Text of the Bhagavagd Gita (Mother's Institute of Research) - Session 34: Chapter 11—Verses 1-31 (1 April 2000)

Chapter 11—Verses 1-31

We are now to enter upon the 11th chapter which is perhaps the most famous chapter and the most powerfully poetic passage in the whole of the Gita. When we say it is powerful from a poetic point of view, we mean three things. First of all a great poetry must have vision: vision of the Truth. The greater the vision, the greater intensity of the vision, the greater the vastness of the vision, the greater is the poetic force. We can say greatly only about great things, therefore the vision must be very great. Secondly it must have a tremendous rhythm, the words must be rhythmic so that the song that emerges out of these rhythmic words, they go echoing and re-echoing in your consciousness even when once heard, these words repeat themselves in our ears. And thirdly the style and substance must melt with each other. If the emotion that you want to create is of laughter the words themselves must laugh; if what is to be said is full of pathos and sorrow, the words must be sorrowful; if what is to be said is terrible, impetuous, powerful, mighty, and the rhythms of the words and the sounds of the words themselves must be equally mighty and impetuous.

Now, you will see here in this particular chapter all the three things at a very high level. There is first the vision: a vision which is demanded by Arjuna. Arjuna has been listening to the exposition of the nature of Reality. We have seen from the chapter 7 onwards, every chapter has given a new aspect of the knowledge of the Reality: chapter 7, 8, 9, 10… in a sense chapter 10 completes the description of the Reality in which what has been said is that there is only one Reality; that this reality is transcendental exceeds everything, everybody, exceeds many, it exceeds all; many are in one, one is in many; all are in one, one is in all. Everything in the world is a vibration of the Divine, is a manifestation of the Divine. This is the basic substance which has been revealed to Arjuna by Sri Krishna, as a result of it the narrow framework in which Arjuna was working up till now, as a result of which he had come to a crisis, he had come to a kind of a difficult problem which he could not solve, that narrowness is now broken.

In the very first verse we shall read now, he says: “My bewilderment has gone.” He says here: moho ’yaṁ vigato mama (11.1), “My moho, my bewilderment, vigato, is gone.” So, now we find Arjuna in a new frame of consciousness: it is not Arjuna in the very first chapters where he was bewildered and he wanted to run away and he said “I will not use my bow and arrow”, that frame of consciousness is gone. It is a new man as it were, before us.

In the first place he was not even a seeker, he did not even enquire. In the first chapter it simply says: “I will not fight”, he does not even ask Sri Krishna as to what he should do; later only he asks this question.

Now, the whole thing is so much changed that he turns to Sri Krishna with the knowledge that Sri Krishna Himself is that Lord about whom Sri Krishna has explained; he is prepared now to salute Him again and again and again. He is keen now to see, not only in words, not only in some kind of a great panoramic vision of thought, but he wants to see eye to eye as it were and this is where we start with this passage and Arjuna says:

madanugrahāya paramaṁ guhyam adhyātmasaṁjñitam |
yat tvayoktaṁ vacas tena moho ’yaṁ vigato mama ||11.1||

“My bewilderment has gone because the words that You have uttered to me, tvayoktaṁ vaca, the words uttered by You they have destroyed my bewilderment.”

These words have contained what? guhyam adhyātmasaṁjñitam, the deepest Self-knowledge, the deepest knowledge of the Self, paramaṁ, the highest which has been told to me; why? madanugrahāya, by bestowing grace on me, these words have been uttered by You and I have been now freed from this moha.

Now, he further says:

bhavāpyayau hi bhūtānāṁ śrutau vistaraśo mayā |
tvattaḥ kamalapatrākṣa māhātmyam api cāvyayam ||11.2||

“Becoming and non-becoming, coming to birth and coming to secession of creatures, how creatures are born and how creatures die, vistaraśo mayā, this have been given to me in great detail”, because 10th chapter is Vibhutiyoga and we have seen how every detail has been expounded by Sri Krishna. “Ô kamalapatrākṣa, Ô one whose eyes are like the leaves of the lotus, tvattaḥ māhātmyam api cāvyayam, this that you have told me is something immortal.”

evam etad yathāttha tvam ātmānaṁ parameśvara |
draṣṭum icchāmi te rūpam aiśvaraṁ puruṣottama ||11.3||

“Ô Lord, parameśvara, You have described to me all this, but now I want to see, draṣṭum icchāmi, I want to see, te rūpam aiśvaraṁ, I want to see the vastest, most majestic vision of Thee.”

manyase yadi tac chakyaṁ mayā draṣṭum iti prabho |
yogeśvara tato me tvaṁ darśayātmānam avyayam ||11.4||

manyase yadi, if You think, tac chakyaṁ, that it is possible, mayā draṣṭum, me to see all this, Ô Lord, prabho

yogeśvara tato me tvaṁ darśayātmānam avyayam ||

“If you think that that great vision of Thee which is immortal that could be seen by me, then I want to see that vision.”

Now the Lord proceeds to grant that boon as it were. But from the point of view of the argument of the Gita this is perhaps the climax of the argument. What Sri Krishna wanted to reveal as a knowledge, (because all these chapters refer to basically to a synthesis of knowledge and devotion along with Karma also continues at the same time), so from the point of view of knowledge, it is a deliberate step from the side of Sri Krishna because up till now whatever has been said is only in the form of words in conception; but knowledge is completed only when there is sakśatkara, when there is a real vision, it has to be completed.

But more importantly, there is one very important revelation to be made, not only in the form of a vision. We have seen that in the Bhagavad Gita the Karma yoga has three steps, this is to repeat what we have said in the first chapters of the Bhagavad Gita: the first step is that desires for the fruits of action are to be renounced. This is the first step: ‘Do action, but give up the fruits of action, renounce them’.

The second is to see that your sense of your doer-ship of action is also false and therefore has also to be renounced. There is a vast Prakriti, a vast nature of which you are a small machine or a cog in the machine; therefore the idea that ‘I am the doer’ is also a false idea: that also has to be given and therefore whatever action has to be done is to be offered to the Divine. This is the second step: offering of your action to the Divine, knowing very well that you are not the doer of action that Prakriti is the doer and Prakriti is itself ruled by the Master of works, by the Lord Himself. Therefore action has to be done as a sacrifice at the altar of the Master of works: this is the second step of the Karma yoga of the Gita.

The third is: divyam karma. You have to do as an instrument of the Divine what is the divine work; and divine work can be done only when you know what is the Divine Will. Now, up till now what is the Divine Will has not been revealed to Arjuna. He has been told that he should do according to Divine’s Will, but the knowledge of that Divine Will is still not revealed to him, that’s still remain to be told and it is this chapter…there is not only the revelation of the Divine but also the revelation of the Divine’s Divine Will and as a result the supreme secret of devotion emerges out of it: when you know the Divine, the knowledge of the Divine is the first kindling of the true Bhakti for the Divine.

That is why Sri Krishna says that ‘the one who knows Me is My greatest devotee’, there are many kinds of devotee, but it is only the Jnani who is parama bhakta, who is the supreme Bhakta; and from that Bhakti emerges the motivation of action. There is no greater motivation of action than a complete devotion to the Divine and to do the Divine’s Will whatever it may be. It is there that the knowledge of the Divine’s Will is to be revealed.

And that is why there are three things at the same time which are brought to a climax: the knowledge of the Divine in shatśakara form, (not only in conception but directly), you perceive the Divine; the highest devotion to the Divine is kindled; and the revelation of the Divine’s Will. All the three in the highest forms are expressed.

That is why the importance of this chapter: it is not only the description that you find. Very often the description is so great and so vast that these three things which are done through this description are lost. But if you read again and again, again and again, then you will find that behind this great vision these three great things are wrought, are accomplished by Sri Krishna, reveals to the eye of Arjuna, which is a physical eye, but now Sri Krishna will get the divine eye to him through which he sees the Divine in His full splendour. The vision, as Sri Krishna says, nobody in the history of the world has ever before had this kind of vision of the Divine: first time that divine vision is revealed to an individual human being, such a vast vision is given.

