fices, prevailed among the ancient Hindus, * 
(not in the Brahmanic or the Vedic period 
but at a still earlier age). Dr. Rajendra Lai 
Mitra also inclines to this view f . Let our 

* Vide his History of Sanskrit Literature pp. 419 and 420. 

f We may in this connection refer our readers to the life 
and letters of Sambuchandra Mukerji by Mr. Skrine I. C. S., 
where we get some idea of the way in which Dr. R. L. 
Mitra has tried to hunt up for references to human sacrifices. 

Introduction. 9 

readers study the Purusha Siikta and judge 
for themselves how far the conclusions of 
Rev. M. Phillips are justified. 

The hymn is attributed to a Eishi named 
Narayana and is therefore called Narayana 
Anuvaka. It is used by the Brahmans in 
their relii^ious ceremonies in a varietv of 
ways and many who cannot spare time for 
a study of the complete Veda generally 
content themselves with learning the Rud- 
rtidhyaya and the Purusha Sukta. We 
propose to deal with the Purusha Sukta 
here and explain it at some lengtli. 


$t)e |)uYU6i)a 0itktA 


Pii7nishah= The Supreme Being, Sahas- 
rasirahd==^ hath a thousand heads, Sahas- 
rdJcshah= hath a thousand eyes, Sahasra- 
^>t{;=hath a thousand feet ; Sah=Re^ Bhv- 
mm=the Universe, Vis'vatah^=on all sides, 
T^nVra=pervading, Dats dngula7n=io the 
extent of ten inches, Atyafislithat=hiy be- 

The Supreme Being hath a thousand 
heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet ; 
pervading the Universe on all sides. He lay 
beyond it to the extent of ten inches. 

The whole Universe of existing things 
animate as well as inanimate is regarded 

ElK II. 11 

as the body of Purusha — the Supreme 
Being. Hence the eyes of all living beings 
are His ; their heads, His heads ; their feet. 
His feet. He is thus spoken of as having 
a thousand eyes, &x;. Thousand is here 
used for Coimtless by what is called Upa- 
lakshana. Upalakshana is defined as 

<5rqfcim<^^% ^cKMf^MK*HH. *-^- ^^^^ ^"^" 
plication of something not expressed, in 
addition to that which has been expressed. 
Das'dngidam is also used here by way of 
Upalakshana. All that is meant is that the 
Supreme Being is something over and above 
this Universe, which forms only a part of 


i^/(f7W=this, Sarvam=^2M (is), Purushah 
^t'a==the Supreme Being alone, Faf=what^ 

14 The Purusha Sukta. 

difficult to say. It is the indefinable cause 
which, by association with Brahman, pro- 
jects the appearance of material world com- 
prising distinct individual existences. Maya, 
by a progressive evolution, modifies itself 
into the several material elements and the 
bodily organs of various living beings. The 
individual souls are really the Universal 
Brahman, brought by Maya under her ihr 
fiuence. Under the material encumbrances 
imposed by Maya, they are unable to realise 
their true nature atid . so have come to 
regard themselves as separate entities dis- 
tinct from the Universal soul. Thus it is 
that souls which are only Brahman are 
conditioned, individualised and enveloi>ed 
in a material case by Maya and become 
agmts and enjoyers. The actions of 
these souls have their merit and demerit, 
whose fruits they are to reap in a series of 
future existences. At the end of every 
Kalpa the whole material world is merged 

RiK II. 15 

into Maya and the individual souls lie in a 
latent state. But the fruits of their Karma 
have not yet been exhausted ; so when 
after the pralaya a new world is evolved 
out of Maya, these souls once more enter 
the cycle of birth and rebirth. They are 
linally released from this coil of Samsara 
when they realise their real nature and their 
absolute identity with the universal soul 
and the illusory restrictions imposed by 
Maya. True knowledge, as taught by 
S'niti and learned from the Acharya after 
a preliminarj' course of self-sacrificing dis- 
cipline, leads to this realisation and such 
realisation brings about the extinction of 
the seed of Karma and final emancipation 
from the thraldom of Maya. 

This, in brief, is the teaching of S'anka- 
ra. The visible universe around us con- 
sists of two distinct elements — matter and 
spirit (Jiva). Matter is evolved Maya and 
Maya, whatever its essence may be, is but 

18 The Pdrusha Sukta. 

to form part of the Supreme Being. 

^<i^^/ftl<l^(^ Yad annena atirohati.Muxv 
translates the expression thus — 'Since (pr 
when) by food he expands/ Colebrooke also 
translated it by ' He grows by nourishment'. 
^W( (anna) means' food or nourishment. 
But to say that the Supreme Being expands 
by food or grows by nourishment makes no 
sense. The expression is pregnant with 
meaning. It serves to reconcile the incon- 
sistency between the two preceding state- 
ments — (1) All this (perishable) Universe is 
He alone (2) and yet He is the Lord of 
immortality. And it shows^ for what purpose 
the Immortal Lord also comes to assume 
this transient form. We have, here as 
elsewhere, followed Vidyaranya and it is 
difficult to see why his interpretation has 
failed to commend itself to these scholar*, 
unless. perha^ps it be that it is ba^ed oh the 
theory of re-birth (Janm&ntara and Karma) 
—any reference to which theory western 

RiK HL 19 

scholars have agreed not to fiiid iu the Big 

The Brahma Sutras (adliikarauas 5&6. 
II Adhij\ I pada) are based on the first ^nd 
the second Riks (according to S'ankara'a 
interpretation). The fifth adhikaratia pi-q* 
poses the provisional theory of pariimna 
or transformation merely as a stepping-stone 
to the true theory of tnvarta^ which is 
propounded in the ivdxx. aihikarano,. , ^^ 
similar relation exists between the first, a^)d 
the second rika. This is the orthodox view< 
Bat western scholars would regard all tl|is 
too high and too advanced. for the primitive 
simplicity of Vedic hymns^even those .of 
the tenth mandala. i 


AMm??a-rThe Universe of such ext^nt^ 

20 The Purusha Sukta. 

Asyac=:(\H) His, Mahtmd=m3.mfeHiSition of 
power or glory ; C%a=aiicl, Ptiritshah^=The 
Supreme Being (is), Jydydn=miic\\ greater, 
Afi»h^.th2LU this, FzVi;a==all, Bhutdni=^thir\g^ 
that exist, (are) Pddah^^a, fourth, Asya^=oi^ 
Him. Asya==:liiSj Tnp^=three-fourths,i 
i4wntow«=being immortal and changelessy 
/)»m=(remains) in self-luminous effulgence 
(as Brahman). 

Thi8 Universe of existing things, together 
with all that was and will be is only a mani- 
festation of His power or glory, not His real 
nature. For all existing things are but a 
quarter of Him, while three-fourths remain 
immortal and changeless as the Self-lumi- 
nous Brahman, 


jrr^7a^=Three-fou r ths, Pur.ushah=Tl \ e 
Supreme Being, Udait=^Yireutu^j:Urdhvah= 

EiK IV. 21 

above (the tramuiels of Samsara) ; Pddah== 
i)ne-fourth, A8ya=ofliim, /Aa=»here, Abha- 
rat=C2Lme^ Pw?iaA=again and again; Tatah 
===then, (this one-fourth part of Him), Vya- 
/Ta//iaf=spreacl, Vishvang^oii allsides, Sds'- 
ana — imas'ane Abhi^over things that eat 
and things that do not eat. • 

The Supreme Being who has been called 
the three-fourths portion is above all pheno- 
menon. It is only a quarter of Him that 
during prnJbtya lies in a nascent state and 
afterwards comes out as the visible universe 
around us. It is this one fourth part that 
.spreads in all directions as the phenomenal 
world consisting of things animate as well 
as inanimate. 

Comment {on Riks 3 and A). — These two riks 
lay down the relation that exists between 
the Supreme Being and the universe. x\ll 
the phenomenal world is nothing but a 
portion of the Supreme Being; over and 
above this phenomenal manifestation, there 

22 The Pukusha Sukta. 

remains the Supreme Lord who is above All 
cliange, who never comes within the tram- 
mels of Samsara. That which we see as 
the visible world around us is but a small 
portion of His Essence, which is absor|3ed 
in Him during every pralaya^ and comes out 
of Him at the beginning of every Kalpa. The 
true theory oi invarta^ difficult to grasp and 
reserved for the last stage of metaphysical 
enquiry, is but barely hinted at in the 
second Eik and the transformation^theory, 
which is handy and easier of coinprehen- 
sion, does excellently well as a working 
hypothesis and is therefore taken up once 
more in the third and following riks for 
the elucidation of Vedic cosniology. The 
first half of Rik 3 alludes to vivaria and 
distinctly says that all phenomenon ife but 
His glory and He is above all manifestation. 
But: in the very next half the pannama 
theory steps in and speaks of one-fourth 
and' three-fourths of God, as if the terms 

KiK IV- 23 

part and whole which can apply only to 
matter could be used with reference to Spirit 
which, in ultimate analysis, is One^ indivir 
dble and incapable of parts. This method 
of procedure is called AmndhiUidars'ana" 
Nydya, It has required the genius of 
S'ankara to grasp the Vivarta theory, work 
it out in all its bearings and explain all the 
seeming contradictions of the Scriptures. 

Punah. Vidyaranya takes it to be equi- 
valent to pwiah punahy again and agaiii ; 
that is, after every pralaya^ the universe 
which had been dissolved into Brahman 
assumes again the visible material form. 
Vishvang=on aU sides. Vidyaranya inter- 
prets it thus, ^if^^ilfi^^s^q f^^:^=a5«i*7w- 
ing various forms Sttch as gods and animals. 

