Recension By William Quan Judge
The Vision of the Divine Form as Including All Forms
“My delusion has been dispersed by the words which thou for my soul’s peace hast spoken concerning the mystery of the Adhyatma—the spirit. (1) For I have heard at full length from thee, O thou whose eyes are like lotus leaves, the origin and dissolution of existing things, and also thy inexhaustible majesty. (2) It is even as thou hast described thyself, O mighty Lord; I now desire to see thy divine form, O sovereign Lord. (3) Wherefore, O Lord, if thou thinkest it may be beheld by me, show me, O Master of devotion, thine inexhaustible Self.” (4)
“Behold, O son of Pritha, my forms by hundreds and by thousands, of diverse kinds divine, of many shapes and fashions. (5) Behold the Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Asvins, and the Maruts, see things wonderful never seen before, O son of Bharata. (6) Here in my body now behold, O Gudakesa, the whole universe animate and inanimate gathered here in one, and all things else thou hast a wish to see. (7) But as with thy natural eyes thou are not able to see me, I will give thee the divine eye. Behold my sovereign power and might!” (8)
O king, having thus spoken, Hari,1 the mighty Lord of mysterious power, showed to the son of Pritha his supreme form; (9) with many mouths and eyes and many wonderful appearances, with many divine ornaments, many celestial weapons upraised; (10) adorned with celestial garlands and robes, anointed with celestial ointments and perfumes, full of every marvelous thing, the eternal God whose face is turned in all directions. (11) The glory and amazing splendor of this mighty Being may be likened to the radiance shed by a thousand suns rising together into the heavens. (12) The son of Pandu then beheld within the body of the God of gods the whole universe in all its vast variety. (13) Overwhelmed with wonder, Dhananjaya,2 the possessor of wealth, with hair standing on end, bowed down his head before the Deity, and thus with joined palms3 addressed him: (14)
“I behold, O God of gods, within thy frame all beings and things of every kind; the Lord Brahma on his lotus throne, all the Rishis and the heavenly Serpents.4(15) I see thee on all sides, of infinite forms, having many arms, stomachs, mouths, and eyes. But I can discover neither thy beginning, thy middle, nor thy end, O universal Lord, form of the universe. (16) I see thee crowned with a diadem and armed with mace and chakra,5 a mass of splendor, darting light on all sides; difficult to behold, shining in every direction with light immeasurable, like the burning fire or glowing sun. (17) Thou art the supreme inexhaustible Being, the end of effort, changeless, the Supreme Spirit of this universe, the never-failing guardian of eternal law: I esteem thee Purusha,6(18) I see thee without beginning middle, or end, of infinite power with arms innumerable, the sun and moon thy eyes, thy mouth a flaming fire, overmastering the whole universe with thy majesty. (19) Space and heaven, and earth and every point around the three regions of the universe are filled with thee alone. The triple world is full of fear, O thou mighty Spirit, seeing this thy marvelous form of terror. (20) Of the assemblage of the gods some I see fly to thee for refuge, while some in fear with joined hands sing forth thy praise; the hosts of the Maharshis and Siddhas, great sages and saints, hail thee, saying “svasti,”7 and glorify thee with most excellent hymns. (21) The Rudras, Adityas, the Vasus, and all those beings—the Sadhyas, Visvas, the Asvins, Maruts, and Ushmapas, the hosts of Gandharvas, Yakshas, and Siddhas8—all stand gazing on thee and are amazed. (22) All the worlds alike with me are terrified to behold thy wondrous form gigantic, O thou of mighty arms, with many mouths and eyes, with many arms, thighs and feet, with many stomachs and projecting tusks. (23) For seeing thee thus touching the heavens, shining with such glory, with widely-opened mouths and bright expanded eyes, my inmost soul is troubled and I lose both firmness and tranquillity, O Vishnu. (24) Beholding thy dreadful teeth and thy face like the burning of death, I can see neither heaven nor earth; I find no peace; have mercy, O Lord of gods, thou Spirit of the universe! (25) The sons of Dhritarashtra with all these rulers of men, Bhishma, Drona and also Karna and our principal warriors, (26) seem to be impetuously precipitating themselves into thy mouths terrible with tusks; some are seen caught between thy teeth, their heads ground down. (27) As the rapid streams of full-flowing rivers roll on to meet the ocean, even so these heroes of the human race rush into thy flaming mouths. (28) As troops of insects carried away by strong impulse find death in the fire, even so do these beings with swelling force pour into thy mouths for their own destruction. (29) Thou involvest and swallowest all these creatures from every side, licking them in thy flaming lips; filling the universe with thy splendor, thy sharp beams burn, O Vishnu. (30) Reverence be unto thee, O best of Gods! Be favorable! I seek to know thee, the Primeval One, for I know not thy work.” (31)
“I am Time matured, come hither for the destruction of these creatures; except thyself, not one of all these warriors here drawn up in serried ranks shall live. (32) Wherefore, arise! seize fame! Defeat the foe and enjoy the fullgrown kingdom! They have been already slain by me; be thou only the immediate agent, O thou both-armed one.9(33) Be not disturbed. Slay Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna, and all the other heroes of the war who are really slain by me. Fight, thou wilt conquer all thine enemies.” (34)
