By Swami Harshananda
Viśvarupa literally means ‘Cosmic Form’.
Origin Reference of Vśvarupa
In the Bhagavadgitā, at the specific request of Arjuna, Lord Kṛṣṇa shows him his Viśvarupa or the Cosmic Form, after endowing him with divine sight, since he could not see it with his ordinary sight. The verses 10 to 31 describe the Viśvarupa.
Viśvarupa Form in Mahābhārata
The Lord in this Cosmic Form had innumerable heads and hands, decorated gorgeously and holding a large variety of weapons. He was blazing like a thousand suns. Arjuna saw all the beings in him including Brahmā the creator, the ṛṣis, right up to animals stationed in a small part of his body. The Lord had pervaded all the worlds and appeared to be of infinite proportions. All the warriors on the battle field had entered into his mouths and were being mercilessly crushed. Struck with great fear, Arjuna prays to Him fervently, requesting Him to withdraw it and appear in his old, human, form.
Earlier, in the court of the Kauravas, when Duryodhana spurns all proposals of peace put forward by Śrī Kṛṣṇa to avoid war and behaves most arrogantly, even threatening to imprison him, Śrī Kṛṣṇa exhibits his Viśvarupa.
Viśvarupa, a Commentator
Viśvarupa is the name of a commentator of Yājñavalkya Smrti, the commentary itself being called Bālakrīdā. Some scholars identify him with Sureśvaracarya, a direct disciple of Śaṅkara who lived in A. D. 788-820.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore