Mathomathis would like to present an article on Purusha Sukta by author Zachary F. Lansdowne Ph.D (who served as President of the Theosophical Society in Boston, has been a frequent contributor to The Esoteric Quarterly. His book The Revelation of Saint John, which provides a verse-by-verse analysis of the entire Revelation, was reviewed in the Fall 2006 issue). The following article is a continuation from the previous article The Purusha Sukta | Planetary Logo | 101. Verses six through ten depict for us the effects of divine sacrifice on the various forms of life on our planet.
6. When the gods performed a sacrifice with the offering Purusha, spring was its clarified butter, summer the kindling, autumn the oblation. When the divinity hidden within the forms of life in the planet sought added life and illumination, the Planetary Logos sacrificed Himself by entering into those forms, thereby transforming their life cycles into evolutionary cycles. The above verse may seem complex because it depicts how the process of invocation and evocation affected the process of evolution. Invocation is the act of petitioning for help or support from a greater entity; evocation is the subsequent response of help. The earlier verses describe the evocation of added life and illumination from the Planetary Logos. The forms of life in our planet, however, must have invoked such help before the corresponding evocation could have occurred.
Bailey describes this process of invocation and evocation as follows: The basic sacrifice that the Planetary Logos made was when He decided to incarnate or enter into the form of this planet. This sacrifice was imperative in the fullest sense, owing to the ability of the Planetary Logos to identify Himself in full consciousness with the Soul in all forms of life, latent within the planetary substance. When He “took over” this task, He, esoterically, had no choice because the decision was inherent in His own nature. Because of this identification, He could not refuse the invocative appeal of the “seeds of life, striving within the substance of the form, and seeking added life and light,” as the Old Commentary puts it. This striving and reaching forth evoked His response and the going out of His divinity, as expressed in will, activated by “fixed determination” to meet the deeply hidden divinity within these seeds.
The last part of the verse is concerned with evolution. The three seasons—spring, summer, and autumn—represent the life-cycle of annual plants: their birth, life, and death. The verse mentions three elements of a sacrificial ritual: clarified butter, which brightens the sacrificial fire; kindling, which enables the fire to burn; and oblation, which is burned in the fire. Clarified butter, which is called “ghee” in India, is butter that has had the milk solids and water removed. The verse states that the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos transformed the three seasons into these elements. If the implicit fire in the verse is interpreted as symbolizing the evolutionary process, then the transformed seasons may be interpreted in the following way: spring represents the birth of a new form, which like ghee—reveals the glory of the evolutionary process; summer represents the discovery of the form’s limitations, which—like kindling—support the continuation of the evolutionary process; and autumn represents the death of the form, which—like an oblation—invokes a new and better form to take its place.
Consequently, the interpretation of the verse is as follows: “The gods” represent the divinity hidden within the forms of life in the planet. “The gods performed a sacrifice with the offering Purusha” means that the hidden divinity performed an invocation that evoked the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos. “Spring was its clarified butter, summer the kindling, autumn the oblation” means that the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos transformed the life cycles of the forms into evolutionary cycles. This interpretation is supported by Bailey’s discussion of cyclic evolution: “Cyclic evolution is entirely the result of the activity of matter, and of the Will or Spirit. It is produced by the interaction of active matter and molding Spirit … The active will, intelligently applied, of an Entity … affects all lesser lives in cyclic evolution within the Body of that particular actively willing Existence … No form is as yet perfect, and it is this fact that necessitates cyclic evolution and the continual production of forms until they approximate reality in fact and in deed.” Here the molding “Will or Spirit” is the will of the Planetary Logos, which the fourth verse depicts as flowing into the human and subhuman kingdoms.
