Mahabharata (English)

by Kisari Mohan Ganguli | 2,566,952 words | ISBN-10: 8121505933

The English translation of the Mahabharata is a large text describing ancient India. It is authored by Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa and contains the records of ancient humans. Also, it documents the fate of the Kauravas and the Pandavas family. Another part of the large contents, deal with many philosophical dialogues such as the goals of life. Book...

Section XXXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI)

[Sanjaya continued,—]

"Arjuna said,—

'This discourse about the supreme mystery, called Adhyatman, which you have uttered for my welfare, has dispelled my delusion.[1] For I have heard at large from you of the creation and dissolution of beings, O you of eyes like lotus petals, and also of your greatness that knows no deterioration. What you have said about thyself, O great Lord, is even so. O best of Male Beings, I desire to behold your sovereign form. If, O Lord, you think that I am competent to behold that (form), then, O Lord of mystic power, show me your eternal Self.[2]'

"The Holy One said,

'Behold, O son of Pritha, my forms by hundreds and thousands, various, divine, diverse in hue and shape. Behold the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the Asvins, and the Maruts. Behold, O Bharata, innumerable marvels unseen before (by you). Behold, O you of curly hair, the entire universe of mobiles and immobiles, collected together in this body of mine, whatever else you mayst wish to see.[3] You are, however, not competent to behold me with this eye of thine. I give you celestial sight. Behold my sovereign mystic nature.'"

Sanjaya continued,—

"Having said this, O monarch, Hari, the mighty Lord of mystic power, then revealed to the son of Pritha his Supreme sovereign form, with many mouths and eyes, many wonderous aspects, many celestial ornaments, many celestial weapons uplifted, wearing celestial garlands and robes, (and) with unguents of celestial fragrance, full of every wonder, resplendent, infinite, with faces turned on all sides.[4]

If the splendour of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky, (then) that would be like the splendour of that Mighty One. The son of Pandu then beheld there in the body of that God of gods the entire universe divided and sub-divided into many parts, all collected together.[5] Then Dhananjaya, filled with amazement, (and) with hair standing on end, bowing with (his) head, with joined hands addressed the God.

"Arjuna said,

'I behold all the gods, O God, as also all the varied hosts of creatures, (and) Brahman seated on (his) lotus seat, and all the Rishis and the celestial snakes. I behold You with innumerable arms, stomachs, mouths, (and) eyes, on every side, O you of infinite forms. Neither end nor middle, nor also beginning of thine do I behold, O Lord of the universe, O you of universal form. Bearing (your) diadem, mace, and discus, a mass of energy, glowing on all sides, do I behold you that art hard to look at, endued on all sides with the effulgence of the blazing fire or the Sun, (and) immeasurable. You are indestructible, (and) the Supreme object of this universe. You are without decay, the guardian of eternal virtue. I regard you to be the eternal (male) Being. I behold you to be without beginning, mean, end, to be of infinite prowess, of innumerable arms, having the Sun and the Moon for your eyes, the blazing fire for your mouth, and heating this universe with energy of your own. For the space betwixt heaven and earth is pervaded by You alone, as also all the points of the horizon.

At sight of this marvellous and fierce form of thine, O Supreme Soul, the triple world trembles. For these hosts of gods are entering you. Some, afraid, are praying with joined hands. Saying Hail to You—the hosts of great Rishis and Siddhas praise You with copious hymns of praise.[6] The Rudras, the Adityas, the Vasus, they that (called) the Siddhas, the Visvas, the Asvins, the Maruts, also the Ushmapas, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the Asuras, the hosts of Siddhyas, behold You and are all amazed.

Beholding Your mighty form with many mouths and eyes, O mighty-armed one, with innumerable arms, thighs and feet, many stomachs, (and) terrible in consequence of many tusks, all creatures are frightened and I also. Indeed, touching the very skies, of blazing radiance, many-hued, mouth wide-open, with eyes that are blazing and large, beholding you, O Vishnu, with (my) inner soul trembling (in fright), I can no longer command courage and peace of mind.

