The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Thou always worshippest, O king, Brahmanas of praiseworthy, vows. Whatever, however is that fruit seeing which thou worshippest them, O king? O thou of high vows, beholding what
prosperity attaching to the worship of the Brahmanas dost thou worship them? Tell me all this, O thou of mighty arms!
"Bhishma said, 'Here is Kesava endued with great intelligence. He will tell thee everything. Of high vows and endued with prosperity, even he will tell you what the prosperity is that attaches to the worship of Brahmanas. My strength, ears, speech, mind, eyes, and that clear understanding of mine (are all clouded today). I think, the time is not distant when I shall have to cast off my body. The sun seems to me to go very slowly. 1 Those high duties, O king, that are mentioned in the Puranas as observed by Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaisyas and Sudras, have all been recited by me. Do thou, O son of Pritha, learn from Krishna what little remains to be learnt on that head. I know Krishna truly. I know who he is and what his ancient might is. O chief of the Kauravas, Kesava is of immeasurable soul. Whenever doubts arise, it is he who upholds Righteousness then. 2 It is Krishna who created the earth, and sky, and the heavens. Indeed, the earth has sprung from Krishna's body. Of terrible prowess and existing from the beginning of time, it is Krishna who became the mighty Boar and raised the submerged Earth. It is He who created all the points of the compass, together with all the mountains. Below Him are the welkin, heaven, the four cardinal points, and the four subsidiary points. It is from him that the entire creation has flowed. It is He who has created this ancient universe. In His navel appeared a Lotus. Within that Lotus sprang Brahma himself of immeasurable energy. It was Brahma, O son of Pritha, who rent that darkness which existed surpassing the very ocean (in depth and extent). In the Treta age, O Partha, Krishna existed (on the earth), in the form of Righteousness. In the Treta age, he existed in the form of Knowledge. In the Dwapara age, he existed in the form of might. In the Kali age he came to the earth in the form of unrighteousness. It is He who in days of yore slew the Daityas. It is He who is the Ancient God. It is He who ruled the Asuras in the form of their Emperor (Valin). It is He who is the Creator of all beings. It is He who is also the future of all created Beings. It is He who is also the protector of this universe fraught with the seed of destruction. When the cause of Righteousness languishes, this Krishna takes birth in the race of either the gods or among men. Staying on Righteousness, this Krishna of cleansed soul (on such occasion) protects both the higher and the lower worlds. Sparing those that deserve to be spared, Krishna sets himself to the slaughter of the Asura, O Partha! It is he who is all acts proper and improper and
it is he who is the cause. It is Krishna who is the act done, the act to be done, and the act that is being done. Know that that illustrious one is Rahu and Soma and Sakra. It is he that is Viswakarma. It is he that is of universal form. He is the destroyer and he is the Creator of the universe. He is the wielder of the Sula (lance); He is of human form; and He is of terrible form. All creatures sing his praises, for he is known by his acts. Hundreds of Gandharvas and Apsaras and deities always accompany him. The very Rakshasas hymn his praise. He is the Enhancer of Wealth; He is the one victorious Being in the universe. In Sacrifices, eloquent men hymn His praises. The singers of Samans praise Him by reciting the Rathantaras. The Brahmanas praise Him with Vedic Mantras. It is unto Him that the sacrificial priests pour their libations. The deities with Indra at their head hymned His praise when He lifted up the Gobardhana mountains for protecting the cow-herds of Brindavana against the incessant showers that Indra poured in rage. He is, O Bharata, the one Blessing unto all creatures. He, O Bharata, having entered the old Brahma cave, beheld from that place the original cover of the world in the beginning of Time. 1 Agitating all the Danavas and the Asuras, this Krishna of foremost feats rescued the earth. It is unto Him that people dedicate diverse kinds of food. It is unto Him that the warriors dedicate all kinds of their vehicles at the time of war. He is eternal, and it is under that illustrious one that the welkin, earth, heaven, all things exist and stay. He it is who has caused the vital seed of the gods Mitra and Varuna to fall within a jar, whence sprang the Rishi known by the name of Vasishtha. It is Krishna who is the god of wind; it is He who is the puissant Aswins; it is He who is that first of gods, viz., the sun possessed of a thousand rays. It is He by whom the Asuras have been subjugated. It is He who covered the three worlds with three steps of His. He is the soul of the deities and human beings, and Pitris. It is He who is the Sacrifice performed by those persons that are conversant with the rituals of sacrifices. It is He who rises every day in the firmament (in the form of the sun) and divides Time into day and night, and courses for half the year northwards and for half the year southwards. Innumerable rays of light emanate from Him upwards and downwards and transversely and illumine the earth. Brahmanas conversant with the Vedas adore Him. Taking a portion of His rays the sun shines in the firmament. Month after month, the sacrificer ordains Him as a sacrifice. Regenerate persons conversant with the Vedas sing His praises in sacrifices of all kinds. He it is that constitutes the wheel of the year, having three naves and seven horses to drag it. It is in this way that He supports the triple mansion (of the seasons), Endued with great energy, pervading all things, the foremost of all creatures, it is Krishna who alone upholds all the worlds. He is the
