मदनुग्रहाय परमं गुह्यमध्यात्मसंज्ञितम् ।
यत्त्वयोक्तं वचस्तेन मोहोऽयं विगतो मम ॥१॥
arjuna uvāca –
mad anugrahāya paramaṁ guhyam adhyātma-saṁjñitam
yat tvayoktaṁ vacas tena moho’yaṁ vigato mama
Arjuna said: By Your mercy, You have explained the greatest secret about Your supreme nature – thus my bewilderment is gone.
भवाप्ययौ हि भूतानां श्रुतौ विस्तरशो मया ।
त्वत्तः कमलपत्राक्ष माहात्म्यमपि चाव्ययम् ॥२॥
bhavāpyayau hi bhūtānāṁ śrutau vistaraśo mayā
tvattaḥ kamala-patrākṣa māhātmyam api cāvyayam
O lotus-eyed Kṛṣṇa, I have heard Your detailed description of the creation and destruction of all living beings, as well as Your eternal glories.
एवमेतद्यथात्थ त्वमात्मानं परमेश्वर ।
द्रष्टुमिच्छामि ते रूपमैश्वरं पुरुषोत्तम ॥३॥
evam etad yathāttha tvam ātmānaṁ parameśvara
draṣṭum icchāmi te rūpam aiśvaraṁ puruṣottama
O Supreme Controller, what You have described about Yourself is true. O Supreme Person, I now desire to see Your form of great splendour.
मन्यसे यदि तच्छक्यं मया द्रष्टुमिति प्रभो ।
योगेश्वर ततो मे त्वं दर्शयात्मानमव्ययम् ॥४॥
manyase yadi tac chakyaṁ mayā draṣṭum iti prabho
yogeśvara tato me tvaṁ darśayātmānam avyayam
O Master of all yogīs, if You think that it is possible, then kindly show that immortal form to me.
By the end of Chapter Ten, Arjuna is completely convinced that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Person and that all creation manifests from Him and remains in Him after annihilation. But in order that future generations may not mistake Kṛṣṇa for an ordinary man or simply a philosopher, Arjuna requests Kṛṣṇa to reveal His universal form (viśvarūpa) – the form of Kṛṣṇa wherein everything in the universe is contained. This form cannot be seen by any independent endeavour, but completely depends on the mercy of Kṛṣṇa for Arjuna to behold.
Arjuna also knows that in the future unscrupulous men will claim to be God and mislead ignorant people. Therefore, Arjuna wants Kṛṣṇa to show His universal form as the benchmark so that anyone claiming to be God should be able to show the universal form to confirm their position.
Indeed, Arjuna’s foresight was accurate. Since the time of Kṛṣṇa, and especially in modern times, many so-called ‘godmen’ have stepped forward in society and claimed to be Kṛṣṇa or God incarnate. Unfortunately, the masses of people are so ignorant that they accept such impostors. The greatest misfortune befalls a person when he or she claims to be God, or when a person accepts another human as God. This is without a doubt the darkest ignorance. The Īśopaniṣad warns of this as follows:
andhaṁ tamaḥ praviśanti ye’vidyām upāsate
tato bhūya iva te tamo ya u vidyāyāṁ ratāḥ
Those who engage in the worship of false things enter into the darkest region of ignorance. But those who have knowledge, yet do not correct others, enter into even darker regions. (Īśopaniṣad 9)
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is addressed by Arjuna as the Supreme Person (Parameśvara), and the Master of all yogic powers (Yogeśvara) because Arjuna knows that Kṛṣṇa will be able to show him the universal form, thus distinguishing Kṛṣṇa once and for all as the Supreme Being.
पश्य मे पार्थ रूपाणि शतशोऽथ सहस्रशः ।
नानाविधानि दिव्यानि नानावर्णाकृतीनि च ॥५॥
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
paśya me pārtha rūpāṇi śataśo’tha sahasraśaḥ
nānā-vidhāni divyāni nānā-varṇākṛtīni ca
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied: Pārtha, behold My unlimited divine forms of various hues and shapes.
पश्यादित्यान्वसून्रुद्रानश्विनौ मरुतस्तथा ।
बहून्यदृष्टपूर्वाणि पश्याश्चर्याणि भारत ॥६॥
paśyādityān vasūn rudrān aśvinau marutas tathā
bahūny-adṛṣṭa-pūrvāṇi paśyāścaryāṇi bhārata
O descendant of Bharata, behold the Ādityas, Vasus, Rudras, the Aśvinī-kumāras and the Marutas. Behold the multifarious amazing forms, never before seen.
इहैकस्थं जगत्कृत्स्नं पश्याद्य सचराचरम् ।
मम देहे गुडाकेश यच्चान्यद् द्रष्टुमिच्छसि ॥७॥
ihaikasthaṁ jagat kṛtsnaṁ paśyādya sa-carācaram
mama dehe guḍākeśa yac cānyad draṣṭum icchasi
O conqueror of sleep, behold in this one place the entire cosmos, including all moving and non-moving beings, all within this form of Mine along with whatever else you desire to see.
न तु मां शक्यसे द्रष्टुमनेनैव स्वचक्षुषा ।
दिव्यं ददामि ते चक्षुः पश्य मे योगमैश्वरम् ॥८॥
na tu māṁ śakyase draṣṭum anenaiva sva-cakṣuṣā
divyaṁ dadāmi te cakṣuḥ paśya me yogam aiśvaram
Yet you are unable to perceive this with your present eyes, therefore I will give you divine vision. Now behold My mystic splendour!
