Perennial Psychology of the Bhagwad Geeta

  • By Swami Rama
  • January 2002

Yogic Vision 

  1. Through the words of the supreme secret called spiritual knowledge, which You have taught out of Your grace and kindness to me, thereby this delusion of mine has vanished.

  2. I have heard from You in detail of the creation and dissolution of beings as well as Your imperishable greatness, O You having eyes like lotus petals.

  3. As You have spoken of Yourself thus, O Supreme Sovereign, I wish to see Your lordly form, O Unexcelled spirit.

  4. If you believe that it can be seen by me, O Lord, then show me Your immutable Self, O Lord of Yoga.

This chapter is more important than the previous chapters, for it explains both aspects of the Lord: formless and with form. It also describes the goal of mankind. Arjuna understands that the highest secret of adhyatma (spiritual knowledge) has been imparted to him as a special grace. He also admits that the knowledge expounded by Sri Krishna has dispelled delusion from his mind. He has attained the profound knowledge of the origin of all manifestation and of the universe, for Sri Krishna has imparted the knowledge of the greatness of the supreme Brahman to him.
A great master of yoga. Sri Krishna now leads Arjuna further on the path of Self-awareness. Arjuna still has two desires. One is to have profound knowledge of the indescribable and ineffable power of Brahman. Brahman is formless and unmodifiable. It cannot be perceived by the sense organs nor known by the mind. Arjuna’s other desire to see the formless Brahman manifest into forms. He wants to experience both the abstract and concrete manifestations of Brahman. Arjuna request Sri Krishna to lead him to direct experience of the self-existent power of the Lord.

  1. See My multifarious, divine forms of many hues and configurations, by hundreds and by thousands.

  2. See the Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Ashvins, as well as Maruts; see many wonders that have not been seen before, O Descendant of Bharata.

  3. Today see the entire world with everything animate and inanimate, here dwelling in one, in My body, O Master of Sleep, and whatever else you wish to see.

  4. However, you cannot see Me merely with this eyes of your own. I give you a divine eye. See My lordly yoga.

Sri Krishna says, “O Arjuna, I have innumerable forms of diverse colors and shapes. There are many miraculous things that you have not seen before. The whole universe, both animate and inanimate, exists in one part of My divine body. You are not able to see the whole of My form with your sense perception. Therefore I will give you a divya chakshu (divine eye) through which you can see the form of the Lord as a whole.”

According to yogic scriptures the yogi, who with the help of meditation uses his whole being for seeing, has a divine eye that gives him profound vision of the entire universe in a single glance. When the mind is led beyond the concepts and conditionings of times, space, and causation, it can fathom the unfathomable and attain a state of timelessness and infinity. A teacher who is a perfect master of yoga has the capacity to expand the consciousness of his beloved student, to open his divine eye. Sri Krishna performs shakti pata: he bestows that power and grace on Arjuna, enabling him to see the magnanimous form of the Lord. When the student has practiced meditation and when he is exhausted and all his efforts have failed, the yogi gives a profound touch to such a student, enabling him to open his divine eye. Sri Krishna, a great teacher and the greatest of yogis, opens Arjuna’s divine eye so that he can have a vision of the power of the supreme lord at one glance.

  1. Having stated thus, O King, Krishna the Sovereign of great yoga showed to the son of Pritha his supreme, Lordly form-

  2. Having many faces and eyes, with many wondrous views, wearing many divine ornaments, bearing many divine weapons held ready;

  3. Wearing divine garlands and vestments, anointed with divine perfumes comprising all wonders, the endless God facing in all directions.

  4. If there were to rise the brilliance of a thousand suns in heaven, that would be similar to the brilliance of that great-souled One.

  5. Then the Pandava saw there in the body of the God of gods the entire universe, divided multifariously, dwelling in One.

  6. Then possessed by amazement, that Dhananjaya, with his hairs standing on end, with his hands clasped and bowing with his head, addressed God.

Let the reader remember that Sanjaya also had divya chaksu a divine eye. He was appointed to observe the entire battlefield, and he submitted first-hand reports to the sage Vyasa. Vyasa recorded all the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita that were imparted by the yogi Sri Krishna to his beloved friend and disciple, Arjuna. Dhritarashtra, the blind king, also requested Sanjaya to explain to him what was taking place on the battlefield. Sanjaya told Dhritarashtra that Sri Krishna, the great Lord of yoga, has opened Arjuna’s divine eye and is showing him the form of the highest Lord. That form has innumerable faces, countless eyes is endowed with all sorts of glistening ornaments, holds countless weapons in His innumerable hands, wears many glistening garlands and garments, and is full of divine fragrance. It is more lustrous than the light that thousands of suns could radiate.
Arjuna has this profound vision of the whole universe in the body of the God of gods. Astonished, his hair stands on end; he bows with praying hands and stands before the Lord. Bowing indicates submission and self-surrender; praying hands means that one is conscious that the individual soul and the universal soul should unite. That union is the purpose of human life. Praying hands is a gesture that the student makes to his revered teacher. It is also the way of greeting someone in Indian culture and means, “I bow to the divinity in you.”

Arjuna said

  1. O God, I see in Your body all the gods as well as groups of differentiated beings, Brahma, the Lord sitting on the lotus seat, all the seers, as well as celestial serpents.

  2. I see You having many arms, bellies, faces, eyes, with unending forms in all directions. O Sovereign of the universe, bearing universal forms, I see not Your end nor the middle nor again Your beginning.

  3. I see You bearing a crown, a mace, a discus; You are a heap of light effulgent in all directions, very difficult to look at, immeasurable, and all around brilliant like a blazing fire and the sun.

  4. You are the indestructible syllable, the supreme object of knowledge; You are the transcendental repository of this universe; You are the transcendental repository of this universe; You are the immutable One, the guardian of eternal law (dharma). I believe You to be the eternal Spirit.

  5. I see You without beginning, middle, or end; of unending virility, with endless arms, with the moon the sun for Your eyes; Your face like a blazing fire that receives oblation offerings, scorching this universe with your effulgence.

  6. This interval between heaven and earth is indeed pervaded by you alone, and so are all the points of the compass. Seeing this fearsome, wondrous form, all the three worlds are disquieted, O Great-souled One.

  7. Those groups of gods are entering You, some of them affeared, singing praises to You with hands clasped. The groups of great sages and adepts saying “many it fare well” praise you with ample hymns.

  8. Rudras, Adityas, Vasus, Sadhyas, Vishve-devas, Ashvins, Maruts, Ushmapas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras, and Siddhas, in many groups, look at you and are all amazed.

  9. Your great form with many faces and eyes, O Mighty-armed One, with many arms, thighs, and feet, with many bellies, terrible with many jaws-seeing it all, the worlds are troubled with fear, and so am I.

  10. Touching the sky, blazing with many hues, with mouth wide open, with huge, burning eyes-seeing You, with my inner self trembling in fear, I do not find consolation or peace, O Vishnu.

  11. Seeing Your mouths terrible with jaws that appear like the fire of time, I lose the sense of direction and find no solace, Be pleased, O Lord of gods, the dwelling place of the universe.

  12. Those sons of Dhritarashtra together with all the groups of kings, Bhishma, Drona, and Suta’s son Karna together with our own chief warriors-

  13. They hasten and enter Your mouths, which are fearsome and awful with jaws; some, stuck in the interstices of Your teeth, are seen with their heads crushed to powder.

  14. As the many flows of the waters of rivers run only toward the ocean, so the brave warriors of the human world burning on all sides are entering Your mouths.

  15. As moths with increasing speed enter the blazing fire for their destruction, similarly the words with increased speed also enter Your mouths toward their destruction.

  16. With flaming tongues You are swallowing from all sides al the worlds with burning mouths. Filling the entire world with effulgence’s, Your terrible lights are scorching it, O Vishnu.

  17. Do tell me who are You of fearsome form? Salutations to You, O Best of gods. Do be pleased. I wish to know You, the first One; I do not know your movement at all.

Arjuna, having seen the cosmic form of the divine Lord, is astonished and terrified. That vision overwhelms him, and he says, “O Lord, I see in Your cosmic body all the divine powers, the king of Gods, Brahma, seated on the lotus, sages, and serpents. “He sees that the Lord of lords is not only merciful but also the cruel fire of annihilation. To accept life and the universe with all its diversities is wisdom.

That which is pleasant is not necessarily good, and that which is good is not necessarily pleasant. Pain and pleasure are inseparably mingled. They have separate realities only on the gross level of consciousness. That which is visualized by the ordinary man is limited because of his limited sense perception. When consciousness travels upward toward the higher realms of life, the vision is completely different. That which is pleasant or painful on the gross level of consciousness is not then pleasant or painful but is something different and extraordinary in its nature.

When the mind becomes inward, it encounters the reality of inner dimensions of life, and one is astonished to see how the sense perceptions are distorted on the gross level of consciousness. Here one can examine, analyze, and understand the limitations of sense perception. When the whole mind becomes an eye, it captures the vision of the subtle realms within, with all their profundities. It is able to grasp unfathomable levels by itself, without the help of the sense organs. It is able to analyze and judge as a witness, as a seer of the unknown and unfathomable levels of life.

