by Swami Krishnananda
It is very difficult to explain the Visvarupa unless you yourself become It. Unless you ‘be’ It, you cannot explain It; and Arjuna could not ‘be’ It at present. Arjuna’s request was: “May I, O compassionate Lord, be blessed with this grand Universal vision of Yours to which You have made reference here and there in Your instructions to me – and especially Your emphasis on the presence of Your glories in different forms. May I know? May I see? Would You condescend to grant me this vision of Your grand, grand, great, glorious Universal Form, which I shall have the blessing and fortune to behold?”
Suddenly there was a blinding light dazzling the entire space, as if thousands of suns were rising together in the sky. One can only imagine what kind of light it could be, because such a thing we can never behold. Suddenly distances vanished; stars in the heavens seemed to touch the dust of the earth; a tiny object like a little flower in a cranny of a wall in a garden was seen to be touching the galaxies; the entire earth started glowing as if it was molten gold; every leaf, every plant, every rock, every mountain – the entire space started exuding a light which was impossible for anyone to see with physical eyes; it was only light – and light everywhere; the forms melted, as it were, into their original essence of light.
Today modern physics tells us that matter can be converted into light. There is an inter-convertibility between matter and form, and all the contents of the physical universe can be decomposed into a rarefied radiance. Actually, the sun and the stars, which are repositories of light, are constituted of rarefied matter which becomes gaseous; so light is also a kind of gas. But light is something more than gas. It is impossible to know what physical substance light is made of. We do not know whether it is made up of particles or waves. Light is just radiance, and such light flooded the entire atmosphere even as Arjuna asked to see the Lord’s grand Universal form. The materiality of the world, the outsideness of the world, the visibility of objects, vanished into the menstruum of this inundating blaze, the ocean of light. “Arjuna, you cannot see this form with your eyes.”
Sri Bhagavan uvacha, pasya me (11.5): “Look at Me!” He also said this to Duryodhana, in the court of the Kauravas: “Look at Me!” And immediately there was a burst of light that made everyone shut their eyes, and nobody could see what it was. Pasya me partha rupani sataso’tha sahasrasah: “In hundreds and thousands, in myriad forms, am I manifest here. Look at Me!” That is what the Lord said in answer to Arjuna’s query.
Nana-vidhani divyani nanavarnakrtini cha: “Every form, every colour, every detail, anything that you would like to see is here just now. And it is not just spread out in a distance or spatial expanse; it is a distanceless compactness of presence of all things at one and the same place.” There, when one thing is touched, everything was touched. Everything looked like a mirror reflecting every other thing. It appeared that everything could be seen everywhere. “Look at Me then, in this Form. Look at the suns dazzling everywhere! Look at the Vasus, the Adityas, the Rudras!” Everywhere these divinities could be seen. “You see here whatever you want to see – Asvinau, Maruts, all divinities, all those things which you cannot even imagine with your mind. Those gods and divinities and powers that are not described even in the scriptures because the human being cannot comprehend them even with the farthest stretch of imagination – those too you see here. The whole world is concentrated here. You need not travel by air or by any vehicle to see other parts of the earth. It is here just now – every part of the earth, every part of creation, all creation in the fourteen worlds. It can be contacted, touched and experienced without travelling, because space has vanished.”
There is no need of travelling anywhere because at one moment, in an instantaneous consciousness of grasp, one comes in contact with the total whole of the entire universe – without distance, without time, without duration, without having to travel, without using any instruments. Unimaginable! One doesn’t know what one is talking about!
“You cannot behold Me like this. I have to bless you with another eye altogether, called the eye of insight, which will enable you to behold this togetherness of things.” We see things in succession; here is one thing, here is the next thing, here is yet another thing. We think we see objects in a series. But here, in this vision, the succession of events – and also the succession of the series of objects and things in the world – becomes melted down into a simultaneity of perception. It is what is called the ‘here and the now’ of all things. Anything whatsoever, whatever it be – whatever we can think of in all the heavens – it is here just now, and at this point.
Here, I am reminded of that majestic power that Bharadvaja Rishi exercised when Bharata, the brother of Rama, went to the forest in search of Rama. Bharata was accompanied by a large retinue, with elephants and horses and chariots, thousands in number. I do not know why he took such a large retinue. Perhaps he was under the impression that Rama would yield and come back, and he would take him back in all glory. That may have been the pious intention of Bharata; otherwise, what is the purpose of taking this army? Anyway, he happened to pass through the ashram of Sage Bharadvaja, who was living in a little hut; and he wanted to offer his obeisance to the great Maharaj before continuing. Three miles from the ashram, Bharat told the army, “Stop here. No noise should be made here.” He removed his shoes, removed his royal attire, put on ordinary clothing, and walked barefooted.
When he went to the sage’s ashram and prostrated before him, there was a little conversation between the sage and Bharata. “Have you come alone, all the way from Ayodhya?” “No Maharaj, there is a big army with me.” “Why did you not bring them here?” “I did not want to disturb the sanctity of this place. The elephants and horses will neigh and make noise, and I would not like to disturb your holy atmosphere.” “I would like to entertain you today with dinner for all people.” Bharata could not understand what he was talking about. He had some thousands and thousands of people, and animals of various kinds, and here is a sage sitting in his hut with nothing in his hand. They could not sit in a forest full of thorns!
