Reading the Vaishnava text, the Srimad Bhagavatam, one encounters incredible and complex descriptions of the universe and its meanings – it’s a vast scripture that seekers dedicate their lives to reading, hearing and absorbing. Last week reading the descriptions in the Second Canto (Chapter 1) I was struck by the description of the gigantic universal form of Lord Vishnu.
His arms are the demigods headed by Indra, the ten directional sides are His ears, and physical sound is his sense of hearing. His nostrils ate the two Ashwini-kumaras, and material fragrance is his sense of smell. His mouth is the blazing fire. (Translation, Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 2, Ch.1, Text 29)
The sphere of outer space constitutes His eyepits, and the eye-ball is the sun as the power of seeing, His eyelids are both the day and night, and in the movements of his eyebrows, the Brahma and similar supreme personalities reside. His palate is the director of water, Varuna, and the juice or essence of everything is His tongue. (Translation, Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 2, Ch.1, Text 30)
Modesty is the upper portion of His lips, hankering is His chin, religion is the breast of the Lord, and irreligion is His back. Bramhaji who generates all living being in the material world, is His genitals, and the Mitra-varunas are His two testicles. The Ocean is His waist, and the hills and mountains are the stacks of His bones. (Translation, Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 2, Ch.1, Text 32)
Curious to see if there was an artist’s representation of what this Virat Rupa form looked like I did a search and came across different versions and this watercolor created by an unknown artist from Jaipur (in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London) caught my attention.
As understanding of religious texts need repeated reading and recitation to offer clarity so also drawing and painting these descriptions as this artist has done offers yet another, beautiful, avenue of understanding.