Bhakti rasa – Krishna and the Viswaroopa

Image courtesy :
Image courtesy :

Read this post about an introduction to the Rasas.

Read this post for the shringara rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Ganga and her love

Read this post for the hasya rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Draupadi and her laughter

Read this post for the raudra rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Amba and her anger

Read this post for the karunya  rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Chitrasena and Duryodhana

Read this post for the bibhatsa rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – The effect of Vyasa on Ambika and Ambalika

Read this post for the bhayanaka rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Hidimba and his hideous Asura form

Read this post for the santha rasa referred to in the Mahabharata – Yudhisthira and his attempts for peace


At the beginning of the Kurukshetra war, faced with the dilemma of the inevitability of raising arms and spilling the blood of his relative, cousins and kinsmen, Arjuna is filled with despair and is completely despondent at the helplessness of his situation. So much so, that he even neglects his duty as a Kshatriya warrior and drops his weapons in his chariot and steadfastly refuses to pick them up and prepare for the war.

At this juncture, Krishna counsels Arjuna about his duties as a warrior and a Kshatriya prince, elaborating on a variety of philosophical concepts. To convince Arjuna of his words, Krishna also reveals his true divine form, his Viswaroopa to him. Arjuna experiences the vision of the Viswaroopa with divine vision endowed to him by Krishna.

Some descriptions of the Viswaroopa are thus – He has innumerable forms, eyes, faces, mouths and arms. All creatures of the universe are part of Him. He is the infinite universe, without a beginning or an end. He contains peaceful as well as wrathful forms.

Another description of the Viswaroopa goes thus – In this form, Krishna no longer looks familiar. He is neither cowherd nor charioteer.  He is a magnificent being with countless legs and countless arms and countless heads, breathing fire, containing within himself all the things that exist – all the worlds, all the animate beings and inanimate objects. It is an awe inspiring sight. Containing everything that Arjuna imagined and also everything that was beyond Arjuna’s imagination.

Despite multiple descriptions of the Viswaroopa, one thing is for certain, Arjuna was so dazzled by the brilliance and the magnificence of this particular form of Krishna that all his doubts, fears and hesitation was immediately put to rest and he picked up his weapons and prepared for combat. The Viswaroopa convinced him that performance of one’s duty was of paramount importance. Arjuna was so overcome with faith, devotion and confidence in Krishna that all his doubts were assuaged immediately.

Thus, the episode with the Viswaroopa is a clear allusion to the bhakti rasa in the Mahabharata.

16 thoughts on “Bhakti rasa – Krishna and the Viswaroopa

    • @Kajal, it does, doesn’t it? 😀 This image has stayed with me for a really long time ever since I first saw it somewhere in my childhood 🙂

    • @Bhagyashree, yes, Arjuna’s bhakti towards Krishna is one of the prime examples of true devotion, isn’t it? 🙂

    • @ashreyamom, yes, this picture is one of my all time favorite pics 🙂 and Arjuna’s devotion to Krishna is what legends are made up of, aren’t they?

  1. How I wish I get a glimpse of the Vishwaroopa…if not, at least the little Krishna who showed his mother the universe trapped in his mouth. 🙂

    • @Aditi, well, that would have been an entirely different war if Arjuna had given up at that juncture in time, wouldn’t it?

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