Publisher’s Note: The translation of the Gita presented here was compiled mainly from Sri Aurobindo’s “Essays on the Gita”. It first appeared in “The Message of the Gita”, edited by Anilbaran Roy, in 1938. Sri Aurobindo approved this book for publication; however, he made it clear in one of his letters that the translations in the Essays were “more explanatory than textually precise or cast in a literary style”. Many of them are paraphrases rather than strict translations.
Sri Aurobindo also wrote that he did not wish extracts from the Essays “to go out as my translation of the Gita”. This should be borne in mind by the reader as he makes use of this translation, which has been provided as a bridge between the Gita and Sri Aurobindo’s Essays.
1. Arjuna said: This word of the highest spiritual secret of existence. Thou hast spoken out of compassion for me; by this my delusion is dispelled.
2. The birth and passing away of existences have been heard by me in detail from Thee, O Lotus-eyed, and also the imperishable greatness of the divine conscious Soul.
3. So it is, as Thou hast declared Thyself, O Supreme Lord; I desire to see Thy divine form and body, O Purushottama.
4. If Thou thinkest that it can be seen by me, O Lord, O Master of Yoga, then show me Thy imperishable Self.
5. The Blessed Lord said: Behold, O Partha, my hundreds and thousands of divine forms, various in kind, various in shape and hue.
6. Behold the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the two Aswins and also the Maruts; behold many wonders that none has beheld, O Bharata.
7. Here, to-day, behold the whole world, with all that is moving and unmoving, unified in my body, O Gudakesha, and whatever else thou wiliest to see.
8. What thou hast to see, this thy human eye cannot grasp; but there is a divine eye (an inmost seeing) and that eye I now give to thee. Behold Me in My divine Yoga.
9-14. Sanjaya said: Having thus spoken, O King, the Master of the great Yoga. Hari, showed to Partha His supreme Form. It is that of the infinite Godhead whose faces are everywhere and in whom are all the wonders of existence, who multiplies unendingly all the many marvellous revelations of His being, a world-wide Divinity seeing with innumerable eyes, speaking from innumerable mouths, armed for battle with numberless divine uplifted weapons, glorious with divine ornaments of beauty, robed in heavenly raiment of deity, lovely with garlands of divine flowers, fragrant with divine perfumes. Such is the light of this body of God as if a thousand suns had risen at once in heaven. The whole world multitudinously divided and yet unified is visible in the body of the God of Gods. Arjuna sees him (God magnificent and beautiful and terrible, the Lord of souls who has manifested in the glory and greatness of his spirit this wild and monstrous and orderly and wonderful and sweet and terrible world) and overcome with marvel and joy and fear he bows down and adores with words of awe and with clasped hands the tremendous vision.
15. Arjuna said: I see all the gods in Thy body, O God, and different companies of beings, Brahma the creating Lord seated in the Lotus, and the Rishis and the race of the divine Serpents.
16. I see numberless arms and bellies and eyes and faces, I see Thy infinite forms on every side, but I see not Thy end nor Thy middle nor Thy beginning, O Lord of the universe, O Form universal.
17. I see Thee crowned and with Thy mace and Thy discus, hard to discern because Thou art a luminous mass of energy on all sides of me, an encompassing blaze, a sun-bright fire-bright Immeasurable.
18. Thou art the supreme Immutable whom we have to know, Thou art the high foundation and abode of the universe, Thou art the imperishable guardian of the eternal laws, Thou art the sempiternal soul of existence.
19. I behold Thee without end or middle or beginning, of infinite force, of numberless arms, Thy eyes are suns and moons, Thou hast a face of blazing fire and Thou art ever burning up the whole universe with the flame of Thy energy.
20. The whole space between earth and heaven is occupied by Thee alone, when is seen this Thy fierce and astounding form, the three worlds are all in pain and suffer, O Thou mighty Spirit.
21. The companies of the gods enter Thee, afraid, adoring; the Rishis and the Siddhas crying, “May there be peace and weal”, praise Thee with many praises.
22. The Rudras, Adityas, Vasus, Sadhyas, Vishvas, the two Aswins and the Maruts and the Ushmapas, the Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras, Siddhas, all have their eyes fixed on Thee in amazement.
23. Seeing Thy great form of many mouths and eyes, O Mighty-armed, of many arms, thighs and feet and bellies, terrible with many teeth, the world and its nations are shaken and in anguish, as also am I.
24. I see Thee, touching heaven, blazing, of many hues, with opened mouths and enormous burning eyes, troubled and in pain is the soul within me and I find no peace or gladness.
25. As I look upon Thy mouths terrible with many tusks of destruction. Thy faces like the fires of Death and Time, I lose sense of the directions and find no peace. Turn Thy heart to grace, O God of gods! refuge of all the worlds!
26-27. The sons of Dhritarashtra, all with the multitude of kings and heroes, Bhishma and Drona and Kama along with the foremost warriors on our side too, are hastening into Thy tusked and terrible jaws and some are seen with crushed and bleeding heads caught between Thy teeth of power.
28. As is the speed of many rushing waters racing towards the ocean, so all these heroes of the world of men are entering into Thy many mouths of flame.
