Seeing the Lord’s cosmic form Arjuna is struck with awe and wonder. He sees the entire universe in a single immeasurable form as also His destructive, all-devouring expression. Fraught with fear and overwhelmed with adoration, Arjuna surrenders completely to that colossal form. He bows; he prostrates and begs forgiveness for his lack of reverence towards Krishna in their relationship.
The vision of the Lord’s cosmic form terrifies Arjuna. He pleads with Krishna to resume His original form, the form of Vishnu. Krishna assumes His gentle form. Arjuna regains his composure when Krishna explains the difficulty in gaining the state of God-realization. He points out the way to reach the Supreme Being. The Lord tells him that all spiritual practices like study of scriptures, austerities, charity, performing sacrifices etc. by themselves cannot lead one to the Supreme. They will at the most make one an introvert. Thereafter, deep meditation only is the means to become one with the Absolute.
etacchrutwaa vachanam keshavasya
namaskritwaa bhooya evaaha krishnam
sagadgadam bheetabheetah pranamya // 11.35 //
Having heard these words of Kesava, the crowned-one (Arjuna), with joined palms, trembling, prostrating himself, again addressed Krishna, in a choked voice, bowing down, overwhelmed with fear.
Arjuna was extremely terrified on seeing the Cosmic Form and so he spoke in a choked and stammering voice. These words of Sanjaya are very significant because he thought that at this late moment (after knowing fully well the impending destruction of all in the Kaurava side) King Dhritarashtra would halt the war and call for peace to save at least his own son from being killed. But the blind king was obstinate and did not consider Sanjaya's indirect advice worthy.
ARJUNA'S HYMN OF PRAISE
sthaane hrisheekesha tava prakeertyaa
jagat prahrishyatyanurajyate cha
rakshaamsi bheetaani disho dravanti
sarve namasyanti cha siddhasanghaah // 11.36 //
O Hrishikesha! It is proper that the world delights and rejoices in your praise; rakshsas flee in fear in all directions and all the hosts of Siddhas bow to you.
In an ecstasy of adoration and anguish, Arjuna praises The Lord. He sees not only the destructive power of Time but also the spiritual presence and law governing the cosmos. While the former produces terror, the latter gives rise to a sense of peace.
kasmaaccha te na nameran mahaatman
ananta devesha jagannivaasa
twamaksharam sadasattatparam yat // 11.37 //
And why should they not bow to You, O Mighty Being, greater than all else, the Primal Cause even of Brahma, O Infinite Being, O Lord of Lords, O Abode of the Universe, You are the Imperishable, the Manifest and the Unmanifest, that which is Supreme (that which is beyond the being and non-being).
Arjuna clarifies as to why the great men of knowledge bow down before Sri Krishna by enumerating the majestic and divine qualities of The Lord.
twamaadidevah purushah puraanas
twamasya vishwasya param nidhaanam
vettaasi vedyam cha param cha dhaama
twayaa tatam vishwamananta roopa // 11.38 //
You are the Primal God, the Ancient Purusha, You are the Supreme refuge of this Universe, You are the Knower, the Knowable and the Supreme Goal. The Universe is pervaded by You, O Being of Infinite Forms.
Param Dhaama: Just as the rope (the substratum for the superimposed snake) pervades the snake, so also the Self, through its nature of Existence, Knowledge and Bliss absolute, pervades this entire Universe.
namo namaste’stu sahasrakritwah
punascha bhooyo'pi namo namaste // 11.39 //
You are Vayu, Yama, Agni, Varuna, the Moon, Prajapati, and the Great Grandfather, Salutations! Salutations! unto You, a thousand times and again salutations, salutations unto You.
Great Grandfather: The Creator of even Brahma who is known as the Grandfather.
namah purastaadatha prishthataste
namostu te sarvata eva sarva
sarvam samaapnoshi tato‘si sarvah // 11.40 //
Salutations to You, in front and behind; salutations to You on every side! O All! You, infinite in power and infinite in prowess, pervade all; therefore You are the All.
The Supreme dwells everywhere within, without, above, below and around. There is no place where He is not. He is the all pervading essence like space in the Universe and also the source of all potentiality, power and capability. Since nothing can exist without Him He is Pure Existence. Hence He is the All and He alone is the All. (Ocean alone is all the waves or mud alone is all the pots).
sakheti matwaa prasabham yaduktam
he krishna he yaadava he sakheti
ajaanataa mahimaanam tavedam
mayaa pramaadaat pranayena vaapi //11.41 //
Whatever I have rashly said from carelessness or love, addressing You as O Krishna, O Yadava, O Friend, regarding You merely as a friend, unknowing of this fact of Your greatness....
yacchaavahaasaartham asatkrit’ si
eko’ thavaapyachyuta tatsamaksham
tat kshaamaye twaamaham aprameyam // 11.42 //
In whatever way I may have insulted You for the sake of fun, while at play, reposing, sitting or at meals, when alone (with You), O Achyuta or in company - that I pray to You, Immeasurable One, to forgive.
The vision of God produces a deep sense of unworthiness and sin. Arjuna, beholding the Cosmic Form of The Lord, seeks forgiveness for his past familiar conduct with Him. He says he was treating Him with casualness and intimacy not knowing His greatness and glory. He asks The Lord for forgiveness for his misconception of His powers. So long, Arjuna was thinking of Sri Krishna as a mere cowherd boy with whom he, a prince, made patronizing friendship. But when he realized His true nature, Arjuna bows down before Him in adoration and pleads for His mercy and forgiveness for whatever impropriety he might have committed either knowingly or unknowingly.