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Virat Purusha – Virata In Hinduism – First Born Living Being With A Physical Body

Virat Purusha or Virata In Hinduism is the first born living being with a physical body and conscious self together, divided himself into the original pair of man (Manu) and Woman (Shatarupa) or male and female.

The earliest description of Virata is found in Purusha Sukta, which is the 19th hymn of the tenth mandala (tenth book0 of Rig Veda. This hymn comes in other Vedas also with different number f verses and with some variations in the text also. It describes the emergence of Virata from the conscious being (Purusha) having thousands of heads, thousands of eyes and thousands of feet (and hands) (Sahasrasisha Purusha saharaksho sahasrapat). The sukta tells that whatever has been in existence and whatever will be, all is purusha only. Everything in the world, including sentient creatures and insentient matter (sasanasane), is the manifestation of one foot (pada) or a quarter, that means minor part, of the purusha and with its three feet or three fourth, that means major, part, it rose up (urdhva udait) in the immortal heaven (tripadasyamrtam divi). From such purusha Virat was born (Tato viradajyata – Rig Veda 10/90/5, Yajur Veda 31/5), and from Virat emerged the purusha being who isolated it (atyaricyata) from species to species.

Being the original progenitor incarnate of the creatures of the world, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad calls him Prajapati (lord of the progeny), who was alone in the beginning and desired the company of another. With this volition he divided himself into a pair of man (Manu) and woman (Shatarupa), who gave birth to mankind. However, it did not stop here only. In fact, Prajapati Virata desired to be many and his wish so inspired the male and female pair that they changed their form into cow and bull, mare and horse, so on from species to species and gave birth to various species of creatures. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1/4/1-4). It may also mean that Virata created from him male and female pairs of different species who regenerated further.

Manusmriti has put the same incident or process in a slightly different manner. It tells about the formation of the Golden Egg from the seed put by Lord Narayana in the first created water. When the egg broke, Brahma, the creator, himself emerged in the form of Hiranyagarbha (121st sukta of the tenth mandala of Rig Veda is in eulogy of Hiranyagarbha). He divided his body into a man and woman. Man was Brahma himself and gave birth to Virat. After practicing penance Virata created Manu, who brought forth human beings and other creatures (Manusmriti 1/8-9, 32-34).

Adi Shankaracharya has identified Virata with the Vaishvanara form of Brahma or atma (self), described in Mandukya Upanishad as Jagaritasthana (awakened), the universal self having seven parts of the universe as the parts of his body (Mandukya Upanishad 3 and commentary of Shankaracharya on it).

Chandogya Upanishad (5/18/2) has described these parts of the physical body of Vaishvanara atma, from the sky to the earth.

According to Adi Shankaracharya, Brahman exists in three forms as
Attributeless (nirguna), non-dual (advaita), Para Brahma who is beyond the reach of mind and intellect, let alone the senses.

Omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent Ishwara (God), having infinite attributes who exists with maya as the subtle form of the universe like in a dream or the sprouting of the seed.
Vaishvanara or Virata who exists with maya manifested in the form of the universe, like the awakened state of jiva (living being). Thus, the universe or the physical world is the physical body of Vaishvanara himself, who is alive and is called Virata.