Sds'ana — anasane. Griffiths remarks thus; 
"According to Sa,yana and Mahidhara, over 
both classes of <5reated things, those capable 
of enjoyment, that is, who can taste the 
reward and punishment of good and evil 

24 The Purusha Sukta. 

actions, such as gods, men and lower ani- 
mals^ and those who are incapable thereof, 
Huch as mountains and rivers." Colebrooke 
also translates the expression thus : wfmt 
does and what does not taste (the reward of 
good and bad actions,) 

All that we can say is that Sayana does 
hot i^ay anything of the kind. He says 

^RR^=dJ^I^d*l'^dH P)RH^l1^*<4iving beings 
that perform the functions of alimeiitation 
and lifeless thiiigs snch as mountains and 
rivers, that are not capable of such func- 

RIK. V. 

Tasmdt=Fvoin Him {i.e. the Supreme 
Being), Virdt=t\\e sum total of the material 
of which the universe is made up, Ajdyata=- 

RiK V. 25 

was born ; Virdjo a/iAi=over {i.e. penetrat- 
ing into) this mass of matter, PmnishaJi= 
the Lord (transformed Himself into the 
animating principle of this universe of 
matter^ ; J(Uah=-{A{ter being thus) born (i.e. 
after this transformation), *Sfl^A=He, Atyari- 
frAj/ato=became differ en tiated as the indivi- 
dual souls of gods, men &c.; P(ischdt=^ih^\\ 
Bhifmim^He shaped the shapeles8,primeval 
mass of matter into the earth and the other, 
spheres) ; ^^A(>=then, Purah — (out of the 
same matter) he provided the several 
individual souls, that were lying unbodied, 
with bodies. 

From this same Supreme Being was born 
all the shapeless, primeval mass of matter 
of the universe. Into this mass the Lord 
penetrated and became its life principle. 
He then became differentiated as the several 
individual souls of men, gods &c, while 
retaining at the same time a distinct spiri* 
tual form as the presiding Deity of the uni- 

26 The Pubusha Sukta. 

verse of matter, Tlieu he shaped the crude 
mass of matter into the earth and the 
heavenly spheres. Then he provided the 
several individual souls of gods, men &c, 
with bodies suited to their particular condi- 

Comtaent^— This explains very briefly and 
tersely how tlie whole universe of spirit and 
matter came into existence and the succeed- 
ing riks merely expound the details of 
creation and the modus operandi by which 
the several classes of existing things came 
into being. 

One thing must be first premised. The 
S6kta does not propose to explain how all 
this visible multiplicity of shapes and beings 
first came into existence. Neither the 
Veda nor the*Vedanta attempts the solution. 
of the problem of original creation. The 
mind of man is limited and has to stop some- 
where. It vainly fabricates a fiction that 
there was a time when there was absolutehf 

EiK V. 27 

nothiug but a single Being and that He, at 
a particular time, brought all this universe 
into existence. This figruent of the human 
mind will dnlj^ land us in endless puzzle 
and accordingly the Vedantic philosophy 
wisely shelves aside this question oieredtiou 
for the first time and postulates certain things 
such as c reation and A'araia as a«(Jrfu*.^.,thing8 
that have to be taken for granted and whose 
origin canHot be explained. We may iw this 
Gonitection refer our readers to that splen 
did passage from Herbert Spencer's* First 
Principles of Synthetic Philosophy' where 
the gifted author arrives at pretty much 
the same result : — 

"Differing so widely as they seem to do, the 
atheistic, the pantheistic, and the theistic- 
hypotheses (regarding the origin of the Uni- 
verse) contain the same ultimate element. It 
is impossible to avoid making the assumption 
of self-existence somewhere; and whether 
that assumption be made nakedly, or under 

28 The Pukusha Sukta. 

^^^[Jicjated disguises, it is equally vicious, 
♦equally unthinkable. Be it a fragment of mat- 
ter, or some potential form of matter, or some 
more remote and still less imaginable cause, 
our conception of its self-existence can be 
formed only by joining with it the notion of 
unlimitedduration through past time. And as 
unlimited duration is inconceivable, all those 
formal ideas into which it enters are incon- 
•jjeivable, and indeed, if such an expression 
is allowable, are the more inconceivable in 
proportion as the other elemetits of the ideas 
are indefinite. So that in fact, impossible 
as it is to think of the actual universe as 
self-existing, we do but multiply impossibi- 
lities of thought by every attempt we make 
to explain its existence." [For further 
information vide pp. 30 — 36. Herbert 
Spencer's 'First Principles of Synthetic 

All that the rik does is simply to point 
out how creation proceeds at the end of a 

BiK Y. 29 

jt>ra/ayrt and at the beginning of a Kaljm. 
jyixriug pi'oiaya, the souls of all living beings 
with the. latent possibilities of their past 
Karma are mer^ged into Brahman (the Su~ 
preine Being); and all matter, becoming 
extremely attenuated and etherialised is^ 
ultimately resolved into Maya and th.i.s 
Maya is likewise absorbed into Brahman. 
Thus during j9ra/aya one alone exists and 
that is Brahman, containing within Himself, 
however, numberless potential existences. 
At the end of the pralaya, Maya first gets^ 
out of Brahman and becomes a crude nebular 
mass of matter, which is technically known 
as F«ra/. Then Brahman breathes a pan 
of Himself into this inert mass of matter 
and becomes its animating and sustaining^ 
principle and its presiding Deity, who is 
technically known as Prajapati. Then the 
several souls of gods, men, beasts &c., that 
had been absorbed in Brahman with the 
accumulated force of their, past Iiaf*m{t. 

so The Purusha Sukta. 

potential but not extinct, issue out as 
Jivds^ ready to take such forms as are deter- 
mined by their former deeds. 

The first Jicds tliat came of Brahman are 
the gods and the Sadhyas and tliey 
contemplate on and pray to Prajapati for 
the (creation of the other things of tlie 
Universe. Then the crude mass of matter 
is shaped out into the several spheres and 
the remaining unbodied souls that had Usued 
out of Brahman are provided with bodies. 
The sequel explains the several details of 
this UUara Srishti or later creation. 

It must be noted that ail this matter and 
the spirits proceed o»t of what has been 
called in Biks 3 and 4 as the one-fourth part 
of the Supieme Being. It is this one-fourth 
part that becomes Praj&pati. or the vitial 
principle of the Universe. It is froni this 
one-fourth part that the material Universe 
and the several souls issue out. This one- 
fourth part that becomes thus subject to> 

RiK V. 31 

these several changes and trandfor tuitions 
under the in/tu^nce of Maya is technically 
known as /^ vara,, while the remaining three- 
fourths that never undergo iany change 
constitute what is called S'uddfia Brahman* 
Tasmai (From him) liere therefore refers to 
the. one-fourth portion, mentioned in the 
preceding riks. Virdj is ihe product of Maj^a 
which comes out of IsVara in Uie form of 
Brahmdnda or the mundane egg. Mr. Wallis 
in his 'Cos«nology of the Rig Vedk' hasth^ 
following note on the word. " Virdj whose 
name (in Rig- Veda X 159, 3) appeara to 
mean S][ueen^' would seem to be the female 
counterpart of Purusha as Aditi of Daksha 
in XI 24, 5 ; c. t Brihadaranyaka Upauishad 
4. 2. 3. &c." This is true in a sense; for 
Maya represents the female essence of IsVara 
and Virdj is the product of Maya, It is 
needless to state that all these explanations 
are only provisionally true, Vydvahdrika^ 
not Pdramdrthikaj being based on the 

32 The Purusha Sukta. 

provisional hypothesis of Parindma, 

Paschdt BhtlmimAtho Pur ah. Vidyaranya 
interprets jt>z«raA thus, '^^ ?Fclfin=fi3firf^f^: 
^{ilil^l=bodies which are made up of the 
seven kinds of tissues, muscles, bone &c. 
This interpretation has not commended itself 
to western scholars. They are evidently of 
opinion that it is far fetched, and take the 
expression to mean 'eastward and westward 
over the earth' i. e, both before and behind the 
earth. They all translate this rik more or 
less in this strain : — r"From him Viraj was 
born : again Purusha from Viraj was born. 
As soon as he was. born he spread eastward 
and westward over the earth." We wish to 
know what these scholars mean by saying 
that from Purusha Viraj was born and from 
Viraj was Purusha born. Doe^ this not 
look like a paradox ? Curiously enough 
none of these scholitrs think it necessary 
Jo explain the inco^isistency. 

The fact is lliat to those who are not 


saturated with the ideas of Vedantic philoso- 
phy, the interpretation of Vidyaranya must 
seem unfamiliar and forced. But without 
the clue furnished by Vedanta, the passage 
will be dark as the darkest oracle — and the 
only way of escaping out of the difficulty 
would be not to appear to notice it. 
qc3^ 5^l^rt|^ ^R^?T I 

Fafc=when, Devdh=ihe devas or tlie gods, 
-4toni;ato=performed, Yajnam=the (mental) 
sacrifice, Punishena = with . the Supreme 
Being, Havishd=zSLS the havia or the sacri- 
ficial ofiering, Asya =» for this (sacrifice), 
Vasantah^ssthe spnng,Asit=:was,Ajyam=the 
sacrificial butter ; Grishmak=^the summer, 
iaA/waA=(became) the fuel; 8'arat=the 
autumn, Havis={heca,me) the oflTering (of 
purodas'a &c.) 

