Viśvarũpa consists of everything including time. Time and space are an integral property of creation. Time and space can never be separated from creation, they arise along with creation. When Arjuna experiences the viśvarũpa, he also experiences time principle. This invisible all-pervading time principle or kala tattvam is symbolized by the mouth of the lord. This kala tattvam has twofold power – creation and destruction. But Arjuna, being in a battlefield, sees only the destruction part of the kala tattvam. If he had seen the totality, creation and destruction, he would have seen the mangalam swaroopam and amangala swaroopam of the Lord. We only have two options – accept the whole as mangalam or reject the whole as amangalam. But we only want to accept the birth as mangalam and not accept the death as mangalam. Either totally embrace the whole world or reject the whole world. As long as you accept only one part and reject the other part, there will be samsara.
Swallowing all the people from all directions with blazing mouths, You repeatedly lick with relish. Filling the entire universe with radiance. Your fierce rays scorch everyone, Oh Lord.
Bagawan doesn’t seem to have any sympathy towards people crying for the death of family and friends. But by giving intelligence, Bagawan has given us an opportunity to know what death is. If we do not grow and mature, Bagawan will have no sympathy. Kala tattvam affects all the time – not just at the old age. Arjuna wonders whether Bagawan is extremely cruel. When suffering in life, we all will get this doubt. We may even doubt the existence of Bagawan.
Who are you with this fierce form? Tell me, Oh Supreme Lord! Salutation be to You. Be gracious. I desire to know You, the primal one. Indeed, I do not know Your function.
Arjuna asks who are you – the frightening one or the gracious one? Who is Bagawan and what is your function? Why can’t the whole world be beautiful?
The Lord said – I am the mighty Time, the destroyer of the world. I am proceeding to destroy the people here. All the warriors who are arrayed in both the armies will cease to exist even without you.
Bagawan answers that he is kala tattvam. There are two planes in Vedanta, vyāvahārika tattvam and pāramarthika tattvam. With regard to vyāvahārika tattvam either you accept totally or reject it totally. There is no good or bad. You accept both or reject both. You renounce both and death. This requires inner strength. Total acceptance also requires strength. This strength you get only with atma Jñānam. Partial rejection or acceptance is not acceptable. As vyāvahārika tattvam, Bagawan creates and destroys. Pāramarthika tattvam -in which there is no time and no space and there are no pairs. No good and bad; no death and birth.
Therefore, get up and attain fame. Conquering the enemies, enjoy the prosperous kingdom. Indeed, they have already been killed by Me. Be a mere instrument, Oh Arjuna!
Krishna says the time has come for people on the battlefield to die. Only the means of destruction is not decided, but the end of the people has already been decided by kala tattvam. The option that Arjuna has is to join and do his duty by defeating the enemies and establishing dharma. Arjuna is only an instrument in Bagawan’s hand.
When we read in this contest, it looks like he is only an instrument or puppet of the Bagawan. Looks like Bagawan has already decided everything and everything is predetermined. Seems like human beings do not have any choice and do not have any free will. There is only one doer and Bagawan determines everything. This will be the wrong conclusion that we can come to from this verse. Human beings do have free will.