Sacrifice of Purusa: The Genesis of all things

After verses 3&4 Purusasukta changes its focus from the qualities of Purusa to focus on the sacrifice of Purusa.  Verses 6&7 bring this focus about in the following way.  (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))

Verse 6-7 in Purusasukta

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
When the gods performed a sacrifice with Purusa as an oblation, spring was its melted butter, summer its fuel, and autumn its oblation.  They sprinkled Purusa, born in the beginning as a sacrifice in the straw.  The gods, sadhyas, and the seers sacrificed him as the victim Yatpurusena havisa Deva yajnam atanvata Vasanto asyasid ajyam Grisma idhmah saraddhavih Tam Yajnam barhisi prauksan Purusam jatamgratah Tena deva ayajanta Sadhya rsayas ca ye

Though not all aspects of these verses are immediately clear, what is clear is that the focus is about the sacrifice of Purusa.  The ancient vedic commentator Sayanacharya had this remark:

“the rsis – the saints and gods – bound the Purusa, the sacrificial victim to a sacrificial pole as a sacrificial animal and offered him in the sacrifice by their minds” Sayanacharya’s Commentary on Rg Veda 10.90.7

Verses 8-9 begin with the phrase “Tasmadyajnatsarvahutah…” which means that in his sacrifice Purusa offered all that he had – he held nothing back.  This demonstrated the love that Purusa had in the giving of his sacrifice.  It is only with love that we can give ourselves fully to others and hold nothing back.  As Yeshu Satsang (Jesus Christ) said in Veda Pusthakam (Bible)

“Greater love has no one that this:  that one lay down his life for his friends” (John15: 13).

Yeshu Satsang (Jesus Christ) said this to his disciples as he was willingly about to submit himself to the sacrifice of going to the cross.  Is there a connection between the sacrifice of Purusa and that of Yeshu Satsang?  Verse 5 of Purusasukta (which we have skipped thus far) offers a clue – but the clue would at first indicate that there is no connection.  Here is verse 5

Verse 5 in Purusasukta

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
From that – from a part of Purusa – the universe was born and it was made the seat of Purusa and he became omnipresent Tasmad Viralajayata Virajo adhi Purusah Sa jato atyaricyata Pascadbhumim atho purah

According to Purusasukta, Purusa was sacrificed at the beginning of time and it resulted in the creation of the universe.  Thus this sacrifice could not be performed on earth because the sacrifice was what brought the earth forth.  Verse 13 clearly shows this creation resulting from the sacrifice of Purusa.  It says

Verse 13 in Purusasukta

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
Moon was born from His mind.  The sun came out of his eye.  Lightning, rain and fire were produced from his mouth.  From his breath the wind was born. Candrama manaso jatas Caksoh suryo ajayata Mukhad Indra sca Agnisca Pranad Vayur ajayata

It is in the deeper understanding, rather than what we get from hearsay, of the Veda Pusthakam (Bible) that it all becomes clear.  We see the beginning of this clarity when we read the writings of the Rsis (prophet) Micah.  He lived about 750 BC and though he lived 750 years before the coming of Jesus Christ (Yeshu Satsang) he foresaw his coming by noting the city where he would be born.  He wrote

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from days of eternity. (Micah 5:2)

Micah predicted that the ruler (or Christ) would come out of the town of Bethlehem.  750 years later Jesus Christ (Yeshu Satsang) was born in this town in fulfillment of this vision.  Seekers after truth usually focus their wonder on this aspect of Micah’s vision.  However, it is the description of the origins of this coming one that I want to draw our attention to just now.  Micah predicts the future coming, but he says that the origins of this coming one are deep in the past.  His ‘origins are from of old’.  The origins of this coming one predate his appearing on earth!  How far back does the ‘… of old’ go?  It goes to the ‘days of eternity’.  Other sayings of True Knowledge in the Veda Pusthakam (Bible) clarify it further.  In Colosians 1:15 the Rsis Paul (who wrote about 50 AD) declared about Yeshu (Jesus) that:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15)

Yeshu is declared to be the ‘image of the invisible God’ and the ‘firstborn over all creation’.  In other words, though Yeshu’s incarnation was at a precise time in history (4 BC – 30 AD), he existed before anything was created – even to eternity past. He did so because God (Prajapati) has always existed in eternity past, and being his ‘image’ Jesus (Yeshu Satsang) would also have always existed.