When the gods performed the mental 


34 The Purusha Sukta. 

sacrifice with Purasha as the offering, the 
spring formed the sacrificial butter; the 
summer was the fuel and the autumn was 
the holy offering. 

Comment : — It has already been remarked 
that the gods were the first to come out of 
the Supreme Being after ptakiya and to be 
provided with bodies. Among these gods 
are also included certain semi-divine .beings 
called Sadhyas and Bishis or sages, the 
Vedic seers. These gods, Sadhyas and 
KishLs, Vidayaranya regards as the repre- 
sentatives of the life and the senses of 
Praj&pati — ^the presiding Deity of VirSj. 
Just as life and the senses draw out the 
activity of a person, so these powers bring 
out the latent possibilities of PrajS^pati. 
When they thus came out, they saw nothing 
but the Brahm&nda or the mundane %gg^ a 
shapeless mass of nebular matter, which 
the Supreme Being animated as its vital 
principle and; presiding Deity. The gods 

RiK VL 35 

wished lor the shaping out of the Universe 
and therefore performed a mental sacrifice, 
that is, contemplated on and prayed to the 
Supreme Being. Tiiis contemplation is meta- 
pliorically described as a sacrifice. The 
requisites of a sacrifice are clarified butter, 
fuel aiKl the offering of firivis ; the figure is 
oontiimed and it is stated that the three 
principal seasons of the year (including the 
secondary three) formed the ingredients of 
the sacrifice. Metaphor apart, the meaning 
is, the gods prayed to the Supreme Lord to 
bring the universe into shape and create law 
and order. And in praying to Him they regard- 
^Him as the material out of which sacrificed 
was all the universe to come into existence. 
In the first half of the ni; Purusha is regard- 
ed as the sacrificial offering in general and in 
the second half the several parts of the offer- 
ing are specified. The seasons are thus regard- 
ed as parts of Purusha. The nk thus 
implies that the Lord is Eternity embodied 

36 The Pdrusha Sukta. 

and all that is, lives and moves and has its 
being in Him. It is a pity that t^his signifi- 
cant conception of Purusha's Sacrifice should 
have been distorted into a reference to 
human sacrifice. 


Asya=Eor this (mental sacrifice), Asan==: 
there were, ASapto=iseven, Paridhayah=i 
sacred enclosing sticks ; Tinssapta^^: thrice 
seven, ASawirfAaAazafuel-sticks, Kritah=v^eYe 
prepared; F<if=when, Devah^\\\e gods, 
jTanmnaAssssperformed, Yajnam=zthe ssiCTi- 
&ce,Abadhnan=they bound, Ptmtshamz=the 
Supreme Being, Pas'um=SiS the victim. 

For this sacrifice, there were seven pari- 
dhis or fencing logs and thrice-severl fuel- 
sticks were prepared ^ when the gods per- 
formed this sacrifice, they bound the 
Supreme Being (to the sacrificial post), as 

RiK VII. 37 

the victim (to be immolated). 

Comment. This rik occurs as the fifteenth 
in the Rigveda Samhita ; but is placed as 
the seventh in the Taittiriya Aranyaka. 
We have followed the Taittiriyic arrange- 
ment, as this verse forms a natural continua- 
tion of the sixth rik. 

The same figure is kept up in this rik as 
also in the sequel. Enclosing the sacrificial 
fires on all sides are placed certain sacred 
twigs, seven in number — thr^e round the 
Ahavanlya fire,* three round the Uttara- 
vedi and one representing the sun. And 
a bundle of twentv-one small sticks is 
thrown into the fire as a preliminary to the 

♦There are three sacred fires pertaining to sacri- 
fice: — (l)Gdrhapatya — that which is perpetually^ main- 
tained by a grihapati or householder, which lie receives 
from his father and transmits to his descendants, and 
from which fires for sacrificial purposes are lighted. 
(2) Ahavanlya — the eastern fire burning at aJiavana or 
a sacrifice, taken from the gdrhapalya fira. The sacri- 

38 The Purusha Sukta. 

The rik gives us lio clue as to what 
things, in this mental sacrifice, represented 
the ^evenparidhis or enclosing twigs and the 
twenty-one sticks. Vidyaranya says that 
the seven Vedic metres such as Gayatri, 
Anushtup, Jagati &c., here represent the 
seven pandhis. These seven metres were, it 
must be admitted, not in actual existence 
at the time of this allegorical sacrifice ; for 
we find it expressly stated in a later rik 
that rik^ yojus^ sdman and the several metres 
issue out of this same sacrifice. But it is 
believed that the Vedas and, by implication, 
the Vedic metres are eternal and therefore 
must have existed in the minds of the gods, 
the SSdhyas and the Rishis, who are the 

fice proper is performed in this fire. (3) Dakshina — 
the sacred fire (also called anifAMryapachana) — placed 
soutlm-ards, used in the anvaharya sacrifice, which is 
an expiatory ceremony performed for the removal of 
fttults of omission or commission that may have crept 
in, in the course of the sacrifice proper and in which 
food, g^fts and sacrificial offerings are presented to tlie 
BiUikn or officiating priests. Uttaravedi is the 
northern altar made for the sacred fire. 

RiK VII. 39 

performers of this figurative sacrifice. It 
is the above-mentioned Rishis, that receive 
the light of revelation through divine inspi- 
ration and through whom it is made known 
to the world. Stripped of the figure, the rik 
would mean that the eternal Vedie truth 
illumined the minds of these divine and 
semi-divinesacrificers and they contemplated 
on the nature of the Supreme Lord as we 
find it set forth, later on, in Vedic metres, 
E. T. H. Griffiths observes that Mahidhara, 
another commentator, is of opinion that the 
seven oceans may have been intended by 
the seven paridhis; but we fail to see 
the appropriatenei^ of the interpretation. 

Vidyaranya says that the twelve months 
the five seasons, the three worlds and the 
sun are intended by the twenty-one sticks. 
The twelve months and the five season s* 

' ' *The \i8ual classification of the year is into six seasons 
vU^tnta (spriog). 'including i-haitra and vaU'Skha ; gris/wia 
(the. summer) the next two montlis; prdvrit (the rainy season) 
the next tWiO ; «*(trat (^autumn) the next two ; s*is'ira and 
hetna^ta comprising, the last four months of the year being 
lieie regarded as one season — that of dew. 

40 The Purusha Sukta. 

as representing time may well have been 
meant here ; but the three worlds, and the 
siin, at the time of this sacrifice, were yet 
to come into existence and so the appro- 
priateness of these last having been intended 
by the fuel-sticks is not very clear. 

They bound the Purusha or the Lord (to 
the sacrificial post), as the victim to be 
offered ; evidently because there was 
notliing else to be offered up as sacrifice. 
From Him sacrificed, was to proceed all 
the universe of existing things and to Him 
was the sacrifice offered. Probably in a 
metaphorical description of this kind we 
should not be doing justice to the spirit of 
the author of the hymn, if we should 
expect the metaphor to ^stand on all fours. 
A ruthless analysis of an expressive figure 
may go to strip many a beautiful passage, 
here as elsewhere, of its intrinsic charm, 
may perhaps be indicative of a stiff-necked 
scientific spirit, but is certainly subversive 

EiK VIII. 41 

of all canons of good taste and generous 

All that is implied by this as well as the 
preceding nk is that the Devas, the Sddhyds 
and the Rishis contemplated for a long 
while on the glory of the Lord — such glory 
as we find set forth in the Vedas, prayed to 
Him devoutly and regarded Him as both 
the sacrifice and the Lord of the sacrifice, 
that is, as both the material and the 
efficient cause of the universe. 

Incidentally, these two riks show that 
at the time of the hymn the ceremonial of 
sacrifice must have been considerably 
elaborated. This is, however, true of many 
another hymn of the Rigveda. As we have 
already remarked, sacrifice is the keynote 
of this Veda, as it is clearly of the others. 

Vin EIK. 
?I2f5^ %q[^3^ 5RI%cl: I 

42 The Purusha Sukta. 

jTamsstbat, Fa;waw5=8acrificial offering, 
Purusham=the Lord, •/atom=born, Agratah 
==aljefore allthings, Proukshan^=^l\\%y immo- 
lated, Barhishi^sson the sacrificial fire;r«na= 
with this (offering),/)^?raA=the gods, Fi? (and 
they) who (were), Sddhydh^ihe Sadhyas, 
Rishaycischa^aiud the Eishis, Ayaja?%ta^ 
performed the sacrifice. 

They immolated on the sacrificial fire 
that sacrificial offering, Purusha, who was^ 
born before all other things; with this^ 
offering, the Gods, the Sadhyas and the 
Eishis performed the sacrifice. 

Comment — It should be noted that thi* 
immolation of Purusha, is also to be takeik 
figuratively. At the time of this mental 
sacrifice, the one-fourth part of Purusha 
hadj as already remarked, assumed two 
forms — one, Praj&pati or, as He is known 
in later systems of, philosophy, IsVara, and 
the other, nebular matter called Viraj,^ 
wh ich this Prajftpati animated as its vital 

RiK VIII. 4a 

principle. These two forms are regarded 
as two distinct, yet simultaneous manifesta- 
tions of Purusha — one spiritual and the other 
material. The Gods, the Sadhyas and the 
Eishis prayed to Prajftpati and regarded 
His matenal manifestation as the victim to 
be offered to tlie spiritual Purusha. From 
this victim thus sacrificed to Purusha, all 
this universe was to proceed. This rik 
thus implies that the Lord is not simply 
the agent but also constitutes the material 
out of which He shapes the universe of 
existing things. Later writers explain this 
fact on the analogy of a spider which 
weaves the web, the materials for which are 
spun out of itself. Barhishi — Vidyfi-ranya 
takes ' it to mean mamjise yajne 'in this 
mental saanjice\ i.e. 'sacrificial fire'. 
ProukahKn-^ They immolated^' according 
to Vidyaranya. Western scholars have 
translated Barhishi proukshan into ' They 
anointed (Him) on the sacnfinal grass'. 

