Mystic Passages – 3: Purusha Suktam (stanza 2 – Glory of Puruṣa)

Let us continue from we left off in the last article.


Puruṣa yē vēdaǵṃ sarvaṃ 

ya dbhūtaṃ yaccha bhavyaṃ /

utāmṛtatva syēśānah 

ya dannē nātirōhati //


All that is being known, all that is being surpassed by the food, all that has been and all that will be, is PURUSHA.


First stanza started to give a clue to us as to how to meditate Puruṣa. It suggested us to resonate with the concept that the multitudinous names and forms of this creation, which comes into existence by his exhalation and recedes into HE, the background, as his inhalation, as his different heads, eyes and limbs – the set of three that we spoke of. In this stanza, they are making our course of thought process more precise.

If someone asks the seer “Who is Puruṣa actually, the subject of this hymn?” then the seer can not directly answer, but has to point the inquirer in right direction to search. The inability to answer is not a weakness of the seer, but the pledge of secrecy that is maintained by NATURE by its limitation of expression through words and symbols. Can anyone explain me the taste of sugar, if I decide not to keep it on my tongue? If we are unable to express the taste of every day sugar, what of the PURUṢA that the seer realized after so much search? So, the solution is a set of pointers that can guide us. The images and similes in scriptures serve the same purpose. But it is up to us, as to how we sink in those pointers and search for HIM.

Puruṣa yē vēdaǵṃ sarvaṃ

It is being said that Puruṣa is all that we know – Vēdam. What is Vēda? In one of my earlier articles I mentioned Vēda comes from the root “Vid – Wisdom”. If “sugar is sweet” is Knowledge or Jñānaṃ, the “Sweetness of sugar experienced by us” is the Wisdom or Vēda. So, what is that we know in this world of any object or any person? Let us go step by step:

  • Say, I see my friend A. He is a combination of body with life.
  • His life has a characteristic personality which we know as “our friend”.
  • His body too has a peculiar recognizing features through which we realize our friend.
  • But, what is that actually that shines forth in the body and life? — Take each of this separately:
    • Body: His body is made of atoms and atoms are certain modes of Energy, space and time. And what is Energy, space or time? — we don’t know. We use them – but we don’t know what they are per se! If we knew, then we define them with some more set of definitions and each definition will have “the object of definition” and this cycle of questioning “What” repeats itself infinitely. So, at the end, we “DO not KNOW” what the body actually is.
    • Life: His personality as we perceive is characterized by qualities – the way he reacts, the way of his mannerisms, etc. But what are they actually? Let us say he smiles. What is a smile? — so on and so forth

Thus, what ever we know in this universe – as planets, starts, friends, foes, animals, plants, etc., are all actually “Un-Knowable” to us. yet we live and interact and form our course of life. How? This is where Puruṣa comes in. The seers are saying that all the apparently un-knowable aspect that exists as core of every thing and everyone is PURUṢA. Then why are we unable to know? Be cause, it is not Knowable — It is not Knowledge/Jñānaṃ that helps us here. It is the “WISDOM” or “VĒDA” that comes to our rescue. So, instead o trying to know, we need to try to realize the core of everything and everyone and we will be able to uncover this PURUṢA.

ya dbhūtaṃ yaccha bhavyaṃ:

The same concept is applied to time now. What is past, present and future? This is more mysterious than our spatial perception. Present is so minute that it can never be pin-pointed, for there always a small element of time than ‘dt’ that we can associate with. Then, when does present come and go? It is this “moment”, but wait, its gone and to where? Past. But where is past? In mind or where? The whole problem of “knowing” time is useless, just as above because HE, the Puruṣa is the content of it and unless we discover him, we can’t understand what time actually is. So it is said that HE is the content of past and future who expresses himself to us every moment as PRESENT, but we often miss him due to our inability to hold on to the “sense of present”.

utāmṛtatva syēśānah:

As he is the lord and content of Space and time, he is beyond them as well. That is is why he is being praised as the immortal one in this line and the lord of immortality. What is immortal? What is Amṛta? That which changes dies. It dies in its present state and takes a re-birth into its would-be state. Sun dies every night and is reborn every morning, as we see from Earth’s reference frame. In fact time too dies and the space too dies. How? We defined death as “change” and everything changes. So, everything dies and re-born in a different state or configuration. But there must be some background in which all these changes occur. A background reference with which we are able to say “so and so change occurred”. This constant reference background is called Puruṣa and hence he is IMMORTAL or is beyond changes. Though he is content of those that change, he is unchangeable.

ya dannē nātirōhati:

Until now, we have seen how Puruṣa is filled within and without of every aspect that exists in this creation.  The last line says that ” Puruṣa multiplicates by food and surpasses the food”. What is food? Well, “Annaṃ” is often translated as food. With that definition, every living being multiplicates by consuming other living beings. Who is the content of these beings? Puruṣa. What do they eat? Puruṣa. So, Puruṣa eats Puruṣa and multiplicates Puruṣa and yet surpasses the many Puruṣās thus created. How? From an ocean many a iceberg emerge. But ocean always surpasses these icebergs. Many icebergs are but made from ocean, and yet are constrained by ocean. Similar analogy is to be taken here.

But, Annaṃ also means “Annamaya Kōśa” or the physical plane of existence. So, the line suggests that he is beyond the physical plane of existence, which we often deal with and hence Puruṣa is a non-physical entity, thus being beyond the physical (atirōhati – surpass).


So, Puruṣa is “That Person – Being” who is what we call the past, the present, the future, the matter around and the beings around, and yet who is beyond all of them.

Side Notes:

  • It may seem paradoxical – the statements like Puruṣa is filled in the matter and yet is beyond, etc. But, if we think deeply, this paradox goes away. For example, think of space and a house in it. Space exists in the house. It exists through the walls and every part of the house. It even surrounds it. Is there a point in the house where space doe snot exist? NO! Even the atom or its sub-particle/wave exists in and contained by SPACE. If space itself has this property, doe snot the Puruṣa who is content of SPACE?
  • The first stanza points of his vivid expressions and the second his role in manifested and the un-manifested. These are guiding points for meditation and not to sit and analyze. Analysis gives us more thoughts and he is beyond thoughts, so we can not catch him. But if we meditate, i.e., we become one with the thoughts explored here, we will glimpse his brilliance as our own emanation. This is secret of Oral tradition – We need to utter this hymn, listen to it and meditate on the meaning behind. This triangle is necessary for proper understanding of Puruṣa.


    1. Hi, unfortunately I can not do that. Sorry. The way of utterance needs to be through mouth of a guru and ear of a disciple. The Guru, Sishya and the teaching is one of the basic triangles that can not be broken. I will give you link of Master E.K’s utterances and some other utterances if you may wish to hear the way of it. Because it appears in all the three vedās, its intonation changes from vēda to Vēda.


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