The Universal Form

Universal Form  Plate 31

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter Eleven

The Universal Form


arjuna uvāca

mad-anugrahāya paramaṁ
guhyam adhyātma-saṁjñitam
yat tvayoktaṁ vacas tena
moho ’yaṁ vigato mama

arjunaḥ uvāca—Arjuna said; mat-anugrahāya—just to show me favor; paramam—supreme; guhyam—confidential; adhyātma—spiritual; saṁjñitam—in the matter of; yat—what; tvayā—by You; uktam—said; vacaḥ—words; tena—by that; mohaḥ—illusion; ayam—this; vigataḥ—is educated; mama—my.


Arjuna said: I have heard Your instruction on confidential spiritual matters which You have so kindly delivered unto me, and my illusion is now dispelled.


This chapter reveals Kṛṣṇa as the cause of all causes. He is even the cause of the Mahā-Viṣṇu, and from Him the material universes emanate. Kṛṣṇa is not an incarnation; He is the source of all incarnations. That has been completely explained in the last chapter.

Now, as far as Arjuna is concerned, he says that his illusion is over. This means that Arjuna no longer thinks of Kṛṣṇa as a mere human being, as a friend of his, but as the source of everything. Arjuna is very enlightened and is glad that he has a great friend like Kṛṣṇa, but now he is thinking that although he may accept Kṛṣṇa as the source of everything, others may not. So in order to establish Kṛṣṇa’s divinity for all, he is requesting Kṛṣṇa in this chapter to show His universal form. Actually when one sees the universal form of Kṛṣṇa one becomes frightened, like Arjuna, but Kṛṣṇa is so kind that after showing it He converts Himself again into His original form. Arjuna agrees to what Kṛṣṇa says several times. Kṛṣṇa is speaking to him just for his benefit, and Arjuna acknowledges that all this is happening to him by Kṛṣṇa’s grace. He is now convinced that Kṛṣṇa is the cause of all causes and is present in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul.


bhavāpyayau hi bhūtānāṁ
śrutau vistaraśo mayā
tvattaḥ kamala-patrākṣa
māhātmyam api cāvyayam

bhava—appearance; apyayau—disappearance; hi—certainly; bhūtānām—of all living entities; śrutau—have heard; vistaraśaḥ—detail; mayā—by me; tvattaḥ—from You; kamala-patrākṣa—O lotus-eyed one; māhātmyam—glories; api—also; ca—and; avyayam—inexhaustible.


O lotus-eyed one, I have heard from You in detail about the appearance and disappearance of every living entity, as realized through Your inexhaustible glories.


Arjuna addresses Lord Kṛṣṇa as “lotus-eyed” (Kṛṣṇa’s eyes appear just like the petals of a lotus flower) out of his joy, for Kṛṣṇa has assured him, in the last verse of the previous chapter, that He sustains the entire universe with just a fragment of Himself. He is the source of everything in this material manifestation, and Arjuna has heard of this from the Lord in detail. Arjuna further knows that in spite of His being the source of all appearances and disappearances, He is aloof from them. His personality is not lost, although He is all-pervading. That is the inconceivable opulence of Kṛṣṇa which Arjuna admits that he has thoroughly understood.


evam etad yathāttha tvam
ātmānaṁ parameśvara
draṣṭum icchāmi te rūpam
aiśvaraṁ puruṣottama

evam—that; etat—this; yathāttha—as it is; tvam—You; ātmānam—the soul; parameśvara—the Supreme Lord; draṣṭum—to see; icchāmi—I wish; te—You; rūpam—form; aiśvaram—divine; puruṣottama—O best of personalities.


O greatest of all personalities, O supreme form, though I see here before me Your actual position, I yet wish to see how You have entered into this cosmic manifestation. I want to see that form of Yours.


The Lord said that because He entered into the material universe by His personal representation, the cosmic manifestation has been made possible and is going on. Now as far as Arjuna is concerned, he is inspired by the statements of Kṛṣṇa, but in order to convince others in the future who may think that Kṛṣṇa is an ordinary person, he desires to see Him actually in His universal form, to see how He is acting from within the universe, although He is apart from it. Arjuna’s asking the Lord’s permission is also significant. Since the Lord is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He is present within Arjuna himself; therefore He knows the desire of Arjuna, and He can understand that Arjuna has no special desire to see Him in His universal form, for he is completely satisfied to see Him in His personal form of Kṛṣṇa. But He can understand also that Arjuna wants to see the universal form to convince others. He did not have any personal desire for confirmation. Kṛṣṇa also understands that Arjuna wants to see the universal form to set a criterion, for in the future there would be so many imposters who would pose themselves as incarnations of God. The people, therefore, should be careful; one who claims to be Kṛṣṇa should be prepared to show his universal form to confirm his claim to the people.


manyase yadi tac chakyaṁ
mayā draṣṭum iti prabho
yogeśvara tato me tvaṁ
darśayātmānam avyayam

manyase—if You think; yadi—if; tat—that; śakyam—able to see; mayā—by me; draṣṭum—to see; iti—thus; prabho—O Lord; yogeśvara—the Lord of all mystic power; tataḥ—then; me—unto me; tvam—You; darśaya—show; ātmānam—Yourself; avyayam—eternal.


If You think that I am able to behold Your cosmic form, O my Lord, O master of all mystic power, then kindly show me that universal self.


It is said that one can neither see, hear, understand nor perceive the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, by the material senses. But if one is engaged in loving transcendental service to the Lord from the beginning, then one can see the Lord by revelation. Every living entity is only a spiritual spark; therefore it is not possible to see or to understand the Supreme Lord. Arjuna, as a devotee, does not depend on his speculative strength; rather, he admits his limitations as a living entity and acknowledges Kṛṣṇa’s inestimable position. Arjuna could understand that for a living entity it is not possible to understand the unlimited infinite. If the infinite reveals Himself, then it is possible to understand the nature of the infinite by the grace of the infinite. The word yogeśvara is also very significant here because the Lord has inconceivable power. If He likes, He can reveal Himself by His grace, although He is unlimited. Therefore Arjuna pleads for the inconceivable grace of Kṛṣṇa. He does not give Kṛṣṇa orders. Kṛṣṇa is not obliged to reveal Himself to anyone unless one surrenders fully in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and engages in devotional service. Thus it is not possible for persons who depend on the strength of their mental speculations to see Kṛṣṇa.


śrī-bhagavān uvāca

paśya me pārtha rūpāṇi
śataśo ’tha sahasraśaḥ
nānā-vidhāni divyāni
nānā-varṇākṛtīni ca

śrī bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; paśya—just see; me—Mine; pārtha—O son of Pṛthā; rūpāṇi—forms; śataśaḥ—hundreds; atha—also; sahasraśaḥ—thousands; nānā-vidhāni—variegated; divyāni—divine; nānā—variegated; varṇa—colored; akṛtīni—forms; ca—also.


The Blessed Lord said: My dear Arjuna, O son of Pṛthā, behold now My opulences, hundreds of thousands of varied divine forms, multicolored like the sea.


Arjuna wanted to see Kṛṣṇa in His universal form, which, although a transcendental form, is just manifested for the cosmic manifestation and is therefore subject to the temporary time of this material nature. As the material nature is manifested and not manifested, similarly this universal form of Kṛṣṇa is manifested and unmanifested. It is not eternally situated in the spiritual sky like Kṛṣṇa’s other forms. As far as a devotee is concerned, he is not eager to see the universal form, but because Arjuna wanted to see Kṛṣṇa in this way, Kṛṣṇa reveals this form. This universal form is not possible to be seen by any ordinary man. Kṛṣṇa must give one the power to see it.


paśyādityān vasūn rudrān
aśvinau marutas tathā
bahūny adṛṣṭa-pūrvāṇi
paśyāścaryāṇi bhārata

paśya—see; ādityān—the twelve sons of Aditi; vasūn—the eight Vasus; rudrān—the eleven forms of Rudra; aśvinau—the two Asvins; marutaḥ—the forty-nine Maruts (demigods of the wind); tathā—also; bahūni—many; adṛṣṭa—that you have not heard or seen; pūrvāṇi—before; paśya—there see; āścaryāṇi—all the wonderful; bhārata—O best of the Bhāratas.


O best of the Bhāratas, see here the different manifestations of Ādityas, Rudras, and all the demigods. Behold the many things which no one has ever seen or heard before.


Even though Arjuna was a personal friend of Kṛṣṇa and the most advanced of learned men, it was still not possible for him to know everything about Kṛṣṇa. Here it is stated that humans have neither heard nor known of all these forms and manifestations. Now Kṛṣṇa reveals these wonderful forms.


ihaika-sthaṁ jagat kṛtsnaṁ
paśyādya sa-carācaram
mama dehe guḍākeśa
yac cānyad draṣṭum icchasi

iha—in this; ekastham—in one; jagat—the universe; kṛtsnam—completely; paśya—see; adya—immediately; sa—with; cara—moving; acaram—not moving; mama—My; dehe—in this body; guḍākeśa—O Arjuna; yat—that; ca—also; anyat—other; draṣṭum—to see; icchasi—you like.


Whatever you wish to see can be seen all at once in this body. This universal form can show you all that you now desire, as well as whatever you may desire in the future. Everything is here completely.


No one can see the entire universe sitting in one place. Even the most advanced scientist cannot see what is going on in other parts of the universe. Kṛṣṇa gives him the power to see anything he wants to see, past, present and future. Thus by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna is able to see everything.


na tu māṁ śakyase draṣṭum
anenaiva sva-cakṣuṣā
divyaṁ dadāmi te cakṣuḥ
paśya me yogam aiśvaram

na—never; tu—but; mām—Me; śakyase—able; draṣṭum—to see; anena—by this; eva—certainly; sva-cakṣuṣā—with your own eyes; divyam—divine; dadāmi—I give; te—you; cakṣuḥ—eyes; paśya—see; me—My; yogam aiśvaram—inconceivable mystic power.


But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give to you divine eyes by which you can behold My mystic opulence.


A pure devotee does not like to see Kṛṣṇa in any form except His form with two hands; a devotee must see His universal form by His grace, not with the mind but with spiritual eyes. To see the universal form of Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna is told not to change his mind but his vision. The universal form of Kṛṣṇa is not very important; that will be clear in the verses. Yet because Arjuna wanted to see it, the Lord gives him the particular vision required to see that universal form.