Bharata said, “Maharaj, we don’t require any dinner; we have got our own preparation. We require only your blessing.” Bharadvaja knew that this boy was thinking that he had nothing. “No! You shall bring all of them. It shall be a pleasure to serve you with a repast. Let there be thousands of people; let all elephants and horses come. Everybody will be fed.” It was very difficult for Bharata to understand what this instruction was, but he summoned the entire host.
The sage went to his yajnasala, lit the fire and poured ghee, and said, “Indraya svaha. Indra! Come with all your glory, retinue, everything; I want to serve Bharata and all his host with a repast. Varuna! Bring rivers of honey and milk here. Let the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati flow here, just now. Let them all take bath here itself. Visvakarma! Come just now, and build palaces hundreds in number. Remove this forest. Make the ground level, and let there be scintillating light everywhere. Kubera! Send all your musicians and dancers immediately; and the best of dishes have to come just now, in a few minutes. Let it be done! Let my wish be fulfilled! Let all the denizens of the heavens descend just now to serve these people whom I consider as my guests.” These are the words he uttered.
Immediately, there was a dazzle. The forest vanished; there was no forest. Celestials carrying golden plates started descending from the skies. Visvakarma levelled the whole ground in one minute, and hundreds of palaces started shining everywhere – with swimming pools, with attendants, with musicians, with dancers, with all sorts of servants. Thousands of cooks with food which was so fragrant that it could be smelt even from a distance started serving such delicacies that even the emperor had not tasted. All the elephants and horses were properly groomed by suitable persons coming from heaven itself. Each person was served by four or five people coming from heaven; and all were bathed in oil and warm water. There were beautiful rivers flowing with cool refreshing water, rivers flowing with honey, and rivers flowing with milk. During dinner there was beautiful music, and celestial Apsarasas came and danced. There was celestial bedding for everybody, thousands in number, which had been instantaneously manufactured by Visvakarma.
Nobody could imagine what was happening. They wondered if they were blind or had gone mad at what they were seeing. They all had such a beautiful dinner that it seems the soldiers said, “Let Bharata go in search of Rama. We shall be here.” This was because they had not seen this glory, this entertainment, even in Ayodhya itself. They all slept and had a good rest. In the morning, everything vanished. There were no Apsarasas, no king, nothing remained. The sage called Bharata and enquired, “Did you have a good dinner? Did you have a good rest?” Bharata did not know what to say. He was weeping with joy.
The idea is that these people are like God-men; and what God can do, these great heroes of spirit also could do. So when Sri Krishna assumed this Cosmic Form, the very earth started melting down into the liquid of consciousness; and it was God everywhere; the great ‘I’ was scintillating in everything. Brahma, Rudra, Asvinau – all the gods were there in different forms, the very limbs of this Virat Purusha. So said Bhagawan to Arjuna, “I shall give you an eye with which you can instantaneously see this great, wonderful joy.” Pasya me yogam aisvaram (11.8): “Look at My glory! Behold this majesty of My yoga, Arjuna. See, I am here! See that which you wanted Me to show you. Look!”
Evam uktva tato rajan maha-yogesvaro harih, darsayamasa parthaya paramam rupam aisvaram (11.9). Sanjaya then spoke to Dhritarashtra: “O king! Look at this miracle! Having uttered these words, the great Lord of Yoga revealed His majesty.” The Mahayogesvara, Lord Krishna, revealed His eternal form, aishvara rupa – His supreme, deathless form.
All faces everywhere – everywhere eyes, everywhere hands, everywhere feet, everything was grasped by everything, as it were. Sarvatah panipadam tat sarvato’kshi siromukham, sarvatah srutimal loke sarvam avrtya tishthati (13.13) is a verse in the Thirteenth Chapter. Everywhere were faces and eyes and hands and feet of this mighty Being. Adekabhuta-darsanam (11.10): Marvel of marvels, wonder of wonders, giddy does the mind feel even thinking about it. All glorious ornamentations, attractions, all kinds of weapons – even of war – were lifted up. Not only the glories of beauty, but also the glories of power and energy – all things were seen there at once. Celestial garlands were decorating every form. All the faces were radiant with ornamentation.
Sarvascharyamayam (11.11). Again Sanjaya says, “Wonder! What can I tell you – wonder of wonders! Glory of glories!” Even Sage Bharadvaja’s act was really a glory of glories. We will not sleep after hearing all these stories. Anantam: The Infinite Form was shown, with faces spread out everywhere. Wherever Arjuna cast his eyes, he saw the face of the Almighty gazing at him in different forms – in beautiful forms, in terrific forms, in blazing forms, in fierce forms, in kind forms, in every kind of form that we can imagine. How many kinds of attitudes and formations of psyche can we imagine in this world? All the navarasas – sringara vira karuna adbhuta hasya bhayanakah bhimascha raudrau cha rasah – were manifest in all things. The whole essence of attraction through the kavya rasas that we read in books were visibly manifest in this form.