If one gazes out into the universe with his eyes or even with a modern telescope one should not expect to see the universal form as was shown to Arjuna. The universal form is not possible to perceive with the eyes of this material body. For such a vision as Arjuna was to receive, one needs divine eyes. In other words, Arjuna’s vision of the universal form was subjective and could only be revealed by Kṛṣṇa.
Within that vision Arjuna was able to see in one place all that is, all that was, all that will ever be, everything moving and non-moving in an instant. As we will see in this chapter, after seeing the universal form of Kṛṣṇa which Arjuna describes as wonderful, astonishing, fiery, terrible and devastating, he becomes fearful and asks Kṛṣṇa to once again show him His charming and beautiful form as the Supreme Person.
एवमुक्त्वा ततो राजन्महायोगेश्वरो हरिः ।
दर्शयामास पार्थाय परमं रूपमैश्वरम् ॥९॥
sañjaya uvāca –
evam uktvā tato rājan mahā-yogeśvaro hariḥ
darśayāmāsa pārthāya paramaṁ rūpam aiśvaram
Sañjaya said: O Mahārāja Dhṛtarāṣṭra, having spoken thus to Pārtha, the Great Master of all mysticism, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, revealed the majesty of His universal form.
अनेकदिव्याभरणं दिव्यानेकोद्यतायुधम् ॥१०॥
दिव्यमाल्याम्बरधरं दिव्यगन्धानुलेपनम् ।
सर्वाश्चर्यमयं देवमनन्तं विश्वतोमुखम् ॥११॥
sarvāścaryamayaṁ devam anantaṁ viśvato-mukham
Śrī Kṛṣṇa revealed His form of infinite mouths and eyes, adorned with many divine ornaments and raising many celestial weapons. He was decorated with divine garlands and garments and anointed with heavenly fragrances. He was most wonderful, splendorous, unlimited and all-pervading.
दिवि सूर्यसहस्रस्य भवेद्युगपदुत्थिता ।
यदि भाः सदृशी सा स्याद्भासस्तस्य महात्मनः ॥१२॥
divi sūrya-sahasrasya bhaved yugapad utthitā
yadi bhāḥ sadṛśī sā syād bhāsas tasya mahātmanaḥ
If an infinite number of suns were to appear in the sky simultaneously, such effulgence might possibly resemble the splendour of that Supreme Person.
तत्रैकस्थं जगत्कृत्स्नं प्रविभक्तमनेकधा ।
अपश्यद्देवदेवस्य शरीरे पाण्डवस्तदा ॥१३॥
tatraika-sthaṁ jagat kṛtsnaṁ pravibhaktamanekadhā
apaśyad deva-devasya śarīre pāṇḍavas tadā
At that moment, Arjuna, the son of Pāṇḍu, saw the entire cosmos within the form of the Master of the demigods.
tataḥ sa vismayāviṣṭo hṛṣṭa-romā dhanañjayaḥ
praṇamya śirasā devaṁ kṛtāñjalir abhāṣata
Thus, being overwhelmed with astonishment, Arjuna’s hair stood on end and placing his hands together in prayer, he offered his obeisance to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and spoke.
ततः स विस्मयाविष्टो हृष्टरोमा धनञ्जयः ।
प्रणम्य शिरसा देवं कृताञ्जलिरभाषत ॥१४॥
arjuna uvāca –
paśyāmi devāṁs tava deva dehe
sarvāṁs tathā bhūta-viśeṣa-saṅghān
brahmāṇam īśaṁ kamalāsana stham
ṛṣīṁś ca sarvān uragāṁś ca divyān
Arjuna said: O Master, I see within Your body all the demigods and all other forms of life. I see the sages, the celestial serpents, as well as Brahmā and Śiva seated on a lotus.
अनेकबाहूदरवक्त्रनेत्रं पश्यामि त्वां सर्वतोऽनन्तरूपम् ।
नान्तं न मध्यं न पुनस्तवादिं पश्यामि विश्वेश्वर विश्वरूप ॥१६॥
paśyāmi tvāṁ sarvato’nanta-rūpam
nāntaṁ na madhyaṁ na punas tavādiṁ
paśyāmi viśveśvara viśva-rūpa
O Master of the universe, I see Your unlimited form with innumerable arms, bellies, mouths and eyes. I see that there is no beginning, middle or end to this universal form of Yours.
किरीटिनं गदिनं चक्रिणं च तेजोराशिं सर्वतो दीप्तिमन्तम् ।
पश्यामि त्वां दुर्निरीक्ष्यं समन्ताद् दीप्तानलार्कद्युतिमप्रमेयम् ॥१७॥
kirīṭinaṁ gadinaṁ cakriṇaṁ ca
tejorāśiṁ sarvato dīptimantam
paśyāmi tvāṁ durnirīkṣyaṁ samantād
I see You in all directions with crown, club and disc-weapon – a mass of radiance illuminating all around You like the brilliance of the sun, making You difficult to behold.
त्वमक्षरं परमं वेदितव्यं त्वमस्य विश्वस्य परं निधानम् ।
त्वमव्ययः शाश्वतधर्मगोप्ता सनातनस्त्वं पुरुषो मतो मे ॥१८॥
tvam akṣaraṁ paramaṁ veditavyaṁ
tvamasya viśvasya paraṁ nidhānam
tvam avyayaḥ śāśvata-dharma-goptā
sanātanas tvaṁ puruṣo mato me
You are the eternal Absolute Truth known by the Vedas. You are the ultimate shelter of the universe. You are the imperishable protector of dharma. I understand You to be the eternal Supreme Person.
