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Purush Sookt

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Purush Sookt
See also     Sookt;     Naaraayan Sookt

Purush Sookt is one of the five scriptural texts chosen by the ancients for constant repetition and meditation. These five texts are the Upanishads, The Bhagavad Geetaa, The Vishnu Sahasranaam, Shree Rudram and Purush Sooktam. Purush Sookt is very dear to Vishnu because Brahmaa Jee himself has written it.

Purush Sookt appears in the 90th Sookt in 10th Mandal, Ashtak 8, Adhyaaya 4 of Rig Ved Sanhitaa (1/22/16-21), Although Rig ed does not give these Shlok in the name of PurushSookt  but these 16 Mantra of Rig Ved (or Yajur Ved, 31/1-16) came to be known as Purush Sookt. Among these 16 Mantra its 15 Mantra are in Anushtup meter and one Mantra in Trishtup meter. While its another version consists of 24 verses with the first 18 Mantra designated as the Poorv-Naaraayan, and the later portion termed as the Uttar-Naaraayan. Its Devtaa is Naaraayan and Chhand is Anushtup. This is the only hymn in the entire Rig Ved which uses all the four words - Braahman, Raajanya (Kshatriya), Vaishya, and Shoodra. It seems to be one of the last hymns composed during the span of time the hymns of this Sanhitaa were composed. In this Sookt, the God is compared to a human being. It states that God produced Braahman from His mouth, Kshatriya from His arms, Vaishya from His thighs, and Shoodra from His feet. This Sookt seems to have created to show the rank of superiority for the Braahman and the inferiority for Shoodra.

[Although one may take it otherwise also that without Shoodra, the system cannot run]. But in fact it shows that everyone in the society is important and together we make the society the whole. But it seems that over the period Braahman have been using this Sookt to give extraordinary importance to themselves than necessary. Some other people argue that since God's feet are worshipped, Shoodra are not inferior to anybody rather they are superior to all. The same people argue, that superiority or inferiority is not by the birth of a superior or inferior part of the body they are born. All parts of the body are important so are all the people and together all make a society as a whole.

This Sookt has come to be memorized by many Hindu worshippers.

[From Wikipedia - "Purusha Sukta"] The hymn finds place in various Vedic texts like the Atharv Ved (19.6), the Saam Ved (6.4), the Yajur Ved (31.1-6), the Taittireeya Aaranyak (3.12,13), and it is commented upon in the Shatapath Braahman, the Taittireeya Braahman, the Shwetaashwatar Upanishad and the Mudgal Upanishad. It is one of the few Rig Vaidik hymns still current in contemporary Hinduism like, the Gaayatree Mantra. The Purush Sookt is also mentioned with explanations and interpretations in the Vaajasaneyee Sanhitaa (31.1-6), the Saam Ved Sanhitaa (6.4), and the Atharv Ved Sanhitaa (19.6). Among Pauraanik texts, the Sookt has also been elaborated in the Bhaagavat Puraan (2.5.35 to 2.6.1-29) and in the Mahaabhaarat (Moksh Dharm Parv 351 and 352).

Meaning of the Purush Sookt
Although the Purush Sookt is rather a difficult text to explain in a modern way, primarily because of the archaic language of Ved that cannot always lend itself to interpretations based on the classical Sanskrit, and that many of the words can be taken in several different ways, both literal and symbolic.

Nonetheless, the Purush Sookt gives us the essence of the philosophy of Vedaant, the Vaidik tradition, as well as the Bhagavad Geetaa and Bhaagavat Puraan. It incorporates the principles of meditation ( Upaasanaa), knowledge (Gyaan), devotion ( Bhakti), and rituals and duties (Dharm and Karm). This is why it is highly regarded and extensively used today as much as thousands of years ago.

What Does the Purush Sookt Talk About?
The Purush in the title of the Purush Sookt refers to the Param Purush, Purushottam, Naaraayan, in his form as the Viraat Purush. 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.

The Purush Sookt describes God as, “with infinite heads, unnumbered eyes, and unnumbered feet and beyond all predicates….”

Purush as Brahm remained inactive, and Aniruddh Naaraayan, one of the four aspects of Naaraayan in the first tier at the base of the Vishaak Yoopa, asked him "Why do you do nothing?". "Because of not knowing," Brahm replied. "Perform a Yagya. Your senses, the Dev, shall be the Ritwik. Your body shall be the Havishya. Your heart, the altar. And I shall be He who enjoys the Havishya -- the offering. From your body sacrificed, shall you create bodies for all living creatures, as you have done in Kalp before this." Thus says the Saakalya Braahman.

This Yagya was called "Sarvaahut" - the offering of all. The act of creation itself grew out of Yagya, the rite of sacrifice. Who was worshipped at this sacrifice? It was the Purush. Who performed it? Brahmaa, the creative aspect of the Purush. Who were the Ritwik priests? The Dev, who are the Purush's senses. Who was tied as the beast of the sacrifice? Brahm, again. What was Barhis, the altar of the sacrifice? All of nature. Who was the fire? The Purush's heart. What was sacrificed? Again, the Purush himself, His great body that contained all of creation.

In a way, this is a message of love, that the Purush consumed 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 Purush Sookt.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 04/12/13