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By Swami Harshananda

Puryaṣṭaka literally means ‘city or body comprising eight parts’.

It is the sukṣmaśarira or the subtle body that is responsible for the transmigration of the jīva, the soul in bondage. According to some schools of Śaivism, the sukṣmaśarīra comprises eight parts and hence is called the ‘puryaṣtaka’.[1] or the body.[2] These eight are:

  1. The five tanmātras - subtle elements
  2. The fives thulabhutas - gross elements
  3. The five jñānendriyas - organs of sense
  4. The five karmendriyas - organs of action
  5. The antahkaraṇa - or the inner organ comprising manas or mind, buddhi or the intellect and ahaṅkāra or ego-sense
  6. The three guṇas - sattva, rajas and tamas
  7. The pradhāna or prakrti
  8. The pañcatattvas or the five principles which are:
  • Kalā - limited powers of action
  • Kāla - time
  • Niyati - law of karma


  1. Purī means the city of nine gates.
  2. Aṣtaka means a group of eight.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

By Swami Harshananda

Puṣan literally means ‘the nourisher’.

Characteristics of Puṣan are:

  • Puṣan or Puṣā is one of the twelve aspects of the Sun, known as the Adityas or Dvādaśādityas.
  • He represents the nourishing and life-supporting aspect of the Sun.
  • He is exceedingly beautiful.
  • He wears a cakra or a discus with which he destroys the evil ones.
  • He is ever eager to protect his votaries.
  • He looks upon all with an equal eye and is very generous.
  • He has been eulogized in eight suktas of the Rgveda.[1][2][3][4]
  • According to paurāṇic legends, he was present at the sacrifice of Dakṣa.
  • When Vīrabhadra, an emanation from Rudra, attacked and destroyed Dakṣa’s sacrifice, Puṣan was one of the victims who lost his teeth.[5]


  1. Rgveda 3.62.9
  2. Rgveda 6.53.3
  3. Rgveda 6.58.3
  4. Rgveda 10.17.5
  5. Bhāgavata 4.5.21
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore