ऊर्ध्वमूलमधःशाखमश्वत्थं प्राहुरव्ययम् ।
छन्दांसि यस्य पर्णानि यस्तं वेद स वेदवित् ॥१॥
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ śākham aśvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam
chandāṁsi yasya parṇāni yas taṁ veda sa vedavit
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: It has been told that there is an imperishable banyan tree that has its roots above, its branches below and its leaves are the Vedic mantras. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.
अधश्चोर्ध्वं प्रसृतास्तस्य शाखा गुणप्रवृद्धा विषयप्रवालाः ।
अधश्च मूलान्यनुसन्ततानि कर्मानुबन्धीनि मनुष्यलोके ॥२॥
adhaś cordhvaṁ prasṛtās tasya śākhā
adhaś ca mūlāny-anusantatāni
Some branches of this tree spread upwards and others grow downwards, nourished by the modes of nature. The twigs on the tree are the sense-objects, and the roots that extend downwards reach the human plane and are the cause of the binding activities of human society.
न रूपमस्येह तथोपलभ्यते नान्तो न चादिर्न च सम्प्रतिष्ठा ।
अश्वत्थमेनं सुविरूढमूलं असङ्गशस्त्रेण दृढेन छित्त्वा ॥३॥
ततः पदं तत्परिमार्गितव्यं यस्मिन्गता न निवर्तन्ति भूयः ।
तमेव चाद्यं पुरुषं प्रपद्ये यतः प्रवृत्तिः प्रसृता पुराणी ॥४॥
na rūpam asyeha tathopalabhyate
nānto na cādir na ca sampratiṣṭhā
aśvattham enaṁ suvirūḍha-mūlaṁ
asaṅga-śastreṇa dṛḍhena chittvā
tataḥ padaṁ tat parimārgitavyaṁ
yasmin gatā na nivartanti bhūyaḥ
tam eva cādyaṁ puruṣaṁ prapadye
yataḥ pravṛttiḥ prasṛtā purāṇī
The form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. Indeed, none can fully comprehend where the tree begins, where it ends, or where its foundation lies. One must cut down this strong-rooted banyan tree with the weapon of detachment and search out that place from which, once having gone, one never returns. One must take shelter of the Supreme Person, from whom all things have originated from time immemorial.
Herein, the material world is compared to a great banyan tree whose roots are above and branches below and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns etc. This is an analogy of the material world as a reflection of reality, whose origin, foundation and end are fully indiscernible to conditioned living beings in the grasp of material illusion. One must cut through this illusion with the weapon of detachment and search out knowledge of the Supreme Abode of Kṛṣṇa. The Taittirīya Āraṇyaka says the following:
ūrdhva-mūlam avāk-chākhaṁ vṛkṣaṁ yo veda samprati
na sa jātu janaḥ śraddhadhyāt mṛtyur mā mārayād itiḥ
He who knows this banyan tree with roots upwards and branches downward acquires the faith (śraddhā) that death will not conquer him. (Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 18.104.22.168)
निर्मानमोहा जितसङ्गदोषा अध्यात्मनित्या विनिवृत्तकामाः ।
द्वन्द्वैर्विमुक्ताः सुखदुःखसंज्ञैर्-गच्छन्त्यमूढाः पदमव्ययं तत् ॥५॥
dvandvair vimuktāḥ sukha-duḥkha-saṁjñair
gacchanty-amūḍhāḥ padam avyayaṁ tat
Free from pride, illusion and bad association, dedicated to spiritual pursuits, forsaking lust, unburdened by the dualities of happiness and distress – such wise persons attain the eternal realm.
न तद्भासयते सूर्यो न शशाङ्को न पावकः ।
यद्गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम ॥६॥
na tad bhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
My Supreme Abode is not illumined by sun, moon or fire. Once attaining that abode, one never returns.
ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूतः सनातनः ।
मनःषष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति ॥७॥
mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛtisthāni karṣati
The living beings of this world are My eternal particles. These living beings struggle with the five senses and the mind, which is the sixth sense within.
शरीरं यदवाप्नोति यच्चाप्युत्क्रामतीश्वरः ।
गृहीत्वैतानि संयाति वायुर्गन्धानिवाशयात् ॥८॥
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti yac cāpy-utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
Whenever the individual being, the master of the body, accepts or gives up a material body, his senses and mind follow him to the next birth, just as the wind carries a fragrance from its source.
