The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 11

The Bhagavad Gita translated by Antonio T. De Nicolas

The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 11

The Yoga of the Manifestation of the World Form


Arjuna said:
1. This delusion of mine has vanished,
Due to the words you have uttered,
As a favor to me, speaking of the supreme secret called the self.

2. For I have heard in detail from you, Lotus-Eyed,
Of the arising and vanishing of beings,
And also of your changeless greatness.

3. As you say yourself to be, O Supreme Lord,
So it is. I desire to see your form, O Supreme Vision.

4. If you deem it capable of being seen by me, O Lord,
Then Lord of Yoga, show to me your eternal self.

The Blessed One said:
5. Behold, Son of Prthā, my forms,
Hundreds and thousands, divine, varied in color and shape,

6. Behold the Ādityas, Vasus, Rudras, the two Asvins, also the Maruts;
Behold many marvels not seen previously,
Descendant of Bhārata.

7. Behold today the entire world of the moving and unmoving,
Standing in unity here in my body, O GudĀkāsa,
And behold whatever else you want to see.

8. But you can not see me with this your own eye;
I give you a divine eye: Behold my godly yoga.

Samjaya said:
9. Having spoken thus, O King, the Great Lord of Yoga, Hari,
Made visible to the son of Prthā his supreme godly form;

10. With many mouths and eyes, with many wonderful visions,
With many divine ornaments and many uplifted weapons,

11. Wearing divine crowns and garlands, ointments and perfumes,
Full of every marvel, radiant, infinite,
His face turned in every direction:

12. If in the heavens
There would come to be the light of a thousand suns
Rising together It would be like the light of that great self.

13. There, in the body of the God of Gods,
The son of Pāndu then beheld the entire world,
Divided in manifold ways, all united.

14. Then Arjuna, filled with wonder,
His hair standing on end,
His head bowed to the god and with hands joined together, 

Arjuna said:
15. I behold in your body, O God, all the gods,
And likewise, crowds of different beings:
Lordly Brahmā seated on his lotus-seat,
And sages all, and celestial serpents.

16. I behold you, O Lord and Form of All,
With many arms and stomachs, and mouths and eyes;
And see no end nor middle nor beginning to you, O Universal Form.

17. I behold you with crown, mace and discus, glowing on all sides,
A mass of splendor, difficult to look upon,
Radiant as a sun and glowing fire, immeasurable.

18. You are the supreme imperishable,
The supreme place of rest of the universe;
You are the changeless guardian of everlasting dharma, the primeval purusa:
So you are to my mind.

19. I behold you who are without beginning, middle and end,
Of boundless power, with innumerable arms,
The moon and sun as your eyes, your mouth a glowing fire,
Burning this universe with your radiance.

20. This space between heaven and earth,
and all the quarters of the sky as well,
Are pervaded by you alone; O Great Self,
having seen this wondrous and terrible form of yours,
The three worlds tremble.

21. These hosts of divine beings enter you;
“Some afraid praise you
With hands folded together shouting “Hail!”
The hosts of great sages and perfected ones
All gaze at you with magnificent songs.

22. The Rudras, Ādityas, Vasus, Sādhyas,
The Visvadevas, Asvins, Maruts, and Ūsmapās,
The hosts of Gandharvas, Yaksas, Asuras and Siddhas:
All look on you, and all are amazed.

23. Having seen your great form,
With many mouths and eyes, O Strong-Armed,
With many arms and thighs and feet,
With many bellies and terrible tusks,
The worlds tremble, and so do I.

24. Having seen you touching the sky, blazing and many-colored,
With mouths open and huge eyes glowing,
My inmost self trembles, I find no firmness or peace, O Visnu.

25. Having seen your mouths terrible with tusks
Like the devouring flames of time,
I know not the directions of the sky and I find no refuge.
Be gracious, O Lord of Gods, Abode of the World.

26. And those sons of Dhrtarāstra, all of them,
Together with the hosts of kings,
And likewise Bhlsma, Drona, and also Karna,
Together with our chief warriors also:

27. They are all rushing to enter your mouths of dreadful tusks;
Some of them are seen caught between your teeth,
“Their heads crushed.

28. As the many currents of rivers run towards the ocean,
“So those heroes in the world of men enter your flaming mouths.

