Ch. 11 Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form (part 2)

This article is part 71 of 119 in the series Jīvana-dharma-yoga

Here, by “divine eyes” we do not need to imagine a pair of extra-physical eyes with their own eyeballs and eyelids. It is enough to think that Bhagavān endowed the eye with the ability to behold divine effulgence. This is what we have to understand - when we pray to Īśvara for a boon, we need to ask for the requisite strength to bear and control the blessing. Our desires know no limits and make us forget what is suitable and what is not. If Bhagavān gives us what we deserve, we’re dissatisfied. However, if he grants us whatever we ask of him, it is akin to committing suicide. Gastric issues are guaranteed if one forgets one’s digestive ability and indulges in a feast. When we pray for a meal, we need to ask for medicine for indigestion as well. When taking up a vow in a deity’s honour for progeny, one must not forget to ask for means of sustenance. When asking for a kingdom, we must not forget to ask for a treasury and an army too. When asking for a boon, we need to also ask for the ability to use the blessing well.

Śrī Kṛṣna had a lot of love for Arjuna. Therefore he first gave him the faculty for divine vision and only then showed him his divine form. Sañjaya describes that magnificent form thus:

divi sūryasahasrasya bhaved-yugapad-utthitā।
yadi bhāḥ sādṛśī sā syāt bhāsas-tasya mahātmanaḥ ॥
tatraikasthaṃ jagatkṛtsnaṃ pravibhaktamanekadhā ।
apaśyaddevadevasya śarīre pāṇḍavastadā ॥
"From that Mighty Being arose a great effulgence - the effulgence of a thousand suns rising at the same time in the sky. Arjuna then saw the entire world as one and split as many in the body of the deva of devas."

He was flabbergasted; he trembled; his hairs stood on end; he folded his hands and began praising Bhagavān.

paśyāmi devānstava deva dehe
sarvānstathā bhūta-viśeṣa-saṅghān ॥

BG 11.15

tvam avyayaḥ śāśvata-dharma-goptā
sanātanas tvaṃ puruṣo mato me ॥

BG 11.18

"O, Primordial Being! I see groups of all animals and organisms in your body. You are deathless and the protector of eternal dharma. You are the most ancient and the Supreme being."


dyāvā-pṛithivyor-idam antaraṃ hi
vyāptaṃ tvayaikena diśaś-ca sarvāḥ ||
dṛiṣṭvādbhutaṃ rūpam ugraṃ tavedaṃ
loka-trayaṃ pravyathitaṃ mahātman ||

BG 11.20

“The sky above, the earth below and everything in between has been pervaded by you alone! You pervade every direction. O Great Being! All the three worlds tremble on seeing this wondrous and terrifying form of yours.”

rūpaṃ mahat te bahu-vaktra-netraṃ
mahā-bāho bahu-bāhūru-pādam
bahūdaraṃ bahu-daṃṣṭrā-karālaṃ
dṛṣṭvā lokāḥ pravyathitās-tathāham ||

BG 11.23

“Your form is immense; the faces are innumerable; the eyes so many; countless arms; countless legs, umpteen stomachs; myriad terrifying teeth; the worlds are distressed with fear upon seeing this form. So am I.”

amī ca tvāṃ dhṛtarāṣṭrasya putrāḥ
sarve sahaivāvani-pāla-saṅghaiḥ |
bhīṣmo droṇaḥ sūta-putras-tathāsau
sahāsmadīyair-api yodha-mukhyaiḥ ||

BG 11.26

“All these sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, and these royal retinues with them, Bhīṣma, Droṇa, and all the braves on the Pāṇḍavas side as well - what is happening to all of us?”

lelihyase grasamānaḥ samantāl-
lokān samagrān vadanair jvaladbhiḥ
tejobhir āpūrya jagat samagraṃ
bhāsas tavogrāḥ pratapanti viṣṇo ||

BG 11.30

“O Great all-pervading one, Viṣṇu! We are being licked on all sides by your tongues as if we are dainty dishes. With the entire world being pervaded by your fiery faces, your ferocious flames appear as if they will burn the entire universe” 

ākhyāhi me ko bhavān ugra-rūpo
namo’stu te deva-vara prasīda |
vijñātum ichchhāmi bhavantam ādyaṃ
na hi prajānāmi tava pravṛttim ||

BG 11.31

“O Ferocious one! Who are you? Tell me, O best among gods! I bow to you, be appeased! I know not your nature. I would like to understand you - who existed before everything.”

