Locating Purusha (Vishnu) : Using Purusha Suktham (Rig Veda)
The 90th suktham of the tenth mandala of Rg Veda Samhita, is the puruSa sUktam. The Vajasaneyi Samhita of the Shukla Yajur Vedam, the Taittriya Aranyaka of the Krishna Yajur Vedam, the Sama Veda, and the Atharvana Veda, also contain the Purusha Suktham with slight variations.
Free Audio Online : http://www.vedamantram.com/audio/purusha.mp3 (with Yajur Veda Swara Chanting)
The Purusha Suktam is one of the Pancha Suktams of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya or tradition. The other four are the Narayana Suktam, Sri Suktam, Bhu Suktam, and the Nila Suktam. In South India, the Purusha Suktam, Vishnu Suktam, Sri Suktam, and Narayana Suktam are generally chanted together in paarayanam. The Sri Rudram, Purusha Suktam, Upanishads, the Gita, and the Vishnu Sahasra Naamam are also recommended for daily paarayanam – chanting. Since the Purusha Suktam is seen in all Vedas, it is cited as the essence of all Srutis by Veda Vyasa in the Mahabharata. Saunaka, Apastamba, and Bodhayana have also written concerning the use of the Purusha Suktam. (Source)
Starting from the first mantram of the puruSa sUktam, there are variations in translations provided by various sources.
sahasra s’IrSA puruSah | sahasrAkSah sahasrapAt |
sa bhUmim vis’vato vRtvA | atyatiSTat das’Angulam || 1 ||
The puruSa has thousands or infinite (sahasra) of heads (s’IrSA), thousands of eyes (AkSah) and thousands of feet (pAt). (See : Many eyes, many arms, many heads and many feet)
He, having encircled (vRtvA) the earth (BUmim) with the universe (vis’vato : from all sides) (See : Agne yam yagnyam adhvaram visvatah paribhurasi)
Stood beyond it at a distance of 10 thumb lengths. (This line is variously interpreted. Word by word given below.)
ati = beyond, atisTat = stood, dasa = 10, angula = inch, length of a thumb. See : The Harappan angulam | varnam
The Meaning :
The Purusa of infinite capabilities (intelligence, strength, skill etc), enveloped the earth with the universe (stars, galaxies.. etc) and stood beyond at about 10 inches’ (a foot approx), length.
Vishnu is beyond Dhruva (Polaris), the furthest observable star to the north along the earth’s axis, which makes tiny revolutions about the axis. That is where He stands.
The reference to 10 thumbs may have to do with angular measurements that can be made by hand. See Measuring distances in degrees in the sky using your hand.
10 thumbs would be 20 degrees.
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