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In Hinduism, there is someone called Virat Purusha. There is similar concept in Jainism where it is believed that the universe shape is in the form of a cosmic man - broader at the top and bottom and narrow at the middle.

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Is there some connection between Virat Purusha of Hinduism and Cosmic Man of Jainism? If not then who is Virat Purusha - Shiva or Brahman?

  • At least in the worldview of the Pancharatra Agamas, the Virat Purusha is Vishnu's Vyuha form Aniruddha; see my answer here and my question here. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 24 '16 at 6:59
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    @Keshav Srimad Bhagavatam describes the Virat Purusha avatara of Vishnu in the Second Canto Chapter 6 and in Third Canto Chapter 5. – Surya Jan 24 '16 at 7:32
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The concepts are similar. In his introduction to Brahma Sutras 3.3, Sankara says (Swami Vireswarananda translator):

It is not possible for the ordinary man to grasp the Infinite. Therefore the scriptures present various symbols of Brahman, such as Prana, Akasa, and mind, for the beginner to meditate upon. Sometimes they prescribe the cosmic form of Brahman (Vaisvanara) for meditation. These different methods of approaching the infinite Brahman are known as Vidyas or Upasanas.

Further in verse 4.1.5:

(The symbol is) to be viewed as Brahman (and not in the reverse way), on account of the elevation (of the symbol thereby).

Virat is to be viewed as Brahman, Brahman is not to be conceived as Virat. These are means for us to comprehend Brahman. We cannot meditate or conceive of Nirguna Brahman, we can only contemplate Saguna Brahman (Virat). The sky as His head, etc., are means for us to conceive That which is unconceivable. Avângmanasogocharam, meaning that which is incapable of being grasped by word or mind.

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Swami Swahananda defines Virat as follows:

Macrocosm and the Self identified with it.

Pancadasi of Sri Vidyaranya Swami by Swami Swahananda

Virat according to the Advaita Vedanta school is Brahman or Self identified with the macrocosm.

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Virat/Ishwar is the universe. In Hinduism, there were 2 revelations to rishis(seers of truth)

1) Vedas glorifying Brahman to Gyan Yogis

2) Puranas glorifying Virat to Bhakt Yogis

Yagyavalkya, Uddlaka, Gargi etc, were rishis to whom Brahman was revealed and their experiences became Vedas and Upanishads

Shukhdeva, Prashara, Vyas, Brahma, Narad etc, were rishis to whom Virat was revealed along with all the realms, timelines, 3 guna Prakriti etc., and their experiences became Puranas(like Bhagwat Puran, Vishnu Puran etc., total 18 Puranas).

Just like every soul/causal body is reflection of Brahman, in the same way every gross body is reflection of Virat Himself and all the 14 realms, constellations etc. present along the Meru Mountain of Virat, also exists in Merudand(spine) of every individual. This is explained by Krishna in Bhagwat Geeta and Uttara Geeta

  1. The Sun, the Moon, and the other Devatas, the fourteen Lokas of Bhur, Bhuvar, etc., the ten directions,East, West, etc., the sacred places, the seven oceans,the Himãlaya and other mountains, the seven Islands of Jambu, etc., the seven sacred rivers, Gangã, etc., the four Vedas, all the sacred philosophies, the sixteen vowels and twenty-four consonants,the Gãyatri and other sacred Mantras, the eighteen Purãnas and all the Upa-Purãnas included, the three Gunas, Mahat itself, the root of the Jîvas, the Jîvas and their Atman, the ten breaths, the whole world, in fact, consisting of all these, exists in the Susumnã.

[As all outward objects that are cognizable by the human senses are reflected in the Susumnã Nãdi, therefore the Rsis call this body the "microcosm". For instance,when you see the sun, moon, or the stars, you do not actually go near to them in order to see, but you see them because they are reflected in your Susumnã Nãdi]

  1. In the heart dwells the Mahar-Loka, the Jana Loka exists in the throat, the Tapo-Loka between the two eyebrows, while the Satya-Loka exists in the head.

The same Virat was shown to Arjuna by Krishna

Bg 11.52 — Krishna said: My dear Arjuna, this form of Mine you are now seeing is very difficult to behold. Even the demigods are ever seeking the opportunity to see this form, which is so dear.

Bg 11.53 — The form you are seeing with your transcendental eyes cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing serious penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see Me as I am.

Bg 11.54 — My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.

Similar description of lokas, time divisions etc., you will find in all Puranas, for example description of various realms described by rishi Prashara in Vishnu Puran. It is clear, that revelations in Puranas happened to rishis inside their bodies, and they were Anubhava(experiences) within Virat, which are often seen down as Smritis or mythological stories.

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