Secondly the greatest devotion begins to emerge as a result of it. That is towards the end of the chapter we shall see that manifestation of greatest devotion. In the middle of the chapter we have the revelation of the Divine’s Will. What is that revelation we shall see when we will come to it, but these three things are accomplished in this chapter that is why the importance of this great chapter.

Now, śrī bhagavān uvāca, He says:

paśya me pārtha rūpāṇi śataśo ’tha sahasraśaḥ |
nānāvidhani divyāni nānāvarṇākṛtīni ca ||11.5||

paśya me pārtha, Ô Partha, Ô Arjuna, paśya, see; me rūpāṇi, My forms.”

That means this is not the vision of the immutable Reality; this is not the vision of the silent Brahman: silent Brahman has no forms. It is the dynamic Reality, the dynamic forms of the Reality. “rūpāṇi śataśo, hundreds of My forms; ’tha sahasraśaḥ, thousands of forms; nānāvidhani, of various kinds; divyāni, these are all forms which are divine; nānāvarṇākṛtīni, My akṛtī, My forms and My varṇa, My colours are of various kinds and now, behold all of them.”

paśyādityān vasūn rudrān aśvinau marutas tathā |
bahūny adṛṣtapūrvāṇi paśyāścaryāṇi bhārata ||11.6||

In one little phrase the whole thing is described, as it were, in a summary form. paśyādityān vasūn rudrān aśvinau marutas tathā | “Look at the suns, Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Ashwins, Maruts, and never seen before forms, bahūny adṛṣtapūrvāṇi, various forms which have never been seen before, paśya, see them; aścaryāṇi, they are wonderful.”

ihaikasthaṁ jagat kṛtsnaṁ paśyādya sacarācaram |
mama dehe guḍākeśa yac cānyad draṣṭum icchasi ||11.7||

“See now in My body, mama dehe paśya, you see in My body; adya, now; you see now in My body; sacarācaram jagat, the entire world consisting of immobile and mobile things; ikasthaṁ, all of them are united; ikasthaṁ, they are all, many of them, all of them; sahastra, they are hundreds of them, thousands of them, but ikasthaṁ, they are all united in Me. See all this, anyad ca draṣṭum icchasi, and whatever else you want to see, you see.”

na tu māṁ śakyase draṣṭum anenaiva svacakṣuṣā |

“You will not be able to see all this with your own eyes; na tu māṁ śakyase, you will not be able to draṣṭum māṁ, you will not be able to see Me; anenaiva svacakṣuṣā, with your eyes you will not be able to see. divyaṁ dadāmi te cakṣuḥ; therefore I give you, divyaṁ cakṣuḥ, I give you the divine sight; paśya me yogam aiśvaram ||11.8||, see My majestic and My highest form.”

sañjaya uvāca, now Sanjaya describes:

evam uktvā tato rājan mahāyogeśvaro hariḥ |
darśayām āsa pārthāya paramaṁ rūpam aiśvaram ||11.9||

rājan, Ô King, (this is addressed to Dhritharashtra, Sanjaya is speaking to Dhritharashtra),he rājan, evam uktvā, having said this, mahāyogeśvaro hariḥ, the great Lord who is Himself the Lord of all Yoga, darśayām āsa, He showed to Partha, paramaṁ rūpam aiśvaram: the highest vision of the Divine was manifested.”

I shall first read only Sanskrit now because this is the most poetic passage of the Bhagavad Gita:

anekavaktranayanamanekādbhutadarśanam |
anekadivyābharaṇaṁ divyānekodyatāyudham ||11.10||

divyamālyāmbaradharaṁ divyagandhānulepanam |
sarvāścaryamayaṁ devamanantaṁ viśvatomukham ||11.11||

divi sūryasahasrasya bhavedyugapadutthitā |
yadi bhāḥ sadṛśī sā syād bhāsastasya mahātmanaḥ ||11.12||

tatraikasthaṁ jagat kṛtsnaṁ pravibhaktamanekadhā |
apaśyad devadevasya śarīre pāṇḍavastadā ||11.13||

tataḥ sa vismayāviṣto hṛṣṭaromā dhanañjayaḥ |
praṇamya śirasā devaṁ kṛtāñjalir abhāṣata ||11.14||

anekavaktra, he sees now anekavaktra, numerous faces; nayanamanekādbhutadarśanam, before his eyes he saw so many faces, each one wonderful to see. anekadivyābharaṇaṁ, the ornaments, divine ornaments of various kinds; divyānekodyatāyudham, all of them who were ready to fight and they were arranged in the opposite camps. (11.10)

divyamālyāmbaradharaṁ: divyamālyām, there were garlands on the body of the Supreme, garlands which were divine; divyagandhānulepanam, the fragrance was divine, it was emanating from this divine form. sarvāścaryamayaṁ, everything was wonderful; devamanantaṁ, the infinite Divine; viśvatomukham, whose faces are spread everywhere. (11.11)

divi sūryasahasrasya bhavedyugapadutthitā |
yadi bhāḥ sadṛśī sā syād bhāsastasya mahātmanaḥ ||11.12||

This verse has become one of the most famous verses in the world. I will first translate for you then I will tell you why it has become so famous.

sūryasahasrasya divi bhavedyugapadutthitā: utthitā means ‘rising’; yadi means ‘if’. “If thousand suns were to rise at once in the sky and the lustre of thousands suns rising in the sky was to be compared with that light of the supreme Divine manifesting, then perhaps that would be similar. The lustre and the light and the fire that was manifest were, as it were, comparable to thousands suns which have arisen suddenly in the sky.”

This one became famous because when atom bomb was first cast, Oppenhiemer who was one of the scientist responsible for the manufacture of this bomb, he has described when he saw it, he quoted this verse, Oppenhiemer himself and he said that the amount of light which manifested at that time in the sky were like thousands suns rising at once suddenly: because of that reason, this verse has become very famous.

divi sūryasahasrasya bhavedyugapadutthitā |
yadi bhāḥ sadṛśī sā syād bhāsastasya mahātmanaḥ ||12.12||

tatraikasthaṁ jagat kṛtsnaṁ pravibhaktamanekadhā | There stood the whole world united, even though this world itself is divided in so many divisions, all this, apaśyad devadevasya śarīre pāṇḍavastadā, Arjuna saw all this in the body of the supreme Lord, devadevasya śarīre. (11.13)

tataḥ sa vismayāviṣto hṛṣṭaromā dhanañjayaḥ |

As a result dhanañjaya was greatly surprised, hṛṣṭaromā, in great happiness, in great rejoicement even his hair began to stand on end. And then, praṇamya śirasā devaṁ, now comes the delight, when you see the Divine then you come to have the real devotion, praṇamya śirasā, then he bowed down, kṛtāñjalir, then he folded his hands, abhāṣata.

Then he said (11.14):

paśyāmi devāṁs tava deva dehe sarvāṁs tathā bhūtaviśeśasaṅghān |
brahmāṇam īśaṁ kamalāsanastham ṛṣīṁś ca sarvān uragāṁś ca divyān ||11.15||

Arjuna now says: “I am seeing Ô Deva, Ô Lord, dehe, in your body I am seeing devāṁ, all the gods I see; tathā bhūtaviśeśasaṅghān, I see all creatures united together; brahmāṇam īśaṁ, I see also Brahma who is seated, kamalāsanastham, who is seated in the lotus; ṛṣīṁś ca, I see the Rishis and I see all those who are devotees and who are divine.”