Beholding your mouths that are terrible in consequence of (their) tusks, and that are fierce (as the all-destroying fire at the end of the Yuga), I cannot recognise the points of the horizon nor can I command peace of mind. Be gracious, O God of gods, O you that art the refuge of the Universe. And all these sons of Dhritarashtra, together with the hosts of kings, and Bhishma, and Drona, and also this Suta’s son (Karna), accompanied by even the principal warriors of our side, are quickly entering your terrible mouths rendered fierce by your tusks. Some, with their heads crushed, are seen striking at the interstices of (your) teeth.

As many currents of water flowing through different channels roll rapidly towards the ocean, so these heroes of the world of men enter your mouths that flame all around. As moths with increasing speed rush for (their own) destruction to the blazing fire, so also do (these) people, with unceasing speed, enter your mouths for (their) destruction. Swallowing all these men from every side, you lickest them with your flaming mouths. Filling the whole universe with (your) energy, your fierce splendours, O Vishnu, are heating (everything). Tell me who you are of (such) fierce form. I bow to you, O chief of the gods, be gracious to me. I desire to know you that art the Primeval One, I do not understand your action.'[7]

The Holy One said,

"I am Death, the destroyer of the worlds, fully developed. I am now engaged in slaying the race of men. Without you all these warriors standing in the different divisions shall cease to be.[8] Wherefore, arise, gain glory, (and) vanquishing the foe, enjoy (this) swelling kingdom. By me have all these been already slain. Be only (my) instrument. O you that can’st draw the bow with (even) the left hand. Drona and Bhishma, and Jayadratha, and Karna, and also other heroic warriors, (already) slain by me, do you slay. Be not dismayed, fight; you shalt conquer in battle (your) foes."

Sanjaya continued,—

"Hearing these words of Kesava, the diadem-decked (Arjuna), trembling, (and) with joined-hands, bowed (unto him); and once more said unto Krishna, with voice choked up and overwhelmed with fear, and making his salutations (to him).—

Arjuna said,

"It is meet, Hrishikesa, that the universe is delighted and charmed in uttering your praise, and the Rakshasas flee in fear in all directions, and the hosts of the Siddhas bow down (to you).

And why should they not bow down to you, O Supreme Soul, that are greater than even Brahman (himself), and the primal cause?

O you that art Infinite. O God of the gods, O you that art the refuge of the universe, you are indestructible, you are that which is, and that which is not and that which is beyond (both). You are the First God, the ancient (male) Being, you are the Supreme refuge of this universe. You are the Knower, you are the Object to be known, you are the highest abode. By you is pervaded this universe, O you of infinite form.[9]

You are Vayu, Yama, Agni, Varuna, Moon, Prajapati, and Grandsire. Obeisance be to you a thousand times, and again and yet again obeisance to you. Obeisance to you in front, and also from behind. Let obeisance be to you from every side, O you that art all. You are all, of energy that is infinite, and prowess that is immeasurable.

You embracest the All. Regarding (you) a friend whatever has been said by me carelessly, such as—O Krishna, O Yadava, O friend,—not knowing this your greatness from want of judgement or from love either, whatever disrespect has been shown you for purpose of mirth, on occasions of play, lying, sitting, (or) at meals, while alone or in the presence of others, O undeteriorating one, I beg your pardon for it, that art immeasurable.

You are the father of this universe of mobiles and immobiles. 
You are the great master deserving of worship.
There is none equal to you, how can there be one greater?
O you whose power is unparalleled in even three worlds?[10]

Therefore bowing (to you) prostrating (my) body, I ask your grace, O Lord, O adorable one. It behoves you. O God, to bear (my faults) as a father (his) son’s, a friend (his) friend’s, a lover (his) loved one’s. Beholding (your) form (unseen) before, I have been joyful, (yet) my mind has been troubled, with fear. Show me that (other ordinary) form, O God. Be gracious, O Lord of the gods, O you that art the refuge of the universe. (Decked) in diadem, and (armed) with mace, discus in hand, as before, I desire to behold you. Be of that same four-armed form, O you of a thousand arms, you of universal form."

