Pragmatic Gita

Vibhuti Yoga

Chapter 10: Vibhuti Yoga : Arjuna’s Blissful Realization: Unveiling Lord Krishna’s Divine Nature in Bhagavad Gita

In verses 10.12-10.18 of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna expresses his unwavering faith in Lord Krishna as the Supreme Brahman, the origin of all beings. He acknowledges that neither the demigods nor demons can comprehend Lord Krishna’s divine nature. Arjuna humbly requests Lord Krishna to reveal more about his opulences, eager to immerse himself in the nectar of the Lord’s words. This passage highlights the importance of devotional service and divine grace in realizing the true nature of the Self.

If you have not already done so, I would request you to review the Chapter 9, Raja Vidya Raja Guhya Yoga before studying chapter 9 as that would help set the right context.
You can find the explanation of the previous set of shlokas, 7 to 11 of chapter 10 here. Please go through that to get a better understand and maintain continuity in your learning.
You can also listen to all the episodes through my Spotify Portal. And here on YouTube as well.

Vibhuti Yoga – Verses 10.12 – 10.18

अर्जुन उवाच

परं ब्रह्म परं धाम पवित्रं परमं भवान्

पुरुषं शाश्वतं दिव्यमादिदेवमजं विभुम् || 12||

arjuna uvāca

paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān

puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam ādidevamajaṁ vibhum

paraṁ (param) – supreme; brahma (brahma) – Brahman; paraṁ (param) – supreme; dhāma (dhaama) – abode; pavitraṁ (pavitram) – pure; paramaṁ (paramam) – supreme; bhavān (bhavaan) – You; puruṣaṁ (purusham) – person; śāśvataṁ (shaashvatam) – eternal; divyam (divyam) – divine; ādidevamajaṁ (aadidevamajam) – the unborn primeval Lord; vibhum (vibhum) – pervading;

Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest.

आहुस्त्वामृषय: सर्वे देवर्षिर्नारदस्तथा

असितो देवलो व्यासः स्वयं चैव ब्रवीषि मे || 13||

āhustvāmṛṣayaḥ sarve devarṣirnāradastathā

asito devalo vyāsaḥ svayaṁ caiva bravīṣi me

āhus (aahus) – declare; tvām (tvaam) – you; ṛṣayaḥ (rishayah) – sages; sarve (sarve) – all; devarṣir (devarshir) – the sage among the demigods; nāradas (naaradas) – Narada; tathā (tathaa) – also; asito (asito) – Asita; devalo (devalo) – Devala; vyāsaḥ (vyaasah) – Vyasa; svayaṁ (svayam) – personally; ca (cha) – and; eva (eva) – certainly; bravīṣi (braveeshi) – You are telling; me (me) – to me;

All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.

सर्वमेतदृतं मन्ये यन्मां वदसि केशव

न हि ते भगवन्व्यक्तिं विदुर्देवा न दानवाः || 14||

sarvametadṛtaṁ manye yanmāṁ vadasi keśava

na hi te bhagavanvyaktiṁ vidurdevā na dānavāḥ

sarvam (sarvam) – all; etad (etad) – this; ṛtaṁ (ritam) – truth; manye (manye) – I accept; yat (yat) – which; mām (maam) – to me; vadasi (vadasi) – You are saying; keśava (keshava) – O Krishna; na (na) – not; hi (hi) – certainly; te (te) – Your; bhagavan (bhagavan) – O Lord; vyaktiṁ (vyaktim) – manifestation; vidur (vidur) – can know; devā (devaa) – the demigods; na (na) – nor; dānavāḥ (daanavaah) – the demons;

O Krishna, I totally accept as truth all that You have told me. Neither the demigods nor the demons, O Lord, can understand Your personality.

स्वयमेवात्मनाऽत्मानं वेत्थ त्वं पुरुषोत्तम

भूतभावन भूतेश देवदेव जगत्पते || 15||

svayamevātmanā’tmānaṁ vettha tvaṁ puruṣottama

bhūtabhāvana bhūteśa devadeva jagatpate

svayam (svayam) – by Yourself; eva (eva) – certainly; ātmanā (aatmanaa) – by Yourself; ātmānaṁ (aatmaanam) – Yourself; vettha (vettha) – You know; tvaṁ (tvam) – You; puruṣottama (purushottama) – O Supreme Person; bhūtabhāvana (bhootabhaavana) – O source of everything; bhūteśa (bhootesha) – O Lord of all beings; devadeva (devadeva) – O Lord of all lords; jagatpate (jagatpate) – O Lord of the universe;

Indeed, You alone know Yourself by Your own internal potency, O Supreme Person, origin of all, Lord of all beings, God of gods, Lord of the universe!

