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Purusha Sooktham

The Hymn of Universal man - Rigveda -10.90. [Slokams 1 to 18 ]

Sahasra Sheershaa Purushah: Sahasraakshas Sahasrapaath |
Sabhoomim Visvatho Vruthvaa Athyathishta Dhasaangulam || || -1-1 ||

1. A thousand heads has the Universal man, Purusha; as also a thousand eyes and a thousand feet He has. He spreads over the earth on all sides and beyond it as far as ten fingers can count. [Infinite numbers, without a beginning or end.]

Purusha Ye've'dhagum Sarvam Yath Bhootham Yascha Bowyam |
Uthamru Thathvath Esaanah: Yadhannenaathi Rohathi || || -1-2 ||

2. Purusha, the Man, is all that has been in the past,all that is coming and all that exists now. He is the ruler of immortality, as He comes out beyond everything and grows through food.

Ethaa Vaanasya Mahimaa Athojyaa Yaaguscha Poorushah: |
Paadhosya Visvaa Bhoothaani Thripaadhasyaa Mruthandhivi || || -1-3 ||

3. What we see here is all the greatness of this Purusha, the Man, and is yet more than this. All creatures of this universe is only a quarter of Him and the other three quarters are what is remaining immortal in Heaven.

Thripdoorthva Udhaith Purushah: Paathos -e'haabhavaath Punah: |
Thatho Vishvang Vyakraamath Saasanaana Sane Abhi || || -1-4 ||

4. This three fourths of Purusha arise beyond the universe. One fourth of him only arose again and again here on earth. Thence, as He spread in all directions, appeared all those creations that eats food and that which eats not on this earth.

Thasmaadh viraadajaayatha Viraajo Adhipoorushah: |
Sajaatho Athyarikshatha Pascaadhbhoomim -athopuraha: || || -1-5 ||

5. From him the brilliant Viraaj was born, from Viraj came the primal Purusha.
When he was born, he spread beyond the earth, on all the sides to create all beings.
[Viraj is the Female principle, which with the primal Purusha produces the concrete universe. In the Atharvaveda She is an independent creative principle identified with Brahma, with speech and with Prajapathi.]

Yath purushena Havishaa Dhevaayakyamath anvatha |
Vasanthoasya Aseethaajyam Greeshma Idhmas Saradhdhavihi || || -1-6 ||

6. When the Devas (Celestial Angels) spread on the sacrificial offerings with Purusha as oblation, spring was its ghee [melted butter] summer the fuel, autumn the oblation.

Sapthaasyaasan Pari dhayah: Thrissabtha Samidhah Krithaah: |
Dhevaayath Yagnyamthan Vaanaah: Abhathnan Purusham Pasum || || -1-7 ||

7. Seven Devas were the sticks that enclose the place of Yajña (Sacrificial Fire rituals), thrice seven [21] philosophical principles were made the fuel sticks; the Devas performed the Yajña and they bound the Purusha as the cow at the Yajña.

Tham Yagnyam Bharhishi Prowkshan Purusham Jaathamagrathah: |
Thena Devaa Ayajantha Saadhyaa Rushayaschaye || || -1-8 ||

8. As the sacrifice on the Yajña they besprinkled the Purusha, born in the beginning. With him the Devas performed the Yajña along with Saadhyas (other Devas) and the Sages.

Thasmaath Yagnyaath Sarvahuthah: Sambrutham Brushadhaajyam |
Pasoogusthaagus Chakre Vaayavyaan Aaranyan graamya -aschaye || || -1-9 ||

9. From that sacrifice completely offered, formed the cream and ghee [melted butter]. He made it the beasts and birds of the air, of the forest and those of the villages.

Thasmaath Yagnyath sarvahuthah: Ruchassaamaani Jaggire |
Chandaagumsi Jaggire Thasmaath Yajusthasmaath ajaayatha || || -1-10 ||

10. From that sacrifice completely offered were born the verses (Rg Veda) and
the Saaman Melodies (Saamaveda). The Chhandhas metres were born from it.
From it was born the Sacrificial formula (Yajurveda).


Thasmaadhasvaa Ajayantha Yekecho Bhayaadhathah: |
Ghavoha Jaggire Thasmaath Thasmaath jaathaa ajaavayah:|| || -1-11 ||

11. From this [Yajña] the horses were born and those that have one row and
two rows of teeth. Cattle were born from it. From it were born goats and sheep.

Yath Prusham Vyadhadhuhu Kathidhaavya kalpayan |
Mukamkimasya Kowbhahoo Kaa Vooroo Paadhaa uchyethe || || -1-12 ||

12. When they created this Universal Purusha, into how many forms did they make him? What was the form of his mouth? What was his two arms? What are his thighs and feet called?


Brhaahmanosya Mukmaaseeth Bhaahoo Raajanyakruthah: |
Uruthathasya Yadhvaisyah: Pathbyaagum Soodhro Ajaayatha || || -1-13 ||

13. His mouth formed the Brahmin (teacher or Priest), his two arms were made the Rajaanya (Kshathriya or warrior), his two thighs the Vaisyaa (traders or Agriculturist) and from his feet the Soodhra (worker or servant) was born.