Perfection in bhakti-yoga, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is not achieved without striving to be free from false pride and illusion. To achieve this one should keep company with like-minded persons in pursuit of the Absolute Truth. In other words one should give up bad association.
asat-saṅga tyāga – ei vaiṣṇava-ācāra
strī saṅgī – eka asādhu kṛṣṇābhakta āra
A Vaiṣṇava (bhakti-yogī) should always avoid bad association, those who are materially attached, who are addicted to illicit sex and who are not interested in the cultivation of the Absolute Truth. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.87)
The Supreme Abode of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the final destination of the bhakti-yogī and Kṛṣṇa says that His abode is not illuminated by sun, moon or fire. Not illuminated by sun, moon or fire means that the Supreme Abode is beyond the reach of the darkness that exists in the material world. In the Supreme Abode of Kṛṣṇa, known by great self-realised yogīs as Goloka Vṛndāvana, everything is filled with the self-effulgence of Kṛṣṇa.
na tatra sūryo bhāti na candra-tārakaṁ
nemā vidyuto bhānti kuto’yam agniḥ
tam eva bhāntam anubhāti sarvaṁ
tasya bhāsā sarvam idaṁ vibhāti
The sun does not shine there, nor the moon, nor the stars, nor does lightning shine. How then can fire burn? When The Supreme Being shines, all these shine. Through His effulgence He illuminates all things. (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.15)
Kṛṣṇa also says that once attaining that Supreme Abode, one never returns to this world of birth and death. The material world is filled with unlimited fallibilities, but the Supreme Abode is infallible. The fallibility of the material world includes envy, greed, lust, hate, vengefulness etc. but these material qualities cannot enter the abode of Kṛṣṇa.
Some thinkers have postulated that the living beings in this material world have originally fallen from their eternal position in the Supreme Abode. Such persons are known as ‘Fall-vādīs’. According to the thinking of the ‘Fall-vādīs’, the Supreme Abode is fallible and subject to envy, dissatisfaction, greed, hate and so on. The word ‘fallible’ comes from the Latin word fallere that means ‘to deceive’. In order to deceive there must be ignorance, forgetfulness and suspicion etc. However, considering that no material qualities exist in the Supreme Abode, it is not possible for any liberated living being there to become contaminated by material qualities.
Kṛṣṇa says that once going to that abode one never returns to the material world (yad gatvā na nivartante). Kṛṣṇa does not say that going again to that Supreme Abode one never returns. Therefore, it is understood by Kṛṣṇa’s own words that no one falls from the Supreme Abode.
All living beings in the spiritual and material worlds are eternally Kṛṣṇa’s parts and particles – mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ. However, the living beings who are conditioned by material nature and who have no control of their senses or knowledge of the Supreme Abode, are again and again reborn within the world of birth and death. At the time of death they are carried away to their next body by material desires and the mind, just as a fragrance is carried by the wind.
श्रोत्रं चक्षुः स्पर्शनं च रसनं घ्राणमेव च ।
अधिष्ठाय मनश्चायं विषयानुपसेवते ॥९॥
śrotraṁ cakṣuḥ sparśanaṁ ca rasanaṁ ghrāṇam eva ca
adhiṣṭhāya manaś cāyaṁ viṣayān upasevate
The living beings enjoy the objects of the senses and preside over the ears, eyes, skin, tongue, nose and the mind.
उत्क्रामन्तं स्थितं वापि भुञ्जानं वा गुणान्वितम् ।
विमूढा नानुपश्यन्ति पश्यन्ति ज्ञानचक्षुषः ॥१०॥
utkrāmantaṁ sthitaṁ vāpi bhuñjānaṁ vā guṇānvitam
vimūḍhā nānupaśyanti paśyanti jñāna-cakṣuṣaḥ
Those who are ignorant can neither understand when the individual unit of consciousness is leaving the body, when it is residing within the body, or when it is enjoying the objects of the senses. Only those with the eyes of knowledge can perceive this.
यतन्तो योगिनश्चैनं पश्यन्त्यात्मन्यवस्थितम् ।
यतन्तोऽप्यकृतात्मानो नैनं पश्यन्त्यचेतसः ॥११॥
yatanto yoginaś cainaṁ paśyanty-ātmany-avasthitam
yatanto’py akṛtātmāno nainaṁ paśyanty-acetasaḥ
The sincere yogī sees the ātmā situated within, but those who lack true understanding and self-control cannot perceive the ātmā no matter how hard they try.
The ātmā is not perceivable by the material senses, nor can it be perceived by the aid of a microscope or any such scientific technology because it is transcendental, being composed of sac-cid-ānanda.
However, the presence of the ātmā can be understood by one’s intelligence when one hears from Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā. Those with misguided intelligence and who are without knowledge cannot understand the ātmā by any endeavour, either when it is residing in the body or when it is leaving the body at the time of death. Only those with actual knowledge, who use their intelligence properly, can understand the ātmā.
