Geeta Saar, Chapter 11
(Ishwar Putra Arun)
The Bhagwat Geeta is a text that deals with the subject of how to help a human reach his highest potential. The Geeta-also called “The song divine”- guides us about the lifestyle we should adapt, if we are not to get lost in the endless drama of the cycles of Sansaar.
Essentially there are three ways to reach Godhead and each path is hidden by its own challenges and confusions that derail a seeker. The Geeta strives, through the word of God to clear these confusions.
The first way is through the path of righteous action-Dharma as it is called. The second way is through the path of devotion to God-bhakti as it is called and the third path is through the path of knowledge-Jnana as it is called.
The Bhagwat Geeta comprising of 18 chapters, is broadly divided into three portions-one for each of the above mentioned three paths.
Thus it can be said that the first six chapters of the Geeta broadly cover the path of action. The middle six chapters deal with the path of devotion and the last six chapters cover the path of knowledge.
The path of devotion is at its pinnacle in Chapters 10, 11 and 12. Chapter 10 covers the descriptions of divine glories as described by the Lord Himself and Chapter 11 dwells on the vision of the Cosmic form as seen and experienced by Arjuna. The fact is that no mortal has the power to see the glorious form of God-The Vishvaroopam on his own accord and it is only by God’s grace that Arjuna is granted the divine eye that is required to see the glorious form of God. This vision that Arjuna gains and his learning from that experience is what is essentially covered in chapter 11. Further in Chapter 12, the subject of bhakti is discussed in greater detail.
In chapter 11, Arjuna expresses his satisfaction on hearing of the glories of the Lord as described by the Lord Himself in chapter 10. However Arjuna wants to do more than just hear about them. What he really wants is to see the glories with his own eyes. He wants to have a direct experience of that divine majesty that is the source and support of all creation.
Why does Arjuna want to personally experience divinity rather than be content with only hearing about it? Because his soul thirsts for seeing the Truth. And this is true not just for Arjuna but for every seeker who desires to know himself. It is this thirst that drives the spiritual journey from goal to goal till the final goal is reached.
The fact is that the mind although immensely powerful, cannot realize itself. The mind needs a higher power. And the only greater power than the mind is God Himself. God is from where our soul emerges. Therefore the soul always seeks its origin while the mind chases methods to achieve whatever the being desires at that particular moment. If the deluded being desires worldly things, the mind chases the world but if the Jeevatma seeks God-the highest state of being, then the mind aligns itself with the soul’s quest. Such an aligned mind quickly achieves realization. But it is not easy for the mind to align without grace and without the soul of the person being spiritually active. It is only when the Lord holds your hand and pulls you out of the ocean of Sansaar that you can be realized. Just as a drowning man cannot pull himself out of the water, just so a person drowning in Sansaar simply cannot pull himself/ herself out of Sansaar without divine intervention.
Arjuna says in this chapter, -“I was drowning in this Sansaar-in delusion, and you gave me a helping hand and took me out of this swamp. I am so ever grateful. I know that your grace alone can save me. You have patiently taught me the secrets of spirituality and I cannot thank you enough for this blessing. I now understand your nature and your qualities to some extent. What I understand is that you are everywhere. That you are not just the body but you reside in the eternal spirit that pervades all bodies.”
What we should understand from Arjuna’s statement is that if we are to reach our highest self, a critical change must take place in our attitude. Firstly we must recognize from our heart, the futility of Sansaar When that realization settles into our soul, we look for what is eternal, meaningful and ever-unchanging rather than the constantly shifting glitter of Sansaar The second criteria is that for this search to be successful, the ego must be abandoned and the third condition is that the seeking mind must be open and humble. When we imbibe these three attitudes, we become qualified to be called genuine seekers. In that state, the more we search, the more is the divine knowledge that is revealed and the more it is revealed, the more we thirst for nectar like knowledge that liberates our spirit from bondage.
In the case of Arjuna, the preceding events (having to confront his relatives and friends in battlefield) had already dealt a severe blow to his faith in Sansaar when he realized that he would have to kill the very Sansaar that he wanted to conquer. This shocked him and opened his mind to other ways to live. His ego surrendered as it realized that it did not know the answers to such a vexed situation. That meant that Arjuna was in the state of humble open mindedness. i.e. He was in the state of being a genuine seeker and the more he heard of the glories of the Lord, the more he wanted to see them for himself.
