Gita Series – 124: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI. Verse 47 – 55

Krishna said, “Pleased with you I have shown My yogic splendor My Supreme, effulgent, primal and cosmic body that was not seen by anyone before. Arjuna, this form of Mine cannot be seen by anyone else other than you, even through study of Vedas, performance of rituals, austerities, gifts, actions, penances, etc. Do not be afraid for having witnessed such a terrifying form of Mine. Dispel fear from your mind and happily contemplate My four-armed form.”

Sañjaya said, “Having spoken to Arjuna thus, Vāsudeva (Krishna) showed Arjuna, His gentle form and consoled the frightened Arjuna.”

Arjuna said, “Krishna, seeing You in this gentle form, I have regained my composure.”

Krishna said, “The form of Mine that you are seeing now (Viṣṇu form) is extremely difficult to see and even gods are longing to see this form. Neither study of Vedas, nor penance, charity, and rituals will help in seeing this form of Mine. Only by single-minded devotion, I can be seen in this form and even merge into My form. The one who performs all his duties for My sake, absolutely depending upon Me, devoted to Me, free from attachments, free from maliciousness attains Me.”

The Brahman cannot be attained by study of Vedas. The essence of Vedas is highly disguised and extremely difficult for normal human understanding. Upanishads (Upaniṣad-s) play a vital role in making a person to understand about the Brahman. Upanishads are explained as ‘setting at rest ignorance, by revealing the knowledge of the Brahman’. Even Upanishads can only impart knowledge about the Brahman but, they by themselves cannot reveal the Brahman. Even one’s spiritual preceptor cannot show the Brahman. It is only the mind of the aspirant that can realise the Brahman. Brahman can be seen only by the spiritual eye and not by the biological eyes. Rituals and gifts and charities are introduced in later times only to develop positive attitude. They do not mean anything beyond laying the most needed strong spiritual foundation. It is essential to have a purified mind. If the mind is afflicted, it originates different thoughts. Mind by nature cannot be made without thoughts. Whatever one thinks, let that thinking be about the Lord. If thought of the Lord is made perpetual, the ego gets dissolved. This is called devotion. This is the love for the Lord. Even astral beings are deluded by māyā. The cosmic form of the Lord is nothing but māyā of the Lord. With His māyā form, the Lord loves to play with His devotees. A typical example of the Lord’s play is cowherdesses of Vṛindāvana, companions of Krishna's juvenile sports.

Bhagavad Gita is the only treatise where the Lord Himself criticises unfounded rituals. Rituals beyond one’s capacity begin to cause negative impact on the aspirant. Rituals have too many rules and regulations that are to be strictly adhered. Rituals cannot be simplified and modified so as to suit to modern times. At the same time, rituals are not a precondition to know the Brahman. Some aspirants become ritual addicts. They will not be able to even begin their spiritual journey. Without traversing the spiritual path, liberation cannot be attained. Brahman can be realised both in comfort and in discomfort. It is not the place and mantra that matters in spirituality. Primarily it is the knowledge that is important followed by one’s ability to purify his mind. Krishna says that not only one can envision His auspicious form, but also merge into it. Vision of the Divine is a myth, whereas envision of the Divine is a reality.

The whole of Bhagavad gita chapter XI is be looked as the Lord’s play, also an indirect reference to the doctrine of analogy. Krishna tests Arjuna’s capabilities by roasting him in His fire of māyā. The test is a prelude to what Krishna is going to say to Arjuna in the closing chapters of Bhagavad Gita. As Arjuna is a seasoned student of Krishna, he was able to pass the test. Arjuna remained un-afflicted by the cosmic form of the Lord, though he was afraid and recovered later and Krishna therefore decides to impart the ultimate knowledge through the closing chapters of this timeless epic.


Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI. 35 - 46

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XII. 1 - 5