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Gita Lesson - 1616: Universal Form

Bhagavad Gita
Unit - 16
Lesson - 1616: Universal Form
By Raja Subramaniyan

Arjuna, being a good student, requests for a practical demonstration of the powers of God. Lord Krishna decides to grant this request since it will help the learning process.

Lord Krishna has taught Arjuna the glories of God. Such glories need not be explained in detail if the basic truth of God, namely he is the material cause of the universe is understood. Even after giving the details of God's glory, Arjuna is not able to comprehend the truth of God. However, he has reached the stage wherein he has complete trust in the words of Lord Krishna. At this stage, it will be helpful to see a preview of the final truth.

Example: A movie is screened exclusively for the distributors so that they can assess how good the movie is. This is a preview preceding the release of the movie. Preview is essential to the release of the movie, since the distributors cannot comprehend the movie merely by hearing the storyline or seeing the cast.

Only if our mind is free of preferences we can comprehend that the universe that we experience is God. Until then we will see the world through our colored vision, which distorts the real picture of God into a place that gives pleasure and pain. One needs to climb the various steps in Bhakthi to cleanse the mind so that the true vision of God is gained. This requires a long drawn effort and beyond the reach of Arjuna at this point of time. However, Arjuna is sure to travel this path since he is convinced of the truth as explained by Lord Krishna. To help him further Lord Krishna decides to show the model of universe similar to screening the preview of the movie.

A model of the universe is God.

Example: To explain the true form of earth, a model globe is shown to the students. Since the earth is experienced as a flat surface, the model helps to convey the true form.

Similarly, to facilitate Arjuna to comprehend the true form of God, which includes all forms in the universe, Lord Krishna shows him a model of God using his power to do miracles.

Since Lord Krishna is the Descending Avatar of God, he has the capability to show an all-inclusive form exclusively for Arjuna. The purpose of this demonstration is to help Arjuna to progress move with confidence in his spiritual pursuit of reaching God.

Teaching 114: The purpose of miracles is to demonstrate the glory of God

Response of Arjuna on seeing the miracle

On seeing the miracle, Arjuna experiences three emotions successively.

1. Wonder
This is the normal reaction of anyone on seeing a miracle. Miracles, by definition are something that cannot be explained. In addition, miracles do not happen often in one's life. Therefore, Arjuna was wonderstruck to see the all-inclusive form of God.

2. Fear
Since God is responsible for dissolution of the creation, as a part of all-inclusive form, Arjuna sees that God is destroying the world. This is very scary for him since he sees himself to be a very insignificant compared to the all-powerful God.

3. Devotion
When one is scared, the ego is lost. The feeling, "I can do" is lost in Arjuna when he sees the smallness of his so-called position of 'hero of the war' in comparison with God. When the ego is lost, the willingness to accept God as the true master overwhelms. This is devotion.

Lessons learnt from seeing the model of the universal form

Arjuna has seen in the model that all his enemies whom he is supposed to kill in the war are already dead. Since the past, present and the future are shown as a part of the demonstration, Arjuna realizes even if he decides to quit the war, his enemies will be killed as designed by God. Therefore, he should do his duty willingly for the sake of serving God.

Example: In a movie shooting, the actor has to act strictly as per the directions given by the director. He does not have the power to change the storyline.

Similarly, the life is directed by God and the individuals do not have power to change the storyline. One has to play his role as dictated by God.

We have freewill. We need to surrender it to God. We have to accept the fact that we are mere tools in the hands of God. God has given a choice to us and we are bound by it. When we do not have choice, we do not have any problem. Only when there are multiple options our suffering starts. Animals do not have freewill and they do not have any choices in life. Therefore, they do not have any mental suffering as human beings.

We need to use our freewill and surrender our ego to the will of god. Then we will be liberated from the bondage.

Teaching 115: We should surrender our freewill to God and live according to His will

The whole universe is God just as a whole body is the individual. A cell in the body cannot comprehend the functioning of the various parts of the body like, heart, kidney, brain etc.

