Purusha Sukta – Translation by M. Sundarraj

This literal translation is from M. Sundarraj’s book “RG Vedic Studies” of 1997.

  1. Purusa has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet.  He pervades the whole earth and is even larger to the extent of ten fingers.
  2. Purusa is all this, and also all that will ever be.  He is the Lord of Immortality.  He grows larger still through food.
  3. This is the extent of Purusa’s greatness, and it is even more than this.  For all creatures are contained in only one fourth of him; the remaining three fourths is the immortal in heaven.
  4. Three fourths of him are, therefore, in the upper regions, and only one fourth has remained here on earth to pervade all things.  Whether they are such as live by eating or “do not eat”
  5. From him Viraj was born; and from Viraj Purusa emerged.  As soon as he came into being, he spread out over the earth towards the east and west.
  6. The gods prepared the sacrifice with Purusa as the sacrificial victim; spring, summer and autumn served respectively as ghee, fire wood and oblation in the sacrifice.
  7. Purusa was made ready for the sacrifice at the beginning by sprinkling water on him, and then the gods (devas), the sages and Sadhyas sacrificed him
  8. Everything was thrown into the sacrificial fire.  Then from it the fat flowed out as molten butter; from the butter, he formed the creatures of air, and animals, tame and wild.
  9. From that sacrifice into which everything had been thrown emerged the RG verses, the Sama hymns and the spells and charms.
  10. From it were born horses.  Other animals with two rows of teeth, cows, goats and sheep.
  11. Into how many parts was Purusa divided?  What were his mouth, his two arms, his thighs and feet called?
  12. His mouth, arms, thighs and feet became respectively Brahmin, the Ksatriaya, the Vaisya and the Sudra.
  13. The Moon emerged from his mind, the sun from his eyes, Indra and Agni from his mouth, and Vayu from his vital breath.
  14. The mid-air, the sky, the earth, and the quarters of the sky were all evolved respectively from his navel, head, two feet and the ear.  Thus was the world formed.
  15. When the gods offered Purusa in the sacrifice, they placed seven sticks and bound him with thrice-seven fuel sticks.
  16. With sacrifice the gods (devas) sacrificed to the sacrifice.  These were the first dharma rules.  Mighty powers spread out thereby, upto the highest points of the sky where the Sadhyas, the gods of ancient times, have their dwellings.