sun, the dispeller of all darkness. He is the Creator of all. Do thou, O hero, approach that Krishna! Once on a time, the high-souled and puissant Krishna dwelt, for a while, in the form of Agni in the forest of Khandava among some straw or dry grass. Soon was He gratified (for he consumed all the medicinal herbs in that forest). Capable of going everywhere at will, it was Krishna who, having subjugated the Rakshasas and Uragas, poured them as libations upon the blazing fire. It is Krishna who gave unto Arjuna a number of white steeds. It is He who is the creator of all steeds. This world (or, human life) represents his car. He it is that yokes that car for setting it in motion. That car has three wheels (viz., the three attributes of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas). It has three kinds of motion (for it goes upwards or downwards or transversely, implying superior, inferior, and intermediate birth as brought about by acts). It has four horses yoked to it (viz., Time, Predestiny, the will of the deities, and one's own will). It has three naves (white, black, and mixed, implying good acts, evil acts and acts that are of a mixed character). It is this Krishna who is the refuge of the five original elements with the sky among them. It is He who created the earth and heaven and the space between. Indeed, it is this Krishna of immeasurable and blazing energy who has created the forests and the mountains. It is this Krishna who, desirous of chastising Sakra who was about to hurl his thunder at him, crossed the rivers and once paralysed him. He is the one great Indra that is adored by the Brahmanas in great sacrifices with the aid of a thousand old Riks. It was this Krishna, O king, who alone was able to keep the Rishi Durvasa of great energy as a guest for some time in his house. He is said to be the one ancient Rishi. He is the Creator of the universe. Indeed, He creates everything from His own nature. Superior to all two deities it is He who teaches all the deities. He scrupulously observes all ancient ordinances. Know, O king, that this Krishna, who is called Vishwaksena, is the fruit of all acts that relate to pleasure, of all acts that are founded on the Vedas, and of all acts that appertain to the world. He is the white rays of light that are seen in all the worlds. He is the three worlds. He is the three Regents of all the worlds. He is the three sacrificial fires. He is the three Vyahritis; indeed, this son of Devaki is all the gods together. He is the year; He is the Seasons; He is the Fortnights; He is the Day and the Night; He is those divisions of time which are called Kalas, and Kashthas, and Matras, and Muhurtas, and Lavas, and Kshanas. Know that this Vishwaksena is all these. The Moon and the Sun, the Planets, the Constellations, and the Stars, all the Parva days, including the day of the full moon, the conjunctions of the constellations and the seasons, have, O son of Pritha, flowed from this Krishna who is Vishwaksena. The Rudras, the Adityas, the Vasus, the Aswins, the Sadhyas, the Viswedevas, the diverse Maruts, Prajapati himself, the mother of the deities, viz., Aditi, and the seven Rishis, have all sprung from Krishna. Transforming
[paragraph continues] Himself into the Wind, He scatters the universe. Of Universal form, He becomes Fire that burns all things. Changing Himself into Water, He drenches and submerges all, and assuming the form of Brahman, He creates all the diverse tribes of animate and inanimate creatures. He is Himself the Veda, yet he learns all the Vedas. He is Himself all the ordinances, yet He observes all the ordinances that have been laid down in matters connected with Righteousness and the Vedas and that force or might which rules the world. Indeed, know, O Yudhishthira, that this Kesava is all the mobile and immobile universe. He is of the form of the most resplendent light. Of universal form, this Krishna is displayed in that blazing effulgence. The original cause of the soul of all existent creatures, He at first created the waters. Afterwards He created this universe. Know that this Krishna is Vishnu. Know that He is the soul of the universe. Know that He is all the seasons; He is these diverse wonderful vegetations of Nature which we see; He is the clouds that pour rain and the lightening that flashes in the sky. He is the elephant Airavata. In fact, He is all the immobile and mobile universe. The abode of the universe and transcending all attributes, this Krishna is Vasudeva. When He becomes Jiva He comes to be called Sankarshana. Next, He transforms Himself into Pradyumna and then into Aniruddha. In this way, the high-souled Krishna, who has Himself for His origin divides (or displays) Himself in fourfold form. Desirous of creating this universe which consists of the fivefold primal elements. He sets himself to his task, and causes it to go on in the fivefold form of animate existence consisting of deities and Asuras and human beings and beasts and birds. He it is that then creates the Earth and the Wind, the Sky, Light, and also Water, O son of Pritha! Having created this universe of immobile and mobile objects distributed into four orders of being (viz., viviparous, oviparous, vegetable and filth-born), he then created the earth with her fivefold seed. He then created the firmament for pouring copious showers of water on the earth. 1 Without doubt, O king, it is this Krishna who has created this universe. His origin is in his own self; it is He who causes all things to exist through his own puissance. He it is that has created the deities, the Asuras, the human beings, the world, the Rishis, the Pitris, and all creatures. Desirous of creating, that Lord of all creatures duly created the whole universe of life. Know that good and evil, mobile and immobile, have all flowed from this One who is Vishwaksena. Whatever exists, and whatever will spring into existence, all is Kesava. This Krishna is also the death that overtakes all creatures when their end comes. He is eternal and it is He who upholds the cause of Righteousness. Whatever existed in the past, and whatever we do not know, verily, all that also is this Vishwaksena.
[paragraph continues] Whatever is noble and meritorious in the universe, indeed, whatever of good and of evil exists, all that is Kesava who is inconceivable. Hence, it is absurd to think of anything that is superior to Kesava. Kesava is even such. More than this, He is Narayana, the highest of the high, immutable and unfading. He is the eternal and immutable cause of the entire mobile and immobile universe with its beginning, middle, and end, as also of all creatures whose birth follows their wish.'"
368:1 To an afflicted person the day seems long.
368:2 The sense is that it is this Kesava who upholds the cause of Righteousness when dangers overtake it. cf. 'Yada yada hi dharmasya, etc.' in the Gita. It does not mean that when doubts are entertained by persons on questions of morality, it is Kesava who dispels them.
369:1 Refers to the existence of Brahma when all else is nought.
371:1 The fivefold seed consists of the four orders of creatures and acts which determine the conditions of all beings.
Next: Section CLIX