This article is about the Puranic concept of Purusha. For Vedic concept of Purusha in Purusha sukta, see Purusha_sukta#Purusha. For Purusha program associated with the Transcendental Meditation Movement, see TM organizations#Purusha and Mother Divine programs.

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In some lineages of Hinduism, Purusha (Sanskrit puruṣa, पुरुष "man, cosmic man", in Sutra literature also called puṃs "man") is the "Self" which pervades the universe.[1] The Vedic divinities are interpretations of the many facets of Purusha. According to the Rigvedic Purusha sukta, Purusha was dismembered by the devas—his mind is the Moon, his eyes are the Sun, and his breath is the wind.

In the Rigveda, Purusha is described as a primeval giant that is sacrificed by the gods (see Purushamedha) and from whose body the world and the varnas (classes) are built. He is described as having a thousand heads and a thousand feet. He emanated Viraj, the female creative principle, from which he is reborn in turn after the world was made out of his parts.

Bhagavata Purana describes that Purusha is the first form of Supreme Lord Narayana[2] and this Purusha is the source of everything in the universe. The Purusha in the title of Purusha Sukta refers to the Parama Purusha, Purushottama, Vedic Supreme God Narayana, in his form as the Viraat Purusha (Enormously Huge Being). It describes this form of his as having countless heads, eyes and legs manifested everywhere, and beyond the scope of any limited method of comprehension. All creation is but a fourth part of him. The rest is unmanifested. He is the source of all creation. Purusha along with Prakrti creates the necessary tattvas for the creation of universe.

The parallel to Norse Ymir is often[3] considered to reflect the myth's origin in Proto-Indo-European religion.[4]


Rishi Angiras of the Atmopanishad belonging to the Atharvaveda explains that Purusha, the dweller in the body, is three-fold: the Bahyatman (the Outer-Atman) which is born and dies; the Antaratman (the Inner-Atman) which comprehends the whole range of material phenomena, gross and subtle, with which the Jiva concerns himself, and the Paramatman which is all-pervading, unthinkable, indescribable, purifies the unclean, is without action and has no Samskaras.[5]

The Vedanta Sutras state janmādy asya yatah, meaning that 'The Absolute Truth is that from which everything else emanates' Bhagavata Purana [S.1.1.1]. This Absolute Truth, which is personal in nature, is Purusha personified.

In Samkhya, a school of Hindu philosophy, Purusha is pure consciousness. It is thought to be our true identity, to be contrasted with Prakrti, or the material world, which contains all of our organs, senses, and intellectual faculties.

The word Purusha is one of the names of Shiva, who is known as the Pure Purusha (in this sense, a purusha is a person who follows the law of gratitude). According to the Hindu mantra "Tat purushay vid mahe, Mahadevay dhee mahee. Tanno rudrah prachodyat", a purusha is a person (Mahadev) having purushartha (nature of giving).

In the Ramayana, Rama is called the "Maryada Purushottama", the greatest among purushas who follow the law of gratitude without breaking any kind of Maryada (limitation) like the limitations of a normal person. Lord Rama did not perform any magical event and explained how a normal person can fight against evils and win.

As being "Maryada Purushottam" in the Ramayana lord Vishnu could not satisfy a lot of persons like various ladies (which had desire to marry him) and Jamvanta (a great fighter, which had desire to fight with a person who could defeat him) because it was against the "Maryada", he took his next birth as being lord Krishna, satisfied all of them and at last was known as "Purushottam" (Greatest person).

Varna system

Main article: Purusha sukta

Varna refers to the Hindu belief that human beings were created from different parts of the body of the divinity Purusha.

See also


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