Chapter XI: The vision of the Universal Form and the Cosmic Manifestation of the Lord

Out of His infinite Bounty, boundless Love and deepest, soulful Concern, Sri Krishna has unveiled the Secret supreme that He is in everything and He embodies everything. Arjuna’s stark delusion has been removed and dispersed. He now enjoys his soul’s translucent peace.

Sri Krishna speaks out of the abundance of His love. Arjuna listens to Him with his heart’s loftiest devotion, and believes in Him unreservedly and soulfully. Arjuna’s singular belief cries for its transformation; his aspiration cries for an experience. His mind understands the truth. But his heart pines to vision the truth and to live the Truth. Hence he needs this experience, unavoidable and inevitable. Sri Krishna graciously and immediately grants it, the Experience Unparalleled.

“O Arjuna, Behold in My body the entire universe.” Arjuna’s physical eyes naturally fail to vision it. The Lord grants him the eye of supernal vision, the eye that sees the unseen — the Yogic eye.

The body that the Lord speaks of is a spiritual body. Hence to see the spiritual body, Arjuna must needs be endowed with a spiritual eye. The body signifies form. The formless abides in this form. The Vision Transcendental and the Reality Absolute play in unison in and through the cosmic form. The body of flesh and blood undergoes innumerable vicissitudes, but not the body of unlimited, divine form and deathless substance. This divine body is the embodiment and revelation of truth’s Divinity, Infinity, Eternity and Immortality.

Sanjaya says to Dhritarashtra, “O Rajan, Krishna, the supreme Master of Yoga, the Almighty Lord, reveals to Arjuna His Form divine, supreme. Arjuna now sees Krishna as the Supreme Godhead, Parameshwara.”

Arjuna sees the many in the One Supreme possessing myriad mouths, numberless eyes, limitless marvels, wielding divine weapons, wearing divine garments and jewels, bearing celestial garlands of supernal fragrance. The effulgence of a thousand suns bursting forth all at once in the skies will hardly equal the supreme splendour of the Lord. Arjuna, in the divine person of Krishna, beholds Infinity in multiplicity. Overwhelmed, ecstasy flooding his inmost being, with his hands folded, his head bowed, he exclaims, “O Lord, in Thee, in Thy Body, I behold all gods and all grades of beings, with distinctive marks. I see even Brahma seated resplendent on His Lotus-Throne and seers and sages all around, and symbolical serpents — all divine.”

When we go up with all our hearts’ snow-white flaming aspiration, we enter into the cosmic consciousness of the seers. This path is an upward path. It is the path of embodiment and realisation. There is another path known as the path of revelation and manifestation. This path is the downward path. Here our consciousness flows down through the cosmic energy, the symbolic serpents, circling and spiralling.

Verses 15-31 eloquently and psychically describe what Arjuna saw in Krishna with his newly acquired Yogic sight.

The fight is yet to start. The mighty warriors are ready and eager to fight. To his greatest surprise, Arjuna sees the utter extinction of the lives of the warriors in Krishna. Before the birth of the fight, he sees the death of the warriors. Destroyed they are. As he sees the fires of Krishna’s flaming and all-devouring mouth, his very life-breath quivers. The disciple cries out, “Thy compassion, my Lord Supreme, I implore. I know Thee not. Who art Thou?”

“Time am I. Time, the mighty destroyer, am I. Doomed they are. Whether you fight or not, they are already dead. Even without you, your foes will escape no death. Arise, O Arjuna, arise. Victory’s glory and renown you win, conquer your enemies, enjoy the vast kingdom, enjoy. By me is ordained their lives’ surrendered hush. You be the outer cause. Just be my instrument, nothing more.” “Nimittamatram bhava.” “Be Thou the mere instrument.”

There can be no greater pride, no better achievement, than to be God’s own instrument, for to be an instrument of God is to be infallibly accepted as His very own. In and through the Instrument-Disciple, the Master-Guru sees and fulfils God’s Divine Purpose.

Krishna is the all-devouring time. This vision, according to our outer eyes and understanding, is terrible. But according to our inner vision and inner comprehension it is natural and inevitable.

“Time,” says Sri Aurobindo, “represents itself to human effort as an enemy or a friend, as a resistance, a medium or an instrument, but always it is really the instrument of the soul.

“Time is a field of circumstances and forces meeting and working out a resultant progression whose course it measures. To the ego it is a tyrant or a resistance, to the Divine an instrument. Therefore, while our effort is personal, Time appears as a resistance, for it presents to us all the obstruction of the forces that conflict with our own. When the divine working and the personal are combined in our consciousness, it appears as a medium and condition. When the two become one, it appears as a servant and instrument.”

Krishnaprem, the great seeker, says, “It is impossible to state in words this wondrous insight. All things remain the same yet all are changed. Time flashes bodily into Eternity; the streaming Flux itself is the Eternal, which, though It moves unceasingly, moves not at all.”

The Upanishadic lore echoes and re-echoes in our aspiring hearts: “That moves and yet That moves not, That is far distant and yet That is close and near…”

Time houses Truth. Sri Krishna tells the Truth, the Truth Eternal, about Himself. Here we can recollect the significant words of Virginia Woolf: “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” Conversely, if you know the spiritual truth about yourself, you must needs know the truth about others. Sri Krishna showed the Divine Truth that was Himself.

We can also cheerfully walk with Marcus Aurelius: “I cannot comprehend how any man can want anything but the Truth.”

To doubt the spiritual master before one’s own illumination dawns is not uncommon in the spiritual history of the world. Even some of the dearest disciples of great spiritual masters have done so. But for the seeker to leave the master precisely because doubt haunts him is an act of sheer stupidity. Stick, stick unto the last. The blighted doubts will disappear into thin air. The splendour of Infinity and Eternity will blossom in the bosom of Time. Your mounting aspiration will accomplish this task.

Arjuna’s throbbing heart voices forth, “Thou art the primeval Soul….” He cries for Krishna’s forgiveness. Owing to his past ignorance, he had not realised Krishna in His divine nature. His past was full of wrong deeds, what with ignorance and what with carelessness. He begs with a throbbing heart for forgiveness for his acts of omission and commission rendered to Sri Krishna.

“Bear with me as father with his son, as friend with his friend, as Lord with the beloved.” Sri Krishna no doubt forgives Arjuna. He assumes his normal, natural and familiar form.

Arjuna comes to learn that it is only the Grace Divine that has endowed him with the Yogic eye to see the Unseen, the Glory Supreme of the Lord, the present, past and future.

He also learns from the Lord that “neither the study of the Vedas, nor sacrifice, nor alms, neither austerity nor study can win this cosmic vision…” Even the gods yearn for a glimpse of this Universal Form which He has just shown to Arjuna out of His boundless Compassion.

Faith, devotion, surrender. Lo! Krishna is won. No other way Him to realise, Him to possess.