44 The Purusha Sukta. 

The expression is capable of both the 
interpretations. There is no material 
difference between the two ; yet what we 
wish to point oiit is that it will not be safe to 
set aside Vidyaranya s meaning unless for 
very strong reasons, and even then, such 
reasons should be explicitly stated. We 
have known Pandits of immense learning, 
who when they failed to understand Vidya- 
ranya, did not however proceed to condemn 
him but sincerely set it down to their own 
ignorance and regarded the condemnation 
of Vidyaranya as little short of heresy. 

SMhydh — Wallis, in his 'Cosmology of the 
Eigveda' has this note on the word. ' The 
Sadhyas would seem to be divine ancient 
sacrificers. Compare X, 109, 4 ; also X, 
191, 2; VII; 21. 7; and X 130.' VidjS- 
ranya has these remarks on Sadhyfi^s and 

EiK IX. 45 

i.e, Those who, (by their penance) 
were capable of accomplishing the work of 
creation — gods who, as alread)^ noted, re- 
presented the life and senses or the active 
powers of Prajapati — and the vedic seers. 

Tasmdt = From that, Yajndt = sacrifice^ 
Sarva'hutah=in which, all, i.e, VirM- 
purusha, was offered up, Prishad-djyam^ 
ghee mixed with curd, Sambhritam=iW2LS 
produced; Chakre^Re (Prajapati) (then) 
created, 2an=(all) these, Pa5't2n=animals, 
Ye Vdyavydn = that have the air for their 
deity, -4rawy<i/j=those living in forests, 
Ch*a.mydscha=2j\& those living in villages. 

From this sacrifice in which Viraj was 
sacrificed was produced ghee mixed with 
curd. He (Prajapati) then created all the 
animals — those living in the air, and those 
that are wild as well as domestic. 

46 The Purusha Sukta. 

Comment This sacrifice is termed 
^iSaryaAu^', because sarva i.^., Viraj, which 
contained the germ of aU the things of the 
universe, was regarded as the oblation to 
the Lord. ' Ghee mixed with curd* is used 
here, by way of Upalahshana^ to denote all 
those things that serve as sustenance to all 
living beings. Animals are said to have 
Vayu or the God of wind for their presiding 
deity ; Vidyaranya quotes Taittiriya Brah- 
mana III — 12 — 3 in support of this fact. 

Wallis thus translates the rik ; " When 
the sacrifice was completed, they collected 
the dripping fat from it, it formed the beasts 
of the air, of the wild places and of the 
village." Wallis thinks that the fat dripping 
from the sacrificed victim fornied the 
animals wild and domestic. But according 
to Vidy&ranya, from this universal sacrifice, 
were produced all things that serve as 
sustenance and similarly He created . all 
animals wild and tame. 

RiK X. 47 


Tdsmdt^From that, Sarvahutah=\xmvev'' 
fBal, Yajndt=ss,cri&ce, Richah=the rik verses, 
JSdmdni—{8Lud) the Saman verses, Jajnire= 
were born; Tasmdt— from that, Chhanddmsi=^ 
the metres, Ja/mV«=sprang ; Fa;i^«=the 
Yajus texts, a;ayato= sprang, 7a5wia^=from 

From that universal sarifice were born 
the ink and tlie sdman verses ; the several 
metres such as Gdyatrl &c., were also 
produced from the same ; the Yajus texts 
were born therefrom. 

Comment The Vedds are regarded as 
titernal, being the word of God ; but here 
they are expressly stated to have been born 
out of this sacrifice. The two statements 
are not to be taken as mutually conflicting. 
Veda is eternal truth or sacred knowledge 

48 The Purusha Sukta. 

and lived in the Supreme Being. When 
these Sadhyas and Eishis contemplated on 
Him and prayed to Him, He illumined their 
hearts with the divine knowledge, and the 
Eternal Truth flashed on their minds with 
such vividness and brilliancy that they 
seemed to see and hear it. Hence it is that 
the word of God is termed Sriiti or what 
was heard^ and the Eishis who were the 
recipients of this divine knowledge are 
termed mantrdrishtd rah^ i.e.^ those that saw 
the hymns. The present rik conveys the 
same idea, namely, that the Vedic truths 
came out of this sacrificed Purusha and the 
recipients thereof, the SMhyas and the 
Eishis,whose minds had been thus illumined 
gave out these truths to the world in metrical 
form, whose harmonious outflow is also 
attributed to the same divine agency. This, 
in short, is the orthodox theory of the 
divine inspiration and eternity of the Scrip- 

EiK X. 49 

The mention of Rik^ Yajus and Sdman ii\ 
this verse has led many scholars to believe 
that the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda and the 
Sama Veda alone were in existence at first 
and the Atharva Veda came later on into 
existence. There is nothiiig in the verse to 
support this view. The words r^ichas, sdmdni 
and yajus cannot here mean the several 
compilations bearing these names. Such an 
interpretation presumes that this verse must 
have been written after the three distinct 
compilations had been completed. If so, it 
lias to be proved when and by whom^ this 
verse came to be written and inserted in the 
body of one of them. But the meaning is 
plain and simple. At the lime when many 
of the hymns of the Rigveda were sang^ 
{composed^ not compiled), the ceremonial of 
tiie sacrifice had been considerably develop- 
ed and Vedic songs and compositions had 
been classified into three distinct varieties, 
the fundamentum divisionis being their 


50 The Puhusha Sukta. 

subject matter, the sacrificial purposes 
they served, and their metrical and musical 
(in the absence of a more accurate expres- 
sio!i) peculiarities. Thus any Vedic verse 
or passage must come under any of these 
three heads ; hence the Vedas were designat'- 
ed by the comprehensive term, Ti'aj/i or 
Ti^ayi Vidyd. The expression Trayi Vidyd 
thus comprises the Atharva Veda also, as 
the songs of this Veda are riks, though 
many of them are not to be met with (and 
necessarily so) in the Rigvedic compilation. 
It was only at a Utter stage that these verses 
and texts were codified into distinct books, 
to meet distinct, sacrificial and other 
requirements. TiU then, these verses and 
texts lived on, in the memory of the people, 
loosely and unstrung, but each and every 
one of them labelled as a Rik, Yajus or 
Sdmdn according to its variety and each 
servij!g a distinct purpose ; and such songd 
and texts as were newly given out by wise 

RiK X. 51 

men, who were regarded by the rest as 
divinely inspired^ were added from time to 
time to the existing stock under the several 
heads if by the common consensus of 
•competent judges such songs and texts 
were held to be the genuine outcome of 
divine afflatus. The Purushasukta is a 
hynm of this kind, given out by a sage 
iiamed Narayana, stamped by competent 
censorship with the imprimatur of divine 
inspiration, and accorded a place side by 
side with the already existing stock of 

We- have put forward this plain and 
•common-sense view of the question, at 
some length, at the risk of diffuseness nnd 
repetition ; for we are of opinion that the 
passage has led to many erroneous views, 
•even on the part of those clear-headed 
scholars from whom better things might be 
•expected. We are however glad to note 
tliat A. Barth strono[ly upholds the view 

52 The Purusha Sukta. 

that the Eig Vedic and the iVthai vana Vedic 

songs must have existed side by side and 

represent two concurrent streams of thought. 

Chhanddmsl Griffiths thinks with Wallis 

that the word may be taken to mean 

"-'spells and incantations''. He is probably 

of opinion that the word may therefore be 

regarded as indirectly referring to the 

Atharvana Veda which mainly consists of 

spells and incantations. But, as we have 

pointed out above, the Atharvana Vedic 

songs are sufficiently included under the 

terms Kichas, Sdmdni and Yajiis^ Vidyar- 

anya takes the word to mean Gdyatryd- 

dini (Gayatri and the other metres), and no 

reason can be assigned to set aside this 



Tasmdt=¥vom that, Asvdh=hov^e^, Ajdy- 
(7??/a=were born ; Ye Ke C//a=and all those. 

Rm XII. 53 

Ubhayddatah^lhsit have two rows of teeth ; 
Tasmdt=hom that, Gdvah^cows^ IIa={sLii\ 
expletive), Jag?iire =were born ; Tasmdt^ 
from that, Aja-aoayah^gosLts and sheep. 

From this sacrifice were bora liorses and 
all (cattle) with two rows of teeth. The 
cows were also generated from the same ; 
and from it were produced goats and sheep. 

Comment — This verse should, properly 
speaking, be placed immediately after verse 
IX, as both these verses describe the creation 
of all the lower animals and thus treat of 
the same subject. 


Fa^^when, Vyadadhuh=t\\ey divided, 
Purusham-tlie Lord (sacrificed), Katidhd= 
into how many parts, Vyakalpayan^^dkl 
they form Him ? /vim=what was, Asya=^ 
His, Mukham—moMth^ /ia!«=what two, Ueh- 

54 The Purusha Sukta. 

yete-hsLxe been called, Bdhu^Jlis arras^ 
Ka7.c=wh2it two, Urti^CEis) thighs, Pddds^ 
His feet. 

