Chapter XI: 16-17
I see thee of boundless form on
every side with many arms, stomachs, mouths and eyes;
neither the end nor the middle nor also the beginning do
I see, Oh Lord of the universe, Oh cosmic form.
I see thee with the diadem, the club and the discus, a mass of radiance shining everywhere, very hard to look at, blazing all round like burning fire and the sun, and immeasurable.
CommentaryIf these verses sound like gibberish, it is only because the experience is beyond expression or description. No description is ever the same as that which is described, and no description ever describes what it pretends to describe. This has been the joyously tortuous experience of every sage; the experience of the highest is inexpressible, but the urge to express is irrepressible! The result is paradox, contradiction and extra-logical synthesis of the opposites. We laugh at these, but they forgive us knowing that we are still dreaming this world-scene of logic and reason that they have transcended.
Time, the beginning, the middle and the end, is not an object of sense, however subtle, but a mode of thought. The eternal now which (con)fuses the past, present and future is a state in which the beginning, middle and end are indistinguishably united. Hence Arjuna is unable to see them.
Once again we are confronted with the anthropomorphic description (the diadem, the club, etc.) though it is all pervaded by a mass of radiance. From a certain point of view it is possible to "see" such forms in this very universe. This was brought home to me at the planetarium in Johannesburg. The constellations have names and descriptive patterns, and with a little bit of mental adjustment it is possible to see those descriptive forms in the constellations. The diadem, the club, etc., may all refer to such phenomena.
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