Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Part 4

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Part 5

4-4 Viswarupa darshan (Yoga of cosmic vision) 11 (1 to 55)
In chapter 10, Sri Krishna has narrated divine manifestations. Arjuna says that by hearing divine teachings including the origin and dissolution of the universe, his delusion has gone, and that he wishes to directly see the cosmic form of Isvara, if it is possible. Sri Krishna accepts the request but says that it is not possible to see the cosmic form with ordinary eyes. He provides special eyes, i.e., eyes of knowledge for this purpose. Sri Krishna mentions 12 Adityas, 8 Vasus, 11 Rudras, two Asvins and 49 Maruts divided into seven groups and many wonders not seen before. The entire Universe of moving and the non-moving are in His body. The cosmic form is described in detail.

It has many faces and eyes wears many heavenly ornaments, garlands, and apparel, is anointed with scents, and wields heavenly weapons. The brilliance of the cosmic form surpasses the effulgence of a thousand suns blazing simultaneously in the sky. Arjuna sees different groups of entities such as gods, manes, and human beings in one cosmic form.

Seeing this sight, Arjun is struck with wonder. He narrates his experience. He sees gods, Brahmaji, heavenly sages, and serpents. He sees the cosmic form possessed of many arms, bellies, mouths, and eyes and there is no beginning, middle, and end. The cosmic form is wearing a diadem, and wielding a mace, disc. Arjuna is overwhelmed by the cosmic form and praises the Lord- ‘You are the immutable, imperishable. You are the substratum of the universe and the supreme One to be known by those aspiring for liberation. The cosmic form has the sun and moon as eyes, and mouth like a blazing fire. The intermediate space between heaven and earth and all the directions are pervaded by cosmic form. To clear Arjuna’s doubt about the Pandavas’ victory or defeat [2(6)], Sri Krishna shows the inevitable victory of the Pandavas. Groups of gods and sages who have descended to witness the war praise Him with folded hands and sing hymns.

Up till now, Arjuna is wonderstruck by the cosmic form. Now seeing the huge cosmic form, fear takes over wonder, especially by the sight of mouths with terrible teeth and resembling fire of dissolution. He is terrified and has lost his sense of direction. He sees sons of Dhritarashtra, Bhisma, Drona, Karna, and other warriors entering the mouth of the cosmic form, sticking in gaps between teeth and their heads getting crushed. It is like many currents of river water rushing towards the sea and moths entering the glowing fire. The cosmic form is licking and devouring creatures from every side. The scene indicates that Kauravas will be defeated.

Arjuna is bewildered by the theatrics of the cosmic form. His fear is coupled with curiosity to know about the reality of Sri Krishna. He offers a salutation and expresses his desire to know Him. Sri Krishna reveals that He is a time-principle that destroys the world. With time, the annihilation of creatures take place. All the warriors who are arrayed in two camps meet death at the appropriate time whether Arjuna fights or not. Since this is so, Arjuna should rise and become an instrument of God to defeat the enemies spearheaded by great warriors like Bhisma, Drona, and Karna, and become famous. Sri Krishna’s words inject a sense of surrender in Arjuna’s fear.

Arjuna’s praise of the cosmic form continues. It is but proper that the world rejoices His praise as He is the Self of all beings. Adepts bow down to Him and demons run away from Him out of fear. He is the creator of even Brahmaji, He is immutable, transcendental, being, and non-being. Being is that which exists, and non-being is that for which the idea of non-existence arises. He is Immutable of which being and non-being are the limiting adjuncts and is metaphorically referred to as being and non-being. That Immutable is transcendental to being and non-being. He is the knower of all that is to be known. He is the object of knowledge—that which is worthy of knowing. The praise continues. Salutation to Him from all sides.

Arjuna realizes that in the past he has treated Sri Krishna as a friend and with intimacy in public and in private which were not befitting His greatness. Arjuna seeks His forgiveness by bowing down and prostrating- as a father forgives his son, a friend forgives a friend, and a lover forgives a beloved. Though Arjuna has surrendered, fear lingers in some corner of his mind because he has witnessed an unprecedented event. He implores Sri Krishna to regain His original, normal form of four hands wearing a crown, wielding a mace, and holding a disc. Acknowledging Arjuna’s fear, Sri Krishna withdraws the cosmic form and assumes human form, and assures Arjuna not to have any fear.

Arjuna is fortunate to have seen His spectacular form not seen before by anyone. The cosmic form is very rare and secret. A human being cannot see it by study of the Vedas and sacrifices, or by gifts, rituals, and austerities. By single-minded devotion only, the cosmic form of God can be seen. A devotion is single-minded that does not turn to anything other than God and owing to which nothing else, but He is perceived by all the organs. With that devotion, He is to be known and realized for attaining liberation.

The essential purport of the whole scripture, the Gita, which is meant for liberation, is being stated by summing it up so that it may be practised. A person who works for Him accepts Him as the supreme Goal, is devoted to Him, is devoid of attachment and free from enmity towards all beings, attains Him. A servant works for his master but does not accept the master as his own supreme Goal. This devotee works for Him and accepts Him alone as the supreme Goal.

Sri Krishna provides Arjuna with eyes of wisdom to see the cosmic form. Eyes of wisdom means knowledge that God takes the form of the Universe. Various bodies are the bodies of God. It is not that Arjuna sees a thousand human bodies that are different. He sees God in all bodies. Cosmic form is not an extraordinary form. It is an ordinary form seen with an extraordinary attitude. This attitude cannot come overnight. It requires sustained preparation in the form of karma yoga, upasana, and of course jnana yoga. God is all the time available before us in the form of the universe. A sage sees God all the time and everywhere and rejoices. Arjuna was provided with eyes of wisdom. It was artificial, so to say. That is why his wonder changes into fear. He does not withstand the cosmic form for long and requests Sri Krishna to return to human form.

Arjuna sees that many warriors on both sides are killed in the war, Bhisma, Drona, and Karna included. Sri Krishna asks Arjuna to be His instrument in their killing. It may seem that human beings are only puppets in the hands of God, and everything is pre-determined by the God called destiny or fate. It is not so. There is difference between fate and fatalism. Scriptures accept fate in the form of a result of actions done in earlier lives. It is also known as prarabdha or daivam. Daivam because God is the giver of fruits of action (karma-phala-data). Results of action in the present life are determined by the resultant of two forces, prarabdha and personal effort. Fatalism means that everything is determined by fate and personal effort has no role. Scriptures reject fatalism.

Why has Sri Krishna asked Arjuna to be an instrument? In the case of a human being, an instrument in the hands of the Lord means following a dharmic course of action because Bhagavan controls and sustains the world through dharma. When personal effort aligns with dharma, a person is the instrument of the Lord. Arjuna is facing a conflict. Dharma requires Arjuna to fight. Sri Krishna is asking Arjuna to follow dharma and be His instrument.
Contd Part 5