Bhagavad Gita with Commentaries of Shankara | Discourse 10 verse 12-42

Arjuna’s question about the Lord’s manifestations.

Having heard of the Lord’s Glory and His mysterious power, Arjuna says:

Arjuna said:

12-13. The Supreme Brahman, the Supreme Light, the Supreme Purifier art Thou. All the Rishis declare Thee as Eternal, Divine Purusha, the Primal God, Unborn, Omnipresent;

so said the divine sage Nārada, as also Asita, Devala and Vyāsa; and Thou Thyself also sayest (so) to me.

Shankara's commentary:

The Supreme Brahman: the Highest Self. The Primal God: the God who existed before all other Gods. Rishis: such as Vāsishṭha.

14. I believe to be true all this which Thou sayest to me; for neither the Gods nor the Dānavas, O Lord, know Thy manifestation.

Shankara's commentary:

Because Thou art the source of the Devas and others, therefore,

15. Thou Thyself knowest Thyself as the Self, O Purusha Supreme, O Source of beings, O Lord of beings, O God of Gods, O Ruler of the world.

Shankara's commentary:

Knowest Thyself: as the Lord, as the Īśvara possessed of unsurpassed wisdom, sovereignty and other powers.

16. Thou shouldst indeed tell, without reserve, of Thy divine Glories, by which Glories Thou remainest pervading all these worlds.

17. How shall I, ever meditating, know Thee, O Yogin; in what several things, O Lord, art Thou to be thought of by Me?

18. Tell me again in detail, O Janārdana, of Thy power and Glory, for there is no satiety for me in hearing the immortal.

Shankara's commentary:

Tell me in detail of Thy mysterious power (Yoga) and sovereignty (aiśvarya) and the various things to be meditat­ed upon.

—Janārdana is so called because He sends—or causes to go (ardayati)—the Asuras, those people (janas) who are the enemies of the Gods, to hell and the like; or be­cause He is prayed to by all people for worldly success and salvation.

—Tell me again of them, though described be­fore; for, there is no satiety in hearing the immortal (ambrosia) of the speech issuing from Thy mouth.

The Lord’s enumeration of His manifestations.

The Blessed Lord said:

19. Now will I tell thee of My heavenly Glories, in their prominence, O best of the Kurus; there is no limit to My extent.

Shankara's commentary:

Now I will tell you of My heavenly Glories, in their pro­minence, i. e., where they are severally the most prominent.

It is not, indeed, possible even in a whole century to describe all of them, as there is no limit to the extent of My Glories.

Now, listen to this, in the first place:

20. I am the Self, O Gudākesa, seated in the heart of all beings; I am the beginning and the middle, as also the end, of all beings.

Shankara's commentary:

You should think of Me as the innermost Self, seated in the heart within of all beings.

‘Gudākesa' means either ‘conqueror of sleep’ or ‘thick-haired’

— He who is unable to think of Me as the Self should think of Me in those things which are mentioned below; for I am the source, the stay, and the end of all beings.

21. Of the Ādityas I am Vishnu; of the radi­ances, the resplendent Sun; I am Marīchi of the Maruts; of the asterisms, the Moon.

Shankara's commentary:

Of the twelve Ādityas, I am the Āditya known as Vishnu. Maruts are a kind of Devatās.

22. Of the Vedas I am the Sāma-Veda, I am Vāsava of the Gods, and of the senses I am the mind, I am the intelligence in living beings.

Shankara's commentary:

Gods: such as the Rudras and the Ādityas. Vāsava: i.e., Indra. Of the eleven senses I am the mind. Chetanā, sentiency or intelligence, is that state of the intellect (buddhi) which manifests itself in the aggregate of the body and the senses.

23. And of the Rudras I am Śankara, of the Yakṣas and Rākṣasas the Lord of wealth, and of the Vasus I am Agni, of the mountains I am the Meru.

Shankara's commentary:

The Rudras are eleven in number, and the Vasus eight. The Lord of wealth: Kubera.

24. And of the household priests of kings, O son of Pritha, know Me the chief one, Brihaspati; of generals I am Skanda, of lakes I am the Ocean.

Shankara's commentary:

Brihaspati is the chief of priests, because he is the house­hold priest of Indra. Skanda is the general of the Gods. Of the natural—i.e., made by the Gods—reservoirs, I am the Ocean.

25. Of the Great ishis I am Bhrigu; of words I am the one syllable ‘Om;’ of offerings I am the offering of Japa (silent repetition), of unmoving things the Himālaya.

26. Of all trees (I am) the Aśvattha, and Nārada of divine ishis, Chitraratha of Gandharvas, the Sage Kapila of the Saints (Siddhas).

Shankara's commentary:

Divine Rishis: Who are Devas and are at the same time Ṛishis or seers of mantras.

The Saints (Siddhas): those who at their very birth attained to a very high degree of Dharma, of knowledge, of detachment (vairāgya) from worldly concerns, and of supremacy.

27. Know Me among horses as Uchchaiśravās, born of Amrita, of lordly elephants the Airāvata, and of men the king.

Shankara's commentary:

Uchchaiśravās is the name of the kingly horse, who was born in the ocean when it was churned for the amrita (ambrosia). Know Me among kingly elephants as the Airāvata, the offspring of Irāvatī.

