chapter xi: “[B]ehold my power (yoga) as Lord!”

chapter xi: “[B]ehold my power (yoga) as Lord!”

by June 4, 2012

In Chapter 11, Arjuna asks Krishna to show him His full manifestation so the warrior might see for himself the Supreme Majesty of God in His entirety. While this vision is the crux of the chapter, similar to Chapter 9 (part 1part 2) Krishna’s revelations are so magnificent as to justify a piecemeal exploration of this chapter.   

Bhagavad Gita[1], Chapter XI:

“[B]ehold my power (yoga) as Lord!” (11.8).

While throughout the Gita’s narrative Krishna uses the term “yoga” to signify a milieu of actions and contexts, the startling revelation that ‘yoga’ is the Lord’s ‘power,’ has enormous philosophical and spiritual implications. If the term ‘yoga’ denotes Krishna’s ’power,’ this statement implies that when an individual practices yoga, he or she viscerally experiences God. Krishna’s revelation validates that God is present with every yogi or spiritual practitioner, which climaxes in a divine state of bliss!

Hence, spiritual practice or yoga is the experience of God as God expresses His divinity through the higher Self. In order to have this experience, the aspirant must attain one-pointed focus on God so that he or she can experience God as the performer, the force that performs the act, and the act, itself. There is nothing else other than God, and yoga practice, through its focus on the Self, enables the yogi to experience His totality.

God, the Highest Person, expresses His force or His energy—His essence—through the highest Self, present in human nature. The actions of the Self are those actions that God most desires of us.  Hence, although God makes possible every action that occurs in the Universe, literally, as the force or energy that brings about the action, when the individual’s will aligns with God’s will, the Self performs the action, leading to  absolute unity and divine harmony between the human and God. Although this unity constitutes the eternal state of humans, humans are aware of it only when they willingly ask that God make Himself known to them. In order to provide more clarity, we can illustrate God-as-the-Self-acting-through-the-self by referencing the human body as an example.

The human body is a composite of skin, vital organs, limbs, fluids, etc.; however, only the larynx, or voice box, produces verbal communication. Therefore, while God is the entirety of a human, He utilizes only the personal higher Self as the means for communication.  This distinction is significant in order to illuminate that God is not merely the Self in an individual because God is, alternatively, everything that is, ever has been, and ever will be. In lieu of this distinction, God makes usage of the Self to communicate with the human being in a manner suitable to human understanding.

Krishna’s power defined or described as ‘yoga’ is an enormous spiritual truth, deserving of sustained meditation and reflection. Subsequently, during such contemplation, in which consciousness rises to a higher level, the spiritual aspirant experiences God as pure presence, a truly phenomenal experience.

There is much mental processing required by this chapter. A mere intellectual comprehension of the direct experience of God in contrast to a visceral, spiritual experience is comparable to reading or hearing about nirvana as opposed to experiencing nirvana. Arjuna attests to the awe-inspiring and magnanimous experience of God when Krishna reveals His eternal essence to the warrior later in the chapter.  


[1] zaehner, r. c., trans the bhagavad gita london: oxford university press, 1973
[2] photo credit
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