11.26 – Confront reality before reality confronts us

by August 21, 2013

Gory scenes of mangled flesh, spattered blood and distorted corpses may be a stable in horror movies, but still they cause most people’s stomachs to roil in shock and revulsion. And we wouldn’t expect to find such narratives in wisdom-literature. Yet we find them in the Bhagavad-gita’s eleventh chapter as a part of the mystical vision of the Universal Form. In the Gita (11.26), Arjuna reports how the assembled warriors are sucked into the mouth of that scary form.

What is the meaning of this ghastly revelation?

It is a call to confront reality before reality confronts us.

The Bhagavad-gita is not squeamish about life’s ugly realities. Death and destruction are the inevitable end of everything in this world. Refusing to confront them doesn’t help because they will sooner or later come to confront us, whether we like it or not.

How does voluntarily confronting these truths help?

It forces us to acknowledge the ultimate futility of life at the material level and thereby pushes us to explore whether life has any higher dimension. This exploration when guided by scripture helps us discover the sweetness of spiritual reality. We are all souls meant to relish eternal spiritual love with Krishna. By redirecting our love from the world to Krishna, we can not only attain that sweet reality at the end of our life, but can also relish glimpses of that reality even in this life. Our life becomes redefined from a fruitless struggle to resist futility to a fruitful endeavor to reclaim glory.

If we refuse to confront life’s harsh reality, then that reality confronts and consumes us, as the Universal Form devoured the warriors. By denying the harsh reality, we deprive ourselves of the sweet reality. Lifetime after lifetime. The Gita’s horrific descriptions help end our denial and deprivation.


All the sons of Dhrtarastra, along with their allied kings, and Bhisma, Drona, Karna – and our chief soldiers also – are rushing into Your fearful mouths. And some I see trapped with heads smashed between Your teeth.


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