पुरुषो वाव यज्ञस्तस्य यानि चतुर्विंशति वर्षाणि तत्प्रातःसवनं चतुर्विंशत्यक्षरा गायत्री गायत्रं प्रातःसवनं तदस्य वसवोऽन्वायत्ताः प्राणा वाव वसव एते हीदंसर्वं वासयन्ति ॥ ३.१६.१ ॥
puruṣo vāva yajñastasya yāni caturviṃśati varṣāṇi tatprātaḥsavanaṃ caturviṃśatyakṣarā gāyatrī gāyatraṃ prātaḥsavanaṃ tadasya vasavo’nvāyattāḥ prāṇā vāva vasava ete hīdaṃsarvaṃ vāsayanti || 3.16.1 ||
1. The human body is like a sacrifice, and the first twenty-four years are like the morning libation. The gāyatrī has twenty-four syllables, and the morning libation is accompanied by the gāyatrī. The Vasus reside in this morning libation. The Vasus are the vital breaths and the sense organs, for the word vasu means those who make others live and who live themselves.
Puruṣaḥ vāva yajñaḥ, the human body is like a sacrifice; tasya yāni cāturviṃśati varṣāṇi, its first twenty-four years; tat, that; prātaḥ savanam, is the morning libation; gāyatrī caturviṃśati akṣarā, the gāyatrī is constituted of twenty-four syllables; gāyatram prātaḥ savanam, the morning libation is accompanied by the gāyatrī; asya, of this [i.e., this sacrifice of the human body]; tat, it [the morning libation covering the first twenty-four years]; vasavaḥ, the deities called Vasus; anvāyattāḥ, are connected; prāṇāḥ vāva vasavaḥ, the prāṇas [together with the sense organs] are the Vasus; hi, for; ete, these [Vasus]; idam sarvam, everything in this [world]; vāsayanti, cause to live [and they themselves also live (vasu)].
In the previous section, meditation and repetition of certain mantras was recommended for the long life of one’s children. The same thing is being recommended now for one’s own life. Here the meditation is that one’s life is a sacrifice, and that the first twenty-four years are the morning offering. This offering is connected with the gāyatrī, which has twenty-four syllables. The Vasus are also connected with this offering, and they are thought of as the organs, which abide (vasu) and which also make others abide.