Devotees who are correctly situated in a transcendental relationship with Kṛṣṇa are attracted by loving features, not by a godless display of opulences. The playmates of Kṛṣṇa, the friends of Kṛṣṇa and the parents of Kṛṣṇa never want Kṛṣṇa to show His opulences. They are so immersed in pure love that they do not even know that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In their loving exchange they forget that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that the boys who play with Kṛṣṇa are all highly pious souls, and after many, many births they are able to play with Kṛṣṇa. Such boys do not know that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They take Him as a personal friend. The Supreme Person is considered as the impersonal Brahman by great sages, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the devotees, and as a product of this material nature by ordinary men. The fact is that the devotee is not concerned to see the viśva-rūpa, the universal form, but Arjuna wanted to see it to substantiate Kṛṣṇa’s statement so that in the future people could understand that Kṛṣṇa not only theoretically or philosophically presented Himself as the Supreme but actually presented Himself as such to Arjuna. Arjuna must confirm this because Arjuna is the beginning of the paramparā system. Those who are actually interested to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and who follow in the footsteps of Arjuna should understand that Kṛṣṇa not only theoretically presented Himself as the Supreme, but actually revealed Himself as the Supreme.

The Lord gave Arjuna the necessary power to see His universal form because He knew that Arjuna did not particularly want to see it, as we have already explained.


sañjaya uvāca

evam uktvā tato rājan
mahā-yogeśvaro hariḥ
darśayām āsa pārthāya
paramaṁ rūpam aiśvaram

sañjayaḥ uvāca—Sanjaya said; evam—thus; uktvā—saying; tataḥ—thereafter; rājan—O King; mahā-yogeśvaraḥ—the most powerful mystic; hariḥ—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa; darśayāmāsa—showed; pārthāya—unto Arjuna; paramam—divine; rūpam—universal form; aiśvaram—opulences.


Sañjaya said: O King, speaking thus, the Supreme, the Lord of all mystic power, the Personality of Godhead, displayed His universal form to Arjuna.

TEXTS 10–11


sarvāścarya-mayaṁ devam
anantaṁ viśvato-mukham

aneka—various; vaktra—mouths; nayanam—eyes; aneka—various; adbhuta—wonderful; darśanam—sight; aneka—many; divya—divine; ābharaṇam—ornaments; divya—divine; aneka—various; udyata—uplifted; āyudham weapons; divya—divine; mālya—garlands; ambara-dharam—covered with the dresses; divya—divine; gandha—fragrance; anulepanam—smeared; sarva—all; aścaryamayam—wonderful; devam—shining; anantam—unlimited; viśvataḥ-mukham—all-pervading.


Arjuna saw in that universal form unlimited mouths and unlimited eyes. It was all wondrous. The form was decorated with divine, dazzling ornaments and arrayed in many garbs. He was garlanded gloriously, and there were many scents smeared over His body. All was magnificent, all-expanding, unlimited. This was seen by Arjuna.


These two verses indicate that there is no limit to the hands, mouths, legs, etc., of the Lord. These manifestations are distributed throughout the universe and are unlimited. By the grace of the Lord, Arjuna could see them while sitting in one place. That is due to the inconceivable potency of Kṛṣṇa.


divi sūrya-sahasrasya
bhaved yugapad utthitā
yadi bhāḥ sadṛśī sā syād
bhāsas tasya mahātmanaḥ

divi—in the sky; sūrya—sun; sahasrasya—of many thousands; bhavet—there were; yugapat—simultaneously; utthitā—present; yadi—if; bhāḥ—light; sadṛśī—like that; sā—that; syāt—may be; bhāsaḥ—effulgence; tasya—there is; mahātmanaḥ—of the great Lord.


If hundreds of thousands of suns rose up at once into the sky, they might resemble the effulgence of the Supreme Person in that universal form.


What Arjuna saw was indescribable, yet Sañjaya is trying to give a mental picture of that great revelation to Dhṛtarāṣṭra. Neither Sañjaya nor Dhṛtarāṣṭra were present, but Sañjaya, by the grace of Vyāsa, could see whatever happened. Thus he now compares the situation, as far as it can be understood, to an imaginable phenomenon (i.e. thousands of suns).

Universal Form  Plate 31


tatraika-sthaṁ jagat kṛtsnaṁ
pravibhaktam anekadhā
apaśyad deva-devasya
śarīre pāṇḍavas tadā

tatra—there; ekastham—one place; jagat—universe; kṛtsnam—completely; pravibhaktam—divided in; anekadhā—many kinds; apaśyat—could see; deva-devasya—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; śarīre—in the universal form; pāṇḍavaḥ—Arjuna; tadā—at that time.


At that time Arjuna could see in the universal form of the Lord the unlimited expansions of the universe situated in one place although divided into many, many thousands.


The word tatra (there) is very significant. It indicates that both Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa were sitting on the chariot when Arjuna saw the universal form. Others on the battlefield could not see this form because Kṛṣṇa gave the vision only to Arjuna. Arjuna could see in the body of Kṛṣṇa many thousands of universes. As we learn from Vedic scriptures, there are many universes and many planets. Some of them are made of earth, some are made of gold, some are made of jewels, some are very great, some are not so great, etc. Sitting on his chariot, Arjuna could see all these universes. But no one could understand what was going on between Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa.


tataḥ sa vismayāviṣṭo
hṛṣṭa-romā dhanañjayaḥ
praṇamya śirasā devaṁ
kṛtāñjalir abhāṣata

tataḥ—thereafter; saḥ—he; vismayāviṣṭaḥ—being overwhelmed with wonder; hṛṣṭa-romā—with his bodily hairs standing on end due to his great ecstasy; dhanañjayaḥ—Arjuna ; praṇamya—offering obeisances; śirasā—with the head; devam—to the Supreme Personality of Godhead; kṛtāñjaliḥ—with folded hands; abhāṣata—began to say.


Then, bewildered and astonished, his hair standing on end, Arjuna began to pray with folded hands, offering obeisances to the Supreme Lord.


Once the divine vision is revealed, the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna changes immediately. Before, Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna had a relationship based on friendship, but here, after the revelation, Arjuna is offering obeisances with great respect, and with folded hands he is praying to Kṛṣṇa. He is praising the universal form. Thus Arjuna’s relationship becomes one of wonder rather than friendship. Great devotees see Kṛṣṇa as the reservoir of all relationships. In the scriptures there are twelve basic kinds of relationships mentioned, and all of them are present in Kṛṣṇa. It is said that He is the ocean of all the relationships exchanged between two living entities, between the gods, or between the Supreme Lord and His devotees.

It is said that Arjuna was inspired by the relationship of wonder, and in that wonder, although he was by nature very sober, calm and quiet, he became ecstatic, his hair stood up, and he began to offer his obeisances unto the Supreme Lord with folded hands. He was not, of course, afraid. He was affected by the wonders of the Supreme Lord. The immediate context is wonder; his natural loving friendship was overwhelmed by wonder, and thus he reacted in this way.


arjuna uvāca

paśyāmi devāṁs tava deva dehe
sarvāṁs tathā bhūta-viśeṣa-saṅghān
brahmāṇam īśaṁ kamalāsana-stham
ṛṣīṁś ca sarvān uragāṁś ca divyān

arjunaḥ uvāca—Arjuna said; paśyāmi—I see; devān—all the demigods; tava—Your; deva—O Lord; dehe—in the body; sarvān—all; tathā—also; bhūta—living entities; viśeṣa-saṅghān—specifically assembled; brahmāṇam—Lord Brahmā; īśam—Lord Śiva; kamala-āsana-stham—sitting on the lotus flower; ṛṣīn—great sages; ca—also; sarvān—all; uragān—serpents; ca—also; divyān—divine.


Arjuna said: My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, I see assembled together in Your body all the demigods and various other living entities. I see Brahmā sitting on the lotus flower as well as Lord Śiva and many sages and divine serpents.


Arjuna sees everything in the universe; therefore he sees Brahmā, who is the first creature in the universe, and the celestial serpent upon which the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu lies in the lower regions of the universe. This snake bed is called Vāsuki. There are also other snakes known as Vāsuki. Arjuna can see from the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu up to the topmost part of the universe on the lotus-flower planet where Brahmā, the first creature of the universe, resides. That means that from the beginning to the end, everything could be seen by Arjuna sitting in one place on his chariot. This was possible by the grace of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa.


paśyāmi tvāṁ sarvato ’nanta-rūpam
nāntaṁ na madhyaṁ na punas tavādiṁ
paśyāmi viśveśvara viśva-rūpa

aneka—many; bāhū—arms; udara—bellies; vaktra—mouths; netram—eyes; paśyāmi—I see; tvām—unto You; sarvataḥ—from all sides; ananta-rūpam—unlimited form; na antam—there is no end; na madhyam—there is no middle; na punaḥ—nor again; tava—Your; ādim—beginning; paśyāmi—I see; viśveśvara—O Lord of the universe; viṣva-rūpa—in the form of the universe.


O Lord of the universe, I see in Your universal body many, many forms—bellies, mouths, eyes—expanded without limit. There is no end, there is no beginning, and there is no middle to all this.


Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is unlimited; thus through Him everything could be seen.


kirīṭinaṁ gadinaṁ cakriṇaṁ ca
tejo-rāśiṁ sarvato dīptimantam
paśyāmi tvāṁ durnirīkṣyaṁ samantād
dīptānalārka-dyutim aprameyam

kirīṭinam—with helmets; gadinam—with maces; cakriṇam—with discs; ca—and; tejorāśim—effulgence; sarvataḥ—all sides; dīptimantam—glowing; pasyāmi—I see; tvām—You; durnirīkṣyam—difficult to see; samantāt—spreading; dīpta-anala—blazing fire; arka—sun; dyutim—sunshine; aprameyam—immeasurable.


Your form, adorned with various crowns, clubs and discs, is difficult to see because of its glaring effulgence, which is fiery and immeasurable like the sun.


tvam akṣaraṁ paramaṁ veditavyaṁ
tvam asya viśvasya paraṁ nidhānam
tvam avyayaḥ śāśvata-dharma-goptā
sanātanas tvaṁ puruṣo mato me

tvam—You; akṣaram—inexhaustible; paramam—supreme; veditavyam—to be understood; tvam—You; asya—of this; viśvasya—of the universe; param—supreme; nidhānam—basis; tvam—You are; avyayaḥ—inexhaustible; śāśvata-dharma-goptā—maintainer of the eternal religion; sanātanaḥ—eternal; tvam—You; puruṣaḥ—Supreme Personality; mataḥ me—is my opinion.


You are the supreme primal objective; You are the best in all the universes; You are inexhaustible, and You are the oldest; You are the maintainer of religion, the eternal Personality of Godhead.


anādi-madhyāntam ananta-vīryam
ananta-bāhuṁ śaśi-sūrya-netram
paśyāmi tvāṁ dīpta-hutāśa-vaktraṁ
sva-tejasā viśvam idaṁ tapantam

anādi—without beginning; madhya—without middle; antam—without end; ananta—unlimited; vīryam—glorious; ananta—unlimited; bāhum—arms; śaśi—moon; sūrya—sun; netram—eyes; paśyāmi—I see; tvām—You; dīpta—blazing; hutāśa-vaktram—fire coming out of Your mouth; sva-tejasā—by Your; viśvam—this universe; idam—this; tapantam—heating.


You are the origin without beginning, middle or end. You have numberless arms, and the sun and moon are among Your great unlimited eyes. By Your own radiance You are heating this entire universe.


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.


dyāv ā-pṛthivyor idam antaraṁ hi
vyāptaṁ tvayaikena diśaś ca sarvāḥ
dṛṣṭvādbhutaṁ rūpam ugraṁ tavedaṁ
loka-trayaṁ pravyathitaṁ mahātman

dyau—in outer space; āpṛthivyoḥ—of the earth; idam—this; antaram—in between; hi—certainly; vyāptam—pervaded; tvayā—by You; ekena—by one; diśaḥ—directions; ca—and; sarvāḥ—all; dṛṣṭvā—by seeing; adbhutam—wonderful; rūpam—form; ugram—terrible; tava—Your; idam—this; loka—planetary system; trayam—three; pravyathitam—perturbed; mahātman—O great one.


Although You are one, You are spread throughout the sky and the planets and all space between. O great one, as I behold this terrible form, I see that all the planetary systems are perplexed.


Dyāv āpṛthivyoḥ (the space between heaven and earth) and lokatrayam (three worlds) are significant words in this verse because it appears that not only Arjuna saw this universal form of the Lord, but others in other planetary systems also saw it. The vision was not a dream. All who were spiritually awake with the divine vision saw it.


amī hi tvāṁ sura-saṅghā viśanti
kecid bhītāḥ prāñjalayo gṛṇanti
svastīty uktvā maharṣi-siddha-saṅghāḥ
stuvanti tvāṁ stutibhiḥ puṣkalābhiḥ

amī—all those; hi—certainly; tvām—unto You; sura-saṅghāḥ—groups of demigods; viśanti—entering; kecit—some of them; bhītāḥ—out of fear; prāñjalayaḥ—with folded hands; gṛṇanti—offering prayers unto; svasti—all peace; iti—thus; uktvā—speaking like that; maharṣi—great sages; siddha-saṅghāḥ—perfect sages; stuvanti—singing hymns; tvām—unto You; stutibhiḥ—with prayers; puṣkalābhiḥ—Vedic hymns.


All the demigods are surrendering and entering into You. They are very much afraid, and with folded hands they are singing the Vedic hymns.


The demigods in all the planetary systems feared the terrific manifestation of the universal form and its glowing effulgence and so prayed for protection.


rudrādityā vasavo ye ca sādhyā
viśve ’śvinau marutaś coṣmapāś ca
vīkṣante tvāṁ vismitāś caiva sarve

rudra—manifestations of Lord Śiva; ādityāḥ—the Ādityas; vasavaḥ—the Vasus; ye—all those; ca—and; sādhyāḥ—the Sādhyas; viśve—the Viśvadevas; aśvinau—the Aśvinīkumāras; marutaḥ—the Maruts; ca—and; uṣmapāḥ—the forefathers; ca—and; gandharva—the Gandharvas; yakṣa—the Yakṣas; asura-siddha—the demons and the perfected demigods; saṅghāḥ—assemblies; vīkṣante—are seeing; tvām—You; vismitāḥ—in wonder; ca—also; eva—certainly; sarve—all.


The different manifestations of Lord Śiva, the Ādityas, the Vasus, the Sādhyas, the Viśvadevas, the two Aśvins, the Māruts, the forefathers and the Gandharvas, the Yakṣas, Asuras, and all perfected demigods are beholding You in wonder.


rūpaṁ mahat te bahu-vaktra-netraṁ
mahā-bāho bahu-bāhūru-pādam
bahūdaraṁ bahu-daṁṣṭrā-karālaṁ
dṛṣṭvā lokāḥ pravyathitās tathāham

rūpam—form; mahat—very great; te—of You; bahu—many; vaktra—faces; netram—eyes; mahā-bāho—O mighty-armed one; bahu—many; bāhu—arms; ūru—thighs; pādam—legs; bahu-udaram—many bellies; babu-daṁṣṭrā—many teeth; karālam—horrible; dṛṣṭvā—seeing; lokāḥ—all the planets; pravyathitāḥ—perturbed; tathā—similarly; aham—I.


O mighty-armed one, all the planets with their demigods are disturbed at seeing Your many faces, eyes, arms, bellies and legs and Your terrible teeth, and as they are disturbed, so am I.


nabhaḥ-spṛśaṁ dīptam aneka-varṇaṁ
vyāttānanaṁ dīpta-viśāla-netram
dṛṣṭvā hi tvāṁ pravyathitāntar-ātmā
dhṛtiṁ na vindāmi śamaṁ ca viṣṇo

nabhaḥ spṛśam—touching the sky; dīptam—glowing; aneka—many; varṇam—color; vyāttā—open; ānanam—mouth; dīpta—glowing; viśāla—very great; netram—eyes; dṛṣṭvā—by seeing; hi—certainly; tvām—You; pravyathitā—perturbed; antaḥ—within; ātmā—soul; dhṛtim—steadiness; na—no; vindāmi—and have; śamam—mental tranquility; ca—also; viṣṇo—O Lord Viṣṇu.


O all-pervading Viṣṇu, I can no longer maintain my equilibrium. Seeing Your radiant colors fill the skies and beholding Your eyes and mouths, I am afraid.


daṁṣṭrā-karālāni ca te mukhāni
dṛṣṭvaiva kālānala-sannibhāni
diśo na jāne na labhe ca śarma
prasīda deveśa jagan-nivāsa

daṁṣṭrā—teeth; karālāni—like that; ca—also; te—Your; mukhāni—faces; dṛṣṭvā—seeing; eva—thus; kālānala—the fire of death; sannibhāni—as if blazing; diśaḥ—directions; na jāne—do not know; na labhe—nor obtain; ca śarma—and grace; prasīda—be pleased; deveśa—O Lord of all lords; jagat-nivāsa—refuge of the worlds.


O Lord of lords, O refuge of the worlds, please be gracious to me. I cannot keep my balance seeing thus Your blazing deathlike faces and awful teeth. In all directions I am bewildered.

TEXTS 26–27

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

vaktrāṇi te tvaramāṇā viśanti
daṁṣṭrā-karālāni bhayānakāni
kecid vilagnā daśanāntareṣu
sandṛśyante cūrṇitair uttamāṅgaiḥ

amī—all those; ca—also; tvām—You; dhṛtarāṣṭasya—of Dhṛtarāṣṭra; putrāḥ—sons; sarva—all; saha eva—along with; avanipāla—warrior kings; saṅghaiḥ—with the groups; bhīṣmaḥ—Bhīṣmadeva; droṇaḥ—Droṇācārya; sūta-putraḥ—Karṇa; tathā—also; asau—that; saha—with; asmadīyaiḥ—our; api—also; yodha-mukhyaiḥ—chief among the warriors; vaktrāṇi—mouths; te—Your; tvaramāṇāḥ—fearful; viśanti—entering; daṁṣṭrā—teeth; karālāni—terrible; bhayānakāni—very fearful; kecit—some of them; vilagnāḥ—being attacked; daśanāntareṣu—between the teeth; sandṛśyante—being seen; cūrṇitaiḥ—smashed; uttama-aṅgaiḥ—by the head.


All the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra along with their allied kings, and Bhīṣma, Droṇa and Karṇa, and all our soldiers are rushing into Your mouths, their heads smashed by Your fearful teeth. I see that some are being crushed between Your teeth as well.


In a previous verse the Lord promised to show Arjuna things he would by very interested in seeing. Now Arjuna sees that the leaders of the opposite party (Bhīṣma, Droṇa, Karṇa and all the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra) and their soldiers and Arjuna’s own soldiers are all being annihilated. This is an indication that Arjuna will emerge victorious in battle, despite heavy losses on both sides. It is also mentioned here that Bhīṣma, who is supposed to be unconquerable, will also be smashed. So also Karṇa. Not only will the great warriors of the other party like Bhīṣma be smashed, but some of the great warriors of Arjuna’s side also.


yathā nadīnāṁ bahavo ’mbu-vegāḥ
samudram evābhimukhā dravanti
tathā tavāmī nara-loka-vīrā
viśanti vaktrāṇy abhivijvalanti

yathā—as; nadīnām—of the rivers; bahavaḥ—many; ambu-vegāḥ—waves of the waters; samudram—ocean; eva—certainly; abhimukhāḥ—towards; dravanti—gliding; tathā—similarly; tava—Your; amī—all those; nara-lokavīrāḥ—the kings of human society; viśanti—entering; vaktrāṇi—into the mouths; abhivijvalanti—blazing.


As the rivers flow into the sea, so all these great warriors enter Your blazing mouths and perish.


yathā pradīptaṁ jvalanaṁ pataṅgā
viśanti nāśāya samṛddha-vegāḥ
tathaiva nāśāya viśanti lokās
tavāpi vaktrāṇi samṛddha-vegāḥ

yathā—as; pradīptam—blazing; jvalanam—fire; pataṅgāḥ—moths; viśanti—enters; nāśāya—destruction; samṛddha—full; vegāḥ—speed; tathā eva—similarly; nāśāya—for destruction; viśanti—entering; lokāḥ—all people. tava—unto You; api—also; vaktrāṇi—in the mouths; samṛddha-vegāḥ—with full speed.


I see all people rushing with full speed into Your mouths as moths dash into a blazing fire.


lelihyase grasamānaḥ samantāl
lokān samagrān vadanair jvaladbhiḥ
tejobhir āpūrya jagat samagraṁ
bhāsas tavogrāḥ pratapanti viṣṇo

lelihyase—licking; grasamānaḥ—devouring; samantāt—from all directions; lokān—people; samagrān—completely; vadanaiḥ—by the mouth; jvaladbhiḥ—with blazing; tejobhiḥ—by effulgence; āpūrya—covering; jagat—the universe; samagram—all; bhāsaḥ—illuminating; tava—Your; ugrāḥ—terrible; pratapanti—scorching; viṣṇo—O all-pervading Lord.