anekabāhūdaravaktranetraṁ, I see numerous ends, numerous bellies, numerous faces, numerous eyes, paśyāmi tvāṁ sarvato ’nantarūpam, I see everywhere infinite with infinite forms. nāntaṁ na madhyaṁ na punas tavādīṁ paśyāmi, I do not see Ô viśveśvara, Ô supreme Lord of the universe, viśvarūpa, one whose whole form is universal, I do not see, nāntaṁ na madhyaṁ na punas tavādīṁ, I do not see your end, nor your middle, nor your beginning. (11.16)

kirīṭinaṁ gadīnaṁ cakriṇaṁ ca, you with the crown, gadīnaṁ, with the mace, cakriṇaṁ, with the cakra; tejorāśiṁ sarvato dīptimantam, everywhere there is tejorāśiṁ, all this effulgent light; paśyāmi tvāṁ durnirīkṣyaṁ samantād, hardly you are visible; dīptānalārkadyutimaprameyam, your whole face is nothing but fire. (11.17)

tvam akṣaraṁ paramaṁ veditavyaṁ, You are the one who is to be known as akṣaraṁ, inexhaustible, paramaṁ, supreme; tvam asya viśvasya paraṁ nidhānam, You are the real abode of the whole world; tvam avyayaḥ, You are inexhaustible; śāśvata, You are eternal; dharma goptā, the preserver of Dharma; sanātana, eternal; tvam puruṣo, You are that supreme Lord, the one, this my mato me, my view.” (11.18)

anādimadhyāntam anantavīryam anantabāhuṁ śaśisūryanetram |

You are beginning-less, You have no middle, You have no anta, no end; anantavīryam, supreme power; anantabāhuṁ, multitudes of ends; śaśisūryanetram, whose eyes are suns and moons; paśyāmi tvāṁ, I see you; dīptahutāśavaktraṁ, Your face is dīptahutāśa, full of blazing fire; tejasā viśvam idaṃ tapantam, You are heating the whole universe by Your light.” (11.19)

dyāvāpṛthivyor idam antaraṁ hi vyāptaṁ tvayaikena diśaś ca sarvāḥ |

“The sky and the pṛthivi, the earth; antaraṁ even the middle of this, between the sky and the earth, all this is vyāptaṁ, is all pervaded; tvayaikena, by You alone; diśaś ca sarvāḥ, even the directions of all the worlds are all filled by You.”

dṛṣṭvādbhutaṁ rūpam ugraṁ tavedaṁ lokatrayaṁ pravyathitaṁ mahātman ||

“Seeing this supreme wonderful rūpam, form; at the same time ugraṁ tavedaṁ, fears, terrible face of Yours; lokatrayaṁ pravyathitaṁ mahātman, the whole world is terrified, all the three worlds are terrified, Ô Lord.” (11.20)

amī hi tvāṁ surasaṅghā viśanti, here enter all the gods; kecid bhītāḥ, some of them are terrified; prāñjalayo gṛṇanti, they fold their hands; svastīty uktvā maharṣisiddha saṅghāḥ, even Maharshis, Siddhas are entering into You while speaking ‘let there be peace, let there be harmony’, svastīty uktvā; stuvanti tvāṁ, they are worshipping You; stutibhiḥ puṣkalābhīḥ, they are showering all kinds of stuti(s), worshipful prayers.” (11.21)

rudrādityā vasavo ye ca sādhyā viśve ’śvinau marutaś coṣmapāś ca |
gandharvayakṣāsuradiddhasaṅghā vīkṣante tvāṁ vismitāś caiva sarve ||11.22||

“Rudras are there; Adityas are there; Vasus are there; in this vast world, Ashwins, Maruts, coṣmapāś, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras, Siddhas, all of them are to be seen, all of them are wonderstruck.”

rūpaṁ mahat te bahuvaktra netraṁ mahābāho bahubāhūrupādam |

“Your great vision, Your great form which is filled with numerous faces and numerous eyes; bahubāhū, it has innumerable hands; ūrupādam, so many thighs and pādam, and feet; bahūdaraṁ , so many bellies; bahu daṁṣṭrākarālaṁ, (now comes the fiercest vision), your jaws, fierce jaws which are as it were, pounding upon the creatures, eating them away, pondering them, and throwing them out,

bahūdaraṁ bahu daṁṣṭrākarālaṁ dṛṣṭvā lokāḥ pravyathitās tathāham ||

“All these people are terrified to see You which Thy jaws which are piercing the bodies of people, I too, aham api pravyathita, I am also terrified.” (11.23)

nabhaḥspṛśaṁ dīptam anekavarṇaṁ vyāttānanaṁ dīptaviśālanetram |
dṛṣṭvā hi tvāṁ pravyathitāntarātmā dhṛtiṁ na vindāmi śamaṁ ca viṣṇo ||11.24||

nabhaḥ-spṛśaṁ, that which is the sky; dīptam aneka-varṇaṁ, Your so many colours all blazing with light; vyāttānanaṁ, Your face which is so much wide spread, which is dīpta, which is luminous; viśāla, which has got very wide, netram, wide eyes; dṛṣṭvā hi tvāṁ, having seeing You; pravyathitāntarātmā, the inner soul is, as it were, greatly troubled; dhṛtiṁ na vindāmi, I have no courage; na śamaṁ ca, I do not get any tranquillity, Ô Lord.”

It is, as it were, you are seeing the wide vision; first so many things are seen and now the terrible face of the Divine is manifested. It is this terrible face which had to be shown particularly because the field in which this is being revealed is the field of battle. And what is to be seen is that this field of battle is the Divine Himself. It is the Divine Himself who has got all these terrible faces. He Himself is eating away as if it were all the people who are there.

daṁṣṭrākarālāni ca ter mukhāni dṛṣṭvaiva kālānalasannibhāni |
diśo na jāne na labhe ca śarma prasīda deveśa jagannivāsa ||11.25||

“All Your mouths are daṁṣṭrākarālāni, the fierce jaws of all Your faces, having seen them, kālānalasannibhāni, I see the time itself as a fire, the time is that in which everything is thrown and everything is burnt; diśo na jāne, I don’t know the directions, na labhe ca śarma, I have no peace, prasīda deveśa, Ô Lord be pleased, jagannivāsa, You are the abode of the whole world.”

Now, a most important statement is made:

amī ca tvāṁ dhṛtarāṣṭrasya putrāḥ sarve sahaivāvanipālasaṅghaiḥ |
bhīṣmo droṇaḥ sūtaputras tathāsau sahāsmadīyair api yodhamukhyaiḥ ||26||

“Here I see, amī ca tvāṁ dhṛtarāṣṭrasya putrāḥ, Dhritarashtra’s sons, Duryodhana and others, all of them along with all the other kings who have come together, I see Bhishma, I see Drona, I see sūtaputra, Karna, all of them along with my own warriors, not only their warriors, my own warriors who are yodhamukhyaiḥ, who are principal fighters on my side…” “vaktrāṇi te tvaramāṇā viśanti, I see all of them speeding fast into Your mouth; vaktrāṇi te tvaramāṇā viśanti, I see them rushing as it were, daṁṣṭrākarālāni bhayānakāni, in Your jaws which are so fierce, they are all entering into Your mouth, kecid vilagnā daśanāntareṣu, some of them are broken by the very way of coming to You; sandṛśyante cūrṇitair uttamāṅgaiḥ, some of them are completely powdered as they enter into You.” (11.27)

yathā nadīnāṁ bahavo ’mbuvegāḥ samudram evābhimukhā dravanti |

“Just as rivers which are running fast they all move towards samudram evābhimukhā, towards the ocean; tathā tavāmī naralokavīrā, similarly all these great warriors, viśanti vaktrāṇy abhivijvalanti, I see them entering into Your faces which are all burning.” (11.28) “yathā pradīptaṁ jvalanaṁ pataṅgā, as the moths which are bright, viśanti nāśāya samṛddhavegāḥ , for their own deaths they enter into fire,

tathaiva nāśāya viśanti lokās tavāpi vaktrāṇi samṛddhavegāḥ ||11.29||

Similarly all these, those Drona and Bhishma and Karna and putra(s) of Dhritarashtra and also my own warriors with a great speed I see them rushing into Your mouth, nāśāya, for their own destruction.”

lelihyase grasamānaḥ samantāt lokān samagrān vadanair jvaladbhiḥ |
tejobhir āpūrya jagat samagraṁ bhāsas tavogrāḥ pratapanti viṣṇo ||11.30||

lelihyase, You are licking Your faces into which these people are entering for their own destruction, as they enter you are licking grasamānaḥ, those who are already pierced by You; all these people who are being burnt, as it were, entering into Your faces which are full of live fire, the whole world is therefore full of brightness and as a result of it everything in the world is being heated.”