अनादिमध्यान्तमनन्तवीर्य-मनन्तबाहुं शशिसूर्यनेत्रम् ।
पश्यामि त्वां दीप्तहुताशवक्त्रं स्वतेजसा विश्वमिदं तपन्तम् ॥१९॥
paśyāmi tvāṁ dīpta-hutāśa-vaktraṁ
sva-tejasā viśvam idaṁ tapantam
I see that You are without beginning, middle or end. You have unlimited power and innumerable arms. Your eyes are the sun and the moon. This entire universe is scorched by the rays emanating from Your mouth like blazing fire.
The universal form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is one that invokes great awe, reverence and laudations from the beholder, but factually speaking, a devotee of Kṛṣṇa is not charmed by such a display. Awe and reverence borders on fear and as we shall see, Arjuna does indeed become fearful as he continues to behold Kṛṣṇa’s universal form. Fear does not encourage a loving relationship with the Supreme. Therefore, the universal form of Kṛṣṇa is not very important for students of bhakti-yoga, only in as much as it proves to demonstrate that unless one can show the universal form, one should not be accepted as God.
Factually, there are different avatāras of Kṛṣṇa that appear in the universe at scheduled times and these have been mentioned by Jayadeva Gosvāmī as follows:
vedān uddharate jaganti vahate bhū-golam udbibhrate
daityaṁ dārayate baliṁ chalayate kṣatra-kṣayaṁ kurvate
paulastyaṁ jayate halaṁ kalayate kāruṇyam ātanvate
mlecchān mūrchayate daśākṛti-kṛte kṛṣṇāya tubhyaṁ namaḥ
O Kṛṣṇa, I offer my respects unto You, who appear in the forms of these ten avatāras. As Matsya You rescue the Vedas, and as Kūrma You carry the Mandara Mountain on Your back. As Varāha You lift up the Earth planet with Your tusks, and as Narasiṁha You tear open the chest of the daitya, Hiraṇyakaśipu. In the form of Vāmana You delude the daitya king Bali by requesting only three steps of land from him, and then You take the whole universe from him by expanding Your strides. As Paraśurāma You slay all the wicked warriors, and as Rāmacandra You fight the rākṣasa king Rāvaṇa. As Balarāma You carry a plough with which You subdue the wicked and You draw the River Yamunā towards You. As Buddha You show compassion towards all the living beings that are suffering in this world, and at the end of the Kali-yuga You appear as Kalki in order to bewilder the mlecchas. (Gītā Govinda 1.12)
In reading the Bhagavad-gītā one sees repetition in many places. This however is not a flaw but an embellishment due to ecstasy. The ācārya Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa confirms this (prasāde vismaye harṣe dvi-trīr-uktaṁ na duṣyati) as does the famous commentator on Bhagavad-gītā A.C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda, who writes in his purport to verse nineteen as follows:
There is no limit to the extent of the six opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here and in many other places there is repetition, but according to the scriptures, repetition of the glories of Kṛṣṇa is not a literary weakness. It is said that at a time of bewilderment or wonder or of great ecstasy, statements are repeated over and over. That is not a flaw.
द्यावापृथिव्योरिदमन्तरं हि व्याप्तं त्वयैकेन दिशश्च सर्वाः ।
दृष्ट्वाद्भुतं रूपमुग्रं तवेदं लोकत्रयं प्रव्यथितं महात्मन् ॥२०॥
dyāv-āpṛthivyor idam antaraṁ hi
vyāptaṁ tvayaikena diśaś ca sarvāḥ
dṛṣṭvādbhutaṁ rūpam idaṁ tavograṁ
loka-trayaṁ pravyathitaṁ mahātman
O Great One, You completely pervade all directions including the space between the higher planets and the Earth. Seeing this wonderful and terrifying form of Yours, the three worlds tremble with fear.
अमी हि त्वां सुरसङ्घा विशन्ति केचिद्भीताः प्राञ्जलयो गृणन्ति ।
स्वस्तीत्युक्त्वा महर्षिसिद्धसङ्घाः स्तुवन्ति त्वां स्तुतिभिः पुष्कलाभिः ॥२१॥
amī hi tvāṁ sura-saṅghā viśanti
kecid bhītāḥ prāñjalayo gṛṇanti
stuvanti tvāṁ stutibhiḥ puṣkalābhiḥ
The demigods enter into You and fearfully offer prayers to You with folded hands. The assembly of great sages and perfected beings offer choice prayers unto You exclaiming, “May there be auspiciousness!”
रुद्रादित्या वसवो ये च साध्या विश्वेऽश्विनौ मरुतश्चोष्मपाश्च ।
गन्धर्वयक्षासुरसिद्धसङ्घा वीक्षन्ते त्वां विस्मिताश्चैव सर्वे ॥२२॥
rudrādityā vasavo ye ca sādhyā
viśve’śvinau marutaś coṣmapāś ca
vīkṣante tvāṁ vismitāś caiva sarve
The Rudras, Ādityas, Vasus, Sādhyas, Viśvadevas, Aśvinī-kumāras, Marutas, the forefathers, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Asuras and Siddhas behold You and are struck with awe.