29. Just as moths with great speed
Enter into the flaming fire and perish there,
So also these creatures with great speed
Enter your mouths to meet destruction.

30. You lick up and devour with flaming mouths
Entire worlds from every side;
Your terrible light-rays fill the entire world
With radiance and scorch it, O Visnu.

31. Tell me who you are with form so terrible; Homage to you,
Best of Gods, be merciful. I desire to understand you, the Primal One,
For your manifestation is not intelligible to me.

The Blessed One said:
32. Time am I, the world-destroyer, grown mature,
Engaged here in fetching back the worlds.
Even without you, all the warriors
Standing over against you will cease to be.

33. Therefore stand up, gain glory;
Having conquered enemies,
Enjoy a prosperous kingdom.
By me they are already slain;
Be you merely the occasion, O Savyasācin, (Arjuna).

34. Drona, Bhīsma, Jayadratha, Karna, and other warrior-heroes likewise:
Slain by me, slay them, do not tremble.
Fight, you will conquer your enemies in battle.

Samjaya said:
35. Having heard this word from Késava (Krsna), Kiritin (Arjuna),
Trembling and with folded hands payed homage
And made obeisance to him again,
Then spoke to Krsna, in faltering voice, afraid:

Arjuna said:
36. O Lord of the Senses, it is right for the world to rejoice
And be pleased in celebrating you.
Raksasas run in fear in all directions,
While all the hosts of perfected ones pay you homage.

37. And why should they not do homage to you, O Great Self,
Who are primal creator, greater even than Brahmā?
Boundless Lord of Gods, Abode of the World,
You are the imperishable which is beyond existence and non-existence
And that which is beyond both.

38. You are first of gods, primal purusa;
You are the supreme treasure-house of all this.
You are the knower and what is to be known,
And the supreme goal, O Infinite Form!

39. You are Vāyu, Yama, Agni, Varuna, Sasānka,
You are Lord of Creatures and the Great Grandfather.
Homage, homage to you a thousand times;
Homage, homage

40. Homage to you in front, homage behind,
Homage to you on all sides, O All.
Boundless in power, immeasurable in might,
You fill all, therefore you are all.

41. For whatever I said in rashness or negligence or affection,
I have called you Ό Krsna’, Ό Yādava’, Ό Comrade’,
Having thought of you as my friend
And being ignorant of this greatness of yours;

42. For any disrespect done in jest while alone or with others,
At meals or in bed or being seated or when at play, O Unshaken One, I
beg forgiveness of you, O Boundless One.

43. You are father of the moving and unmoving world,
You are the object of its reverence and its greatest teacher.
There is no equal to you, O One of Incomparable Power,
How then could anyone in the three worlds surpass you?

44. Therefore having made obeisance before you
And prostrated my body,
I seek your grace, O Lord;
Please bear with me, as father with son,
Friend with friend, lover with beloved.

45. I am delighted, having seen what was not previously seen,
But my mind trembles with fear.
Show me that other (human) form of yours, O Lord;
Be gracious, Refuge of the World.

46. I wish to see you as before,
With crown, mace and discus in hand.
O Thousand Armed One of Universal Form,
Become that four-armed form.

The Blessed One said:
47. By my grace, and of my own self’s power,
This highest form was shown to you, Arjuna,
My form composed of splendor, universal, boundless, primal,
Which has been seen before by none besides you.

48. Not by the Vedas or sacrifices or study,
Not by gifts or rites or terrible austerities,
Can I come to be seen in the world of men
With this form by someone besides you, O Hero of the Kurus.

49. Do not tremble or be bewildered,
Having seen this so terrible form of mine.
Free from fear and satisfied mind,
Behold once again this other (human) form of mine.

Samjaya said:
50. Having spoken thus to Arjuna,
Vāsudeva revealed his own form again.
The great one, having become again the gracious form,
Comforted him in his fear.

Arjuna said:
51. Seeing this gentle human form of yours, O Exciter of Men,
I have now become composed in mind,
Restored to my normal condition.

The Blessed One said:
52. This form of mine, very hard to see, you have seen.
Even the gods are constantly desirous of the sight of this form.