ākhyāhi me ko bhavān ugrarūpo namo ’stu te devavaraprasīda |
vijñātum icchāmi bhavantam ādyaṁ na hi prajānāmi tava pravṛttim ||11.31||

“Tell me, ākhyāhi me, tell me, ko bhavān ugrarūpo, how you will become once again in mild form, ugrarūpo; namo ’stu te, I bow down to You; devavaraprasīda, Ô Lord be pleased; vijñātum icchāmi, I want to know, bhavantam ādyaṁ, I want to know Your beginning; na hi prajānāmi tava pravṛttim, I don’t know what is Your intention.”

The question of Divine’s will now arises; he is now asking the question: “Tell me now what is Your divine’s will.”

Now, all that we read so far, the description of the divine vision so beautifully poetic, I would like to present to you equally poetic translation done by Sri Aurobindo and I will read out to you so we can repeat, as it were, this great vision:

The supreme Form is then made visible. It is that of the infinite Godhead whose faces are everywhere and in whom are all the wonders of existence, who multiplies unendingly all the many marvellous revelations of his being, a world-wide Divinity seeing with innumerable eyes, speaking from innumerable mouths, armed for battle with numberless divine uplifted weapons, glorious with divine ornaments of beauty, robed in heavenly raiment of deity, lovely with garlands of divine flowers, fragrant with divine perfumes. Such is the light of this body of God as if a thousand suns had risen at once in heaven. The whole world multitudinously divided and yet unified is visible in the body of the God of Gods. Arjuna sees him, God magnificent and beautiful and terrible, the Lord of souls who has manifested in the glory and greatness of his spirit this wild and monstrous and orderly and wonderful and sweet and terrible world, and overcome with marvel and joy and fear he bows down and adores with words of awe and with clasped hands the tremendous vision. “I see” he cries “all the gods in thy body, O God, and different companies of beings, Brahma the creating lord seated in the Lotus, and the Rishis and the race of the divine Serpents. I see numberless arms and bellies and eyes and faces, I see thy infinite forms on every side, but I see not thy end nor thy middle nor thy beginning, O Lord of the universe, O Form universal. I see thee crowned and with thy mace and thy discus, hard to discern because thou art a luminous mass of energy on all sides of me, an encompassing blaze, a sun-bright fire-bright Immeasurable. Thou art the supreme Immutable whom we have to know, thou art the high foundation and abode of the universe, thou art the imperishable guardian of the eternal laws, thou art the sempiternal soul of existence.”

But in the greatness of this vision there is too the terrific image of the Destroyer. This Immeasurable without end or middle or beginning is he in whom all things begin and exist and end. This Godhead who embraces the worlds with his numberless arms and destroys with his million hands, whose eyes are suns and moons, has a face of blazing fire and is ever burning up the whole universe with the flame of his energy. The form of him is fierce and marvellous and alone it fills all the regions and occupies the whole space between earth and heaven. The companies of the gods enter it, afraid, adoring; the Rishis and the Siddhas crying “May there be peace and weal” praise it with many praises; the eyes of Gods and Titans and Giants are fixed on it in amazement. It has enormous burning eyes; it has mouths that gape to devour, terrible with many tusks of destruction; it has faces like the fires of Death and Time. The kings and the captains and the heroes on both sides of the world-battle are hastening into its tusked and terrible jaws and some are seen with crushed and bleeding heads caught between its teeth of power; the nations are rushing to destruction with helpless speed into its mouths of flame like many rivers hurrying in their course towards the ocean or like moths that cast themselves on a kindled fire. With those burning mouths the Form of Dread is licking all the regions around; the whole world is full of his burning energies and baked in the fierceness of his lustres. The world and its nations are shaken and in anguish with the terror of destruction and Arjuna shares in the trouble and panic around him; troubled and in pain is the soul within him and he finds no peace or gladness. He cries to the dreadful Godhead, “Declare to me who thou art that wearest this form of fierceness. Salutation to thee, O thou great Godhead, turn thy heart to grace. I would know who thou art who wast from the beginning, for I know not the will of thy workings.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita: The Vision of the World-Spirit - Time the Destroyer

Now, Sri Krishna reveals the Divine’s will.

kālo ’smi, I am Time, the Time that destroys, kālo ’smi; kāla has both the meanings: kāla is Death, destruction, kāla is also Time; kālo ’smi, I am Time, the Death, lokakṣayakṛt pravṛddho, what is My intention? My intention is lokakṣaya, I want to destroy the peoples; lokān samāhartum iha pravṛttaḥ, all these peoples I want to destroy, this is pravṛttaḥ, this is My intention, this is My activity; ṛte ’pi tvāṁ na bhaviṣyanti sarve, even without you they would be killed; ṛte ’pi tvāṁ na bhaviṣyanti sarve, all of them are going to go even…in spite of you, even if you run away from the field they are not going to be saved because I want to kill them; ye ’vasthitāḥ pratyanīkeṣu yodhāḥ, all these warriors who are arranged in both the sides, I want to destroy them all. (11.32) tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha, this is the intention now, this is My intention, this My will, tasmāt uttiṣṭha, therefore rise; yaśo labhasva, gain the great fame, glory; jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham, conquer your enemies, and enjoy rājyaṁ samṛddham, the prosperous state you enjoy…

mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva nimittamātraṁ bhava savyasācin ||11.33||

“Right from the beginning, mayaivaite nihatāḥ, they have already been killed by Me, already; nimittamātraṁ, you only become the instrument, O Savyasacin, O Arjuna.”

droṇaṁ ca bhīṣmaṁ ca jayadrathaṁca karṇaṁ tathānyān api yodhavīrān |
mayā hatāṁs tvaṁ jahi mā vyathiṣṭhā yudhyasva jetāsi raṇe sapatnān ||11.34||

mayā hatāṁ, I have already killed them, Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna and all other great warriors; tvaṁ jahi, now you kill them, I have already killed them, tvaṁ jahi, now you kill them; mā vyathiṣṭhā, do not have any kind of perplexity; yudhyasva, fight; jetāsi raṇe, in this battle you will be great conqueror, sapatnān, against your enemies.”

So in three verses He gives His intention finally reveals His divine’s will.

sañjaya uvāca, now Sanjaya says:

etac chrutvā vacanaṁ keśavasya kṛtāñjalir vepamānaḥ kirīṭī |
namaskṛtvā bhūya evāha kṛṣṇaṁ sagadgadaṁ bhītabhītaḥ praṇamya ||11.35||

Having heard this, etac chrutvā, having heard this, vacanaṁ, having heard this word, keśava, of the Lord, kirīṭī, Arjuna (who is with the crown), kṛtāñjalir vepamānaḥ, he did fold his hands; namaskṛtvā, he bowed down; bhūya, and again, āha kṛṣṇaṁ, and he spoke to Sri Krishna, sagadgadaṁ, with all the emotion and chocked throat, bhītabhītaḥ, completely frightened, having bowed down.”

Now Arjuna says:

sthāne hṛṣīkeśa tava prakīrtyā jagat prahṛṣyaty anurajyate ca |
rakṣāṁsi bhītāni diśo dravanti sarve namasyanti ca siddhasaṅghāḥ ||11.36||

sthāne, it is quite right, it is just, it is in the right place; tava prakīrtyā, You have been very famous, and that is very right and should be as it is, the whole world jagat prahṛṣyaty, the whole world is delighted; anurajyate, is pleased; rakṣāṁsi bhītāni, and Rakshasas are afraid: the world is pleased Rakshasas are afraid; diśo dravanti, all the directions, all the regions of the world dravanti, are melting; sarve namasyanti, everybody bows down to You; siddhasaṅghāḥ, all the Siddhas, all those who have realised the Divine they are constantly at Your feet.”

kasmāc ca ten a nameran mahātman garīyase brahmaṇo ’py ādikartre |

“Why should they not bow down to You; kasmāc ca ten a nameran mahātman, O Lord why should they not bow down to You, why? Because garīyase, You are even better, superior, even to Brahma who is supposed to be the original creator, You are the father of the father…”

ananta deveśa jagannivāsa tvam akṣaraṁ sadasat tat paraṁ yat ||11.37||

“You are above sat and asat, all that is and all that is not; tvam akṣaraṁ, You are inexhaustible, You are immutable; ananta, You are infinite, You are jagat nivāsa, You are the Abode of the world.” tvam ādidevaḥ puruṣaḥ purāṇaḥ, “You are the Ancient, You are the Purusha, You are the first original god of gods; tvam asya viśvasya paraṁ nidhānam, You are the Abode of this wide world; vetāsi vedyaṁ ca paraṁ ca dhāma, You are the knower, You are that which is to be known, You are the Supreme, You are the dhāma, You are the abode; tvayā tataṁ viśvam anantarūpa, all this world which is vast is all woven by You.” (11.38) vāyur yamo ’gnir varuṇaḥ śaśāṅkaḥ, You are Vayu, the wind; You are Yama the Lord of death; You are Agni the fire; You are Varuna, the Lord of the oceans; Sashanka, You are the moon; prajāpatis tvaṁ, You are Prajapati; prapitāmahaś ca, You are father of fathers; namo namas te ’stu sahasrakṛtvaḥ, thousand times I bow down to You; punaś ca bhūyo ’pi namo namas te, again and again, again and again I bow down to You.” (11.39) namaḥ purastād atha pṛṣṭhatas te, “I bow down to You in front of You, I bow down behind You, namo ’stu te sarvata eva sarva, from all sides I bow down to You…

anantavīryāmitavikramas tvaṁ sarvaṁ samāpnoṣi tato’si sarvaḥ ||11.40||

“You include everything in the world; You are anantavīryā, You are inexhaustible power, vikrama, and you are the majestic power.” (11.40)

Having seen this, we have now three important images that come to the mind of Arjuna and they will now be successively described:

sakheti matvā prasabhaṁ yad uktaṁ he kṛṣṇa he yādava he sakheti |
ajānatā mahimānaṁ tavedaṁ mayā pramādāt praṇayena vāpi ||11.41||

“You, all this that I saw are embodied in this one, one who stand before me, and in my rashness, prasabhaṁ, in my rashness I called You sakha, O my friend, he kṛṣṇa he yādava, I just called You casually like this he kṛṣṇa he sakha, in my rashness; ajānatā mahimānaṁ tavedaṁ, I did not know Your majesty, and in ignorance I called You like this; mayā pramādāt praṇayena vāpi, by negligence or by love I simply addressed You simply like Krishna, O Yadava, O Sakha!” yac cāvahāsārtham asatkṛto ’si, “In this way I have insulted You, asatkṛto ’si, not satkāra but asatkāra; asatkṛto ’si, in this way you have been insulted by me; vihāra-śayyāsana-bhojaneṣu, by the lying in the couch, or in the seat, or in fun and enjoyment, or in bhojaneṣu, while eating; eko ’tha vāpy acyuta tat-samakṣaṁ, whether you were alone or before many other people; tat kṣāmaye tvām aham aprameyam, O Immeasurable, please pardon me for all this that I have done to You.” (11.42)

This is the first image of the Lord as the embodiment of the supreme Lord.

But now he says:

pitāsi lokasya carācarasya tvam asya pūjyaś ca gurur garīyān |
na tvatsamo ’sty abhyadhikaḥ kuto ’nyo lokatraye ’py apratimaprabhāva ||11.43||

“You are the father of the worlds, father of carācara, that which is moving and that which is not moving; tvam asya pūjyaś ca gurur garīyān, and You are of all of them, You are garīyān-shretha, You are the greatest teacher.” “na tvatsamo ’sty abhyadhikaḥ, there is nobody superior to You; kuto ’nyo, where there can be anybody superior to You; lokatraye ’py, even in three worlds; apratimaprabhāva, You have incomparable majesty.”

tasmāt praṇamya praṇidhāya kāyaṁ prasādaye tvām aham īśam īḍyam |

“Therefore, praṇamya praṇidhāya kāyaṁ, I am bowing down, praṇidhāya kāyaṁ, prostrating my body, kāyaṁ, (kāya is the body), my body I am praṇidhāya, completely prostrating at your feet, prasādaye, be pleased. piteva putrasya, just as the father does to his son, just as sakheva sakhyuḥ, as a friend is towards a friend, priyaḥ prīyāya, just as the lover does to the beloved, similarly deva soḍhum arhasi, O Lord suffer me in this fashion.” (11.44)

This is the second image of the Lord; the Lord who is embodied in one, one image, the Lord as a friend even there, there is a relationship. This is the verse which has given raise of the deepest depth of Vaishnavism where the Lord is worshipped as the father, is worshipped as the friend, is worshipped as the beloved.

adṛṣṭapūrvaṁ hṛṣito ’smi dṛṣṭvā bhayena ca pravyathitaṁ mano me |
tad eva me darśaya deva rūpaṁ prasīda deveśa jagannivāsa ||11.45||

Now, comes the third image. “As this particular thing that you have shown me so terrify, it is rejoicing but at the same time very, very terrifying; adṛṣṭapūrvaṁ hṛṣito ’smi dṛṣṭvā, I am very pleased having seen that, adṛṣṭapūrvaṁ, which I have never seen before, and yet, bhayena ca pravyathitaṁ mano me, and yet my mind is greatly bewildered and greatly terrified by fear, bhayena. tad eva me darśaya deva rūpaṁ, now therefore you show me your delightful rūpa,…”

This is the third image. Supreme Lord embodied in Krishna is the first image; the second is the image of the Lord as the father, as the friend and as the beloved; the third image is this rūpa, ‘your delightful form’. darśaya deva rūpaṁ, now you show me your deva rūpa, your supreme… viśvarūpa darśana I have seen, it has made me very happy at the same time greatly terrified…be pleased; prasīda deveśa jagannivāsa, O Lord of Lords, jagannivāsa, the abode of the whole universe, please now reveal to me your deva rūpaṁ.

What is deva rūpaṁ?

He describes it:

kirīṭinaṁ gadinaṁ cakrahastam icchāmi tvāṁ draṣṭum ahaṁ tathaiva |

“I want to see that form of Yours with a crown, with a mace, with a discus in Your hand. teniava rūpeṇa caturbhujena, I have seen You till now with millions of hands, I want to see You with four hands, catur-bhujena. teniava rūpeṇa caturbhujena (this is the form of Narayana)

sahasrabāho bhava viśvamūrte ||11.46||

“Thousands of hands I have seen You now, but I want to see You with four hands.”

śribhagavān uvāca, now Sri Krishna replies:

mayā prasannena tavārjunedaṁ rūpaṁ paraṁ darśitam ātmayogāt |

“Because I was very pleased with you, therefore O Arjuna I have shown you this particular paraṁ darśitam, great vision I have shown you, ātmayogāt, by My own Yoga.

tejomayaṁ viśvam anantam ādyaṁ yan me tvad anyena na dṛṣṭapūrvam ||11.47||

“My form, tejomayaṁ, lustrous, viśvam, the whole universal form which is anantam ādyaṁ, which has no beginning and no end, this is what I have shown you; yan me tvad anyena na dṛṣṭapūrvam, what you have seen nobody else has seen before.”

