Sri Purusha Suktam
sahasra SIrshA purusha: | sahasrAksha: sahasrapAt | sa bhUmim vishvato vRtvA | atyatishTad daSAngulam || 1 ||
(sahasra) Thousands (SIrshA) of heads has (purusha:)
the great being. (sahasra) Thousands of (aksha) eyes has he,
(sahasra pAt) and thousands of legs. (sa) He (vRtvA)
manifests (bhUmim) the world. (atyatishTat) He stands
beyond (daSAngulam) the count of ten fingers.
The words ``purusha'' in its most literal sense means man. This is not a generic for human, but includes the masculine sense and principle of the world. In one way, it is interpreted as Narayana alone is purusha, and all the rest of prakriti, creation, is female. Purusha may also be split as pura + usha -- the dawn-light (usha) of the city of the body (pura). Or pu + rusha, one whose passions are refined. Or even puru + sha, filled with wisdom and happiness. Which purusha is referred to here?
Man - is a simple answer, with some merit for its arguments. Man was created first, and he is a creature that knows not its own glory, and he is sacrificed for the rest of creation -- a humbling thought for us.
However, theistic and mystic sources tend to interpret purusha as Parama Purusha, the Supreme Purusha, Purushottama, the best among purushas, Sriman Narayana. He is the source and the basis of all creation, he manifests himself in all of it. All creation is his body -- the vishvaroopa mahAkAya. He encompasses it.
So why does this Purusha have thousands of feet, hands, eyes? One must remember that large numbers, like a thousand, can refer to a fuzzy ``uncountable''. SAyaNAcArya interprets this as the Purusha manifesting himself in all that lives. And since all was created from his body, as we shall see, all heads are his heads, all eyes his eyes, all feet his feet.
And then we see that the Purusha extends beyond ten fingers. Rather limited that seems -- until we read sAyaNA again. The ten fingers here are the digits, the ten fingers of human hands. They are the basis of count, of all mathematics, of all the logic and science built on mathematics. However, they are all limited when it comes to analyzing purusha. He is transcendent, and beyond such limited understanding.
purusha evedaGM sarvam | yad bhUtam yac ca bhavyam | utAmRtatvasyeshAnaH | yad annenAtirohati || 2 ||
(purusha) purusha (eva) alone (idam sarvam) is all
of this, (yad bhUtam) that which was, (yac ca bhavyam) and
that which is too be. (uta) Moreover (amRtatvasya) of
immortality too (IshAna) is he alone Lord. (yad) That
which (annena) as food (atirohati) shows itself, that too is
Purusha is creation, this we know. In time, he is all that is, all that was, and all that is to be. Does he have an end, like death ? No. He is Lord of immortality, of the eternal that dies not (a-mRta).
Creation feeds on itself. It requires food to grow, to flourish. What is food but other life? Life feeds on life, be it plant, or animal life. This is why we say the world grows on food, the world is fill of food (annamayam jagat). All that is hidden in creation, and all that emerges, to show itself and be food, all this is purusha. He sustains creation as food.