Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Purushasooktham – a simple view

The primary scripture for a non-professional Vedic learner, who goes to Veda class in the evenings after college or work, is the purusha sooktham.

This is one of the scriptures describing the Indian concepts of creation of universe. Let me try to put down a primer on what I find in that, in this post.

It states that the universe initiated from an all powerful source called the Purusha. This could be equated to the Vishwaroopa of SrimanNaryaana and to the Lingodbhavam of Prameshwara. The description of the purusha with thousands of eyes and feet, corresponds to the endless huuuge body of energy believed to be the source of the universe. [The Aum is believed to be the vibration resulting from the primordial energy].

“chandrama manasojathaha, saksho sooryo ajayatha,
mukhadindrascha agnischa, pranadh vayurajayacha,
naabhyathaseeth anthariksham”

Then the scriptures go on to describe that the sky are created, the moons created from the manas of Purusha, the Sun from his eyes, the air from his breath. The creation of seasons et al.

How did all of these get created?? Is it that, the concentration of energy creates matter, as much as splitting of matter to generate energy.
Yes, the sookta says, the creation happend when there there was a yagnya with Purusha. Though yagnya literally means sacrifice, it also means determination, concentration.

This scripture emphasises the theory of advaita. Understandably, stating that the whole of this universe is one, manifested in multiple forms.

Along with this there is an important social aspect to this. There is the verse which says,

“Brahmanosya mukhamaseeth, bahoo rajanya kruthaha,
Ooru thathasya yadh vaishyaha, padhyaghum shoodro ajayath.”

It means, Brahmins came from the face, Kshatriyas from the shoulders, Vaishyas from the thighs, and shoodras from the feet.

Vedic bashers, and self-proclaimed social equality champions, argue vehemently that, this is the proof that Veda splits the society, and puts the brahmanas as superior and shoodras as inferior.

I would look at these verses as
1. A great one to establish equality. Yes, it says all of us are born of the same father/parent.
2. The verse never mentions about superiority of one class and inferiority of the other.
3. The organ from which they were born perform the similar function to the body as they do to the society.
[Brahmins were supposed to take up education and brighten the society, as a face does, the kshatriyas are from shoulders which are the primary source of self defence, the vaishyas from thighs, where extra fat and nutrienst are deposited and used in time of need acting as bank/reserve, above all the shoodra is the one who carries the society though, like a feet does.] Thus each and every one of the varnas is equally important to the society as much as these organs are. Without any one of them the society is a crippled one.

There are a lot of literal translations in the net for this, which may sound a lot like a gradma's story, unless we use our discretion to think more on why it is said so.

Ps: The above views have come up purely out of my thought process, which is hence limited to the exposure I have to these scriptures.


At Tue Jul 19, 07:56:00 AM CDT, Anonymous anand ramamoorthy said...

nice post but you could have given a more detailed correlation of purusha sooktham and modern cosmology,
check out my latest post

At Tue Jul 19, 10:47:00 AM CDT, Blogger Kasthuri Srinivasan said...

Good TJ...a nice attempt to understand purushasuktam. I guess this is what is required now, scientific and rational view to make clear to the world that we were not tied to unknown dogmas and rituals but were highly logical and intellectual. I would be really happy to see the entire vedanta rephrased into modern day logic so that the intellectual community will be greatly benifitted which will intun have an effect on common man. I guess Anand has similar views as well.

At Tue Jul 19, 05:28:00 PM CDT, Blogger krishna said...

gr8 job tj...especially the final intrepretation on the origin of different sects from the very same God...this essentially conveys the fact that though the different sects are considered differently by different human beings , they are all the parts and parcels of the One.

I wish my instructor could have given such insights into purushashuktham when i went onto learn it rather than just sermonizing.well,That was at least 10 years back..or may be i din't instigate..

and kasthuri,,it would be really helpful if the stuff in vedanta can be abridged to fit modern day logic so that everybody can get 2 understand the knowledge towards the Knowledge of the Thee..:)

At Tue Jul 19, 06:33:00 PM CDT, Blogger பள்ளி கொண்டான் said...

அன்புள்ள டிஜே அவர்களுக்கு,

நல்ல முயற்சி.

எதையும் புரிந்து கொள்ள நினைப்பது நல்ல முயற்சி; அதனை விஞ்ஞானத்துடன் இணைப்பதும் சரிதான்.

ஆனாலும், வெறுமே உள்ளன்புடன் சரியான சப்தத்துடன் ஓதினாலும் பலன் உண்டு.

திரு கிருஷ்ணன் - 10 வருடம் முன்பு பொருள் புரியாமல் படித்தாலும், பலன் ஒன்றுதான். இதையே முறையே உள்ளன்புடன் தொடர்ந்திருந்தால் இந்நேரம் உங்களுக்குப் பொருள் நிச்சயம் புரிந்திருக்கும்.

வாழ்க வளமுடன்,

At Wed Jul 20, 11:11:00 PM CDT, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

v can also infer that unless every1 in society works together, and with eachother the society wont function efficiently.
also that every one needs the other person. the hand needs the leg\thighs and both of then need the head, without either the head is useless. its a symbiotic relationship btwn every part of thebody, just like how it is a symbiotic relationship btwn every community in society.

At Thu Jul 21, 09:15:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

I did not want to put a translation of the Sooktham, for it is available everywhere in the net. I wanted to bring abt the details which are relevent part to todays society.

Yes, the challenge today is to take our ancient wisdom to future generations, relating their relevence to modern science and society.

Shravanam, Patanam, Smaranam and Mananam are all supposed to lead to Gnanam. But not all of us reach there.

Neenga solradhu romba sari, sariyana sabdathudan odhinal dhaan palan undu.

Symbiotic relationship was the key to the society. This is described as communitist society.

At Thu Jul 21, 09:47:00 AM CDT, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

tj, any society survives on symbiotic relationships, not just a caputakist society, can u survive in india wit out the services of a shudra?

At Wed Feb 20, 08:00:00 AM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I get a full version of the meanings of both Purushasooktham and Rudraprasnam. If you can please send me to
It is essential to know the meanings of these great scriptures.


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