Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11: The Cosmic Vision – SUMMARY (107)


Lesson 107 summarizes the crux of Chapter 11. Cause of universe. Divya-cakshu. Wat it takes to be devoted? Limitation of my/mine. Why was Arjuna also fearful of Lord's universe? What is surrender and surrender to what?

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11: All verses

Chapter 11 Summary:

  • To understand context of CH11, we need to know background of CH7-10. In previous 4 chapters (CH7-10), cause of the universe is called God/Īśvara.
  • Cause is understood from 2 standpoints: Intelligence cause & Material cause out of which effects are born.
    • EG: Carpenter is intelligent cause of furniture. Wood is material cause of furniture.
    • In same way, anything in universe needs both for final product.
  • This means material cause modifies (by presence of intelligent cause) to become names-forms, which we experience.
    • For example, whatever conversation takes place about various ornaments (bangle, chain, ring) – we’re only talking about One Gold.
    • Meaning one needs not dismiss ornaments, and work separately to recognize the gold. But through knowledge alone, one concludes “Wherever there is name-form, that’s where Gold is”.
      • In same manner, one needs not dismiss the world, and work separately to recognize the Absolute Reality called God / Ishvara / atma (self).
  • Analogy to understand: The Gold is called Gold from standpoint of Cause. The same Gold is called Ornaments from standpoint of effect.
    • So Cause and Effect are really one same Material.
    • Cause is Material from standpoint of potential name-form.
    • Effect is Material from standpoint of manifest name-form.
    • Using this analogy, Krishna is pointing out in CH7-10 that Īśvara and world can never be different. Because when all effects (names-forms) are resolved, what obtains is Final Cause (Īśvara).

Understanding above leads to CH11 (divya cakṣuḥ):

  • If above understand is:
    • Lacking: then world is just world.
    • Present: world is embodiment of Īśvara. In which case world becomes viśva-rūpa-darśanam (knowledge that all forms are pervaded by the One Cause).
      • This perception based on understanding is called: divya-cakṣuḥ.
      • This means viśva-rūpa-darśanam is not about having an extraordinary experience (like in closed eye meditation), but it’s an attitude that’s gradually cultivated through knowledge and self-inquiry.
        • EG 1:
          • Get laddu (flower/fat/sugar). See it as embodiment of unhealthy sweet. Someone says it’s been blessed by the priest in temple.
          • This new information and understanding (what it means for food to get blessed), immediately invokes different attitude towards the same object. This new attitude is called divya-cakṣuḥ.
        • EG 2:
          • “Without the connection to Michael Jackson, the entire property might bring $400,000. But with the connection, the sky’s the limit.
          • What’s more, you should be a fan of Jackson for several years, then alone you’ll consider his association worthy.
            • Single-song fan of Jackson, won’t invoke anything, except while listening.
  • Extending examples to entire universe, to develop spontaneous devotion, it requires a process:
    • Step 1: I should first discover nature of THE Reality.
    • Step 2: Spend time getting to know the details. Immerse oneself.
    • This gradually changes perception towards reality (divya-cakṣuḥ), leading to reward called viśva-rūpa-darśanam.

Verse 1-8:

  • Arjuna asks: How can I gain viśva-rūpa-darśanam?
  • Krishna replies: Requires a qualified mind endowed with divya-cakṣuḥ. I will temporarily bless you with the right attitude.
    • What is divya cakṣuḥ?
      • Mind with refined notion of “my/mine”. Because long as objects/experiences are “mine”, person will limit them to biases.
        • EG: MY-experience of sun is soothing = Sun has been limited to “soothing”.
      • This means to sustain viśva-rūpa-darśanam, one needs to remind oneself “Nothing belongs to me. Not even MY-relatives. They too belong to the One Cause. Not even MY-body”.
    • Krishna, having suppressed Arjuna’s “my/mine” notion, Arjuna was able to notice depth of the universe previously neglected.

Verse 9-14:

  • Sanjaya gives description of Arjuna’s vision.
    • Firstly, how did Sanjaya see Arjuna’s vision, because it implies Sanjaya’s mind too was blessed by Krishna?
      • Some commentators say: Sanjaya word means “One who has won over/conquered the notions of my/mine. That’s how his intentions were able to remain pure, despite serving an unrighteousness king”.
  • Sanjaya says: Arjuna is witnessing Lord with thousands of limbs (hands, legs, heads, stomachs).
    • Doesn’t mean 1000 heads attached to one entity. Means everybody is born of Bhagavān’s intelligent/material cause.
    • This first impression of Lord caused Arjuna to go through 3 stages of appreciation: Wonderstruck, Fear, Surrender.