This is the reason why Arjuna asks Lord Krishna humbly to reveal further knowledge but only if he deserved it. This humbleness shows that his ego had been broken by what he had heard. Friends, this is a vital step in any spiritual seekers life. Till you think that you know everything or that you think that your mind can deal with any situation, you will never surrender to God. And surrender is critical for progress on the spiritual path.
As we continue in the chapter we see that as Arjuna makes this request, Lord Krishna immediately accedes to his request, and manifests within Himself, his multiple, myriad and ever changing divine forms to Arjuna’s bewildered eyes. The Lord demonstrates to Arjuna how the formless Nirgun constantly evolves various forms and is constantly bringing forth and destroying multitudes of creation. For Arjuna to see all this, the lord grants him the third eye also called the divine eye since physical eyes are not enough to see these glories.
What Arjuna sees is essentially called the Vishva roop.
The formless Lord says through the form of Krishna that, “Though I am formless, I am in all the forms. My forms are not one, but in many millions. In all shapes, in all forms, I am there. O Arjuna, open your eyes and see me everywhere.”
The Lord says, “Look at me. The Suns (adityas), all the Devas and all the Bhutas, everything resides in me. In all the Universes that I have created, there are objects that are moving and objects that are stationary; there are those that are conscious and those that are not conscious. So all the conscious, unconscious, moving, and immovable objects in all the universes- all these forms and shapes, they all find their basis in only me. I pervade everything just as water pervades ice and Ether pervades air.”
Sanjay, who is the commentator of the Mahabharata, having been granted the divine eye to see the battle from afar, describes the scene of Arjuna witnessing the Vishvaroop which Krishna shows to Arjuna through his own magnified body.
Arjuna on seeing the Vishvaroop is amazed, impressed, terrified and mortified. He had never imagined that the person who he had considered as just a friend-someone to joke and laugh and even insult, was actually a representation of the almighty Paraatmaa.
He sees all the divine and devilish forms in the body of Lord Krishna. That he sees all the sages and the Maharishis and he sees the form of the Lord as with no beginning, no end, or no middle. He sees every form in the Universe emerging from the form of the Lord and disappearing back into the maw of the Lord with no mercy.”
On seeing these inspiring and terrifying visions, Arjuna exclaims that he sees many hands and many eyes, many visions all of which are awe aspiring and fear inspiring. In fact Arjuna on seeing the terribleness of the visions and the destruction of creation without mercy, begins to tremble and shake and he is unable to handle the experience. Such is the grandeur, vastness and awesomeness of the vision.
Finally unable to take it anymore Arjuna implores the Lord to take the vision away and show him the four handed form. He says- “I cannot look at your visage. Your divine effulgence is too strong for me. It is so grand that my eyes are blinded by it. My very being and my very moorings are disappearing. Something is happening that I cannot handle. I am dissolving and I have lost the basis to even see it any more. It is too much for me to take.”
Arjuna is so terrified that he begs for forgiveness and apologizes for having taken the Lord lightly earlier and even having insulted him on occasion.
Seeing his fear, the Lord removes the Vishvaroop and shows Arjuna His four armed and finally his Somya Rupam (Two arms form). Sanjay the commentator says to Dhrtarastra – “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, while speaking thus to Arjuna, displayed His real four-armed form, and at last He showed him His two-armed form, thus consoling the fearful Arjuna.”
This chapter ends with Arjuna responding in relief on seeing the familiar face of his friend and he tells lord Krishna that he on seeing the familiar appearance of his friend, he has regained his composure.
God replies by saying – “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 and auspicious.”
God through Krishna says to Arjuna – “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.”
Here God is giving a very big advice to the genuine seeker through Arjuna. That the key qualification of seeing the divine self effulgent form of the Lord is not by karma or knowledge alone, although they are required as preparations. It is only by ananya bhakti, or single-pointed devotion that God can be seen by one’s own eyes. Ananya bhakti can happen only after the sincere seeker having combined learning from Jnana and karma yoga, realizes that the Lord is the only Truth and the source of all realities. Once a soul understands this eternal truth, that soul focuses effortlessly on the source and is then quickly realized When you know that God is the only reality, it is easy to develop love and devotion for Him since he is the only thing that is worth knowing.
The chapter ends with Lord Krishna giving one final summary of advice to Arjuna-that when a person is totally focused on the Lord to the extent of dedicating all his life duties to God and who becomes free of worldly attachment and who leaves malice towards any other being, such a person develops ananya bhakti-devotion for the Lord and is soon realized