Sunday, November 19, 2017

Krishna's Little Flip Flop in 11 th chapter of Bhagavad Gita

Priya Sadhaks,

After a long time I am writing this. I believe you are seeking solace and strength from the Gita regularly. Those who have stopped parayanam and mananam (memorization), please continue.

While doing parayanam of 11 th adhyaya , the " Viswaroopa Darsana Yogam " I came across two things which I did not probe deeper in my previous readings. I came up with answers to my questions but as always, I think there will be many explanations too.

Krishna's Little Flip Flop :

5 th and 6 th sloka : After Arjuna has completed his request to see his viswaroopam, Krishna immediately orders Arjuna to behold hundreds of thousands of his form(s), as also the adityas, vasus, rudras, aswins, maruts, and many divine and surprising  entities hitherto unseen.

At this point , an unprecedented flip flop happens.

I have never seen this happen in Gita. Krishna, so far , while encouraging his friend, cousin, brother in law and disciple to see his viswaroopam, suddenly realises that Arjuna cannot see his divine form with his human vision. And, this happens after two full slokas He readily acknowledges his mistake and  gives him the divine vision (divya chakshu:)  so that Arjuna can see his form as described
 in the 10 th chapter.

My question is why should such a simple oversight happen with Krishna, the supreme organiser of the Mahabharata ? Can't he see Arjuna's limitations before proceeding with his explanation ?  While many Panditas of many eras could not even find a single fault in this monumental work, how can such a simple slip of tongue occur ? This is glaring and will be seen somewhat as a limitation of Sri Krishna.

One possible answer is: Krishna is so enthusiastic, so affectionate and graceful towards Arjuna that he overlooks Arjuna's handicap but realizes after seeing no reaction from him. Vyasa also faithfully records even this minute detail.

What is your opinion ?

Perception versus Vision

This is my second point.  Gita has never failed to produce surprises for me: While I was doing the somewhat mundane routine of reading and memorizing, I was seeing a shift between the 5 th sloka and  20 th. In other words , Arjuna's condition as described by Sanjaya as well as by himself reveal one state between 5 th and 20 th slokas which shift to a different level after  the 21 st sloka.

What is that ?

The very first word Krishna speaks to Arjuna is 'pasya' (
पश्य). The sloka is given here

pasya me pArtha roopANi, sata sota sahasrasa:]
nAnAvidAni divyAni nAnAvarNAkrteeni cha ]]

The condensed meaning is - Oh Partha,  behold my celestial form. In fact this word 'pasya' is present in most of the slokas between 5 th and 19th slokas.  From the 20 th sloka , Arjuna uses the word "Drishtva"  (  meaning -having seen). And, surprisingly , the word 'drshti' never appears in the first set of slokas and equally surprisingly , in slokas after the 29th, we  do not get to see the word 'pasya'.

 I took up my dictionary, (  V S Apte), and saw the probable meaning for pasya as - behold, perceive etc.

Drishti has a simple meaning - that of ocular vision .

I was awed when I got this difference between these words. The initial moments when Krishna showed the viswaroopam, Arjuna DID NOT SEE IT. He simply  perceived it. Perception happens without the receiver taking part in a  given phenomenon. Perception is largely a mental phenomenon where the senses are transcended. And,  let us see what all he perceived.

1. (sanjaya , the other witness is also shown perceiving the Bhagavan along with Arjuna.) The numerous mouths, eyes, the divine ornaments, weapons, perfumes, garlands, and those endless array of Krishna's  faces stretching into eternity are seen by Sanjaya also. . After Sanjaya's surprise, Arjuna's narration comes. He also opens with "pasyami devan ....  .  In the 19 th sloka, Arjuna says that the whole universe was affected by the blistering heat of the Aura of the beginningless , presentless and endless Bhagavan who has infinite arms, and who has the moon and sun as respective eyes, and with the mouth shining like fire . The trend from the 5 th sloka is the same. He is trying to narrate the unnarratable. And aptly he uses the word "pasya" in all these slokas.

In the 20 th sloka , he starts to differentiate and for the first time, takes cognizance of the three worlds and the (ten) directions. He says that after "seeing" the Bhagawan who fills up the three worlds and all directions and the three worlds shiver with fear. You might notice that once the vision narrows to known spaces, the word "perception" no longer applies and the other lower word of " drishti"  is employed. Such is the linguistic precision of our Vedas, Itihasas, Kavyas and puranas.  

This adhyayam is the reason for Bhakti yogam to flow in the 12 th adhyaya.

 Hare Krishna. 


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