Saturday, 18 November 2017

Viswarupam(2) – Lord’s consolation

Gita essays 19 

Seeing various warriors rushing into the blazing mouth of the Cosmic form to be bitten, chewed and swallowed, with the Cosmic form seemingly enjoying the act, Arjuna is gripped with fear and pleads with the Cosmic form, to have mercy and disclose its true identity and function.   Then Lord reveals to Arjuna that what he is witnessing, is the Lord’s manifestation of the laya aspect of His role as Kala thathvam, time principle.  In this role He will be annihilating the warriors in both the the armies.  This will happen with or without Arjuna’s participation. Arjuna is acting only as an instrument of the Lord in this game of destruction and so he need not feel sorry that he is responsible for all their deaths.  Therefore Lord advises Arjuna to get up and fight and get the name and fame for victory and assures the kingdom will be theirs for Pandavas to rule and enjoy.  After talking in generalities, Lord now talks in specifics in verse 34.
Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna and other brave warriors have already been slain by Me (as their time in earth is coming to an end).  Do not be upset with concern (for them); fight and you shall conquer enemies (eventually) in the battle (11-34)

Even after hearing Lord’s reassuring words Arjuna was not out of fear witnessing the annihilating aspect of kala thathvam.  Arjuna still has not got the mental equanimity to look at pralaya as the other side of creation.  So Arjuna saluting the Lord and bowing before the Lord prays to Him tremblingly in a choking voice with an overwhelming feeling of surrender unto the Lord.  He says that he is seeing the people on the right side of Dharma bowing to Him in prayer and people on the wrong side of Dharma trying to avoid Him in fear.  He finds the world rejoicing in His praise with delight and properly so, for He is the Imperishable Brahman; He is the greatest of the greatest being the progenitor of Brahmaji himself; and, He is the Sat and the Asat and the one beyond Sat and Asat.  Then Arjuna breaks into a praise of the Lord addressing the Lord severally as Primal God; the Ancient Purusha;, the Knower and  the Knowable; and the Supreme goal, who pervades the universe with His boundless infinite forms.  He offers thousands of salutations again and again;  in the front , in the back and on all sides, worshipping the Lord as Vayu, Yama, Agni, the Moon, Varuna, the great-grandfather of all and also as the All-in-one, pervading all with infinite power and prowess.

After prayer and praise, Arjuna changes track to contrition seeking forgiveness for having treated Him lightly earlier during the intimate moments of friendship and camaraderie.  Then he has even called Him by His caste name as ‘Hey, Yadhava’.  A sample of Arjuna’s earlier intimacy with Lord Krishna is given in an incident that happened before Lord Krishna went as Pandava’s ambassador to Duryodhana’s court.  King Dhritharashtra sent Sanjaya to Pandava’s camp to get a report on the conditions there.  When Sanjaya visited the camp he was surprised to see Arjuna talking to Lord Krishna lying down with his legs lazily placed in Lord’s lap. When Sanjaya returned, he reported to king Dhritharashtra that Arjuna being so intimate with the all-powerful Lord, kauravas have no chance of winning the war.  After recounting how he had behaved with the Lord disrespectfully while at play or at rest or at meals or while chatting, treating Him as a friend, Arjuna seeks Lord’s forgiveness with these words in verse 43 & 44. 
You are the father of this world, moving and unmoving. You are the adorable one and the greatest guru. How can there be another superior to you when there is no one even equal to you in the three worlds, Oh Lord of unequalled power? (11-43) 
Therefore, bowing down and prostrating my body, I propitiate you, the adorable Lord.  Oh Lord! You should forgive my offences just as a father forgives those of the son, just as a friend forgives those of his (dear) friend, and just as a lover forgives those of his beloved. (11-44)

After praising the Lord and pleading for forgiveness, Arjuna tells the Lord that though he is overjoyed at seeing the Viswarupam of the Lord, he cannot get rid of the feeling of fear in Its presence.  So he prays to Lord to revert to the old form so that he can talk to the Lord without the feeling of fear, regaining his peace of mind.  Lord then informs that this Cosmic form he witnessed is being shown to Arjuna as a special case for no one without His Grace can have the vision of this form just by the study of the Vedas or performance of sacrifices or by observance of severe austerities or by engaging in other rituals or charities. Now that Arjuna does not feel comfortable in Its presence, It will be withdrawn and he can witness the previous form without fear and with a peaceful mind.  So saying Lord takes away the Divine eye, that He had given, from Arjuna.  Arjuna not seeing the Cosmic form and seeing only the old familiar form, feels greatly relieved and thanks the Lord, in a transport of joy, with these words. 
Now seeing this Thy gentle human form, O Krishna, I am composed and restored to my own nature! (11-51)

