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Markandeya Purana 99.19

विसृष्टौ ऋङ्मयो ब्रह्मा स्थितौ विष्णुर्यजुर्मयः ।रुद्रः साममयोऽन्ते च तस्मात्तस्याशुचिर्ध्वनिः । । १९

The Various Translations of this Verse I came across are as follows -

English translation-

In the creation of the world, is manifested is Manifested Brahma, who is composed of the Rk hymns, in it's permanence Visnu who is composed of Yajus hymns, And Siva who is composed of Saman at the dissolution, therefore it's sound is impure.

Hindi Translation-

सृष्टि करने वाले ब्रह्मा रजोगुणी ऋग्तेजमय हैं , तथा पालन करने वाले विष्णु सतोगुणी यजुर्मय हैं। साम तेजमय रूद्र अंत करने वाले तमोगुणी हैं, अतः सामवेद की ध्वनि अपवित्र है

Three Questions -

  1. What Does it mean exactly for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to be 'Composed' of the Hymns of a certain veda?

  2. Why is the sound of Sama Veda Called Impure?

  3. Is this implying that Shiva is impure as well? As the verse says 'Since Siva is composed of the Saman at dissolution, therefore it's sound is impure'

1 Answer 1

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To understand a particular śloka, its context needs to be observed as well. And the best way of gauging the context, is to look at the preceding and the succeeding ślokas, usually preceding ones would set the context and/or the succeeding ślokas might give an explanation of what's said before. To understand Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (99.19), we'll start with (99.7) & (99.15-19)-

ṛco rajoguṇāḥ sattvaṃ yajuṣāṃ ca guṇā mune /
tamoguṇāni sāmāni tamaḥsattvamatharvasu // (99.7)

O muni! Entire Ṛk is rajoguṇayukta, entire Yajuḥ is sattvaguṇayukta, entire Sāma is tamoguṇayukta, and entire Atharva is sattva and tamoguṇātmaka.

prātarmadhyandine caiva tathā caivāparāhṇike /
trayī tapati sā kāle ṛgyajuḥsāmasañjñitā // (15)
ṛcastapanti pūrvāhṇe madhyāhne ca yajūṁṣi vai
sāmāni cāparāhṇe vai tapanti munisattama // (16)
śāntikamṛkṣu pūrvāhṇe yajuḥṣveva ca pauṣṭikam /
vinyastaṁ sāmni sāyāhne hyābhicārikamantataḥ // (17)
madhyandineʼparāhṇe ca same caivābhicārikam /
aparāhṇe pitṝṇāṃ tu sāmnā kāryāṇi tāni vai // (18)
visṛṣṭau ṛṅmayo brahmā sthitau viṣṇuryajurmayaḥ /
rudraḥ sāmamayoʼnte ca tasmāttasyāśucirdhvaniḥ // (19)

Ṛk, Yajur, & Sāma - named trayī, is what gives tapa in the prātaḥkāla, the madhyāhnakāla, & the aparāhṇakāla.(15). O munisattama ! At prātaḥ the Ṛk provides tapa, at mādhyāhna the Yajuḥ, and at aparāhṇa the Sāma.(16). Śāntikarma are vinyasta in Ṛk at pūrvāhṇa, pauṣṭikakarma in Yajuḥ at madhyāhna, & abhicārikakarma in Sāma at sāyāhna.(17). Both in madhyāhna & aparāhṇa, one should perform abhicārikakarma via Sāma but anuṣṭhānas related to pitṛs should be only done in aparāhṇa.(18). It's said that in sṛṣṭikāla Brahmā is Ṛṅmay, in sthitikāla Viṣṇu is Yajurmaya, & in saṁharakāla Rudra is Sāmamaya, that's why it's said aparāhṇa is aśuci. (19)

The word which the OP is confused upon is 'impure' and that is an improper translation of aśuci in the Saṁskṛta śloka, for both terms have different meanings. Rudra or Sāma aren't exactly called aśuci here in order to downgrade them. Aparāhṇa is called aśuci because that kāla is for the purpose of performing anuṣṭhānas related to pitṛs, which involve Sāmaveda (i.e. tamoguṇayukta). And the dhvani of Sāmaveda being aśuci, is meant in a ritual sense here, as explained further. Neither Sāma nor Rudra are called impure in Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (99.7-19).