रूपं महत्ते बहुवक्त्रनेत्रं महाबाहो बहुबाहूरुपादम् ।
बहूदरं बहुदंष्ट्राकरालं दृष्ट्वा लोकाः प्रव्यथितास्तथाहम् ॥२३॥
rūpaṁ mahat te bahu-vaktra-netraṁ
dṛṣṭvā lokāḥ pravyathitās tathāham
Seeing this immense form of Yours with it’s unlimited mouths, eyes, arms, legs, feet and bellies, dreadful with it’s many teeth – all of mankind, and myself, are terrified.
नभःस्पृशं दीप्तमनेकवर्णं व्यात्ताननं दीप्तविशालनेत्रम् ।
दृष्ट्वा हि त्वां प्रव्यथितान्तरात्मा धृतिं न विन्दामि शमं च विष्णो ॥२४॥
nabhaḥ spṛśaṁ dīptam aneka-varṇaṁ
dṛṣṭvā hi tvāṁ pravyathitāntarātmā
dhṛtiṁ na vindāmi śamaṁ ca viṣṇo
O Viṣṇu, upon seeing Your brilliant form of many colours touching the sky, with its huge open mouths and massive blazing eyes, I shudder within and can no longer maintain my mental equilibrium nor remain peaceful.
दंष्ट्राकरालानि च ते मुखानि दृष्ट्वैव कालानलसन्निभानि ।
दिशो न जाने न लभे च शर्म प्रसीद देवेश जगन्निवास ॥२५॥
daṁṣṭrā-karālāni ca te mukhāni
diśo na jāne na labhe ca śarma
prasīda deveśa jagannivāsa
Seeing Your many mouths with their terrifying teeth, fiery like the flames of the universal annihilation, I have lost all sense of direction and composure. Be kind upon me, O Master of the demigods, O supreme shelter of the universe.
अमी च त्वां धृतराष्ट्रस्य पुत्राः सर्वे सहैवावनिपालसङ्घैः ।
भीष्मो द्रोणः सूतपुत्रस्तथासौ सहास्मदीयैरपि योधमुख्यैः ॥२६॥
वक्त्राणि ते त्वरमाणा विशन्ति दंष्ट्राकरालानि भयानकानि ।
केचिद्विलग्ना दशनान्तरेषु सन्दृश्यन्ते चूर्णितैरुत्तमाङ्गैः ॥२७॥
amī ca tvāṁ dhṛtarāṣṭrasya putrāḥ
sarve sahaivāvanipāla saṅghaiḥ
bhīṣmo droṇaḥ sūta-putras tathāsau
sahāsmadīyair api yodha-mukhyaiḥ
vaktrāṇi te tvaramāṇā viśanti
kecid vilagnā daśanāntareṣu
sandṛśyante cūrṇitair uttamāṅgaiḥ
All the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, their royal allies, as well as Bhīṣma, Droṇa, Karṇa and also the best fighters in our army, are all hurtling into Your terrible mouths with their frightening teeth. Some I see with their heads caught and pulverised between Your teeth.
यथा नदीनां बहवोऽम्बुवेगाः समुद्रमेवाभिमुखा द्रवन्ति ।
तथा तवामी नरलोकवीरा विशन्ति वक्त्राण्यभिविज्वलन्ति ॥२८॥
yathā nadīnāṁ bahavo’mbu vegāḥ
samudram evābhimukhā dravanti
tathā tavāmī nara-loka-vīrā
Just as rivers flow towards the ocean and finally enter it, similarly all these famous heroes enter into Your fiery mouths.
यथा प्रदीप्तं ज्वलनं पतङ्गा विशन्ति नाशाय समृद्धवेगाः ।
तथैव नाशाय विशन्ति लोकास्-तवापि वक्त्राणि समृद्धवेगाः ॥२९॥
yathā pradīptaṁ jvalanaṁ pataṅgā
viśanti nāśāya samṛddha-vegāḥ
tathaiva nāśāya viśanti lokās
tavāpi vaktrāṇi samṛddha-vegāḥ
Just as moths rush to their deaths by entering fire, all the worlds rush into Your mouths to their destruction.
लेलिह्यसे ग्रसमानः समन्ताल्-लोकान्समग्रान्वदनैर्ज्वलद्भिः ।
तेजोभिरापूर्य जगत्समग्रं भासस्तवोग्राः प्रतपन्ति विष्णो ॥३०॥
lelihyase grasamānaḥ samantāl
tejobhir āpūrya jagat samagraṁ
bhāsas tavogrāḥ pratapanti viṣṇo
You repeatedly lick Your lips as You devour all around You with Your fiery mouths. O Viṣṇu, pervading the entire universe with Your brilliant rays, You incinerate it.
आख्याहि मे को भवानुग्ररूपो नमोऽस्तु ते देववर प्रसीद ।
विज्ञातुमिच्छामि भवन्तमाद्यं न हि प्रजानामि तव प्रवृत्तिम् ॥३१॥
ākhyāhi me ko bhavān ugra-rūpo
namo’stu te deva-vara prasīda
vijñātum icchāmi bhavantam ādyaṁ
na hi prajānāmi tava pravṛttim
With such a terrifying form, please tell me who You are. O best of all divinities, be merciful unto me. O origin of all, I desire to know You, for I cannot fully understand Your activities.
Seeing the universal form, Arjuna has now become anxious and is on the verge of forgetting who Śrī Kṛṣṇa actually is. Therefore, we can understand from Arjuna’s situation that the great power, opulence, majesty, devastation and utter horror seen by him does not serve to draw us closer to the Absolute Truth.
