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Purusha Suktam

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Published on Aug 4, 2009

Purusha sukta/sookta (puruṣa sūkta) is hymn 10.90 of the Rigveda, dedicated to the Purusha, the transcendental "cosmic primordial man". As per one version, the Suktam has 16 verses, 15 in the anuṣṭubh meter, and the final one in the triṣṭubh meter. While, the other version of the Suktam consists of 24 verses with the first 18 mantras designated as the Purva-narayana, and the later portion termed as the Uttara-narayana. A rarely used version of the Suktam has additional 6 verses appended to the end, which portion is termed as theVaishnava-anuvaka since it has been adopted from the Vishnusukta, a composition of the Rigveda Samhita. The verses of the Uttara-narayana and the Vaishnava-anuvaka do not possess any coherence with the original 16 verses of the Rigveda Samhita, the liereary and Vedic tradition has tied them together for reasons not yet known.

Purusha sukta/sookta is the only Rigvedic hymn dedicated to the Purusha, and thus, even though appearing in a late book of the Rigveda, the oldest attestation of the Purusha.[1]

As a creation hymn, the Suktam is monotheistic and pregnant with philosophical speculations. In its archaic mythological setting, the Suktam is in striking contrast to the famous creation account of Rigveda v.10.129-130.

In fact, the concept of Purusha pre-dates the cult-based ascriptions like Vaishnavite Sri Vishnu or the Shaivite Bhava. The Purusha was conceptualised as the primordial existence, transcending all Gods and even the creator. However, subsequently, in the cult-based Vaishnavite interpretation, the Purusha sukta was taken to identify Vishnu as the Supreme Being and to draw parallel to the Vishwa Rupa of the Lord Vishnu.

The Purusha sukta is found in all the four Vedas and is therefore mentioned in the Pancaratras and the Puranas as the most important Vedic hymn along with the Gayatri mantra, and it is regularly chanted in Hindu worship/Vedic rituals. Generally, the suktam is recited and the Purursha is invoked during idol installation ceremonies of Lord Vishnu.

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