When the Devas, the Sadhyas and the 
Eishis, who represent the vital activities of 
the Lord or Prajapati, cut Hira up into 
several parts to be offered up in the 
sacrifice, into how many parts did they 
divide Hira, what was His mouth, what 
were called His arms, what His thighs and 
ieet ? 

Comment The hymn now proceeds to 
explain the creation of the several castes 
&c. and puts the matter in the form of 
questions and answers. The questions keep 
up the figure of sacrifice. The victim to be 
offered up iS cut up into parts and the 
several parts into which the Lord was 
divided are enumerated in the next verse. 

Brahma S'ri S'riniv&sa S astri in his com- 
mentary on the Sukta, thus interprets the 

KiK XIII. 55 

^^J^ *<HM^<? : <iW^: 4iK»i|*l< ^*^^< , 
t%g^ ^*t^y^,^ ^l^i^y^NId: ^dHHII^r: ^IrWW- 

" When they created man, was he born 
as a single type or were several distinct 
classes of men brought into existence 
simultaneously ?". The context would not 
allow us to interpret Purusham vyadadhuh 
to mean " they created man " ; but the point 
is worthy of note that the object of the 
question proposed in the verse seems to be to 
bring into prominence the belief that when 
man was created several classes of men 
came into being and not a single class. 

Brdhmanah=^T\\e Brahman, ^^i^^was (i. e. 
came from), -4«ya=His (Praj&pati's), 
J/z^Mam=mouth ; i?d;anyaA=the Kshatriya, 

56 The Purusha Sukta. 

J{7ntah=wSiS made {i.e, proceeded from His), 
Bdhu=two arms ; Tad— then, Yad Vais'yah 
=the Vais'ya, AsycL=^{c2ime from) His, Uru 
=two thighs, SMrah^tXie S'udra, Ajdyata 
^.sprang, Padbhydm^from (His) two feet. 

The Brahman was born from the mouth 
of Prajapati ; the Kshatriya, from His arms; 
the Vais'ya, from His thighs ; and the S'udra 
was born from His feet. 

Comment 1, The S'udra alone is repre- 
sented in this Rik as having sprung from the 
feet of Prajapati. The three higher castes 
are here represented as constituting some 
specified limbs of Prajapati. Probably the 
author of the hymn had some distinction in 
view ; the wording of the rik seems to imply 
that, in the author's view, the three highe^. 
castes were coeval with the Divine Being 
and lived as parts of Him before they 
assumed their several forms, ^ whereas the 
S'udra sprang out of His feet. Vidyaranya, 
however, does not note this difference. 

EiK XIII. 57 

2. The Eik must evidently be taken 
iiguratively. It suggests that the caste- 
system was originally based on a division 
of labour. The mouth is typical of learning 
and teaching and the Brahman was the 
repository of all learning sacred and secu- 
lar and to him alone was entrusted the 
task of spreading the light of knowledge. 
His life indeed was consecrated to the 
pursuit and the dissemination of knowledge. 
The arms of Prajapati represent physical 
strength and the Kshatriya therefore 
typifies the strength of arm that secures 
peace and order in the realm and protects 
the country from foreign invasion. The 
thighs are symbolioial of travel (and. com • 
merce) and the Vais'ya thus represents the 
several arts and trades; and the S'udra, as 
sprung from the feet of Prajapati, was the 
servant of all the others. 

3. The Eik may be also regarded as 
implying that the Brahman came first in 

58 The Purusha Sukta. 

the order of rank and the others came after 
him in due order. It does not speak ill of 
the Indian mind that the representative of 
the national intellect should have been 
accorded the highest place in the social 

4. Mr. R. C. Dutt, following the lead 
of western scholars, is of opinion that the 
caste-system did not exist during the time 
when the Rigveda hymns were generally 
composed. He argues that if that wonder- 
ful system had then existed, it is not 
possible to explain how there is no allusion 
to this fundamental principle of society in 
the ten thousand verses of the Rigveda. 
He thinks that the solitary mention of the 
four castes in this S&kta cannot weaken 
his argument, as the Siikta itself was 
composed centuries after the general bulk 
of the Rigvedic hymns. He also says that 
words like Kshatriyay Vipra^ are used as 
adjectives in the sense of strong and wise 

EiK XIII. 59 

and are applied to Gods. Similarly the 
word Brdhmana is used to imply the 
composers of hymns and nothing else. 

Space forbids a detailed examination of 
this view.; but one or two things are worthy 
of note in this connection. 

(a) To say that a hymn is of late 
origin because it contains a reference to 
the caste-system and that caste is of later 
growth because no reference to it is to be 
found in the earlier hymns would be 
arguing in a circle. To base an argument 
on the very riks which are concerned in 
the issue is against all canons of vaild 

(6) It is true that words Yik^e Kshalriya 
Vipra &c. are used as adjectives in several 
places and applied to Gods. It is not 
therefore to be supposed that these words 
cannot be or are not, used in any other 
sense. It has to be proved that words like 
these are not anywhere used to denote the 

()0 The Purusha Sukta. 

several castes ;and this is more than any 
of the scholars has attempted. As well may 
it be said that there were no rishis in the 
Rigvedic days, because we find the word 7'isAi 
used in the sense of all-wise and applied to 
Indra and other Gods, as for instance in VIII 
(), 41. 5Rjqf|i^i3ff fcc. which Vidyaranya thus 

Apart from the numerous references 
to the castes in the Taitt. Samhita where 
in the seventh Kanda, 1st Pras'na, a detailed 
account of the origin of the castes similar 
to the one in the present Sukta is given, we 
might say that in the Eigveda itself mention 
is made of the Brahman &c. in several 
places ; some of these references will be 
examined on a future occasion ; but one 
instance may be quoted here. 

The passage we refer to is Riks 16, 17 
and 18 in the 35th Sukta of the VIII 

KiK XIII. 61 

They are as follow : — • 

ti^l'^^i^Mti'^^N^'^ti" ^^^^ II \ II 

y^cHl'i^WHtll^^N^I^ ^^ ^%^ II \ II 

5^3Tt^^gi ^^N^l^ W^J ^f^ II \ II 

These Eiks exactly agree with one 
another except in the beginning. The 
portion which is common to these riks 
invokes the AsVins to come with Surya, 
. partake of the yajamdnas libation of soma^ 
and destroy the Eakshasas. That portion 
which is special to the first Eik prays to 
the As vins to make the Brahman happy 
and stimulate his understanding (or acti- 
vities, according to Vidyaranya). The 
special portion of the second Eik similarly 
prays that the As'vins should make the 
Kshatriya happy and bless the warriors : 

€6 The Purusha Sukta. 

rishi means is. this: "Urged by a desire 
for wealth, each of us is engaged in a 
different pursuit. I am a composer of 
hymns ; my father (or my son) is a bhishah^ 
my mother is a grinder of corn. As cows 
wander severally in pursuit of pasture, so 
we go our several ways in pursuit of 
wealth. Thus absorbed in money-making 
avocations, we have hardly time to think 
of matters spiritual. We thus stand in 
special need of divine grace. Oh Soma, 
flow, therefore, for Indra." 

A modern Brahman poet, born and bred 
up in the present hide-bound artificial net 
system of sub-castes, can exclaim without 
any the least impropriety, '' Oh Lord, 
what mad men hath love of money made 
of us all ! Behold, my father toils and 
sweats as a Vaidika Brahman eager for 
dakshind. My mother kneads dough for 
house-hold consumption and pinches and 
starves to make both ends meet ; and I go 

RiK XIII. 67 

about singing praises of rich men and trying 
to get money from them. Thus severally 
engaged, we have hardly time to think of 
Thee. Therefore Oh Lord, have mercy on 
us." It would be as safe to argue from 
such a specimen that there are no castes 

(b) In the particular rik relied upon by 
Mr. Dutt, the Rishi calls himself a composer 
of hymns — a proper avocation for a 
Brahman ; his mother grinds corn, wliich is 
one of the legitimate occupations of the 
mistress of a house in a Brahnian family ; 
his father is (even as understood by Muir 
and other western scholars) a physician — 
and there is nothing to show that a Brahman 
could not be at the same time a physician. 
It is true that in the Dharma Sutras oi 
Apastamba and Gautama, there is no 
mention of this profession among those 
which a Brahman can follow in an emer- 
gency. But Ayurveda has been regarded 

68 The Purusha 'Sukta. 

as a Vedanga ; a particular sanctity lias ever 
been attached to this art. The diviiie^ 
As'vins are the first teachers of this, art; 
and its first promulgators, like Dhanvantari,. 
Charaka and S'us'ruta ate' regarded as> 
Brahman and accorded a serai-divine^ 
homage. In these circumstances, there is- 
nothing in the rik which would conflict 
with the view that at the time when it 
was composed all the four castes might 
have been in existence. 

{c) But, if Vidyaranya is to be accepted,, 
the rik is innocent of all reference to the 
physician ! He says : — 

So, according to Vidyaranya, the passage 
means ''My father is the- superintending 
priest at a sacrifice ;" and Vidyaranya sup- 
ports this interpretatiou by another passage 
from the S'ruti, where we have the very 

EiK XIII. 6p 

word f^TP^ which decides the point ; 
further let U!3 remember that Vidyarauya 
has no particular hobby to ride like 
western scholars and proposes alternative 
meanings wherever he thinks the passages 
admit of the same and no convincing reason 
can be given to show that the interpreta- 
tion of western Sanskritists is any way 
better than Vidyaranya's or more suited to 
the context. Yet it is on the strength of 
passages like these that these scholars 

establish some of their most cherished 
theories ! 

