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70. Vision of the Cosmic Form:

Having listened at length to the greatness of the Almighty God, Arjuna gets an intense desire to have direct vision of the Lord's Cosmic Form which supports this vast universe. The Lord obliges him, grants him a divine sight and blesses him with the vision of His Cosmic Form. Hundreds of tiny particles move about under our very nose but we are not able to see them. But with the help of a microscope all these particles become visible. Similarly, we are not able to see with our gross eyes the spirit of God which flows through each and every particle in this vast universe. That is why the Lord had to endow Arjuna with a superhuman eyesight. On an earlier occasion Sri Krishna had granted such an eyesight and such a vision of His Cosmic Form to the blind Dhritarashtra. When He went to the Kauravas on his peace mission as an emissary of Pandavas, Duryodhana tried to arrest him and at that time the Lord revealed His Cosmic Form to the worthy souls like Bhishma and Dhritarashtra. Seeing the wonderful auspicious form of the Lord, Dhritarashtra was thrilled with joy and exclaimed: "Oh Lord, when You withdraw this supernatural eyesight, please make me blind once again. Having seen Your auspicious Cosmic Form, I do not wish to see the ugly world any more. I shall be glad to be blind again." In my opinion Dhritarashtra, the blind devotee, is the luckiest person because he saw in his life only God's Form arid nothing else, even once, of this sinful world.

On seeing the Cosmic Form of Lord Krishna Arjuna is overjoyed. There is scattered all around the massive brightness as at the sudden and simultaneous rising of a thousand suns. He sees the Almighty Lord's face all around him. The Lord's eyes are watching each and every particle in the universe. His thousands of legs and hands are reaching the whole cosmos. In the God with the universal eyes and the infinite faces Arjuna sees the past, the present and the future. The world of infinite variety is summed up within Him.
tÇEkSw< jgTk«TSn< àiv-Ktmnekxa,

tatraikasthaÕ jagatk®tsnaÕ pravibhaktamanekadh˜
-- XI-13

He saw the myriad fragments of the world in a corner of the universal body of God. Arjuna sees the whole universe in the body of the Lord's Cosmic Form. He sees the gods Vayu, Yama, Agni, Brahma and Rudra in His body, all under His control. He is the abode for all these gods, for all living and non living creatures in the universe and He takes different forms to activate them. Seeing all these things Arjuna is awe-struck and in a state of devotional ecstasy bursts into a hymn of praise.

71. Is God Formless?

Some people may feel surprised at the description that God has thousand faces and thousands of eyes. Can God have eyes, ears and limbs like us? If He has also the same sort of body and organs as we have, how could He remain God then? He too has to belong to the category of human beings. Some others argue that such a body and limbs are but a figment of man's own imagination according to his capacity, and not a real description. Between God's form and our physical body there is a gulf of difference and only because they do not understand this they deny form to God as described in the Vedas and the Upanishads. The mere word 'body' need not shock us as dirty and unholy. There is a world of difference between our body of five elements stinking with filth, and the sweet-scented body and form of the Lord which is made of mere consciousness and bliss. If one is an earthen pot, the other is a golden one. The two are entirely different and they have different characteristics. Just because both have a similar shape and form we cannot put them on par. Sweets are made in different forms resembling various animals. But do not children eat them with relish? Even though the forms are different, they are all sweet being made of sugar. Just as there is a great difference between the beasts and the sweetmeat animals, there is an infinite difference between our body and God's. By conceding a body and form made of consciousness and bliss to the Supreme Lord we do not pull Him down to the level of the human beings. It is with this view that the Vedas and Puranas describe the Lord as formless. If in some places it is stated that God is formless, in many others, in the same scriptures, the wonderful and beautiful body and form of the God have been extensively described. We should examine these critically and reconcile them. Since God does not have an inert body made of five elements like ours, He is described as formless by the Srutis and Puranas; He has a supernatural body composed of truth, consciousness and bliss, and this lovely auspicious body is the cause of describing His form. We can remove this apparent contradiction in our scriptures only if we agree that God has a supernatural form.