Apparently Arjuna is more at home with Eka rupa bhakthi  and is not comfortable with Viswarupa bhakthi.  Sensing this Lord again reminds him of the glory of Viswarupa Bhakthi.  He tells Arjuna that the Cosmic form he had seen now, is not within easy reach of even Devas and Gods and they are always longing to have a vision of the Cosmic form.  So what to say about human efforts?   Not all the scholarship in Vedas, or the rigorous penances or the sacrificial rites or charitable gifts by themselves or in combination will enable humans to see Him as Arjuna had seen.  It is possible only through Ananya bhakthi to gain this vision.  Lord also gives the recipe for Ananya bhakthi for his benefit, and through him for our benefit, in the concluding verse of this chapter, verse 55, which Swami Sivananda calls as the one  containing “the essence of the whole teaching of the Gita” ; 
He who does all actions for Me, who looks upon Me as the Supreme goal, who is devoted to Me, who is free from attachment and who bears no enmity towards any creature, he attains Me, O Arjuna! (11-55)

Swami Paramarthananda calls this “a seed verse” as this contains the seed for the teaching in the next chapter. Here the Lord prescribes the following four criterions for a devotee to qualify as an Ananya bhaktha and become eligible for the vision of the Cosmic form and to attain Him; 
1)      his work is all for the Lord (in any form)
2)      Lord is the Supreme goal for him
3)      he is free from all worldly associations  &
4)      he has no sense of enmity towards any living being. 
With the vision of the Divine Cosmic form, egoism and the notion of duality will be erased from the mind of ananya bhaktha totally and the devotee comes to understand without any trace of doubt, the basic identity of the universe including his own self with supreme Brahman, which is termed as attaining the Lord.  Through Cosmic form Lord has demonstrated to Arjuna that He is none other than the Supreme Brahman, the substratum sustaining the universe and all movements therein are according to His Divine Law only. 


Monday, 13 November 2017

Viswarupam (1) – Arjuna’s reaction

Gita essays – 18

While giving a brief list of His Vibuthi, Lord Krishna declared that the entire universe is supported by a fraction of His power only.  This makes Arjuna desirous of seeing that form of Lord that sustains the world system with a fraction of Its power.  So at the start of the eleventh chapter, he praises the Lord and His teachings and then expresses his desire to see that Divine form.  Arjuna’s tone also changes with the growing respect for Lord Krishna. In chapter 1, he said to Lord in a commanding tone “Krishna, place my chariot between the two armies” (1-21).  And now he says in a pleading tone :

“O Lord, If you think it is possible for me to see It, do You please, then, O Lord of the Yogis, show me Your imperishable Self (form)!”  (11-4)

Here he does not simply make a request to the Lord to show His cosmic form but also leaves it to Lord’s choice to reveal It or not.  Lord readily agrees to bless him with the vision of Viswarupam, which spans all the lokas and beyond.  Before revealing the form, Lord gives a preview in verses 5, 6 &7 as follows:

O Arjuna, Behold My divine forms by the hundreds and thousands, of different kinds and of various colours and shapes! (11-5)

Behold the (twelve) Adityas, the (eight) Vasus, the (eleven) Rudras, the (two) Aswini kumaras and also the (forty-nine) Maruts;  and also witness many more wonderful forms never seen before, O Arjuna! (11-6)

Now behold, O Arjuna, in this body of Mine, the whole universe consisting of both the moving and the unmoving and whatever else thou desire to see! (11-7)

But Lord also sounds a warning that Arjuna cannot see this form with his ordinary eyes and so Lord says He will bless him with the Divine Eye, Divya Chakshu, with which Arjuna can behold Lord’s Divine power.  Swami Paramarthananda explains that Divya Chakṣhu means a refined mind, a mind free from ahamkara and mamakara, for if one is to see everything in the universe as belonging to the Lord only, then He should not feel anything belongs to him.  This means a refined mind that is purged of all feelings of ahamkara and mamakara.  When by Lord’s Grace Arjuna gets this refined mind, he is wonderstruck and dumbfound gazing at the Cosmic form of Lord.  As he remains speechless, we have Sanjaya’s description of the scene to the blind king Dhritarashtra in verses 9 to 14. In this interlude we have an initial brief description of the Viswarupam among other things.  Apparently Sanjaya who had been blessed with the telescopic vision to see the happenings in the battlefield was also blessed with the Divine vision of the Viswarupam.  His short description of the Cosmic form is as follows:

