Home  »  Harvard Classics, Vol. 45, Part 4  »  Chapter XI

The Bhagavad-Gita.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Chapter XI

THIS, for my soul’s peace, have I heard from Thee,
The unfolding of the Mystery Supreme
Named Adhyâtman; comprehending which,
My darkness is dispelled; for now I know—
O Lotus-eyed! 1—whence is the birth of men,         5
And whence their death, and what the majesties
Of thine immortal rule. Fain would I see,
As thou Thyself declar’st it, Sovereign Lord!
The likeness of that glory of Thy Form
Wholly revealed. O Thou Divinest One!         10
If this can be, if I may bear the sight,
Make Thyself visible, Lord of all prayers!
Show me Thy very self, the Eternal God!
Gaze, then, thou Son of Prithâ! I manifest for thee
Those hundred thousand thousand shapes that clothe my Mystery:         15
I show thee all my semblances, infinite, rich, divine,
My changeful hues, my countless forms. See! in this face of mine,
Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Aswins, and Maruts; see
Wonders unnumbered, Indian Prince! revealed to none save thee.
Behold! this is the Universe!—Look! what is live and dead         20
I gather all in one—in Me! Gaze, as thy lips have said,
On GOD ETERNAL, VERY GOD! See ME! see what thou prayest!
  Thou canst not!—nor, with human eyes, Arjuna! ever mayest
Therefore I give thee sense divine. Have other eyes, new light!
  And, look! This is My glory, unveiled to mortal sight!         25
Then, O King! the God, so saying,
Stood, to Prithâ’s Son displaying
All the splendor, wonder, dread
Of His vast Almighty-head.
Out of countless eyes beholding,         30
Out of countless mouths commanding,
Countless mystic forms enfolding
In one Form: supremely standing
Countless radiant glories wearing,
Countless heavenly weapons bearing,         35
Crowned with garlands of star-clusters,
Robed in garb of woven lustres,
Breathing from His perfect Presence
Breaths of all delicious essence
Of all sweetest odors; shedding         40
Blinding brilliance, overspreading—
Boundless, beautiful—all spaces
From His all-regarding faces;
So He showed! If there should rise
Suddenly within the skies         45
Sunburst of a thousand suns
Flooding earth with rays undeemed-of,
Then might be that Holy One’s
Majesty and glory dreamed of!
  So did Pandu’s Son behold         50
All this universe enfold
All its huge diversity
Into one great shape, and be
Visible, and viewed, and blended
In one Body—subtle, splendid,         55
Nameless—th’ All-comprehending
God of Gods, the Never-Ending
      But, sore amazed,
Thrilled, o’erfilled, dazzled, and dazed,         60
Arjuna knelt, and bowed his head,
And clasped his palms, and cried, and said:
Yea! I have seen! I see!
    Lord! all is wrapped in Thee!
The gods are in Thy glorious frame! the creatures         65
    Of earth, and heaven, and hell
    In Thy Divine form dwell,
And in Thy countenance show all the features
    Of Brahma, sitting lone
    Upon His lotus-throne;         70
Of saints and sages, and the serpent races
    Ananta, Vâsuki.
    Yea! mightiest Lord! I see
Thy thousand thousand arms, and breasts, and faces,
    And eyes,—on every side         75
    Perfect, diversified;
And nowhere end of Thee, nowhere beginning,
    Nowhere a centre! Shifts
    Wherever soul’s gaze lifts
Thy central Self, all-willing, and all-winning!         80
    Infinite King! I see
    The anadem on Thee,
The club, the shell, the discus; see Thee burning
    In beams insufferable,
    Lighting earth, heaven, and hell         85
With brilliance blinding, glorious, flashing, turning
    Darkness to dazzling day,
    Look I whichever way.
Ah, Lord! I worship Thee, the Undivided,
    The Uttermost of thought,         90
    The Treasure-Palace wrought
To hold the wealth of the worlds; the shield provided
    To shelter Virtue’s laws;
    The Fount whence Life’s stream draws
All waters of all rivers of all being:         95
    The One Unborn, Unending:
    Unchanging and unblending!
With might and majesty, past thought, past seeing!
    Silver of moon and gold
    Of sun are glances rolled         100
From Thy great eyes; Thy visage beaming tender
    Over the stars and skies,
    Doth to warm life surprise
Thy Universe. The worlds are filled with wonder
    Of Thy perfections! Space         105
    Star-sprinkled, and the place
From pole to pole of the heavens, from bound to bound,
    Hath Thee in every spot,
    Thee, Thee!—Where Thou art not
O Holy, Marvellous Form! is nowhere found!         110
    O Mystic, Awful One!
    At sight of Thee, made known,
The Three Worlds quake; the lower gods draw nigh Thee;
    They fold their palms, and bow
  Body, and breast, and brow,         115
And, whispering worship, laud and magnify Thee!
    Rishis and Siddhas cry
    “Hail! Highest Majesty!”
From sage and singer breaks the hymn of glory
    In holy melody,         120
    Sounding the praise of Thee,
While countless companies take up the story,
    Rudras, who rides the storms,
    Th’ Adityas’ shining forms,
Vasus and Sâdhyas, Viswas, Ushmapas,         125
    Maruts, and those great Twins,
    The heavenly, fair, Aswins,
Gandharvas, Rakshasas, Siddhas, Asuras,—
    These see Thee, and revere
    In silence-stricken fear;         130
Yea! the Worlds,—seeing Thee with form stupendous,
    With faces manifold,
    With eyes which all behold,
Unnumbered eyes, vast arms, members tremendous,
    Flanks, lit with sun and star,         135
    Feet planted near and far,
Tushes of terror, mouths wrathful and tender;—
    The Three wide Worlds before Thee
    Adore, as I adore Thee,
Quake, as I quake, to witness so much splendor!         140
    I mark Thee strike the skies
    With front in wondrous wise
Huge, rainbow-painted, glittering; and thy mouth
    Opened, and orbs which see
    All things, whatever be,         145
In all Thy worlds, east, west, and north and south.
    O Eyes of God! O Head!
    My strength of soul is fled,
Gone is heart’s force, rebuked is mind’s desire!
    When I behold Thee so,         150
    With awful brows a-glow,
With burning glance, and lips lighted with fire,
    Fierce as those flames which shall
    Consume, at close of all,
Earth, Heaven! Ah me! I see no Earth and Heaven!         155
    Thee, Lord of Lords! I see,
    Thee only—only Thee!
Ah! let Thy mercy unto me be given!
    Thou Refuge of the World!
    Lo! to the cavern hurled         160
Of Thy wide-opened throat, and lips white-tushed,
    I see our noblest ones,
    Great Dhritarashtra’s sons,
Bhishma, Drona, and Karna, caught and crushed!
    The Kings and Chiefs drawn in,         165
    That gaping gorge within;
The best of all both armies torn and riven!
    Between Thy jaws they lie
    Mangled fell bloodily,
Ground into dust and death! Like streams down driven         170
    With helpless haste, which go
    In headlong furious flow
Straight to the gulfing maw of th’ unfilled ocean,
    So to that flaming cave
    These heroes great and brave         175
Pour, in unending streams, with helpless motion!
    Like months which in the night
    Flutter towards a light,
Drawn to their fiery doom, flying and dying,
    So to their death still throng,         180
    Blind, dazzled, borne along
Ceaselessly, all these multitudes, wild flying!
    Thou, that hast fashioned men,
    Devourest them agen,
One with another, great and small, alike!         185
    The creatures whom Thou mak’st,
    With flaming jaws Thou tak’st,
Lapping them up! Lord God! Thy terrors strike
    From end to end of earth,
    Filling life full, from birth         190
To death, with deadly, burning, lurid dread!
    Ah, Vishnu! make me know
    Why is Thy visage so?
Who art Thou, feasting thus upon Thy dead?
    Who? awful Deity!         195
    I bow myself to Thee,
Nâmostu Tê Devavara! Prasîd! 2
    O Mightiest Lord! rehearse
    Why hast Thou face so fierce?
Whence did this aspect horrible proceed?         200
Thou seest Me as Time who kills, Time who brings all to doom,
The Slayer Time, Ancient of Days, come hither to consume;
Excepting thee, of all these hosts of hostile chiefs arrayed,
There shines not one shall leave alive the battlefield! Dismayed
No longer be! Arise! obtain renown! destroy thy foes!         205
Fight for the kingdom waiting thee when thou hast vanquished those.
By Me they fall—not thee! the stroke of death is dealt them now,
Even as they stand thus gallantly; My instrument art thou!
Strike, strong-armed Prince! at Drona! at Bhishma strike! deal death
To Karna, Jyadratha; stay all this warlike breath!         210
’Tis I who bid them perish! Thou wilt but slay the slain.
Fight! they must fall, and thou must live, victor upon this plain!
Hearing mighty Keshav’s word,
Tremblingly that helmèd Lord
Clasped his lifted palms, and—praying         215
Grace of Krishna—stood there, saying,
With bowed brow and accents broken,
These words, timorously spoken:
Worthily, Lord of Might!
    The whole world hath delight         220
In Thy surpassing power, obeying Thee;
    The Rakshasas, in dread
    At sight of Thee, are sped
To all four quarters; and the company
    Of Siddhas sound Thy name.         225
    How should they not proclaim
Thy Majesties, Divinest, Mightiest?
    Thou Brahm, than Brahma greater!
    Thou Infinite Creator!