We can look at this problem from another angle. Every object in the universe, living or non-living, is just an image of the Almighty God. God is responsible for its very existence and activity. God pervades every object and activates it. Because of God there is activity in the universe. God is the object and everything else in the universe is His image. The various objects in the universe have diverse forms only because God pervades all these objects and gives them their individual forms. Unless the object has shape, its image cannot have any shape. The image may be dark or even distorted but there is some similarity in form between the two. There is a great difference between the Supreme God and the myriads of living and non living entities in the universe in their characteristics, but because of the object-image relationship, there must be some internal similarity in form. Different atoms join together and become different objects having different forms. For these atoms to join together into particular shapes, the infinite forms of God who is immanent in all objects in nature alone are responsible.
tt! s&òva, tdevanuàaivzt!, tdnuàivZy, sCcTyCca-vt!,
tat s®ÿ÷av˜ | tadev˜nupr˜viþat | tadanupraviþya | saccatyacc˜bhavat | -- Taittiriyopanishad 2:6
(Having created the world, He entered in it, having entered it He was called by its very name 'sat' (st!) and became its foundation and controller.)

The Upanishad says that nature takes different forms so pleasing to the eye only because of the presence of God inside every object in the universe. As the same water filled in different pots with different shapes takes up different forms, so also the same Godhead entering into different living and non living entities in the universe takes different forms. Only because God has form, nature could be endowed with so many forms and so much variety and beauty. It is better to describe Him as having infinite forms rather than describe Him as formless as He is the object for all the images, and all-pervading. Arjuna saw with his supernatural eyesight such a God of infinite shapes and forms, of infinite auspicious qualities, made of the essence of consciousness and bliss, taking the same form as the image He pervades and at the same time not being affected or touched by its physical characteristics.

Some people are of the view that the form and shape of the Almighty Lord described in the Vedas and Puranas are purely imaginary and not at all real. We have accepted the Vedas and Puranas as the supreme authorities in spiritual matters in our Hindu religion. How then could we ever contradict ourselves and say that they preach false and imaginary ideas about God and thus misguide and confuse the people? How could the lovely form of God seen after several years of severe penance and meditation by the supreme devotees like Dhruva be utterly imaginary? What we see by our physical eyesight may sometimes be illusory. But how could the things seen by Arjuna with a divine sight, specially endowed by God, be untrue? Illusory objects have no existence in reality. Arjuna has seen with his own eyes the Almighty God's infinite forms. He has also seen the lesser gods like Brahma and Rudra offering prayers in devotion to God. This shows that not only whatever is mentioned in the epics regarding the other worlds are not the figments of their authors' imagination but, also, whatever of the physical world we see with our eye is also true and real. If the world were unreal, as some believe, Arjuna could not have seen with the divine sight the earth and the heavens under the providence of the Supreme Lord. Thus it is undoubtedly true that whatever Arjuna has seen in the Cosmic Form of the Supreme Soul, the individual soul and the physical world are all real and mutually distinct.

72. The Awareness of the Cosmic Vision in our day-today life:

We should learn a lesson from what Arjuna had seen in the Lord's Cosmic Form and put it into practice in our day-to-day life. God has infinite forms. He pervades each and every object. There is the pure sentient form of God in everything we see. The sense that He sees what is going on in the whole universe by His thousands of faces and thousands of eyes encourages alertness and good conduct in us. We can deceive the Government and sidetrack the laws but when the sense that God is looking at us with his infinite faces and eyes is awakened in us and we cannot evade his look, our life then would become blissfully holy. Once a banana was given to Sri Kanakadasa and he was asked to eat it in secret. But he could not find such a place. Wherever he went he saw God. One who sees God everywhere does not find an opportunity to commit sin and cover it up. His life becomes as pure as an open book.
n raNy< n c rajasIt! n d{fae n c dai{fk>,
xmeR[Ev àja> svaR> r]iNt Sm prSpr<.

na r˜nyaÕ na ca r˜j˜sŸt na daõýo na ca d˜õýika×
dharmeõaiva praj˜× sarv˜× rakÿanti sma parasparaÕ
-- Mahabharata
(There was neither kingdom nor king, neither punishment nor the punisher; people protected each other with dharma itself.)

In the 'Krita' age the citizens were law-abiding of their own will and lived a life of holy discipline without the need of law or officers. Character is to be built in the hearts of men. If it is not there as a foundation, the whole superstructure of the state will collapse. The present-day society is a glaring example of this. The philosophy of the Cosmic Form of God as explained in the eleventh chapter of the Gita must be the guiding principle in our day-today life if society is to be built on a sure foundation.

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This page prepared by  Ramadas
Created March 02, 2000; last modified March 08, 2000