The Vision of the World-Spirit

Sri Krishna reveals to the inner eye of Arjuna the vision of the world-spirit. At once overwhelming and terrifying, it overpowers his senses and normal way of relating to the world. Sri Aurobindo describes the experience: “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.”

The experience itself is far outside the normal human state of consciousness, extremely disorienting and it leaves the soul who has it with a sense of the immensity and unity of all creation, as well as a deep feeling of reverence. Through history, those who have had this vision and then related the experience have always spoken in an extraordinary power of language with descriptions that are impossible to translate perfectly into human speech. What one is left with is the force of the experience. “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. 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 they beginning, O Lord of the universe, O Form universal….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.”

This and much more pours forth from the soul of Arjuna in a high and moving poetry far outside his normal cadence or mode of speech or thought.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 10, The Vision of the World-Spirit–Time the Destroyer, pg. 365

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