Chapter 10. Divine Splendor

listen to more
of my supreme words,
which I speak for your good
because you are dear to me
and you are interested
in what I have to say.

2Even devas and maharishis
don’t know my origin
because in every way,
I am the source of them all!
Devas are divine beings.
Maharishis are great seers.

3I am the supreme lord of the universe
without birth or beginning.

One who knows this
has understood me correctly
and is free from evil.
Recognizing a greater force that governs
the cosmic order in the universe,
such people have attained true humility
and are thus freed from evil.

4Intellect, wisdom, clarity, forgiveness,
truth, self-control, calmness,
joy, sorrow, birth, death, fear, courage,
5benevolence, equanimity, fulfillment,
austerity, generosity, fame, infamy –
all these arise from me alone.

6The seven maharishis,
the four ancient ones and the manus
are projections of my thought
and have powers like mine.
The creatures of the world
came forth from them.
The seven great seers, the four ancient ones, and 
the fourteen manus are the ancestors of the human race.

7One who understands my yogic powers
and my manifold manifestations
becomes steadily established in yoga.
There is no doubt about this.
In this context, yoga means ‘union with the supreme’.
When one perceives the cosmos as divine force at work, he can no longer distance himself from the supreme -- just as the waves have no independent existence from the ocean; they arise from ocean and merge into ocean.

8I am the origin of all and
everything evolves out of me.
Knowing this, the wise worship me
with all their heart.

9Their focus is totally on me.
With their senses absorbed in me,
they enlighten one another.
Forever they speak of my glory
and find immense peace and joy.

10I grant the power of discretion to those
who love me and are always devoted to me,
so that they may unite with me.
The ‘power of discretion’ is the ability to
discriminate between right and wrong
(higher and lower states of truth).

11Out of my kindness, I,
residing in their hearts,
destroy the darkness of ignorance
by lighting the lamp of wisdom.
12-14Krishna! All the rishis
including Asita, Devala, Vyasa, and
the divine seer Narada,
describe you as
the supreme brahman,
the ultimate refuge,
the greatest purifier,
the supreme spirit,
the lord of lords,
the eternal, the divine,
the unborn, and
the all-pervading one.
The ‘unborn’ refers to something that is always there.
The idea of ‘birth’ and ‘death’ is only for mortals. See 4:6.

Besides, you have confirmed it yourself.
I take this as true.

Neither the gods nor their enemies
can truly know your infinite grandeur,
15because only you know your true self,
O lord of lords,
O supreme person,
O lord of the beings,
O source of all beings,
O master of the universe!

16You are the only one who can tell me in detail
about your boundless divine manifestations
with which you pervade the universe.

17O master of yoga,
how may I know you?

O blessed lord,
which of your forms
should I meditate upon
so that I will always be aware of you?

18Tell me more about your power and glory!
I feel that I can never hear enough
of your immortal words.

19There is no end to my divine manifestations
so I will share with you just a few prominent ones.

20I am the true self,
seated in the heart of all beings.
I am the beginning, the middle,
and the end of all creatures.
Here, the ‘beginning, middle, and end’
refers to ‘birth, growth, and decay’.

21I am Vishnu among adityas;
of the lights, I am the radiant sun;
I am Marichi among maruts;
amidst stars, I am the moon.
Adityas are the twelve children of sage Kashyapa and his first wife Aditi. Vishnu is one of the adityas
(not to be confused with lord Vishnu).
The five lights (or luminaries) are:
sun, moon, stars, fire, and lightening.
Maruts are a group of wind gods;
Marichi, the breeze in the vicinity, is the chief of maruts.
‘…amidst stars, I am the moon’ indicates that the moon is the most prominent object in the night sky.
22I am Sama Veda among Vedas;
I am Indra among devas;
of the senses, I am the mind and
in living beings, I am consciousness.
Vedas are the foremost revealed scriptures in Hinduism. There are four vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda
Indra is the king of the devas.

23I am Shankara among rudras;
among yakshas and rakshasas I am Kubera;
I am fire among vasus;
among mountain peaks, I am Meru.
Rudras are a group of storm gods,
Shankara being the foremost among them.
Yakshas and rakshasas are spirits with special powers;
while yakshas are semi-divine and benevolent,
rakshasas are notorious and often disturb the harmony.
Kubera is the god of wealth and the king of yakshas and rakshasas.
Vasus are divinities presiding over the elements of nature.
Meru is the golden mountain at the center of the cosmos.
24Of high priests,
I am their chief, Brihaspati,
of war generals, I am Skanda;
among the waters, I am the ocean.
Brihaspati is the principal priest of the devas.
Skanda is the general of the army of gods.

25Of maharishis,
I am Bhrigu;
among words,
I am the single syllable ‘om’;
among yajñas,
I am japa;
among stationary objects,
I am the Himalayas.
Om is a single syllable word that denotes brahman, the supreme being. It is the most sacred sound according to Hindu belief.
Japa is the chanting of divine names or sacred verses
mentally or in a low voice.
It is the simplest and the best form of all yajñas (worships).

26Of trees, I am Ashvattha;
I am Narada among divine seers;
of gandharvas, I am Chitraratha;
I am sage Kapila among siddhas.
Ashvattha is the sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa).
Narada is the seer among gods.
Gandharvas are a group of divine artists and musicians;
Chitraratha is their king.
Siddhas are people who have attained a high degree of perfection.

27Among horses,
I am Uchchaishrava, born of amrita;
of mighty elephants, I am Airavata;
among men, I am the king.
Uchchaishrava is the great horse of Indra and
Airavata is his famous white-colored elephant.
The legendary cosmic ocean was churned for amrita, the nectar of immortality, and it was during that time both these animals arose.

