वेदाहमेतं पुरुषं महान्तम् आदित्यवर्णं तमसस्तु पारे।
सर्वाणि रूपाणि विचित्य धीरः नामानि कृत्वाऽभिवदन् यदास्ते॥
vedāhametaṁ puruṣaṁ mahāntam ādityavarṇaṁ tamasastu pāre |
sarvāṇi rūpāṇi vicitya dhīraḥ nāmāni kṛtvā'bhivadan yadāste || (I.16)
(This rik and the next one are not in Rig Veda. By addition of these two verses, Puruṣasūkta has eighteen verses in Taittirīya Āraṇyaka, as against sixteen verses in Rig Veda. The first line of this verse is in Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad III.8)
I know this Puruṣa, who is intelligent (dhīra means intelligent, wise, skilful, clever, steady, constant, firm, resolute, brave, energetic, courageous, self-possessed, composed, calm, etc.) who is effulgent like the sun, who has created all shapes and forms, who sustains the universe, who transcends all attributes and is beyond darkness.
Kṛṣṇa explains the Nature of Puruṣa in Bhagavad Gītā (X. 19 – 22,) “Arjuna, I will tell you only the most important of My divine glories, as it is limitless. I am the universal Self seated in the hearts of all beings. I alone am the beginning, middle and end of all beings. I am Viṣṇu among the twelve sons of Aditi, I am the sun amongst luminaries, I am Marichi among the Maruts and I am the moon among the asterism. I am Sāma Veda amongst Vedas, I am Indra amongst gods, I am the mind amongst organs of perception, I am the consciousness amongst the living beings”
Chāndogya Upaniṣad (I.vi.6) answers this question that lingers in our minds. It says, “There is a deity in within the orbit of the sun, who is seen by the yogī-s. His whole body glitters like gold. He has a bright golden beard and golden hair.”
There are verses in Vedas comparing sun to Brahman. Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda Taittirīya Saṁhitā (III.iv.11.6-8) adores sun and these verses form part of Navagraha Sūkta. These verses go like this:
आ सत्येन रजसा वर्तमानः निवेशयन्नमृतं मर्त्यं च।
हिरण्ययेन सविता रथेन आ देवो याति भुवना विपश्यन्॥
ā satyena rajasā vartamānaḥ niveśayannamṛtaṁ martyaṁ ca |
hiraṇyayena savitā rathena ā devo yāti bhuvanā vipaśyan ||
This verse can be interpreted as follows. All Vedic verses have dual conveyances – gross and subtle. Gross is connected to rituals and subtle is connected to realization of the Self.
“He shines with the illumination of the Self within as well as illumination visible to our biological eyes. He pervades both earth plane and higher plane where gods and goddesses live. He moves around all these worlds in his gold chariot.”
Ṛg Veda (I.50.8) also says, “O! Self –radiant, through your divine spectrum of seven harnessed to your chariot, you guide all men.” Seven mentioned in this verse not only means VIBGYOR (seven colours associated with seven psychic chakras), but also seven upper worlds referred in Brahma Gāyatrīmantra (saptavyāhṛti sahita gāyatrī mantraḥ).
ॐ भूः ॐ भुवः ॐ सुवः ॐ महः ॐ जनः ॐ तपः ॐ सत्यं ॐ तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि॥ धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्॥ ॐ आपो ज्योति रसोऽमृतं ब्रह्म भूर्भुवःस्वरोम्॥
om bhūḥ om bhuvaḥ om suvaḥ om mahaḥ om janaḥ om tapaḥ om satyaṁ om tatsaviturvareṇyaṁ bhargo devasya dhīmahi || dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt || om āpo jyoti raso'mṛtaṁ brahma bhūrbhuvaḥsvarom ||
Therefore, Puruṣa is compared to the sun, but sun only forms miniscule of Puruṣa. Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.ii.15) explains this further. “In the presence of Brahman, the sun does not shine, nor do the moon and stars, nor does lightning, let alone this fire. When Brahman shines, everything follows. By Its light, all these are lighted.” Sun is drawn only as a comparison for the mundane human minds to understand and in no way, sun can be considered as Brahman or Puruṣa. But sun is worshiped as God in Āditya Hṛdaya.
