Considering the Purusasukta – the Song of Praise of Man

Perhaps the most famous poem or prayer in the Rg Veda (or Rig Veda) is the Purusasukta  (purusha suktam).  It is found in the 10th Mandala and 90th Chapter.  It is a song for a special Man – Purusa (pronounced Purusha).  Because it is found in the Rg Veda it is one of the oldest mantras in the world, and thus it is worth studying to see what we can learn of the way to Mukti or Moksha (enlightenment).

So who is Purusa?  The Vedic texts tell us that

“Purusa and Prajapati is one and the same person” (sanskrit transliteration Purusohi Praja pati)  Madhyndiya Sathapatha Brahmana VII.4:1.156

The Upanishads continue on this same line by stating that

“Purusa is superior to everything.  Nothing [nobody] is superior to Purusa.  He is the end and the highest goal” (Avykat Purusah parah.  Purusanna param kincitsa kastha sa para gati)  Kathopanisad 3:11

“And verily beyond the unmanifest is the supreme Purusa… One who knows him becomes free and attains immortality (Avyakat u parah Purusa … yajna tva mucyate Janturamtatvam ca gacchati) Kathopanisad 6:8

So Purusa is Prajapati (The Lord of all Creation).  But perhaps even more important, knowing him directly affects you and me.  The Upanishad says:

‘there is no other way to enter eternal life (but through Purusa) (Nanyahpantha vidyate – ayanaya) Svetasvataropanisad 3:8

So we will study through the Purusasukta, the hymn in Rg Veda that describes Purusa.  As we do so, I will hold perhaps a strange and novel idea before us to consider:  Is this Purusa spoken of in the Purusasukta fulfilled in the incarnation of Yeshu Satsang (Jesus of Nazareth) around 2000 years ago?  As I said, this is perhaps a strange notion, but Yeshu Satsang (Jesus of Nazareth) is known as a Holy man across all religions and he did claim to be the incarnation of God, and both he and Purusa are sacrificed (as we will see) so this gives us  good reasons to consider this idea and explore it.  The sanskrit transliterations, and many of my thoughts on the Purusasukta, have come from studying the book Christ in the Ancient Vedas by Joseph Padinjarekara (346 pp. 2007)

First verse of Purusasukta

Transliterated from Sanskrit

Translated into English

Sahasra sirsa-PurusahSahasra ksah sahsrapatSa bhumim visvato v rtvaatyatisthaddasangulam Purusa has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. Encompassing Earth on all sides, He Shines. And he limited Himself to ten fingers

We saw above that Purusa is the same as Prajapati.  Prajapati, as explained here, in the earliest Vedas was considered the God who made everything – He was the “Lord of all Creation”.

We see in the start of the Purusasukta that Purusa has a ‘thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet”,  What does this mean?  ‘Thousand’ is not meant to be a specific counted number here, but means more ‘numberless’, or ‘without limit’.  So the Purusa has intelligence (‘head’) without limit.  In today’s language we would say he is omniscient or All-Knowing.  This is an attribute of God (Prajapati) who is the only one who is All-Knowing.  God also sees and is aware of all.  Saying that Purusa has a ‘thousand eyes’ is the same as saying that Purusa is omnipresent – he is aware of all because he is present everywhere.  In a similar way, the phrase ‘a thousand feet’ represents omnipotence – unlimited strength.

Thus we see in the beginning of the Purusasukta that the Purusa is introduced as an omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent Man.  Only the incarnation of God could be such a person.  However the verse concludes by saying ‘he limited himself to ten fingers’.  What does this mean?  As an incarnate person, Purusa emptied himself of his divine powers and limited himself to that of a normal human – one with ‘ten fingers’.  Thus, though Purusa was Divine, with all that entails, he emptied himself in his Incarnation.

The Veda Pusthakam (Bible), when speaking of Yeshu Satsang (Jesus of Nazareth) expresses exactly the same idea.  It says:

… have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2: 5-8)

You can see that the Veda Pusthakam (Bible) uses exactly the same thoughts as the Purusasukta does in introducing Purusa – infinite God incarnating to a limited human.  But this passage in the Bible moves quickly to describe his sacrifice – as Purusasukta also will.  So it is worthwhile for anyone who desires Moksha to explore these oracles further, since, as it says in the Upanishads:

‘there is no other way to enter eternal life (but through Purusa) (Nanyahpantha vidyate – ayanaya) Svetasvataropanisad 3:8

We continue verse 2 of Purusasukta here.

15 thoughts on “Considering the Purusasukta – the Song of Praise of Man

  1. George Kuriakose

    I am very keen and would like to further explore this thread. Very facinating.

  2. Chatterjee K

    Want to know more about a clear picture of Jesus Christ in Rigveda, Upanishad and other writings.

