Truth Amid Chaos – Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11

The Blue God Krishna surprises Arjuna by showing him his true universal power. He shape-shifts from one magnificent form to another. Yep. Arjuna is amazed and terrified.

The Gita is a story of wisdom and ascension, a classic root of Hindu philosophy. In this chapter the Blue God Krishna gives Arjuna a complete vision of the power of the multi-dimensional universe.

The Bhagavad Gita is richly symbolic, so if we open our eyes and ears, it is directly relevant to our own challenges. It outlines the laws of Nature, Science, Universal Power, life, and death, as these laws never change.  It describes techniques from ancient scriptures thousands of years before Christ, by which people can ascend into higher dimensions, to attain freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth. With each chapter the Gita lessons become more refined and descriptive. Just enjoy and listen with an open mind, as you would hear a story.

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, Gods ruled the Earth, and all learning took place in the form of stories and sacred verses, that people learned by heart and passed down with each generation. 

The warrior prince Arjuna and his chariot driver the God Krishna, stand before a vast battlefield, where thousands of warriors are assembled and Arjuna must kill half of his family lineage. He is horrified and refuses to fight. Krishna tells him in 18 chapters the secrets to focus his mind in a higher understanding in which he will be most powerful, bring benefit to his family, and incur no sin or Karma. Arjuna listens, and finally accepts his destiny to fight the battle. He and his brothers win and ultimately ascend to the heavenly realms.

In this chapter Arjuna asks Krishna to show him his true form. Krishna then shows himself, and Arjuna sees for the first time the incredible vastness and majesty of the universe with multi-dimensional vision beyond time to see the whole universe enfolded in the body of the Supreme almighty. Arjuna is terrified, as Krishna shows his many aspects, some with brilliant emanations of light, others with billions of heads, giant teeth, and heavenly weapons. Arjuna is awed and humbled by the vision. He even gets to see the battle that will soon take place in which Krishna chews up the evil Kaurava clan in his vast mouth. Arjuna asks “Who is this terrifying form?” Krishna responds that he is death and Arjuna must fight the battle.  The Kauravas will die regardless because Krishna has already killed them, and Arjuna is merely his instrument of the Supreme power. On seeing this terrifying form of Krishna, Arjuna is both awestruck and unnerved. Arjuna bows deeply  and apologizes to Krishna for treating him as a friend. He begs Krishna to return to his previous, more human form. 

Arjuna’s experience of awe, love, and fear gives him a tangible grasp of the vastness of the Supreme Almighty power. Krishna’s actual form impossible to completely know unless one actually achieves union with God. In these verses we can appreciate a Hindu view of the unseen world and its inhabitants. We see characters from Hindu legends, and all three gods of the trinity. Brahma, the god of creation, Vishnu the god of sustaining, and Shiva is the god of destruction, as all three emate from the same Supreme power. Arjuna sometimes calls him Vishnu because they are seen as different aspects of the same deity. 

This shows just one way of visualizing the universal power.

For just a moment, Krishna grants Arjuna divine vision for him to see the multidimensional universe without the limitations of space and time. This means Arjuna saw an expanded awareness beyond time, so you see more than a tree for example, you also see  the seed, the sapling, the mature tree, and its death all at once. Without the limitation of space, he saw not just one tree, but all trees in the universe at once. Our human physical eyes and mind don’t usually see the total unity of things.

Creation and destruction are linked. Everything that existed in the beautiful form of Krishna, was also violently destroyed or absorbed by the same power. Yet, in creation and destruction there is perfect precision without randomness or personal bias. Finally, Krishna tells Arjuna how to attain full knowledge of Him in his personal form called Ishvara. He says one must fknow him through single-pointed devotion. When we work selflessly with one-pointed joy, we can know him in his cosmic form, and see the multiverse all at once.

Since Krishna has already destroyed the enemy warriors, and his victory is certain, Arjuna can forget about fear. He can just get up and fight.

As you listen to the verses of Chapter 11, I invite you to ponder these questions:

  1. What did Arjuna ask Krishna to show him? And what did Arjuna see?
  2. What was Arjuna’s reaction to the vision of universal power?
  3. Can you describe Arjuna’s vision of the multi-universe, unfettered by time and space? How would most humans respond upon seeing a true vision of the ultimate universal power? How might it change you forever? Would it terrify you or catapult you into permanent bliss? 
  4. What are your favorite quotes from this chapter to remember for life lessons? 
  5. What parallel events in the modern world illustrate these concepts? 

Bhagavad Gita 11.1

Arjun said: Having heard the supremely secret spiritual knowledge, which you have revealed out of compassion to me, my confusion is now dispelled.

Bhagavad Gita 11.2

I have heard from you in detail about the appearance and disappearance of all living beings, O lotus-eyed one, and also about your eternal majesty.

Bhagavad Gita 11.3

O Supreme Lord, you are precisely what you declare yourself to be. Now I desire to see your divine cosmic form, O greatest of persons.