वक्तुमर्हस्यशेषेण दिव्या ह्यात्मविभूतयः

याभिर्विभूतिभिर्लोकानिमांस्त्वं व्याप्य तिष्ठसि || 16||

vaktumarhasyaśeṣeṇa divyā hyātmavibhūtayaḥ

yābhirvibhūtibhirlokānimāṁstvaṁ vyāpya tiṣṭhasi

vaktum (vaktum) – to tell; arhasi (arhasi) – please; aśeṣeṇa (asheshena) – in detail; divyā (divyaa) – divine; hi (hi) – indeed; ātma-vibhūtayaḥ (aatma-vibhootayah) – Your own opulences; yābhir (yaabhir) – by which; vibhūtibhir (vibhootibhir) – opulences; lokān (lokaan) – all the worlds; imāṁs (imaan) – these; tvaṁ (tvam) – You; vyāpya (vyaapya) – pervading; tiṣṭhasi (tishthasi) – You remain;

Please tell me in detail of Your divine opulences by which You pervade all these worlds and reside in them.

कथं विद्यामहं योगिंस्त्वां सदा परिचिन्तयन्

केषु केषु च भावेषु चिन्त्योऽसि भगवन्मया || 17||

kathaṁ vidyāmahaṁ yogiṁstvāṁ sadā paricintayan

keṣu keṣu ca bhāveṣu cintyo’si bhagavanmayā

kathaṁ (katham) – how; vidyām (vidyaam) – shall I know; ahaṁ (aham) – I; yogin (yogin) – O Supreme Mystic; tvāṁ (tvaam) – You; sadā (sadaa) – always; paricintayan (parichintayan) – thinking; keṣu (keshu) – in which; keṣu (keshu) – in which; ca (cha) – and; bhāveṣu (bhaaveshu) – forms; cintyaḥ (chintyah) – to be thought of; asi (asi) – are You; bhagavan (bhagavan) – O Supreme Lord; mayā (mayaa) – by me;

O Supreme master of Yoga, how shall I know You and how shall I constantly think of You? In what various forms are You to be remembered, O Supreme Lord?

विस्तरेणात्मनो योगं विभूतिं च जनार्दन

भूयः कथय तृप्तिर्हि शृण्वतो नास्ति मेऽमृतम् || 18||

vistareṇātmano yogaṁ vibhūtiṁ ca janārdana

bhūyaḥ kathaya tṛptirhī śṛṇvato nāsti me’mṛtam

vistareṇa (vistarena) – in detail; ātmanaḥ (aatmanah) – of Yourself; yogaṁ (yogam) – powers; vibhūtiṁ (vibhootim) – opulences; ca (cha) – and; janārdana (janaardana) – O Krishna; bhūyaḥ (bhooyah) – again; kathaya (kathaya) – please tell; tṛptir (triptir) – satisfaction; hi (hi) – indeed; śṛṇvato (shrinvato) – hearing; na (na) – not; asti (asti) – there is; me (me) – my; amṛtam (amritam) – nectar;

O Krishna, please describe in detail once again Your powers and opulences, for I can never tire of hearing your nectar words.

Arjuna’s realization of Krishna’s divine nature

Arjuna’s words in these verses are a beautiful testament to his deep realization of Lord Krishna’s supreme divine nature. His understanding transcends mere theoretical knowledge and stems from a profound conviction in his heart. 

Although great sages like Nārada, Asita, Devala, and Vyāsa have sung praises of the Lord, Arjuna is fortunate to be receiving the divine knowledge of God’s greatness from Krishna himself, and he declares that Shree Krishna in his personal form is the supreme God and the cause of all causes. This is not just theoretical knowledge. Arjuna feels it deep in his heart and he has a great conviction in this truth.

Look at how much faith and conviction Arjuna has. In order to truly benefit from the divine knowledge and let it transform our lives, we must have faith in the teacher and the conviction in the teachings, the way Arjuna has demonstrated in these verses. 

Arjuna’s recognition of Krishna as the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate abode, and the purest Absolute Truth echoes the teachings of the Upanishads. The Svetasvatara Upanishad declares:

क्षरं प्रधानममृताक्षरं हरः क्षरात्मानाव् ईशते देव एकः ।

तस्याभिध्यानाद् योजनात् तत्त्वभावाद् भूयश्चान्ते विश्वमायानिवृत्तिः ॥ १.१० ॥

kṣaraṃ pradhānam amṛtākṣaraṃ haraḥ kṣarātmānāv īśate deva ekaḥ

tasyābhidhyānād yojanāt tattvabhāvād bhūyaś cānte viśvamāyānivṛttiḥ 

The perishable (क्षरं) is Prakriti (primordial nature), and the immortal and imperishable (अमृताक्षरं) is Hara (Lord Shiva). The one God (देव एकः) rules over (ईशते) the perishable and the imperishable (क्षरात्मानौ).

