By Swami Harshananda
Hiraṇyagarbha literally means ‘golden egg’.
According to the Advaita Vedānta, he is the second aspect of Brahman, the pure consciousness, associated with ajñāna or nescience, after īśvara. He is connected with the totality of the sukṣmaśariras or subtle bodies in creation, permeating them like the thread passing through the beads. Hence it is named as ‘Sutrātman’.
Being the subtle principle of life, he is also called ‘prāṇa’. The unmanifested, seed-state of creation is compared to a golden egg. Since he keeps it in his womb as it were, before manifesting it, he is called ‘Hiraṇyagarbha’ (‘golden egg’). He has the three powers:
- Power of will - It is known as icchāśakti.
- Power of knowledge - It is known as jñānaśakti.
- Power of action - It is known as kriyāśakti.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore