Uttishta/Arise: A Powerful Command


Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Research article No.1441; Dated 27th November 2014.

How many times did Krishna say UTTISTHA (Arise) to Arjuna and Why?

I can count at least four UTTISTHAs in the Bhagavad Gita.

This is Swami Vivekananda’s favourite slogan as well. Arise! Awake and Stop not till the goal is reached! It is taken from the Katha Upanishad.

uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata (Katha 1.3.14) is the actual line used by Swami Vivekananda. It is a powerful command having meaning at two levels. One can follow it in the mundane world and succeed in life or in the spiritual world and attain Mukti/final release.

Of the four uttisthatas in the Bhagavad Gita, the most famous one is

uttistha! Yaso Labha! i.e. Arise and Attain Fame!! (11-33)


This will serve as a good motto for any youth. But Krishna said it to Arjuna who refused to fight. Arjuna was ready to derelict from his duty but Krishna convinced him that he would not incur any sin by killing his own near and dear in the battle field.

If a judge suddenly refuses to pass death sentence on all hard core murderers or a soldier in the front line refuses to handle gun or rifle saying that it a sin to kill people, then it is dereliction of duties. Not only dereliction of duty, but also helping the anti socials to thrive.

In the second chapter Krishna urged Arjuna to shed unmanliness. He said to Arjuna, “Cast off this faintheartedness and Arise!” (2-3).
This is the best sloka of Bhagavad Gita according to Swami Vivekananda.

In the same chapter (2-37), Krishna said, “Either slain thou shalt go to heaven; or victorious thou shalt enjoy the earth; therefore Arise, resolved on battle”.

And in 4-42, the word gets its spiritual meaning:

There having cut asunder with the Sword of Wisdom this doubt in thy heart, that is born of ignorance, resort to Yoga and Arise!

(Dr S Radhakrishnan’s Translation)


Valmiki said ‘Uttistha’!

The word uttistha is famous in other contexts as well. The most popular Suprabatham hymn in South India is Venkateswara Suprabatham sung in praise of Lord Balaji Venkateswara of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

Suprabatham is the hymn sung to wake up God in the morning. But in reality it is wake up call to humanity. Only when one wants to wake up the god at 4 AM in the morning, one will get ready from 3 AM. It is considered Brahma Muhurtha in Hindu scriptures, most auspicious time to worship god or to do meditation. That is the purpose of Su+ Prabatha (Good + Morning).

Here in this Venkateswara hymn the first verse is taken from Valmiki Ramayana by the composer of the hymn Prativadhi Bhayangaram Annagracharya.

The verse goes like this

Kausalya Supraja Rama purva Sandhya Pravarthathe
Uttistha Narasardula Karthavyam Daiva Ahnikam

Uttistha Uttistha Govinda Uttistha Garuda Dwaja

O Rama! The noble son of Kausalya. The dawn in the East commences. O Tiger among men! Arise! The daily tasks are waiting to be performed.
Arise! Govinda! Holder of the Eagle Flag! Arise.

Uttistha is used by the Tamil poetess Andal In a spiritual context about 1400 years ago in her Tiruppavai. She wakes her girl friends in the morning to worship the Lord, “Arise! Get Up! Why is this long sleep?” in at least three verses (8,12, 14). She was not talking about the normal sleep and waking up, but was singing about the spiritual awakening from the slumber of ignorance.

bharati stamp

Tamil poet Bharati used the same genre to wake up Bharat Mata in his patriotic song. There also he called the sleeping Indians to wake up and join the war of Independence. He addressed Mother India,

“ The day hath dawned;
Our austerities have fructified;
The vile forces of darkness have melted into thin air;
The golden beams of the morning sun illumine all over,
The sun of wisdom shines in all its splendour,
Thousands on thousands are we, your votaries
Gathered to praise you and pay you homage.
Amazing that it is still you are still asleep
Arise ,Awake,,Mother dear!

–Translation by Prof.SRK

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