Gayathri mantra dedicated to several gods contains Tatpurusha. For example Shiva Gayathri mantra is

Om Tatpurushaya vidmahe Mahadevaya Dhimahi

Tanno Rudra prchodayat

and Subrahmanya Gayathri Mantra is

Om Tatpurushaya vidmahe Mahasenaya Dhimahi

Tanno Shanmuga Prachodayath

Which God does Tatpurusha in the Gaythri Mantras refer to?

  • 1
    You mean the word should refer to some other deity despite being present in a mantra that is dedicated to a particular deity?
    – Rickross
    Jul 5 '18 at 8:03

Tatpurusha is not a God. "Tat" (तत्) literally means "that".

"Purusha" is a concept referring to the Cosmic Self, Cosmic Consciousness, or the Universal Principle. This concept came about from the Purusha Suktam when it referred to a cosmic man who was sacrificed by the gods to create all life. In Yoga philosophy, Purusha also references the true Self - the realization of which is a goal of yoga practice as defined in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It is also the ultimate goal of all Vedic practices and Vedantic philosophy, examination and inquiry.

Shwetashvatara Upanishad Adhyaya III defines Purusha as such:

mahān prabhur vai puruṣaḥ sattvasyaiṣa pravartakaḥ |
sunirmalām imāṃ prāptim īśāno jyotir avyayaḥ || (3.12)

That person (purusha) is the great lord; he is the mover of existence, he possesses that purest power of reaching everything, he is light, he is undecaying.

aṅguṣṭhamātraḥ puruṣo 'ntarātmā sadā janānāṃ hṛdaye saṃniviṣṭaḥ |
hṛdā manīṣā manasābhikḷpto ya etad vidur amṛtās te bhavanti || (3.13)

The person (purusha), not larger than a thumb, dwelling within, always dwelling in the heart of man, is perceived by the heart, the thought, the mind: they who know it become immortal.

sahasraśīrṣā puruṣaḥ sahasrākṣaḥ sahasrapāt |
sa bhūmiṃ viśvato vṛtvā atyatiṣṭhad daśāṅgulam || (3.14)

The person (purusha) with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet, having compassed the earth on every side, extends beyond it by ten fingers’ breadth.

puruṣa evedaṃ sarvaṃ yad bhūtaṃ yac ca bhavyam |
utāmrtatvasyeśāno yad annenātirohati || (3.15)

That person alone (purusha) is all this, what has been and what will be; he is also the lord of immortality; he is whatever grows by food.

Tatpurusha (तत्पुरुष) is also one of the eleven emanations of Rudra, according to the Roopamandana (a text of Shilpa shastra). Other emanations are : Ishana, Aghora, Vamadeva, Sadyojatha, Mrityunjaya, Kiranaksha, Srikanta, Abhirbhudhya, Bahurupa and Tryambaka.

So ultimately, Tatpurusha refers to the cosmic self in all Jivas.

Therefore the Shanmukha (Subhramanya) Gayatri mantra translates to

"Om, Let me meditate on that (tat) great male (purusha), Oh, commander in chief, give me higher intellect, And let the six faced one illuminate my mind."

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