When the mind floats in the divine consciousness of infinite knowledge, it is able to see the causes of all the gross manifestations seen by the sense organs. That diversity, which is seen on the gross level of consciousness, does not exist in the inner world because in the causal world everything remains inseparably mingled. That which is lawful and unlawful, good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant in the external world is not experienced in the same way. That which is seen as a tree, a mountain, or an ocean in the external world is seen in the causal realm as a seed in its subtle potential form. In that realm apprehension and comprehension are totally different.

The sage sees things as they are in their totally, in an unbroken undivided form, whereas the ordinary mind is unable to have the vision of the whole for lack of a divine eye. Prolonged association with the objects of the world creates attachment for the human mind and obscures the vision of the whole. But when the divine eye is opened, one’s previous values regarding the objects of the world change, and a new level of life is fathomed. Then the reality is experienced in an entirely different light.

The aspirant who has not raised the primal force, kundalini, experiences the lowest and grossest level of life, the projections of his lower mind, and sees only evil, devils, and demons because he is under the influence of his lower nature. But when the primal force is awakened and when this ascending force of consciousness fathoms higher and more subtle levels of life, the aspirant has the vision of the finer forces of life related to the aesthetic sense of mind. He then sees all things as beautiful. If one sees something from one angle it looks ugly, but if he sees the same thing from a different angle it looks exceedingly beautiful. It depends upon one’s vantage point. When one attains a higher level of consciousness with the force of the ascending divinity within, he sees things entirely differently: he experiences joy, happiness, and peace. One experiences no confusion or conflict, for there one neither sees divisions, nor does he see things in a partial way. Then he is aware of one unbroken entity.

If we view all these things-the gross, subtle, and subtlest levels-at one glance and put them together and see them as a whole rather than separately, that vision will be overwhelming. When one goes to the innermost level of consciousness from which spring all the divers forms of the universe, he comes to know that the manifestation of diversity has only one source, which we call unity. Unity in diversity is the law of life. When one is able to visualize both, he becomes astonished at the difference between the apparent reality and the underlying Reality.

With his divine eye, Arjuna is able to have the profound vision of the whole universe being born and dying, going to the depths of the unmanifested One, and then all forms arising anew. That vision makes him realize that his grief and despondency are self-created because of his attachment to objects and relationships of the mundane world. With the grace of God, a sage, or a competent teacher, the yogi is able to have divine vision. When the ascending force of human endeavor has attained its height, then dawns Shakti, the grace of the higher Self. Those who are fortunate to have that grace receive knowledge through vision and not through the mind.  

The question arises: Why didn’t Sri Krishna give Arjuna the divine eye in the very beginning? The answer is that Arjuna was not then prepared to have that vision. His mind was confused and plunged into sorrow. In the modern world, too the aspirant goes to his teacher confused, and the teacher prepares him for experiencing the higher levels of consciousness. But until the student is fully prepared, the teacher does not impart the subtle knowledge and techniques. After Arjuna has accepted Sri Krishna as Lord incarnate and received the knowledge of life ad the universe, he becomes eager to have a vision of the whole of the universe. After examining the objects of the world in a divided way, Arjuna now wants to see the whole form of the Lord, which contains all the innumerable forms of the universe. Yet that vision terrifies and astonishes Arjuna. When the student awakens the kundalini, he has similar experiences and sometimes becomes so terrified that he wants to abandon his practices. During that period the competent teacher helps him to continue his practices and to attain the highest level of consciousness.

  1. I am time waxing, destroyer of the worlds, moving here to gather back the worlds. Even with you all these will cease to be, the warriors who are standing in each of the armies.

  2. Therefore rise and gain reputation; conquering the enemy, enjoy the prosperous kingdom. They are already killed by you; you become merely an instrument, O Expert at Shooting with the Left Hand.

  3. Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna as well as all brave warriors-they are already killed by Me. Destroy them; do not suffer hesitation. Fight! You are going to be a winner of enemies in the battle.

Arjuna is convinced yet bewildered by the vision, and he wants Sri Krishna to remove his confusion concerning the destructive aspect of the Lord. Sri Krishna says to Arjuna that the highest Lord has the capacity to annihilate and assimilate all the manifestations and beings in the same way that he has the capacity to create them. His power of annihilation should not be misunderstood as cruelty, for the Lord is compassionate and loves His children in exactly the same way that a loving mother loves her children. But if there is an abscess anywhere in the body, the mother takes her child to the surgeon to have it removed. It is a painful experience for the child, and he cries in the pain and agony that is experienced, but the mother knows that if the abscess is not removed it will infect the whole body.

Similarly, Arjuna is a aware of the fact that the army standing before him is unjust and unrighteous and their if it is not destroyed the unjust and unrighteous rulers will rule in unlawful and thus destroy the whole nation. Sri Krishna says to Arjuna, “Consider them already dead. Have you not seen them being annihilated by My force of destruction? Have you not seen them being swallowed by kala (time)? All things in this mortal world are subject to times; everything is annihilated by time. Therefore, Arjuna, you are only an instrument. Fight the battle, for it is the battle of the upward march to final liberation. You should accomplish the mission of your life by establishing the kingdom of dharma. You are only an instrument.”

