Pañcajana

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pañcajana (‘five [kinds or types of] people’) This is one of the archaic words used in the Vedas, the Upaniṣads and allied literature, whose interpretations vary widely. In the Rgveda (10.53.4), this word forms a part of the mantra to be chanted by the hotṛ priest during the Darśapurṇa- māsa sacrifice. Pañcajanas are the five types of persons to whom the hotṛ priest is appealing to accept his duly discharged duties. They are: devas (gods); manuṣyas (human beings); pitṛs (manes); paśus (animals) and pakṣis (birds). According to another interpretation they are the members of the four varṇas— brāhmaṇas, kṣattriyās, vaiśyas and śudras —along with the niṣādas (hunters). A third interpretation is that it refers to gandharvas (a kind of semigods), pitṛs (manes), devas (gods), asuras (antigods) and rākṣasas (demons). In the Brhadāranyaka Upanisad (4.4.17) this word has been used to indicate five kinds of beings who also are estab¬lished in the Ātman/Brahman as their support. Here too, the interpretations given by the commentators are the same as the third and the second ones given above for the word in the Rgveda. Pañcajana is also the name of a demon. See PĀÑCAJANYA for details.