Through meditation (अभिध्यानात्) on Him, by the yoga of union with Him (योजनात्), and the realization of His true nature (तत्त्वभावात्), there is, in the end (अन्ते), the cessation (निवृत्तिः) of the universal illusion  (विश्व) (माया).

And once a person reaches this state of realization then what happens? 

ज्ञात्वा देवं सर्वपाशापहानिः क्षीणैः क्लेशैर् जन्ममृत्युप्रहाणिः ।

तस्याभिध्यानात् तृतीयं देहभेदे विश्वैश्वर्यं केवल आप्तकामः ॥

jñātvā devaṃ sarvapāśāpahāniḥ kṣīṇaiḥ kleśair janmamṛtyuprahāṇiḥ

tasyābhidhyānāt tṛtīyaṃ dehabhede viśvaiśvaryaṃ kevala āptakāmaḥ

Having known (ज्ञात्वा) God (देवं), there is freedom from all bondages (सर्वपाशापहानिः). By the destruction (क्षीणैः) of afflictions (क्लेशैः), there is cessation (प्रहाणिः) of birth and death (जन्ममृत्यु). By meditation (अभिध्यानात्) on Him (तस्य), upon the dissolution of the body (देहभेदे), one attains the third state (तृतीयं), of universal lordship (विश्वैश्वर्यं), alone (केवलः), with all desires fulfilled (आप्तकामः).

Shri Krishna perceived as Bhagavan and Purushottama

Arjuna’s use of the term “Bhagavan” to address Krishna in the 14th verse is very significant. “Bhagavan” refers to one who possesses all six opulences in full: strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation. Arjuna’s personal realization of these opulences in Krishna fills him with joy and reinforces his conviction in Krishna’s divine nature. 

Arjuna then addresses Krishna as Purushottama, which means the Self of all selves, the One-without-a-second. In the Bhagavad Gita, the term Purushottama is used sometimes to refer to the “most glorious of men” and other times to denote the Supreme Self in a technical sense.

Arjuna recognizes and glorifies Lord Krishna as the Pure Brahman, addressing Him as “the source of beings, the Lord of beings, the Deva of Devas, and the Ruler of the world.” Just as the essential nature of gold governs the qualities of various gold ornaments, regardless of their shape, design, or polish, the Consciousness within us has an even greater controlling and ruling power over our lives. Without Consciousness, we can neither know nor do anything. 

Arjuna acknowledges that neither the divine beings (Devas) nor the demons (Danavas) can comprehend Krishna’s true nature. The Devas, known for their refined perceptions and heightened understanding, represent the noblest aspects of our being. In contrast, the Danavas symbolize the negative tendencies within us that constantly challenge and obstruct our spiritual growth.

Arjuna’s faithful heart and inquisitive mind

Arjuna expresses his unwavering trust in Krishna, his teacher, and declares that he accepts everything Krishna says as the truth. Despite this, Arjuna admits that he struggles to fully grasp the meaning behind Krishna’s words. His heart is filled with faith and belief, but his intellect yearns for more understanding.

Arjuna is asking Lord Krishna these questions by the words katham vidyam aham yogims meaning how to know and follow the yoga or science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness, and engage in constant meditation on Him with devotion. 

Arjuna realizes that the true identity of the Self cannot be grasped by even our most subtle and noble perceptions, nor can it be challenged or possessed by our negative impulses. The Self remains elusive, whether we approach it as a friend or a foe, with love or with aversion.

This raises the question: if no one can truly know the Truth, why does Arjuna ask Krishna to explain it? What unique quality enables Krishna to shed light on that which remains beyond the understanding of all others? Arjuna’s plea to Krishna stems from his deep faith and the recognition that Krishna possesses the supreme wisdom to unravel the mysteries of the Self.

In the next shloka, Arjuna acknowledges that Krishna possesses the ability to explain the Supreme, which remains unknown to both the celestial beings (Devas) and the inhabitants of the other realm. The Self cannot be known as an object through our usual means of perception, nor can it be grasped as the subject, either through the best or worst aspects of our being.

The Self is Awareness itself

However, the Self is Awareness itself, and therefore, it is Knowledge. To “know” Knowledge, no additional knowledge is required. This is why Arjuna says, “You Yourself know Yourself by Yourself.” 

The statement “To ‘know’ Knowledge, no additional knowledge is required” is a profound philosophical concept that relates to the nature of the Self and the process of self-realization.

In this context, “Knowledge” (with a capital K) refers to the ultimate reality, the Self, or pure Consciousness. It is the fundamental essence of our being and the source of all awareness. This Knowledge is not something that can be acquired through the accumulation of information or intellectual understanding; rather, it is the very foundation of all knowing.