(What the Lord is saying that if Arjuna does not destroy the unjust and unrighteous rulers than these very cruel men will destroy the entire nation. Now lets give Krishna’s views an India Pakistan perspective. Four time since 1947 have Indian armies defeated or had the upper hand in their war with Pakistan. But there was not a Krishna to tell successive Indian PM’s Shashtriji, Indiraji or Atal that if you do not completely annihilate your opponent he is bound to hit back at you with renewed vigor. We continue to have similar experiences in our War against Terror).

    47. Pleased with you, O Arjuna, I have shown you through the yoga of Self, this transcendent form of Mine-consisting of light, being universal, being endless, being the first one-which was never seen by anyone then you before.

  1. Neither through the Vedas, sacrifices, or studies, nor by charities, nor by actions, nor by fierce ascetic observances, can I be seen in this form in the human world by anyone other than you, O the Bravest among Kurus.

  2. Be not afeared, nor be confused seeing this, such a fearsome form of Mine. Dismissing your fear, with a happy mind, see again this same previous form of Mine. Sanjaya said

  3. The indwelling One having addressed Arjuna thus, showed him again his own previous form and consoled him, as he was afraid, the great – souled One again assuming a pleasant- looking body.

These verses indicate that the universal form of the Lord can indeed be visualized. The aspirant can attain this profound vision of the form of the Lord by practicing atma yoga, by making full efforts, utilizing all human resources, and by the grace of the Lord. Anyone who dedicates himself to the Lord can have such a vision. True dedication requires that one attain non-attachment and tranquility, surrender the fruits of his action to the Lord only, and remember the Lord in every breath of his life. The Lord of life has a threefold mission: protection of the good, annihilation of evil, and establishment of the good conduct of life. Arjuna, having seen the cosmic vision of the Lord, dedicates himself to the Lord’s mission.

Any aspirant who dedicates himself to the Lord will be able to see the universal from of the Lord as Arjuna did. But if the aspirant thinks that he can attain that profound vision through scriptural knowledge, by giving gifts, by doing good actions, or by performing rituals he is wrong, for that is not possible. There are two conditions that enable one to have such a vision of the Lord. First one should know atma yoga, and second he must receive the grace of the mighty Lord.

Sri Krishna says that the universal form of the Lord was never seen by anyone before. That means that only a fortunate few can have such a vision; it does not means that no aspirant can ever have that vision. It should be remembered here that Sanjaya is also gifted with a divine. Sri Krishna says, “O Arjuna, do not be frightened or dismayed by the cosmic form that you have seen. Maintain your balance and keep your mind tranquil, and now be aware of MY human form once again.”

The aspirant who practices kundalini yoga under the competent guidance of a yogi also attains profound visions while traversing from one level of consciousness to another. But only dedicated yogis who practice atma yoga and who deserve the grace of the Lord are able to see the vision described here in all its glory.

Arjuna said

  1. Seeing this pleasant, human form of Yours, O Krishna, I have recovered my senses and returned to my natural feelings

Arjuna says, “Lord, having seen Thy human form, I have recovered my normal consciousness and have come back to my usual nature.” This verse indicates that Arjuna’s consciousness during the period in which he had the cosmic vision of the Lord was quite different from the experience one usually has during the waking state. Surely he was not dreaming either. It is a state of unconsciousness one does not remember what he sees or visualizes. It is a consciousness similar to that of samadhi, in which the mind remains tranquil yet the aspirant remains fully conscious. In fact it is a state between the sleeping state and samadhi . During yoga nidra ( yogic sleep) the student learns to expand his consciousness yet remains in deep. This can be called sleepless sleep. That which cannot be known during the waking, dreaming, and sleeping states can be known during yogic sleep. Opening the divine eye is similar to yogic sleep but not exactly the same. It is possible only when a perfect yogi does shakti pata, bestows grace to that student who has been faithfully practicing yoga and who ha already attained a deep state of concentration and meditation yet still finds himself incapable of attaining the highest sate of samadhi. One cannot attain samadhi by the application of human efforts alone: grace helps him to remove the last stumbling block.

Seeing a vision or opening the divine eye is a case of shakti pata in which the yogi opens the aspirant’s third eye with his touch or gaze. But this is done only in rare cases and not in the way modern teachers claim to do it with anyone and everyone. Sri Krishna says that by practicing atma yoga and with the grace of God, the aspirant can also have a similar vision.

Here ends the eleventh chapter, in which profound knowledge and vision of the cosmic Lord is imparted.

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