Chandramaa Manso Jaathah: Chakchos Sooryo Ajaayatha |
Muka -adinthrascha -agnischa Praanaath Vaayurajaayatha || || -1-14 ||

14. His mind (manas) formed the moon, from his eye became the sun, from his mouth came Indra and Agni, from his breath Vaayu (wind) was born.

Naabhyaa Aaseetha -anthariksham Seershnodhyows Samavarthatha |
Pathbhyaam Bhoomir Dhisasrothraath - Thathaa Loghagum Akalpayan || || -1-15 ||

15. From his navel arose the open sky, from his head the heaven originated, from his feet the earth was formed, the directions came from his ears. Thus did they create all the worlds.

Vedhaahametham Purusham Mahaantham - Aadhithyavarnam Thamasasthu Paare |
Sarvaani Roopaani Vichithya dheerah: Naamaanikruthvaa - Abhivadhan Yathaasthe ||
|| -1-16 ||

16. The Purusha, is the creator of all forms and is given all the names. As we know his great qualities, He is all powerfull, beyond darkness, bright like the Sun performing all actions.

Dhaathaa Purasthaath Yamuthaajahaara - Sakrapravidhvaan Prathisaschathasrah: |
Thamevam Vidhvaanamrutha Iha Bhavathi - Naanyapanthaa Ayanaayavidhyathe ||
|| -1-17 ||

17. He who understands this Purusha, whom Brahma called Paramathma,
whom Indira saw in all four directions, attains Moksha [liberation] in this birth.

Yaggnena Yaguamayajantha dhevaah: - Thaani Dharmaani Prathamaanyasan |
Thehanakam Mahimaanassajanthe - Yathra Poorve Saadhyassanthi Devaah: ||
|| -1-18 ||

18. The Devas who worshipped this Purusha, by this Yajña and by all the Dharma,
attained high levels in Svarga. All persons performing this Yajña shall reach similar status.



The Purusha Suktam is one of the Pancha Suktams of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya or tradition. The other four are the Narayana Suktam, Sri Suktam, Bhu Suktam, and the Nila Suktam.

The Purusha Suktam is seen earliest in the Rg Veda, as the 90th Suktam of its 10th mandalam, with 16 mantrams. Later, it is seen in the Vajasaneyi Samhita of the Shukla Yajur Vedam, the Taittriya Aranyaka of the Krishna Yajur Vedam, the Sama Veda, and the Atharvana Veda, with some modifications and redactions.

In South India, the Purusha Suktam, Vishnu Suktam, Sri Suktam, and Narayana Suktam are generally chanted together in paarayanam.

The Sri Rudram, Purusha Suktam, Upanishads, the Gita, and the Vishnu Sahasra Naamam are also recommended for daily paarayanam - chanting.

Since the Purusha Suktam is seen in all Vedas, it is cited as the essence of all Srutis by Veda Vyasa in the Mahabharata. Saunaka, Apastamba, and Bodhayana have also written concerning the use of the Purusha Suktam.

The Purusha in the title of the Purusha Sukta refers to the Parama Purusha, Purushottama, Narayana, in his form as the ViraaT Purusha. He was the source of all creation. It describes this form of his, as having countless heads, eyes, legs, manifested everywhere, and beyond the scope of any limited method of comprehension. All creation is but a fourth part of him. The rest is unmanifested.

Purusha as Brahma remained inactive, and Aniruddha Narayana, one of the four aspects of Narayana in the first tier at the base of the Vishaaka Yoopa, asked him ``Why do you do nothing?'' ``Because of not knowing,'' Brahma replied. ``Perform a yajna. Your senses, the devas, shall be the ritviks. Your body shall be the havis. Your heart, the altar. And I shall be he who enjoys the havis -- the offering. From your body sacrificed, shall you create bodies for all living creatures, as you have done in kalpas before this.'' Thus says the sAkalya brAmhaNA.

This yajna was called ``sarvahut'', the offering of all. The act of creation itself grew out of yajna, the rite of sacrifice. Who was worshipped at this sacrifice? It was the Purusha. Who performed it? Brahma, the creative aspect of the Purusha. Who were the ritvik priests ? The devas, who are the Purusha's senses. Who was tied as the beast of the sacrifice? Brahma, again. What was barhis, the altar of the sacrifice? All of nature. Who was the fire? The Purusha's heart. What was sacrificed? Again, the Purusha himself, his great body that contained all of creation.

In a way, this is a message of love, that the Purusha would consume himself in the fire of creation, to create all the worlds. From this sacrifice did all of creation emanate. This is central to the message of the Purusha Sukta.

Nonetheless, the Purusha Sukta gives us the essence of the philosophy of Vedanta, the Vedic tradition, as well as the Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavat Purana. It incorporates the principles of meditation (upasana), knowledge (jnana), devotion (bhakti), and rituals and duties (dharma and karma). This is why it is highly regarded and extensively used today as much as thousands of years ago.