Verse 15-22: STAGE 1 (Arjuna is wonderstruck):

  • Arjuna’s positive outlook peeked. He saw incomprehensible beauty, undefined by words. Wonderstruck.
  • This is how some Vedantins feel. The more educated about the whole, the more interest peaks in sciences like: astronomy, biology, animal world, quantum physics, genetics, psychology.
    • Because attitude towards science changes from skeptical to science being a testimony of Ishvara’s intelligence… manifesting as various laws-orders.

Verse 23-30: STAGE 2 (Arjuna’s fear):

  • Arjuna sees the mouth of the Lord.
    • Don’t let mind imagine “big mouth”. It’s symbolism.
    • Symbolic representation for principle of time in form of srsti, sthiti, laya karana.
      • Since it’s shown on battlefield, time is represented as laya (death/destruction; soldiers entering).
  • We’ve seen Arjuna could come with terms of death of soldiers, except Bhishma, Drona.
    • This is because his divya-cakshu was artificially induced. Like artificially ripening a fruit. Won’t be as tasty. It’ll come with defects.
  • In addition, Arjuna notices Bhagavan enjoying His dinner. Which wasn’t an issue for Arjuna as he understood principle of destruction (in previous chapters).
    • However Arjuna got upset when he saw Bhagavan’s enjoyment in reference to MY-relatives.
    • Unable to contain his upset, he finally says “Krishna, tell me who are you?
    • Krishna replies in…

Verse 31-34:

  • Krishna replies: I am also the principle of time that removes last moment to pave way for new moment.
    • Since you’re in a battle, that destructive time is in form of death.
    • If you asked same question in maternity ward, Krishna would reply: I am creative time in form of birth.
  • Here, Bhagavan remind us that both birth and destruction are integral aspects of totality.

Verse 35-45: STAGE 3 (Arjuna’s surrender):

  • Firstly, what is surrender?
    • Surrender is aligning one’s freewill with universal order called dharma.
      • EG: Suppose there are 20 players in orchestra. The orchestra-piece is the foundation (universal order in that setting).
      • Each player exercises one’s freewill in alignment with the orchestra-piece.
      • Suppose one player says “I want to show my individuality”. Entire orchestra-piece goes into discord.
      • Meaning, individuality should not become louder/brighter then the universal-order.
    • So when individuality (free will) is in alignment with universal order, that’s called surrender.
      • How to align with universal order? Get educated about the presence of laws-orders, and see how violating them actually hurts you. EG: Gravity.
  • Once Arjuna was able to appreciate universal order coordinated by Bhagavan’s Intelligent/Material Cause, all he could do was perform namaskara (prostrations in all directions).
    • Because gratitude is a by-product of recognizing how universal order (dharma) actually holds the universe together and constantly helps you progress in life (if respected).
  • Together with Arjuna’s gratitude, he was also frightened because forgot to include himself as One not-separate from the order. For this reason, he asked Krishna to withdraw his vishva-rupa to avatara Krishna.
  • QUESTION: What is solution if we’re unable to embrace 3 aspects of reality (creation, sustenance, destruction)?
    • Step back to eka-rūpa-īśvara (istha-deva). Confine the Lord to the church, temple, mosque, synagogue.
    • Next stage is to include presence of Lord in your puja room, house, in and through your relatives.
    • Next stage is to include presence of Lord in and through your own body.
      • This trains intellect to see this body-mind-complex as property of Īśvara, which bondage “my/mine” bondage.

Verse 46-55:

  • Krishna says Arjuna had a rare opportunity to behold vishva-rupa because of his bhakti.
  • What type of bhakti?
    • Ananya-bhakti (ananya: no other, without a second) / jijnasu bhakta:
      • Sincere desirer of universal non-negatable truth. Lives and breaths only for sake of being in alignment with dharma.
      • Bhakta who accepts Parameshvara not as means for worldly ends, but the end itself.
      • Only possible if applying viveka, which develops vairagyam (for endless worldly conversations).
  • Finally Krishna concludes with benefits of viśva-rūpa-darśanam:
    • One stops splitting world into likes/dislikes. Results in calm and composed personality, yet alert and active.
      • Meaning more opportunities are captured since you’re not rejecting them on bases of likes/dislikes.
    • Develops one of highest human traits, amānitvam (humility).
      • Whatever excellence in me/others, it all belongs to the original giver, Bhagavan.
      • Removes pressure or need to appear special/important. At peace with one’s strengths/weaknesses.
    • Ceases categorizing reality into sacred/secular or spiritual/worldly. Everything is sacred.
      • Removes need to compare things.
      • Even at peace with other religions.
    • Accelerates pace of self-growth because mind is open, since it’s not selectively picking on bases of it’s biases.


Keywords: amanitvam, atma, bhagavan, divya-cakshu, eka-rupa-isvara, ishvara, isvara, vishva-rupa-darshanam, visva-rupa-darsanam

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 5 Jan, 2021



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