The Virat Purusha

[The universal form]“Although we may have clay, water and fire, the elements take the shape of a brick only when we labor to combine them. Without the living energy, there is no possibility that matter can take shape. Similarly, this material world does not develop unless agitated by the Supreme Lord as the virat-purusha.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.51 Purport)

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In Sanskrit the word “purusha” means enjoyer. The corresponding term is “prakriti.” Purusha dominates prakriti. One is superior and the other inferior. The two terms also refer to a person and the field on which they act. Each individual is purusha at the local level, but in the higher scheme they are prakriti. All of prakriti is dominated by the complete purusha, which is known as virat. This virat-purusha is a form of the Supreme Lord, and without Him nothing can happen.

[bricks]The brick house example helps us to understand this concept. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada rightly points out that bricks don’t manifest on their own. There is clay, water and fire. They are found in many places; they are not scarce. Yet this doesn’t mean that bricks get created on their own. There is no explosion that automatically creates a brick house. The construction requires intelligence. Though the brick may not be as complicated as the smartphone, it still requires some human intervention. And that human acts with intelligence.

The creation is infinitely more complex. The earth, the sun, the rivers, the lakes, the hills, the mountains, the clouds, the trees, the leaves – these cannot come to be through randomness. It is simply impossible, as the variety alone is breathtaking. With that variety there is tremendous complexity, and yet it can all be studied. This means that within the variety there is order. Order and variety going hand in hand for billions of years is never an accident. The wise person understands this, whereas the less intelligent will keep trying to find other explanations.

[fall leaves]It is interesting to note that the cause of the creation is attributed to just a form of God. The virat-purusha, the person managing the complete whole, acts effortlessly. He does amazing things, and yet He is not God completely. He is but an incarnation, which means that the complete form of God is much more powerful.

What more is there to do? What can be more powerful than the sun, an object from which we must remain a great distance? What can be more complicated than science, which studies the things created by the virat-purusha?

The original person can bring the cure to birth and death. He can transcend the entire creation. When He appears within it, He is not subject to its laws. This seems like a myth. We have difficulty believing this. Sure, we see people do amazing things all the time. The mystic yogis can hold their breath for over an hour. They can read minds and they can go months without eating. Yet even these feats are nothing compared to what God Himself can do.

When He appears, He defies the law of gravity by holding up a massive hill with His tiny finger for seven days in a row. He singlehandedly fights off 14,000 of the most skilled combatants, using only His bow and arrow set. He does not get disturbed by having a front-row seat to the greatest war in history. He does not lament over big losses and He does not get elated over the greatest gains. He is always a cool customer, and He is not enamored by the creation that He instigates through His glance.

sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya

mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ

tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir

ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā

“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)

[Krishna and Arjuna on chariot]As He is responsible for this creation, it would make sense to study Him instead of endlessly observing the inferior nature that He dominates. His qualities can be known to some degree. It is for this reason that in the Vedas He has many, many names. No one name can describe Him fully, but the name “Krishna” is pretty close. It means “all-attractive,” and it speaks to how in God the individual gets everything they are looking for. Power is only useful when there is something on which to act. The potency of the human being is meant for service rather than exploitation. The living entity is always a subordinate, since Krishna is always the most powerful.

Krishna’s attractiveness draws the mind away from the futile attempt to explain the creation as being a random occurrence. The sound emanating from His flute brings the mind back towards the eternal engagement of devotional service, which results in happiness beyond comprehension. The beautiful words coming from Krishna bring the requisite knowledge to take up that devotion in sincerity, and the enlightened souls who follow that devotion bring the association necessary to maintain steadiness in that practice.

In Closing:

Purusha on prakriti to act,

This workings of nature exact.


For the entire creation way the same,

Material nature through virat-purusha came.


So many species, an endless variety,

Still can be studied that complexity.


Sign of intelligence through this shown,

Just a sampling of God’s standing alone.

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