When Arjuna says, “You Yourself know Yourself by Yourself,” he is pointing out that the Self is self-illuminating and self-evident. It does not require any external means of knowledge or validation to know itself. Just as a lamp does not need another lamp to illuminate itself, the Self, being pure Consciousness, is self-aware and self-revealing.

In our day-to-day experience, we tend to rely on various means of knowledge, such as perception, inference, or testimony, to understand the world around us. However, these methods are limited and cannot provide us with the ultimate understanding of the Self. The Self is beyond the reach of the senses, mind, and intellect, as it is the very source of their functioning.

To truly “know” the Self, one must go beyond the realm of dualistic knowledge, where there is a distinction between the knower and the known. The Self is not an object to be known by a separate subject; rather, it is the eternal subject, the pure Consciousness that illuminates all objects of knowledge.

Therefore, to realize the Self, one must transcend the limitations of the mind and intellect and directly experience the pure Consciousness through discipline, devotion and Surrender. This direct experience is not a form of intellectual knowledge but rather a state of being, where the individual consciousness merges with the universal Consciousness.

Krishna can be realized only through devotional service

Earlier, while studying the 3rd shloka of this chapter, we already learned that “Krishna can be known Only by devotional service and not by any other means.”

Shree Krishna clarifies that while he previously stated that no one can know him through self-efforts alone, there are indeed some people who do come to know him. This may seem like a contradiction at first, but Shree Krishna explains that those who know him do so by virtue of his divine grace, rather than through their own endeavors.

The idea is that God, being the supreme and transcendental entity, cannot be comprehended or reached by the limited human intellect or through personal efforts. However, when God chooses to bestow his grace upon someone, that fortunate soul is granted the ability to understand and connect with him on a deeper level.

Shree Krishna reinforces this concept in verse 10 of this chapter, where he states, “To those whose minds are always united with me in loving devotion, I give the divine knowledge by which they can attain me.” This verse highlights the importance of bhakti, or loving devotion, in the process of knowing and attaining God. When an individual surrenders to God and develops a deep, unwavering love and devotion, God reciprocates by granting them divine knowledge and the means to attain him.

Furthermore, Shree Krishna emphasizes that those who recognize him as the Supreme Lord of all lords are not deluded. These blessed souls have achieved a state of clarity and understanding that allows them to see beyond the illusions of the material world. As a result, they become free from the reactions to their past and present actions, as they have surrendered themselves to God and are guided by his divine will.

As explained by Shri Krishna, the transcendental aspects of the Supreme Lord, such as His name, form, qualities, pastimes, and paraphernalia, cannot be perceived by the material senses in their ordinary, unrefined state. However, through the process of devotional service, which includes practices like hearing, chanting, remembering, and worshiping the Lord’s lotus feet, the senses can be purified, allowing the devotee to gradually perceive the Lord’s presence.

The significance of divine grace

The revelation of the Lord’s identity is proportional to the quality and advancement of one’s devotional service, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (4.11): “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.” The Lord is not obligated to appear before someone simply because they desire to see Him. Instead, a devotee must sincerely engage in such devotional practices.

As the devotee’s senses are progressively purified through genuine devotional service, the Lord reveals Himself according to the spiritual progress made by the devotee. Those who are not engaged in devotional service and instead rely solely on intellectual calculations and philosophical speculations can hardly perceive the Lord’s true nature. Such individuals may present elaborate and persuasive arguments, but they cannot genuinely know the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His personal feature.

These teachings emphasize the significance of divine grace and the role it plays in an individual’s spiritual journey. While self-efforts are undoubtedly important, it is ultimately through God’s grace that one can truly come to know and attain him. By cultivating loving devotion and surrendering to the Supreme Lord, one becomes a recipient of divine knowledge and is liberated from the bondage of karma.

Krishna’s words are nectar

It is very interesting to see that in 10.18, Arjuna says, “I can never tire of hearing your nectar.” We discussed in chapter 7 how Jñāna was the knowledge about honey, knowing that it is collected by bees, knowing which flowers it was collected from, knowing about the various benefits of honey, knowing that it is sweet, etc. And how Vijñāna was like actually tasting the honey and realizing its sweetness. Here, Arjuna is demonstrating his Vijñāna by describing Krishna’s words as nectar or honey. He doesn’t say ‘your words are like nectar’. He says ‘your words are nectar’. 

Pure devotees of Lord Krishna never tire of hearing about his divine pastimes. The nectar of these pastimes is such that the more it is relished the more they yearn for it.

So, Arjuna is saying bhūyaḥ kathaya, “Once more! I am still thirsty for more nectar”. 

Hearing such sincere and humble requests made by His beloved pure devotee Arjuna, Shri Krishna will provide more of His nectar in the next few verses.

kṛṣṇadaasa
(Servant of Krishna)

Aka +Vinayak Raghuvamshi