SRIMAD BHAGAVAD-GITA: CHAPTER FIFTEEN
The Supreme Person
sri-bhagavan uvacha–The Supreme Lord said: prahuh–It is said in the scriptures (when describing this material world): urdhva-mulam–"The roots are uppermost as it is rooted in aversion to the highest principle, the Supreme Lord; adhah-sakham–the branches face downwards, representing all beings from Lord Brahma down to the lowest species; avyayam–and it is endless (for those who desire the independence to enjoy the fruits of their actions); asvattham–yet transient; (for a person with devotion to the Lord) it will be 'gone tomorrow'. chhandamsi–The ritualistic verses of the Vedas; parnani–are represented by the protective leaves; yasya–of the Asvattha or Peepul tree of this material world." yah–One who; veda–knows; tam–that tree; sah–he; veda-vit–is a knower of the Vedas.
1 The Supreme Lord said: It is said in the scriptures that this material world is like a Peepul tree, roots up, branches down, endless yet transient. Its leaves represent the nourishing verses of the Vedas. One who knows this tree is a knower of the Vedas.
The roots of the tree of this world are said to face upwards—its root cause is the highest plane. It is manifest by the potency of the Supreme Lord. However, it is rooted in aversion to the Lord. Its branches are said to face downwards since according to the law of karma all species of life from the highest to the lowest branch out from it. It is known as an Asvattha tree. The word asvattha means 'ephemeral,' or 'that which does not remain in the same state for even a day.' Yet, it is endless* in the sense that it constantly appears in the natural flow of cause and effect. The leaves of the tree represent the fruitive verses of the Vedas (karma-kanda). As the leaves of a tree nourish and beautify it, these verses similarly encourage and illuminate the world.
The external potency of the Lord, Maya, is eternal, and it manifests this world. Yet the world itself is perishable inasmuch as it again becomes unmanifest. Although the fruitive verses of the Vedas provide its nourishment, their underlying purpose is rather to enlighten the conditioned souls to take shelter of the Supreme Lord who is transcendental to the mundane. Thus, one who knows these fundamental principles is a knower of the true essence of the Vedas.
*The Peepul tree is known for its longevity.
adhas chordhvam prasrtas tasya sakha
tasya sakhah–Its branches, representing the living beings; visaya-pravalah–with shoots, representing the objects of the senses; guna-pravrddhah–nourished by the three modes of nature; adhah prasrtah–extend downwards as the planes of human, animal and lower species; urdhvam cha–and upwards, as the planes of higher celestial beings. karma-anubandhi ni–According to religious and irreligious actions; mulani–some roots, as aerial roots; anusantatani–as a secondary causal factor, as the search to enjoy the fruits of actions, have extended; adhah cha–downwards also; manusya-loke–in the human plane.
2 Some of its branches extend upwards (as the planes of the demigods and celestial beings), some of the branches extend downwards (as the planes of the humans, animals, and lower species), and nourished by three modes of nature, its shoots are the objects of the senses. Some aerial roots also extend downwards, to take root in the land of karma, within the human plane.
Within the expansive manifestation of this 'perishable yet endless' world, some of the living beings are nourished by the mode of goodness, and they wander throughout the upper planes, in the ego of gods and celestial beings. Others, influenced by the modes of passion and ignorance, are wandering throughout the planes of the humans, animals, trees and lower species, assuming the identities of those species. The shoots of the tree of this world represent the objects of the senses-sound, smell, touch, taste, and form, as transformations of the five primary subtle elements (pancha-tanmatra) produced from the ego of the living beings.
The principal roots face upwards, inverted, indicating aversion to the Supreme Lord. Further, some aerial roots face downward, entering the land of karma in the human plane. These represent the humans' attempt to enjoy the fruits of their actions, and these aerial roots nourish the tree as a separate, secondary cause.
na rupam asyeha tathopalabhyate
iha–Within this world; tatha rupam–that inverted form; asya–of the Asvattha tree representing this world; na upalabhyate–cannot be realized (through any method except Vedic knowledge); (asya) antah na–nor its end; adih cha na–nor its origin; sampratist ha cha na–nor its continuance. chhittva–Cutting down; enam suvirudhamu lam–this stubbornly rooted (in aversion to the Supreme Lord); asvattham–perishable tree of the material world; drdhena–with the sharp; asanga-sastrena–axe of detachment acquired from sadhu-sanga, association of saints; tatah–and thereafter; yasmin gatah (santah)–having reached that plane from which; (kechid api)–one; na nivartanti–does not return; bhuyah–again; parimargitavyam–one should approach for shelter; tat padam–the holy feet of Lord Visnu; (ekanta bhaktya)–with exclusive devotion; (iti evam)–in this way: prapadye–"I surrender unto; tam eva cha–Him alone; adyam–the original; purusam–Supreme Person; yatah–from whose illusory energy; (esa)–this; purani–perpetual; pravrttih–manifestation; prasrta–has appeared."