Manusmṛti (4.124) also calls the dhvani of Sāma as aśuci too, as its devatā are the pitṛs.

ṛgvedo devadaivatyo yajurvedastu mānuṣaḥ /
sāmavedaḥ smṛtaḥ pitryastasmāt tasyāśucirdhvaniḥ //

In his Manubhāṣya, Medhātithi explains-

tasyāśucirdhvaniḥ / nātra tadīyasya dhvaneraśucitvaṁ paramārthato vijñeyam / kiṁ tarhi, yathā'śucisannidhāne nādhyetavyaṁ evaṁ tatsannidhāna iti sāmānyamaśucitvālambanam /

‘Its dhvani is aśuci’.—The dhvani of the Sāmaveda should not be understood by this to be really aśuci. What then? Just as Veda should not be adhyayana/svādhyāya in the presence of something aśuci, so should its adhyayana/svādhyāya in the presence of the Sāma; it is on the ground of this similarity that the dhvani of Sāmaveda has been said to be ‘aśuci.’

Manusmṛti (4.123) is in line with Medhātithi's elucidation, as there's an explicit niṣedha of the svādhyāya/adhyayana of Ṛk & Yajur when there's dhvani of Sāmaveda .

sāmadhvanāvṛgyajuṣī nādhīyīta kadā cana /
vedasyādhītya vā'pyantamāraṇyakamadhītya ca //

So, it is clear that Sāmadhvani being called aśuci doesn't imply that Sāmadhvani is actually aśuci, and should be instead understood in the ritual sense.

In adhyāya 99 of Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, the relation b/w the (Ṛk, Yajuḥ, & Sāma) and (Brahmā, Viṣṇu, & Rudra), is established on the basis of the guṇas each of the elements of these triplets are associated with, which is aforementioned in śloka# 7 & 19. As Ṛk is rajoguṇayukta and Brahmā is associated with rajoguṇa (owing to his function of sṛṣṭi), Brahmā is Ṛṅmaya. Similarly, as Sāma is tamoguṇayukta and Rudra is associated with tamoguṇa (owing to his function of saṁhāra), Rudra is Sāmamaya. And as Yajur is sattvaguṇayukta and Viṣṇu is associated with sattvaguṇa (owing to his function of sthiti), Viṣṇu is Yajurmaya.

As per Śiva Purāṇa (2.1.16.37-38), Viṣṇu, Brahmā and Rudra, are yukta with the guṇas - sattva, rajas, and tamas respectively, but parabrahma, avyaya Śiva himself is always nirguṇa. This association of trideva(Brahmā, Viṣṇu, & Rudra) with triguṇas, is only done in view of lokācāra.

ahaṁ viṣṇuśca rudraśca guṇāstraya udāhṛtāḥ /
svayaṁ sadā nirguṇaśca parabrahmāvyayaśśivaḥ //
viṣṇussattvaṁ rajoʼhaṃ ca tamo rudra udāhṛtaḥ /
lokācārata ityevaṁ nāmato vastutoʼnyathā //

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  • Good answer but just curious, What's the difference between being अशुचि and impure, if that's is not the correct translation of the word?
    – user33936
    Mar 4 at 8:55
  • Well, as you can clearly see here, that the term aśuci is pretty nuanced, it's closely connected to aśauca. Impurity has a different connotation altogether. In a very basic situation like say garbage in front of you, the meanings of both can intersect, but otherwise aśuci/aśauca is an extremely vast term in its meaning & use, compared to 'impurity' which comes from Western framework. Thank you🙏 @Paraśurāma
    – Bingming
    Mar 4 at 8:59

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