Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Creation and Caste in Purusha Suktham.

Previous article:-

Can Jesus ever be the Purusha of Purusha Suktha?


Purusha sUkhtam is presented in a specific sequence, starting from macro cosmic creation and Purusha's omnipresence in everything to how this manifestation must be sustained by yajnas as root of Dharma so that Glory is attained.

A deeper analysis of the Suktham would reveal some valuable clues to understand what Creation means. Creation is not simply about the formation and expansion of the material Universe that we see. The current thinking on Creation and material Universe is that matter expands and consciousness enters into that giving life to that. It is not so. The basal factor that exists is Consciousness which is called Purusha. It springs up into different forms with specific faculties attached to them.

The best way to understand is to compare this with formation of a child.

How does the child come into being?

Is it the physical body or the life (consciousness) that comes first?

What gives the shape and form and faculties to the child in the making (in the womb)?

Is it the consciousness (life or athman or soul) that gives shape to the body or the body gets a shape of its own and the soul enters it?

If we ask these questions, we will come to a realisation that it is the soul that gives the shape to the child. Even though the formation of organs is programmed and is almost mechanical in development, how a child gets the organs and its functions is determined by the soul and not by the physical components themselves. To explain this better, let us imagine that a couple get a number of children. Though the basic components come from the same parents, no two children are the same. They differ in appearance and in faculties. The physical features are not the same. The mental capabilities also are not the same for all the children of the same parents. One of them may have the eye, but may be born blind. One of them may have the ears but may be born deaf. How does this happen, unless such a deficiency is determined by the Prarabhda karma that the soul carries along from previous births?

It is the prarabhda karma (the result of one's past actions that must be manifest in the current birth ) that makes one have vision or lose vision, have hearing sense or be born deaf and so on. How such a deficiency (or efficiency) gets manifest in the developing stage inside womb is determined by the soul or the consciousness that has pervaded the foetus. That soul is the purusha of the foetus. In other words, the soul or consciousness or Purusha is the determinant of the kind of physical shape and the mental faculty of anything or any manifestation in this Universe.

This means when we say that a Big bang happened triggering a chain reaction that led to creation of the material universe, what triggered that Big bang or what shape and faculties that the created material came to possess were all determined by the Purusha or the Soul or the Energy that is inseparable from the materials and also the basic substratum for all of them.  Without acknowledging the omni presence of this Purusha or the Consciousness, the mystery of why of creation cannot be solved.

The 1000 headedness of the Purusha in the first verse of Purusha suktham depicts the nature of Purusha as the substratum and the pervading one as well in anything and everything that unfolds of this Purusha.

In the process it (Purusha and therefore the created ones) manifests itself in accordance with the faculties. When its power of speech and wisdom is manifest, it is called Brahmin. When its power of courage and physical strength is manifest, it is called Kshatriya. When its power of economic sense is manifest, it is called as Vaisya. And when its power of workmanship is manifest, it is called Shudra.  These four are the basic faculties without which a society cannot flourish. Like how a man requires the 5 faculties, connected to vital organs in his body, for his well being, a society requires these four faculties for its sustenance. Everyman will have one of these four manifest in good amount and in tangible way within himself. (This concept is found expressed in Tholkaappiyam and Thirukkural also where it is further developed as Kulam versus Kudi. The above 4 faculties which are generally known as Varna are identified as Kulam. Within a Kulam, people exist with various levels of the faculty that ultimately makes them pursue works of different nature. People following a specific work of this kind form a Kudi. Work determines Kudi whereas mental faculty determines Kulam or varna.)

One of the inferences of Purusha being manifest as Brahmin Kshatriya etc, is that every man, be a Brahmin, or a Kshatriya or a Vaisya or a Shudra -  has Purusha residing within himself. In other words a Brahmin or a Kshatriya or a Vasiya or Shudra is Purusha Himself manifest with specific faculties. There is nothing casteist about the verse implying this. The verse only describes the way Purusha is manifest.

The verse indicating this is highly misinterpreted, only after the Westerner tired to give their versions from their limited understanding of Hindu texts.

