Reflections on the Bhagwat Geeta – Chapter XI

It is in this Chapter that Shree Krishna reveals his Divine Form to Arjun. That is why this Chapter is called विश्व रूप दर्शन (Vishwa-Roop-Darshan) or Revelation of Universal Form.

Recall that Chapter X ended with the declaration by Shree Krishna that just by one part of him, he occupies the entire Universe. If you had heard that from Shree Krishna, wouldn’t you want to see this Divine Universal Form?

Well, Arjun did and he said to Shree Krishna:

  • Verse 3, Line 2 & Verse 4I would like to see your Divine Form. If you think I am capable of viewing it, O Ultimate Yogi, O My God, please reveal your Eternal Form to me.
Shree Krishna agreed to this request from his most devout Bhakt and said:

  • Verse 8You will not be able to see Me with your human vision. So I  give a Divine Vision (दिव्यं ददामि ते चक्षुः) . View My Divine Yog Darshan.
Recall that the Great Rushi Vyaas had given a divine vision to Sanjay, the aide to Emperor Dhrut-Raashtra and that this divine vision enabled Sanjay to see the war and hear the conversation between Shree Krishna and Arjun.

When Shree Krishna revealed his Eternal Form to Arjun, Sanjay was the only other man who could see it. No one else in the vast armies assembled at कुरुक्षेत्र  or Kuru-Kshetra (the site of the War) was able to see it. Sanjay describes this Divine Form to Emperor Dhrut-Raashtra in Verses 9-14. Of this the description of Verse 12 is the most famous:

  • Verse 12 If the Brightness of a Thousand Suns (सूर्य-सहस्त्रस्य्स भाः) were to arise in the sky, it would resemble (सदृशी सा) the complexion of this Divine Atma (महात्मनः) .
The term brighter than a thousand suns has been repeated and used since that time. For example, Dr. Oppenheimer, the creator of the first Atom Bomb and a Samskrut Scholar, titled his biography “Brighter than a Thousand Suns”.

When he saw the Universal Form of God, Arjun was amazed and filled with sheer joy. He lowered his head, joined his hands in Namaskaar and began speaking to God. Verses 15-31 contain his description and appeal.

Arjun saw that there is no end, no middle, no beginning to the Divine Eternal Form. He saw that the entire space between the sky and the earth in all directions has been occupied by the Divine Eternal Form. This Form was as Frightening as it was Great. Verse 28 is the most reflective in our opinion:

  • Verse 28The way numerous rivers flow towards the Ocean, in the same way the warriors of this earth are entering the Fire in your Form.
We cannot find any statement that the Divine Form revealed to Arjun is THE or ONLY Divine Form of God. It is described in detail but as one Divine Form. This is consistent with the statement near the end of Chapter X which states “There is no end (न अन्तः अस्ति)  to my Divine Representations (मम दिव्यानां विभूतीनां) [Line 1, Verse 40].”
So why was this Divine Representation revealed to Arjun and not any other?

Remember the confusion of Arjun at the beginning of the Bhagwat Geeta . Arjun had no desire to kill his kin and he did not know which is better, whether he kills them or they kill him. So he dropped his weapons and decided to NOT wage war. The purpose of the Bhagwat Geeta is to clear this confusion of Arjun. This is why Shree Krishna taught Arjun his duty with Karma-Yog, Dnyaan-Yog and now with Bhakti.

In this Chapter, by revealing this particular Divine Form, Shree Krishna removes another doubt from Arjun’s mind. How? Read on.

While Arjun is amazed, thrilled and a little afraid, he does not understand this Magnificent but Frightening Divine Form. He says:

  • Verse 31Please tell me what Intense Form is this of Yours. I bow to you, O Great God, be pleased.  I would like to know Your Core Beginning . I do not understand your Your Nature.
The answer of Shree Krishna is in the next 3 extremely important verses:

  • Verse 32I am the Kaal (काल) or the Eternal Destruction and I am here to annihilate people (लोकान समाहर्तुम  इह प्रवृतः). These warriors who stand here (ये अवस्थिता योधाः ) in their armies will not exist (न भविष्यन्ति सर्वे) even if you are not here.
  • Verse 33Therefore You arise (तस्मात् तवं उत्तिष्ट), obtain success (यशो लभस्व) and enjoy a prosperous kingdom (भुन्श्क्व राज्यं समृद्हम) by defeating enemies (जित्वा शत्रून) . I have already killed them earlier (मयि निहताः पूर्वं). Simply become the Pretext or Instrument (of their destruction) (एव निमित्मात्रं भव) , O Arjun.
  • Verse 34Drona, Bhishma, Karna, Jayadrath, as well as other warriors. They have been killed by me (मया हतां). You do not become sad (तवं जहि मा व्यथिश्ता) . Wage War (युध्यस्व) . You are going to win in battle (जेतासि रणे).
These verses are pregnant with deep meaning. First and foremost, Shree Krishna removes the guilt in Arjun’s mind be telling him that these enemies are going to disappear whether Arjun is there or not. He adds that these warriors have already been killed by Shree Krishna and Arjun is merely the pretext or the instrument for their deaths. This is one of the most direct instructions to Arjun to remove the doubts in his own mind and Wage War.

This is also linked to the celebrated Verse 8 of Chapter IV in which Shree Krishna says that “I Create Himself from Era to Era (संभवामि युगे युगे) for the annihilation of evil-doers (विनाशायच दुष-कृताम).

In this context, Shree Krishna seems to be reminding Arjun that Drona, Karna and other warriors have committed evil deeds and so it is Shree Krishna who is annihilating them. Arjun is merely the pretext or the instrument of this act. 

Arjun again praises the Divine Eternal Form of Shree Krishna in Verses 36-46. In Verse 41, Arjun apologizes for his ignorance in having treated Shree Krishna as his friend and for addressing him as “Hey Krishna”, “Hey Yadav” and “Hey Friend”. Finally, Arjun requests Shree Krishna to reappear in his pleasing human form and bless him.

Shree Krishna does so. Arjun expresses his relief and says his mind is now fully alert. In the final four verses of Chapter XI, Shree Krishna tells Arjun that even Deities desire to view the Divine Form that Arjun saw.

He adds that it is not possible to view His Divine Form by studying the Ved,  by performing Tap (penance), with Dnyaan or Knowledge or by Charitable Giving. So how is it possible? 

  • Verse 54Only by your deep and sole devotion (to Me) (भकत्या त्वत अनन्यया) , is it possible to Know Me, See Me and Reach Me, O Arjun.
This is why this Chapter is considered to be an exposition of Bhakti-Marg.

    Thus Endeth Chapter XI named Vishwa-Roop-Darshan Yogविश्व रूप दर्शन योग) of Shree Bhagwat Geeta, of the Upa-Nisad (उप-निसदत्सु) , of the Yog-Shaastra (योग शास्त्र) of Brahma-Vidyaa (ब्रह्म विद्या), of the dialog (संवाद) between Shree Krishna & Arjun.

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