Bhagavadgita !

Chapter 15 Summary

Purushottama Prapti Yoga !

Sanskrit text in Devanagari, Kannada, Gujarati, English , Telugu

||om tat sat||
શ્રીભગવાનુવાચ:
અથશ્ચોર્ધ્વં પ્રશૃતાસ્તસ્યશાખા
ગુણપ્રવૃદ્ધા વિષયપ્રવાલાઃ|
અધશ્ચમૂલાન્યનુસન્તતાનિ
કર્માનુબન્ધીન મનુષ્યલોકે||2||

" They say that the indestructible Asvattha tree as having its roots upwards and branches downward and of which Vedas are the leaves. He who realizes this is a knower of Vedas. ".

Salutations to Sri Krishna!
Bhagavadgita
Purushottama Prapti Yoga
Chapter 15

In the Guna Traya Vibhaga Yoga, the fourteenth chapter, Krishna has stated that one can overcome the Rajo Tamo Sattvic Gunas and attain liberation through the unswerving path of devotion.

To attain the unswerving path of devotion is also not easy.

To be on the unswerving path of devotion, it is necessary to develop detachment about this world. Such detachment can be brought about by understanding the reality of the world. To bring out the reality about the world and thus develop detachment, Krishna brings about the discussion of Samsara, comparing that with a mythical Asvattha tree. The word Asvattha is derived out of two roots "sva" tomorrow, "na stha" not there". Thus, Asvattha means it is that which is not there tomorrow. That is an apt description of Samsara.

The comparison of life to a tree has very much been part of ancient lore in different contexts. In Mahabharata itself at one point (in Ananya Parva) it is said - "the eternal tree of Brahman which originated from the unmanifest as its root which is verily possessed of the intellect as its trunk which has for its hollows or the orifices the various organs, which has great elements as its branches, possessed of sense objects as its leaves, virtue and vice as its flowers with fruit of happiness and sorrow as a means for all living beings. This is the pleasure garden of Brahman. Felling this and splitting this with the supreme sword of Knowledge then as a result of obtaining brahman, one does not again return from that!" Here the samsara is effectively painted as a tree and felling that tree with the tool of knowledge or detachment one attains Brahman. Once one realizes Brahman, he does not return from that.

In Kathopanishad also there is a comparison of life to "Asvattha" is used. Bhagavadgita being seen as having the nectar of Vedas naturally continues that comparison.

One may wonder why compare life with a tree when we are also so used to the reading about "Samsara Sagara", the ocean of Samsara to cross which we pray to the Almighty. Shankaracharya gave a gem of clarity for the comparison with a tree. The Sanskrit word for tree is "Vruksha". Vruksha by etymology is that thing which can be felled. The tree is a thing that can be felled. The tree can be felled by an axe. Metaphorically the tree of Samsara also can be felled by the axe of detachment or the sword of knowledge.

The Asvattha tree with its roots or origins above in the Brahman, with its branches below with Vedas as the leaves is described as imperishable. The tree of Samsara is indeed something that is not there tomorrow, that is why it is called Asvattha. It is seemingly perishable. But it is eternal since the transmigratory life (of births and death) is there from the beginningless time. Thus, the tree of Samsara is eternal and imperishable. The Asvattha tree described as having with Vedas as it's leaves. We may also wonder why Vedas are seen as the leaves of the tree. Just as leaves sustain and protect the tree, the Vedas too sustain and protect the lifestyle practices of Samsara. Vedas contain elaborate Karmakanda to sustain the samsara.

Hence the Vedas as the leaves becomes very appropriate. The end of Vedas consisting of Vedanta too provides mechanisms to move away from the Samsara.

Krishna continues this comparison.

