The Purusha Sukta (Suktam) is a Vedic devotional hymn of the Truth, Purusha, the infinite field – the cosmic intelligence that manifested the universe. Purusha Suktam is an important part of Rigveda (10.7.90.1-16) and is often recited during the worship of the Sri Vishnu or Narayana.
It is also mentioned in the Taittiriya Aranyaka (3.12,13), the Vajasaneyi Samhita (31.1-6), the Samaveda Samhita (6.4), and the Atharvaveda Samhita (19.6). Some parts of Purusha Sukta is also explained in the Shatapatha Brahman, the Taittiriya Brahmana, and the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. Purusha Sukta is also mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana (2.5.35 to 2.6.1-29) and in the Mahabharata (Mokshadharma Parva 351 and 352).
Purusha Suktam – In Sanskrit and English
Though the Purusha Suktam is difficult text to explain, the Purusha Sukta gives us the essence of the philosophy of Vedanta.
– From Rig Veda (10.7.90.1-16)
सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात् ।
स भूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वात्यतिष्ठद्दशाङुलम् ॥१॥
Sahasra-Shiirssaa Purussah Sahasra-Akssah Sahasra-Paat |
Sa Bhuumim Vishvato Vrtva-Atya[i]-Tisstthad-Dasha-Angulam ||1||
Translation – The Purusha has Thousand Heads, Thousand Eyes, and Thousand Feet. He envelops the World from all sides and extends beyond every direction.
The Purusha is cosmic Person, the Universal Consciousness animating all manifestation. One with the thousands of manifestation, He pervades each part of the creation and extends beyond in the ten directions represented by ten fingers.
पुरुष एवेदं सर्वं यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यम् ।
उतामृतत्वस्येशानो यदन्नेनातिरोहति ॥२॥
Purusha Evedam Sarvam Yad-Bhuutam Yacca Bhavyam |
Uta-Amrtatvasye[a-I]shaano Yad-Annena-Ati-Rohati ||2||
Translation – The Purusha is indeed All this in essence; That which existed in the past, and that which will exist in the future. Everything is woven by the Immortal essence of the Great Lord; by becoming Food of which one transcends the gross world.
All this (manifestation) is the Purusha alone—whatever was and whatever will be. He transcends all in His Form as food (the universe). By surrendering one can transcend the gross world and gets Mukti (ultimate liberation).
एतावानस्य महिमातो ज्यायाँश्च पूरुषः ।
पादोऽस्य विश्वा भूतानि त्रिपादस्यामृतं दिवि ॥३॥
Etaavaanasya Mahima-Ato Jyaayaash-Ca Puurussah |
Paado-Asya Vishvaa Bhuutaani Tri-Paad-Asya-Amrtam Divi ||3||
Translation – The Purusha is Greater than all the Greatness, His One Part has become all these Worlds, and His Three Parts rest in the Immortal World of the Transcendence.
Words cannot express the greatness of Purusha. One-fourth of Him all beings are, while three-fourth of Purusha rises above as the Immortal Being.
त्रिपादूर्ध्व उदैत्पूरुषः पादोऽस्येहाभवत्पुनः ।
ततो विष्वङ् व्यक्रामत्साशनानशने अभि ॥४॥
Tri-Paad-Uurdhva Udait-Puurussah Paado-Asye[a-I]ha-Abhavat-Punah |
Tato Vissvang Vya[i-A]kraamat-Saashana-Anashane Abhi ||4||
Translation – The Three Parts of the Purusha is High Above (in Transcendental Realm), and His One Part becomes the Creation again and again. There, in the Creation, He pervades all the Living and the Non-Living beings.
तस्माद्विराळजायत विराजो अधि पूरुषः ।
स जातो अत्यरिच्यत पश्चाद्भूमिमथो पुरः ॥५॥
Tasmaad-Viraadda-Jaayata Viraajo Adhi Puurussah |
Sa Jaato Atya[i-A]ricyata Pashcaad-Bhuumim-Atho Purah ||5||
Translation – From Him was born the Virat; from the presence of the Shining Purusha;
He created the Earth, by manifesting Her from His own being as substratum.
From Purusha, the Cosmic Body (Virat) Originates, and in this Cosmic Body, Omnipresent Intelligence manifests itself. Having manifested Himself, He appeared as all diversity, and then as this earth and this body.
यत्पुरुषेण हविषा देवा यज्ञमतन्वत ।
वसन्तो अस्यासीदाज्यं ग्रीष्म इध्मः शरद्धविः ॥६॥
Yat-Purussenna Havissaa Devaa Yajnyam-Atanvata |
Vasanto Asya-Asiida-Ajyam Griissma Idhmah Sharad-[d]Havih ||6||
Translation – With the Purusha as the Fire, the Deva continued the Yajna (in contemplation by mind), Spring was the clarified Butter, Summer was the Fuel, and Autumn was the Havis (Sacrificial offering of that Yajna).
तं यज्ञं बर्हिषि प्रौक्षन्पुरुषं जातमग्रतः ।
तेन देवा अयजन्त साध्या ऋषयश्च ये ॥७॥
Tam Yajnyam Barhissi Pra-Ukssan-Purussam Jaatam-Agratah |
Tena Devaa Ayajanta Saadhyaa Rssayash-Ca Ye ||7||
Translation – The First Divine Men were created as the Holy Water sprinkled with the Kusa Grass in that Yajna. The First Divine Men were the Sadhya Devas and the Rishis, Who were created by Him, the Deva (the Shining One, referring to Virat), Who performed the Yajna. (These Rishis were not human but divine Rishis like Saptarshis created directly by Virat).