Nature worship is not included in bhakti-yoga. The Truth is present in nature, but one must know what that Truth is beforehand. One cannot achieve self-realisation simply by contemplation on, or simple appreciation of nature alone. Meditation on the Absolute Truth is not impersonal or abstract as previously mentioned. The personal form of Kṛṣṇa as a charming youth with a threefold bending form as Śyāmasundara, adorned with forest flowers, dressed in bright yellow garments, while playing His flute under a tree on the banks of the River Yamunā is the most cherished object of meditation for all great sages and yogīs. This is described in the following verses:
sat-puṇḍarīka-nayanaṁ meghābhaṁ vaidyutāmbaram
dvi-bhujaṁ jñāna-mudrāḍhyaṁ vana-mālinam īśvaram
I meditate on Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose beautiful eyes are like lotuses, whose hue is that of a new rain cloud, whose clothes are as bright as lightning, who possesses two arms, who is adorned by a beautiful forest garland, and whose hand shows the jñāna-mudrā indicating divine knowledge. (Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad 9)
pītāmbaraṁ ghana-śyāmaṁ dvi-bhujaṁ vana-mālinam
abhitaś candanenātha madhye kumkuma-bindunā
racitaṁ tilakaṁ bhāle vibhrataṁ maṇḍalākṛtim
taruṇāditya-śaṅkāśaṁ kuṇḍalābhyāṁ virājitam
priyā-mukha-nyastāpāṅgaṁ līlayā yonnata-bhruvam
vibhrataṁ muralīṁ vāme pānau-padma tathetare
kāñci-dāma sphuran-madhyaṁ nūpurābhyāṁ lasat-padam
hasantaṁ priyayā sārdhaṁ hāsayantaṁ ca tāṁ muhuḥ
itthaṁ kalpa-taror mūle ratna-siṁhāsanopari
vṛndāraṇye smaret kṛṣṇaṁ saṁsthitaṁ priyayā saha
I meditate on two-armed Kṛṣṇa, who is dark like a monsoon rain cloud, dressed in yellow garments, garlanded with forest flowers, crowned with a peacock feather and decorated with lotuses. His face is as splendid as millions of moons and His eyes move restlessly. His forehead is marked with tilaka made of sandalwood paste and musk. He is adorned with earrings that resemble two rising suns, and His perspiration-anointed cheeks are like two glistening mirrors. His eyes with raised eyebrows above them playfully glance at His beloved’s face. The tip of His graceful raised nose is decorated with a glistening pearl. His lips are red like the bimba fruit and are splendid in the moonlight of His teeth. His hands are splendid with bracelets, armlets, and jewelled rings. He holds a flute in His left lotus hand, His waist is splendid with a graceful belt and His feet are splendid with beautiful anklets. His eyes are restless with the nectar of His divine activities and He jokes with His friends, making them laugh again and again. He sits on a jewelled throne under a desire tree in the forest of Vṛndāvana with His beloved. In this way one should meditate on Śrī Kṛṣṇa. (Sanat-kumāra Saṁhitā 54-62)
कालोऽस्मि लोकक्षयकृत्प्रवृद्धो लोकान्समाहर्तुमिह प्रवृत्तः ।
ऋतेऽपि त्वां न भविष्यन्ति सर्वे येऽवस्थिताः प्रत्यनीकेषु योधाः ॥३२॥
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
kālo’smi loka-kṣaya-kṛt pravṛddho
lokān samāhartum iha pravṛttaḥ
ṛte’pi tvāṁ na bhaviṣyanti sarve
ye’vasthitāḥ pratyanīkeṣu yodhāḥ
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: Time I am, the mighty destroyer of worlds, and I come to vanquish all living beings. Even without your participation, all the warriors on the opposite side of the battlefield will be killed.
तस्मात्त्वमुत्तिष्ठ यशो लभस्व जित्वा शत्रून् भुङ्क्ष्व राज्यं समृद्धम् ।
मयैवैते निहताः पूर्वमेव निमित्तमात्रं भव सव्यसाचिन् ॥३३॥
tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savyasācin
Therefore, arise and achieve glory! Conquer your foes and enjoy a prosperous empire! O best amongst archers, all your enemies have already been killed by Me – you are but an instrument.
द्रोणं च भीष्मं च जयद्रथं च कर्णं तथान्यानपि योधवीरान् ।
मया हतांस्त्वं जहि मा व्यथिष्ठा युध्यस्व जेतासि रणे सपत्नान् ॥३४॥
droṇaṁ ca bhīṣmaṁ ca jayadrathaṁ ca
karṇaṁ tathānyān api yodha-vīrān
mayā hatāṁs tvaṁ jahi mā vyathiṣṭhā
yudhyasva jetāsi raṇe sapatnān
Droṇa, Bhīṣma, Jayadratha, Karṇa and other heroic soldiers have already been killed by Me. Fear not – fight! You will certainly conquer your enemy in this battle.