Yet one more point and we have done. 

The Puruskasukta may be admitted to be 
of later origin than the general bulk of the 
hymns of the Rigveda ; but it is undoubted 
that it must be centuries earlier than the 
time when the Rigveda was compiled^ as, if 
there had been then the slightest suspicion 
of its later origin it would not have been 
incorporated in the Sg'^hitd. But the caste- 


70 The Purusha Sukta. 

system must be of even earlier date than 
this hymn. For the present nk does not 
betray any consciousness of the human 
origin of caste. Granting then that the 
caste-system was a human institution or^ a 
gradual growth, it must have been in 
existence (of course only in its broadest 
outlines) so long before the time of this 
Sukta that it should have been thought at 
that time to be coeval with the beginning 
of things ; there is no cause to show that 
the interval of time that we presume between 
the inception of the caste-system and the 
present Silkta is shorter than that which is 
believed to separate hymns like this one 
from the earlier ones. 

The innumerable sub-sects among the 
four castes are certainly of very late origin ; 
they find no sanction in our sacred works 
for their raison d'etre. These are due to the 
several waves of Aryan emigration into 
Southern India, to diffei^nces of local 

EiK XIV. n 

customs and ihatiners, to the religious 
differences started by S'ankara, Eam^nuja, 
Madhva and other preachers, and hereditary 
perpetuation of trade-guilds. Nor was the 
barrier between caste and caste impassable 
in deserving cases, as may be seen from 
the tradition about VisVamitra. But it 
seems very probable that in the Chhandas 
period^ there were four distinct communities 
in India with different functions to serve in 
the body-politic. 


Chandramdh^{Simi\2iT\y)\the moon, Jatak^ 
was born, Manasah=iYova (His) mind^ 
CJiakshoh^irom (His) eye, Suryah:^the Sun 
Ajdyata=zy:sLS born, Mukhdl=ivom (His) 
mouth, Indraacha Agnischa^lndsB, and 
Agni (were born); Prawa<=from (His) 

7^ The Porusha Sukta. 

breath, Vdyuh^ihe air, Ajdyata=twas 

Siniarly the moon was born of His 
mind, and from His eyes came the sun ; 
from His mouth proceeded Indra ajid Agni 
g,nd from His breath was the air produced. 


Ndbhyd=FTom (His) navel, Asit=:WBiS (i.e- 
came), Antariksham=ihe intermediate 
region between heaven and earth; Sir- 
shnah^from (His) head ; Dyaus= heaven, 
5amayar^ato=proceediBd ; Padbhydm=fvom 
(His) feet, Bhumih^ (came) the Earth, 
SV^^ra<=from (His) ear, Z)i5'aA=(came) the 
directions. 7(afM=in this manner (did 
the several limbs of Prajapati), Akalpayan^ 
create, Lokdn- the (several) worlds. 

From His navel came the atmosphere 

EiK XV. 73 

from His head, the sky; from (His), feet 
proceeded the Earth and from His ears 
came the several directions. In this manner 
did His several limbs create . the , several 

Comment on Riks 14 and 15. Granted 
that these passages are figurative, it need 
scarcely be pointed out how appropriately 
the several limbs are chosen to typify the 
various members of the Universe. The 
subtle band of connection between the mind 
and the moon has been recognised amonof 
more nations than one. Similarly the sun 
is very appropriately represented as the eye 
of the Lord. With regard to the connection 
here mentioned between thie ear and the 
directions it should be noted that in later 
systems of Indian philosophy the ear is 
regarded as nothing more than dkas'a 
circumscribed within the cavity of that 
organ and that sdbda or sound is regarded 
as the distinguishing characteristic of dkas'a^ 

74 The Purusha Sukta. 

The rest do not call for any special remark. 


DMrah^lilie all-wise Purusha, Yad=yah 
=who, *Sarram=being8 (such as gods, men 
&c.), Vichintya=bYmgmg into existence, 
Ndmdni /uiVm=(and) giving names (to 
them), -4ste=remains, Abhivadan=C8i\lmg 
them by their names, ^'tom— this, Purusham, 
:=Purusha, Mahantam^yiYio transcends all 
attributes, Adityavarnam=:{2^\^) who shines 
like the sun, Aham^l^ F(^rfa=know, 7w= 
but (He exists), Pdre=ou the shore, 
jTawa^a/i^of ignorance. 

Explanatory meaning. . 

It has been given to me to know (by 
direct intuition) this all-wise Purusha whoy 
lifter bringing into existence all beings such 
as men, gods and the like and giving them 

BiK XVI. . 75. 

names, goes on (sustaining the universe) 
calling every creature by. its name, who 
transcends all attributes, who is resplen- 
dent like the sua, and who lies beyond the 
ocean of ignorance. 

Comment.—IhiB and the next rik are not 
to be found in the Rigveda text of the 
Siikta. They are however met with in the 
text of the Siikta as given in the Taittirlya 
Aranyaka. They are in a more polished 
style than the test of the riks^ and in a 
more developed metre. Moreover they 
bear a more direct relatioTi to the teaching 
of the Vedanta as expounded in the Chhan- 
dogya and other Upanishads and in the 
Ved&nta Sutras. And Sayana interprets 
them agreeably to the teaching of the 
Vedantic philosophy. For these reasons 
the two inks will be considered by western 
scholars as a later addition. But it is the 
Taittiriya Text that is in general use in 
Southern India and besides, the riks them. 

76 The Purusha Sukta. 

selves are interesting and so following the 
Taittiriya text we have inserted these two 
i'iks also. 


Yam=whom, Z?Aa^a=Prajapati, Parastat^ 
first, Uddjahd}*a=^m3,de known, Sakrah=s 
Indra (then made known), Pravidvdn=we\\ 
knowing, Chatasrah Pradisah = (all the 
beings living in all) the four directions 
7am=Him, Evam Vidvdn=iie who knows, 
thus, -BA^va^i=becomes, 4m?7'toA=imniortal, 
/Aa=(even) in this life ; Na-anyah = no 
other, Panthd = path, Firfyate=there is, 
Ayandya^ for eternal bliss. 

Prajapati first made known (the Eternal 
truth about) Him ; then Indra knowing 
the (beings living in all the) four quarters 
(taught the truth to the world). That man 

BiK XVII. 77 

who comes to know Him thus, becomes 
immortal even in this world. There is no 
other path that leads to eternal bliss. 

Comment on riks 16 and 17, 

1. Mahdhtam = Infinite^ unconditioned. 
The object of the two riks is to identify the 
creator of the world (who is technicallj' 
known as Is' vara in the Vedantic system 
and who is often called Prajapati in the 
earlier literature) with the Nirguna Brah- 
man — the Absolute, the One without a 
second. According to S'ankara's unqualified 
Absolutism, even Is vara is Mayopadhika. 
Is' vara has only a phenomenal existence. He 
does not exist in the real sense of the tei-ni. 
He can be said to exist only in that sense 
in which the visible universe is said to exist. 
In Pdramdrthika reality, Nirguna Brahman 
alone exists ; and to explain the creation o f 
the universe which has only a phenomenal 
or Yydvahdrika existence a phenomenally 
existing IsVara is brought in. The difier- 

78 The Puhusha Sukta. 

ence between absolute knd pfwnomehal 
existence may be thus briefly, though 
inadequately, illustrated. Amaii, when he 
is hypnotised, undergoes many experiences ; 
he sees, for instance, during his lu^pnotised 
condition a grand palace. So long as the 
hypnotic condition remains,the man regards 
his experience as genuine; to him, for the 
time beiug, the grand palace really exists. 
It is only when he gets out of this condition 
that he comes to see that the palace was 
only an illusory appearance conjured up 
into a temporary existence by the mayic 
power of the hypnotiser. Now to apply 
this analogy. The Supreme Being is tlie 
grand hypnotiser. All beings in the 
universe are under the influence of His 
hypnotism. When one comes to know di- 
rectly that all this phenomenal universe has 
been projected into existence by His mayic 
power, the illusion vanishes and one sees 
xhat all the while the illusion lasted, there 

EiK XVn. 79 

was nothing that really existed but the 
Hypnotiser ; the only distinction between 
the hypnotised and the hypnotiser during 
the hypnotised condition was that the one 
(the hypnotised) was under its influence 
and the other (the Supreme Being) was 
above its influence, being in fact its projector. 
As soon as this distinction ceases, the 
patient becomes one with the agent ; for 
-both are immaterial^ spiritual and all- 
pervading and when a certain bond that 
puts a restraint over the one and gives it a 
distinctive individuality is destroyed, the 
two -similar, spiritual, and all-j^ervading 
things blend together into one indistin- 
guishable whole. This is seen even in such 
comparatively refined forms of ntattet* as 
water or air. The moment a pot which lias 
water or air in it is destroyed, the water 
which had a distinct and separate existence 
as long as the pot lasted becomes one with and 
indistinguishable from the larger sheet of 

80 The Purusha Sukta. 

water (provided the larger sheet of water is 
near enough) and the air in the pot becomes 
inextricably mixed up with the atmosphere. 
Only Vedantic philosophy does not profess 
to explain how this hypnotism began orwhen, 
or how so many beings came to be under 
its spell. It is enoughito know that this- 
hypnotism note exists ; and the onl}^ thing 
one can do under the circumstances is to 
see how one can get out of its inflaence, 
and naturally the only way of getting out 
of it is to know that it is nothing but 
hypnotism, that the hypnotist alone really 
exists and causes all this wonderful appear- 
ance. Sayana therefore explains the word 
maharitam thus : sm^vagithairadhikam^trdns- 
cending all attributes i.e.^ unconditioned ^ 

2. :4rf%auarnam=:self-lumin6us like the 
sun. The Absolute is not to be rfegarded 
as possessing splend'qur but as ^vaprakdsa- 
rtipa. If H^ be r,Qgarded as having 

EiK XVII. 81 

splendour it will become an attribute of 
His ; and this will conflict with the previous 
statement that He transcends all attributes. 
Hence the expression should be taken to 

mean that Heis Light, the laght of chit (f^f^); 
He is essentially Spirituality. 