3-4 In the human plane, this inverted form of the Peepul tree of this material world is inconceivable (without Vedic knowledge)-neither its beginning, nor its middle, nor its end can be perceived. From the association of devotees, one acquires the sharp axe of detachment from the mundane. Using this weapon to cut down that illusory tree of one's mundane existence which is stubbornly rooted in aversion to the Supreme Lord, one attains to the plane of no return, which is the lotus feet of the Lord. With pure devotion, one should approach the holy lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Visnu for shelter, and pray, "I surrender unto the Original Person, the Supreme Lord of all, by whose illusory potency (Maya) this perpetual tree of the material world has appeared."
nirmana-mohah (santah)–Having become free from pride and delusion; jita-sangados ah–free from the defect of unholy association; adhyatma-nityah–dedicated to selfrealization; vinivrtta-kamah–completely free from desire; vimuktah–completely liberated; dvandvaih–from the dualities; sukha-duhkha-samjnaih–known as joy and sorrow; amudhah–thus undeluded; (te)–those surrendered souls; gachchhanti–reach; tat–that; avyayam–eternal; padam–goal.
5 Free from vanity and delusion, aloof to unholy association, dedicated to self-realization, desireless, liberated from the duality of joy and sorrow, undeluded, those surrendered souls reach the eternal goal.
na tad bhasayate suryo, na sasanko na pavakah
tat mama–That is My; paramam–all-illuminating; dhama–holy abode; gatva–having reached; yat–which; (prapannah)–the surrendered souls; na nivartante (tatah)–never return from there. suryah–The sun; na bhasayate–cannot illuminate; tat–that; na sasankah–nor the moon; na pavakah–nor fire.
6 The surrendered souls reach My eternal abode, never to return to this world. Neither sun, nor moon, nor fire—nothing can illuminate that all-illuminating supreme abode.
mamaivamso jiva-loke, jiva-bhutah sanatanah
eva–Certainly; jiva-bhutah–the spirit soul living being is; mama–My; sanatanah–eternal; amsah–particle, potency. jiva-loke–In this world; karsati–it attracts, adopts; prakrti-sthani–the mundane; manah sasthani indriyani–six perceptual senses including the mind.
7 The soul is a particle (potency) of Mine. Although it is eternal, for worldly existence it adopts the five mundane senses and the mind, which is the sixth.
sariram yad avapnoti, yach chapy utkramatisvarah
yat sariram–Regarding any body which; isvarah–the soul, as master of the body; avapnoti–obtains; yat cha api–and from which; utkramati–it departs; (tada)–then; grhitva–taking; etani–these six senses; vayuh iva–as the wind; gandhan–carries fragrance; asayat–from its source, such as a flower; (sarirantaram) samyati–it goes to enter another body.
8 The soul is the master of the body. When it departs the body, it goes to enter another, carrying these (subtle) senses, as the wind carries fragrance from its source.
srotram chaksuh sparsanam cha, rasanam ghranam eva cha
adhisthaya–Presiding over; srotram–the ear; chaksuh–eye; sparsanam–skin; rasanam cha–tongue; ghranam eva cha–and nose; manah cha–and also the mind; ayam–this soul; upasevate–enjoys; visayan–the objects of the senses—sound, etc.
9 Presiding over the ear, eye, skin, tongue and nose, and also the mind, the living entity enjoys the sense objects of sound, form, touch, taste and smell.
utkramantam sthitam vapi, bhunjanam va gunanvitam
vimudhah–Those thus deluded; na anupasyanti–cannot see; (jivam)–the soul; utkramantam–when departing the body; sthitam va api–or residing in the body; bhunjanam va–or enjoying; guna-anvitam–in association with the senses and their objects. jnana-chaksusah–Persons with the eyes of wisdom; pasyanti–see.
10 Those who are thus deluded cannot see the soul when it is departing the body, residing in the body or when enjoying through the senses in the body. Those with the eyes of wisdom can see.
yatanto yoginas chainam, pasyanty atmany avasthitam
cha–And; yatantah–the perseverent, sincere; yoginah–yogis—seekers; pasyanti–see; enam–this soul; avasthitam–situated; atmani–within. yatantah api–But despite endeavouring; achetasah–those of poor understanding; akrta-atmanah–lacking self-control; na pasyanti–cannot see; enam–this soul.
11 And the sincere seekers see the soul present within. But persons of poor understanding and lacking in selfcontrol cannot see the soul, despite their endeavours.
yad aditya-gatam tejo, jagad bhasayate 'khilam
yat tejah–That effulgence which; aditya-gatam–emanates from the sun; bhasayate–and illuminates; akhilam jagat–the entire universe; yat chandramasi cha–and which is in the moon; yat agnau (cha)–and which is in fire; viddhi–know; tat tejah–that effulgence; mamakam–as Mine.
12 The light of the sun that illuminates the entire universe, the light of the moon and the radiance of fire—know that to be Mine.
gam avisya cha bhutani, dharayamy aham ojasa
avisya cha–Entering; gam–the earth; aham–I; dharayami–maintain; bhutani–the living beings; ojasa–by My potency. bhutva cha–And becoming; rasa-atmakah–the essential; somah–moon; (aham) pusnami–I nourish; sarvah–all; ausadhih–crops.