7. It was Purusha, born in the beginning, which they sprinkled on the sacred grass as a sacrifice. With him the gods sacrificed, the demi-gods, and the seers. At the beginning of the current Manvantara, the Planetary Logos for our planet became a center within the vital body of the Solar Logos, transmitting streams of energy from the other Planetary Logo to the forms of life within the dense physical body of the Solar Logos. In Hinduism, a Manvantara is a very long duration of time. According to Blavatsky, “The full period of one Manvantara is… 308,448,000 years.” Bailey uses the term “Manvantara” to denote the “cycle of physical incarnation” of a Planetary Logos. So, in the above verse, “the beginning” refers to the beginning of the current Manvantara. In theosophy, the “Solar Logos” is the entity who expresses Himself through our solar system, just the Planetary Logos expresses Himself through our planet. The term “Grand Man of the Heavens” is a synonym for the Solar Logos, just as “Heavenly Man” is a synonym for the Planetary Logos. Moreover, the Solar Logos is the prototype for the Planetary Logos, just as the Planetary Logos is the prototype for human beings. Bailey says, “What is true of him [a human being] is true of his great prototype, the Heavenly Man, the Planetary Logos, and true again of the prototype of his prototype, the Grand Man of the Heavens, the Solar Logos.” Thus, we can make statements about the Solar Logos based on analogies with human beings.
The Solar Logos has both a vital body and a dense physical body, just as a human being has both. According to the Hindu Upanishads, human beings have seven major centers, called chakras in Sanskrit, within their vital body. By analogy, the Solar Logos also has seven major centers within His vital body. In the above verse, three clues indicate that the Planetary Logos has become one of those centers. First, the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos takes place on “sacred grass.” Grass also appears as a symbol in Revelation 8:7, for which it has been interpreted as the human vital body be cause it resembles that body in the following way. According to the Upanishads, the human vital body consists of an extensive and intricate network of energy channels, which are called nadis in Sanskrit. A single nadi is a thin channel of force, so its form is similar to that of a blade of grass. The Upanishads consider this vital body to consist of many nadis but do not agree on the exact number of them; the number most often mentioned is 72,000. Similarly, a field of grass consists of many blades of grass. By analogy, a field of grass also resembles the vital body of the Solar Logos, so “sacred grass” in the verse is taken as symbolizing that body. Second, “they sprinkled” the Planetary Logos. Sundar expands Myers’s translation, given above, with the sentence, “Those achievers sprinkled him with holy water.”
In either translation, “sprinkled” is taken as depicting the transmission of streams of energy, which is a key function of a center within the vital body. Third, “with him the gods sacrificed, the demi-gods, and the seers.” Thus, the other participants in the sacrifice are as follows: “gods,” which could signify macrocosms, or large worlds, are taken as the vital and dense physical bodies of the Solar Logos; “demi-gods,” which could signify lesser macrocosms, are taken as the other Planetary Logo; and “seers,” which could signify beings with insight, are taken as the forms of life that invoked added life and illumination, as mentioned in the sixth verse. Consequently, we interpret the verse as saying that the Planetary Logos for our planet became a center within the vital body of the Solar Logos. This interpretation is supported by Bailey’s statement, “The bodies of the seven Heavenly Men are the etheric centers for a Solar Logos,” where etheric is synonymous with vital.
8. From that sacrifice completely offered, the clotted butter was brought together. It made the beasts of the air, the forest and the village. As a result from the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos, the evolutionary changes occurred much more rapidly. This speedup enabled certain lives to pass relatively quickly through the three stages in the evolutionary process for animals and become human beings. The term “clotted butter” is a translation of the Sanskrit word prsadajya, which is “curdled or clotted butter, [or] ghee mixed with coagulated milk.” As in the sixth verse, ghee symbolizes the birth of a new evolutionary form. According to this association, ghee is spread out over the timeline, appearing whenever evolutionary change occurs. Thus, “the clotted butter was brought together” means that the evolutionary changes, which would have been spread out over a comparatively long timeline, were brought together over a relatively short timeline. In other words, those changes occurred much more rapidly. Bailey describes three stages in the evolutionary process for the animal kingdom: “First, the higher animals and the domestic animals, such as the dog, the horse and the elephant. Secondly, the so-called wild animals, such as the lion, the tiger, and the other carnivorous and dangerous wild animals. Thirdly, the mass of lesser animals.” In the above verse, we take the animals of the air, forest, and village as representing Bailey’s three stages of animal evolution, but in their correct temporal sequence.