Did you understand the impact of direct experience? What a difference in effect between jñāna (intellectual understanding) gleaned by the intellect and vijñāna (experiential wisdom) seen by the eyes and felt by the manas! When he asked for the vision of the cosmic form, Arjuna never even for a bit thought that the experience would be this terrorising! He thought that witnessing the vision with his eyes would be as easy as arguing with his words. What happened during the vision, though? Fear, trembling, distress! This shows that Arjuna’s understanding of the truth was not complete. He had only seen the pleasant side of Bhagavān but not the terrible aspect. Suppose a person knows only one face of a two-faced thing, how can we say that he has complete knowledge of it? The seeker of truth must know as many facets of the truth as there are. It is not enough to just have heard of something. One should have seen the thing with one’s own eyes. It is not just enough to have seen and heard the thing, but the thing must be grasped by the buddhi as well. And not just intellectually grasped by the buddhi, but should have been experienced by the manas and the seeker should become one with the sought. Becoming one with the sought — becoming it —  is complete experience. Similar was Arjuna’s state now after experiencing the vision of the Universal form. When the śruti says - “cakṣurvai satyam” (the eye is the truth), it does not mean that whatever is seen by the eye is the truth but that the eye is one of the instruments for reaching the truth. Even theoretical knowledge strengthened by intellectual inference and logical strengthening is insufficient. The truth is experienced only when the theory is confirmed by visual validation. Arjuna needed such a direct confirmation and he got it now.

Even though Bhagavān had bestowed divine vision upon Arjuna, the latter’s human frailty had remained. The strength of his manas had not increased. Hence the fear. Even after what he sought after appeared in front of him, he experienced fear. Those who think that Brahma-experience is nice and pleasant must repeatedly recollect this episode. Brahma is not a grocery item to be bought from a store. If we make Brahma-experience cheap, it is us who suffer, not Brahma. Hence it is better to limit idle talking and casual listening about Brahma and mokṣa.

When the scared Arjuna asked

“ākhyāhi me ko bhavān ugra-rūpo

Bhagavān took pity on him and answered him.

kālo’smi loka-kṣaya-kṛt pravṛddho
lokān samāhartum iha pravṛttaḥ |
ṛte’pi tvāṃ na bhaviṣyanti sarve
ye’vasthitāḥ pratyanīkeṣu yodhāḥ ||

BG 11.32

“I am Time who destroys worlds as well as nourishes them. I am now set upon destroying the world. Even without you, none of the enemy warriors will survive”.

tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṃ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṃ bhava savya-sācin ||

BG 11.33

“Therefore, arise and partake of victory by participating in the war. Enjoy the bountiful kingdom by defeating your rivals who have already been killed by me. Be only the instrument, Arjuna!”

mayā hatāṃs tvaṃ jahi mā vyathiṣṭhā
yudhyasva jetāsi raṇe sapatnān ||

BG 11.34

“Your enemies have already been killed by me. The work of defeating them is truly complete. Do not think about them. Do not grieve for them. Come to battle!”

Did Arjuna not already accept that Īśvara is the “sarva-dharma-goptā” (the eternal protector of dharma) in the eighteenth verse? The responsibility of protecting dharma is that of  Īśvara, not of Arjuna and not of Bhīṣma or the others. Whatever was needed to establish dharma had already been planned and set in motion. That plan would not have stopped even if Arjuna had demurred. Such is divine rule. The same is referred to by Bhagavān later as “daivaṃ caivātra pancamam” (18-14) (Divine providence is the fifth factor that determines the outcome of any action). Be it in an individual’s life or the history of civilisations - divine providence is the final arbiter. Not acknowledging the divine is being egoistic. Arjuna understood this.
A war had become inevitable for the survival of the world. Without it, essential and eternal dharma would not have held out amidst mortals. This was not a war just for one Arjuna or five Pāṇḍavas. Arjuna’s role in it was not as a cause, but as an instrument. Any conflict needs two sides. One side was ready and the other was wavering. It was necessary for the protector of eternal dharma to firm up the fickle side.
The secret of the universe that had eluded Arjuna in the lectures on sāṅkhya, karma and jñāna became evident to him now. Bhagavān is the controller of the world. He has assigned us a dhārmic duty only to benefit us. If we do not perform that duty, it is not dharma that will be affected but our own progress. Bhagavān can use others if we disregard our duty. But we are the ones who will be left without a resort. When such a beneficial opportunity arises, it becomes a dhārmic obligation for us. Arjuna finally understood this and expressed remorse for having protracted this investigation thus far.

yaccāvahāsārtham asat-kṛito ’si
Vihāra-śayyāsana-bhojaneṣu |
eko’tha vāpyachyuta tat-samakṣaṃ
tat kṣāmaye tvām aham aprameyam ||

BG 11.42

“O Kṛṣna! Your greatness is wondrous! I have frivolously exceeded propriety while travelling, sleeping or sitting or eating, whether alone or amidst people. I implore you to forgive my transgressions.”

adṛṣṭa-pūrvaṃ hṛṣito’smi dṛṣṭvā
bhayena cha pravyathitaṃ mano me |
tad eva me darśaya deva rūpaṃ
kirīṭinaṃ gadinaṃ chakra-hastam ||

BG 11.45

“I am astonished by the vision that has hitherto been unseen. But my mind quakes due to fear. Please show me your earlier form with the crown, the mace and the cakra in your hand.”

