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.

About me: The wisdom I learned from a filthy-rich playboy … & an ascetic holy man

Hi! This is me in beautiful Canadian summer

Hi! This is me in beautiful Canadian summer

First the basic info stuff… I live in Canada. I am married and we have a son. I studied at University of Toronto, University of New Brunswick and Acadia University.

I grew up in an upper middle-class professional family. Originally from Sweden, we immigrated to Canada when I was young, and then I came of age while living abroad in several countries – Algeria, Germany and Cameroon, and finally returning to Canada for university. My mother had been born in India and grew up there. She speaks Hindi quite fluently. As I grew up, at times she would tell me about the various Hindu gods and goddesses and show me pictures of them that she had collected in her book of mementos. So as I grew up in the West, and then also in a Muslim country, I was also exposed in a familial way to Hinduism. And through it all, like everyone else I wanted (and still want) to experience a full life – one that is characterized by contentment, a sense of peace, and of meaning and purpose – along with a connectedness to other people.

Living in these diverse societies – of various religions as well as very secular ones – and being a voracious reader, I was exposed to different views as to what is ultimately ‘true’ and what it took to get a full life. What I observed was that though I (and most in the West) had unprecedented wealth, technology and opportunity to achieve these goals, the paradox of our time was that they seemed so elusive. I noticed that relationships are more disposable and temporary than that of previous generations. Terms like ‘rat race’ was used to describe our lives. I heard that if we can get just ‘a little bit more’ then we would arrive. But how much more? And more of what? Money? Scientific knowledge? Technology? Pleasure?

As a young person I felt angst probably best described as a vague restlessness. Since my father was an expatriate consulting engineer in Africa, I hung out with other wealthy, privileged and educated western teenagers. But life there was quite simple with few outlets to amuse us. So my friends and I dreamed about the days we could return to our home countries and enjoy TV, good food, opportunities, and the ease of western living – and then we would be ‘satisfied’. Yet when I would visit Canada or Europe, after the first bit of euphoria the restlessness would return. And worse, I also noticed it in the people who lived there all the time. Whatever they had (and they had a lot by any standard) there was always need for more. I thought I would find ‘it’ when I had a popular girlfriend. And for a while this seemed to fill something within me, but after a few months restlessness would return. I thought when I got out of high school then I would ‘arrive’… then it was when I could get a driver’s license and gain mobility – then my search would be over. Now that I am older I hear people speaking of retirement as the ticket to satisfaction. Is that it? Do we spend our whole lives chasing one thing after the other, thinking the next thing around the corner will give it to us, and then … our lives are over? It seems so futile!

The Wisdom of Solomon

During these years, because of this inescapable restlessness that I saw in me and around me, the writings of Solomon made a deep impact on me. Solomon, a king of ancient Israel famous for his wisdom, wrote several books in the Old Testament of the Bible (Veda Pusthakam) around 950 BC. In the book Ecclesiastes, he described this same inexorable sense of restlessness that I was experiencing. He wrote:

“I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ …I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone … before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone … before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me….I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-10)

Riches, fame, knowledge, projects, women, pleasure, kingdom, career, wine… Solomon had it all – and more of it than anyone else of his day or ours. The smarts of an Einstein, the riches of a Bill Gates, the social/sexual life of a Mick Jagger, along with a royal pedigree like that of Prince William in the British Royal family – all rolled into one. Who could beat that combination? You would think he, of all people would have been satisfied. But he concluded:

“’Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’ … I … devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1-14)

“…when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun… So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.… This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?… This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11-23)

Hardly optimistic! In one of his poems, Song of Songs, he records an erotic, red-hot love affair that he was having – the very thing that seems most likely to provide life-long satisfaction. But in the end, the love affair did not give him sustained satisfaction as we know from Ecclesiastes.  The promise of pleasure, wealth, work, progress, romantic love to ultimately satisfy was shown by him to be an illusion.

Now wherever I looked around me, either among my friends or in society, it seemed like Solomon’s pursuits for a full life were the ones everywhere being offered and tried. But he had already told me that he had not been able to find it on those paths. So I sensed that I would not find it there and would need to look on a road less traveled.

Along with all these issues I was bothered by another aspect of life. It troubled Solomon as well.

Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.  All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21)

All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. … they join the dead.  Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!  For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. (Ecclesiastes 9:2-5)

The ancient writings of Solomon struck a cord within me and caused me to search for answers. Questions about life, death, immortality, and meaning percolated within me. In my senior year of high school we were given an assignment to collect one hundred pieces of literature (poems, songs, short stories etc.) into an anthology. Most of my anthology dealt with these issues and it allowed me to ‘meet’ and hear many others who also wrestled with these same questions. And meet them I did – from all sorts of eras, educational backgrounds, lifestyle philosophies, religions and genres. There was Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones, Time by Pink Floyd, and Ozymandius by Shelley, Samuel Coleridge, W.H. Auden, Shakespeare, Frost, and so on.

The Wisdom of Guru Sai Baba

When I was an engineering student, one of my professors was a devotee of the Bangalore-based guru Sai Baba and lent me several of his books, which I read with great eagerness. As I read his precepts I found that my moral conscience in me could only agree with his moral teaching. Here are some excerpts from his books that I copied down for myself.

“And what is dharma? Practicing what you preach, doing as you say it has to be done, keeping precept and practice in line. Earn virtuously, yearn piously; live in fear of God, live for reaching God: that is dharma”  Sathya Sai Speaks 4, p. 339

“What exactly is your duty?…

  • First tend your parents with love and reverence and gratitude.
  • Second, speak the truth and act virtuously.
  • Third, whenever you have a few moments to spare, repeat the name of the Lord with the form in your mind.
  • Fourth, never indulge in talking ill of others or try to discover faults in others.
  • And finally, do not cause pain to others in any form”  Sathya Sai Speaks 4, pp.348-349

“Whoever subdues his egoism, conquers his selfish desires, destroys his bestial feelings and impulses, and gives up the natural tendency to regard the body as self, he is surely on the path of dharma”  Dharma Vahini, p.4

When I studied Sai Baba’s writings I did so in two ways. In the first way I studied them to see if what this Hindu holy man taught was actually good. Did I agree with him that what he said was good and true, really was in fact good and true?  And I recognized that what he taught in these precepts was good, really good. These were teachings I should live by. I invite you also to study these teachings to see if you should live by precepts as these.

But that is where I came across a big problem. And the problem was not in the precepts, but rather was in me. Because as I tried applying them, no matter how hard I admired these teachings and would strive to live by them, I found I could not consistently do them. I was continually falling short of these good ideals.

It seemed like I had two paths to choose from. The path embodied by Solomon, so commonly pursued all over the world, was to live for self, creating whatever meaning, pleasure or ideals that I would chose to pursue. But I knew the end was not good for Solomon – nor for the many I had watched in life who walked down that path. The satisfaction was temporary and illusion.  But the path embodied by Sai Baba was impossible, perhaps not for a guru like him, but impossible for a ‘normal’ person like me.  Continually striving to keep these ideals that I could not attain was not freedom – it was slavery.

The Gospel – Ready to Consider it

In my reading and searching I had read the discourses and teachings by Jesus as recorded in the Biblical gospels (Veda Pusthakam). Statements from Jesus like the following stuck with me

“… I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

It grew on me that maybe, just maybe, here was an answer that perhaps addressed the dead-ends of the other paths. After all, gospel (which to me had just been a more-or-less meaningless religious word) literally meant ‘good news’. Was the Gospel really good news? Or was it more-or-less hearsay? To answer that I knew I needed to journey down two roads. First, I needed to start to develop an informed understanding of the Gospel. Second, I had lived in different religious cultures, had met people and read authors who had many objections to, and held ideas in opposition to, the Biblical Gospel. These were informed and intelligent people. I needed to develop a sound basis for belief – regarding the Gospel as well as other doctrines – and test these beliefs. I needed to think critically about the Gospel, without just being a mindless critic.

There is a very real sense that when one embarks on this kind of journey one never totally arrives, but I did learn that the Gospel does provide answers to these issues. Its whole point actually is to address them – a full life, death, eternity, and practical concerns like love in our family relationships, guilt, fear and forgiveness. The Gospel’s claim is that it is a foundation that we can build our lives upon. One may not necessarily like the answers provided by the Gospel, one may not agree with them or believe them, but given that it addresses these very human questions it would be foolish to remain uninformed of them.

I also learned that the Gospel at times made me quite uncomfortable. In a time when so much beguiles us to just live Comfortably Numb the Gospel unapologetically challenged my heart, mind, soul and strength that, though it offers Life, it did not offer an easy one. If you do take time to Consider the Gospel you may find the same.

Since I began my journey in following the Gospel, I have had the privilege to work and travel across India and even visit Nepal.  My forest engineering took me to many places, with different co-workers.  In this context I was able to have conversations and gain further insight into how the gospel is relevant, true and meaningful in a vedic context.  I hope you will find the same as you Consider the Gospel.