29. As a swarm of moths with ever-increasing speed fall to their destruction into a fire that some one has kindled, so now the nations with ever-increasing speed are entering into Thy jaws of doom.
30. Thou lickest the regions all around with Thy tongues and Thou art swallowing up all the nations in Thy mouths of burning; all the world is filled with the blaze of Thy energies; fierce and terrible are Thy lustres and they burn us, O Vishnu.
31. Declare to me who Thou art that wearest this form of fierceness. Salutation to Thee, O Thou great Godhead, turn Thy heart to grace. I would know who Thou art who wast from the beginning, for I know not the will of Thy workings.
32. The Blessed Lord said: I am the Time-Spirit, destroyer of the world, arisen huge-statured for the destruction of the nations. Even without thee all these warriors shall be not, who are ranked in the opposing armies.
33. Therefore arise, get thee glory, conquer thy enemies and enjoy an opulent kingdom. By me and none other already even are they slain, do thou become the occasion only, O Savyasachin.
34. Slay, by me who are slain, Drona, Bhishma, Jayad-ratha, Kama and other heroic fighters; be
not pained and troubled. Fight, thou shalt conquer the adversary in the battle.
35. Sanjaya said: Having heard these words of Keshava, Kiriti (Arjuna), with clasped hands and trembling, saluted again and spoke to Krishna in a faltering voice very much terrified and bowing down.
36. Arjuna said: Rightly and in good place, O Krishna, does the world rejoice and take pleasure in Thy name; the Rakshasas are fleeing from Thee in terror to all the quarters and the companies of the Siddhias bow down before Thee in adoration.
37. How should they not do Thee homage, O great Spirit? For Thou art the original Creator and Doer of works and greater even than creative Brahma. O Thou Infinite, O Thou Lord of the gods, O Thou abode of the universe, Thou art the Immutable and Thou art what in and is not, and Thou art that which is the Supreme.
38. Thou art the ancient Soul and the first and original Godhead and the supreme resting-place of this All; Thou art the knower and that which is to be known and the highest status; O infinite in form, by Thee was extended the universe.
39-40. Thou art Yama and Vayu and Agni and Soma and Varuna and Prajapati, father of creatures, and the great-grandsire. Salutation to Thee a thousand times over and again and yet again salutation, in front and behind and from every side, for Thou art each and all that is. Infinite in might and immeasurable in strength of action Thou pervadest all and art everyone.
41-42. For whatsoever I have spoken to Thee in rash vehemence, thinking of Thee only as my human friend and companion, ‘O Krishna, O Yadava, O Comrade,’ not knowing this Thy greatness, in negligent error or in love, and for whatsoever disrespect was shown by me to Thee in jest, at play, on the couch and the seat and in the banquet, alone or in Thy presence, O faultless One, I pray forgiveness from Thee, the immeasurable.
43. Thou art the father of all this world of the moving and unmoving; Thou art one to be worshipped and the most solemn object of veneration. None is equal to Thee, how then another greater in all the three worlds, O incomparable in might?
44. Therefore I bow down before Thee and prostrate my body and I demand grace of Thee the adorable Lord. As a father to his son, as a friend to his friend and comrade, as one dear with him he loves, so shouldst Thou, O Godhead, bear with me.
45. I have seen what never was seen before and I rejoice, but my mind is troubled with fear. O Godhead, show me that other form of Thine; turn Thy heart to grace, O Thou Lord of the gods, O Thou abode of this universe.
46. I would see Thee even as before crowned and with Thy mace and discus. Assume Thy four-armed shape, O thousand-armed, O Form universal.
47. The Blessed Lord said: This that thou now seest by my favour, O Arjuna, is my supreme shape, my form of luminous energy, the universal, the infinite, the original which none but thou amongst men has yet seen. I have shown it by my self-Yoga.
48. Neither by the study of Vedas and sacrifices, nor by gifts or ceremonial rites or severe austerities, this form of mine can be seen by any other than thyself, O foremost of Kurus.
49. Thou shouldst envisage this tremendous vision without pain, without confusion of mind, without any sinking of the members. Cast away fear and let thy heart rejoice, behold again this other form of mine.
50. Sanjaya said: Vasudeva, having thus spoken to Arjuna, again manifested his normal (Narayana) image; the Mahatman again assuming the desired form of grace and love and sweetness consoled the terrified one.
51. Arjuna said: Beholding again Thy gentle human form, O Janardana, my heart is filled with delight and I am restored to my own nature.
52-54. The Blessed Lord said: The greater Form that thou hast seen is only for the rare highest souls. The gods themselves ever desire to look upon it. Nor can I be seen as thou hast seen Me by Veda or austerities or gifts or sacrifice, it can be seen, known, entered into only by that bhakti which regards, adores and loves Me alone in all things.
55. Be a doer of my works, accept Me as the supreme being and object, become my bhakta, be free from attachment and without enmity to all existences; for such a man comes to Me, O Pandava.
as translated by
in: SABCL, volume 13 “Essays on the Gita, with Sanskrit Text and Translation of the Gita”
pages 686- 699
published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Pondicherry