  3. S.Gouri Shanker

    This is nothing but misleading the ignorant Hindus to convert them into Christianity. When Purusa is an omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent Man the question of his death and resurrection does not arise.

    1. [email protected] Post author

      Thank you for your comment. From what I have read there is too much similarity in the roots. Please see the article on why there is such similarity (here). If that is the case this is not a question of conversion but of history and truth. At the very least should we not be open to the possibility?

  4. Prakash Patel

    Why are you trying alwas cheating people?

    Your bibalical scripture is not enough for cheating?

    1. [email protected] Post author

      Hi Prakash. I am not sure what you mean by ‘cheating’. I am pointing out similarities in ancient holy writings. I make some inference from these similarities. These inferences may not be true. But they are openly and honestly put forward. Is that not the process by which we gain greater understanding? By considering new and different ideas? Perhaps they are not correct but then we are free not to accept them. We are no worse off in the process

      1. prakash patel

        Plz….Don’t poisoned vedic scripture with your bibalical short idea. BE OPEN HEART AND DON’T DO PHILOSOPHYCAL CHEATING.

      2. prakash patel

        Aur kya kar sakoge tum log? Conversion karate karate khud hindu ho jaoge. Jesus ko to cross se niche utarkar Yog mudra me dhyanasth betha hi diya h, baki kya rahega? Ye Bharat h koi australiya ya america nhi jo 1808 me khoj liya aur badi santi suleh se miljhukar unke Prakrutik dharm ko nasht kar k bible k thothe bant rahe ho.

  5. Subrato

    How Bible became the Veda pustakam ? Your attempt to search a common root is appreciable but forcefull conclusions are not.

  6. MANOJ.S.NAIR

    FOOLISH EXPLANATION…………PURUSHASOOKTHA IS “MOOLA MANTHRA” FOR “LORD VISHNU ” USED IN MANY TEMPLES………..IT IS CORRECT THAT IT IS PART OF RIG VEDA……BUT IT IS MISLEADING TO SAY THAT IT IS MENTIONING “JESUS”…………….THE PURUSHA MENTIONED HERE IS “BRAHMA THATHVA” NOT ANY OBJECT. SINCE VISHNU IS THE POWER WHICH HELPS TO SUSTAIN THIS WORLD WE USED THIS TO DENOTE “MAHA VISHNU”……BUT NOT AS A PERSON …BUT AS VIRAT PURUSHA…………….IT IS LAUGHABLE TO SEE SUCH MISINTERPRETATIONS………………..THE PROBLEM WITH 90% OF HINDUS IS THAT THEY NEVER LOOK IN TO THIS ….AND MISSIONARIES EXPLOIT THEM. I ASK ALL MISSIONARIES TO LEAVE ALL SUCH NEGATIVE ACTS AND JOIN SANATHANA DHARAMA ….SO THAT THEY CAN WORSHIP “PURUSHA”…….IN ITS TRUE SENSE!!!!!!!!!

    1. [email protected] Post author

      Hi Manoj. Thanks for your comment. I am not saying that the Purusasukta mentions ‘Jesus’. If you understood that from the article then I am sorry. I did not intend that. In fact the Bible itself does not mention ‘Jesus’ at the beginning. But consider what you just said “URUSHA MENTIONED HERE IS “BRAHMA THATHVA” NOT ANY OBJECT. SINCE VISHNU IS THE POWER WHICH HELPS TO SUSTAIN THIS WORLD WE USED THIS TO DENOTE “MAHA VISHNU” and compare with this from New Testament about Jesus

      16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossian 1:16-17)

      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)

      There is similarity in your description and in the verses I just quoted. It is to note these similarities that the article is intended. It offers an explanation (in this article here). THis does not mean that my explanation is ‘proven’ I put it out for food for thought. Is that not what we should be doing? Reflecting on these kinds of truths?

  7. Ramesh Verath

    Just to be accurate, Jesus believed in old testament which says the world was created just around five thousand years ago. Which totally contradicts Vedas. Also being God, why Jesus never comment about the issue of creation and corrected about creation. There is no point in making comparison between Jesus and purusha

    1. [email protected] Post author

      HI Ramesh. Thank you for your comment. I am not saying that there are not differences, but the similarities strike me at least. And Jesus did talk about Creation. In fact here is something he says

      5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] 8 and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 9: 5-9)

      Does he not speak as if he was there at the beginning of creation?

  8. Bhaska Sharma

    sahasra sheersha purusha sahstrakch sahastrapaat sabhumim vishvato virtava attiyatish dashangulam purushe vedam sadbhutam etavanassiam himandito jiyaya shachcha purushaha padasva bhu tane lyrics

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