Arjuna: [With folded, trembling hands, fearfully bowing down, in a faltering voice addressing his now unseen friend, Krishna]
O Master of Senses hearing your kīrtana [glorification] makes the whole world joyful and delighted.
Krishna: But you have just seen my horrible, and fearsome aspect!
Arjuna: Yes, but this exists only for the sake of ghastly people – who flee from it in terror. The perfected souls do not flee, they offer you respect in all circumstances, fearsome or pleasant.
Krishna: Why should they respect something so horrible?
Arjuna: Because it is also a part of you, who are never truly destructive. You are the original creator of the creator. You are the limitless master of the benevolent gods. You are the shelter of the universe.
Krishna: But is this form I have just shown you not truly destructive?
Arjuna: It is. However, it is a reflection of our own destructive nature. You yourself are far beyond the relative good and bad of these temporary causes and effects.
Krishna: What do you mean? Am I beyond these horrific affairs, or am I within them?
Arjuna: This universe exists within you, but you are far beyond it, transcendent. You are the original, most ancient Divine Being. You are everything that we comprehend, and you are also comprehension itself, and you are also the state of being that is transcendentally beyond both. You are the unlimited being pervading everything that exists.
Krishna: I see. That is why the perfected souls always offer me respect, even amidst a horrific universe. But wouldn’t it be wiser to respect someone else?
Arjuna: But you are all such beings! You are Vāyu, god of air. You are Yama, god of death. You are Agni, god of fire. You are Varuṇa, god of space. You are the heavenly bodies, like the Moon. You are the original ancestor, Brahmā. So who should we respect more than you!?
Let there be respect after respect unto you, a thousand times over. And even that is not enough! Still more I should again offer respect after respect to you! I bow to you from the front, and from behind. You are everything, so let me bow to you always and everywhere!
Krishna: But am I not simply your friend in the chariot, in front of you?
Arjuna: Your limitless power and unstoppable force support everything. In that sense, you are everything.
Krishna: Am I your friend or not?
Arjuna: Full of self-importance, I took you as my friend. I spoke to you like that, “Hey Krishna! Hey cousin! Hey friend!” I was ignorant of your true greatness.
Krishna: But that was because of your love for me!
Arjuna: Maybe it was love, or maybe it was foolishness. I even criticized you in sarcastic jokes, while we relaxed together: lying or sitting around and eating together as if we were equals. O Inscrutable One, I ask your forgiveness for my countless transgressions.
Krishna: But this was all out of love!
Arjuna: Then please forgive me, as a loving father excuses the behavior of his children. You are indeed the father of everything, animate and inanimate, in the world. You are the most worshipable and glorious guru. How can there be anyone else like you? How can anyone equal your infinite power – amongst humans, demons, or gods?
Therefore please be kind to me, like a guru or a father. Or like a friend forgives a friend. Or like a lover forgives the beloved.
Krishna: All right, but what will become of the relationship we had?
Arjuna: Let us return to it! I am thrilled to have seen this never-before-seen sight – yet it has cast my mind into the waves of fear. Please return to your form as the compassionate master of gods, and shelter of the world.
O thousand-armed universal form, I hope to see you in your four-armed form, with a mace and disc in your hands, and a crown upon your head.
Krishna: [Transforming from the universal form into four-armed Viṣṇu] Happily, I used my mystic power to give you the vision of that unsurpassed form of mine: composed of power, universal, endless, and beginningless. No one but you has seen it before.
Arjuna, that form cannot be seen on the strength of sacrifice, philosophical study, charitable deeds, scrupulous duties, nor even by the most severe austerities. Comprehending that form allows one to see me even in the normal affairs of the everyday world. None but you have seen it.
But it has disturbed and confused you to see me in that terrifying universal form, and that was not my intention. So now be freed from this fear, and regain your affectionate, loving disposition towards me.
[Viṣṇu then transformed into his own original, gentle form, as Krishna]
Arjuna: [Breathing a sigh of relief and happiness] Krishna, seeing you in your gentle, human form calms my mind and allows me to return to my natural state.
Krishna: The form you see me in now is the rarest of all visions. Even the gods constantly aspire for a vision of this form.
By studying scriptures, by undergoing austerities, by giving everything away, by worship, by any of these means it is impossible to see me in the form you now see.
Arjuna: Then how am I seeing it?
Krishna: Because you have pure, undivided love for me! Arjuna, that is the only way I can be known in this form, as Krishna.
Arjuna: But everyone here on the battlefield can see you, too.
Krishna: They do not truly see me. Only by undivided love can one enter into comprehension of the full truth of what you now see before you.
Arjuna: How can a person gain this vision?
Krishna: If they work for my sake, make me their ultimate objective, give their love to me, casting off all other embraces, and never think of any creature as their enemy… Then, Arjuna, they will gain me.