The duty of the cell has to do perform its role in the giant network as a clog in the wheel. The individual goal of a cell has to submit to the will of the whole.

Until we gain maturity, we can assume an individual goal and keep chasing it. Only if we do this, our ego will grow. When our ego is fully grown, we need to surrender it to will of God. We cannot use our free will and grow independent of the world.

Teaching 116: We are inseparable part of the universe

We are not independent of the existence, just as a cell is not independent of the body. With our limited vision, we assume that we are independent. This is fine until we gain the required self-confidence to surrender our ego to God.

Example: We need physical strength to die. Few people may not die and spend extended period on the deathbed for want of enough strength.

Similarly, unless we gain enough mental strength, we cannot surrender our ego to God. However, if we do not surrender, we will suffer more because of the burden of the inability of our own ego to end our sufferings.

The fact is that we relate to God just as a cell relate to our body. Only when we become wise enough we will see this truth. As long as we are ignorant of this fact, we will continue to strive hard to end all our sufferings using our ego. The fear of death and the insignificance of human body will continue to haunt us. If see the truth, then we realize that we are one with the God and therefore, immortal.

Death of the individual cell is not the death of the human body. Death of an individual is not the death of God.

The source of life for the cell and for the body is same. The cell has an option to see itself as the body and live a joyful life so long it is alive or it can suffer thinking that it is independent of the body.

The whole world is God. The male and female principle and the continuous interaction between them represent the everlasting dance of God.

This vision of the universe is gained by Arjuna by seeing the model displayed by God.

Chapter 11: The Universal form of God [Verses: 05 - 55]

11.5 Lord Krishna said: My dear Arjuna, behold now My magnificence, hundreds of thousands of varied divine forms, multicolored like the sea.

11.6 Oh Arjuna, see here the different manifestations of Adityas, Rudras, and all the deities. Behold the many things, which no one has ever seen or heard before.

11.7 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.

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

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

11.10-11 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.

11.12 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.

11.13 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.

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

11.15 Arjuna said: My dear Lord Krishna, I see assembled in Your body all the deities and various other living entities. I see Brahma sitting on the lotus flower as well as Lord Siva and many sages and divine serpents.

11.16 Oh 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.

11.17 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.

11.18 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.

11.19 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.

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

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

11.22 The different manifestations of Lord Siva, the Adityas, the Vasus, the Sadhyas, the Visvedevas, the two Asvis, the Maruts, the forefathers and the Gandharvas, the Yaksas, Asuras, and all perfected deities are beholding You in wonder.

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

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

11.25 Oh Lord of lords, Oh 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.

11.26-27 All the sons of Dhrtarastra along with their allied kings, and Bhisma, Dhrona and Karna, 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.

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

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

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

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

11.32 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 Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.

11.33 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, Oh Savyasaci, can be but an instrument in the fight.

11.34 The Blessed Lord said: All the great warriors - Dhrona, Bhisma, Jayadratha, Karna - are already destroyed. Simply fight, and you will vanquish your enemies.

11.35 Sanjaya said to Dhrtarastra: Oh King, after hearing these words from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Arjuna trembled, fearfully offered obeisance with folded hands and began, falteringly, to speak as follows:

11.36 Oh Krishna, 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.

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

11.38 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 Oh limitless form! This whole cosmic manifestation is pervaded by You!

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

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

11.41-42 I have in the past addressed You as "Oh Krishna," "Oh Yadava," "Oh 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.

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

11.44 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.

11.45 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, Oh Lord of lords, Oh abode of the universe.

11.46 Oh 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.

11.47 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.

11.48 Oh Arjuna, 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.

11.49 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.

11.50 Sanjaya said to Dhrtarastra: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, 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.

11.51 When Arjuna thus saw Krishna 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.

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

11.53 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.

11.54 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.

11.55 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.

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