धाता पुरस्ताद्यमुदाजहार शक्रः प्रविद्वान् प्रदिशश्चतस्रः।
तमेवं विद्वानमृत इह भवति नान्यः यन्था अयनाय विद्यते॥
dhātā purastādyamudājahāra śakraḥ pravidvān pradiśaścatasraḥ |
tamevaṁ vidvānamṛta iha bhavati nānyaḥ yanthā ayanāya vidyate || (I.17)
First Prajāpati revealed Puruṣa to the world. Then Indra realized Him in the four directions. The one who realizes Puruṣa will be liberated in this birth itself and there is no other way about it.
Viṣṇu Sahasranāma 69 is Prajāpati and is explained thus: Prajāpati means the Lord of all beings. Prajāpati is the creative aspect of the Brahman. Vedas use Prajāpati in a number of verses. To cite examples, Yajur Veda (II.i.2.1) says, “prajāpatiḥ prajā asṛjata jā asmāth sṛṣṭāḥ....... प्रजापतिः प्रजा असृजत जा अस्माथ् सृष्टाः......” Yajur Veda says that Prajāpati created successors. They, being created from him.....” Vedas use this word to mean the creative aspect of the Brahman. In another place (V.vii.10.1), the Veda says, that Prajāpati created fire. In yet another place (III.v.9.1), the Veda says, “all gods are Prajāpati”. Therefore Prajāpati refers to all the creative energies of the Brahman. Brahman does not create merely through His Free Will. He created the universe through different evolutionary processes that are now being studied as science and are being endlessly researched. The creation happens from subtle to gross and annihilation happens from gross to subtle.
Indra is the chief of gods and goddesses. Vedas talk more about Indra and Agni than any other gods. Mahendra means that Viṣṇu is far superior to Indra. Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva are superior to Indra. For a spiritually advanced person, names of gods do not matter to him. It is only the energy of the Brahman, which pervades the universe in the form of different gods and goddesses. For example, rain is not possible without Brahman. But water is worshipped as a god by name Varuṇa. Indra is the chief of gods like Varuṇa, Agni, etc.
Verses 16 and 17 reveal Puruṣa or Brahman to the world. As per Advaita philosophy, all that exists in this universe is nothing but Brahman. But we see them as different from Brahman because of congenital māyā. Bhagavad Gita (VII.25) says, “Veiled by My yogamāyā I am not manifest to all. Hence these ignorant men fail to recognise Me, the unborn and imperishable Supreme.” Yogamāyā is the divine potency by which the Brahman conceals Himself. The verse says that we have to go past this māyā to realize Brahman. Why we are not able to realize Him? Brahman is full of inexplicable and inexhaustible energy. Significant part of His energy is known as His illusionary aspect, which is referred as māyā. What is not seen is His reality and what is seen through His illusionary aspect is the worldly existence. His power of māyā is His very own undifferentiated power. For easier understanding, Brahman is divided into two aspects - nirguṇa Brahman and saguṇa Brahman. Nirguṇa Brahman is also known as kāraṇa Brahman or Brahman without attributes. Saguṇa Brahman is also known as kārya Brahman or Brahman with attributes. Saguṇa Brahman is the active part of nirguṇa Brahman, who is beyond human comprehension. Māyā is the mysterious power of saguṇa Brahman. Māyā is full of ignorance and it conceals and projects the Reality, known as the Brahman. Māyā is not something that is considered as evil. It is inherent in creation. Macro cosmic reflection of the Brahman is māyā. It is Brahman’s own power and can be removed only by spiritual knowledge and practice. This is confirmed by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad Gītā (VII.14), where He says “mama māyā duratyayā” which means ‘It is difficult to transcend my māyā’. By saying ‘my māyā’ Kṛṣṇa confirms that māyā is Brahman’s own power.
यज्ञेन यज्ञमयजन्त देवास्तानि धर्माणि प्रथमान्यासन्।
ते ह नाकं महिमानः सजन्तयत्र पूर्वे साध्याः सन्ति देवाः॥
yajñena yajñamayajanta devāstāni dharmāṇi prathamānyāsan |
te ha nākaṁ mahimānaḥ sajantayatra pūrve sādhyāḥ santi devāḥ || (I.18)
Sādhya means first gods or celestial beings and said to reside in the space between the earth and the sun. The mental sacrifice done by sādhya-s, sages and saints brought about rules and regulations for sustenance of the universe. Those with Supreme knowledge contemplate Puruṣa, realize Him and live in the place where sādhya-s live.
Thus, part I of Puruṣasūkta explains how Brahman can be attained after giving a brief about the origin of the universe.