The fate of the world is ultimately sealed, but the opportunity for the conditioned living beings to attain enlightenment and transcend the world of birth and death is open to all. Śrī Kṛṣṇa say, kālo’smi loka-kṣaya-kṛt – “Time I am, the mighty destroyer of worlds.” This is the fate of the world. Time is the great enemy and it eventually devours all things. This insurmountable time is the energy of Kṛṣṇa.
māsartu-darvī-parighaṭṭanena sūryāgninā rātri-divendhanena
asmin mahā-mohamaye kaṭāhe bhūtāni kālaḥ pacatīti vārtā
The twelve months and six seasons are like cooking spoons. The sun is the fire for cooking. Day and night are the fuel consumed by the sun. Ignorance is the cooking pot and the living beings are within that pot being cooked by time. That is the way of this world! (Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.118)
In 1945 when the first atomic bomb was detonated at test facilities in New Mexico, atomic physicist Robert Oppenheimer remembered verse 32 of this chapter as a just assessment of the moment. Years later, when asked about his feelings concerning the bomb, he made the following statement:
We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-gītā. Viṣṇu is trying to persuade the Prince (Arjuna) that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now I am Death, the destroyer of the worlds.”
Indeed, from then till now, the world seems to hang by a thread and our imminent destruction (seemingly at our own hands) could come at any moment. This, it appears, is the ultimate fate of the world – certain annihilation.
एतच्छ्रुत्वा वचनं केशवस्य कृताञ्जलिर्वेपमानः किरीटी ।
नमस्कृत्वा भूय एवाह कृष्णं सगद्गदं भीतभीतः प्रणम्य ॥३५॥
sañjaya uvāca –
etac chrutvā vacanaṁ keśavasya
kṛtāñjalir vepamānaḥ kirīṭī
namaskṛtvā bhūya evāha kṛṣṇaṁ
sagadgadaṁ bhīta-bhītaḥ praṇamya
Sañjaya said: Upon hearing Keśava’s words, the trembling Arjuna offered his obeisance and, folding his hands in prayer, spoke to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in a faltering voice.
स्थाने हृषीकेश तव प्रकीर्त्या जगत्प्रहृष्यत्यनुरज्यते च ।
रक्षांसि भीतानि दिशो द्रवन्ति सर्वे नमस्यन्ति च सिद्धसङ्घाः ॥३६॥
arjuna uvāca –
sthāne hṛṣīkeśa tava prakīrtyā
jagat prahṛṣyaty-anurajyate ca
rakṣāṁsi bhītāni diśo dravanti
sarve namasyanti ca siddha-saṅghāḥ
Arjuna said: O Master of the senses, it is only fitting that the whole universe should blissfully praise You and become attracted to You. Struck with terror, the wicked flee in all directions and all perfected beings offer their respects unto You.
कस्माच्च ते न नमेरन्महात्मन् गरीयसे ब्रह्मणोऽप्यादिकर्त्रे ।
अनन्त देवेश जगन्निवास त्वमक्षरं सदसत्तत्परं यत् ॥३७॥
kasmāc ca te na nameran mahātman
ananta deveśa jagannivāsa
tvam akṣaraṁ sad-asat tat-paraṁ yat
And, O Great One, why should they not bow down before You? You are even more exalted than Brahmā, the creator of this universe. O unlimited One, O Master of the demigods, O Supreme shelter of the universe – You are eternal, beyond that which is existent and non-existent.
त्वमादिदेवः पुरुषः पुराणस्-त्वमस्य विश्वस्य परं निधानम् ।
वेत्तासि वेद्यं च परं च धाम त्वया ततं विश्वमनन्तरूप ॥३८॥
tvam ādidevaḥ puruṣaḥ purāṇas
tvam asya viśvasya paraṁ nidhānam
vettāsi vedyaṁ ca paraṁ ca dhāma
tvayā tataṁ viśvam-ananta-rūpa
You are the Original Supreme Divinity, the Supreme Primeval Person, and the sole shelter of the whole universe. You are the knower and that which is knowable. You are the Supreme Refuge and Your infinite forms pervade the entire cosmos.
वायुर्यमोऽग्निर्वरुणः शशाङ्कः प्रजापतिस्त्वं प्रपितामहश्च ।
नमो नमस्तेऽस्तु सहस्रकृत्वः पुनश्च भूयोऽपि नमो नमस्ते ॥३९॥
vāyur yamo’gnir varuṇaḥ śaśāṅkaḥ
prajāpatis tvaṁ prapitāmahaś ca
namo namaste’stu sahasra-kṛtvaḥ
punaś ca bhūyo’pi namo namaste
You are the presiding deity of the air (Vāyu), You are the presiding deity of death (Yama), You are the presiding deity of fire (Agni), You are the presiding deity of water (Varuṇa), You are the creator and the grandfather of all living beings. I offer You my obeisance thousands of times, again and again.
नमः पुरस्तादथ पृष्ठतस्ते नमोऽस्तु ते सर्वत एव सर्व ।
अनन्तवीर्यामितविक्रमस्त्वं सर्वं समाप्नोषि ततोऽसि सर्वः ॥४०॥
namaḥ purastād atha pṛṣṭhatas te
namo’stu te sarvata eva sarva
sarvaṁ samāpnoṣi tato’si sarvaḥ
My obeisance unto You from the front and from behind. My obeisance unto You from all directions. O Almighty One of infinite strength, You pervade all things, therefore You are all things.