Thou God of gods, Life’s Dwelling-place and Rest!         230
    Thou, of all souls the Soul!
    The Comprehending Whole!
Of Being formed, and formless Being the Framer;
    O Utmost One! O Lord!
    Older than eld, Who stored         235
The worlds with wealth of life. O Treasure-claimed.
    Who wottest all, and art
    Wisdom Thyself! O Part
In all, and all, for all from Thee have risen!
    Numberless now I see         240
    The aspects are of Thee!
Vayu 3 Thou art, and He who keeps the prison
    Of Narak, Yama dark,
    And Agni’s shining spark.
Varuna’s waves are Thy waves. Moon and star-light         245
    Are Thine! Prajâpati
    Art Thou, and ’tis to Thee
Men kneel in worshipping the old world’s far light,
    The first of mortal men.
    Again, Thou God! again         250
A thousand thousand times be magnified!
    Honor and worship be—
    Glory and praise,—to Thee
Namô, Namastê, cried on every side.
    Cried here, above, below,         255
    Uttered when Thou dost go,
Uttered when Thou dost come! Namô! we call.
    Namôstu! God adored!
    Namôstu! Nameless Lord!
Hail to Thee! Praise to Thee! Thou One in all.         260
    For Thou art All! Yea, Thou!
    Ah! if in anger now
Thou shouldst remember I did think Thee Friend,
    Speaking with easy speech,
    As men use each to each;         265
Did call Thee “Krishna,” “Prince,” nor comprehend
    Thy hidden majesty,
    The might, the awe of Thee;
Did, in my heedlessness, or in my love,
    On journey, or in jest,         270
    Or when we lay at rest,
Sitting at council, straying in the grove,
    Alone, or in the throng,
    Do Thee, most Holy wrong,
Be Thy grace granted for that witless sin!         275
    For Thou art now I know,
    Father of all below,
Of all above, of all the worlds within,
    Guru of Gurus, more
    To reverence and adore         280
Than all which is adorable and high!
    How, in the wide worlds three
    Should any equal be?
Shall any other share Thy majesty?
    Therefore, with body bent         285
    And reverent intent,
I praise, and serve, and seek Thee, asking grace.
    As father to a son,
    As friend to friend, as one
Who loveth to his lover, turn Thy face         290
    In gentleness on me!
    Good is it I did see
This unknown marvel of Thy Form! But fear
    Mingles with joy! Retake,
    Dear Lord! for pity’s sake         295
Thine earthly shape, which earthly eyes may bear!
    Be merciful, and show
    The visage that I know;
Let me regard Thee, as of yore, arrayed
    With disc and forehead-gem,         300
    With mace and anedem,
Thou who sustainest all things! Undismayed
    Let me once more behold
    The form I loved of old,
Thou of the thousand arms and countless eyes!         305
    My frightened heart is fain
    To see restored again
The Charioteer, my Krishna’s kind disguise.
Yea! thou hast seen, Arjuna! because I loved thee well,
The secret countenance of Me, revealed by mystic spell,         310
Shining, and wonderful, and vast, majestic, manifold,
Which none save thou in all the years had favor to behold:
For not by Vedas cometh this, nor sacrifice, nor alms,
Nor works well-done, nor penance long, nor prayers nor chaunted psalms,
That mortal eyes should bear to view the Immortal Soul unclad,         315
Prince of the Kurus! This was kept for thee alone! Be glad!
Let no more trouble shake thy heart because thine eyes have seen
My terror with My glory. As I before have been
So will I be again for thee; with lightened heart behold!
Once more I am thy Krishna, the form thou knew’st of old!         320
These words to Arjuna spake
Vâsudev, and straight did take
Back again the semblance dear
Of the well-loved charioteer;
Peace and joy it did restore         325
When the Prince beheld once more
Mighty BRAHMA’s form and face
Clothed in Krishna’s gentle grace.
Now that I see come back, Janardana!
This friendly human frame, my mind can think         330
Calm thoughts once more; my heart beats still again!
Yea! it was wonderful and terrible
To view me as thou didst, dear Prince! The gods
Dread and desire continually to view!
Yet not by Vedas, nor from sacrifice,         335
Nor penance, nor gift-giving, nor with prayer
Shall any so behold, as thou hast seen!
Only by fullest service, perfect faith,
And uttermost surrender am I known
And seen, and entered into, Indian Prince!         340
Who doeth all for Me; who findeth Me
In all; adoreth always; loveth all
Which I have made, and Me, for Love’s sole end,
That man, Arjuna! unto Me doth wend.
Here endeth Chapter XI. of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ,
entitled “Viswarupdarsanam,” or “The Book
of the Manifesting of the One
and Manifold”
Note 1. “Kamalapatrâksha.” [back]
Note 2. “Hail to Thee, God of Gods! Be favorable!” [back]
Note 3. The wind. [back]