Arjuna, asking the Lord for a favour, said, 'O Supreme Lord, by teaching me the truth about the soul, you have dispelled my ignorance. You are All, the Creator and the Destroyer, being Imperishable yourself. If possible, please let me have a vision of your divine Form.'
The Lord said, 'There are thousands of my divine forms in various colours. The *Adityas,
the *Vasus and the *Rudras—all are unified in My body, as well as all things,
animate and inanimate. But you cannot see this form with those fleshly eyes.
Therefore I give you divine sight with which to see Me.'
Sanjaya said to Dhritarashtra, 'O king, speaking thus to Arjuna, the Lord revealed to
him His marvellous form which defies description. We see a single sun in the sky
every day, but supposing a thousand suns were blazing in the sky, the glory of
what Arjuna saw was more dazzling than their accumulated light. The ornaments
and the weapons of that Form were similarly divine. Arjuna's hair then stood
erect. And he spoke, shaking all over.
Arjuna said, 'O God, I see everything and everybody within your body. Brahma and Shiva
are there, and so are the sages and the holy serpents. I see you with countless
arms and faces, and find no beginning, middle or end. You shine like a mass of
insufferable light, and blaze like fire. You are the ultimate foundation of the
universe, the Ancient of Days, and the guardian of eternal law. Wherever I look,
I see parts of your body. The sun and the moon are your eyes as it were. You
pervade heaven and earth. Your splendour burns up the universe. This world is
seized with awe. The gods, the sages, and the siddhas—all are standing with
clasped hands and sing your praise. On seeing this stupendous form and
brilliance I lose my nerve. My patience and peace are. gone. O God, have mercy
on me. I see these people rush into your mouth frightful with tusks as moths fly
into a flame and you crush them to powder. Who are you with such an awful form?
I cannot understand your ways.'
The Lord said, T am Time, the destroyer of worlds. You may or may not fight, but the
warriors on both the sides are bound to perish. You are only an instrument of
the divine will.'
Arjuna said, 'O God, home of all the world, you are the Imperishable, being and
non-being and what is beyond either of them. You are the First of the gods, the
Ancient of Days; you are the refuge of the world. You are the one thing which is
to be known. You are Vayu (wind), Yama (the God of death and judgment), Agni
(fire) and Prajapati (the Creator). Hail to you a thousand times. Now please
show me your original form again.'
The Lord then said, 'I showed My world-wide form to you, because I love you. You have
seen today something the vision of which cannot be won by Vedic or any other
studies, rituals, alms or austerities. Do not be bewildered because you have
seen it. Cast away fear, be clam and see My familiar form. That shape of mine
which you have seen is hard to see even for the gods and can be seen only by
pure devotion. Whoever works for Me, makes Me his supreme good, becomes My
devotee, frees himself from attachment and loves all beings, comes to Me.'
I have deliberately cut this as well as the last chapter short. This one is full of
poetry and therefore should be read frequently either in the original or in
translation, so that we may be imbued with the spirit of devotion. Whether we
are or not thus imbued can be found by applying the acid test mentioned in the
last verse. Devotion is impossible in the absence of total self- surrender and
all-embracing love. Self-surrender and a sense of solidarity with all living
beings become easy of attainment if we meditate on God as world-destroying time
into whose gaping mouths the universe rushes to its doom. This fate is bound to
overtake us too all of a sudden, whether we wish for it or not. Thus all
distinctions of small and big, high and low, man and woman, men and the lower
animals disappear. Seeing that we are all a mere morsel in the mouth of God as
the Destroyer, we should become humble and reduce ourselves to zero and
cultivate friendship with everyone else. If we do this, we shall cease to be
afraid of this terrible Form of God. On other hand it will give us peace of