Now, Sri Krishna lays down the conditions under which this supreme form can be seen. From the point of view of Yoga this particular verse is extremely important.

na vedayajñādhyayanair na dānair na ca kriyābhir na tapobhir ugraiḥ |
evaṁrūpaḥ śakya ahaṁ nṛloke draṣṭuṁ tvad anyena kurupravīra ||11.48||

“This particular form cannot be seen even by tapobhir ugraiḥ, even if you do hundreds and thousands of austerities, fierce austerities; na ca kriyābhir, even if you do marvellous works; na dānair, you give so much in donations, you may study Veda, vedayajñā, you may do lots of sacrifices, none of them will give you this rūpa that you have seen.”

mā te vyathā mā ca vimūḍhabhāvo dṛṣṭvā rūpaṁ ghoram īdṛṅ mamedam |

“Do not worry, mā te vyathā, do not be bewildered, do not have pain, suffering; mā ca vimūḍhabhāvo, do not become completely distracted, vimūḍhabhāvo; dṛṣṭvā rūpaṁ ghoram, this terrible face that you have seen, having seen it, do not be afraid and do not feel distracted.

vyapetabhīḥ prītamanāḥ punas tvaṁ tad eva me rūpam idaṁ prapaśya ||49||

“Since you are so much afraid, punas tvaṁ, I am showing you again; tad eva me rūpam idaṁ, I am showing you now that form, prapaśya, now see it.

From the point of Yoga as I have said, this verse is very important because it will show by what means: neither by Yoga or Karma, nor by donations, nor by any kind of Karma Yoga, nor even by any Bhakti Yoga you can have that vision. You can have that vision only if you combine Bhakti with Jnana and Karma altogether, only when you have done integral Yoga, gone beyond all exclusive paths of Yoga, then only this vision is possible: this is the secret teaching of this verse.

We shall come back to it again.

sañjaya uvāca, now Sanjaya says:

ity arjunaṁ vāsudevas tathoktvā svakaṁ rūpaṁ darśayām āsa bhūyaḥ |

“Having said like this to Arjuna, Vasudeva, Sri Krishna, darśayām āsa, He reveals, He showed bhūyaḥ, again, svakaṁ rūpaṁ, His own original form, narayana rūpa, with four hands; āśvāsayām āsa ca bhītam enaṁ, He comforted the one who had become so much terrified, bhūtvā punaḥ saumyavapur mahātmā ||11.50||, having assumed His saumya-bhāva, His tranquil and delightful and sweet and smiling face, by showing that He comforted this terrified heart of Arjuna.”

Then Arjuna says:

dṛṣṭvedaṁ mānuṣaṁ rūpaṁ tava saumyaṁ janārdana |

“You are very near to us, mānuṣaṁ rūpaṁ, this human form that You have shown; idānīm asmi saṁvṛttaḥ sacetāḥ prakṛtiṁ gataḥ ||51||, now I have come back again composed, asmi saṁvṛttaḥ sacetāḥ prakṛtiṁ, my Prakriti has now become awake by this vision of Yours.”

śribhagavān uvāca

sudurdarśam idaṁ rūpaṁ dṛṣṭavān asi yan mama |
devā apy asya rūpasya nityaṁ darśanakāṅkṣiṇaḥ ||11.52||

Sri Krishna repeats again that that form which you had seen earlier, which is now disappearing before you, now the new form is coming before you, that that form which has been shown to you…sudurdarśam idaṁ, is hardly visible to anybody… devā apy asya rūpasya nityaṁ darśanakāṅkṣiṇaḥ, even Devas, even Gods are nityaṁ kāṅkṣiṇaḥ, they are all the time desirous of having that darśana.”

nāhaṁ vedair na tapasā na dānena na cejyayā |
śakya evaṁvidho draṣṭuṁ dṛṣṭavān asi māṁ yathā ||11.53||

Once again He repeats: “Neither by Karmayoga, nor by Jnanayoga, nor by Bhaktiyoga, neither by study, nāhaṁ vedair na tapasā na dānena na cejyayā, not even by devotion, śakya evaṁvidho draṣṭuṁ, you cannot see Me, even when you do all this, what you have already seen.”

Now He says by what you will do it, 11th chapter, verse 54 gives you the key:

bhaktyā tv ananyayā śakya aham evaṁvidho ’rjuna |

“There is only one way by which you can see Me this and this is bhaktyā tv ananyayā, not ordinary Bhakti, incomparable Bhakti; jñātuṁ draṣṭuṁ ca tattvena praveṣṭuṁ, it is only by that kind of devotion which is rare, incomparable devotion, only through that you can know that form, you can see that form or you can enter into that form, by no other means can you do it.”

From the entire teaching of the Gita, this one sentence is one of the most important sentences of the Bhagavad Gita: ‘By what can you see the supreme Divine’. If you want to see immobile Brahman: there is one. If you want to see God as a friend, as a brother, as a father, as a lover, as a beloved: there is one form. If you want to see God’s will: there is another form. But what you have seen is something which encompasses all of them together and the key to that is bhaktyā tv ananyayā: incomparable Bhakti.

Therefore now Sri Krishna says how to have that Bhakti: matkarmakṛn, that Bhakti is that which combines matkarmakṛn, you will be the doer of My karma, divyam karma. What He had spoken in the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita that is repeated here, matkarmakṛn, by doing My work; matparamo madbhaktaḥ saṅgavarjitaḥ; madbhaktaḥ, you become My parama Bhakta, My supreme devotee, at the same time doing My will, not merely Bhakti, this is ananyayā Bhakti, Bhakti which is not running away from action, on the contrary ghoraṁ karma also he does because Sri Krishna Himself is doing that and if you are Bhakta how can you be away from that supreme Karma, even though it may be ghoraṁ?

matkarmakṛn matparamo madbhaktaḥ saṅgavarjitaḥ |

At the same time one who has given up all attachments; nirvairaḥ, one who has no sense of revenge,

nirvairaḥ sarvabhūteṣu yaḥ sa mām eti pāṇḍava ||11.55||

“One who sees Me everywhere.” So one who has combined the vision of the Divine in all, one who is great Bhakta, and one who is doing the Divine’s work, all of them combined together, then only that supreme vision can be visible.”

So soon we finished.

I will read to you the most important part of the Bhagavad Gita which is now revealed to us and what Sri Aurobindo has written here, how the question with which the whole of the Gita starts is now answered. The speciality of the Gita is, (in fact of the whole Indian thought is, and it distinguishes Indian thought from all other thoughts) is the brave and courageous statement that Divine is peace, Divine is Love, but Divine is also destruction. This is the one quality of the Divine which people are afraid to attribute to the Divine as if Divine Himself will be hurt if you describe the Divine as the destroyer. As Sri Aurobindo says: “No religionist, superficial optimist, man who lives in emotions, men of sentiments, a sensational idealist, they all twist away the real truth of the Divine when they come to describe the world and all that is there in the world which is destructive. Everybody goes to help the God saying: ‘you are not responsible for destruction’. You are everything: You are Love, You are Peace, You are creator, wonderful Preserver, but if there is this destruction, it is not You because You can’t be that. You are so great, You are so wonderful, how can You be the Destroyer. And therefore all kinds of ideologists have arisen. According to one the destruction is done by Asura, not by Divine. Or else there is Satan who is the responsible for it. Or else: ‘Oh! It is man who is responsible. God is very nice, but you have done wrong actions, therefore you have to be punished, you have to be destroyed’. In every way God is protected from all that is considered to be destructive. Whereas here, very boldly Sri Krishna says: ‘I am Time, kālaḥ asmi, I am the Time who is destroyer’ a great secret is being manifested in this chapter. That this world process is a very special kind of process, willed by the Divine, executed by His Nature, even by producing a lower nature, but it is He who is responsible for it. He has a higher nature, but the lower nature is also derived from Him. Man cannot do it, unless the Divine has sanctioned it in one way or the other. This is the stark conclusion out of this great description. God is not at all absolved from any responsibility of evil in the world, of any destruction in the world. This is the boldest statement in the Bhagavad Gita.

This is the statement about which Arjuna is so much afraid, he said: “How can I do that destruction? How can I kill them?”, and he was running away from that. Can the Divine will destruction? And Sri Krishna says very boldly, “nāśaḥ asmi, I am Myself the destruction”. The whole world is nothing but a constant formation and constant destruction of formations. Even if you have to rise from the lower nature to the higher nature, you have to destroy the lower nature. You cannot say: ‘oh! Lower nature is going to be destroyed, I must preserve it’: the preservation is as it were the only virtue.

