Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Song of God (Bhagavad Gita) — Chapter 11: 30-31

August 16, 2022

™lelihyase grasamānaḥ samantāl-
lokān samagrān vadanair jvaladbhiḥ
tejobhir āpūrya jagat samagraṁ
bhāsas tavo ’grāḥ pratapanti viṣṇo (XI-30)
™ākhyāhi me ko bhavān ugrarūpo
namo ’stu te devavara prasīda
vijñātum icchāmi bhavantam ādyaṁ
na hi prajānāmi tava pravṛttiṁ (XI-31)

XI/30. Thou lickest up, devouring all the worlds on every side with thy flaming mouths. Thy fierce rays, filling the whole world with radiance, are burning, O Viṣṇu.

XI/31. Tell me who thou art, so fierce in form. Salutations to thee, O God supreme; have mercy, I desire to know thee, the original being. I know not indeed thy doing.

Swamiji's Commentary

     In the previous chapter Krishna mentioned that among the ādityā (cosmic suns), he is Viṣṇu. This cosmic ray (let us call him so, tentatively) is capable of devouring everything; its radiance fills the whole world, burning all. We know that of the elements (earth, water, fire and air), it is fire that is capable of destroying and burning anything. Earth, water and air, in fact, promote life and its growth. Air, too, can at most move a thing from one place to another. But fire burns and destroys. When a dead insect lies exposed to the elements, especially to the sun, it quickly decomposes – it is destroyed. A subtle cosmic power acts on it. There is a balancing force that sustains this universe, that maintains the essential nature of all the objects, and at the same time the dynamic nature of the universe tends to disturb that equilibrium.

      Viṣṇu (meaning: all-pervading) is that factor in divine nature, that aspect of God that maintains the whole creation by bringing about a continuous change in form. while preserving (forming?) the substratum. When the molecules are broken into atoms, the atom into its components, and each in its turn resolved into the sheer energy they are made of and in which they maintain their individuality, what remains is Viṣṇu (or more correctly, the power of Viṣṇu). Perhaps one day, following Einstein’s lead, science will surmise, if not discover, the existence of such a unified substance in whose heart there is that power which reduces everything to simplicity, only to reassemble several such simplicities to make another complexity to suit its purpose.

     Verse 31 indicates that Arjuna has gone beyond the limitation of every memory; he has forgotten Krishna and what he is doing! Unless we are free of conditioning and we look afresh (as Arjuna has done), we do not see the truth.

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