3. Tamaiastu Pare. Tamas is Maya or 
ignorance. He is not under the influence of 
Maya. It is we that are under the 
hypnotic spell of His Maya. The Supreme 
Being should therefore be distinguished 
from Is'vara who is himself Mayas' a haliUi 
and whose phenomenal existence is 
postulated to explain all the rest of the 

4. He gave all things a name and a 
shape and it is He that remains calling them 
by their names. Two things are stated here. 
First, He is the source of all created things. 
Secondly, He it is that goeth about calling 
things by their names. Tliat is, it is He 
alone that is engaged in the several pursuits 


82 The Purusha Sukta. 

of SaiBsara. This is contrary to our 
ordinary experience. It is men and the 
.several creatures that we find engaged in 
the various activities of life. Moreover 
the second statement conflicts with the 
first, which says that it is He that has 
created all beings wiiom we find busy in 
the several walks of life. How then is this 
inconsistency to be explained ? 

The Clihandogyopanishad thus explains 
the matter (VI Chapter, Sections II and III). 
*' At first This alone was Being, One only 
without a second. It willed thus : ' I will 
multiply and be born,' It created Tejas 
(Fire); then water (^^) came into being; and 
then earth (^^). Having thus brought into 
existence the several elements (air and ether 
being included by implication), that Deity 
willed thus: '^'dl^PlHlRdiplt^i^F^HH^^WlSS 

* Entering these three rf^vafas (earth, water 

RiK XVII. 83 

. ^lul fire) ill the fbniis of Jiva I shall be 
manifest in various forms and names." 

Thus we see that the phenomenal 
universe is not a distinct entity brought into 
existence by the will of a Supreme Being, 
who remains distinct from all phenomenon. 
But He it is that has become manifest ^s 
several forms and names. It is in this 
sense alone that He can be said to 
have created all things. Thus the individual 
souls that are seen tossed about in the sea 
of Samsara are not entities distinct from 
Him ; but they are even He ; only they now 
appear conditioned and circumscribed by 

One difficulty naturally presents itself 
here. It may be thus stated and explained 
in the words * of S'ankara in his comment 
•on this passage. " It may be said that it 
would not appear consistent for a divme 

♦ As rendered by Dr. Rajendra Lai Mitra (Bibliotheca 

84 The Purusha Sukta, 

omniscieut Deity intelligently to wish to 
enter a created bodj', the receptacle of 
innumerable evils and undergo the fruits 
thereof. Nor is it consistent tliat, being 
independent, He should cease to be so by 
amalgamation with a subordinate. In 
reply I admit that it would not be con- 
sistent if that Deity were to enter a body 
and undergo the sufferings individually^ 
without any transformation. But such is 
not the case. How so ? Because the words 
in the text are ' In the form of Jiva '. Jiva 
is but the reflection of the Supreme Deity. 
It is produced by its relation to intelligence 
(Buddhi) and other subtle elements, like the 
image of the sun in water or of a man in a 
looking glass. The relation to Buddhi, of 
that Deity of inscrutable and endless power 
and the reflection of His intelligence have 
for their instrumental cause the ignorance 
of His true nature, and from them proceed 
the feelings of ' I am happy, I am suffering. 

EiK XVII. 85 

I am ignorant &c/ ; entering into mundane 
objects in the form of a reflection, that 
Deity in His own self is not involved in any 
corporeal pleasure or pain. A human 
being or the sun entering a mirror or water 
in the form of a reflection cannot himself 
acquire the defects of the reflecting surface. 
So is the case with the Deity." 

For a detailed elucidation of this view 
we may refer our readers to the thirteenth 
Adhikarana of the 3rd Pada of the Second 
Adhyaya of the Vedslnta Sutras, where 
Sankara examines the several positions in 

5. Dhatd — Sakrah. Z)A(if(i or the original 
progenitor of the human race and Ihdra are 
stated in the Upanishads to have been the 
first promulgators of the Vedantic truths. 
Vide for instance Chhandogya, VII — 15 — 1. 

6. These two riks, though not found in 
the Rigveda yet occur in another Samhitd 
(Vajasaneya-Samhit& 31 — 8) in a slightly 

86 The Purusha Sukta. 

different form. The two riks in the Taitl. 
Aranyaka version cannot therefore be set 
down as the latest product of Vedic activity^ 
though a relative posteriority may be 
assigned to them among the products of 
wiiat western scholars call 'the Chhandas 
period.' It may be noted that the rik as 
given in the Vajasaneya-Sarahita is also- 
repeated in the S'vetas'vatara tTpanishad (III 
Chap. 8), 


Devdh=The Gods,x4ya/an/a=(thus) worship- 
ped, Yajnam = the sacrifice (namely, Lord 
Prajapati) Yajnena==by the sacrifice (of 
contemplation) Asan = (thus) came, 
Prathamam=:\}\Q first and essential, Tani^ 
(and) well known, Z>Aarmam=laws (by 
n^'hich the universe is governed) ; Mahimdnah 
2s=those great souls (that worship Prajapati) 

KiK XVIII. 87 

Sachante=z6ht2Lm , Ndktim=:he&yei\, Yatra^ 
where, Sddhyah^^the SkAhysLS.Pnn^e Devdh=^ 
the first gods, Santi=\iye* 

Thus by this mental Sacrifice did the 
Gods worship the Lord Sacrifice, and thus 
came those first Laws by which the 
universe is sustained. And those great 
souls that worship the Lord in the same 
manner will also obtain that heaven where 
live the Sadliyas — the first Gods who, by 
their contemplation on the Lord, were 
instrumental in bringing all this universe 
into existence. 

Comment This rik summarises the 
teaching of the Siikta and winds up with 
saying that those who worship the Lord as 
the SMhyds did, will also obtain everlasting 
glory in heaven. 

We have in the comment on the earlier 
riks, especially on Rik VII, explained how 
the sacrifice was purely mental and how 
th** S&dhyis regarded the Lord Himself as 

88 The Purusha Sukta. 

the Sacrifice. Vidyaranya explains Ndkum 
as f^lT^inf^n^ — nothing but union with 
the Lord. 

Here ENbs Part I. 



EIK. I. 

?Ic5^ ^^^Nlnilit II 

This universal matter known as Virdt^ 
Sambhutah—spv2iug^ Adbhyah^trom the 
waters, C%a=an(l, Rasdt^irom the watery 
essence, Prithivyai=bhumyah=oi the earth. 
The presiding deity of the universe, knOwii 
as Viratpurusha, ^4rfAi=with all his ex- 
cellence, 5amarartoto=s prang, Vis'vakar* 
manah^ivom tlie Universal Creator ; TvasMa 
=Thi8 Universal Creator, Firfa(ZAaf=bringing 
into existence, Rupam—t\\Q form, Tasya 
=of the Viratpurusha, J5^^i=busie8 Himself. 

90 The Uttara Pu'rusha Sukta. 

Tatsarva7n^ All this, Punish asya^presided 
over by Viratparusha, Ajdnafn={th\is 
spread) on all sides, Agre^sil the beginning 
(of creation). 

This universal matter known as Vwdt 
sprang from the waters and from the watery 
essence of the earth. The Deity presiding 
over the universe, Himself known as Virat- 
purusha, sprang with all his excellence from 
theUniversalCreator, This Universal Creator 
brought into existence the outward form of 
Viratpurusha, which consists in the visible 
universe about us. Thus did all this 
presided over by Viratpurusha spread on 
all sides at the beginning of creation. 

Comment, 1. This Amivdka is the sequel 
of the Purusha-Sftkta proper, and is called 
Uttara Nardyana Amivdka and is ascribed to 
the same Eislii Narayana. 

2. Adbhyas&c. This rik, agreeably to 
th^ teacliing of the former part, postulates 
the existence of two Divine Beings. The 

EiK I. 91 

first is called Vis'vakarman or Tvashtri — 
the Prime Source of all things created.- 
From this Being, known as Brahman in 
Vedantic philosophy, sprang a second 
Being called Viratpurusha — the presiding 
Deity; of the visible universe. Just as the 
human body corresponds to the individual 
soul which resides in it, so the whole 
universe is regarded as the body of the 
Viratpurusha. This body is known as 
VirS-t. Virat is said in this rik to have 
sprung adbhyah^ from water. (By water is 
probably meant what is known as nebular 
matter). All water came out of the fluid 
part of the nebula and all earthly matter 
came out of the thicker part of nebula. It 
appears thus that the theory of creation a& 
given here is a succinct statement of the 
theory of evolution, one of the proudest 
achievements of modern science. Original 
nebular matter gradually cooled and thick- 
ened »nd earth and water are but the 

92 The Uttara Purusha Sukta. 

products of various degrees of condensation. 
So says also Sayana in his comment on this 

We may truly translate the passage thus : 
'' From jala that was spread on all sides 
!;prang this universal globe, like cream from 
the midst of milk. Not simply from the 
liquid but also from Pdrthix)a essence (the 
essence of matter) ; the thicker part of the 
scum became solid matter and the liquid 
parts of the scum became the waters. So 
says the Veda, " The thicker is the solid 
earth and the liquid part is the waters." 