O Viṣṇu, I see You devouring all people in Your flaming mouths and covering the universe with Your immeasurable rays. Scorching the worlds, You are manifest.


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

ākhyāhi—please explain; me—unto me; kaḥ—who; bhavān—You; ugra-rūpaḥ—fierce form; namaḥ astu—obeisances; te—unto You; deva-vara—the great one amongst the demigods; prasīda—be gracious; vijñātum—just to know; icchāmi—I wish; bhavantam—You; ādyam—the original; na—never; hi—certainly; prajānāmi—do I know; tava—Your; pravṛttim—mission.


O Lord of lords, so fierce of form, please tell me who You are. I offer my obeisances unto You; please be gracious to me. I do not know what Your mission is, and I desire to hear of it.


śrī-bhagavān uvāca

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

śrī bhagavān uvāca—the Personality of Godhead said; kālaḥ—time; asmi—I am; loka—the worlds; kṣaya-kṛt—destroyer; pravṛddhaḥ—to engage; lokān—all people; samāhartum—to destroy; iha—in this world; pravṛttaḥ—to engage; ṛte api—without even; tvām—you; na—never; bhaviṣyanti—will be; sarve—all; ye—who; avasthitāḥ—situated; pratyanīkeṣu—on the opposite side; yodhāḥ—the soldiers.


The Blessed Lord said: Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pāṇḍavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.


Although Arjuna knew that Kṛṣṇa was his friend and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he was nonetheless puzzled by the various forms exhibited by Kṛṣṇa. Therefore he asked further about the actual mission of this devastating force. It is written in the Vedas that the Supreme Truth destroys everything, even Brahmā. Yasya brahme ca kṣatram ca ubhe bhavata odanaḥ/mṛtyur yasyopasecanaṁ ka itthā veda yatra saḥ. Eventually all the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and everyone else are devoured by the Supreme. This form of the Supreme Lord is an all-devouring giant, and here Kṛṣṇa presents Himself in that form of all-devouring time. Except for a few Pāṇḍavas, everyone who was present in that battlefield would be devoured by Him.

Arjuna was not in favor of the fight, and he thought it was better not to fight; then there would be no frustration. In reply, the Lord is saying that even if he did not fight, every one of them would be destroyed, for that is His plan. If he stopped fighting, they would die in another way. Death cannot be checked, even if he did not fight. In fact, they were already dead. Time is destruction, and all manifestations are to be vanquished by the desire of the Supreme Lord. That is the law of nature.


tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sācin

tasmāt—therefore; tvām—you; uttiṣṭha—get up; yaśaḥ—fame; labhasva—gain; jitvā—conquering; śatrūn—enemies; bhuṅkṣva—enjoy; rājyam—kingdom; samṛddham—flourishing; mayā—by Me; eva—certainly; ete—all these; nihatāḥ—already killed; pūrvam eva—by previous elements; nimitta-mātram—just become the cause; bhava—become; savyasācin—O Savyasācin.


Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasācin, can be but an instmment in the fight.


Savyasācin refers to one who can shoot arrows very expertly in the field; thus Arjuna is addressed as an expert warrior capable of delivering arrows to kill his enemies. “Just become an instrument”: nimitta-mātram. This word is also very significant. The whole world is moving according to the plan of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Foolish persons who do not have sufficient knowledge think that nature is moving without a plan and all manifestations are but accidental formations. There are many so-called scientists who suggest that perhaps it was like this, or maybe like that, but there is no question of “perhaps” and “maybe.” There is a specific plan being carried out in this material world. What is this plan? This cosmic manifestation is a chance for the conditioned souls to go back to Godhead, back to home. As long they have the domineering mentality which makes them try to lord it over material nature, they are conditioned. But anyone who can understand the plan of the Supreme Lord and cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness is most intelligent. The creation and destruction of the cosmic manifestation are under the superior guidance of God. Thus the Battle of Kurukṣetra was fought according to the plan of God. Arjuna was refusing to fight, but he was told that he should fight and at the same time desire the Supreme Lord. Then he would be happy. If one is in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness and if his life is devoted to His transcendental service, he is perfect.


droṇaṁ ca bhīṣmaṁ ca jayadrathaṁ ca
karṇaṁ tathānyān api yodha-vīrān
mayā hatāṁs tvaṁ jahi mā vyathiṣṭhā
yudhyasva jetāsi raṇe sapatnān

droṇam ca—also Droṇa; bhīṣmam ca—also Bhīṣma; jayadratham ca—also Jayadratha; karṇam—also Karṇa; tathā—also; anyān—others; api—certainly; yodha-vīrān—great warriors; mayā—by Me; hatān—already killed; tvam—you; jahi—become victorious; mā—never; vyathiṣṭhāḥ—be disturbed; yudhyasva—just fight; jetāsi—just conquer; raṇe—in the fight; sapatnān—enemies.


The Blessed Lord said: All the great warriors—Droṇa, Bhīṣma, Jayadratha, Karṇa—are already destroyed. Simply fight, and you will vanquish your enemies.


Every plan is made by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but He is so kind and merciful to His devotees that He wants to give the credit to His devotees who carry out His plan according to His desire. Life should therefore move in such a way that everyone acts in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the medium of a spiritual master. The plans of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are understood by His mercy, and the plans of the devotees are as good as His plans. One should follow such plans and be victorious in the struggle for existence.


sañjaya uvāca

etac chrutvā vacanaṁ keśavasya
kṛtāñjalir vepamānaḥ kirītī
namaskṛtvā bhūya evāha kṛṣṇaṁ
sa-gadgadaṁ bhīta-bhītaḥ praṇamya

sañjayaḥ uvāca—Sañjaya said; etat—thus; śrutvā—hearing; vacanam—speech; keśavasya—of Kṛṣṇa; kṛtāñjaliḥ—with folded hands; vepamānaḥ—trembling; kirītī—Arjuna; namaskṛtvā—offering obeisances; bhūyaḥ—again; eva—also; āha kṛṣṇam—said unto Kṛṣṇa; sa-gadgadam—faltering; bhīta-bhītaḥ—fearful; praṇamya—offering obeisances.


Sañjaya said to Dhṛtarāṣṭra: O King, after hearing these words from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Arjuna trembled, fearfully offered obeisances with folded hands and began, falteringly, to speak as follows:


As we have already explained, because of the situation created by the universal form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Arjuna became bewildered in wonder; thus he began to offer his respectful obeisances to Kṛṣṇa again and again, and with faltering voice he began to pray, not as a friend, but as a devotee in wonder.


arjuna uvāca

sthāne hṛṣīkeśa tava prakīrtyā
jagat prahṛṣyaty anurajyate ca
rakṣāṁsi bhītāni diśo dravanti
sarve namasyanti ca siddha-saṅghāḥ

arjunaḥ uvāca—Arjuna said; sthāne—rightly; hṛṣīkeśa—O master of all senses; tava—Your; prakīrtya—glories; jagat—the entire world; prahṛṣyati—rejoicing; anurajyate—becoming attached; rakṣāṁsi—the demons; bhītāni—out of fear; diśaḥ—directions; dravanti—fleeing; sarve—all; namasyanti—offering respect; ca—also; siddha-saṅghāḥ—the perfect human beings.


O Hṛṣīkeśa, the world becomes joyful upon hearing Your name and thus everyone becomes attached to You. Although the perfected beings offer You their respectful homage, the demons are afraid, and they flee here and there. All this is rightly done.


Arjuna, after hearing from Kṛṣṇa about the outcome of the Battle of Kurukṣetra, became an enlightened devotee of the Supreme Lord. He admitted that everything done by Kṛṣṇa is quite fit. Arjuna confirmed that Kṛṣṇa is the maintainer and the object of worship for the devotees and the destroyer of the undesirables. His actions are equally good for all. Arjuna understood herein that when the Battle of Kurukṣetra was being concluded, in outer space there were present many demigods, siddhas, and the intelligentia of the higher planets, and they were observing the fight because Kṛṣṇa was present there. When Arjuna saw the universal form of the Lord, the demigods took pleasure in it, but others, who were demons and atheists, could not stand it when the Lord was praised. Out of their natural fear of the devastating form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they fled. Kṛṣṇa’s treatment of the devotees and the atheists is praised by Arjuna. In all cases a devotee glorifies the Lord because he knows that whatever He does is good for all.


kasmāc ca te na nameran mahātman
garīyase brahmaṇo ’py ādi-kartre
ananta deveśa jagan-nivāsa
tvam akṣaraṁ sad-asat tat paraṁ yat

kasmāt—why; ca—also; te—unto You; na—not; nameran—offer proper obeisances; mahātman—O great one; garīyase—You are better than; brahmaṇaḥ—Brahmā; api—although; ādi-kartre—the supreme creator; ananta—unlimited; deveśa—God of the gods; jagat-nivāsa—O refuge of the universe; tvam—You are; akṣaram—imperishable; sat-asat—cause and effect; tat-param—transcendental; yat—because.


O great one, who stands above even Brahmā, You are the original master. Why should they not offer their homage up to You, O limitless one? O refuge of the universe, You are the invincible source, the cause of all causes, transcendental to this material manifestation.


By this offering of obeisances, Arjuna indicates that Kṛṣṇa is worshipable by everyone. He is all-pervading, and He is the Soul of every soul. Arjuna is addressing Kṛṣṇa as mahātmā, which means that He is most magnanimous and unlimited. Ananta indicates that there is nothing which is not covered by the influence and energy of the Supreme Lord, and deveśa means that He is the controller of all demigods and is above them all. He is the center of the whole universe. Arjuna also thought that it was fitting that all the perfect living entities and all powerful demigods offer their respectful obeisances unto Him because no one is greater than Him. He especially mentions that Kṛṣṇa is greater than Brahmā because Brahmā is created by Him. Brahmā is born out of the lotus stem grown from the navel abdomen of Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who is Kṛṣṇa’s plenary expansion; therefore Brahmā and Lord Śiva, who is born of Brahmā, and all other demigods must offer their respectful obeisances. Thus the Lord is respected by Lord Śiva and Brahmā and similar other demigods. The word akṣaram is very significant because this material creation is subject to destruction, but the Lord is above this material creation. He is the cause of all causes, and being so, He is superior to all the conditioned souls within this material nature as well as the material cosmic manifestation itself. He is therefore the all-great Supreme.


tvam ādi-devaḥ puruṣaḥ purāṇas
tvam asya viśvasya paraṁ nidhānam
vettāsi vedyaṁ ca paraṁ ca dhāma
tvayā tataṁ viśvam ananta-rūpa

tvam—You; ādi-devaḥ—the original Supreme God; puruṣaḥ—personality; purāṇaḥ—old; tvam—You; asya—this; viśvasya—universe; param—transcendental; nidhānam—refuge; vettā—knower; asi—You are; vedyam ca—and the knowable; param ca—and transcendental; dhāma—refuge; tvayā—by You; tatam—pervaded; viśvam—universe; ananta-rūpa—unlimited form.