सखेति मत्वा प्रसभं यदुक्तं हे कृष्ण हे यादव हे सखेति ।
अजानता महिमानं तवेदं मया प्रमादात्प्रणयेन वापि ॥४१॥
यच्चावहासार्थमसत्कृतोऽसि विहारशय्यासनभोजनेषु ।
एकोऽथवाप्यच्युत तत्समक्षं तत्क्षामये त्वामहमप्रमेयम् ॥४२॥
sakheti matvā prasabhaṁ yad uktaṁ
he kṛṣṇa he yādava he sakheti
ajānatā mahimānaṁ tavedaṁ
mayā pramādāt praṇayena vāpi
yac cāvahāsārtham asatkṛto’si
tat kṣāmaye tvām aham aprameyam
I was unaware of Your greatness and due to familiarity I have ignorantly addressed You as a friend. For whatever I have said casually such as, ‘O Kṛṣṇa, O Yādava, O friend’ and for whatever disrespect I have shown to You even in jest or while playing, relaxing, sitting together or eating, alone or in the presence of others – O Infallible One, O Inconceivable One, I beg Your forgiveness.
पितासि लोकस्य चराचरस्य त्वमस्य पूज्यश्च गुरुर्गरीयान् ।
न त्वत्समोऽस्त्यभ्यधिकः कुतोऽन्यो लोकत्रयेऽप्यप्रतिमप्रभाव ॥४३॥
pitāsi lokasya carācarasya
tvam asya pūjyaś ca gurur garīyān
na tvat-samo’sty-abhyadhikaḥ kuto’nyo
You are the father of all moving and non-moving beings in the universe. You are the most venerable and most glorious teacher. You have no equal within all the three worlds. How can there be anyone greater than You, O Master of incomparable power?
तस्मात्प्रणम्य प्रणिधाय कायं प्रसादये त्वामहमीशमीड्यम् ।
पितेव पुत्रस्य सखेव सख्युः प्रियः प्रियायार्हसि देव सोढुम् ॥४४॥
tasmāt praṇamya praṇidhāya kāyaṁ
prasādaye tvām aham īśam īḍyam
piteva putrasya sakheva sakhyuḥ
priyaḥ priyāyārhasi deva soḍhum
Therefore, O Master, I prostrate myself in front of You and beg You to be merciful unto me. O Kṛṣṇa, kindly forgive me, as a father, friend or lover would forgive a son, a friend or a beloved.
अदृष्टपूर्वं हृषितोऽस्मि दृष्ट्वा भयेन च प्रव्यथितं मनो मे ।
तदेव मे दर्शय देव रूपं प्रसीद देवेश जगन्निवास ॥४५॥
adṛṣṭa-pūrvaṁ hṛṣito’smi dṛṣṭvā
bhayena ca pravyathitaṁ mano me
tad eva me darśaya deva rūpaṁ
prasīda deveśa jagannivāsa
I am happy to have seen this universal form of Yours, which has never been seen before. Yet my mind is overcome by fear. Therefore, O Master of the demigods, kindly show me that form of Nārāyaṇa, the refuge of the universe.
किरीटिनं गदिनं चक्रहस्तं इच्छामि त्वां द्रष्टुमहं तथैव ।
तेनैव रूपेण चतुर्भुजेन सहस्रबाहो भव विश्वमूर्ते ॥४६॥
kirīṭinaṁ gadinaṁ cakra-hastaṁ
icchāmi tvāṁ draṣṭum ahaṁ tathaiva
tenaiva rūpeṇa catur-bhujena
sahasra-bāho bhava viśva-mūrte
I wish to see that form of Yours wearing a crown and carrying the club and disc-weapon in Your hands. O one with a thousand arms, O universal form, now kindly reveal to me Your four-armed form.
Arjuna has been showering praises upon Śrī Kṛṣṇa after seeing His universal form of great wonder, but then he regrets that in many instances he may have offended Kṛṣṇa by addressing Him as, “O Kṛṣṇa,” “O friend,” or by playing or relaxing with Kṛṣṇa. Thus Arjuna requests Kṛṣṇa’s forgiveness for any transgressions that he might have made and then earnestly requests Kṛṣṇa to show him His four-armed form as Nārāyaṇa.
Arjuna has an eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa in friendship, (sakhya-rasa), and as such he is only momentarily forgetful of that. Similarly, all living beings have an eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa either as a friend, servant, parent or lover and this relationship can be thus discovered through the process of bhakti-yoga. That the living being’s relationship with Kṛṣṇa is eternal is confirmed as follows:
sa nityo ‘nitya-sambandhaḥ prakṛtiś ca paraiva sā
The living being is eternal and has an eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa from beginningless and endless time. (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.21)
रीभगवानुवाच ।मया प्रसन्नेन तवार्जुनेदंरूपं परं दर्शितमात्मयोगात् ।
तेजोमयं विश्वमनन्तमाद्यंयन्मे त्वदन्येन न दृष्टपूर्वम् ॥४७॥
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
mayā prasannena tavārjunedaṁ
rūpaṁ paraṁ darśitam ātma-yogāt
tejomayaṁ viśvam anantam ādyaṁ
yan me tvad-anyena na dṛṣṭa-pūrvam
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied: Arjuna, being pleased with you I have shown you, through My divine potency, this radiant, infinite, primeval universal form. This form has never been seen by anyone before.
न वेदयज्ञाध्ययनैर्न दानैर्-न च क्रियाभिर्न तपोभिरुग्रैः ।
एवंरूपः शक्य अहं नृलोके द्रष्टुं त्वदन्येन कुरुप्रवीर ॥४८॥
na veda-yajñādhyayanair na dānair
na ca kriyābhir na tapobhir ugraiḥ
evaṁ rūpaḥ śakya ahaṁ nṛloke
draṣṭuṁ tvad-anyena kuru-pravīra
O best of the Kuru Dynasty, no one in this world of mortals can see this form that I have revealed to you – neither by study of the Vedas, nor the performance of Vedic sacrifices, nor by giving charity, nor by rituals, nor by rigorous austerities.
