Viraj, aka: Virāj, Vi-raj; 5 Definition(s)


Viraj means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Virāj (विराज्).—(Virāṭ-Puruṣa)—the form of the Lord during the period of creation, just emerged from Aṇḍa.1 To rouse him to activity gods were created; but he was not roused until the Kṣetrajña along with citta entered the heart and roused the Puruṣa from waters;2 is Hari who is described as MahāPuruṣa;3 son of Nara;4 Antarikṣa so called.5

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa II. 1. 25; III. 6. 6-34; 7. 22-25; 26. 51.
  • 2) Ib. III. 36. 54-70; X. 3. 15; XI. 3. 11-12; 17. 13.
  • 3) Ib. XII. 11. 5-26.
  • 4) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 14. 68.
  • 5) Ib. II. 16. 17; III. 43. 9.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Both the term “Virāj” (“Forth-Shining”) and the cosmic egg are referenced in other vedic creation stories, though neither is mentioned in BU 1.2. Virāj appears originally in another key ṛg-vedic hymn (RV 10.90), used to describe the secondary emanation from the divine person whose dismemberment resulted in the creation of the world. Thus the “Forth-Shining” of Virāj designates the division of primordial unity into parts, including a divine body with organs such as the prāṇas enumerated in BU 1.3. The division of the egg formed by the primordial golden-wombed being into earth and sky is mentioned in RV 10.121 and its parallels.

Source: Google Books: The Hidden Lives of Brahman

In VS XIII. 43, Aditi is called Virāj, the cow which should not be injured. It occurs throughout the Vedic texts as the name of a dominant spirit, often playing the role of a great goddess, and occasionally also as a male or sexless entity. The later part of the Ṛgveda (X. 90. 5) knows Virāj as the ‘ruling principle’, next only to the cosmic Puruṣa. This aspect was further elaborated and Virāj at places has been identified with Prajāpati, with Agnim Yajña, or called Prajāpati’s creation, or the ‘father of Brahman’.

But the identity of Virāj with the principle of motherhood is largely expressed in the Atharvaveda and connected texts. Her glorification forms the subject of several passages in this Veda. Regarding her real character, a number of questions are asked to be answered in a purposeful discussion. In oprigin, the name appears to be a mere abstraction, at first speculatively evolved as the counterpart of Puruṣa; presumably personifying his ‘ruling authority’, and also ‘universal extension’.

In the capacity of a goddess, she is regarded as the daughter of Prajāpati, or Agni, or Puruṣa, and coeval in status with Aditi and even identified with her. She is lauded as the great mother cow; elsewhere the Cow of Plenty, who from the description appears none other than the universal nature herself:

‘Indra was her calf, Gāyatrī her rope, and clouds her udder; her four teats were Rathantara, Bṛhat, Yajñāyajñīya and Vāmadevya. The gods milked from her the Plants, all the wide expanses, the Waters and the Sacrifice.’

It is said that she is killed and has her birth again at the end of a year, a month, a fortnight and every day, as she approaches the Plants, the Fathers, the Gods and Men respectively. She herself is the breathless existence but moves by the breath of living creatures. That Virāj who touches, takes form of all existence—some see her, some see her not. So it is proclaimed:

‘who has perceived Virāj’s duplication (or pairing), who her seasons and who her ordering? (And who knows) her steps, how many times milked out, who her abode and number of her dawnings?’

As if answering to these enigmas, the identity of Virāj is revealed celebrating her as the infinite nature and the mighty creatrix:

‘This same is she that first shone forth; having entered other beings she moves about; exalted powers are within her; the lady, the generatrix, who comes anew has prevailed.’

Source: Google Books: Goddessess in Ancient India

In the Veda, the first offspring of Brahmā, variously characterized as either male or female. Virāj often has a creative function; in the Puruṣasūkta, puruṣa is born from her, and she is born from puruṣa. She is also identified with Prajāpati, and in Puraṇic times with Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa.

Source: Oxford Reference: A Dictionary of Hinduism

Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Virāj (विराज्).—1 U.

1) To shine, glitter; शाखिनोऽन्ये विराजन्ते खण्ड्यन्ते चन्दनद्रुमाः (śākhino'nye virājante khaṇḍyante candanadrumāḥ) Bv.1.88.

2) To appear or look like; तदन्तरे सा विरराज धेनुः (tadantare sā virarāja dhenuḥ) R 2.2.

3) To be eminent or illustrious. -Caus. To brighten, illuminate, irradiate.

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Virāj (विराज्).—a.

1) Splendid, excellent; मृत्युर्भोजपतेर्विराडविदुषां तत्त्वं परं योगिनाम् (mṛtyurbhojapatervirāḍaviduṣāṃ tattvaṃ paraṃ yoginām) Bhāg.1.43.17.

2) A ruler, chief. -m.

1) Beauty, splendour.

2) A man of the Kṣatriya or warrior tribe; विराडायुषोऽर्घमथात्यगात् (virāḍāyuṣo'rghamathātyagāt) Bhāg.4.27.6.

3) The first progeny of Brahman; cf. Ms.1.32; तस्मात् विराडजायत (tasmāt virāḍajāyata) Ṛv.1.9.5 (where virāj is represented as born from Puruṣa.)

4) The body.

5) (In Vedānta phil.) Name of 'intellect' considered as ruling over the aggregate of bodies.

6) The universe (brahmāṇḍa); नानावीर्याः पृथग्भूता विराजं जनयन्ति हि (nānāvīryāḥ pṛthagbhūtā virājaṃ janayanti hi) Bhāg.1.3.15. f.

1) Name of a Vedic metre.

2) Excellence, dignity.

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Virāj (विराज्).—king of birds, eagle; अथ तार्क्ष्यसुतो ज्ञात्वा विराट्प्रभुचिकीर्षितम् (atha tārkṣyasuto jñātvā virāṭprabhucikīrṣitam) Bhāg.8.21.26.

Virāj is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms vi and rāj (राज्).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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