28. Of weapons I am the thunderbolt, of cows I am the Kāmadhuk, I am the progenitor Kan­darpa, of serpents I am Vāsuki.

Shankara's commentary:

The thunderbolt: the Vajra made of Dadhīchi’s bone.

Kāmadhuk: that cow of Vāsishṭha which yielded all objects desired; or any cow in general which may yield plenty of milk. Kandarpa: Kāma or love. Vāsuki: the lord of serpents.

29. And Ananta of snakes I am, I am Varua of water-beings, and Aryamān of Pitris I am, I am Yama of controllers.

Shankara's commentary:

Ananta: the king of snakes. Varuṇa: the king of water-gods. Water-beings: - the Devatās or Gods connected with waters. Aryamān is the king of Pitris.

30. And Prahlāda am I of Diti’s progeny, of reckoners I am Time, and of beasts I am the lord of beasts, and Vainateya of birds.

Shankara's commentary:

The lord of beasts: the lion or the tiger. Vainateya: Vinatā’s son, Garutmat.

31. Of purifiers I am the wind, Rāma of warriors am I, of fishes I am the shark, of streams I am the Ganges.

Shankara's commentary:

Of those who bear weapons I am Rāma, Daśaratha’s son.

32. Of creations I am the beginning and the middle and also the end; of all knowledges I am the knowledge of the Self, and Vāda of disputants.

Shankara's commentary:

I am the source, the stay and the end of all evolution.

— At the commencement (x. 20) it was said that He is the beginning, the middle, and the end of all sentient existence; but here the whole creation in general is referred to.

The knowledge of the Self is the chief among all knowledges, because it leads to moksha.

By ‘disputants ’ we should here understand the several kinds of disputation,—vāda, jalpa, vitaṇḍā, etc. Vāda is the chief of them, as it is a means of determining truth.

33. Of letters the letter 'A’ am I, and dvandva of all compounds; I am, verily, the inexhaustible Time; I am the All-faced Dispenser.

Shankara's commentary:

Time’ here refers either to what is generally so called,— i.e., ‘kṣaṇa,’ a moment, the ultimate element of time,—or to the Supreme Lord who is the Time (Kāla=the Measurer) even of time. I am the Dispenser of results of actions to the whole world.

34. And I am all-seizing Death, and the pros­perity of those who are to be prosperous; of the feminine (I am) Fame, Fortune and Speech, Me­mory, Intelligence, Constancy, Endurance.

Shankara's commentary:

Death is of two sorts, he who seizes wealth, etc., and he who seizes life. Of them the seizer of life is the all-seizer. I am He.

Or, I am the Supreme Lord who is the All-seizer, because of His carrying all away at the time of pralaya or dissolution.

I am the prosperity—and the means of attain­ing it—of those who are to be prosperous in future, who are fit to attain prosperity.

I am Fame, etc., the best of the feminine; and possessed of the mere semblance thereof, people regard themselves successful in life.

35. Of Sāmans also I am the Brihat-Sāman, of metres Gāyatrī am I, of months I am Mārgasīrsha, of seasons the flowery season.

Shankara's commentary:

Brihat -Sāman' is the chief of the Sāmans. Of the Riks, composed in Gāyatrī and other metres, I am the Gāyatrī Rik. The flowery season is what is called Vasanta, the spring.

36. I am the gambling of the fraudulent, I am the splendour of the splendid, I am victory, I am effort, I am the goodness of the good.

Shankara's commentary:

Gambling: such us dice-play. I am the victory of the victorious; I am the effort of those who make an effort.

37. Of the Vṛishṇis I am Vāsudeva, of the Pāṇḍavas I am Dhananjaya, and of the saints I am Vyāsa, of the sages I am Usanās the sage.

Shankara's commentary:

Vāsudeva: Myself, who am your friend. Vṛishṇis: the descendants of Yadu. The saints: those who are engrossed in meditation and know all things. Sages: those of extens­ive knowledge, the omniscient beings.

38. Of punishers I am the sceptre, of those who seek to conquer I am the polity, and of things secret I am also silence, the knowledge of knowers am I.

39.  And what is the seed of all beings, that also am I, O Arjuna. There is no being, whether moving or unmoving, that can exist without me.

Shankara's commentary:

To conclude the present section, the Lord summarises His Glory (vibhūti) as follows:

—There is no being without Me; for, anything into which I have not entered would be without Self (could not exist) and would be void (śūnya). Wherefore, everything is of My nature, i.e., I am the essence of everything).

40. There is no end of My heavenly Glories, O harasser of thy foes: but the details of My Glory have been declared only by way of instance.

Shankara's commentary:

It is indeed not possible for anybody to describe or know the exact extent of the Divine Glories of the Lord, the Self of all.

Divine Glory described in brief.

41. Whatever being is glorious, prosperous, or strong, that know thou to be a manifestation of a part of My Splendour.

Shankara's commentary:

My: the Īśvara’s.

42. But, of what avail to thee is this vast thing being known, O Arjuna? I stand sustaining this whole world by one part (of Myself).

Shankara's commentary:

Of what avail to you can be this knowledge of vast but imperfect details?

Listen, I will tell you completely of it. I stand sustaining firmly this whole world by one part, by one limb, by one foot; i. e. one part of Myself constitutes all beings. So says the chant:

‘All beings form His foot.’— (Taittirīya Āraṇyaka, 3.12).