Janamejaya said, “O regenerate one, are there many Purushas or is thereonly one? Who, in the universe, is the foremost of Purushas? What, again,is said to be the source of all things?”
Vaisampayana said, In the speculations of the Sankhya and the Yogasystems many Purushas have been spoken of, O jewel of Kuru’s race. Thosethat follow these systems do not accept that there is but one Purusha inthe universe. In the same manner in which the many Purushas aresaid to have one origin in the Supreme Purusha, it may be said that thisentire universe is identical with that one Purusha of superiorattributes. I shall explain this now, after bowing to my preceptor Vyasa,that foremost of Rishis, who is conversant with the soul, endued withpenances, self-restrained, and worthy of reverent worship. Thisspeculation on Purusha, O king, occurs in all the Vedas. It is well knownto be identical with Rita and Truth. The foremost of Rishis, viz., Vyasa,has thought upon it. Having occupied themselves with reflection on whatis called Adhyatma, diverse Rishis, O king, having Kapila for theirfirst, have declared their opinions on the topic both generally andparticularly. Through the grace of Vyasa of immeasurable energy, I shallexpound to thee what Vyasa has said in brief on this question of theOneness of Purusha. In this connection is cited the old narrative of thediscourse between Brahma, O king, and the Three-eyed Mahadeva. In themidst of the Ocean of milk, there is a very high mountain of greateffulgence like that of gold, known, O monarch, by the name ofVaijayanta. Repairing thither all alone, from his own abode of greatsplendour and felicity, the illustrious deity Brahma used very often topass his time, engaged in thinking on the course of Adhyatma. While thefour-faced Brahma of great intelligence was seated there, his sonMahadeva, who had sprung from his forehead encountered him one day incourse of his wanderings through the universe. In days of yore, theThree-eyed Siva endued with puissance and high Yoga, while proceedingalong the sky, beheld Brahma seated on that mountain and, therefore,dropped down quickly on its top. With a cheerful heart he presented himbefore his progenitor and worshipped his feet. Beholding Mahadevaprostrated at his feet, Brahma took him up with his left hand. Havingthus raised Mahadeva up, Brahma, that puissant and one Lord of allcreatures, then addressed his son, whom he met after a long time, inthese words.
“The Grandsire said, ‘Welcome art thou, O thou of mighty arms. By goodluck I see thee after such a long time come to my presence. I hope, Oson, that everything is right with thy penances and thy Vedic studies andrecitations. Thou art always observant of the austerest penances. Hence Iask thee about the progress and well-being of those penances of thine!’
“Rudra said, ‘O illustrious one, through thy grace, all is well with mypenances and Vedic studies. It is all right, again, with the universe. Isaw thy illustrious self a long while ago in thy own home of felicity andeffulgence. I am coming thence to this mountain that is now the abode ofthy feet. Great is the curiosity excited in my mind by thiswithdrawal of thyself into such a lone spot from thy usual region offelicity and splendour. Great must the reason be, O Grandsire, for suchan act on thy part. Thy own foremost abode is free from the pains ofhunger and thirst, and inhabited by both deities and Asuras, by Rishis ofimmeasurable splendour, as also by Gandharvas and Apsaras. Abandoningsuch a spot of felicity, thou residest alone in this foremost ofmountains. The cause of this cannot but be grave.
“Brahma said, ‘This foremost of mountains, called Vaijayanta, is alwaysmy residence. Here, with concentrated mind, I meditate on the oneuniversal Purusha of infinite proportions.’
“Rudra said, ‘Self-born thou art. Many are the Purushas that have beencreated by thee. Others again, O Brahma, are being created by thee. TheInfinite Purusha, however, of whom thou speakest, is one and single. Whois that foremost of Purushas, O Brahma, that is being meditated by thee?Great is the curiosity I feel on this point. Do thou kindly dispel thedoubt that has taken possession of my mind.
“Brahma said, ‘O son, many are those Purushas of whom thou speakest. Theone Purusha, however, of whom I am thinking, transcends all Purushas andis invisible. The many Purushas that exist in the universe have that onePurusha as their basis; and since that one Purushas is said to be thesource whence all the innumerable Purushas have sprung, hence all thelatter, if they succeed in divesting themselves of attributes, becomecompetent to enter into that one Purusha who is identified with theuniverse, who is supreme, who is the foremost of the foremost, who iseternal, and who is himself divested of and is above all attributes.”