dyāv ā-pṛthivyor idam antaraḿ hi
vyāptaḿ tvayaikena diśaś ca sarvāḥ
dṛṣṭvādbhutaḿ rūpam ugraḿ tavedaḿ
loka-trayaḿ pravyathitaḿ mahātman

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 11.20

Although You are one, You spread throughout the sky and the planets and all space between. O great one, seeing this wondrous and terrible form, all the planetary systems are perturbed.

Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

Dyav a-prithivyoh (“the space between heaven and earth”) and loka-trayam (“the three worlds”) are significant words in this verse because it appears that not only did Arjuna see this universal form of the Lord, but others in other planetary systems saw it also. Arjuna’s seeing of the universal form was not a dream. All whom the Lord endowed with divine vision saw that universal form on the battlefield.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

Now that Arjuna had the proper qualification, the Lord shows him his form as time. This is described in ten verses.

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

11.20 The terms, ‘heaven and earth,’ imply all the upper and lower worlds. The ‘Antara’, or that between heaven and earth, denotes the space between them in which are located all the worlds. You alone pervade all the space and all the quarters. ‘Beholding Your marvellous and teriible form,’ beholding Your form of infinite length and extent, marvellous and terrible, the three worlds are trembling. Gods headed by Brahma, the Asuras, the manes, the Siddhas, the Gandharvas, the Yaksas, and Raksasas have come with a desire to see the battle. All the ‘three worlds’ consisting of these friendly, antagonistic and neutral beings are extremely frightened. ‘Mahatman’ means one, the dimension of whose mind has no limits. It has to be understood that like Arjuna, other beings also were granted by the Lord the divine eye capable of directly perceiving the Form which supports the universe. If it be asked why, the reply is that it was for demonstrating to Arjuna His sovereignty. Hence it is stated here: ‘Beholding Your marvellous and terrible form, O Mahatman, the three worlds are greatly overwhelmed with fear.’

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

The space between heaven and Earth, the complete sky is filled and pervaded by Lord Krishna’s visvarupa or divine universal form in all directions. The visvarupa never seen before was astonishingly wonderful and terribly frightening at the same time. All the worlds are extremely afflicted and aggrieved by its fierceness. This verse is a continution from the previous verse.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

The Varuna Purana states: Between the Earth which is equated to mother and the heavens which is equated to the father the Supreme Lord Krishna’s visvarupa or divine universal form encompassed all. The mother never encourages one to perform unrighteous deeds and the Earth never encourages such actions either. The father is always benefiting the children and the family and likewise let the heavens be propitious to us. With thoughts of this nature in the mind the various avataras or incarnations and expansions of Lord Krishna are not normally perceived as frightening. For Brahma, Narada, Vyasa and others even this visvarupa is not in the least frightening but for others the resplendent Supreme Lord is perceived in a terrible, fear inspiring way. The Varuna Purana states: While some find fulfilment in seeing His visvarupa others become frightened yet still if they are able to see it at all they all will achieve fulfilment in the end. All are not competent to see the visvarupa of Lord Krishna directly while others who see it during their meditation are frightened. In the Gautama texts is stated: That some seeing the visvarupa are very pleased, while some others are frightened and still other aspirants who while not seeing the visvarupa directly still meditate on Him within their minds by what they have heard and read from others and perceive Him in that way. The exalted devotees abounding in the three worlds according to their capacity perceived the visvarupa Lord Krishna exhibited to Arjuna before the battle at Kuruksetra. At first these exalted devotees also felt apprehension and fear like Arjuna and the demigods but in the course of continual perception of the visvarupa a feeling of exuberance and bliss bubbled up within them and all apprehensions evaporated.

Because the purpose of the Battle of Kuruksetra was Lord Krishna’s intention to alleviate the burden of the demoniac influences upon the Earth the visvarupa was perceived in an exceptionally frightening manner and thus fearfulness ensued. But in other situations and other times the various forms of Lord Krishna do not cause any anxiety or fear among the Vaisnavas and Brahmins being His devotees. For those who are superior to Arjuna such as Balarama, Brahma and Shiva as well as Draupadi, Yudisthira and Bhima no fear arose at all within them. This has been described in the Agni Purana to explain the frightening aspect of the visvarupa in the correct context.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

Lord Krishna’s visvarupa or divine universal form was exceedingly difficult to look at due to its blazing effulgence. This is also being stated by the word antaram which is specifying that the visvarupa was manifest in heaven and earth and all the space in between meaning between the celestial spheres and all the universal planetary systems. This verse affirms the fearful omnipotent splendour that was also exhibited by the visvarupa and Lord Krishna’s compassionate nature is supplicated upon to withdraw His frightful visvarupa because although it is phenomenally wonderful and awe- inspiring, it is also terrifying and all the worlds are greatly alarmed and panic stricken upon witnessing it.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

11.20 Hi, indeed; idam, this; antaram, intermediate space; dyavaprthivyoh, between heaven and earth; ca, as also; sarvah, all; the disah, direction; vyaptam, are pervaded; tvaya, by You; ekena, alone, who have assumed the Cosmic form. Mahatman, O exalted One, who by nature are high-minded; the lokatrayam, three worlds; pravyathitam, are struck with fear, or are perturbed; drstva, by seeing; idam, this; abdhutam, strange, astonishing; ugram, fearful, terrible; rupam, form; tava, of Yours. Therefore, now, in order to clear that doubt which Arjuna earlier had-as in, ‘whether we shall win, or whether they shall conquer’ (2.6)-, the Lord proceeds with the idea, ‘I shall show the inevitable victory of the Pandavas.’ Visualizing that, Arjuna said: ‘Moreover-‘.

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

Sri Abhinavagupta did not comment on this sloka.

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

dyav a-prthivyor idam antaram hi
vyaptam tvayaikena disas ca sarvah
drstvadbhutam rupam ugram tavedam
loka-trayam pravyathitam mahatman

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

dyau — from outer space; ā-pṛthivyoḥ — to the earth; idam — this; antaram — between; hi — certainly; vyāptam — pervaded; tvayā — by You; ekena — alone; diśaḥ — directions; ca — and; sarvāḥ — all; dṛṣṭvā — by seeing; adbhutam — wonderful; rūpam — form; ugram — terrible; tava — Your; idam — this; loka — the planetary systems; trayam — three; pravyathitam — perturbed; mahā-ātman — O great one.