Bhagavad Gita 11.4

O Lord of all mystic powers, if you think I am strong enough to behold it, then kindly reveal that imperishable cosmic form to me.

Bhagavad Gita 11.5

The Supreme Lord said: Behold, O Parth, my hundreds and thousands of wonderful forms of various shapes, sizes, and colors.

Bhagavad Gita 11.6

Behold in me, O scion of the Bharatas, the sons of Aditi, the Vasus, the Rudras, the twin Kumars, as well as the forty-nine Maruts and many more marvels never before revealed.

Bhagavad Gita 11.7

Behold now, Arjun, the entire universe, with everything moving and non-moving, in one place in my universal form. Whatever else you wish to see, observe it all within this universal form.

Bhagavad Gita 11.8

But, you cannot see my cosmic form with these physical eyes of yours. Therefore, I grant you divine vision. Behold my majestic opulence!

Bhagavad Gita 11.9

Sanjay said: O King, having spoken thus, the Supreme Lord of Yoga, Shree Krishna, displayed his divine and opulent form to Arjun.

Bhagavad Gita 11.10

In that cosmic form, Arjun saw infinite faces and eyes, adorned with countless celestial ornaments and wielding all manner of divine weapons.

Bhagavad Gita 11.11

He wore thousands of garlands on his body and was anointed with sweet-smelling heavenly fragrances. He revealed himself as the wonderful and infinite Lord whose face is everywhere.

Bhagavad Gita 11.12

If a thousand suns were to blaze forth together in the sky, they would not match the splendor of that great form.

Bhagavad Gita 11.13

There, Arjun could see the totality of the entire universe before him in one place, in that body of the God of gods.

Bhagavad Gita 11.14

Then, Arjun, full of wonder and with hair standing on end, bowed his head with folded hands before the Lord and addressed him thus:

Bhagavad Gita 11.15

Arjun said: O Shree Krishna, I behold within your body all the gods and hosts of different beings. I see Brahma seated on the lotus flower; I see Shiva, all the sages, and the celestial serpents.

Bhagavad Gita 11.16

I see your infinite form in every direction, with countless arms, bodies, faces, and eyes. O Lord of the universe, whose form is the universe itself, I do not see in you any beginning, middle, or end.

Bhagavad Gita 11.17

I see your form, adorned with a crown, armed with the club and disc, shining everywhere as the abode of splendor. It is hard to look upon you in the blazing fire of your brilliance, which is radiating like the sun in all directions.

Bhagavad Gita 11.18

I recognize you as the supreme imperishable being, the ultimate truth of the scriptures. You are the support of all creation. You are the everlasting protector of the eternal Truth. You are the everlasting Supreme Divine Personality.

Bhagavad Gita 11.19

You are without beginning, middle, or end. Your power has no limits. Your arms are infinite; the sun and the moon are like your eyes, and fire is like your mouth. I see you warming all of creation by your radiance.

Bhagavad Gita 11.20

The space between heaven and earth and all the directions are pervaded by you alone. Seeing your wondrous and terrible form, I see the three realms trembling in fear, O Greatest of all beings.

Bhagavad Gita 11.21

All the celestial gods are taking your shelter by entering into you. In awe, some are praising you with folded hands. The great sages and perfected beings are extolling you with auspicious hymns and limitless prayers.

Bhagavad Gita 11.22

The Rudras, Adityas, Vasus, Sadhyas, Vishvadevas, Ashwini Kumars, Maruts, ancestors, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras, and Siddhas are all beholding you in wonder.

Bhagavad Gita 11.23

O mighty Lord, in veneration of your magnificent form with its many mouths, eyes, arms, thighs, legs, body, and terrifying teeth, all the realms are terror-stricken, and so am I.

Bhagavad Gita 11.24

O Lord Vishnu, seeing your form touching the sky, effulgent in many colors, with mouths wide open and enormous blazing eyes, my heart is trembling with fear. I have lost all courage and peace of mind.

Bhagavad Gita 11.25

Having seen your many mouths bearing terrible teeth, resembling the raging fire of annihilation, I forget where I am and do not know where to go. O Lord of lords, you are the shelter of the universe; please have mercy on me.

Bhagavad Gita 11.26

I see all the sons of my enemies Dhritarashtra, along with their allied kings, including Bheeshma, Dronacharya, Karn.

Bhagavad Gita 11.27

I see also the generals from our side, rushing headlong into your fearsome mouths. I see some with their heads smashed between your terrible teeth.

Bhagavad Gita 11.28

As many waves of the rivers rush into the ocean, so are all these great warriors entering into your blazing mouths.

Bhagavad Gita 11.29

Like moths diving into the fire to perish, so are all these armies rushing headlong into your mouths.

Bhagavad Gita 11.30

With your fiery tongues you are licking up the hosts of living beings on all sides and devouring them with your blazing mouths. O Vishnu, you are scorching the entire universe with the fierce, all-pervading rays of your effulgence.

Bhagavad Gita 11.31

Tell me who you are, so fierce of form. O God of gods, I bow before you; please grant me your mercy. You, who existed before all creation, I wish to know who you are, for I do not comprehend your nature and workings.

