Thoughts on Sri Krishna’s Revelation of Universal Form

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Let us leave aside the assumption around Krishna’s identity..you could choose whatever works for you..whether as a King, manipulative schemer, beloved of gopis, as Avatar or anything else. The Vishwaroopam, the vision of the Infinite and Immanent Godhead is infinitely more interesting.

Let us remind ourselves of the context again. The hero of that age, Arjuna, has this crisis of conscience. The stark reality of war is in front of him. All the ills that befell him, his family and clan are forgotten. The brutality of what is going to begin makes his moral being shrink in repulsion. He is not afraid, this is his moral being shrinking from the carnage that is about to begin.

In response to this shrinking, Sri Krishna has expounded the larger basis of action, of morality, of spirituality, of how individual action and living can be perfected, of how laws of conduct can be gradually widened in scope to make every thought and action align with standards of living that transcend time bound social contracts into a veritable prayer. To make the individual see his role in the larger context of the Divine Lila, in the play of the Cosmos.

Sri Krishna has expounded the approaches to the Divine, of the ways of conduct that would assure ones entry into the borders of Heaven, to escape the cycle of Samsara and Maya. He has shared his view of the Sankhya path, the Purusha – Prakriti dance that makes up common life, ethical conduct, how individual Dharma coexists with Universal Dharma, how motive of action has more relevance than the action itself, of the role of ritualism, on how ritualism can be transmuted into an inner sacrifice to the Immanent Divine rather than the offering of material things. He has reiterated the various Yogas by which one can attain the Divine, he has reconciled and synthesized these approaches into one that is wide, all-encompassing and complete.

The human disciple who has received this knowledge is already familiar with the hundred roads using which one can approach the Divine. His mind sees how this tangle has been unified into a complex harmony. He realizes the one in front, his Charioteer in this field of battle, is someone not entirely known to him. Sri Krishna senses in his dear friend a mind at relative ease, but not the heart. Knowledge has been imparted but not the experience.

The unity of all existence, the play of Maya are all but theoretical constructs as yet. Arjuna is no trained Yogi, there is yet a patina of doubt that lives when knowledge has not yet become experience.

“Now”, Sri Krishna declares, “I shall show you my universal form, the one to which even the best Yogis aspire to. Because you are dear to me, I shall give you the Yogic sight, by which you shall see my energy in all its forms and manifestations.”

There is nothing symbolic in this. This is an experience. One that can be had by you and I too. The vision of the Universal Godhead. All its diverse manifestations, all its complex inter dependencies. One vision, one perspective too, of this all pervading Godhead and Power removes the illusion of separation. It destroys doubt, it is the certitude of the Godhead, the confirmation of our bright intuitions. We see ourselves surrounded, not with our eyes but an inner perception. We find ourselves as a speck, surrounded on every direction and dimension at the same time. All dimensions open up. We see that there is a Love, a Power than transcends our mind and being. There is a Beloved who watches and broods over us. That experience is the fruit for which we toil over many lives. All our perambulations through time has led us to this moment. And now we see we have looked in vain for the thing that is within us, and that is us too. All that exists is the Brahman. All is That. Nothing exists apart from It.

This is a qualitatively similar experience that Sri Ramakrishna Parahamsa imparts to a doubting Narendra, our later Swami Vivekananda about the nature of Time and Cosmos. The experience that Fritjof Capra has, as recounted in his preface to Tao of Physics, of seeing all reality as a dance of atoms, of the fact that everything is woven from a single fabric is similar to this. The experience of Sri Aurobindo, when imprisoned by the British, where he saw the jail walls, the jailer, the prisoners..even the bars that were holding him in as Vasudeva is similar to this.

There is nothing symbolic in this. Aspiration and/or the grace of a Guru can give this experience. Doubts vanish to one who has had this experience of the Universal form of the Divine. The unassailable poise of the Buddha, the acceptance of calamity with surrender, the ecstatic poetry of Annamayya, Chaitanya, Meera, Andal..all come from this experience in any of its infinite varieties.

Note: This was my answer to a question on Quora. Have posted it here after some editing.

Aphorisms: Pain and Spiritual Freedom, West and Gita

To convict the soul of the spiritual freedom and erect a mental edifice of bounded ego will bear on itself the modesty of crucifixion as a progressive necessity of normal and tardy evolution and will delay the divine progression for a brief while.

Pain as a progressive necessity of an evolution caught in the mire of its own darkness – the representative figure or symbol of it in its partially awakened consciousness is the crucifixion of Christ – cannot be advocated as a supreme gospel of divine life upon earth.

Even though the promise of heaven is implicit in the Christian idea of self-redemption, it comes at the cost of a self-inflicted pain, an amputation of the Spirit and Life still worthy of evolving otherwise through the means of a higher Power and Consciousness descending through the stairs of the mind into the human frame.

Such a divine Consciousness, even when it has assumed a human form, will not digress from its own illumination and intricate self-existence or lose itself to the pressure of the Inconscient or to the term of Ignorance.

It is one of the most important ideas of the Gita that to be in self-weakness is a mistake, a spiritual regression into dismay and self-dejection has no honour in itself or in the world.

The spiritual warrior declines the way of pain and fights for the just cause of the inner or higher Deity, the Lord of all existence who determines everything according to a profound inner law of existence, where the human morality of self-redemption and self-forgiveness does not exist but only the ineffable movement of the highest Spirit.

Whatever Difficulties and Perplexities Arise…

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Sri Krishna assures Arjuna

All this personal effort and self-discipline will not in the end be needed, all following and limitation of rule and dharma can at last be thrown away as hampering encumbrances if thou canst make a complete surrender to Me, depend alone on the Spirit and Godhead within thee and all things and trust to his sole guidance.

Turn all thy mind to me and fill it with the thought of me and my presence. Turn all thy heart to me, make thy every action, whatever it be, a sacrifice and offering to me. That done, leave me to do my will with thy life and soul and action; do not be grieved or perplexed by my dealings with thy mind and heart and life and works or troubled because they do not seem to follow the laws and dharmas man imposes on himself to guide his limited will and intelligence. My ways are the ways of a perfect wisdom and power and love that knows all things and combines all its movements in view of a perfect eventual result; for it is refining and weaving together the many threads of an integral perfection.

I am here with thee in thy chariot of battle revealed as the Master of Existence within and without thee and I repeat the absolute assurance, the infallible promise that I will lead thee to myself through and beyond all sorrow and evil. Whatever difficulties and perplexities arise, be sure of this that I am leading thee to a complete divine life in the universal and an immortal existence in the transcendent Spirit.

In many ways the life of a Sanyassin[5. One who has renounced material life in pursuit of the Divine] is easy, he is a lone warrior armed with aspiration and wages inner battles to storm heaven. For an aspiring Grihastha,[1. Householder] locked in the baffling maze of Samsara, the problem is severe. To the inner battles and an unyielding Divine is added the almost fatal calamity of family, work and society. It is in this position we find ourselves, much like Arjuna[6. One of the Pandavas, hero, friend of Sri Krishna] on the fields of battle in Kurukshetra.[2. Scene of battle in Mahabharatha] Dire circumstances, a feeble will and a confused buddhi[3. Buddhi is the intellect, used in the modern sense. Check here for subtle distinctions according to Indian psychology] fogs every idea and ideal, and tinges our actions with uncertainty. It is to this human soul caught in the web of existence that Sri Krishna[4. Incarnate Divine, manifest on earth to uphold Dharma] addresses this message, this “infallible promise”, that He would lead the aspiring soul to Himself “through and beyond all sorrow and evil”.