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.

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.  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.