The Sacrifice from creation of the world – the Genesis of everything

But not only has he existed from eternity past, the Rsis (prophet) John in a vision of heaven saw this Jesus (Yeshu Satsang) depicted as

“…  the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8)

Is this not a contradiction?  Was not Jesus (Yeshu Satsang) slain in 30 AD?  If he was slain then, how could he also be slain ‘from the creation of the world’?  It is in this paradox that we see that the Purusasukta and the Veda Pusthakan are describing the same thing.  We saw that Verse 6 of Purusasukta says that the sacrifice of Purusa was in ‘the beginning’.  Joseph Padinjarekara in his book Christ in the Vedas indicates that the Sanskrit commentary on the Purusasukta tells us that this sacrifice of Purusa in the beginning was ‘in the heart of God’ (he translated this as the meaning of the Sanskrit ‘Manasayagam’).  He also references the Sanskrit scholar NJ Shende as saying that this sacrifice in the beginning was a “mental or symbolic one” (NJ Shende. The Purusasukta (RV 10-90) in Vedic Literature (Publications of the Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, University of Poona) 1965.

So now the mystery of the Purusasukta becomes clear.  Purusa was God and the Image of God from eternity Past.  He was before anything else.  He is firstborn of all.  God, in his omniscience, knew that the creation of mankind would necessitate a sacrifice.  This sacrifice would require all that he could provide – the incarnation of Purusa into the world to be sacrificed as a washing or cleansing from sin.  It was at this point that God had to decide whether to go ahead with creation of the universe and mankind or not.  In that decision Purusa decided to be willing to be sacrificed, and the creation went ahead.  So mentally, or in the heart of God, Purusa was ‘slain from the creation of the world” as the Veda Pusthakan declares.

Once that decision was made – before time even began – God (Prajapati – The Lord of all creation) set about creating time, the universe and mankind. Thus the willing sacrifice of Purusa caused ‘the universe to be born’ (verse 5), the moon, sun, lightning and rain (v 13) to be made, and even time itself (spring, summer and autumn mentioned in v 6) to begin.  Purusa was firstborn over all this.

Who are the ‘gods’ that sacrificed Purusa?

But one puzzle remains.  Purusasukta verse 6 says that the ‘gods’ (devas) sacrificed Purusa?  Who are these gods?  Veda Pusthakan (The Bible) explains it.  One of the Rsis, David, wrote a sacred hymn in 1000 BC that revealed how God (Prajapati) spoke of men and women:

“I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ (Psalm 82:6)

Yeshu Satsang (Jesus Christ) 1000 years later commented on this sacred hymn of Rsis David by saying:

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? (John 10:34-36)

Yeshu Satsang (Jesus Christ) affirms the Rsis David’s use of the term ‘gods’ as true scripture.  In what way is this so?  We see in the creation account in the Veda Pusthakan that we are ‘made in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27).  So in some sense perhaps we could be considered ‘gods’ because we are made in the image of God.  But the Veda Pusthakan explains further.  It declares that those who accept this sacrifice of Purusa are:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:4-5)

When Prajapati-Purusa made the decision before the creation of the world to offer Purusa as the perfect sacrifice, God also chose people.  What did he chose them for?  It says very clearly he chose us to be his ‘sons’.

In other words, the Veda Pusthakan (The Bible) declares that men and women were chosen when God chose to fully give Himself in the perfect sacrifice to become children of God through this sacrifice.  In that full sense we are said to be ‘gods’.  This is true for those whom (as Yeshu Satsang declared above) to those ‘to whom the Word of God came’ – to those who accept His Word.  And in that full sense it was the needs of the future sons of god that bound Purusa to his sacrifice.  As Purusasukta verse 6 says ‘The gods performed a sacrifice with Purusa as the oblation’.  Purusa’s sacrifice was our cleansing.

