The Benevolent Personal Face Of the Divine Presence

The Divine is seen and experienced not just in cosmic manifestations of galaxies and universal existence. Arjuna’s experience encompasses more than the Infinite, more than the Absolute, more than the Silent unmoving Immanent Divine, and more than the manifested Nature. These are indeed aspects and elements of the Divine which Arjuna has recognized during his vision of the World-Spirit. But he also recognizes that the Divine appears not just in abstract or aloof forms, but also in close, personal relationships. It is normal for the human individual to expect the Divine to be something other than and different from the close, personal and familiar. Particularly in the West where we have erected an enormous gulf between the individual and God, we tend to overlook the divinity within each person, within each form. Part of the experience of Arjuna is to see and integrate this aspect into his understanding. He recognizes the “personal” Divine presence of Sri Krishna and expresses both his adoration and his wonder:

“But this supreme universal Being has lived here before him with the human face, in the mortal body, the divine Man, the embodied Godhead, the Avatar, and till now he has not known him. He has seen the humanity only and has treated the Divine as a mere human creature. he has not pierced through the earthly mask to the Godhead of which the humanity was a vessel and a symbol, and he prays now for that Godhead’s forgiveness of his unseeing carelessness and his negligent ignorance.”

His prayer is heart-felt and moving: “For whatsoever I have spoken to thee in rash vehemence, thinking of thee only as my human friend and companion, ‘O Krishna, O Yadava, O comrade’, not knowing this thy greatness, in negligent error or in love, and for whatsoever disrespect was shown by me to thee in jest, on the couch and the seat and in the banquet, alone or in thy presence, I pray forgiveness from thee the immeasurable. Thou art the father of all this world of the moving and unmoving; thou art one to be worshipped and the most solemn object of veneration. None is equal to thee, how then another greater in all the three worlds, O incomparable in might? Therefore I bow down before thee and prostrate my body and I demand grace of thee the adorable Lord. As a father to his son, as a friend to his friend and comrade, as one dear with him he loves, so shouldst thou, O Godhead, bear with me.”

Arjuna begs to see the form of benevolence once again and to have the terrific and overpowering vision of the universal destroyer transformed into a form that he can once again relate to from a human perspective.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 11, The Vision of the World-Spirit–The Double Aspect, pp. 374-375

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