When he of the resplendent diadem10 heard these words from the mouth of Kesava,11 he saluted Krishna with joined palms and trembling with fear, addressed him in broken accents, and bowed down terrified before him. (35)
“The universe, O Hrishikesa,12 is justly delighted with thy glory and is filled with zeal for thy service; the evil spirits are affrighted and flee on all sides, while all the hosts of saints bow down in adoration before thee. (36) And wherefore should they not adore thee, O mighty Being, thou who art greater than Brahma, who art the first Maker? O eternal God of gods! O habitation of the universe! Thou art the one indivisible Being, and Non-Being, that which is supreme. (37) Thou art the first of Gods, the most ancient Spirit; thou art the final supreme receptacle13 of this universe; thou art the Knower and that which is to be known, and the supreme mansion; and by thee, O thou of infinite form, is this universe caused to emanate. (38) Thou art Vayu, God of wind, Agni, God of fire, Yama, God of death, Varuna, God of waters; thou art the moon; Prajapati, the progenitor and grandfather, art thou. Hail! hail to thee! Hail to thee a thousand times repeated! Again and again hail to thee! Hail to thee! (39) Hail to thee from before! Hail to thee from behind! Hail to thee on all sides, O thou All! Infinite is thy power and might; thou includest all things, therefore thou art all things! (40)
“Having been ignorant of thy majesty, I took thee for a friend, and have called thee ‘O Krishna, O son of Yadu, O friend,’ and blinded by my affection and presumption, I have at times treated thee without respect in sport, in recreation, in repose, in thy chair, and at thy meals, in private and in public; all this I beseech thee, O inconceivable Being, to forgive. (41-42)
“Thou art the father of all things animate and inanimate; thou art to be honored as above the guru himself, and worthy to be adored; there is none equal to thee, and how in the triple worlds could there be thy superior, O thou of unrivaled power? (43) Therefore I bow down and with my body prostrate, I implore thee, O Lord, for mercy. Forgive, O Lord, as the friend forgives the friend, as the father pardons his son, as the lover the beloved. (44) I am well pleased with having beheld what was never before seen, and yet my heart is overwhelmed with awe; have mercy then, O God; show me that other form, O thou who art the dwelling-place of the universe; (45) I desire to see thee as before with thy diadem on thy head, thy hands armed with mace and chakra; assume again, O thou of a thousand arms and universal form, thy four-armed shape!”14(46)
“Out of kindness to thee, O Arjuna, by my divine power I have shown thee my supreme form, the universe, resplendent, infinite, primeval, and which has never been beheld by any other than thee. (47) Neither by studying the Vedas, nor by alms-giving, nor by sacrificial rites, nor by deeds, nor by the severest mortification of the flesh can I be seen in this form by any other than thee, O best of Kurus. (48) Having beheld my form thus awful, be not disturbed nor let thy faculties be confounded, but with fears allayed and happiness of heart look upon this other form of mine again.” (49)
Vasudeva15 having so spoken reassumed his natural form; and thus in milder shape the Great One presently assuaged the fears of the terrified Arjuna. (50)
“Now that I see again thy placid human shape, O Janadana, who art prayed to by mortals, my mind is no more disturbed and I am self-possessed.” (51)
“Thou hast seen this form of mine which is difficult to be perceived and which even the gods are always anxious to behold. (52) But I am not to be seen, even as I have shown myself to thee, by study of the Vedas, nor by mortifications, nor alms-giving, nor sacrifices. (53) I am to be approached and seen and known in truth by means of that devotion which has me alone as the object. (54) He whose actions are for me alone, who esteemeth me the supreme goal, who is my servant only, without attachment to the results of action and free from enmity towards any creature, cometh to me, O son of Pandu.” (55)
Thus in the Upanishads, called the holy Bhagavad-Gita,
in the science of the Supreme Spirit, in the book of devotion,
in the colloquy between the Holy Krishna and Arjuna,
stands the Eleventh Chapter, by name—
THE VISION OF THE DIVINE FORM AS INCLUDING ALL FORMS.
1. Hari, an epithet of Krishna, meaning that he has the power to remove all difficulty.
3. This is the Hindu mode of salutation.
4. These are the Uragas, said to be serpents. But it must refer to the great Masters of Wisdom, who were often called Serpents.
5. Among human weapons this would be known as the discus, but here it means the whirling wheel of spiritual will and power.
6. Purusha, the Eternal Person. The same name is also given to man by the Hindus.
7. This cry is supposed to be for the benefit of the world, and has that meaning.
8. All these names refer to different classes of celestial beings, some of which are now called in theosophical literature “elementals”; the others are explained in H. P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine.
9. Arjuna was a famous archer who could use the celestial bow, Gandiva, with either hand equally well.
10. Arjuna wore a brilliant tiara.
11. Krishna, by another name.
13. That is, that into which the universe is resolved on the final dissolution.
14. Arjuna had been accustomed to see Krishna in his four-armed form, not only in the images shown in youth, but also when Krishna came into incarnation, and could therefore look on the four-armed form without fear.
15. A name of Krishna.