Lord revealed the resplendent, limitless Cosmic form with faces on all sides, with numerous mouths and eyes, with numerous wonderful sights, with numerous divine ornaments, wielding many uplifted divine weapons, wearing divine garlands and garments, anointed with divine perfumes, and full of wonders. (11-10&11)

The indescribable dazzling brilliance of the Cosmic form, Sanjaya narrates in a devious way, by describing that it looked as if thousand suns were shining simultaneously.  He sees the Cosmic form with numerous mouths, eyes etc., because heads and bodies which he has been seeing individually ordinarily, now he sees as a mass collectively with no space in between because the transformed refined mind is free of the concept of space and time as well. That is why Sanjaya also says that Arjuna is now seeing in the Cosmic form various divisions of the world, all clubbed together and presenting a limitless, divisionless entity.  

When Arjuna recovers from the initial shock, he starts praising the Lord with words of appreciation of the Cosmic form and with a feeling of wonder, from verse 15.  Arjuna goes through various phases of emotion as he gazes at the Cosmic form, the first response being that of wonder.  Like Sanjaya he also sees the Cosmic form with many arms, stomachs, mouths and eyes, stretching limitless in all directions making it impossible to know the start, or the end or the middle of the Cosmic form. He sees the sun and the moon as the eyes and blazing fire pouring out from the mouth.  There is a dazzling mass of radiance like burning fire and blazing sun about the Cosmic form making it difficult to look at it. He could see all the Gods in the body including Brahmaji, all the sages and celestial serpents besides various classes of beings. He sees a host of devas entering the Divine form, some in fear and some in supplication and he sees in the body great siddhas and rishis praising the Lord in sublime Hymns.  He also sees Rudras, Vasus , Sadhyas, Visve devas, Aswins, Maruts, Usmapas and hosts of Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras and Siddhas all standing quiet amazed. 

Arjuna’s description is similar to the description of Lord Vishnu in the Dhyana sloka of Vishnu sahasranamam which runs as follows:

bhuḥ padau yasya nabhir viyadasur anilas candra suryoca netre

karṇavasaḥ siro dyaur mukham api dahano yasya vasteyamabdhiḥ |

antasthaṃ yasya visvaṃ suranara khaga go bhogi gandharva daityaiḥ

citraṃ ram ram yate taṃ tribhuvana vapuṣaṃ viṣṇum isaṃ namami

I bow to Lord Vishnu who has the three worlds as His body. The Earth is His feet, and the sky His navel. Wind is His breath, and the Sun and the Moon are His eyes. Directions are His ears, and the Heaven is His head. Fire is His face and ocean His abdomen. In Him is situated the universe with diverse kinds of Gods, men, birds, cattle, serpents, gandharvas and daityas (demons)- all sporting in a charming way.

With wonder changing to devotion, Arjuna breaks into a prayer praising the Lord as the imperishable protector of eternal dharma, the ultimate refuge of this universe, and the eternal imperishable Being.  He further says that the three worlds are trembling with fear at seeing the wonderful and terrible form spanning all the three worlds with no space anywhere to be seen.  Again Arjuna’s emotions change, now to  fear and he says openly that he is also terrified along with the others at seeing the dreadful form, effulgent and multi-coloured with many mouths wide open and fiery eyes, many thighs and feet, many bellies and fearsome tusks, and he confesses that he has now lost peace of mind and courage and is totally confused as well not knowing the directions.

Lord is srishti-sthithi-laya karanam.  Arjuna was filled with wonder and amazement when he saw the srishti aspect.  He was filled with reverence and devotion when he gazed from the sthithi angle.  Now seeing the laya manifestation he is terrified. With overwhelming feeling of fear, Arjuna now watches Bhishma, Drona, Karna, all the sons of Dhritharashtra  and a host of monarchs and warrior-chiefs on both sides rush into the form’s blazing mouth with fearful tusks, to be destroyed, as not only past and the present but future is also being played before Arjuna’s eyes.  Death is as much a part of Reality as birth and growth.  What Arjuna saw as mouth was only the time principle taking its toll of people as it moves on.  He compares the warriors rushing to their death to rivers running towards the ocean for merger and moths flying towards the fire to be destroyed and now he cries in fear and appeals to the Cosmic Form to reveal Its identity and function and prays for mercy in the following words:

Swallowing all the worlds on every side with Your flaming mouths, You are licking Your lips (relishing the act).  Your fierce rays, filling the whole world with radiance, are burning, Oh! Vishnu. (11-30)

Tell me who are you with a form so terrible? Oh Supreme Lord! Salutations to You. I desire to know You, O Primeval One.  Have mercy, I know not indeed Your purpose. (11-31)