तस्माद्यज्ञात्सर्वहुतः सम्भृतं पृषदाज्यम् ।
पशून्ताँश्चक्रे वायव्यानारण्यान् ग्राम्याश्च ये ॥८॥
Tasmaad-Yajnyaat-Sarvahutah Sambhrtam Prssadaajyam |
Pashuun-Taashcakre Vaayavyaan-Aarannyaan Graamyaash-Ca Ye ||8||
Translation – From the Complete Offering of His Yajna was obtained Ghee mixed with coagulated Milk, which are Animals, both of Air and of Forests and Villages.
तस्माद्यज्ञात्सर्वहुत ऋचः सामानि जज्ञिरे ।
छन्दांसि जज्ञिरे तस्माद्यजुस्तस्मादजायत ॥९॥
Tasmaad-Yajnyaat-Sarvahuta Rcah Saamaani Jajnyire |
Chandaamsi Jajnyire Tasmaad-Yajus-Tasmaad-Ajaayata ||9||
Translation – From the Complete Offering of His Yajna was born the Rig Veda and Sama Veda, The Chandas were born from Him, and the Yajur Veda was born from Him.
तस्मादश्वा अजायन्त ये के चोभयादतः ।
गावोः ह जज्ञिरे तस्मात् तस्माज्जाता अजावयः ॥१०॥
Tasmaad-Ashvaa Ajaayanta Ye Ke Co[a-U]bhayaadatah |
Gaavoh Ha Jajnyire Tasmaat Tasmaaj-Jaataa Ajaa-Vayah ||10||
Translation – From Him was born the Horses, and all those animals who has teeth in both jaws, From Him was born the Cows, and from Him was born all types of Goats.
यत्पुरुषं व्यदधुः कतिधा व्यकल्पयन् ।
मुखं किमस्य कौ बाहू का ऊरू पादा उच्येते ॥११॥
Yat-Purussam Vya[i-A]dadhuh Katidhaa Vya[i-A]kalpayan |
Mukham Kimasya Kau Baahuu Kaa Uuruu Paadaa Ucyete ||11||
Translation – What did the Purusha hold within Him? How many parts were assigned in His Huge Form? What was His Mouth? What was His Arms? What was His Thighs? And what was His Feet?
ब्राह्मणोऽस्य मुखमासीद् बाहू राजन्यः कृतः ।
ऊरू तदस्य यद्वैश्यः पद्भ्यां शूद्रो अजायत ॥१२॥
Braahmanno-Asya Mukham-Aasiid Baahuu Raajanyah Krtah |
Uuruu Tad-Asya Yad-Vaishyah Padbhyaam Shuudro Ajaayata ||12||
Translation – The Brahmanas were His Mouth, the Kshatriyas became His Arms, The Vaishyas were His Thighs, and the Shudras were assigned to His Feet.
चन्द्रमा मनसो जातश्चक्षोः सूर्यो अजायत ।
मुखादिन्द्रश्चाग्निश्च प्राणाद्वायुरजायत ॥१३॥
Candramaa Manaso Jaatash-Cakssoh Suuryo Ajaayata |
Mukhaad-Indrash-Ca-Agnish-Ca Praannaad-Vaayur-Ajaayata ||13||
Translation – The Moon was born from His Mind and the Sun was born from His Eyes, Indra and Agni were born from His Mouth, and Vayu was born from His Breath.
नाभ्या आसीदन्तरिक्षं शीर्ष्णो द्यौः समवर्तत ।
पद्भ्यां भूमिर्दिशः श्रोत्रात्तथा लोकाँ अकल्पयन् ॥१४॥
Naabhyaa Aasiid-Antarikssam Shiirssnno Dyauh Samavartata |
Padbhyaam Bhuumir-Dishah Shrotraat-Tathaa Lokaa Akalpayan ||14||
Translation – His Navel became the Antariksha (Space), His Head sustained the Heaven, From His Feet the Earth, and from His Ears the Directions; in this manner all the Worlds were regulated by Him.
सप्तास्यासन् परिधयस्त्रिः सप्त समिधः कृताः ।
देवा यद्यज्ञं तन्वाना अबध्नन्पुरुषं पशुम् ॥१५॥
Saptaasya[i-A]asan Paridhayas-Trih Sapta Samidhah Krtaah |
Devaa Yadyajnyam Tanvaanaa Abadhnan-Purussam Pashum ||15||
Translation – By making Seven Enclosures with Three times Seven sacrificial Firewood, the Deva in that Yajna, bound the infinite expanse of the Purusha as finite living beings.
यज्ञेन यज्ञमयजन्त देवास्तानि धर्माणि प्रथमान्यासन् ।
ते ह नाकं महिमानः सचन्त यत्र पूर्वे साध्याः सन्ति देवाः ॥१६॥
Yajnyena Yajnyam-Ayajanta Devaas-Taani Dharmaanni Prathamaanya[i-A]asan |
Te Ha Naakam Mahimaanah Sa-Canta Yatra Puurve Saadhyaah Santi Devaah ||16||
Translation – The Devas performed the external Yajna by meditating on the real Yajna; And thus they first obtained the Dharma. By Meditating on the Greatness of the Chidakasha, during those earlier times, the Spiritual Aspirants became the Shining One themselves.