You are the original Personality, the Godhead. You are the only sanctuary of this manifested cosmic world. You know everything, and You are all that is knowable. You are above the material modes. O limitless form! This whole cosmic manifestation is pervaded by You!


Everything is resting on the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore He is the ultimate rest. Nidhānam means that everything, even the Brahman effulgence, rests on the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa. He is the knower of everything that is happening in this world, and if knowledge has any end, He is the end of all knowledge; therefore He is the known and the knowable. He is the object of knowledge because He is all-pervading. Because He is the cause in the spiritual world, He is transcendental. He is also the chief personality in the transcendental world.


vāyur yamo ’gnir varuṇaḥ śaśāṅkaḥ
prajāpatis tvaṁ prapitāmahaś ca
namo namas te ’stu sahasra-kṛtvaḥ
punaś ca bhūyo ’pi namo namas te

vāyuḥ—air; yamaḥ—controller; agniḥ—fire; varuṇaḥ—water; śaśāṅkaḥ—moon; prajāpatiḥ—Brahmā; tvam—You; prapitāmahaḥ—grandfather; ca—also; namaḥ—offering respects; namaḥ te—again I offer my respects unto You; astu—are being; sahasra-kṛtvaḥ—a thousand times; punaḥ ca—and again; bhūyaḥ—again; api—also; namaḥ—offer my respects; namaḥ te—offering my respects unto You.


You are air, fire, water, and You are the moon! You are the supreme controller and the grandfather. Thus I offer my respectful obeisances unto You a thousand times, and again and yet again!


The Lord is addressed here as air because the air is the most important representation of all the demigods, being all-pervasive. Arjuna also addresses Kṛṣṇa as the grandfather because He is the father of Brahmā, the first living creature in the universe.


namaḥ purastād atha pṛṣṭhatas te
namo ’stu te sarvata eva sarva
ananta-vīryāmita-vikramas tvaṁ
sarvaṁ samāpnoṣi tato ’si sarvaḥ

namaḥ—offering obeisances; purastāt—from the front; atha—also; pṛṣṭhataḥ—from behind; te—You; namaḥ astu—offer my respects; te—unto You; sarvataḥ—from all sides; eva sarva—because You are everything; ananta-vīrya—unlimited potency; amita-vikramaḥ—unlimited force; tvam—You; sarvam—everything; samāpnoṣi—cover; tataḥ asi—therefore You are; sarvaḥ—everything.


Obeisances from the front, from behind and from all sides! O unbounded power, You are the master of limitless, might! You are all-pervading, and thus You are everything!


Out of loving ecstasy for Kṛṣṇa, his friend, Arjuna is offering his respects from all sides. He is accepting that He is the master of all potencies and all prowess and far superior to all the great warriors assembled on the battlefield. It is said in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa: yo ’yaṁ tavāgato deva-samīpaṁ devatā-gaṇaḥ sa tvam eva jagat-sraṣṭā yataḥ sarva-gato bhavān. “Whoever comes before You, be he a demigod, is created by You, O Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

TEXTS 41–42

sakheti matvā prasabhaṁ yad uktaṁ
he kṛṣṇa he yādava he sakheti
ajānatā mahimānaṁ tavedaṁ
mayā pramādāt praṇayena vāpi

yac cāvahāsārtham asat-kṛto ’si
eko ’tha vāpy acyuta tat-samakṣaṁ
tat kṣāmaye tvām aham aprameyam

sakhā—friend; iti—thus; matvā—thinking; prasabham—temporary; yat—whatever; uktam—said; he krṣṇa—O Kṛṣṇa; he yādava—O Yādava; he sakhā iti—O my dear friend, ajānatā—without knowing; mahimānam—glories; tava—Your; idam—this; mayā—by me; pramādāt—out of foolishness; pranayena—out of love; vā api—either; yat—whatever; ca—also; avahāsārtham—for joking; asatkṛtaḥ—dishonor; asi—have been done; vihāra—in relaxation; śayyā—in joking; āsana—in a resting place; bhojaneṣu—or while eating together; ekaḥ—alone; athavā—or; api—others; acyuta—O infallible one; tat-samakṣam—as Your competitor; tat—all those; kṣāmaye—excuse; tvām—You; aham—I; aprameyam—immeasurable.


I have in the past addressed You as “O Kṛṣṇa,” “O Yādava,” “O my friend,” without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love. I have dishonored You many times while relaxing or while lying on the same bed or eating together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends. Please excuse me for all my offenses.


Although Kṛṣṇa is manifested before Arjuna in His universal form, Arjuna remembers his friendly relationship with Kṛṣṇa and is therefore asking pardon and requesting Him to excuse him for the many informal gestures which arise out of friendship. He is admitting that formerly he did not know that Kṛṣṇa could assume such a universal form, although He explained it as his intimate friend. Arjuna did not know how many times he may have dishonored Him by addressing Him as “O my friend, O Kṛṣṇa, O Yādava,” etc., without acknowledging His opulence. But Kṛṣṇa is so kind and merciful that in spite of such opulence He played with Arjuna as a friend. Such is the transcendental loving reciprocation between the devotee and the Lord. The relationship between the living entity and Kṛṣṇa is fixed eternally; it cannot be forgotten, as we can see from the behavior of Arjuna. Although Arjuna has seen the opulence in the universal form, he could not forget his friendly relationship with Kṛṣṇa.


pitāsi lokasya carācarasya
tvam asya pūjyaś ca gurur garīyān
na tvat-samo ’sty abhyadhikaḥ kuto ’nyo
loka-traye ’py apratima-prabhāva

pitā—father; asi—You are; lokasya—of all the world; cara—moving; acarasya—nonmoving; tvam—You are; asya—of this; pūjyaḥ—worshipable; ca—also; guruḥ—master; garīyān—glorious; na—never; tvat-samaḥ—equal to You; asti—there is; abhyadhikaḥ—greater; kutaḥ—how is it possible; anyaḥ—other; loka-traye—in three planetary systems; api—also; apratima—immeasurable; prabhāva—power.


You are the father of this complete cosmic manifestation, the worshipable chief, the spiritual master. No one is equal to You, nor can anyone be one with You. Within the three worlds, You are immeasurable.


The Lord Kṛṣṇa is worshipable as a father is worshipable for his son. He is the spiritual master because He originally gave the Vedic instructions to Brahmā, and presently He is also instructing Bhagavad-gītā to Arjuna; therefore He is the original spiritual master, and any bona fide spiritual master at the present moment must be a descendant in the line of disciplic succession stemming from Kṛṣṇa. Without being a representative of Kṛṣṇa, one cannot become a teacher or spiritual master of transcendental subject matter.

The Lord is being paid obeisances in all respects. He is of immeasurable greatness. No one can be greater than the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, because no one is equal to or higher than Kṛṣṇa within any manifestation, spiritual or material. Everyone is below Him. No one can excel Him.

The Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa has senses and a body like the ordinary man, but for Him there is no difference between His senses, body, mind and Himself. Foolish persons who do not know Him perfectly say that Kṛṣṇa is different from His soul, mind, heart and everything else. Kṛṣṇa is absolute; therefore His activities and potencies are supreme. It is also stated that He does not have senses like ours. He can perform all sensual activities; therefore His senses are neither imperfect nor limited. No one can be greater than Him, no one can be equal to Him, and everyone is lower than Him.

Whoever knows His transcendental body, activities and perfection, after quitting his body, returns to Him and doesn’t come back again to this miserable world. Therefore one should know that Kṛṣṇa’s activities are different from others. The best policy is to follow the principles of Kṛṣṇa; that will make one perfect. It is also stated that there is no one who is master of Kṛṣṇa; everyone is His servant. Only Kṛṣṇa is God, and everyone is servant. Everyone is complying with His order. There is no one who can deny His order. Everyone is acting according to His direction, being under His superintendence. As stated in the Brahmā-saṁhitā, He is the cause of all causes.


tasmāt praṇamya praṇidhāya kāyaṁ
prasādaye tvām aham īśam īḍyam
piteva putrasya sakheva sakhyuḥ
priyaḥ priyāyārhasi deva soḍhum

tasmāt—therefore; praṇamya—after offering obeisances; praṇidhāya—laying down; kāyam—body; prasādaye—to beg mercy; tvām—unto you; aham—I; īśam—unto the Supreme Lord; īḍyam—who is worshipable; pitā iva—like a father; putrasya—of a son; sakhā iva—like a friend; sakhyuḥ—of a friend; priyaḥ—lover; priyāyāḥ—of the dearmost; arhasi—You should; deva—my Lord; soḍhum—tolerate.


You are the Supreme Lord, to be worshiped by every living being. Thus I fall down to offer You my respects and ask Your mercy. Please tolerate the wrongs that I may have done to You and bear with me as a father with his son, or a friend with his friend, or a lover with his beloved.


Kṛṣṇa’s devotees relate to Kṛṣṇa in various relationships; one might treat Kṛṣṇa as a son, one might treat Kṛṣṇa as a husband, as a friend, as a master, etc. Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna are related in friendship. As the father tolerates, or the husband or master tolerates, so Kṛṣṇa tolerates.


adṛṣṭa-pūrvaṁ hṛṣito ’smi dṛṣṭvā
bhayena ca pravyathitaṁ mano me
tad eva me darśaya deva rūpaṁ
prasīda deveśa jagan-nivāsa

adṛṣṭa-pūrvam—never seen before; hṛṣitaḥ—gladdened; asmi—I am; dṛṣṭvā—by seeing; bhayena—out of fear; ca—also; pravyathitam—perturbed; manaḥ—mind; me—mine; tat—therefore; eva—certainly; me—unto me; darśaya—show; deva—O Lord; rūpam—the form; prasīda—just be gracious; deveśa—O Lord of lords; jagat-nivāsa—the refuge of the universe.