53. Not through the Vedas nor austerity nor charity nor sacrifice
Can I be seen in this form in which you just saw me.

54. But by single-minded devotion (bhaktyā), O Arjuna,
I can, in that form, be known and be seen in essence,
And be entered into, O Foe-Destroyer.

55. He who does my work, who has me as his goal,
Dedicated to me, without attachment and without enmity to any being,
He comes to me, O Son of Pāndu.

This is the end of the eleventh chapter, entitled
“The Yoga of the Manifestation of the World Form”

About Sunday morning

Sunday Morning Contemplation is informed by Eastern and Western contemplative traditions. The first, lectio divina has its origins in 6th century Europe. It unfolds in four steps or stages: reading (lectio), reflecting (meditatio), responding (oratio), and silent abiding (contemplatio). Our Eastern inspiration come from the Indian Upanishads (800-200 BCE), where contemplative practice consists of three steps or stages: listening (śravana), reflecting (manana), and meditating (nididhyāsana or dhyāna). Our contemplative practice on Sundays embraces both approaches, and each contemplation will be based on a reading from either tradition.

The texts and teachers I have chosen played a significant role in my life and I believe have much to offer. I will read presellected texts, slowly, with pauses between verses or quotes. The readings will be accompanied by soothing background music. To lessen distraction, I suggest participants close their eyes and listen. However, the screen will display the text so that people can choose to read along or mute the sound and read on their own. If there is time remaining after the contemplative period, participants can choose to either leave or stay for a short discussion.

As a preface to the reading, I will provide a 10-15 minute introduction to the text. When relevant, I’ll review facts about the author/teacher’s life. I will also present a brief explanation of the terms and language encountered in the reading.

Finally, when the contemplation is over, all texts read will be available online to read and/or download at any time on the website.

What I mean by
The Symbolic Life

This website makes liberal use of classical Indian visual art and refers mostly to traditional Indian texts (for example, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras) in the courses, seminars, and discussions on offer. However, I am not presenting lessons in Hinduism; in fact, teaching mainstream Hinduism is neither my area of interest nor expertise. Rather, my interest in Yoga and Tantra is grounded in the concrete situation in which we find ourselves, in the places where we arrive and from which we depart. Beginning in the here and now, we will explore the underlying meaning of the symbols, stories, images, philosophies, and techniques found in Indian philosophical texts and practice, in light of our world and our current circumstance. We will excavate the meaning of the aphorisms and teaching stories; the symbolic figures of gods, people, and nature; and the sometimes terse, sometimes poetic, philosophy of the texts. Thus, in referring to the Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra, I mean not just the symbols themselves, but the rich explication of life that the symbols represent.

Our lived, concrete situation is wonderfully captured in the Sanskrit word loka, whose ancient meaning is “the world.”  The root meaning of both the Sanskrit loka and the English locate (and local, locale, and location) is identical. In the ancient Indian mind, the world is where we are located, in our current circumstance. Thus, the meaning of the symbols of Yoga and Tantra can occur only in the now, in the places where we find ourselves, and not in any imagined ancient and/or foreign world.

To emphasize our place of origin and return, I use the terms “archetypal” and “symbolic” quite frequently. Archetypal meaning is associated with the universal and collective aspects of human experience—what we intimately share with all others regardless of culture or era or epoch—while symbolic language forms a bridge between the realms of the universal with the culturally specific and local. Symbols are the scaffolding upon which human beings build a world and imbue it with meaning.

Think for a moment of pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, hatred and love, and greed and generosity—universal experiences that ancient Indian thinkers called the dvandva-s. This Sanskrit term is a combination of two words, or rather, one word spoken twice: the word dva (meaning the same as the English “two”) duplicated. Dvandva is commonly translated as “the pair of opposites” or literally “the two-twos” (dvadva). The ancients who coined this compact symbol gave voice to an archetypal human experience that can be further unpacked to reveal deep insights into the human condition. Once we gain an understanding of the various symbols of Yoga and Tantra, we can further excavate their meaning and the archetypes they convey, and thus gain access to, in a practical and meaningful way, the vision of life experienced by the sages. These insights are available to us and are still relevant today, as are the resilient and adaptable techniques and forms of practice that can help us lead richer and more fulfilling lives