A person may grow upwards by being able to suppress the Gunas or grow lower following Gunas and being enmeshed or initiating actions which are driven by the Gunas towards achieving fruits of temporary happiness in life!
Bhagavan said:
અથશ્ચોર્ધ્વં પ્રશૃતાસ્તસ્યશાખા
ગુણપ્રવૃદ્ધા વિષયપ્રવાલાઃ|
અધશ્ચમૂલાન્યનુસન્તતાનિ
કર્માનુબન્ધીન મનુષ્યલોકે||2||

The branches of that tree extending upwards and down wards strengthened by Gunas have sense objects as their shoots. And the roots which are followed by actions spread down wards into the human world.

Bhagavan said:
નરૂપમસ્યેહ તથોપલભ્યતે
નાન્તો નચાદિર્ન ચ સંપ્રતિષ્ઠા|
This form of Samsara is not perceived in that way. Neither its end nor its beginning is perceived.
અશ્વત્થમેનં સુવિરૂઢમૂલા
મસંગશસ્ત્રેણ દૃઢેન છિત્વા||3||
તતઃ પદં તત્પરિમાર્ગિતવ્યં
યસ્મિન્ ગતા નનિવર્તન્તિ ભૂયઃ
After felling this Asvattha tree, whose roots are well developed, with the sword of detachment, there after that state has to be sought reaching which, one does not return.

તમેવ ચાદ્યં પુરુષં પ્રપદ્યે
યતઃ પ્રવૃત્તિઃ પ્રશ્રુતા પુરાણી||4||
That state has to be sought in prayerful mode, thinking I take refuge in him who is eternal from whom the whole universe ensued.

After bringing the analogy of the Asvattha tree and saying that that tree has to be felled with detachment then Krishna says take refuge in him who is the cause of the eternal manifestation.

Having said that that tree has to be cut with detachment, Krishna goes on to describe who are the people who would have that detachment to fell the tree.

They are:
Bhagavan said:
નિર્માનમોહા જિતસંગદોષા
અધ્યાત્મનિત્યા વિનિવૃત્તકામાઃ|
દ્વન્દ્વૈર્વિમુક્તા સુખદુઃખસંજ્ઞૈઃ
ગચ્છન્ત્યમૂઢાઃ પદમવ્યયં તત્ ||5||

The wise ones (અમૂઢાઃ) who are free from pride and discrimination (નિર્માનમોહા), who have conquered the evil of association (જિતસંગદોષા), who are ever devoted to spirituality (અધ્યાત્મનિત્યા) completely free from desires (વિનિવૃત્તકામાઃ), free from dualities (દ્વન્દ્વૈર્વિમુક્તા) called happiness and sorrow ( સુખદુઃખસંજ્ઞૈઃ) reach that undecaying ( અવ્યયમ્) state ( પદમ્).

When it is said that they reach a place from which they do not return, there is a subtlety that need to be understood. It is like the space in the jar, which merges with the space once the jar is broken. In each being there is a part of the Brahman. Once one reaches that state, one is absorbed in the Brahman not to return.

The same thread is continued in the subsequent slokas
Bhagavan said:
મમૈવાંશો જીવલોકે જીવભૂતસ્સનાતનઃ|
મનષ્ષષ્ઠાનીન્દ્રિયાણી પ્રકૃતિસ્થાનિ કર્ષતિ ||7||

Krishna says "It is a part of mine which becoming the eternal individual soul of beings, draws to itself the (five) organs which have the mind as the sixth and which abide in the nature.

Saying મમૈવાંશો - a part of me, Krishna is saying without doubt that Paramatma is part of every being. The Self in every being is the Paramatman when that being realizes the Self. This 'amsa' of the supreme being attracts the five organs and the mind. Just like wind carries away the odors, so is the "amsa' of Paramatman carries away these six which abide in nature along with it when it leaves. Krishna says - 'When the master leaves the body, he departs taking these (five organs with the mind as the sixth) just like the wind carries away the odors from their place'. (15.8)

People who are not wise will not see this while the soul enters or leaves the body. Those with the eye of knowledge see this. The yogis with diligent eye see this existing in themselves. The non-discriminating people who lack control do not see this. (15.10)

Krishna then elaborates again the universal presence of Brahman as indeed explained in the Vibhuti yoga. He says - the light in the Sun which illumines the whole world and the light in the moon to be that of Brahman (15.12).