All lower forms have to be destroyed. If the Reality is Brahma, if He is Vishnu, He is also Rudra. If He is the Creator and the Preserver, He is also the Destroyer and actually no creation comes out unless there is destruction earlier. Out of destruction creation arises, and even the destruction, even Rudra is actually Shiva, He Himself is the benign Lord. If He destroys, He destroys because He wants to create something better. What He has created is so far, ‘so far so good’. From the higher point of view it seems to be evil, therefore because He wants to move forward towards the ideal, therefore the evil is to be destroyed.

Dhritarashtra and Bhima and Bhishma and Karna and Drona and others, however great and mighty they may be, but at present they are stopping the evolution, they are sustaining a kingdom which is full of evil and injustice and oppression. A new kingdom with nobler motives has to be established, therefore this has to be destroyed and if the Lord is there, He destroys Himself, therefore it is His will. Because it is His will, He can now tell Arjuna: “you do it, even without you it will be done, but you attain to merit, become My instrument and therefore you will learn the Yoga of doing the will of the Divine.”

This is in sum and substance the fundamental teaching and the solution of the problem of Arjuna. Arjuna was thinking: “I am the doer, these are my people, I have to protect them at any cost.” And Arjuna describes what will be the cost if there are all killed : the whole society will be ruined; the women will go astray, kulakṣayaḥ kuladharmanaśaḥ (1.39-41) all that was known, but the Lord wishes it, He has willed it because He wants to create completely new world. Therefore this world has to go. This is the will of the Lord, and therefore now Sri Krishna says: “you join your will with this Will”: this is the solution of the problem.

Now, I shall read out to you two pages (three pages actually), where Sri Aurobindo explains this entire problem and the solution that you find in this chapter:

The problem raised by the Gita and the solution it gives demand this character of the vision of the World-Spirit. It is the problem of a great struggle, ruin and massacre which has been brought about by the all-guiding Will and in which the eternal Avatar himself has descended as the charioteer of the protagonist in the battle. The seer of the vision is himself the protagonist, the representative of the battling soul of man who has to strike down tyrant and oppressive powers that stand in the path of his evolution and to establish and enjoy the kingdom of a higher right and nobler law of being. Perplexed by the terrible aspect of the catastrophe in which kindred smite at kindred, whole nations are to perish and society itself seems doomed to sink down in a pit of confusion and anarchy, he has shrunk back, refused the task of destiny and demanded of his divine Friend and Guide why he is appointed to so dreadful a work, kiṁ karmaṇi ghore māṁ niyojayasi. He has been shown then how [B.G.3.1] individually to rise above the apparent character of whatever work he may do, to see that Nature the executive force is the doer of the work, his natural being the instrument, God the master of Nature and of works to whom he must offer them without desire or egoistic choice as a sacrifice.

This is the first lesson: ‘to do the work without desire for the fruits of action’.

He has been shown too that the Divine who is above all these things and untouched by them, yet manifests himself in man and Nature and their action and that all is a movement in the cycles of this divine manifestation.

The Divine is himself the doer of all things is the second vision.

But now..

..the third.

..when he is put face to face with the embodiment of this truth, he sees in it magnified by the image of the divine greatness this aspect of terror and destruction and is appalled and can hardly bear it. For why should it be thus that the All-spirit manifests himself in Nature? What is the significance of this creating and devouring flame that is mortal existence, this worldwide struggle, these constant disastrous revolutions, this labour and anguish and travail and perishing of creatures? He puts the ancient question and breathes the eternal prayer, “Declare to me who art thou that comest to us in this form of B.G.11.31 fierceness. I would know who art thou who wast from the beginning, for I know not the will of thy workings. Turn thy heart to grace.”

Destruction, replies the Godhead, is the will of my workings [B.G.11.32] with which I stand here on this field of Kurukshetra, the field of the working out of the Dharma, the field of human action,—as we might symbolically translate the descriptive phrase, [B.G.1.1] dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre,—a world-wide destruction which has come in the process of the Time-Spirit. I have a foreseeing purpose which [B.G.11.33] fulfils itself infallibly and no participation or abstention of any human being can prevent, alter or modify it; all is done by me already in my eternal eye of will before it can at all be done by man upon earth. I as Time have to destroy the old structures and to build up a new, mighty and splendid kingdom. Thou as a human instrument of the divine Power and Wisdom hast in this struggle which thou canst not prevent to battle for the right and slay and conquer its opponents. Thou too, the human soul in Nature, hast to enjoy in Nature the fruit given by me, the empire of right and justice. Let this be sufficient for thee,—to be one with God in thy soul, to receive his command, to do his will, to see calmly a supreme purpose fulfilled in the world. [B.G.11.32] | [B.G.11.33] | [B.G.11.34] “I am Time the waster of the peoples arisen and increased whose will in my workings is here to destroy the nations. Even without thee all these warriors shall be not, who are ranked in the opposing armies. Therefore arise, get thee glory, conquer thy enemies and enjoy an opulent kingdom. By me and none other already even are they slain, do thou become the occasion only, O Savyasachin. Slay, by me who are slain, Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna and other heroic fighters; be not pained and troubled. Fight, thou shalt conquer the adversary in the battle.” The fruit of the great and terrible work is promised and prophesied, not as a fruit hungered for by the individual,—for to that there is to be no attachment,—but as the result of the divine will, the glory and success of the thing to be done accomplished, the glory given by the Divine to himself in his Vibhuti. Thus is the final and compelling command to action given to the protagonist of the world-battle.

It is the Timeless manifest as Time and World-Spirit from whom the command to action proceeds. For certainly the Godhead [B.G.11.32] when he says, “I am Time the Destroyer of beings,” does not mean either that he is the Time-Spirit alone or that the whole essence of the Time-Spirit is destruction. But it is this which is the present will of his workings, pravṛtti. Destruction is always a simultaneous or alternate element which keeps pace with creation and it is by destroying and renewing that the Master of Life does his long work of preservation. More, destruction is the first condition of progress. Inwardly, the man who does not destroy his lower self-formations, cannot rise to a greater existence. Outwardly also, the nation or community or race which shrinks too long from destroying and replacing its past forms of life, is itself destroyed, rots and perishes and out of its debris other nations, communities and races are formed. By destruction of the old giant occupants man made himself a place upon earth. By destruction of the Titans the gods maintain the continuity of the divine Law in the cosmos. Whoever prematurely attempts to get rid of this law of battle and destruction, strives vainly against the greater will of the World-Spirit. Whoever turns from it in the weakness of his lower members, as did Arjuna in the beginning,—therefore was his shrinking condemned as a small and false pity, an inglorious, an un-Aryan and unheavenly feebleness of heart and impotence of spirit, klaibyaṁ, kṣudraṁ ḥrdaya-daurbalyam, [B.G.2.3] —is showing not true virtue, but a want of spiritual courage to face the sterner truths of Nature and of action and existence. Man can only exceed the law of battle by discovering the greater law of his immortality. There are those who seek this where it always exists and must primarily be found, in the higher reaches of the pure spirit, and to find it turn away from a world governed by the law of Death. That is an individual solution which makes no difference to mankind and the world, or rather makes only this difference that they are deprived of so much spiritual power which might have helped them forward in the painful march of their evolution.