13 Entering the earth, I maintain all beings by My potency; and in the form of the life-giving moon, I nourish the crops.
aham vaisvanaro bhutva, praninam deham asritah
bhutva–Becoming; vaisvanarah–the power of digestion; aham–I; asritah–entering into; praninam deham–the bodies of the living beings; pachami–digest; chatuh-vidham annam–the four types of foodstuffs; prana-apana-samayuktah–through the agency of the ascending and descending vital airs.
14 Entering into the bodies of the living beings as the power of digestion, I digest the four types of eatables (chewed, sucked, licked and drunk), through the agency of the ascending and descending vital airs.
sarvasya chaham hrdi sannivistho
aham cha sannivistah–I am situated as the indwelling monitor, the Supersoul; hrdi–within the heart; sarvasya–of all beings. (jivasya)–The living being's; smrtih–remembrance; jnanam–knowledge; apohanam cha–and the disappearance of both; mattah–arise from Me; aham eva cha vedyah–and I alone am the object to be known; sarvaih vedaih–by means of all the Vedas. aham eva vedanta-krt–In the form of Vedavyasa, I am the revealer of the Vedanta; veda-vit cha–and the knower of the meaning of the Vedas.
15 I am situated (as the Supersoul) within the heart of all souls, and from Me arises the soul's remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness (according to his actions). I alone am the Sweet Absolute to be known through all the Vedas. I am the revealer of the Vedanta—Vedavyasa, and I am the knower of the Vedas.
dvav imau purusau loke, ksaras chaksara eva cha
loke–In the fourteen worlds; imau dvau eva–only these two types of; purusau–conscious entities; (sthah)–exist: ksarah cha–the perishable; aksarah cha–and the imperishable. (tayoh)–Of the two; sarvani bhutani–all beings, from Lord Brahma down to the lowest stationary beings; uchyate–are described; ksarah–as perishable, as they are fallen from their true nature; kuta-sthah–and the associates of the Lord, situated in their eternally perfect nature; (uchyate)–are described; aksarah–as imperishable; (vidvadbhih)–by the knowledgeable.
16 In this world, there are two types of beings: the perishable and the imperishable. All beings from Lord Brahma down to the lowest stationary life-forms are known as perishable (as they are fallen from their true nature). But those who are situated in their eternal, spiritual nature are known as imperishable (eternal associates of the Lord).
uttamah purusas tv anyah, paramatmety udahrtah
anyah tu–But otherwise; uttamah–the Supreme; purusah–Person; udahrtah–is described; iti–as; paramatma–the Supersoul, aksara-purusa or the Supreme Imperishable Personality; isvarah–the Lord: yah–who; avisya–entering; loka-trayam–the three worlds; avyayah–in His eternal form; bibharti–is maintaining all beings.
17 But completely distinct from both these types of beings is the Supreme Person, who is known as Paramatman, the Supersoul. He is the Supreme Lord. Entering the three worlds in His eternal form, He maintains all beings in the universe.
yasmat ksaram atito 'ham, aksarad api chottamah
yasmat–Because; aham atitah–I am transcendental to; ksaram–the perishable beings; cha–and; (aham) uttamah–I am superior; aksarat api–to the liberated souls, too; atah–therefore; prathitah asmi–I am glorified; loke–in the world; vede cha–and in the Vedas; purusottamah–as Purusottama, the Supreme Person.
18 Because I am transcendental to the perishable beings and also superior to My imperishable eternal associates, My glories are sung in the world and in the scriptures as Purusottama, the Supreme Person.
yo mam evam asammudho, janati purusottamam
(he) bharata–O descendant of Bharata; yah–one who; asammudhah (san)–being free from delusion; janati–knows; mam–Me; evam purusottamam–as the Supreme Person; sah sarva-vit–that knower of complete essential truth; bhajati–worships; mam–Me; sarva-bhavena–in all ways (in all spiritual relationships).
19 O Bharata, one who is free from delusion and knows Me as the Supreme Person of eternal, all-conscious, ecstatic form, is the perfect knower of full-fledged theism, and he worships Me in all ways (in the spiritual relationships of tranquillity, servitorship, friendship, parenthood, and consorthood).
iti guhyatamam sastram, idam uktam mayanagha
(he) anagha–O sinless one; iti–in this way; idam–this; guhyatamam–most hidden; sastram–purport of all the scriptures; uktam–has been described; maya–by Me. (he) bharata–O Bharata; etat buddhva–taking this to heart; buddhiman–the intelligent persons of fine theistic temperament; krta-krtyah cha syat–attain their goal.
20 O pure hearted Arjuna, I have thus explained to you this most hidden treasure of all the scriptures. O Bharata, embracing this in their hearts, the persons of fine theistic intelligence attain the perfection of their endeavours.
iti sri-mahabharate sata-sahasryam samhitayam vaiyasikyam
End of Chapter Fifteen
The Supreme Person
from the conversation
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