Brahman sustains all beings through his power. And nourishes all plants by becoming Soma. Just as he nourishes the plants so does he nourish the beings (15.13).

As a nourisher he is also the digester and that comes in the following famous sloka:

Bhagavan said:
અહં વૈશ્વાનરોભૂત્વા પ્રાણિનામ્ દેહમાશ્રિતઃ|
પ્રાણાપાન સમાયુક્તઃ પચામ્યન્નં ચતુર્વિધમ્||14||

Not only that by becoming the Vaisnavara - the fire in the belly - residing in the bodies of all beings I in association with vital air "Prana " and "Apana" digest the four kinds of foods.

With "Him" as the cause of the digestion of the food, it is no surprise that we should eat only that much food as needed. We should eat food that is rightfully earned. We should eat food that is offered to "Him" before being served to others.

This sloka is the one recited by many before eating the food reminding self that the digester of the food is Vaisnavara who is a part of the Brahman.

Being digester of the food in all beings, he is also resident of the heart of all beings as stated here:

શ્રીભગવાનુવાચ:
સર્વસ્ય ચાહં હૃધિ સન્નિવિષ્ટો
મત્તઃ સ્મૃતિઃ જ્ઞાનમપોહનં ચ|

" I am seated in the hearts of all. From me are the memory knowledge and their loss too"

Then comes a statement which is widely quoted:
Bhagavan said:
વૈદૈશ્ચ સર્વૈરહમેવ વેદ્યો
વેદાન્તકૃદ્વેદવિદેવ ચાહમ્||15||
I am the one to be known by all Vedas.
I am the originator of Vedas. I am also the knower of Vedas.

Firmly stating that "I am the one to be known by all Vedas", Krishna confirms that Gita is the essence of all Vedas. -

Having elaborated on the Brahman Krishna comes back to elaborate on the form of Jiva.
Bhagavan said:
દ્વાવિમૌ પુરુષોલોકે ક્ષરશ્ચાક્ષર એવચ |
ક્ષરસ્સર્વાણિ ભૂતાનિ કૂટસ્થોsક્ષર ઉચ્યતે||16||
In this world there are two Purushas namely the mutable (ક્ષર) and the immutable (અક્ષર). The mutable consists of all beings. The one existing in Maya is immutable.

One person is ક્ષર in the sense of being subject to mutation. It is clearly perishable also. The other person is અક્ષર and is immutable. He is said to be in "Kuta" a hidden place or exists in place covered by Maya. For the one in the place covered by Maya when that Maya is removed, he attains the self and the position of that Uttama Purusha, the Brahman.

The Supreme Purusha (Purushottama) is different from the two. He is called Paramatman. He is pervading the three worlds sustains the same. (15.17)
Then Krishna elaborates that he is the Purushottama and says why he is the Purushottama.

Krishna adds " Since I am superior to Kshara and better than the Akshara I am the best Purusha or the Purushottama!"(15.18)

Krishna's "I" is the Brahman.

He who is free from delusion knows Brahman as the Purushottama and adores him every way (15.19).

This is the ultimate teaching of Krishna in the Purushottama Prapti yoga

||om tat sat||
ઇતિ ગુહ્યતમં શાસ્ત્ર મિદમુક્તં મયાsનઘ|
એતદ્ભુદ્ધ્વા બુદ્ધિમાન્ સ્યાત્કૃતકૃત્યશ્ચ ભારત||20||
"O Sinless one, this most secret scripture has been uttered by me. Oh Bharata! understanding this, one becomes wise and has his duties fulfilled",
|| om tat sat ||