The Sacrifice of Purusa – the way to heaven

So we see in the wisdom of the ancient Purusasukta and the Veda Pusthakam the plan of God revealed.  It is an awesome plan – one that we could not have imagined.  It is also very important for us because as the Purusasukta concludes in the 16th verse

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
The gods sacrificed Purusa as the sacrifice.  This is the earliest established principle.  Through this the sages obtain heaven Yajnena yajnamajayanta Devastani dharmani prathamanyasan Teha nakam mahimanah sacanta Yatra purve sadhyah santidevah

A sage is a ‘wise’ person. And it is truly a wise thing to yearn for obtaining heaven.  This is not out of our reach.  It is not impossible.  It is not only for the most ascetic of holy men who through extreme discipline and meditation achieve moksha.  It is not only for gurus.  On the contrary it was a way provided for by Purusa himself in his incarnation as Jesus Christ (Yeshu Satsang).

The sacrifice of Purusa – No other way to heaven

In fact not only has this been provided for us but the Sanskrit commentary by Sayanacharya between verse 15 and 16 of Purusasukta says

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
Thus, the one who knows this becomes able to reach the state of deathlessness.  No other way is known for this Tameva vidvanamrta iha bhavati Nanyah panta ayanaya vedyate

No other way is known to reach eternal life (deathlessness)!  Surely it is wisdom therefore to study the matter a bit more thoroughly.  Thus far I have jumped around through the Veda Pusthakam (The Bible) showing how it tells an overarching story of God, mankind and reality that is echoes with the story told in Purusasukta.  But I have not looked at this story in detail or in order.  There is much more to learn, many more rsis and hymns and principles that are revealed.  With this as our motive, I would like to invite you to explore along with me the Veda Pusthakam in more detail, starting at the beginning, learning about the creation, what happened that required this sacrifice of Purusa, what happened to the world that brought about the flood of Manu (Noah in Veda Pusthakan) and how the nations of the world learned and preserved the promise of the Perfect sacrifice that would free them from death and grant eternal life in Heaven.  Surely that is something worth learning and living for.

The universal need for sacrifice

Sages and rsis through the ages have known that people live in illusion and sin.  This has resulted in people through all religions, ages and education levels having an instinctive awareness that they need to be ‘cleansed’ in some way.  This is why so many participate in the Kumbh Mela Festival   and why before doing pujas people say the Prartha Snana (or Pratasana) mantram (“I am a sinner. I am the result of sin.  I am born in sin.  My soul is under sin.  I am the worst of sinners.  O Lord who has the beautiful eyes,  Save me, O Lord of the Sacrifice.“) as explained in my post on the Kumbh Mela Festival.  Hand-in-hand with this instinctive need for cleansing is a sense of need to give a sacrifice to ‘pay’ in some way for our sins or the darkness (Tamas) of our lives.  And once again in the sacrifice of the pujas, or in the Kumbh Mela and other Festivals people give sacrifice of time, money, asceticism in order to meet this instinctive need to give sacrifice.  I have heard of people taking a cow and holding it by the tail as it swims across the river.  This is done as a puja or sacrifice in order to earn forgiveness.

This need to give sacrifice has been around as long as our oldest religious texts have been around. And these texts affirm what our instincts tell us – that sacrifice is very important and must be given.  For example consider the following teachings:

In the Kathopanisad (Hindu text) the protagonist Naciketa says:

“I indeed know that fire sacrifice leads to heaven and is the way to attain heaven” Kathopanisad 1.14

The book of the Hindus says:

“It is through sacrifice that man reaches heaven” Sathapatha Brahmana VIII.6.1.10

“by means of sacrifice, not only men but gods acquire immortality” Sathapatha Brahmana II.2.2.8-14

So it is through sacrifice that we gain immortality and heaven (Moksha).  But the question still remains as to what kind of sacrifice and how much is sufficient to meet the need to make a ‘payment’ or earn enough merit against our sins/tamas?  Will 5 years of asceticism be sufficient?  Will giving money to the poor be a sufficient sacrifice?  And if so, how much?