Bhagavad Gita 11.32

The Supreme Lord said: I am mighty Time, the source of destruction that comes forth to annihilate the worlds. Even without your participation, the warriors arrayed in the opposing army shall cease to exist.

Bhagavad Gita 11.33

Therefore, arise and attain honor! Conquer your foes and enjoy prosperous rulership. These warriors stand already slain by me, and you will only be an instrument of my work, O expert archer.

Bhagavad Gita 11.34

Dronacharya, Bheeshma, Jayadratha, Karn, and other brave warriors have already been killed by me. So slay them now without being disturbed. Just fight and you will be victorious over your enemies in battle.

Bhagavad Gita 11.35

Sanjay said: Hearing these words of Keshav, Arjun trembled with dread. With palms joined, he bowed before Shree Krishna and spoke in a faltering voice, overwhelmed with fear.

Bhagavad Gita 11.36

Arjun said: O Master of the senses, it is appropriate that the universe rejoices in giving you praise and is enamored by You. Demons flee fearfully from you in all directions and the hosts of perfected saints bow to you.

Bhagavad Gita 11.37

O Great one, who even greater than Brahma, the original creator, why should they not bow to you? O limitless One, O Lord of the devatās, O Refuge of the universe, you are the imperishable reality beyond both the manifest and the non-manifest.

Bhagavad Gita 11.38

You are the primeval God and the original Divine Personality. You are the sole resting place of this universe. You are both the knower and the object of knowledge. You are the Supreme Abode. O possessor of infinite forms, you alone pervade the entire universe 

Bhagavad Gita 11.39

You are Vāyu (the god of wind), Yamraj (the god of death), Agni (the god of fire), Varuṇ (the god of water), and Chandra (the moon-God). You are the creator Brahma, and the great-grandfather of all beings. I bow to you a thousand times, again and yet again!

Bhagavad Gita 11.40

O Lord of unlimited power, my salutations to you from the before you, behind you, indeed from all sides! You possess infinite power and pervade everything. Thus, you are everything.

Bhagavad Gita 11.41

Thinking of you as my friend, I presumptuously addressed you as, “O Krishna,” “O Yadav,” “O my dear mate.” I was ignorant of your majesty, showing negligence and undue affection.

Bhagavad Gita 11.42

And if, jestfully, I treated you with disrespect, while playing, resting, sitting, eating, when alone, or before others—for all that I beg forgiveness.

Bhagavad Gita 11.43

You are the father of the entire universe, of all moving and non-moving beings. You are the most deserving of worship and the supreme spiritual master. When there is none equal to you in all the three worlds, then who can possibly be greater than you, O possessor of incomparable power?

Bhagavad Gita 11.44

Therefore, O adorable Lord, bowing deeply and prostrating before you, I implore you for your grace. As a father tolerates his son, a friend forgives his friend, and a lover pardons the beloved, please forgive me for my offences.

Bhagavad Gita 11.45

Having seen your universal form that I had never seen before, I feel great joy. And yet, my mind trembles with fear. Please have mercy on me and again show me your pleasing form, O God of gods, O abode of the universe.

Bhagavad Gita 11.46

O thousand-armed one, though you are the embodiment of all creation, I wish to see you in your four-armed form, carrying the mace and disc, and wearing the crown.

Bhagavad Gita 11.47

The Blessed Lord said: Arjun, being pleased with you, by my Yogmaya power, I gave you a vision of my resplendent, unlimited, and primeval cosmic form. No one before you has ever seen it.

Bhagavad Gita 11.48

Not by study of the Vedas, nor by the performance of sacrifice, rituals, or charity, nor even by practicing severe austerities, has any mortal ever seen what you have seen, O best of the Kuru warriors.

Bhagavad Gita 11.49

Be neither afraid nor bewildered on seeing this terrible form of mine. Be free from fear and with a cheerful heart, behold me once again in my personal form.

Bhagavad Gita 11.50

Sanjay said: Having spoken thus, the compassionate son of Vasudev displayed his personal (four-armed) form again. Then, he further consoled the frightened Arjun by assuming his gentle (two-armed) form.

Bhagavad Gita 11.51

Arjun said: O Shree Krishna, seeing your gentle human form (two-armed), I have regained my composure and my mind is restored to normal.

Bhagavad Gita 11.52

The Supreme Lord said: This form of mine that you are seeing is exceedingly difficult to behold. Even the celestial gods are eager to see it.

Bhagavad Gita 11.53

Neither by the study of the Vedas, nor by atonement, charity, or fire sacrifices, can I be seen as you have seen me.

Bhagavad Gita 11.54

O Arjun, by unalloyed devotion alone can I be known as I am, standing before you. Thereby, on receiving my divine vision, O scorcher of foes, one can enter into union with me.

Bhagavad Gita 11.55

Those who perform all their duties for my sake, who depend upon me and are devoted to me, who are free from attachment, and are without malice toward all beings, such devotees certainly come to me.

Comments are closed.