Arjuna Asks to See Krishna’s True Form – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 11, Vs 3 – 4

Cosmic Form of Lord Krishna

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Arjuna Asks to See Krishna’s True Form

In this conversation between Lord Krishna and his devotee and childhood friend, Arjuna asks to see His true form.

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O Supreme Lord, as You have described Your Self thus it is so. Now I wish to see Your original sovereign form.  

The First Purusha

This ‘original, sovereign’ individual is puruṣottama, a compound of puruṣa and uttama. Earlier we learned that purusha is the Divine Individual in the state of knowing Other-than-Self (another Divine Individual). This is only one step away from adhyatma as described in verse one, the Self-existent Individual in the Absolute before Creation.

Uttama means first and highest, and puts Krishna (Vishnu) in the position of being the first Divine Individual to know Other-than-Self. This has had the effect of bringing about Creation, and causing us to think of “God” as an individual entity more powerful than ourselves. We are only half wrong about this. In what it is that we really are, we are all exactly the same as Purushottama, and have all the same qualities as That. But we were not the first (uttama).

Even though we are drawn to think of God as a separate individual entity, this First One of us is not more powerful than ourSelves, for all Divine Individuals are the same. But because we do not live in this Reality, we turn to this Purushottama in reaching out to God. Thus does this error in our thinking work to our advantage, for we have forgotten who and what we are, and Purushottama serves the function of Absolute Personal God for us.

Furthermore, because humanity perceives purusha (Self) as male and prakriti (Another) as female, we have gotten ourselves into the habit of thinking of God as male, whereas adhyatma as Purushottama is beyond all such distinctions.

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O Lord, if you think it possible for me to see, then cause Your Imperishable Self to be seen by me.

Now Arjuna wants to see what Lord Krishna really looks like. He understands that Krishna is what He says He is, but if this is something that can be seen, he wants to see it. Now we must remember that a ‘form’ suggests the Relative Realm of Creation, not the Absolute and Highest of God from which all this comes. Keep this in mind as we go through this chapter; it will answer the inevitable questions that will arise.

This will all become apparent in the next verses as Lord Krishna shows Arjuna His form. It is an experience in two phases: He sees the whole universe in Lord Krishna’s body, and enters into this Cosmic Form and has a hard time tolerating it. Lord Krishna grants Arjuna this privilege in our next issue.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma
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