28I am Vajra among weapons;
I am Kamadhenu among cows;
of instincts for procreation,
I am Kandarpa;
of sarpas, I am Vasuki.
Vajra is the thunderbolt weapon of Indra.
Kamadhenu is the cosmic cow that fulfills all wishes.
Kandarpa is the god of love;
perhaps the best way to fulfill the instinct of procreation
is through mutual love rather than mere physical interaction.
Vasuki is the king of the sarpas,
a group of serpents that live on land.

29I am Ananta among nagas;
I am Varuna among water creatures;
I am Aryaman among ancestors;
I am Yama among the enforcers of law.
Nagas are a group of multi-hooded snakes.
Ananta is the infinite snake on which lord Vishnu reclines.
Varuna is the water god.
Aryaman is the noblest of all ancestors.
Yama is the god of death. He accords punishments to people during afterlife for sins they committed in their lives.

30Among daityas, I am Prahlada,
of all measures, I am time;
among animals, I am the lion;
among birds, I am Garuda.
Daityas are the children of sage Kashyapa and his second wife Diti (who was the sister of Aditi). Daityas are typically of demonic nature. Prahlada was born in a family of daityas but was very virtuous.
The lion is the king of the jungle.
The eagle Garuda is the king of birds.
31Among things that purify, I am the wind;
of the wielders of weapons, I am Rama;
among the fish, I am the crocodile;
and of rivers, I am Ganga.
Rama is the hero of the epic Ramayana.
‘…among the fish, I am the crocodile’ indicates that the crocodile, which lives among the fish, is more powerful than them.
Ganga is a river that flows in Northern India;
it is a sacred river for Hindus.

32I am the beginning, the middle,
and the end of all manifestations;
among all the branches of knowledge,
I am the knowledge of the supreme self;
among all arguments and opinions,
I am the logic that leads to the truth.

33I am ‘a’ among letters;
I am dvandva among samasas;
I am the ever-lasting time;
I am the omnipresent sustainer.
Samasa is a system for formation of compound words.
The three main samasas are tatpurusha, bahuvrihi, and dvandva.
The dvandva elegantly combines two words.

34I am death that destroys all
and I am the origin of beings yet to be born;
of women, I am fame, fortune, eloquence,
memory, intelligence, firmness, and forgiveness.

35Of hymns of the Sama Veda,
I am those that uniquely govern the mind;
among poetic meters, I am the Gayatri;
I am Margashirsha among months;
I am spring among seasons.
Gayatri is a popular poetic meter found in Vedic hymns;
it has the least number of syllables per line.
Margashirsha is the month just before winter solstice.
Early on, the Hindu calendar used to start with Margashirsha.

36Among all deceptions, I am gambling;
I am the splendor of the splendid;
of success, I am the effort;
I am goodness of the good.
Among deceptions, gambling is the most honest
since everyone has an equal chance at winning.

37I am Krishna among Vrshnis;
I am Arjuna among Pandavas;
I am Vyasa among sages;
I am Ushanas among poets.
The Vrishnis were an ancient clan.
Pandavas were the sons of king Pandu.
Vyasa was the sage who organized the Vedas.
Ushanas was the teacher of the daityas.

38Of law enforcements, I am punishment;
of the paths to victory, I am statesmanship;
of secrets, I am silence;
of the wise, I am wisdom.
The traditional methods of law enforcement are:
gentle persuasion, offering incentives, manipulating behavior, and if all fails, punishment. Of these, punishment is perhaps the one that is sure to work for all.
A secret is best kept when silence is maintained.

39Whatever is the source of all beings, I am that.
Nothing animate or inanimate can exist without me.

40Arjuna, what I have told you
is simply a brief illustration of my countless attributes,
because there is no end to my divine manifestations.

41All that is endowed with glory, grace, and grandeur,
has sprung from a mere flare of my radiance.

42But what is the use of all this information, Arjuna?
Just remember that I stand holding the entire cosmos
with a fraction of my divine splendor.

Krishna mentions all these things because Arjuna asked him for the ways in which he could relate to god. It is evident that Krishna uses the examples already known to Arjuna. Finally, he reminds Arjuna that the focus should be on the sublime and not the mundane.

<< Chapter 9. Best of Secrets


  1. Anonymous10/30/2011

    Dear Koti and Hari,

    I give you my sincere thanks for presenting me and the world with such an amazing work of wisdom in an easily understandable form.

    I am currently a college student, and "The New Bhagavad-Gita" has prompted me to focus my mind solely on the rational pursuit of knowledge while setting aside the happiness and sorrows that result from academic successes and failures.

    While reading chapter 10 verse 22, I noticed that Krishna has refered to himself as "Sama Veda" amoung the four vedas. Is there any particular reason for this? Since the Rig is considered to be the oldest of the four Vedas and a precursor to the other three, I find it all the more interesting that Krishna chose Sama instead of Rig. What is it about the Sama Veda that makes it the most special?

    Thank you very much, and I wish you the best in further spreading these words of wisdom.

    College Student.

  2. My dear friend,

    Thanks for your nice words! I am glad to know that you are able to implement the wisdom of the BG in your daily life -- that makes all the difference.

    As for 10:22, I wouldn't take it too seriously because Krishna is just using it as a metaphor. Sama Veda comprises Rig Vedic hymns that are "sung" and may be because of its musical nature, Krishna deems it the best. But the important thing here is that brahman is the best of the best. Krishna uses different examples just to illustrate this one point.

    Warm regards,

  3. This great point by Hari is reflected in verses 10.40-42, the notes under verse 42 is very relevant as well. Good luck in your college work!