Thursday, May 20, 2010

Purusha Sukta some details

This is an attempt to translate the commentary on Purusha Sukta by Sri Bannanje Govnidacharya. Whatever mistakes that you may find here are due to my limitations alone; neither of the Sukta or Bannanje.

Anuvaadaka Uvacha (Bannanje Says)

There are two great suktas that glorify the Father and Mother of this Universe: Purusha Sukta and Shri Sukta.

Purusha Sukta (PS) can be found in RigvEda [10th Mandala, 10th Sukta] and YajurvEda [Krishna YajurvEda Taitareeya AaraNyaka, 3rd PrapaaThaka, 12th Anuvaaka; Shukla-YajurvEda vaajasanEya samhita, 31st Adyaya; kaaNva samhita 35th Adyaya].

In the RigvEda recitation there are 16 Mantras, as in the kaaNva samhita recitation too. In the taittiriya recitation there are 18 Mantras. In the VaajasanEya Samhita version there are 16+6 = 22 mantras.

We can find Purusha Sukta in Samaveda too, but only the first five mantras: RigvEda's first varga [AraNya kaaNda's 617 to 621 or 6th Chapter's 4th kaNda's 3rd to 7th mathras]. It can also be found in AtharvavEda [19th kaaNda 6th Sukta], 16 mantras, except for the final mantra which is different.

There may be some minor differences in word usages and the sequence but essential the idea remains constant. Example: "sahasrasheershaa" has become "saharshasheershaaH" in SamavEda, and "sahasrabaahuH" in atharvavEda.

The spiritual importance and significance of this sukta can thus inferred by its presence in all the 4 vedas. This is the common base or injunction of all vedas. Some even consider Gayatri as the root of this Sukta and the Vedas as its expansion or exploration. The three parts / aksharas of the Omkara (PraNava) represent the three layered creation of Bhuh (Earth), Bhuvah (Sky), Suvah (Space). Purusha Sukta has three Sections that represent the three parts of Omkara and the three sections of the creation. So, in short Purusha Sukta is the essence of all vedas, and the is no sukta parallel to Purusha Sukta.

Rigvedic recitation which has 16 manthras are key to the shodashopachara (16 variated offerings to the Lord). These 16 represent: naama (name), lOka (word), karma (there is no equivalent in English that I know of, closest is work), maatu (vaak; speech), chintane (thought), veerya (seminal power/vigor), anna (body; sustaining aspect), manah (mind), indiryaah (senses), maNNu (earth), neenu (water), benki (fire), gaaLi (air), shraddha (faith), and jiva (existence; life; self). The 17th is the Chit-Prakriti (I dont have a translation for this; the Universal Energy or Daivi Maya) and the 18th is the Lord. And 18 thus has a huge significance in Vedic world.

The 16 aspects are together called the "kshara purusha" [kshasrah sarvaNi bhutani] in Bhagawad Gita. The SOUL (Jiva) is bound by the fence of MAYA (Chit-Prakriti), and the the mother of this creation is Laxmi Devi, who is referred to as akshara-purusha [kooTastoksharah uchyate]. The one who frees the JIVAs from this fencing of Maya is called Purushottama [uttama purusastu anyah paramatmeti udahritah .... pratitah purushottamah]. The kshara-akshra-purushottama trilogy put together are 18.

In Rigveda version these 16 mantras are divided into 3 sections: first five mantras form the first section; the next five (6-10) the second section; the remaining 6 (11-16). The three parts of AUM, and the three padas of Gayatri represent these three portions of the Sukta. Since swayam NarayaNa is the "rishi" for this Sukta, and since He is the pratipadyadevata (the Glorified deity of the Sukta), which is why this is also called "NaaraayaNaanuvaaka". This also confirms that Purusha Means NarayaNa alone, thus the Rigvedas purushasukta is referred to as NarayaNasukta in Yajurveda.

In Rigveda, the first fifteen of the 16 mantras follow Anushtup chandas (meters), and the last falls into trishtup. In the Yajurveda, the first 15 are Anustup and the last 3 are trishtup. In the Anustup Chandas, there are four 'padas' with eight letters each, so totally 32 letters. Sometimes there are just 7 or 9 letters in anustup, e.g. one pada - 'yad bhutam yaccha bhavyam'; half words like not considered in the count. In Tirshtup Chandas there are 11 letters in four padas, totally 44 letters.

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