“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)
मया ततम् इदं सर्वं
न चाहं तेष्व् अवस्थितः
mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ
na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ
1. The worshipable form is everywhere
The Sanskrit word is murti. The reference is made in Bhagavad-gita, which is a sacred text of the Vedic tradition. A conversation between the guru Krishna and the disciple Arjuna. So much revealed about life, death, and the purpose of living. The most useful information passed on in a relatively brief presentation.
Composed of Sanskrit verses that are easy to sing and remember, Krishna and Arjuna are prepared to assist countless future generations of man. Bring them out of the dark and into the light. View existence in a positive way, an outlook supported by intelligence rather than based on a willful ignorance or blindness to the truth.
Shri Krishna refers to the avyakta-murtina when explaining how He exists across the entire universe. He is not absent from any space. Through hard luck or misfortune we may fall into the trap of considering God to be asleep on the job, not concerned with our fate, but He actually witnesses everything. He is known as antaryami, and nothing escapes His watchful eye.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates avyakta-murtina as “impersonal form.” This is something like a version of God. He is not directly perceivable, though the wise are always able to notice His presence.
As this is a murtina, God can be worshiped everywhere. I do not have to specifically visit a house of worship. I can talk to Him at any time of day, whether I am at work or at home. The connection is always possible. I do not have to understand what He looks like, since at least through the avyakta feature He is already close by.
2. I am not the worshipable form
Another Sanskrit word of significance in that verse is mayaa. This means “by me.” The avyakta-murtina belongs to Krishna. It is not mine. I am not distributed everywhere. This should go without saying, but sometimes the cheating philosophers claiming to belong to the Vedic tradition will teach that everyone is God.
You, me, the people from the past, those who will appear in the future – everyone is Brahman, which is supposedly the superior realization. Nothing is beyond Brahman, and so in a sense I am available everywhere as part of this impersonal energy.
Krishna debunks this theory by using the possessive. The avyakta-murtina is His. If everyone were God, then Krishna would have said the avyakta-murtina belonged to Arjuna, as well. All beings are in Krishna, but He is not in them. The meaning is that God is not a part of what defines me. He has an independent existence. I, on the other hand, though a separate individual, could not exist in this world without Krishna.
3. Vyakta is the basis for avyakta
The unseen is based on the seen, in the same way that the reflection is based on the real object. If we see a reflection of a tree in the water, we know that the image is false. At the same time, we couldn’t say that the tree is false. The real thing is there, but there is also an illusory image based on a different orientation.
In the same way, the avyakta-murtina is based off the vyakta-murtina. In a single verse Shri Krishna indirectly solves the debate as to which path of worship is superior: impersonal or personal. Vyakta is the basis, so the best way to practice spiritual life is to worship Krishna directly.
He is the vyakta version; proven by the interaction with Arjuna. A voice from the sky did not arrive on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to teach Arjuna. A bright light did not suddenly emerge from Arjuna’s heart to provide guidance.
It was a distinct individual who taught him, and that same individual is available for consultation at any time and at any place. The representative, the spiritual master, shows the way for making that connection a reality, which can start with the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Avyakta-murtina telling me,
In universal form to see.
That from Krishna emerging,
Not of collective souls merging.
Belonging distinctly to Him,
Nor a post for me to win.
Personal the basis for deriving,
Wise to this conclusion arriving.
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