By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Viraj, Virat, VirAj, VirAT, Viraaj, Viraat
Virāj, Virāṭ literally means ‘one who shines in a special way;’ ‘the immense being’.
This is a technical term used in the Vedāntic works. If īśvara is the original creator of this world, Hiraṇyagarbha is his first evolute. From him emanates Virāj or Virāṭ. He is the cosmic being having the totality of the gross bodies of the world as his body. He is also called Vaiśvānara. Viśva is his manifestation at the individual level.
The declarations in the scriptures regarding Virāj and Virāṭ is as follows:
- Kṛṣṇa declares in the Bhagavadgītā that it is he who, as Vaiśvānara, digests the food in the bodies of all the living beings.
- The Puruṣasukta declares that Virāṭ was born out of the Ādipuruṣa or the primeval being.
- The Mundaka Upaniṣad describes his cosmic form having Agni or fire as his head, Candra and Surya as his eyes, the dik or the quarters as his ears and so on. He is the antarātmā, the inner Self, of all the living beings.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore