Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": KRISHNA'S EPIPHANY

(Bhagavad-Gita, XI, Selections)

3. Thus it is, as Thou declarest
Thyself, 0 Supreme Lord.
I desire to see Thy form.
As God, 0 Supreme Spirit!

4. If Thou thinkest that it can
Be seen by me, 0 Lord,
Prince of mystic power, then do Thou to me
Reveal Thine immortal Self.

The Blessed One said:
5. Behold My forms, son of Prtha,
By hundreds and by thousands,
Of various sorts, marvelous,
Of various colours and shapes. . . .

8. But thou canst not see Me
With this same eye of thine own;
I give thee a supernatural eye:
Behold My mystic power as God!

Samjaya said:
9. Thus speaking then, 0 king,
Hari (Visnu), the great Lord of Mystic Power,
Showed unto the son of Prtha
His supernal form as God: . . .

12. Of a thousand suns in the sky
If suddenly should burst forth
The light, it would be like
Unto the light of that exalted one. . . .

14. Then filled with amazement,
His hair standing upright, Dhanamjaya
Bowed with his head to the God,
And said with a gesture of reverence:

Arjuna said:
15. 1 see the gods in Thy body, 0 God,
All of them, and the hosts of various kinds of beings too,
Lord Brahma sitting on the lotus-seat,
And the seers all, and the divine serpents.

16. With many arms, bellies, mouths, and eyes,
I see Thee, inftnite in form on all sides;
No end nor middle nor yet beginning of Thee
Do I see, 0 All-God, All-formedl

17. With diadem, club, and disc,
A mass of radiance, glowing on all sides,
I see Thee, hard to look at, on every side
With the glory of flaming fire and sun, immeasurable.

18. Thou art the Imperishable, the supreme Object of Knowledge
Thou art the ultimate resting-place of this universe;
Thou are the immortal guardian of the eternal right.
Thou art the everlasting Spirit, I hold.

19. Without beginning, middle, or end, of inftnite power,
Of infinite arms, whose eyes are the moon and sun,
I see Thee, whose face is flaming fire,
Burning this whole universe with thy radiance.

20. For this region between heaven and earth
Is pervaded by Thee alone, and all the directions;
Seeing this Thy wondrous, terrible form,
The triple world trembles, 0 exalted one!

21. For into Thee are entering yonder throngs of gods;
Some, afffighted, praise Thee with reverent gestures;
Crying 'Hail!' the throngs of the great seers and perfected ones
Praise Thee with abundant laudations. . . .

24. Touching the sky, aflame, of many colours,
With yawning mouths and flaming enormous eyes,
Verity seeing Thee (so), my inmost soul is shaken,
And I find no steadiness nor peace, O Visnu!

25. And Thy mouths, terrible with great tusks,
No sooner do I see them, like the fire of dissolution (of the world),
Than I know not the directions of the sky, and I find no refuge.
Have mercy, Lord of Gods, Thou in whom the world dwells!. . . .

31. Tell rne, who art Thou, of awful form?
Homage be to Thee: Best of Gods, be mercifull!
I desire to understand Thee, the primal one;
For I do not comprehend what Thou hast set out to do.

The Blessed One said:
32. 1 am Time (Death), cause of destruction of the worlds, matured
And set out to gather in the worlds here.
Even without thee (thy action), all shall cease to exist,
The warriors that are drawn up in the opposing ranks.

33. Therefore arise thou, win glory,
Conquer thine enemies and enjoy prospered kingship;
By Me Myself they have already been slain long ago;
Be thou the mere instrument, left-handed archer!

34. Drona and Bhisma and Jayadratha,
Karna too, and the other warrior-heroes as well,
Do thou slay, (since) they are already slain by Me; do not hesitate!
Fight! Thou shalt conquer thy rivals in battle. . . .

Arjuna said:
36. It is in place, Hrsikesa, that at Thy praise
The world rejoices and is exceeding glad;
Ogres fly in terror in all directions,
And all the hosts of perfected ones pay homage.

37. And why should they not pay homage to Thee, Exalted One?
Thou art greater even than Brahman; Thou art the First Creator;
infinite Lord of Gods, in whom the world dwells,
Thou the imperishable, existent, non-existent, and beyond both!

38. Thou art the Primal God, the Ancient Spirit,
Thou art the supreme resting-place of this universe;
Thou art the knower, the object of knowledge, and the highest station,
By Thee the universe is pervaded, Thou of infinite form! . . .

42. And if I treated thee disrespectfully to make sport of Thee,
In the course of amusement, resting, sitting, or eating,
Either since, 0 unshaken one, or in the presence of those (others),
For that I beg forgiveness of Thee, the immeasurable one.

43. Thou art the father of the world of things that move and move not,
And thou art its revered, most venerable Guru;
There is no other like Thee, how then a greater?
Even in the three worlds, 0 Thou of matchless greatness!

44. Therefore, bowing and prostrating my body,
I beg grace of Thee, the Lord to be revered:
As a father to his son, as a friend to his friend,
As a lover to his beloved, be pleased to show mercy, 0 God!

45. Having seen what was never seen before, I am thrilled,
And (at the same time) my heart is shaken with fear;
Show me, O God, that same form of Thine (as before)!
Be merciful, Lord of Gods, Abode of the World!

Translation by Franklin Edgerton, in Edgerton Bhagavad-Gita, Vol I. Harvard Oriental Series, Vol. 38 (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1944)

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