"The Holy One said,

'Pleased with you, O Arjuna, I have, by my (own) mystic power, shown you this supreme form, full of glory, Universal, Infinite, Primeval, which has been seen before by none save you. Except by you alone, hero of Kuru’s race, I cannot be seen in this form in the world of men by any one else, (aided) even by the study of the Vedas and of sacrifices, by gifts, by actions, (or) by the severest austerities.[11] Let no fear be thine, nor perplexity of mind at seeing this awful form of mine. Freed from fear with a joyful heart, you again see Me assuming that other form.'"

Sanjaya continued,—

"Vasudeva, having said all this to Arjuna, once more showed (him) his own (ordinary) form, and that High-Souled one, assuming once more (his) gentle form, comforted him who had been afflicted."

"Arjuna said,

'Beholding this gentle human form of thine, O Janardana, I have now become of right mind and have come to my normal state.'

"The Holy One said,

'This form of mine which you have seen is difficult of being seen. Even the gods are always desirous of becoming spectators of this (my) form. Not by the Vedas, nor by austerities, nor by gifts, nor by sacrifices, can I be seen in this form of mine which you have seen. By reverence, however, that is exclusive (in its objects), O Arjuna, I can in this form be known, seen truly, and attained to, O chastiser of foes. He who does everything for me, who has me for his supreme object, who is freed from attachment, who is without enmity towards all beings, even he, O Arjuna, comes to me.'

Footnotes and references:


Adhyatman, i.e., the relation between the Supreme and the individual soul. This my delusion, i.e., about my being the slayer.


Avyayam is that which has no decay. Ordinarily, it may be rendered "eternal." Telang renders it "inexhaustible". Elsewhere I have rendered it as "understanding."


Ekastham, lit. "all in one". i.e., collected together.


Devam is explained by Sreedhara as Dyotanatmakam i.e., endued with splendour. Mr. Davies renders it resplendent; but Telang renders it "deity."


Pra-vibhaktam-anekadha (divided diversely) is an adjective of Jagat. See Sreedhara. Both Mr. Davies and Telang seem to take it as a predicate in contra-distinction to Ekastham. This is scarcely correct.


Verse 21 is read differently. For Twam Surasangha, some texts read twa-Asurasanghas. Then again for Stuvanti in the second line some read Vikshate.


Pravritti is explained by both Sankara and Sreedhara as Chesta, i.e., movements or acts. Mr. Davies is, I think, not correct in taking it to mean "evolved or developed form."


Kala here is death. Mr. Davies renders it Time, following some other translators. Pravriddha is not (as Mr. Davies renders it) "old" or "very old," but swelling or fully developed. Then again, Mr. Davies commits a ludicrous blunder in rendering Rite twam as "Except you." This is one of those idioms at which a foreigner is sure to stumble who has only the lexicons for his guide. What Krishna says is not that all would perish save Arjuna, but that without Arjuna (i.e., even if he did not fight) all would perish.


Nidhanam is either refuge or support or abode or receptacle. Mr. Davies incorrectly renders it "treasure-house."


Sankara accepts the reading Gururgariyan, Sreedhara takes it as Gururgariyan. In either case the difference in meaning is not material.


Sankara connects Adhyayana with Veda and Yajna. This seems to be right explanation.


This concludes Section XXXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI) of Book 6 (Bhishma Parva) of the Mahabharata, of which an English translation is presented on this page. This book is famous as one of the Itihasa, similair in content to the eighteen Puranas. Book 6 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

FAQ (frequently asked questions):

Which keywords occur in Section XXXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI) of Book 6 of the Mahabharata?

The most relevant definitions are: Arjuna, Sanjaya, Male, Siddhas, Brahman, Vedas; since these occur the most in Book 6, Section XXXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI). There are a total of 44 unique keywords found in this section mentioned 73 times.

What is the name of the Parva containing Section XXXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI) of Book 6?

Section XXXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI) is part of the Bhagavat-Gita Parva which itself is a sub-section of Book 6 (Bhishma Parva). The Bhagavat-Gita Parva contains a total of 112 sections while Book 6 contains a total of 3 such Parvas.

Can I buy a print edition of Section XXXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI) as contained in Book 6?

Yes! The print edition of the Mahabharata contains the English translation of Section XXXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI) of Book 6 and can be bought on the main page. The author is Kisari Mohan Ganguli and the latest edition (including Section XXXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XI)) is from 2012.

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