SB 1.3 - The virāṭ rūpa of the Lord
Next Sūta describes the virāṭ form of the Lord. The conception of the virāṭ universal form of the Lord, as appearing in the material world, is imaginary. It is to enable the less intelligent to adjust to the idea of the Lord’s having form. But factually the Lord has no material form. The act of perceiving the Lord’s form in matter is simply presented to materialistic persons to help them bridge the gap between matter and spirit. The concept of the universal form is meant to help them take the ultimate step of accepting Kṛṣṇa’s eternal, spiritual form. The universal form of the Lord is particularly not mentioned along with the various incarnations of the Lord because all the incarnations of the Lord are transcendental.
The virāṭ rūpa is conceived for the neophytes. In that form the material manifestations of different planets have been conceived as His legs, hands etc. The neophytes cannot conceive of anything beyond matter. The material realm composed of collective and individual universes is a material form of the Lord who has a spiritual form of consciousness, and is devoid of a material form. This material form is composed of the guṇas and the elements from mahat-tattva to earth situated on the Paramātmā as its basis. As Supersoul, the Lord is within each and material form, but the outward material form is an imagination, both for the Lord and the living being. The present forms of the living beings are also not factual. The material conception of the body of the Lord as virāṭ is imaginary. Both the Lord and the living beings are living spirits and have original spiritual bodies.
Just as unintelligent people attribute clouds to be the sky and particles of dust to be the air, so they see the universe, the visible form of the Lord, as the Lord. Clouds and dust are carried by the air, but less intelligent people say that the sky is cloudy and the air is dirty. Similarly, they also implant material bodily conceptions on the spirit self. Despite appearances and common speech, clouds and sky remain forever separate. With material eyes we cannot see the Lord, who is all spirit. What is seen and controlled by the Lord (the universe) is attributed to be the seer or the controller, the Lord, who is actually invisible. The foolish thinks the universe is the Lord.
We look to the outward covering of the body or subtle mind of the living being, but we cannot see the spiritual spark within one’s body. So we have to accept the living being’s presence by the presence of his gross body. Similarly, those who want to see the Lord with their present material eyes are advised to meditate on the gigantic external feature called the virāṭ-rūpa. For instance, when the President goes out in his car, we say ‘There is the President’. We identify the car with the President. Similarly, those who want to see God are shown first the material cosmos as the form of the Lord, although the Lord is within and without. Though sky and air are invisible we see the sky because it is blue or the air because it is dusty. Similarly, the Lord, visible as the universe, is worshiped by the yogīs situated at the beginning stage of practice.