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Purusha Sooktam

Date: Wed Mar 01 1995 - 07:48:46 PST

etAvAnasya mahima | ato jyAyAhumshca pooruSHa: |
pAdo asya viSHvA bhootAni | tripAdasyAmrtam divi ||

(etAvAn) All that is here seen (asya) is his (mahima) 
greatness. (ata:) And then, beyond all this (purusha: ca)
is that puruSHa (jyAyAn) great. (viSHvA bhootani) All
that was created in this world (pAdo) is but one part
(asya) of him. (tripAd) The other three parts are (divi)
in heaven, (amrtam) where they are eternal.

This world of name and form (nAma-roopa-bheda-
jagat) is but one part of purusha. sat (truth), chit (being)
and Ananda (bliss) arethe other three parts, that rest in
Narayana alone, and are eternal in him. As Sri Krishna says
in the Gita (10-42), ma eka amshena stitho jagat - By one
of my yogic power alone, I sustain this world. And he is
the one whose sport is this world, who sports without 
distinction of name or form. (roopa naama vibhedena jagat 
kreedati yo yatha:)

All that you see
Is but his glory
He is more
Than all of this
All of creation
Is but a fourth of him..
Three parts eternal
Rest in him alone..


tripAdoordhva udaitpuruSHa: | pAdo asyehAbhavatpuna: |
tato vishvaG vyAkramat | sAshanAnashane abhi ||

(tripAd) Three parts (puruSHa:) of the puruSHa (udait) rise 
above, (oordhva) above all creation. (pAda:) One part alone
(asya) of his (iha) is here (abhavat) manifested (puna:) again and again. 
(tata) From that part did (sAshana - anashana) beings that eat and eat not,
(vishvak) all of these (abhivyAkramat) did come forth.

Ranganathamuni comments on the greatness of the puruSHa
who looms above all creation. he is filled with grace and
all joy, knowledge, and goodness. He is eternal, and
the basis of all. The world's sustenance is but his sport.
His joy is himself, as he is all. that besides, even the 
Vedas wonder about his greatness.. " so anga veda
yadi vA na veda" ( RV, nAsadeeya sookta) - he alone
knows - or maybe he knows not.

The way "yadannenAtirohati" and "sAshanAnashane abhi
vyAkramat" are interpreted is a point of some discussion.
Peterson, Renou, and LeMee, who give simply "man"
for puruSHa, interpret these as "man, who grows by food",
"a part of man was made into all things that eat and eat not,
and advanced towards these/as these, outwards". I prefer
sAyaNA's interpretation, as given above. Not only is the
importance of food stressed, two verses before, but now
puruSHa is also that which eats not, life and non-life. This is in 
conformity with the vishishtAdvaita view of brahman
manifest as chit and achit.

Three parts of his
Are beyond all this
All of this, is but a part..
Again and again,
All that eats,
And that eats not..
Appeared from this
One part of His.


tasmAt virALajAyata | virAjo adhi pooruSHa : |
sa jAto atyaricyata | pashcAd bhoomimatho pura: ||

(tasmAt) from that great puruSHa (virAt) did the shining 
universe (ajAyata) come forth. (virAjo adhi) From that 
virAt, with its needs in heart (puruSHa :) came forth 
Bramha, to care for it. (sa:) He (jAta:) was born 
(ati aricyata:) and grew very large, extending (pascAt) 
in front  (bhoomim) of the earth (ata:) and then (pura:) 

>From puruSHa came forth the universe. The creative aspect
of his, Brahma, came forth, and  grew to include everything
in himself. This is why the universe is called "bramhAnda" -
the egg/sphere of Brahma. "bramhAnda" is also an adjective
indicating magnitude. This image of extending above and on
all sides of the earth is in concordance with Ranganathamuni.

What did this Bramha do after he was born ? sAyaNA gives
the following interpretation. He grows very large after being
born ( sa jAto atyaricyata:). And then (pascAt) he (sa:) creates
the earth (bhoomim) and then (ata:), (pura:) - cities - bodies for
creatures to live in."virAt vyaktrikto deva-tiryaG-manushyAdi
roopoabhoot". He became large and became the bodies, or gave
form to devas, animals (tiryak) and humans.

There is support for the former view from the sAkalya
brAmhaNa, however. In this work, Aniruddha  Narayana,
one of the four aspects of Narayana in the first tier of the
Vishaka Yupa, appears to Bramha. This Bramha, engorged 
with growth as it were, is inactive, he does nothing. Aniruddha
asks him the reason for his inactivity 'brahman kim tooshNeem
bhavasi - iti' and Bramha replies 'Because of not knowing' - 
'agnyAnAt - iti hovAca'. However, Bramha has to create. This
is his nature. So to remove his ignorance, Aniruddha Narayana
instructs him to perform srSHti yagnya, the sacrifice of creation.

In the brAmhaNa, this is termed 'kanchana yagnya' - the rite
of gold. 'brahman srSHti-artham kanchana yagnyam kuru'. By
this means will you be able to create the worlds, as you have in 
kalpas past. The rest of Aniruddha Narayana's instructions and
the details of the srSHti yagnya are given in the verses to come.

>From him came forth
The bright Universe
And he became a Creator
For its sake
And so he created
The verdant Earth
And creation
Was hi body.


yatpuruSHena haviSHA | deva yagnya matanvata: |
vasanto asyAsee-dAjyam | greeshma idhma sharaddhavi: ||

(yat) That (yagnya) rite that (devA:) the Gods (atanvata)
performed, (puruSHena) with the puruSHa himself as
(haviSHA) havis, the fire offering, (vasanta) the Spring
(Aseet) became (Ajyam) its ghee. (greeshma) The summer
became its (idhma) samit-wood firebrand, (sharad) Autumn
became (havi:) its burn offering.

What sort of yagnya is this srSHti yagnya ? Nothing exists
but Bramha-Purusha, who envelops all. Logically, none of the
ritual paraphernalia, the materiel, exists. It does not make 
consitent sense, to me, to look at this as an actual rite of
"sacrifice, where the Gods sacrificed a giant to create the
world" , as this has sometimes been decribed. This was 
in a comparative work that compared the purusha sooktham to 
the Norse tale of how the Aesir made the world from the body
of Ymir, the frost-giant.

Consider however the traditional view of this as a mAnasa
yagnyanya - a meditative sacrifice, of an in the heart, the first
gedankeneksperiment, if you will!

The srSHti yagnya was puruSHa's alone. He was havirbhokta,
he who enjoys/eats the havis - burnt offerings to the fire.
His senses were the devas, the Gods, who were the
ritvik-priests of this sacrifice. Nothing but himself existed 
to sacrifice. And so he sacrificed himself (puruSHENa 
haviSHa) as the offering into the creative fires of his heart.
A sacrifice of his self to himself, for what or who existed
but he ? So the devas bound Bramha as the beast of sacrifice,
and made ready for the rite.

Clarified butter, or ghee, is what is poured on the fire to 
make it burn brighter. The fire of course, is an essential part
of any sacrifice. Fire is what speeds betweeen heaven and earth
carrying the food of sacrificial havis offerings to the Gods. 
Spring brightens creation as the ghee brightens fire. Samit
(palaash, flame of the forest) twigs are fed to the fire, to
make it hotter - these samit brands are Summer. Autumn with
its brilliant hues was offered into the fire as havis.

Spring was the ghee
That brightened the fire
Summer the wood
That fueled it
Autumn was burnt
In this great rite
That the Gods sacrificed
The puruSHa in.