Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canto X : the Univeral Glory

What faith provides is an experience that reason can only indicate or describe : the 'divine glories' (divyanam vibhutanam) and 'unfathomable prowess' (vibhutervistaro) of Godhead. That is why the key shlokas of Canto X are numbers 40 and 42, specially 42 : 'What use to you is this parade of my powers ? Have faith in me; know I exist, and that I sustain the world'.

Connected with the shraddha (faith) is bhakti (devotion). Bhakti, because it is outgoing, is the very opposite of desire, which is in-growing and so, when faith and devotion join hands, compassion is born. 'My compassion like a glowing lamp of wisdom scatters the ignorant darkness' of anywho happily sing the glories of God.

Arjuna's problem is obvious. As a Kshatriya warrior, he is unfamiliar with the co-ordinates of bhakti, though he knows what shraddha is, since training in arms under a guru demands the strictest shraddha. The only way he can discover the meaning of bhakti is by asking what it is -- a very poor way -- as unhelpful as trying to experience the fragrance of a rose by looking up its definition in a dictionary.

Yet Krishna goes along with Arjuna's request for a 'narration' of his yoga-bibhuti. How Arjuna will get a taste of this bhakti nectar (amrita : non-death) will become clear as the narration continues. The ladder of reason is a prelude to the leap of faith and devotion.

Krishna continued :

Listen to my wisdom, Arjuna : I speak for your good, for you are a good listener.

Neither the gods nor the saints have understood my divine origin; for I am the cause of the birth of the gods and the saints.

Whoever knows me as birthless, without beginning, and the supreme master of the universe, he of all mortals sees clear, and is absolved of taint.

Intellect, knowledge, vision, perseverance, truth and renunciation, gentleness, joy, sorrow, birth, death, awe, fearlessness,

Ahimsa, equanimity, penance and charity, fame and sense of shame -- these human states arise from my being alone.

The seven saints and the four founders of the human race were products of my mind; from them was born this swarm of life.

This the truth. The man who knows the difference between illusion and reality is the yogi.

I am the source of everything, everything evolves from me -- thinking in this manner, the learned concentrate on me.

Their minds in me, their senses in me, instructing each other and singing my glory, they are happy.

And I enlighten them, and they come to me, for they are devoted and steadfast.

I dwell in their heart, and my compassion like a glowing lamp of wisdom scatters their ignorant darkness.

Arjuna said :

You are the Supreme Brahman, the supreme goal, the supreme purifier; self glowing Purusha, the first God;

Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa have called you eternal, and this now your own revelation.

All that you say to me is true, Krishna; neither the gods nor the anti-gods comprehend your essence.

You alone know yourself by yourself, transcendent Purusha; you are the source of life, the God of gods, the Lord of the world.

Speak to me of your divine powers which sustain the world and proclaim your existence.

How shall I achieve you, Krishna ? What will be the objects of my meditation ?

Narrate your Yoga and your glory at length. Such nectar from your lips is what I desire.

Krishna replied :

I shall narrate you my divine glories in a brief sequence -- there is no end otherwise to them.

I am the atman, conscious in the heart of all life; I am also the beginning, the middle, and the end of all life.

I am the Vishnu of the Adityas, the glorious sun among the heavenly bodies; Marichi among the winds, and the moon among the planets.

Of the Vedas, I am the Samaveda, Indra among the gods; of the faculties I am intelligence; and I am the consciousness of the world's creatures.

I am the Shankara among the Rudras and Kubera among the Yakshas and Rakshasas; I am the Pavaka among the Vasus, and among mountains I am Meru.

Among priests, Arjuna, I am Brihaspati, among commanders Skanda, and the ocean among expanses of water.

I am Bhrigu among saints, Aum among words, among sacrifices I am Japayajna, and the Himalaya among the steadfast objects.

Among trees I am the fig-tree, and Narada among holy men, among Gandharvas Chitraratha, and Kapila among saints.

Among horses I am Ucchaishravas, sprung from nectar; among elephants Airavata, and among human being king.

Among weapons I am the thuderbolt, and among cattle the heavenly cow: I am sexual desire too, creator of life; and among snakes I am Vasuki.

Ananta among serpent, Varuna among the creatures of the sea; the Aryaman of spirits of fathers, and the god of death among governors;

Prahlada of Daityas, Kala of measures, lion among beasts, Garuda among birds;

Among cleansers I amt the wind, Parshuram among warriors, the crocodile among fish, and Ganga among rivers.

I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all that is in flux; among wisdoms I am knowledge of the atman, and I am truth among disputes.

Among letters I am A, among compounds the Dvandva; I am the immeasurable Kala, and the many-formed sustainer.

I am merciless death, I am the wealth of the wealthy; among female virtues I am fame, beauty, memory, wisdom, chastity, and sweet speech.

Among hymns I am Brihatsama, among metres the Gayatri; among months Margashirsh and among seasons spring full of flowers;

I am the deceit of the deceitful, and the strength of the strong; I am the struggle, I am realisation, and the virtue of the virtuous.

I am Krishna among the Yadavas, and Arjuna among the Pandavas; among poets I am Vyasa, among ascetics Ushanas.

Among punishers I am the mace; I am the subtlety of the tactful, the silence of the secretive, and the wisdom of the wise.

I am the germ of life; nothing animate or inanimate has existence without me.

There is no limit to my divine glory, but this is but a fragment you hear of my unfathomable prowess.

If there is any man powerful, blessed and talented, his glory is derived from a part of my glory.

But what use to you is this parade of my powers ? Have faith in me; know I exist, and that I sustain the worlds.

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