To be continued...

The present series is a modern English translation of DVG’s Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award-winning work, Bhagavad-gītā-tātparya or Jīvana-dharma-yoga. The translators wish to express their thanks to Śatāvadhāni R Ganesh for his valuable feedback and to Hari Ravikumar for his astute edits.

Author(s)

About:

Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.

Translator(s)

About:

Engineer. Lapsed blogger. Abiding interest in Sanskrit, religion, and philosophy. A wannabe jack-of-all.

About:

Mother of two. Engineer. Worshiper of Indian music, poetry, and art.

Prekshaa Publications

Indian Perspective of Truth and Beauty in Homer’s Epics is a unique work on the comparative study of the Greek Epics Iliad and Odyssey with the Indian Epics – Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Homer, who laid the foundations for the classical tradition of the West, occupies a stature similar to that occupied by the seer-poets Vālmīki and Vyāsa, who are synonymous with the Indian culture. The author...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the sixth volume of reminiscences character sketches of prominent public figures, liberals, and social workers. These remarkable personages hailing from different corners of South India are from a period that spans from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Written in Kannada in the 1970s, these memoirs go...

An Introduction to Hinduism based on Primary Sources

Authors: Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh, Hari Ravikumar

What is the philosophical basis for Sanātana-dharma, the ancient Indian way of life? What makes it the most inclusive and natural of all religio-philosophical systems in the world?

The Essential Sanātana-dharma serves as a handbook for anyone who wishes to grasp the...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fifth volume, episodes from the lives of traditional savants responsible for upholding the Vedic culture. These memorable characters lived a life of opulence amidst poverty— theirs  was the wealth of the soul, far beyond money and gold. These vidvāns hailed from different corners of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom and lived in...

Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam represents the quintessence of Sage Bharata’s art and Bhārata, the country that gave birth to the peerless seer of the Nāṭya-veda. Padma’s erudition in various streams of Indic knowledge, mastery over many classical arts, deep understanding of the nuances of Indian culture, creative genius, and sublime vision bolstered by the vedāntic and nationalistic...

Bhārata has been a land of plenty in many ways. We have had a timeless tradition of the twofold principle of Brāhma (spirit of wisdom) and Kṣāttra (spirit of valour) nourishing and protecting this sacred land. The Hindu civilisation, rooted in Sanātana-dharma, has constantly been enriched by brāhma and safeguarded by kṣāttra.
The renowned Sanskrit poet and scholar, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R...

ಛಂದೋವಿವೇಕವು ವರ್ಣವೃತ್ತ, ಮಾತ್ರಾಜಾತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕರ್ಷಣಜಾತಿ ಎಂದು ವಿಭಕ್ತವಾದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಬಗೆಯ ಛಂದಸ್ಸುಗಳನ್ನೂ ವಿವೇಚಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಬಂಧಗಳ ಸಂಕಲನ. ಲೇಖಕರ ದೀರ್ಘಕಾಲಿಕ ಆಲೋಚನೆಯ ಸಾರವನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ಈ ಹೊತ್ತಗೆ ಪ್ರಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಛಂದಸ್ಸಿನ ಸೌಂದರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಲಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ತೌಲನಿಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅಂತಃಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಯ ಅಧ್ಯಯನಗಳ ತೆಕ್ಕೆಗೆ ಬರುವ ಬರೆಹಗಳೂ ಇಲ್ಲಿವೆ. ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಕಾರನಿಗಲ್ಲದೆ ಸಿದ್ಧಹಸ್ತನಾದ ಕವಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸ್ಫುರಿಸಬಲ್ಲ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಹೊಳಹುಗಳು ಕೃತಿಯ ಮೌಲಿಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿವೆ. ಈ...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...

Yaugandharam

इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...

Vanitakavitotsavah

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Vaiphalyaphalam

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Nipunapraghunakam

इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।

Bharavatarastavah

अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...

Bharatilochana

ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...