aakhyaa hi me ko bhavaanugraroopo namostute devavara praseeda |
vijnyaatumichhaami bhavantamaadyam na hi prajaanaami tava pravruttim || 31 ||

 
Please reveal who you are, with such a fierce form. I bow to you, O best among deities, be gracious. I wish to know you, O ancient being, for I do not understand your purpose.
 
aakhyaahi : please reveal
me : to me
kaha : who
bhavaan : you
ugraroopaha : fierce form
namaha astu : I bow
te : to you
devavara : O best among deities
praseeda : be gracious
vijnyaatum : to know
ichhaami : I wish
bhavantam : you
aadyam : ancient being
na : not
hi : for
prajaanaami : do I understand
tava : your
pravruttim : purpose
 
In the seventh book or canto of the Srimad Bhaagavatam, Lord Vishnu incarnates as the Lion Man Narasimha to slay Hiranyakashipu, the king of the demons. He then proceeds to destroy Hiranyakashipu’s army. But his anger is not appeased even after doing so. Extremely scared and worried, the heavenly deities send Prahalaada, Lord Vishnu’s devotee, to talk to Narasimha. He first praises Lord Vishnu, after which he asks him several questions. Appeasement, followed by humble questioning, is the best way to pacify an angry person, which is what Arjuna did to the fearful cosmic form of Ishvara in this shloka.
 
In the course of just a few moments, Shri Krishna transformed from his human form, to a gigantic cosmic form that was pleasing, then to another cosmic form that was extremely scary. Arjuna requested him to reveal who he was at this moment, and what was his mission and purpose for destroying everything. Even in his request there was humility and surrender, because Arjuna asked for the Lord’s grace, knowing fully well that he was the “Aadyam”, the original primal being of this universe.
 
The word “Aadyam” is used by Sant Jnyaneshwar in the first stanza of his commentary on the Gita known as the Jnyaaneshwari : “Om Namoji Aadya”, meaning “my salutations to that primal being”. This word is extremely significant in the context of this shloka. For someone or something to take on the responsibility of destruction, it has to be present before and after creation. It also has to be beyond all names and forms, because it is names and forms that are created and destroyed. So when the entire universe is dissolved, the same original being creates, sustains and destroys the universe again.

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