After seeing this universal form, which I have never seen before, I am gladdened, but at the same time my mind is disturbed with fear. Therefore please bestow Your grace upon me and reveal again Your form as the Personality of Godhead, O Lord of lords, O abode of the universe.


Arjuna is always in confidence with Kṛṣṇa because he is a very dear friend, and as a dear friend is gladdened by his friend’s opulence, Arjuna is very joyful to see that his friend, Kṛṣṇa, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and can show such a wonderful universal form. But at the same time, after seeing that universal form, he is afraid that he has committed so many offenses to Kṛṣṇa out of his unalloyed friendship. Thus his mind is disturbed out of fear, although he had no reason to fear. Arjuna therefore is asking Kṛṣṇa to show His Nārāyaṇa form because He can assume any form. This universal form is material and temporary, as the material world is temporary. But in the Vaikuṇṭha planets He has His transcendental form with four hands as Nārāyaṇa. There are innumerable planets in the spiritual sky, and in each of them Kṛṣṇa is present by His plenary manifestations of different names. Thus Arjuna desired to see one of the forms manifest in the Vaikuṇṭha planets. Of course in each Vaikuṇṭha planet the form of Nārāyaṇa is four-handed, and the four hands hold different symbols, the conchshell, mace, lotus and disc. According to the different hands these four things are held in, the Nārāyaṇas are named. All of these forms are one and the same to Kṛṣṇa; therefore Arjuna requests to see His four-handed feature.


kirīṭinaṁ gadinaṁ cakra-hastam
icchāmi tvāṁ draṣṭum ahaṁ tathaiva
tenaiva rūpeṇa catur-bhujena
sahasra-bāho bhava viśva-mūrte

kirīṭinam—with helmet; gadinam—with club; cakra-hastam—disc in hand; icchāmi—I wish; tvām—You; draṣṭum—to see; aham—I; tathā eva—in that position; tena eva—by that; rūpeṇa—with form; catur-bhujena—four-handed; sahasra-bāho—O thousand-handed one; bhava—just become; viśva-mūrte—O universal form.


O universal Lord, I wish to see You in Your four-armed form, with helmeted head and with club, wheel, conch and lotus flower in Your hands. I long to see You in that form.


In the Brahmā-saṁhitā it is stated that the Lord is eternally situated in hundreds and thousands of forms, and the main forms are those like Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Nārāyaṇa, etc. There are innumerable forms. But Arjuna knew that Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead assuming His temporary universal form. He is now asking to see the form of Nārāyaṇa, a spiritual form. This verse establishes without any doubt the statement of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead and all other features originate from Him. He is not different from His plenary expansions, and He is God in any of His innumerable forms. In all of these forms He is fresh like a young man. That is the constant feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who knows Kṛṣṇa at once becomes free from all contamination of the material world.


śrī-bhagavān uvāca

mayā prasannena tavārjunedaṁ
rūpaṁ paraṁ darśitam ātma-yogāt
tejo-mayaṁ viśvam anantam ādyaṁ
yan me tvad anyena na dṛṣṭa-pūrvam

śrī bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; mayā—by Me; prasannena—happily; tava—unto you; arjuna—O Arjuna; idam—this; rūpam—form; param—transcendental; darśitam—shown; ātma-yogāt—by My internal potency; tejomayam—full of effulgence; viśvam—the entire universe; anantam—unlimited; ādyam—original; yat me—that which is Mine; tvat-anyena—besides you; na dṛṣṭa-pūrvam—no one has previously seen.


The Blessed Lord said: My dear Arjuna, happily do I show you this universal form within the material world by My internal potency. No one before you has ever seen this unlimited and glaringly effulgent form.


Arjuna wanted to see the universal form of the Supreme Lord, so out of His mercy upon His devotee Arjuna, Lord Kṛṣṇa showed His universal form full of effulgence and opulence. This form was glaring like the sun, and its many faces were rapidly changing. Kṛṣṇa showed this form just to satisfy the desire of His friend Arjuna. This form was manifested by Kṛṣṇa through His internal potency, which is inconceivable by human speculation. No one had seen this universal form of the Lord before Arjuna, but because the form was shown to Arjuna, other devotees in the heavenly planets and in other planets in outer space could also see it. They did not see it before, but because of Arjuna they were also able to see it. In other words, all the disciplic devotees of the Lord could see the universal form which was shown to Arjuna by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. Someone commented that this form was shown to Duryodhana also when Kṛṣṇa went to Duryodhana to negotiate for peace. Unfortunately, Duryodhana did not accept the peace offer, but at that time Kṛṣṇa manifested some of His universal forms. But those forms are different from this one shown to Arjuna. It is clearly said that no one has ever seen this form before.


na veda-yajñādhyayanair na dānair
na ca kriyābhir na tapobhir ugraiḥ
evaṁ-rūpaḥ śakya ahaṁ nṛ-loke
draṣṭuṁ tvad anyena kuru-pravīra

na—never; veda—Vedic study; yajña—sacrifice; adhyayanaiḥ—studying; na dānaiḥ—by charity; na—never; ca—also; kriyābhiḥ—by pious activities; na tapobhiḥ—by serious penances; ugraiḥ—severe; evam—thus; rūpaḥ—form; śakyaḥ—can be seen; aham—I; nṛloke—in this material world; draṣṭum—to see; tvat—you; anyena—by another; kuru-pravīra—O best among the Kuru warriors.


O best of the Kuru warriors, no one before you has ever seen this universal form of Mine, for neither by studying the Vedas, nor by performing sacrifices, nor by charities or similar activities can this form be seen. Only you have seen this.


The divine vision in this connection should be clearly understood. Who can have divine vision? Divine means godly. Unless one attains the status of divinity as a demigod, he cannot have divine vision. And what is a demigod? It is stated in the Vedic scriptures that those who are devotees of Lord Viṣṇu are demigods. Those who are atheistic, i.e., who do not believe in Viṣṇu, or who only recognize the impersonal part of Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme, cannot have the divine vision. It is not possible to decry Kṛṣṇa and at the same time have the divine vision. One cannot have the divine vision without becoming divine. In other words, those who have divine vision can also see like Arjuna.

The Bhagavad-gītā gives the description of the universal form, and this description was unknown to everyone before Arjuna. Now one can have some idea of the viśva-rūpa after this incidence; those who are actually divine can see the universal form of the Lord. But one cannot be divine without being a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. The devotees, however, who are actually in the divine nature and who have divine vision, are not very much interested to see the universal form of the Lord. As described in the previous verse, Arjuna desired to see the four-handed form of Lord Kṛṣṇa as Viṣṇu, and he was actually afraid of the universal form.

In this verse there are some significant words, just like veda-yajñādhya-yanaiḥ, which refers to studying Vedic literature and the subject matter of sacrificial regulations. Veda refers to all kinds of Vedic literature, namely the four Vedas (Ṛk, Yajus, Sāma and Atharva) and the eighteen Purāṇas and Upaniṣads, and Vedānta-sūtra. One can study these at home or anywhere else. Similarly, there are sūtras, Kalpa-sūtras and Mīmāṁsā-sūtras, for studying the method of sacrifice. Dānaiḥ refers to charity which is offered to a suitable party. such as those who are engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, the brāhmaṇas and the Vaiṣṇavas. Similarly, pious activities refer to the agni-hotra, etc., the prescribed duties of the different castes. Pious activities and the voluntary acceptance of some bodily pains are called tapasya. So one can perform all these, can accept bodily penances, give charity, study the Vedas, etc., but unless he is a devotee like Arjuna, it is not possible to see that universal form. Those who are impersonalists are also imagining that they are seeing the universal form of the Lord, but from Bhagavad-gītā we understand that the impersonalists are not devotees. Therefore they are unable to see the universal form of the Lord.

There are many persons who create incarnations. They falsely claim an ordinary human to be an incarnation, but this is all foolishness. We should follow the principles of Bhagavad-gītā, otherwise there is no possibility of attaining perfect spiritual knowledge. Although Bhagavad-gītā is considered the preliminary study of the science of God, still it is so perfect that one can distinguish what is what. The followers of a pseudo incarnation may say that they have also seen the transcendental incarnation of God, the universal form, but that is not acceptable because it is clearly stated here that unless one becomes a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, one cannot see the universal form of God. So one first of all has to become a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa; then he can claim that he can show the universal form of what he has seen. A devotee of Kṛṣṇa cannot accept false incarnations or followers of false incarnations.


mā te vyathā mā ca vimūḍha-bhāvo
dṛṣṭvā rūpaṁ ghoram īdṛṅ mamedam
vyapeta-bhīḥ prīta-manāḥ punas tvaṁ
tad eva me rūpam idaṁ prapaśya

mā—let it not be; te—unto you; vyathā—trouble; mā—let it not be; ca—also; vimūḍha-bhāvaḥ—bewilderment; dṛṣṭvā—by seeing; rūpam—form; ghoram—horrible; īdṛk—like this; mama—My; idam—as it is; vyapetabhīḥ—just become free from all fear; prīta-manāḥ—be pleased in mind; punaḥ—again; tvam—you; tat—that; eva—thus; me—My; rūpam—form; idam—this; prapaśya—just see.


Your mind has been perturbed upon seeing this horrible feature of Mine. Now let it be finished. My devotee, be free from all disturbance. With a peaceful mind you can now see the form you desire.


In the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā Arjuna was worried about killing Bhīṣma and Droṇa, his worshipful grandfathers and masters. But Kṛṣṇa said that he need not be afraid of killing his grandfather. When they tried to disrobe Draupadī in the assembly, Bhīṣma and Droṇa were silent, and for such negligence of duty they should be killed. Kṛṣṇa showed His universal form to Arjuna just to show him that these people were already killed for their unlawful action. That scene was shown to Arjuna because devotees are always peaceful, and they cannot perform such horrible actions. The purpose of the revelation of the universal form was shown; now Arjuna wanted to see the four-armed form, and Kṛṣṇa showed him. A devotee is not much interested in the universal form, for it does not enable one to reciprocate loving feelings. A devotee wants to offer his respectful worshiping feelings; thus he wants to see the two-handed or four-handed Kṛṣṇa form so he can reciprocate in loving service with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Krsna's Four Armed Form  Plate 32


sañjaya uvāca

ity arjunaṁ vāsudevas tathoktvā
svakaṁ rūpaṁ darśayām āsa bhūyaḥ
āśvāsayām āsa ca bhītam enaṁ
bhūtvā punaḥ saumya-vapur mahātmā

sañjayaḥ uvāca—Sañjaya said; iti—thus; arjunam—unto Arjuna; vāsudevaḥ—Kṛṣṇa; tathā—that way; uktvā—saying; svakam—His own; rūpam—form; darśayāmāsa—showed; bhūyaḥ—again; āśvāsayāmāsa—also convinced him; ca—also; bhītam—fearful; enam—him; bhūtvā punaḥ—becoming again; saumya-vapuḥ—beautiful form; mahātmā—the great one.


