namaha purastaadatha prishtataste namostu te sarvata eva sarva |
anantaveeryaamitavikramastvam sarvam samaapnoshi tatosi sarvaha || 40 ||

 
Salutations to you from before and behind. Indeed, let there be salutations to you everywhere, O one with infinite power, O one with infinite valour. You pervade all, therefore you are everything.
 
namaha : salutations
purastaat : before
atha : and
prishtataha : behind
te : you
namaha : salutations
astu : may there be
te : you
sarvataha : everywhere
eva : indeed
sarvaha : all
anantaveerya : infinite power
amitavikramaha : infinite valour
tvam : you
sarvam : all
samaapnoshi : pervade
tataha : therefore
asi : you are
sarvaha : everything
 
Arjuna, wielder of Lord Shiva’s Gaandiva bow, was universally regarded as one of the foremost archers of his time. So far, he thought that it was his might and power that was defeating the Kauravas. But now, after beholding the cosmic form, his pride had dropped completely. In this shloka, he acknowledged that his power and valour came from Ishvara, and that he was only the “nimitta”, the instrument for channeling that power.
 
Now, we have seen ten chapters of the Gita. Each chapter is called a “yoga”, because it takes us higher and higher in our spiritual journey if we can understand and implement its teaching. In the previous chapter, Shri Krishna wanted Arjuna to see the one Ishvara in all beings, to see unity in diversity. In this chapter, he wanted Arjuna to see all beings in that one Ishvara, to see diversity ultimately subsumed into unity. Shri Krishna’s goal was fulfilled when Arjuna realized the truth expounded in the Upanishads, declaring here that Ishvara pervades everything, and that he ultimately is everything.
 
So when he recognized Ishwara as the infinite source of all power and valour, and in fact, the ultimate source and cause of everything, Arjuna could not help but repeatedly offer salutations to that cosmic form. But as we saw earlier, he had lost all notions of space and direction. He did not know what was north or south, or what was up or down. So giddy was his state of mind that he wanted to offer salutations to Ishvara from the front, back and all directions.
 
Offering our salutations to Ishvara, also known as “vandanam”, is considered one of nine methods of worship. Shree Ramdas Samartha has devoted an entire section of the Dasbodh to describe the glories of vandanam. He considers it one of the simplest and most effective tools to connect with Ishvara. By its very nature, offering salutations or bowing to someone automatically eliminates our ahankaara, our ego, the primary obstacle to connecting with Ishvara.
 
Having understood the purpose of the cosmic form, Arjuna began to ask for Shri Krishna’s forgiveness next.
 
Footnotes
1. Vandanam is elaborated in the fifth section of the fourth chapter of the Dasbodh.

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