What then is the master man, the divine worker, the opened channel of the universal Will to do when he finds the World-Spirit turned towards some immense catastrophe, figured before his eyes as Time the destroyer arisen and increased for the destruction of the nations, and himself put there in the forefront whether as a fighter with physical weapons or a leader and guide or an inspirer of men, as he cannot fail to be by the very force of his nature and the power within him, svabhāvajena svena karmaṇā? [B.G.18.60] To abstain, to sit silent, to protest by non-intervention? But abstention will not help, will not prevent the fulfilment of the destroying Will, but rather by the lacuna it creates increase confusion. Even without thee, cries the Godhead, my will of destruction would still be accomplished, ṛte’pi tvām. If Arjuna [B.G.11.32] were to abstain or even if the battle of Kurukshetra were not to be fought, that evasion would only prolong and make worse the inevitable confusion, disorder, ruin that are coming. For these things are no accident, but an inevitable seed that has been sown and a harvest that must be reaped. They who have sown the wind, must reap the whirlwind. Nor indeed will his own nature allow him any real abstention, prakṛtis tvāṁ niyokṣyati. This the Teacher tells Arjuna at the close, “That which in thy egoism [B.G.18.59] | [B.G.18.60] thou thinkest saying, I will not fight, vain is this thy resolve: Nature shall yoke thee to thy work. Bound by thy own action which is born of the law of thy being, what from delusion thou desirest not to do, that thou shalt do even perforce.” Then to give another turn, to use some kind of soul force, spiritual method and power, not physical weapons? But that is only another form of the same action; the destruction will still take place, and the turn given too will be not what the individual ego, but what the World-Spirit wills. Even, the force of destruction may feed on this new power, may get a more formidable impetus and Kali arise filling the world with a more terrible sound of her laughters. No real peace can be till the heart of man deserves peace; the law of Vishnu cannot prevail till the debt to Rudra is paid. To turn aside then and preach to a still unevolved mankind the law of love and oneness? Teachers of the law of love and oneness there must be, for by that way must come the ultimate salvation. But not till the Time-Spirit in man is ready, can the inner and ultimate prevail over the outer and immediate reality. Christ and Buddha have come and gone, but it is Rudra who still holds the world in the hollow of his hand. And meanwhile the fierce forward labour of mankind tormented and oppressed by the Powers that are profiteers of egoistic force and their servants cries for the sword of the Hero of the struggle and the word of its prophet.

The highest way appointed for him is to carry out the will [B.G.11.33] of God without egoism, as the human occasion and instrument of that which he sees to be decreed, with the constant supporting [B.G.8.7] memory of the Godhead in himself and man, mām anusmaran, and in whatever ways are appointed for him by the Lord of his [B.G.11.33] Nature. Nimittamātraṁ bhava savyasācin. He will not cherish personal enmity, anger, hatred, egoistic desire and passion, will not hasten towards strife or lust after violence and destruction [B.G.3.20] like the fierce Asura, but he will do his work, lokasaṅgrahāya. Beyond the action he will look towards that to which it leads, that for which he is warring. For God the Time-Spirit does not destroy for the sake of destruction, but to make the ways clear in the cyclic process for a greater rule and a progressing manifestation, [B.G.11.33] rājyaṁ samṛddham. He will accept in its deeper sense, which the superficial mind does not see, the greatness of the struggle, the glory of the victory,—if need be, the glory of the victory which comes masked as defeat,—and lead man too in the enjoyment of his opulent kingdom. Not appalled by the face of the Destroyer, he will see within it the eternal Spirit imperishable in all these perishing bodies and behind it the face of the Charioteer, the Leader of man, the Friend of all creatures, suhṛdaṁ sarvabhūtānām. This formidable World-Form once seen [B.G.5.29] and acknowledged, it is to that reassuring truth that the rest of the chapter is directed; it discloses in the end a more intimate face and body of the Eternal.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita: The Vision of the World-Spirit - Time the Destroyer

So this is the 11th chapter and next time we can go to the 12th chapter.

There is a distinction to be made between a ‘will towards violence’, and a ‘will towards destruction’. Sri Krishna does not teach: “You destroy with violence”, He opposes it: not in anger, not in hatred, not for achievement, not for this or that result…but for destruction. We constantly destroy germs by breathing; our life itself depends upon the destruction of the germs. So you must make a distinction between violence and destruction although violence also creates destruction. But what Sri Krishna teaches is destruction, when destruction is needed, but without violence.

One should never do anything with violence: this is the fundamental teaching of the Gita. It is therefore said in the whole of Mahabharata…it is actually a message of peace: avoidance of violence. Even war is the command to destroy that which is full of oppression and violence, and if at a given time the destruction can be done by instruments which are normally used by violence, you cannot help it, it is by weapons that you kill even with violence; it is with weapons that doctors can do operation. What is demanded by Sri Krishna is an operation. If destruction were done by any other means that also could have been welcomed and Sri Krishna says, ‘even if you abstain from it, destruction will not be stopped.

Question: World War I and World War II are also a process of evolution?

Absolutely; they were willed.

Question: Greater good of the greater numbers, is that also a process of evolution?

Yes, absolutely: destruction and evolution. That also, correct, absolutely.

The important point is that if you however, attach yourself to the idea of non-destruction. “Non-violence” can easily be turned as a process of “non-destruction” and if you do that confusion, then there will be greater confusion. This is what has happened: India’s partition through a tremendous violence, where brothers fought with brothers and killed them and the country was itself dissected, bisected: it’s a tremendous violence. So, we must make a distinction between ‘violence’, ‘non-violence’, ‘destruction’, ‘construction’: all these terms have to be clearly understood.

Sri Krishna does not advocate violence at all in the Bhagavad Gita, on the contrary, but he certainly advocates destruction. But who does not do destruction? As I said we destroy vegetables while eating them; we breathe by destroying the germs: destruction is the very process of creation. To do creation, preservation, destruction with the Divine’s eyes without attachment without any kind of partiality, without anger, without violence, without desire for fruits of action: all the three activities are to be done. Only you must know at what time it has to be done. That is why the need to know the Divine’s Will. Without knowing the Divine’s Will you start destroying: that also is not correct, you must know what the Divine Wills.

So, the answer to the question of Arjuna was not: ‘the destruction itself is good therefore destroy!’ That is not the answer. Today the Divine Himself wants to destroy, therefore you become the instrument of this destruction and that you do without any violence in your own consciousness: that is the message of the Gita. What was being preached in the time of the freedom struggle was: ‘don’t destroy!’. And when you do Satyagraha, what was it actually? It was violence.

Comment: It was violence preached as ‘non violence’

Exactly, how much! You wanted others to do as you say. Why? “With violence you must do otherwise I will die. If you don’t do according to my will I will die: therefore you will be responsible for my death.” What terrible violence it is? Where is that calmness? Where is that serenity? Where is the impartiality? Where is the divinity? I have a decision made. “You must accept the decision and if you don’t it I will kill myself or I will be killed by you and you will be responsible for it. Therefore to avoid it, you accept what I am saying.” It is by thrusting through your throat; what you don’t want to swallow, you swallow it, even if you don’t want it: it is a terrible violence! It is because there is a confusion of thought in our country.

What is “non-violence”? As Sri Aurobindo says: ‘with non-violence, if it is done violently you create more violence.’ Non-violence also can be practised by violence. You can’t say ‘I am right, you are wrong!’ Satyagraha means what? ‘I am right! You are wrong!’ And who is the decider ‘I am right or wrong’? ‘I am the decider’. Is not it? I have decided: ‘this is right! And now you do according to what I say’.

Now, imagine the ignorance involved in it.

Question: But then to go according to one majority is also not a very correct…

Not at all, absolutely not.

Question: How does one determine the good of all?

Only by knowing the Divine’s Will: that is the real answer of the Gita. That’s why you cannot do Karmayoga without the knowledge of the Divine, that’s why the 11th chapter is very important, ‘crucial’ in fact.

Question: Only when the internal chatter stops the Divine Will manifest.

Yes, that is one way, but you have to do much more than that. Mere silence is not enough. You must constantly be doing work. All the steps of Karma yoga have to be done, not merely silence of the mind. If you have silenced the mind, the Divine will not manifest. You have to do silence also: Jnana, Karma, Bhakti, all of them combined together, then only you will see that supreme form of the Divine.

Comment: The ideal state would be when the wise only administer.

Yes, absolutely. You are right. Wise should administer the world. That is true.

Question:Uncle, He did not profess violence in the beginning. Sri Krishna tried sandhi. He did not administer the world right in the beginning.

That’s why Sri Krishna…Yes, you are right.

Comment: All the efforts were made but there were no other way!

But even then destruction was ultimately willed.…destruction was willed, because they would have been destroyed; if they would accept the peace, then the oppression would cease.

Comment: The oppression of Dhritharashtra and his family.

That would be destroyed. Yes, quite right.