The rik itself briefly hints at the evolu- 
tion theory and Sayana, living as he did in 



the 14th century A. C, could hardly be 
suspected of reading nineteenth century 
science into this hoary passage. Such an 
instinctive grasp of scientific truths in times 
almost pre-historic is perhaps the best 
comment on the inspired character of tlu^ 


'J'his Eik has already been explained in 
the First Part. 


5^rrWcT^iR% if?f ^: I 

94 The Uctara Purusha Sukta. 

Prajdj)atih=The Lord of beings, Antah 
{^harati=moves tlirough, Garblie^^th univ^erse 
Ajdyamdnah=tho[igh birthless, Vijdyate=Jle 
is born, Bahudhd^in several forms; Dhirdh 
=the wise, Panjdnanti=we\l know, Tdbsya^ 
His ; Yonim^resl essence which is the source 
of creation. These wise men, Vedhmah^ 
(becoming) theLords of creation, Ickchhanti 
=wish for (and obtain), Padam^tXia (exalted) 
state, Manchindm=oi Marichi (Atri and 
other Prajapatis). 

The Lord of beings pervades all things. 
Though not subject to birth He is yet born 
in several forms. The wise well know His 
real essence and knowing it wish for and 
obtain the exalted state of Marichi and the 
other Prajapatis. and become the lords of 

Comment 1. Antah Charati =It is He 
that pervades and sustains the universe and 
directs all creatures in tlieir several 
-activities and pursuits. He is. the Aniaryd- 

RiK III. 95 

min and Adhishtdtri of the universe. 

2. Ajdyamdnah Bahudhd Vijdyate=^ThiS 
paradox is explained by the vicarta vdda 
that all phenomenon is an illusory appea- 
rance due to Maya. 

3. Yonim- Sayana takes it to mean 
^3PTcgjR^T^ 5rnSl4 ^^; but it may also be 
taken as referring to Maya or Avidya, 
which is the source of all phenomena. 

4. Marhhhidm, Tlie puranic account 
of creation as giveu in the Manusmriti is as 
follows. There was at first nothing but 
darkness, and the self-existent Lord then 
manifested Himself and dispelled the dark- 
ness. He first created the waters and 
placed a seed in them, which developed 
into'a golden egg {tliranyagarbha). From 
this egg, the Lord himself came out as 
Brahma — the progenitor of all the worlds. 
He then divided the egg iiHo two parts and 
with them created heaven and earth. He 
then created Marichi and the . otlier nine 

96 The Uttaka Purusha Sukta. 

Prajdpatis^ his mind- bom sons, who coin- 
pleted the work of creation. 

According to another account, Marichi 
was the son of Brahma ; his son was Kas'- 
3'apa from whom sprang Vivasvat. From 
Vivasvat was born Manu who was the 
pro-creator of all human beings. 

The Eik thus means that those who know 
the real nature of the Supreme Lord become 
immortal lords of creation and attain that 
blissful state of existence, which is enjoyed 
by Marichi and the other Prajapatis. 

Brahmas'ri S'rinivasa S'astri gives ai^ 

alternative interpretation of ^larichimhn- 

Marichmdm Padam — the path of rays or 

what is called in later philosophy as 

archirddi mdrgam —the path that througli 

the sun and the moon leads on to eternal 



^^ ^[ ^^ 5RT: ^\ 5^15 ^I^ I 

Eik' IV. 97 

FaA=who, Devebhyah^on account of the 
Devas, .4 ifa/?afi=shines everywhere; Yah^ 
who, Purohitah={is) the priest, Devwidm-^^ 
of theDevas; Yah^who^ Jdtah^WRH horn, 
P?yri'aA=antecedent, Devebhyah=:to all the 
Devas ; A^amaA=salutation, Tu^mai^to that, 
/2Mc/ia«/a=resplendent, 5?v?7i7my^=Supreine 

Sahitation to that resplendent Supreme 
Lord who shmes everywhere on account 
of the Devas, who became the priest of the 
Devas, and who wa« born before the Devas. 

Comment. ( 1 ) Devebkya h A tapati. Vi- 
dyaranya thus explains it. ^^H\ ^^rif^^^l 
dTl^<^M %PT^^ srfl?T ^rMs#. It is the 
Lord that enters into the heart of every 
Deva and shines there as the spiritual light 
within. It is this Divine essence shining in 
them more than in other beinofs, than has 
exalted them to the rank of gods. 

(2) Devdndm Purohitah. Brihaspati, 
according to Vidyaranya. It is the Supreme 


98 The Uttara Purusha Sukta. 

Lord that has assumed the form of Brihas- 
pati, the priest of the Devas, and is guiding 
them by his wise counsels. 

(3) Devebhyah Ptlrvah^The Lord before 
all creation became manifest as 
Hiranyagarbha (the golden egg) and from 
Him proceeded all creation. Compare the 
Vedic passage "l^i^^JR: Wm^ ^" 

(4) Brdhmaye- Vidyaranya interprets 
it in two ways. (1) ' Parabrahmasvarupdya 
= who, in His real essence, is the Supreme 
Lord (2) BrahmOjnw=^Vedena Pratipddydya^ 
whose natui-e is set forth in the Brdhmana 
or the Veda. 


^1# 5tW f|^ I ?TCT 1^ ^w^ srtf II 

Agre=^\x\ the beginning of the creation 

(after the pralaya), Janayantah= while 

bringiDg out, Riicham^^the intellectual 

light, Brdhmam^of the Supreme Lord, 

lliK V. 99 

Devdh^ihe'DevsiS, Abruvan ={tlms) address- 
ed, Tat=it; Brdhmanah=The Brahman, Yah 
=who, Vidydt = kiiow^, Tvd = Thee, Evam— 
thus, Devdk=\X\% Devas (i. e. we), Asan^2i\% 
Tasya TW^=ander his control. 

In the commencement of creation after 
the pralaya, the Devas, while giving out for 
the benefit ofthe world the true nature of the 
intellectual essence of the Supreme Lord 
thus addressed it : Oh, Thou essence of the 
Lord, he who knows Thy real nature (as 
described in the above riks), under his 
control do we Devas come. 

Comment, The true knowledge of the 
nature of the Supreme Lord is believed to 
have been communicated to mankind by 
the Devas who, as remarked in the 
preceding pages, were instrumental in the 
completion of creation by their contempla- 
tion. What the Devas mean by their 
address is that he who comes to know the 
real nature of the Lord becomes one with 

loo The Uitara Puuusha Sukta. 

Him and thus becomes the Antarydmm of 
all the gods and rules them. Vidyarauya 
quotes from .the Yajasaueyius (i.e. the 
white Yajur Veda) in support of this state^ 

He who knows himself to be identical 
with Brahman becomes all things himself 
and over him the Devas have no power. 

VI (Yajus). 

t^ ^?5 qntf I ^hm 5Plf I 

^^if^ ^ I ?f^^ 52?!^ I 

fg Af^Wl ^^'^ I ^ *JPlNI"l II 

Oh Lord! Hrih Cha^Uri and, Lakshmischa 
^Lakshmi, Ji?=are Thy, Patnyau=two 
wives ; A hordtr e=^ds.y and night, Pdrs've= 
(are Thy) sides. Nakshatrdni^The stars, 
Iiif]Kim='dYe Thy form. As'vmaii=lhe two As'- 
vins, F2/atom=^are Thy) opened mouth. Oh 

RiK VI. (Yajus.) 101 

r Lord of such glory ! Manishdna=grsL\}i u&, 

l8htam==^}iT desires (i. e. knowledge of Self). 

Amtun^ssXl this (wealth) that we see, 

Manisfid»ia=^gv».nt us ; Sarvam Manisfidna:^ 

grant us all. 

Oh Lord ! Hri and Lakshmi are Thy two 

wives ; day and night are Thy sides ; the 

stars are Thy \)tdy and the AsVins are Thy 

al mouth. Grant us (knowledge of Self) 

ilf which we desire, wealth and aU other good 



Vidyaranya takes Hri to mean Lajjeibhi-r 

manim Devatd, " the presiding Goddess of 

shame " and Lakshmi to ipean Ai^varyabhir 

^'uinini Devoid =^^' the presiding Goddess of 

wealth." Probably the idea is this. Hri or 

^-»ajja is the surest preserver of virtue ; it 

is this feeling that keeps us from doing 

anything mean or sinful. Hence, Hri is 

used here to denote ^ (Dharma) and Lak- 

. shnii, 3PI (Artha); Dharma and Artha, the 

102 The Uttaua Pukusha Sukta. 

first two pwmshaHhas^ being here regarded 
figuratively as the wives of the Lord. 

2. As'vinau is the name of two divine 
beings who are said to appear in tlie sky 
before the dawn in a golden carriage 
drawn by horses. Tliey are . believed to 
bring treasures to men and avert misfor- 
tune and sickness. They are mentioned here 
as perhaps representing Kama (worldly 
«».njoyment), which is the third purtishdrtha. 
To regard the stars as His body and day 
and night as His two sides is a sublime 
conception of the Supreme Deity, whose 
sublimity even familiarity has not been 
able entirely to efface. 

Ishtam. Though the word means what 
is desired in general, Vidyaranya here 
takes it to refer to a particular one — the 
knowledge of Self — which leads to the 
attainment of the fourth purushartha or 
final bliss. 







I i^^