Prajapati / Yahweh: God who Provides in Sacrifice

In the very earliest Veda texts, the God who was Lord of all Creation – the one who made and controlled the universe – was called Prajapati.  It is through Prajapati that everything else came into being.

The earliest Hebrew texts of the Veda Pusthakam (Bible) is known as the Torah. The Torah was written approximately 1500 BC, around the time that the Rg Veda was composed. The Torah begins with the declaration that there is a God who is the Creator of the whole universe. In the transliteration from the original Hebrew this God was called either Elohim or Yahweh and they are interchanged back and forth throughout in these Hebrew texts. Thus, like Prajapati in the Rg Veda, Yahweh, or Elohim, in the Torah was (and is) Lord of all Creation.

Early In the Torah, Yahweh also reveals Himself as the God ‘who Provides’ in a remarkable encounter with the Rsi called Abraham. We will look at this encounter in more detail later. For the moment I just want to note the similarity with Yahweh who provides (transliterated from Hebrew as Yahweh-yireh) with that of Prajapati in Rg Veda who is “the protector or supporter of creatures”.

In what way does Yahweh provide? We have already noted the instinctive need for people to give sacrifice, but vaguely without assurance that the sacrifice that we bring is sufficient. What is so interesting is that in this very specific area of our need the Tandyamaha Brahmana declares how Prajapati provides for our need. It says:

“Having made a self-sacrifice Prajapati (the Lord of all Creation) offered himself for the gods” Tandyamaha Brahmana, chapter 7 of 2nd khanda.

[the sanskrit transliteration is “Prajapatirddevebhyam atmanam Yajnam krtva prayacchat”].

Here Prajapati is in the singular.  There is only one Prajapati, just as in Torah there is only one Yahweh. Later in the Puranas literature (written from 500 – 1000AD) there are several Prajapatis identified. But in the earliest text quoted above Prajapati is in singular – there is only one. And in this statement we see that Prajapati himself gives or is the sacrifice and He gives it on behalf of others. The Rg Veda confirms this by saying:

“The actual sacrifice is Prajapati Himself” [Sanskrit: ‘Pajapatir yajnah’]

Sanskrit scholar H. Aguilar comments on this by translating from Sathapatha Brahmana the following:

“And indeed, there was no other (victim) meet for sacrifice but that one Prajapati, and the gods set about offering him up in sacrifice. Wherefore it is with reference to this that sage has said: ‘The gods offered up the sacrifice with the help of the sacrifice – for with the help of the sacrifice they did offer up him (Prajapati), the sacrifice – these were the first ordinances, for these laws were instituted first” H. Aguilar, The Sacrifice in the Rg Veda

The Vedas from the earliest time declares that Yahweh or Prajapati recognized the need we had so He provided for us in a self-sacrifice. How He did it we look at in later articles as we concentrate on the Purusa-Prajapati sacrifice of the Purusasukta in Rg Veda, but for now just think how important this is. The Svetasvataropanisad says

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

If you are interested in eternal life, if you desire Moksha or enlightenment then it would be wise to journey along to see what has been revealed about how and why Prajapati (or Yahweh) provided for us through self-sacrifice so that we can gain heaven.  And the Vedas do not leave us hanging.  In Rg Veda is the Purusasukta which describes the incarnation of Prajapati and the sacrifice He made for us.  Click here to see the introduction to Purusasukta which describes Purusa like the Bible (Veda Pusthakam) describes Yeshu Satsang (Jesus of Nazareth) and his sacrifice to bring you Moksha or Mukti (immortality).  Click here to understand how to receive cleansing from this sacrifice of Jesus.