That verse is as follows:

brAhmaNo asya mukhamAseet | bAhoo rAjanya: krta: |

ooru tadasya yad vaishya | padbhyAm shoodro ajAyata || 12 ||

(asya) His (mukham) mouth (Aseet) became (brAhmaNa:)
the Brahmin, (bAhoo) his arms (krta:) were made (rAjanya:)
Kings. (yad) what were(asya ooru) his thighs, (tad) they were
made into (vaishya:) the merchants, (padbhyAm) and from his feet
(shoodro) were the servants (ajAyata) born.

The association of Shudras with the feet of Purusha was interpreted as castiest by the British writers who called it a mode of subjugation employed by 'Brahmanised' locals. They said that Brahmins were the Aryans who came to colonise India and used the caste tool to subjugate the locals. At the same time they could not accept that this verse was given by the 'Aryans" because according to them, Aryans came from their stock in a remote past. So they said that this verse was an interpolation done by later day Brahmins having superiority complex (page 548 of the Census Report of 1901)

If that is true, there is no need to say in verse 14, that the earth was born from the feet of the Purusha. It runs like this:-

nAbhyA Aseedantariksham | sheerSHNau dhyau: samavartata |
padbhyAm bhoomir disha: shrotrAt | tathA lokAm akalpayan || 14 ||

(nAbhyA) from his navel (Aseed) did appear (antarisham)
space. (sheerSHNa:) From his head was (dhyau:) the sky
(sam-avartat) well established. (padbhyAm) From his feet
(bhoomi) the earth (shrotrAt) from his ears (disha:) the directions
(tathA) This did they (akalpayan) by mere intent, that is sankalpa,
cause (lokAn) the worlds.

This verse of the Purusha suktha says that the earth is born of the feet of Purusha. The same Purusha suktha says a couple of verses before that the Shudra was formed from the feet of Purusha!

If the Earth is born from the feet of Purusha.

And  Shudra is born from the feet of Purusha

It means that the Earth and the Shudra are the same!

This is what we can infer!

By this equation, it is shown that Purusha is deeply rooted in the earth. Everyone born in the earth is a Shudra. Only when he or she realises that the Purusha is the causative for them and the earth as well and understands that he or she has to surrender at the feet of Purusha, he or she can realise the presence of Purusha within oneself. That is why it is said that everyone is born as shudra. By striving to know about Brahman (which is Purusha Himself) one can become a Brahmin or a kshatriya or a Vaisya.

There was a time when all the people of Bharatha varsha were elevated from Shudra-hood and came under the first three varnas. A verse in Satapatha Brahmana and Taittriya Brahmana mention that only the first 3 varnas were manifest of Purusha in creation.

While Satapatha Brahmana says that the three varnas sprang from Bhu, Bhuvah and Svah, Taittriya Brahmana says that Vaisyas came from Rig Veda, kshatriyas came from Yajur Veda and Brahmins came from Sama Veda. The relevant verses are quoted below:

Satapatha Brahmana says:-— "(Uttering), 'butgh', Prajapati generated this earth. (Uttering) 'bhuvah'
he generated the air, and (Utering) 'svah' he generated the sky. This universe is co-
extensive with these worlds. (The fire) is placed with the whole. Saying 'bhuh',
Prajapali generated the Brahman; saying 'bhuvah', he generated the Kshattra; (and
saying) 'svah', he generated the Vis.
The fire is placed with the whole. (Saying)
'bhuh', Prajapati generated himself; (saying) bhuvah', he generated offspring :
saying 'svah', he generated animals. This world is so much as self, offspring, and
animals. (The fire) is placed with the whole."


Taittirya Brahmana says :— "This entire (universe) has been created by Brahma. Men say that the Vaishya class was produced from ric verses. They say that the Yajur Veda is the womb from which the Kshattriya was born. The Sama Veda is the source from which the Brahmins sprang. This word the ancients declared to the ancients."


This means all the people of Bharath had some knowledge of Brahman and followed Vedic rituals. This also means that all the people must have worn the sacred thread and grown tuft as a mark of gaining some knowledge of Brahman. Even all those castes whichare clamouring to call themselves as backward or most backward had followed some Vedic ritual until a century ago.

Take a look at the photo of goldsmiths of Madras Presidency. They are seen wearing the sacred thread.