यदादित्यगतं तेजो जगद्भासयतेऽखिलम् ।
यच्चन्द्रमसि यच्चाग्नौ तत्तेजो विद्धि मामकम् ॥१२॥
yad āditya-gataṁ tejo jagad bhāsayate’khilam
yac candramasi yac cāgnau tat tejo viddhi māmakam
Know that I am the light of the sun, the moon and fire that illuminates the entire world.
गामाविश्य च भूतानि धारयाम्यहमोजसा ।
पुष्णामि चौषधीः सर्वाः सोमो भूत्वा रसात्मकः ॥१३॥
gām āviśya ca bhūtāni dhārayāmy-aham ojasā
puṣṇāmi cauṣadhīḥ sarvāḥ somo bhūtvā rasātmakaḥ
By My potency I enter the earth and maintain all living beings. I nourish all plants by becoming the moon, and provide them with the essence of life.
अहं वैश्वानरो भूत्वा प्राणिनां देहमाश्रितः ।
प्राणापानसमायुक्तः पचाम्यन्नं चतुर्विधम् ॥१४॥
ahaṁ vaiśvānaro bhūtvā prāṇināṁ deham āśritaḥ
prāṇāpāna-samāyuktaḥ pachāmy-annaṁ catur-vidham
I am the fire of digestion that resides in all beings, and I unite with the incoming and outgoing life-airs to digest all types of food.
सर्वस्य चाहं हृदि सन्निविष्टो मत्तः स्मृतिर्ज्ञानमपोहनञ्च ।
वेदैश्च सर्वैरहमेव वेद्यो वेदान्तकृद्वेदविदेव चाहम् ॥१५॥
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
I am situated in the hearts of all living beings, and from Me arises remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. I alone am to be known through all the Vedas. I reveal the Vedānta and am the knower of the Vedas.
By nature the material world is a dark and lifeless place. Without luminaries like the sun, moon and stars, the world would be dark indeed. Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that the light of these celestial bodies emanates from Him and that He is also the potency that digests food and nourishes all life.
tat padaṁ paramaṁ brahma sarvaṁ vibhajate jagat
mamaiva tad-dhanaṁ tejo jñātum arhasi bhārata
O Bhārata, The Supreme Brahman illuminates the entire universe. You should know that this great effulgence belongs to Me. (Hari-vaṁśa 2.114.11)
To think that matter alone is the source of life is certainly a less intelligent proposal. The only example we have is that which we see all around us – that life comes from life. We also see that life is intelligently designed. Therefore, the rational conclusion should be that all life arises from an intelligent life source. Everything comes from Kṛṣṇa.
oṁ janmādy asya yataḥ
The Supreme is He from whom the creation, sustenance and annihilation of the manifested universe arises. (Vedānta-sūtra 1.1.2)
Kṛṣṇa also says that He is situated in the hearts of all living beings as the Paramātmā and from Him all remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness arises. He says it is He alone who is to be known through the Vedas. He reveals the Vedānta, the end of knowledge, and it is He who is the knower of the Vedas. This is also confirmed in the Hari-vaṁśa as follows:
vede rāmāyaṇe caiva purāṇe bhārate tathā
ādāv-cānte ca madhye ca hariḥ sarvatra gīyate
In the beginning, the middle and the end, all the Vedas, the Rāmāyaṇa, the Purāṇas and the Mahābhārata only glorify Kṛṣṇa. (Hari-vaṁśa 3.132.35)
The Vedas are divided into four main divisions – Ṛg, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva Vedas. Then comes the Upaniṣads and supplementary literature such as the eighteen Purāṇas (including the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam), Mahābhārata (Bhagavad-gītā), Rāmāyaṇa and Vedānta-sūtra. In all these it is Hari (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) who is to be known.
द्वाविमौ पुरुषौ लोके क्षरश्चाक्षर एव च ।
क्षरः सर्वाणि भूतानि कूटस्थोऽक्षर उच्यते ॥१६॥
dvāv-imau puruṣau loke kṣaraś cākṣara eva ca
kṣaraḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni kūṭastho’kṣara ucyate
There are two types of beings – those in the material world and those in the spiritual world (Vaikuṇṭha). In the material world all living beings are fallible. In the spiritual world, all living beings are said to be infallible.
उत्तमः पुरुषस्त्वन्यः परमात्मेत्युधाहृतः ।
यो लोकत्रयमाविश्य बिभर्त्यव्यय ईश्वरः ॥१७॥
uttamaḥ puruṣas tv-anyaḥ paramātmety-udhāhṛtaḥ
yo loka-trayam āviśya bibharty-avyaya īśvaraḥ
Yet there is another Being – the Supreme Person, the imperishable Super Consciousness, who enters the upper, middle and lower planetary systems and maintains them.