Sañjaya said to Dhṛtarāṣṭra: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, while speaking thus to Arjuna, displayed His real four-armed form, and at last He showed him His two-armed form, thus encouraging the fearful Arjuna.


When Kṛṣṇa appeared as the son of Vasudeva and Devakī, He first of all appeared as four-armed Nārāyaṇa, but when He was requested by His parents, He transformed Himself into an ordinary child in appearance. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa knew that Arjuna was not interested in seeing a four-handed form of Kṛṣṇa, but since he asked to see this four-handed form, He also showed him this form again and then showed Himself in His two-handed form. The word saumya-vapuḥ is very significant. Saumya-vapu is a very beautiful form; it is known as the most beautiful form. When He was present, everyone was attracted simply by Kṛṣṇa’s form, and because Kṛṣṇa is director of the universe, He just banished the fear of Arjuna, His devotee, and showed him again His beautiful form of Kṛṣṇa. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is stated that only a person whose eyes are smeared with the ointment of love can see the beautiful form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.


arjuna uvāca

dṛṣṭvedaṁ mānuṣaṁ rūpaṁ
tava saumyaṁ janārdana
idānīm asmi saṁvṛttaḥ
sa-cetāḥ prakṛtiṁ gataḥ

arjunaḥ uvāca—Arjuna said; dṛṣṭvā—seeing; idam—this; mānuṣam—human being; rūpam—form; tava—Your; saumyam—very beautiful; janārdana—O chastiser of the enemies; idānīm—just now; asmi—I am; saṁvṛttaḥ—settled; sa-cetāḥ—in my consciousness; prakṛtim—my own; gataḥ—I am.


When Arjuna thus saw Kṛṣṇa in His original form, he said: Seeing this humanlike form, so very beautiful, my mind is now pacified, and I am restored to my original nature.


Here the words mānuṣaṁ rūpam clearly indicate the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be originally two-handed. Those who deride Kṛṣṇa to be an ordinary person are shown here to be ignorant of His divine nature. If Kṛṣṇa is like an ordinary human being, then how is it possible for Him to show the universal form and again to show the four-handed Nārāyaṇa form? So it is very clearly stated in Bhagavad-gītā that one who thinks that Kṛṣṇa is an ordinary person and misguides the reader by claiming that it is the impersonal Brahman within Kṛṣṇa speaking, is doing the greatest injustice. Kṛṣṇa has actually shown His universal form and His fourhanded Viṣṇu form. So how can He be an ordinary human being? A pure devotee is not confused by misguiding commentaries on Bhagavad-gītā because he knows what is what. The original verses of Bhagavad-gītā are as clear as the sun; they do not require lamplight from foolish commentators.


śrī-bhagavān uvāca

su-durdarśam idaṁ rūpaṁ
dṛṣṭavān asi yan mama
devā apy asya rūpasya
nityaṁ darśana-kāṅkṣiṇaḥ

śrī bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; sudur-darśana- very difficult to be seen; idam—this; rūpam—form; dṛṣṭavān asi—as you have seen; yat—which; mama—of Mine; devāḥ—the demigods; api asya—also this; rūpasya—of the form; nityam—eternally; darśana-kāṅkṣiṇaḥ—always aspire to see.


The Blessed Lord said: My dear Arjuna, the form which you are now seeing is very difficult to behold. Even the demigods are ever seeking the opportunity to see this form which is so dear.


In the forty-eighth verse of this chapter Lord Kṛṣṇa concluded revealing His universal form and informed Arjuna that this form is not possible to be seen by so many activities, sacrifices, etc. Now here the word sudurdarśam is used, indicating that Kṛṣṇa’s two-handed form is still more confidential. One may be able to see the universal form of Kṛṣṇa by adding a little tinge of devotional service to various activities like penance, Vedic study and philosophical speculation, etc. It may be possible, but without a tinge of bhakti, one cannot see; that has already been explained. Still, beyond that universal form, the form of Kṛṣṇa as a two-handed man is still more difficult to see, even for demigods like Brahmā and Lord Śiva. They desire to see Him, and we have evidences in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that when He was supposed to be in the womb of His mother, Devakī, all the demigods from heaven came to see the marvel of Kṛṣṇa. They even waited to see Him. A foolish person may deride Him, but that is an ordinary person. Kṛṣṇa is actually desired to be seen by demigods like Brahmā and Śiva in His two-armed form.

In Bhagavad-gītā it is also confirmed that He is not visible to the foolish persons who deride Him. Kṛṣṇa’s body, as confirmed by Brahmā-saṁhitā and confirmed by Himself in Bhagavad-gītā, is completely spiritual and full of bliss and eternality. His body is never like a material body. But for some who make a study of Kṛṣṇa by reading Bhagavad-gītā or similar Vedic scriptures, Kṛṣṇa is a problem. For one using a material process, Kṛṣṇa is considered to be a great historical personality and very learned philosopher. But He isn’t an ordinary man. But some think that even though He was so powerful, He had to accept a material body. Ultimately they think that the Absolute Truth is impersonal; therefore they think that from His impersonal feature He assumed a personal feature attached to material nature. This is a materialistic calculation of the Supreme Lord. Another calculation is speculative. Those who are in search of knowledge also speculate on Kṛṣṇa and consider Him to be less important than the universal form of the Supreme. Thus some think that the universal form of Kṛṣṇa which was manifested to Arjuna is more important than His personal form. According to them, the personal form of the Supreme is something imaginary. They believe that in the ultimate issue, the Absolute Truth is not a person. But the transcendental process is described in Bhagavad-gītā, Chapter Two: to hear about Kṛṣṇa from authorities. That is the actual Vedic process, and those who are actually in the Vedic line hear about Kṛṣṇa from authority, and by repeated hearing about Him, Kṛṣṇa becomes dear. As we have several times discussed, Kṛṣṇa is covered by His yoga-māyā potency. He is not to be seen or revealed to anyone and everyone. Only by one to whom He reveals Himself can He be seen. This is confirmed in Vedic literature; for one who is a surrendered soul, the Absolute Truth can actually be understood. The transcendentalist, by continuous Kṛṣṇa consciousness and by devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, can have his spiritual eyes opened and can see Kṛṣṇa by revelation. Such a revelation is not possible even for the demigods; therefore it is difficult even for the demigods to understand Kṛṣṇa, and the advanced demigods are always in hope of seeing Kṛṣṇa in His two-handed form. The conclusion is that although to see the universal form of Kṛṣṇa is very, very difficult and not possible for anyone and everyone, it is still more difficult to understand His personal form as Śyāmasundara.


nāhaṁ vedair na tapasā
na dānena na cejyayā
śakya evaṁ-vidho draṣṭuṁ
dṛṣṭavān asi māṁ yathā

na—never; aham—I; vedaiḥ—by study of the Vedas; na—never; tapasā—by serious penances; na—never; dānena—by charity; na—never; ca—also; ijyayā—by worship; śakyaḥ—is it possible; evam-vidhaḥ—like this; draṣṭum—to see; dṛṣṭavān—seeing; asi—you are; mām—Me; yathā—as.


The form which you are seeing with your transcendental eyes cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing serious penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see Me as I am.


Kṛṣṇa first appeared before His parents Devakī and Vasudeva in a four-handed form, and then He transformed Himself into the two-handed form. This mystery is very difficult to understand for those who are atheists or who are devoid of devotional service. For scholars who have simply studied Vedic literature by way of speculation or out of mere academic interest, Kṛṣṇa is not easy to understand. Nor is He to he understood by persons who officially go to the temple to offer worship. They make their visit, but they cannot understand Kṛṣṇa as He is. Kṛṣṇa can be understood only through the path of devotional service, as explained by Kṛṣṇa Himself in the next verse.


bhaktyā tv ananyayā śakya
aham evaṁ-vidho ’rjuna
jñātuṁ draṣṭuṁ ca tattvena
praveṣṭuṁ ca parantapa

bhaktyā—by devotional service; tu—but; ananyayā—without being mixed with fruitive activities or speculative knowledge; śakyaḥ—possible; aham—I; evam-vidhaḥ—like this; arjuna—O Arjuna; jñātum—to know; draṣṭum—to see; tattvena—in fact; praveṣṭum—and to enter into; ca—also; parantapa—O mighty-armed one.


My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.


Kṛṣṇa can be understood only by the process of undivided devotional service. He explicitly explains this in this verse so unauthorized commentators, who try to understand Bhagavad-gītā by the speculative process, will know that they are simply wasting their time. No one can understand Kṛṣṇa or how He came from parents in a four-handed form and at once changed Himself into a two-handed form. It is clearly stated here that no one can see Him. Those who, however, are very experienced students of Vedic literature can learn about Him from the Vedic literature in so many ways. There are so many rules and regulations, and if one at all wants to understand Kṛṣṇa, he must follow the regulative principles described in the authoritative literature. One can perform penance in accordance with those principles. As far as charity is concerned, it is plain that charity should be given to the devotees of Kṛṣṇa who are engaged in His devotional service to spread the Kṛṣṇa philosophy or Kṛṣṇa consciousness throughout the world. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a benediction to humanity. Lord Caitanya was appreciated by Rūpa Gosvāmī as the most munificent man of charity because love of Kṛṣṇa, which is very difficult to achieve, was distributed freely by Him. And if one worships as prescribed in the temple (in the temples in India there is always some statue, usually of Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa), that is a chance to progress. For the beginners in devotional service to the Lord, temple worship is very essential, and this is confirmed in the Vedic literature.

One who has unflinching devotion for the Supreme Lord and is directed by the spiritual master can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead by revelation. For one who does not take personal training under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, it is impossible to even begin to understand Kṛṣṇa. The word tu is specifically used here to indicate that no other process can be used, can be recommended, or can be successful in understanding Kṛṣṇa.

