kalo ’smi loka-ksaya-krt pravrddho
lokan samahartum iha pravrttah
rte ’pi tvam na bhavisyanti sarve
ye ’vasthitah praty-anikesu yodhah
Word for word:
sri-bhagavan uvaca — the Personality of Godhead said; kalah — time; asmi — I am; loka — of the worlds; ksaya-krt — the destroyer; pravrddhah — great; lokan — all people; samahartum — in destroying; iha — in this world; pravrttah — engaged; rte — without, except for; api — even; tvam — you; na — never; bhavisyanti — will be; sarve — all; ye — who; avasthitah — situated; prati-anikesu — on the opposite sides; yodhah — the soldiers.
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds, and I have come here to destroy all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Although Arjuna knew that Krishna was his friend and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he was puzzled by the various forms exhibited by Krishna. Therefore he asked further about the actual mission of this devastating force. It is written in the Vedas that the Supreme Truth destroys everything, even the brahmanas. As stated in the Katha Upanisad (1.2.25),
yasya brahma ca ksatram ca
ubhe bhavata odanah
ka ittha veda yatra sah
Eventually all the brahmanas, ksatriyas and everyone else are devoured like a meal by the Supreme. This form of the Supreme Lord is the all-devouring giant, and here Krishna presents Himself in that form of all-devouring time. Except for a few Pandavas, everyone who was present on that battleﬁeld would be devoured by Him. Arjuna was not in favor of the ﬁght, and he thought it was better not to ﬁght; then there would be no frustration. In reply, the Lord is saying that even if he did not ﬁght, every one of them would be destroyed, for that was His plan. If Arjuna stopped ﬁghting, they would die in another way. Death could not be checked, even if he did not ﬁght. In fact, they were already dead. Time is destruction, and all manifestations are to be vanquished by the desire of the Supreme Lord. That is the law of nature.