यस्मात्क्षरमतीतोऽहमक्षरादपि चोत्तमः ।
अतोऽस्मि लोके वेदे च प्रथितः पुरुषोत्तमः ॥१८॥
yasmāt kṣaram atīto’ham akṣarādapi cottamaḥ
ato’smi loke vede ca prathitaḥ puruṣottamaḥ
I am superior to all fallible beings and I transcend even those who are infallible. Thus I am glorified throughout the universe and in the Vedas as the Supreme Person (Puruṣottama).
यो मामेवमसम्मूढो जानाति पुरुषोत्तमम् ।
स सर्वविद्भजति मां सर्वभावेन भारत ॥१९॥
yo mām evam asammūḍho jānāti puruṣottamam
sa sarva-vid bhajati māṁ sarva-bhāvena bhārata
O Bhārata, whoever is free from bewilderment knows Me as the Supreme Person. Such a person knows everything and worships Me with all his heart.
इति गुह्यतमं शास्त्रमिदमुक्तं मयानघ ।
एतद्बुद्ध्वा बुद्धिमान्स्यात्कृतकृत्यश्च भारत ॥२०॥
iti guhyatamaṁ śāstram idam uktaṁ mayānagha
etad buddhvā buddhimān syāt kṛta-kṛtyaś ca bhārata
O faultless one, I have thus explained to you the greatest secret of the śāstra. By understanding this, O Bhārata, one finds wisdom and all his activities become perfect.
The fallible beings in this world are those under the three modes of material nature and the infallible beings are those engaged in the pursuit of transcendental knowledge through the cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The infallible living beings are known as liberated. Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that He is superior to the fallible living beings and He is also transcendental to those who are infallible because He is the Supreme Person.
This means that at no time do the liberated living beings become the Supreme or one with Kṛṣṇa. He is, and always will be, the Supreme Person. This is the declaration found in Bhagavad-gītā and throughout the Vedic literature.
ekale īśvara kṛṣṇa āra saba bhṛtya
yāre yaiche nācāya se taiche kare nṛtya
Kṛṣṇa alone is the Supreme Controller. All others are His servants. They dance as He makes them do so. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 5.142)
satyaṁ satyaṁ punaḥ satyam uddhṛtya bhujam-ucyate
vedāc chāstraṁ paraṁ nāsti na devaḥ keśavāt paraḥ
Raising my arms in the air, I loudly declare that there is no text greater than the Vedas, and no Deity superior to Keśava (Kṛṣṇa). Again and again I say this is true, this is true, this is true. (Hari-vaṁśa, Śeṣa-dharma-parva 2.15)
Perfection of life in the material world means the cultivation of social structure (dharma), economic development (artha), material enjoyment (kāma) and salvation (mokṣa). History shows us that seldom ever does a civilisation progress beyond social structure, economic development and material enjoyment. Salvation is the fourth goal of life and is rarely sought by those absorbed in material consciousness. Such hedonistic societies are easily satisfied by the fulfilment of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Even more rare than salvation however is the fifth goal of life, prema-bhakti, or bhakti-yoga, the yoga of love.
ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛndāvanaṁ
ramyā kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū vargeṇa yā kalpitā
śrīmad-bhāgavataṁ pramāṇam amalaṁ premā pumartho mahān
śrī-caitanya-mahāprabhor matam idaṁ tatrādaro naḥ paraḥ
The Supreme Person, Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His transcendental realm of Vṛndāvana are the most worshippable objects. The supreme method of worshipping Him is that adopted by the beautiful gopīs, the young wives of Vraja. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the most pure and most authoritative śāstra, and divine love is the fifth and highest achievement of human life beyond dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa. It is thus known as pañcama-puruṣārtha. This is the verdict of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and we have the highest regard for this conclusion. (Caitanya-mata-mañjuṣa)
Thus, the student of Bhagavad-gītā has little interest in the first four goals of human society because all such achievements are temporary and do not lead to union (yoga) with the Supreme Person. Only that which leads one to Śrī Kṛṣṇa should be the goal of one’s life.
ॐ तत्सदिति श्रीमहाभारते शतसाहस्रयां संहितायां
श्रीमद्भगवदीतासूपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविद्यायं योगशास्त्रे श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे
पुरूषोत्तमयोगो नाम पञ्चदशोऽध्यायः।।
oṁ tat saditi śrī-mahābhārate-śata-sāhasryāṁ saṁhitāyāṁ
śrīmad bhagavad-gītāsūpaniṣatsu brahma-vidyāyāṁ yoga-śāstre śrī kṛṣṇārjuna-saṁvāde
puruṣottama-yogo nāma pañcadaśo’dhyāyaḥ
OṀ TAT SAT – Thus ends Chapter Fifteen entitled Puruṣottama Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.