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re: purusha sooktam

From: Krishna Kalale (
Date: Thu Mar 02 1995 - 10:44:16 PST

It is generally accepted that the term "atyatishtat dasha angulam"
in dicates that "PUrusha stands beyond infinity or ananta"

there is a peculiar yogic reasoning and explanation of the "dasha angulam"
or in english it is "10 length units".

This universe is explained to be contained in a 10fold sheath as explained
in vishnu puraana - I will not quote the verses of vishnu purana here

the sheaths are:

1.  bhu - the place where all beings are stationed - say it is the land (predominantly)
2. aapa- the water that surrounds the earth (which is roughly 10 times land area)
3. vanhi- the expanse of energy - heat or heat required for beings to stay - roughly 10 times amount of water 
4.  the expanse of atmosphere (vayu)  - 10 times previous
5. akasha - space ---  which surrounds atmosphere
6. ahankara - ie. a philophic concept "ego" not same as the english term 
	supposed to be the original matter from which the pscho physical universe is born - for example mind comes from - saatvi ahankara. ahankara is of 3 
types - saatvi, raajasic, and taamasic.
7. mahat - that surrounds ahankara - (mahat is supposed to be the space and
content that allows - buddhi or intellect to pervade) - (complicated concept-
needs pages to go into details)
8. avyakta - the un manifest principle - moola prakriti - or cause state of
9. Akshara - the soul principle (the imperishable)
10. Tamas - darkness - (a state realizable through yoga) - a veil type of
principle which hides Purusha or (God) from perception by souls (Akshara)
"ie. our jnana cannot perceive God - with difficulty we can perceive ourselves
ie. soul but God is hidden due to a tamas principle"
11 - the eleventh principle is "Purusha"

This is supported by other upanishads:

subalopanishad - I will quote only the last few sentences :

avyaktam akshare leeyate, aksharaha tamasi leeyate, tamaha pare deve
ekee bhavati   -  ( quoting from memory - may have mistakes)

"rough meaning -In yogic realization,  Avyakta leads to akshara, akshara leads to tamas and tamas
becomes one with the Lord - deva (purusha)"

The issue I want to bring to notice is that these 10 principles may not be
tightly bound to physical correlates, but they have great significance to
the "Yogic perception".  The Gayathri mantra details and Ashtanga yoga goes
into further details. I have just given a rough idea here, since I havent
spent time reviewing the verifying the information with other texts.

One is reminded of the sloka in 15th chapter Bhagawadgita,
dvaavimou purushou loke kshara akshara eva cha
ksharaha sarvaani bhutani kootastho akshara uchyate
uttamaha purusha stu anyaha - param aatmeti udaahritaha

Yasmaat ksharam ateetoham aksharaatapi uttamaha
atosmi loke vede cha prathithaha purushottamaha

Yo maam evam asammoodaha janati purushottamam
sa sarva vid bhajati maam sarva bhaavena bharatha

Lord Krishna says :
meaning - "there are two principles said hitherto - Kshara (perishable matter)
(these are 8 fold), akshara (imperishable - soul), the Uttama purusha is
different from these principles - this principle is "Paramatma" "Ishwara" or
God.  since I (Lord Krishna) is beyond the kshara (matter) and akshara (souls)
I am known in the world and in the Vedas as "purushottama".  One who knows
me as said here, without any doubt or delusion is a knower of all, and he
obviously, will pray to me with utmost devotion knowing that I am everything
to him, ""

The 8 principles of kshara or prakriti is well enumerated in 7th chapter as
 bhoomi (earth) aaapa (water) anala (fire or energy) vaayu (air) kham (space)
manas (mind) buddhi ( intellect - also called mahat sometimes), Ahankara
(root material principle)

There may be some differences in these principles (ie. in actual enumeration)
but they are insignificant and not important.


I owe these meanings to my Gurus -  Sampath Iyengar  (My grandfather)
and Dr. N.S. Anantha rangachar ( who incidentally has written a very
informative but small book on "purusha sookta", in addition to about 40
books on vedanta)

Asmad gurubhyo namaha