The personal forms of Kṛṣṇa, the two-handed form and the four-handed, are completely different from the temporary universal form shown to Arjuna. The four-handed form is Nārāyaṇa, and the two-handed form is Kṛṣṇa; they are eternal and transcendental, whereas the universal form exhibited to Arjuna is temporary. The very word sudurdarśam, meaning difficult to see, suggests that no one saw that universal form. It also suggests that amongst the devotees there was no necessity of showing it. That form was exhibited by Kṛṣṇa at the request of Arjuna because in the future, when one represents himself as an incarnation of God, people can ask to see his universal form.

Kṛṣṇa changes from the universal form to the four-handed form of Nārāyaṇa and then to His own natural form of two hands. This indicates that the four-handed forms and other forms mentioned in Vedic literature are all emanations of the original two-handed Kṛṣṇa. He is the origin of all emanations. Kṛṣṇa is distinct even from these forms, not to speak of the impersonal conception. As far as the four-handed forms of Kṛṣṇa are concerned, it is stated clearly that even the most identical four-handed form of Kṛṣṇa (which is known as Mahā-Viṣṇu, who is lying on the cosmic ocean and from whose breathing so many innumerable universes are passing out and entering) is also an expansion of the Supreme Lord. Therefore one should conclusively worship the personal form of Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is eternity, bliss and knowledge. He is the source of all forms of Viṣṇu, He is the source of all forms of incarnation, and He is the original Supreme Personality, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā.

In the Vedic literature it is stated that the Supreme Absolute Truth is a person. His name is Kṛṣṇa, and He sometimes descends on this earth. Similarly, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is a description of all kinds of incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and there it is said that Kṛṣṇa is not an incarnation of God but is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Similarly, in Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says, mattaḥ parataram nānyāt: “There is nothing superior to My form as the Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa.” He also says elsewhere in Bhagavad-gītā, aham ādir hi devānām: “I am the origin of all the demigods.” And after understanding Bhagavad-gītā from Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna also confirms this in the following words: paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān: “I now fully understand that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, and that You are the refuge of everything.” Therefore the universal form which Kṛṣṇa showed to Arjuna is not the original form of God. The original is the Kṛṣṇa form. The universal form, with its thousands and thousands of heads and hands, is manifest just to draw the attention of those who have no love for God. It is not God’s original form.

The universal form is not attractive for pure devotees, who are in love with the Lord in different transcendental relationships. The Supreme Godhead exchanges transcendental love in His original form of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore to Arjuna, who was so intimately related with Kṛṣṇa in friendship, this form of the universal manifestation was not pleasing; rather, it was fearful. Arjuna, who is a constant companion of Kṛṣṇa’s, must have had transcendental eyes; he was not an ordinary man. Therefore he was not captivated by the universal form. This form may seem wonderful to persons who are involved in elevating themselves by fruitive activities, but to persons who are engaged in devotional service, the two-handed form of Kṛṣṇa is the most dear.


mat-karma-kṛn mat-paramo
mad-bhaktaḥ saṅga-varjitaḥ
nirvairaḥ sarva-bhūteṣu
yaḥ sa mām eti pāṇḍava

mat-karma-kṛt—engaged in doing My work; mat-paramaḥ—concerning Me, the Supreme; mat-bhaktaḥ—engaged in My devotional service; saṅga-varjitaḥ—freed from the contamination of previous activities and mental speculation; nirvairaḥ—without an enemy; sarva-bhūteṣu—to every living entity; yaḥ—one who; saḥ—he; mām—unto Me; eti—comes; pāṇḍava—O son of Pāṇḍu.


My dear Arjuna, one who is engaged in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of previous activities and from mental speculation, who is friendly to every living entity, certainly comes to Me.


Anyone who wants to approach the Supreme of all the Personalities of Godhead, on the Kṛṣṇaloka planet in the spiritual sky, and be intimately connected with the Supreme Personality, Kṛṣṇa, must take this formula, as is stated by the Supreme Himself. Therefore, this verse is considered to be the essence of Bhagavad-gītā. The Bhagavad-gītā is a book directed to the conditioned souls, who are engaged in the material world with the purpose of lording it over nature and who do not know of the real, spiritual life. The Bhagavad-gītā is meant to show how one can understand his spiritual existence and his eternal relationship with the Supreme Spiritual Personality and to teach one how to go back home, back to Godhead. Now here is the verse which clearly explains the process by which one can attain success in his spiritual activity: devotional service. As far as work is concerned, one should transfer his energy entirely to Kṛṣṇa conscious activities. No work should be done by any man except in relationship to Kṛṣṇa. This called Kṛṣṇa-karma. One may be engaged in various activities, but one should not be attached to the result of his work, but the result should be done for Him. For example, one may be engaged in business, but to transform that activity into Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one has to do business for Kṛṣṇa. If Kṛṣṇa is the proprietor of the business, then Kṛṣṇa should enjoy the profit of the business. If a businessman is in possession of thousands and thousands of dollars, and if he has to offer all this to Kṛṣṇa, he can do it. This is work for Kṛṣṇa. Instead of constructing a big building for his sense gratification, he can construct a nice temple for Kṛṣṇa, and he can install the Deity of Kṛṣṇa and arrange for the Deity’s service, as is outlined in the authorized books of devotional service. This is all Kṛṣṇa-karma. One should not be attached to the result of his work, but the result should be offered to Kṛṣṇa. One should also accept as prasādam, food, the remnants of offerings to Kṛṣṇa. If, however, one is not able to construct a temple for Kṛṣṇa, one can engage himself in cleansing the temple of Kṛṣṇa; that is also Kṛṣṇa-karma. One can cultivate a garden. Anyone who has land—in India, at least, any poor man has a certain amount of land—can utilize that for Kṛṣṇa by growing flowers to offer Him. He can sow tulasī plants because tulasī leaves are very important, and Kṛṣṇa has recommended this in Bhagavad-gītā. Kṛṣṇa desires that one offer Him either a leaf, or a flower, or a little water—and He is satisfied. This leaf especially refers to the tulasī So one can sow tulasī leaves and pour water on the plant. Thus, even the poorest man can engage in the service of Kṛṣṇa. These are some of the examples of how one can engage in working for Kṛṣṇa.

The word mat-paramaḥ refers to one who considers the association of Kṛṣṇa in His supreme abode to be the highest perfection of life. Such a person does not wish to be elevated to the higher planets such as the moon or sun or heavenly planets, or even the highest planet of this universe, Brahmaloka. He has no attraction for that. He is only attracted to being transferred to the spiritual sky. And even in the spiritual sky he is not satisfied with merging into the glowing brahmajyoti effulgence, for he wants to enter the highest spiritual planet, namely Kṛṣṇaloka, Goloka Vṛndāvana. He has full knowledge of that planet, and therefore he is not interested in any other. As indicated by the word mad-bhaktaḥ, he fully engages in devotional service, specifically in the nine processes of devotional engagement: hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering prayers, carrying out the orders of the Lord, making friends with Him, and surrendering everything to Him. One can engage in all nine devotional processes, or eight, or seven, or at least in one, and that will surely make one perfect.

The term saṅga-varjitaḥ is very significant. One should disassociate himself from persons who are against Kṛṣṇa. Not only are the atheistic persons against Kṛṣṇa, but also those who are attracted to fruitive activities and mental speculation. Therefore the pure form of devotional service is described in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu as follows: anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā. In this verse Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī clearly states that if anyone wants to execute unalloyed devotional service, he must be freed from all kinds of material contamination. He must be freed from the association of persons who are addicted to fruitive activities and mental speculation. When, freed from such unwanted association and from the contamination of material desires, one favorably cultivates knowledge of Kṛṣṇa, that is called pure devotional service. Ānukūlyasya saṅkaplaḥ prātikūlyasya varjanam. One should think of Kṛṣṇa and act for Kṛṣṇa favorably, not unfavorably. Kaṁsa was an enemy of Kṛṣṇa’s. From the very beginning of Kṛṣṇa’s birth, he planned in so many ways to kill Him, and because he was always unsuccessful, he was always thinking of Kṛṣṇa. Thus while working, while eating and while sleeping, he was always Kṛṣṇa conscious in every respect, but that Kṛṣṇa consciousness was not favorable, and therefore in spite of his always thinking of Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours a day, he was considered a demon, and Kṛṣṇa at last killed him. Of course anyone who is killed by Kṛṣṇa attains salvation immediately, but that is not the aim of the pure devotee. The pure devotee does not even want salvation. He does not want to be transferred even to the highest planet, Goloka Vṛndāvana. His only objective is to serve Kṛṣṇa wherever he may be.

A devotee of Kṛṣṇa is friendly to everyone. Therefore it is said here that he has no enemy. How is this? A devotee situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness knows that only devotional service to Kṛṣṇa can relieve a person from all the problems of life. He has personal experience of this, and therefore he wants to introduce this system, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, into human society. There are many examples in history of devotees of the Lord risking their lives for the spreading of God consciousness. The favorite example is Lord Jesus Christ. He was crucified by the nondevotees, but He sacrificed His life for spreading God consciousness. Of course, it would be superficial to understand that He was killed. Similarly, in India also there are many examples, such as Ṭhākur Haridāsa. Why such risk? Because they wanted to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and it is difficult. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person knows that if a man is suffering, it is due to his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, the highest benefit one can render to human society is relieving one’s neighbor from all material problems. In such a way, a pure devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord. Now, we can imagine how merciful Kṛṣṇa is to those engaged in His service, risking everything for Him. Therefore it is certain that such persons must reach the supreme planet after leaving the body.

In summary, the universal form of Kṛṣṇa, which is a temporary manifestation, and the form of time which devours everything, and even the form of Viṣṇu, four-handed, have all been exhibited by Kṛṣṇa. Thus Kṛṣṇa is the origin of all these manifestations. It is not that Kṛṣṇa is a manifestation of the original viśva-rūpa, or Viṣṇu. Kṛṣṇa is the origin of all forms. There are hundreds and thousands of Viṣṇus, but for a devotee, no form of Kṛṣṇa is important but the original form, two-handed Śyāmasundara. In the Brahmā-saṁhitā it is stated that those who are attached to the Śyāmasundara form of Kṛṣṇa in love and devotion can see Him always within the heart and cannot see anything else. One should understand, therefore, that the purport of this Eleventh Chapter is that the form of Kṛṣṇa is essential and supreme.

Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the Eleventh Chapter of the Śrīmad-Bhagavad-gītā in the matter of the Universal Form.

Text pasted from; Causless Mercy

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