Chapter 11 – The Vision of the Universal Form

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Arjuna said, My dear Krishna, you have kindly imparted all these confidential spiritual matters to me and my illusion is now gone. I have heard your elaborate description of the appearance and disappearance of the living beings and your unlimited glories.

Krishna, although I see you standing before me I would like to see how you are acting from within the material universe although you are separate from it. I want to see your universal form. If you think it is possible for me to see it, would you kindly reveal that universal form to me.

Lord Krishna said, Behold my opulence Arjuna, innumerable divine forms of many kinds, many colours and shapes. Observe all the demigods and the wondrous things no one has seen before.

Whatever you desire to see, you can see all at once in this universal form. My universal form can reveal the entire universe and anything else you want to see. But you cannot see me with your present eyes, so I will give you divine vision.

Lord Krishna then revealed his magnificent universal form to Arjuna and Arjuna saw in that universal form many mouths and eyes. It was all astonishing. The form was decorated with divine, effulgent ornaments and clothing. He wore glorious garlands and was anointed with celestial fragrances.

His majestic and effulgent presence pervaded all-around. The brilliance of thousands of suns rising simultaneously in the sky might resemble the radiance of the Supreme Person in that universal form.

There on the battlefield, Arjuna saw the entire unlimited expansions of the universe in one, all within the body of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Person. Completely astonished and with the hairs on his body standing on end, Arjuna bowed his head, placed the palms of his hands together and began to pray.

Arjuna said, My dear Lord Krishna, I see within Your body all the demigods and all other species of life. I see the creator Lord Brahma as well as many celestial sages and serpents.

O Lord of the universe, in all directions I see your infinite form of many arms, bellies, mouths and eyes. There is no beginning, no middle and no end to this.

Your form, adorned with various crowns, clubs and discs, is a mass of effulgence like the sun. It is difficult to behold and incomprehensible.

You are the Supreme Absolute Truth, the oldest and inexhaustible. You are the preserver of eternal religion. I now understand you are the eternal Supreme Person.

You are without beginning, middle or end. You have countless arms and your eyes are the sun and the moon. Blazing fire is coming out of your mouth and you are heating the entire universe with your radiance.

You pervade all directions and all the space between heaven and earth. O great one, this wondrous and fearsome form terrifies all the inhabitants of the universe.

All the demigods are surrendering and entering into you. They are very much afraid and offering prayers with folded hands. Seeing your vast form, all beings, including myself are afflicted with fear.

Looking at this dazzling form makes my heart tremble with fear and I cannot maintain my composure. Seeing your multitude of brilliant colours fill the skies and your gaping mouth and huge fiery eyes makes me afraid.

O Lord of lords, shelter of the universe, please have mercy on me. Seeing your blazing deathlike faces and awful teeth, I am distraught and losing my equilibrium.

All the soldiers on this battlefield are rushing into your dreadful mouths and some are being crushed by your terrible teeth. Like many rivers flowing into the ocean, all these warriors are entering your blazing mouths.

Like moths impelled to their death in a blazing fire, I can see all people helplessly rushing to certain death into your mouths. I see you devouring all the worlds in your flaming mouths and scorching the universe with your glaring effulgence.

O fearsome one, please tell me who you are. I offer my obeisances unto you, please be merciful to me. I cannot understand the purpose of your actions and I would like to know of it.

The Supreme Lord said, I am time, who vanquishes all, and I am engaged in destroying the worlds. Even if you do not kill them, all the enemy soldiers here will die. So arise Arjuna and prepare to fight.

After defeating your opponents, you will enjoy a prosperous kingdom. All these soldiers have already been killed by my arrangement, and you will only be an instrument in the fight. All these great warriors are already destroyed. You only need to fight and you will be victorious over the enemy.

After hearing these words from Lord Krishna, the trembling Arjuna bowed his head and fearfully offered prayers with folded hands. In a faltering voice, Arjuna said,

It is fitting that the world becomes joyful by singing your glories. The perfected beings worship you and the demons fear you and scatter in all directions.

Why shouldn’t they offer their homage to you? You are the original master. O infinite one, you are the only refuge of the universe, supreme and imperishable.

You are the original Person, you know everything, and you are all that is knowable. You transcend the material modes of nature. O Lord of infinite form, you pervade the entire universe.

You are the father and grandfather of everyone. You are air, fire, water, the ocean and the moon. I offer my homage to you over and over again.

I offer obeisances to you from the front, from behind and from all directions! O Lord of unlimited power, you are the master of infinite strength! You pervade all and therefore you are everything!

I have previously addressed you as ‘Krishna’ or ‘my friend’, unaware of your greatness. Please forgive whatever I may have done with the familiarity of affection. Whatever disrespect I have shown you while relaxing, eating or sitting, either alone or in front of friends, please forgive me.

You are the father of all beings, the venerable Lord and glorious teacher. You have no equal, how can anyone be greater than you? You are the Supreme Lord so every living being should worship you.

I bow down before you to offer my respects and ask for your mercy. Please excuse me for any offences I have committed, as a father excuses his son, a friend his friend or a lover his beloved.

Although I am joyful at seeing this universal form which I have never seen before, I am also afraid. Therefore, please be gracious and appear in your four-armed Vishnu form, wearing a crown and holding a club and disc. O universal Lord, I wish to see you in that form.

Lord Krishna said, My dear Arjuna, I am happy to show you this universal form by my divine power. No one has ever seen this universal form before. You cannot see this form by studying the Vedas, performing sacrifices, or by charity, rituals or severe austerity.

Do not be disturbed by seeing this terrible feature of mine. Do not be afraid. Now, with a peaceful mind you can see my four-armed form.

The Supreme Lord then displayed His four-armed form. Then once again, He revealed his charming personality of Krishna, in two-armed human form, which reassured the fearful Arjuna.

Arjuna said, Seeing this beautiful form of human features, so very beautiful, I am peaceful and composed again.

Lord Krishna said, My dear Arjuna, it is very rare for anyone to see this form, which you are now seeing. Even the demigods constantly aspire for the opportunity to glimpse this divine form.

You cannot understand this eternal humanlike form by studying the Vedas, or by austerity, or by charity or sacrifice.

Only by exclusive and sincere devotion is it possible to understand and know me as I am. My dear Arjuna, those who are free from all attachments, friendly to all living beings and serve me wholeheartedly with devotion, certainly reach me.

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