सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात्।
स भूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वा अत्यतिष्ठद्दशाङ्गुलम्॥
sahasraśīrṣā puruṣaḥ sahasrākṣaḥ sahasrapāt |
sa bhūmiṁ viśvato vṛtvā atyatiṣṭhaddaśāṅgulam || (I.1)
Puruṣa has thousands of heads, thousands of eyes and thousands of feet. He is all pervasive in the universe. He transcends the universe by ten finger lengths (inches).
Innumerable heads, eyes and feet are referred with an understandable numeric thousand. In fact, it is infinity. Arjuna tells Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad Gītā (XI.16), “O! Lord of the universe! I see You endowed with numerous arms, bellies, mouths and eyes and having innumerable forms extended on all sides. I see neither Your beginning, nor middle not even your end, as You are in the form of universe.” There are two nāma-s (14 and 406) in Viṣṇu Sahasranāma addressing Viṣṇu as Puruṣa. Nāma 14 is explained like this, “The one who resides in a body. Pura means a fort. Body is compared to a fort. Nine openings in the body are the nine gates. Bhagavad Gita (V.13) says, ‘navadvāre pure’. The nine openings in the body are – pair of eyes, pair of ears, pair of nostrils, mouth, organs of procreation and excretion. Puruṣa refers to the individual Soul. Soul by remaining within the fort, rules the fort. Puruṣa is often used in Sāṃkhya philosophy and Bhagavad Gita is based on this. As per Sāṃkhya philosophy, the existence is based on twenty five principles or tattva-s, out of which Puruṣa is the foremost. Puruṣa is the conscious spirit which only acts a witness. They are passive and non-productive. There are number of such puruṣa-s, also known as souls. What is called as puruṣa in Sāṃkhya philosophy is known as ātman in Vedanta. The fact is whether we call it as ātman or puruṣa, it is the indispensable factor in creation of a life.” But Puruṣa referred Puruṣasūkta is Brahman. However, it is to be understood that there is no difference between Brahman and the individual soul. Both are the same.
By going by these interpretations, we can say that Puruṣa manifests in the form of all living and non-living beings and hence, He is called omnipresence. Again, the ten finger lengths is only a figurative expression like thousand heads, eyes and feet. He is encompassing the entire universe and thus He is above the universe by ten inches. There is another interpretation which says that daśāṅgulam refers to the seat of the soul, the heart.
Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (III.3) says, “All eyes are His eyes, all faces are His faces, all hands are His hands and all feet are His feet.”
This verse and the next verse are in Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (III.14 and 15). This verse is interpreted as “This Being has thousand heads, thousand eyes and thousand feet. He fills the universe both inside and outside and also He transcends it. He is in the heart, ten inches above the navel.” It is said that soul is placed ten inches above the navel in the centre of the chest (navel chakra and heart chakra). There is another interpretation also. It is said that the whole creation is ten fingers measure and these ten fingers represent five prāṇa-s, four components of antaḥkaraṇa and the soul.
According to Śaṃkarācārya, daśāṅgulam means anantam and apāram, which means infinite and limitless. There are many Scriptures like Pañcadaśī talk about daśāṅgulam. Pañcadaśī (II.57) says, “The Supreme Spirit, pervading the world on every side, yet extends ten fingers beyond it (universe).” This ten inch is like hallo of sun and moon or aura of human beings.
Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā (VIII.22), “Arjuna, that eternal Puruṣa, within whom all beings exist and by whom all this is pervaded, is attainable only through steadfast devotion.”
पुरुष एवेद# सर्वं यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यम् ।
उतामृतत्वस्येशानः यदन्नेनातिरोहति ॥
puruṣa eveda# sarvaṁ yadbhūtaṁ yacca bhavyam |
utāmṛtatvasyeśānaḥ yadannenātirohati || (I.2)
In case there is a square in this word, please read this word as एवेदं evedaṁ.
Whatever all this is, whatever has been in the past and whatever is going to be in future, all that is in fact is Puruṣa, who is also the Lord of immortality and of all what grows by food.
Past, present and future, all these come from Puruṣa. He also gives immortality. He is everything in this universe. He is the cause for the emergence of this world from nowhere and sustains this universe with food. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (VI.5) says, “trikālāt paraḥ” which means that Puruṣa is beyond the three times – past, present and future. Similarly, Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (II.v.14) says, “He is the ruler of all beings”. The same Upaniṣad (III.vii.15) talks about immortality and says, “He who inhabits all beings, but is within them whom no being knows, whose body is all beings and who controls all beings within (as Puruṣa) is the internal ruler (Puruṣa), your own immortal Self.” Thus, Vedic conveyances are always supported by Upaniṣad-s.
The verse says that the universe is annamaya (made or composed of food). Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.2) says, “All living beings come from food and are sustained by food and dissolve into food.” Thus, Puruṣa becomes the creator, maintainer and the dissolver, which goes to prove that Puruṣa described here is Brahman. Food that is vital for all the above three activities (birth, living and death) originate from Puruṣa only. Again Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.1) says, “From that Self (Puruṣa) came ākāśā, from ākāśā air, from air fire, from fire water and from water earth originated. From earth plants and herbs and from them, food and from food human beings have come forth.” Thus Puruṣa not only causes the emergence of this universe, but also sustains it with food and therefore, there is no difference between Puruṣa and Brahman.
Puruṣa is the Supreme Reality called Brahman and assumes of the world in order that sentient beings may enjoy the fruit of their acts, but this is not a true condition. Puruṣa which in its own state of inertness becomes the visible world or the universe in order to make these living beings to reap the fruits of their acts (karmas) and also attain liberation, in the absence of karmas. Thus, Puruṣa is the giver of immortality, which is subtly conveyed in this verse as annena (food).
Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā (XIII. 19 – 23) “Know that both Puruṣa and Prakṛti are beginningless. All modifications and qualities are due to Prakṛti. Prakṛti is the cause for the body and its senses, whereas, Puruṣa is the cause of experiencing happiness and unhappiness. Puruṣa by being seated in Prakṛti, experiences the three guṇa-s. Attachment to the three qualities is the deciding factor for being born in a good or evil womb. The Puruṣa in a body is the Brahman and is being spoken of as the witness, guide, the sustainer, the experiencer and the Supreme Self. He, who thus realizes Puruṣa and Prakṛti along with the three guṇa-s are liberated and not to be born again.”