Rewriting purusasukta.

In her column titled “Rewrite Purusa Sukta” Ms.Ghose, i believe, goes a step too far to present her case convincingly

Every upper caste child grows up with a mind’s eye image of the “achyut”, the “untouchable”, the “scheduled caste”. The imagined Untouchable is perpetually filthy just as the Brahmin is perpetually pure.

To begin with, in hindi the word for untouchable I belive is “achoot” and not “achyut”. Maybe the its just misspelt by the author. Achyut is a sanskrit word. Chyut in sanskrit can be roughly translated as fallible or destructible or perishable, and achyut means exactly the opposite. Word “Achyut” is used as a synonym for Krishna. I was an “upper caste” child, and I dont remember any image I had in mind for the “achoot”, as said by the author.

Today, many dalit writers argue that India will never be a modern society unless the Purusa-sukta of the Rig Veda is re-written.

The argument that by re-writing purushasukta indian society will change, is like arguing that by re-writing Old testament we can solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. This seems like an product of clouded thinking. Purushasukta as far as I know, is a brilliant poetry about the supreme personality. Whenever I have heard it, I have just wondered at the brilliance of the sages who wrote it.

I beleive the author is trying to bring out the dilemma the “contemporary dalit” to choose between shedding the image of “dalit-ness” and join the mainstream society or hold tight to the “dalit-ness” image and fight for more rights with that image. If the later is chosen, the mentioned progress to the “modern society” will undoubtedly be hampered.

ps: I remember couple of the beginning lines of purusha-sukta. It goes as follows

Sahasra-sheerisha purshaha, Sahasraaksha, sahasrapaad
Sa-bhoomim Vishwato vritwah, Athyathishta dasaangulam
Purusha-evedagum sarvam – yat bhootam ya-chcha bhavyam

Literal meaning translates as, Purusha is one with thousand heads, thousand eyes and thousand feet. He pervades Earth and universe and he extends 10 finger lengths beyond that also. He is everywhere, he is in the past (whatever happened in the past) as well as in the future (whatever will happen in the future). The beauty of this verse lies in its sheer poetry – they way the sages have described the indescribable omnipresent being in verses. Its just mind boggling.

7 thoughts on “Rewriting purusasukta.”

  1. Perfectly said. Re-writing of anything isn’t going to do anything significant. be it bible of purusasuktha.

    if they still want to re-write the veda, lets also re-write the indian constitution which is argumentatively biased.

  2. extremely anguished to even hear the thought of ms ghosh.. and with utmost severe pain at heart..let me state here..that the purity, the divinity and the immensity of love the greatness and earnestness of the great sages..who thought laboured delivered all, for the downtrodden massess like us…the selfless works of the perennially great seers whose works contain all absolute encompossing love…even this treasure is being so much ignorantly misunderstood..and subjected to mispropaganda….who could ever understand the greatest pain at the hearts of the persons who recite the hymhs with great reverence after initiation fron Guru..imbibing the greatness of their meaings from the highest levels of human thought and emotions…My prostrations to my Guru and the Lord Krishna absolute who could help me contain my feelings..hareeee namah

  3. where do i stand…..

    issues… that makes the division… and that make me partial… where i can;t stand as a witness… i am the part of that… then….

    i may have to stand with the majority of the society… the underpriviliged alianated… never or ever be the part of the giant saga of great sidhus vally or else where in the world.

    if anyone can accept the Ayodhya 1996 demolition as a simbolic rivilalism of active hinduism…

    the rewriting or scrapping down of the purushasukata is also a simbolic one … the great emergence of the down trodden marginalized mass.

    the godhra aftermath… again, which equated as 3rd law of Newton…
    that universal law may become UNIVERSAL

  4. Hmm,

    I understand the concerns. The question here is not whether you are with one side or not. Issues dont create division, its by taking an inflexible approach to resolving them, which causes the division. Being partial, will cloud the solution proposed.

    With regards to the way the dalits are treated in various parts of india, yes, indeed we need to do something about it. Its really bad the way they are treated in different parts of India. I agree that we should not stand by and watch any person being discriminated. But they wont be helped a bit by rewriting or burning books.

    The question of the Great Sindus valley or the saraswati valley does not arise at all in this issue. Those are our heritage, highpoint in civilisations and that should make us proud, irrespective of caste or creed. If India sends a mission to Moon, each and every Indian has a right to be proud of it, not just the scientific community who did it.

    I agree that the Ayodhya, godhra and the aftermath raises several questions which shake our basic beliefs about our culture, secularism etc. But we need to approach these issues cautiously, and not just by jumping into conclusions. I think that we should take a Ayurvedic approach. Find the cause that stirs these and treat that root cause. Unfortunately, we dont seem to have people in right places who can do just that.

  5. Hi Friends,
    I agree with Ghosh that we need to reestablish our society on the basis of equality. However I disagree with Ghosh in other points like — Can dalit become this or that — ;this is irrelevent in todays changing India’s scenario.
    Our society is based on inequality. The root is our Vedas that preech that religiously one caste or group is better than others. Today we preech equality because of acts of our govt and great leaders like Mr. Gandhi. This is outward curing. But, will curing from outside really cure it ? I think we need to cure it from inside, that is by rigorous attack on original beliefs of inequality. This is why we need to re-write or re-establish our values.

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