Ancient India
Krishna's Totality

Arjuna

   In consequence of the excellent and mysterious words concerning the relation of the supreme and individual soul, which you have spoken for my welfare, this delusion of mine is gone away. O you whose eyes are like lotus leaves, I have heard from you at large about the production and dissolution of things and also about your inexhaustible greatness. O highest lord, what you have said about yourself is true. I wish, O best of beings, to see your divine form. If, O lord, you think that it is possible for me to look upon it, then, O lord of the possessors of mystic power, show your inexhaustible form to me.


Krishna

   See my forms in their hundreds and their thousands, O son of Pritha, various, divine, and of various colours and shapes. See the Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, the two Ashvins, and Maruts likewise. 1 And, O descendant of Bharata, see wonders in numbers unseen before. Within my body, Arjuna, see today the whole universe, including everything movable and immovable, all in one, and whatever else you wish to see. But you will not be able to see me with merely this eye of yours. I give you an eye divine. Now see my divine power.


Sanjaya

   Having spoken thus, O king, Krishna, the great lord of the possessors of mystic power, then showed to the son of Pritha his supreme divine form, having many mouths and eyes, having within it many wonderful sights, having many celestial ornaments, having many celestial weapons held erect, wearing celestial flowers and vestments, anointed with celestial perfumes, full of every wonder, the infinite deity with faces in all directions. 2

   If in the heavens, the brightness of a thousand suns burst forth all at once, that would be like the brightness of that mighty one. There the son of Pandu then observed in the body of the god of gods the whole universe all in one, and dividcd into numerous divisions. Then Arjuna was filled with amazement, and with hair standing on end, bowed his head before the god, and spoke with joined hands. 3


Arjuna

   O god! I see within your body the gods, as also all the groups of various beings; and the lord Brahman seated on his lotus seat, and all the sages and celestial snakes.

   I see you, who are of countless forms, possessed of many arms, stomachs, mouths, and eyes on all sides. And, O lord of the universe, O you of all forms, I do not see your end or middle or beginning.

   I see you bearing a crown and a mace and a battle-discus (chakra)—a mass of glory, brilliant on all sides, difficult to look at, having on all sides the brightness of a blazing fire or sun, and indefinable.

   You are indestructible, the supreme one to be known. You are the highest support of this universe. You are the inexhaustible protector of everlasting devotion. I believe you to be the eternal being.

   I see.you without of beginning, middle, end—of infinite power, of unnumbered arms, having the sun and moon for eyes, having a mouth like a blazing fire, and heating the universe with your radiance.

   For this space between heaven and earth and ail the quarters are pervaded by you alone.

   Looking at this wonderful and terrible form of yours, O high-souled one, the three worlds are filled with fear. 4 For here these groups of gods are entering into you. Some being afraid are praying with joined hands, and the groups of great sages and Siddhas are saying 'Mercy!' and praising you with abundant hymns of praise. 5

   The Rudras, and Adityas, the Vasus, the Sadhyas, the Vishvas, the two Ashvins, the Maruts, and the Ushmapas, and the groups of Gandharvas, Yakshas, demons, and Siddhas are all looking at you amazed. 6

   Seeing your mighty form, with many mouths and eyes, with many arms, thighs, and feet, with many stomachs, and fearful with many jaws, all people, and I likewise, are much alarmed, O you of mighty arms! Seeing you, O Vishnu, touching the skies, radiant, possessed of many hues, with a gaping mouth, and with large blazing eyes, I am much alarmed in my inmost self, and feel no courage, no tranquillity. And seeing your mouths terrible by the jaws, and resembling the fire of destruction, I cannot recognize the various directions, I feel no comfort. Be gracious, 7 O lord of gods, who pervades the universe.

   All these sons of Dhritarashtra, together with all the bands of kings, and Bhlshma and Drona, and this charioteer's sonl likewise, together with our principal warriors also, are rapidly entering your mouths, fearful and horrific because of your jaws. And some with their heads smashed are seen to be stuck in the spaces between the teeth. As the many rapid currents of a river's waters run towards the sea alone, so do these heroes of the human world enter your mouths blazing all round. As butterflies, with increased speed, enter a blazing fire to their destruction, so, too, do these people enter your mouths with increased speed only to their destruction. Swallowing all these people, you are licking them over and over again from all sides, with your blazing mouths.

   Your fierce splendous, O Vishnu, filling the whole universe with their brightness, are heating it.

   Tell me who you are in this fierce form. Greetings to you, O chief of the gods! Be gracious. I wish to know you, the primeval one, for I do not understand your actions.


Krishna

   I am death, the destroyer of the worlds.

   I am now active about the overthrow of the worlds.

   Even without you, the warriors standing in the adverse hosts shall all cease to be. Therefore, rise up, obtain glory, and vanquishing your foes, enjoy a prosperous kingdom.

   All these have been already killed by me.

   Be only the instrument of their deaths, Arjuna!

   Drona, and Bhishma, and Gayadratha, and Karna, and likewise other valiant warriors also, whom I have already killed, now you must kill.

   Be not alarmed. Do right. And in the battle you will conquer your foes.


Sanjaya

   Hearing these words of Krishna, the wearer of the crown, 8 trembling, and with joined hands, bowed down; and sorely afraid, and with throat choked, he again spoke to Krishna after saluting him.


Arjuna

   It is quite proper, Krishna, that the uni verse is delighted and charmed by your fame, that the demons run away in fear in all directions, and that all the assemblages of Siddhas bow down to you.. Shy, O high-souled one, should they not bow down to you who are greater than Brahman, and first cause? 9

   O infinite lord of gods! O you pervading the universe! You are the indestructible, that which is, that which is not, and what is beyond them. You are the primal god, the ancient being, you are the highest support of this universe. You are that which has knowledge, that which is the object of knowledge, you are the highest goal.

   By you is this universe pervaded, O you of infinite forms! You are the wind, Yama, fire, Varuna, the moon, you Prajâpati, and the great grandsire. 10

   Obedience is yours a thou sand times, and again and again obedience is yours! In front and from behind obeisance to thee ! Obedience is yours from all sides, O you who are all!

   You are of infinite power, of unmeasured glory; you pervade all, and therefore you are all! Whatever I have said contemptuously,—for instance, 'O Krishna! O Yadava! O friend!'—thinking you to be my friend and not knowing your greatness as shown in this universal form, or through friendliness, or incautiously; and whatever disrespect I have shown you for purposes of merriment, in play, sleep, dinner, or sitting together, whether alone or in the presence of friends—for all that, O undegraded one, I ask pardon of you who are indefinable.

   You are the father of the world, movable and immovable, 11 you its great and venerable master, there is none equal to you, whence can there be one greater? You whose power is unparalleled in all the three worlds.

   Therefore, I bow and prostrate myself, and would propitiate you, the praiseworthy lord. Be pleased, O god, to pardon my guilt as a father pardons his son, a friend pardons a friend, or a husband pardons his beloved.

   I am delighted at seeing what I had never seen before, and my heart is also alarmed by fear. Show me that same form, O god! Be gracious, O lord of gods! O you pervading the universe! I wish to see you bearing the crown and the mace, with the discus in hand, just the same as before. O you of thousand arms! O you of all forms! assume that same four-handed form.


Krishna

   Arjuna, being pleased with you, I have by my own mystic power shown you this supreme form, full of glory, universal, infinite, primeval, and which has not been seen before by any one else but you, O you hero among the Kauravas!

   I cannot be seen in this form by any one but you, even with the help of the study of the Vedas, or with sacrifices, or with gifts, or through actions, or through fierce penances.   Be not alarmed, be not perplexed, at seeing this form of mine, fearful like this. Free from fear and with delighted heart, see now again that same form of mine.


Sanjaya

   Having thus spoken to Arjuna, Vasudeva 12 again showed his own form, and the high-souled one becoming mild again of form, comforted him who had been terrified.


Arjuna

   Krishna, seeing this mild, human form of yours, I am now in my right mind and have come to my normal state.


Krishna

   Even the gods are always desiring to see this form of mine, which it is difficult to get a sight of, and which you have seen. I cannot be seen, as you have seen me, by means of the Vedas, not by penance, not by gift, nor yet by sacrifice. But, Arjuna, by devotion to me exclusively I can in this form be truly known, seen, and assimilated with, O terror of your foes! He who performs acts for propitiating me, to whom I am the highest object, who is my devotee, who is free from attachment, and who has no enmity towards any being, he, O son of Pandu, comes to me.

Translated by Kashinath Trimbak Telano, 1882
Edited and annotated by Richard Hooker



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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 10-19-97