मा ते व्यथा मा च विमूढभावो दृष्ट्वा रूपं घोरमीदृङ्ममेदम् ।
व्यपेतभीः प्रीतमनाः पुनस्त्वं तदेव मे रूपमिदं प्रपश्य ॥४९॥
mā te vyathā mā ca vimūḍha-bhāvo
dṛṣṭvā rūpaṁ ghoram īdṛṅ mamedam
vyapetabhīḥ prīta-manāḥ punas tvaṁ
tad eva me rūpam idaṁ prapaśya
Do not be fearful by seeing this terrifying form of Mine. Do not be bewildered. With a tranquil mind, behold once more the form you desire to see.
इत्यर्जुनं वासुदेवस्तथोक्त्वा स्वकं रूपं दर्शयामास भूयः ।
आश्वासयामास च भीतमेनं भूत्वा पुनः सौम्यवपुर्महात्मा ॥५०॥
sañjaya uvāca –
ity-arjunaṁ vāsudevas tathoktvā
svakaṁ rūpaṁ darśayāmāsa bhūyaḥ
āśvāsayāmāsa ca bhītam enaṁ
bhūtvā punaḥ saumya-vapur mahātmā
Sañjaya said: Speaking thus, Vāsudeva (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) showed His four-armed form and then resumed His beautiful two-armed form, calming the frightened Arjuna.
दृष्ट्वेदं मानुषं रूपं तव सौम्यं जनार्दन ।
इदानीमस्मि संवृत्तः सचेताः प्रकृतिं गतः ॥५१॥
arjuna uvāca –
dṛṣṭvedaṁ mānuṣaṁ rūpaṁ tava saumyaṁ janārdana
idānīm asmi saṁvṛttaḥ sacetāḥ prakṛtiṁ gataḥ
Arjuna said: Looking at Your sweet human-like form, O Janārdana, my mind is peaceful once more and I have regained my composure.
सुदुर्दर्शमिदं रूपं दृष्टवानसि यन्मम ।
देवा अप्यस्य रूपस्य नित्यं दर्शनकाङ्क्षिणः ॥५२॥
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
sudurdarśam idaṁ rūpaṁ dṛṣṭavān asi yan mama
devā apy-asya rūpasya nityaṁ darśana-kāṅkṣiṇaḥ
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: This form of Mine that you now see before you is most difficult to see. Even the demigods constantly desire to attain but a glimpse of it.
नाहं वेदैर्न तपसा न दानेन न चेज्यया ।
शक्य एवंविधो द्रष्टुं दृष्टवानसि मां यथा ॥५३॥
nāhaṁ vedair na tapasā na dānena na cejyayā
śakya evaṁ vidho draṣṭuṁ dṛṣṭavān asi māṁ yathā
Not through the Vedas, not through penances, not through philanthropic works, nor through sacrificial rituals, is it possible to see Me as you have seen Me.
भक्त्या त्वनन्यया शक्य अहमेवंविधोऽर्जुन ।
ज्ञातुं द्रष्टुं च तत्त्वेन प्रवेष्टुं च परन्तप ॥५४॥
bhaktyā tv-ananyayā śakya aham evaṁ vidho’rjuna
jñātuṁ draṣṭuṁ ca tattvena praveṣṭuṁ ca parantapa
O Arjuna, I can only be fully known through bhakti-yoga. By such devotion one can truly see Me and attain Me, O conqueror of the enemy.
मत्कर्मकृन्मत्परमो मद्भक्तः सङ्गवर्जितः ।
निर्वैरः सर्वभूतेषु यः स मामेति पाण्डव ॥५५॥
mat-karma-kṛn mat-paramo mad-bhaktaḥ saṅga-varjitaḥ
nirvairaḥ sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ sa māmeti pāṇḍava
My devotee who serves Me, accepts Me as the Supreme, rejects all material attachments, and who is free from malice for all living beings can attain Me, O son of Pāṇḍu.
Because Arjuna has an eternal relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa and not with Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha, Kṛṣṇa could see that he was not yet peaceful even after seeing His form as Nārāyaṇa and thus Kṛṣṇa resumed His original two-armed form as Śyāmasundara. Those who have a direct relationship with Kṛṣṇa are most fortunate and are never satisfied by seeing any other avatāra of Kṛṣṇa besides that of His original form. A similar situation is narrated in the book Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, wherein Gopa Kumāra found himself in Vaikuṇṭha in the presence of Nārāyaṇa, but did not feel comfortable or at home. Because Gopa Kumāra has an eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa in Goloka Vṛndāvana, even being in the presence of the majestic Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha could not pacify him. Thus he continued his journey until at last, he reached the Supreme Abode and the sweet embrace of Kṛṣṇa. Such is the great fortune of Kṛṣṇa’s devotee, who is always guided by Him and ultimately attains His sweet embrace.
ॐ तत्सदिति श्रीमहाभारते शतसाहस्रयां संहितायां
श्रीमद्भगवदीतासूपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविद्यायं योगशास्त्रे श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे
oṁ tat saditi śrī-mahābhārate-śata-sāhasryāṁ saṁhitāyāṁ
śrīmad bhagavad-gītāsūpaniṣatsu brahma-vidyāyāṁ yoga-śāstre śrī kṛṣṇārjuna-saṁvāde
OṀ TAT SAT – Thus ends Chapter Eleven entitled Viśvarūpa Darśana Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.