But to return to the mainstream context of the Gita. The earth is a minor planet in our solar system. The sun is a minor star amidst the millions of other stars with their own solar systems that form our galaxy. And there are millions of galaxies. The mind-boggling vastness of the universe, the timelessness of time, and the inevitability of creation, still act, for many, as a corrosive to faith. The notion that an individual life has an anchorage of purpose and meaning seems to stray adrift the moment we juxtapose it to the seamless canvas of its background. For those continuing to be assailed by such doubt, Krishna, in the Gita, offered redemption through an assertion of his own all-encompassing divinity. Arjuna, the ever questioning intellect, wanted visible proof of the Absolute to facilitate his quantum leap to faith. Philosophical reasoning and postulations were not sufficient for him. In the tenth and eleventh chapter of the Gita, Krishna fulfilled Arjuna’s reverential curiosity.
‘I am said Krishna, ‘not only Vishnu, but also Shiva and all the other Gods; I am the mountain, I am the lake, I am the animal, and I am the bird and the serpent; I am the wind, I am the river, I am the sage, the detached philosopher, as also the God of Love; I am the creator of sound and its articulator, the beginning of time, time itself, and its destroyer. In me are all the human attributes, the rhythm of every melody, the fragrance of every flower, the knowledge of every mystery. In short, I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all creation, and nothing, animate or inanimate, can exist without me. And, even this elaboration,’ he said, ‘is not necessary; suffice it to know that the entire universe is pervaded and supported by but a fragment of my Being.’
But Arjuna wanted to see to believe. Beyond the theoretical description, he asked Krishna to physically reveal to him his being in all its majestic plenitude. Once again, Krishna complied, giving Arjuna, for that moment, a divine eye to see his glorious form. And Arjuna saw a Being whose radiance was equivalent to that of a thousand suns put together, a form which encapsulated in itself the entire universe, a Body, with innumerable arms and mouths, and eyes which had a glow as powerful as that of the sun and the moon. He saw too all the gods paying obeisance to this magnificent reality, whose beginning or end could not be seen, and in whom burnt the fires of destruction and the terror of relentless time. In Him, Arjun saw the past, the present and the future; the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer. It was a wondrous experience, exalting as also daunting, and finally unable to bear the sheer density and magnitude of the experience, Arjuna implored Krishna to assume again his human form.