By mentioning all three stages and indicating that the duration of those stages had been significantly compressed, the verse suggests that some lives completed their evolution as animals and so became human beings. This interpretation is supported by Bailey’s historical account: “Left to himself for long eons, animal man would have eventually progressed out of the animal kingdom into the human and would have become a self conscious, functioning, rational entity, but how slow the process would have been … The decision of the Planetary Logos to take a physical vehicle produced an extraordinary stimulation in the evolutionary process; and, by His incarnation and the methods of force distribution He employed, He brought about in a brief cycle of time what would otherwise have been inconceivably slow. The germ of mind in animal man was stimulated … The fourth, or human kingdom, came thus into being; and the self conscious or rational unit, man, began his career.” The above quotation refers to the human kingdom as the “fourth” kingdom of nature. In this enumeration, the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms are counted as the first, second, and third kingdoms, respectively, and the spiritual kingdom as the fifth kingdom.
9. From that sacrifice completely offered, the mantras [Rig Veda] and the songs [Samaveda] were born. The meters were born from it. The sacrificial formulae [Yajurveda] were born from it. As another result from the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos, the spiritual kingdom appeared and inspired human beings to write sacred scriptures containing mantras, songs, rhythmic patterns, and transformational techniques. According to Bailey, the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos led to the founding of the spiritual kingdom for our planet: “Approximately eighteen million years ago occurred a great event that signified, among other things, the following developments: The Planetary Logos of our Earth scheme, one of the Seven Spirits before the throne, took physical incarnation … [With Him] came a group of other highly evolved Entities … to form focal points of planetary force for the helping of the great plan for the self-conscious unfoldment of all life. Their places have gradually been filled by the sons of men as they qualify, though this includes very few, until lately, from our immediate Earth humanity.” Bailey also says, “The main technique of the Hierarchy is that of conveying inspiration.” Thus, after being founded by the Planetary Logos, the spiritual kingdom, or Hierarchy, inspired human beings to write sacred scriptures, such as the Rig Veda. The Sanskrit word mantra, mentioned in the above verse, denotes a word or phrase of spiritual significance and power. Each verse in the Rig Veda is said to be a mantra, because it is thought to carry the truth and creative power that can lead to spiritual realization. A meter, also mentioned in the verse, is the rhythmic pattern of a stanza in a poem. The earliest known metrical texts are the hymns in the Rig Veda, which are written in a variety of meters. In the Purusha Sukta, the first fifteen verses are composed in the same meter and the final verse in another meter.
10. From it the horses were born and all that have cutting teeth in both jaws. The cows were born from it, also. From it were born goats and sheep. As yet another result from the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos, human beings produced farm animals through the training and selective breeding of wild animals. Selective breeding of animals is the process by which a breeder develops a cultivated breed over time, while selecting qualities within individuals of the breed that are passed on to the next generation. Scientific evidence shows that selective breeding, rather than mutation or natural selection, best explains how domestication of animals typically proceeded. Livestock or farm animals are animals that have been domesticated for food or work. In the above verse, “it” refers to the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos, all of the mentioned animals are farm animals, and the word “born” is a translation of the Sanskrit word that could also mean “made” or “produced.” Consequently, this verse is taken as saying that the sacrifice of the Planetary Logos led to the production of farm animals through the training and selective breeding of wild animals.
Bailey makes a similar statement: “The true and intelligent training of the wild animals and their adaptation to the conditions of ordered living are part of the divine process of integrating the Plan and of producing an ordered and harmonious expression of the divine intent.” Here, “adaptation” is taken as selective breeding, “the Plan” as a manifestation of the intelligence of the Planetary Logos (mentioned in the fourth verse), and “the divine intent” as the will of the Planetary Logos (also mentioned in the fourth verse).
As shown by earlier verses, the Purusha Sukta emphasizes the role of inner design; but this inner design does not imply a single Designer, such as a personal God who creates the design. Blavatsky explains the last point: “The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards… The whole Cosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who … are ‘messengers’ in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws.” So, for example, the Planetary Logos is guided by the Solar Logos (seventh verse); the spiritual kingdom is guided by the Planetary Logos (second verse); the human kingdom is guided by the spiritual kingdom (ninth verse); and the animal kingdom is guided by the human kingdom (tenth verse).