Bhagavadgita !

Chapter 15 Summary

Purushottama Prapti Yoga !

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

||om tat sat||
ऊर्ध्वमूलमधश्शाखं अश्वत्थं प्राहुरव्ययम्।
छन्दांसि यस्यपर्णानि यस्तं वेद स वेदवित् ॥1||

" 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 !
Purushottamaprapti Yoga
Chapter 15

In the Gunatraya Vibhaga Yoga , the fourteenth chapter , Krishna has stated that one can overcome the Rajo Tamas 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 and with that brings in a comparison with Asvattha tree. 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 a tree depicting 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 Aranya Parva) it is said - "the eternal tree of Brahman which originated from the un-manifest 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 the comparison of life to "Asvattha" is used. Bhagavad-Gita 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. Sankaracharya 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 Aswattha tree with its roots or origins above in the Brahman , with its branches below with Vedas as the leaves is indeed imperishable. While the tree of Samsara is indeed something that is not there tomorrow , the Aswattha tree with Vedas as it's leaves is indeed imperishable. The one who knows this the perishability of the samsara tree and the imperishability of the Aswattha tree emanating from Brahman with Vedas as its leaves is the knower of the truth of Brahman.

We may also wonder why are Vedas 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 Karma kanda 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:
अथश्चोर्ध्वं प्रशृतास्तस्यशाखा
गुणप्रवृद्धा विषयप्रवालाः।
कर्मानुबन्धीन मनुष्यलोके॥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 in to the human world.

Bhagavan said:
नरूपमस्येह तथोपलभ्यते
नान्तो नचादिर्न च संप्रतिष्ठा।
This form is not perceived in that way, nor its end or its beginning.
अश्वत्थमेनं सुविरूढमूला
मसंगशस्त्रेण दृढेन छित्वा॥3||
After felling this Aswattha tree whose roots are well developed with the sword of detachment
ततः पदं तत्परिमार्गितव्यं
यस्मिन् गता ननिवर्तन्ति भूयः
|There after ( felling the tree) that state has to be sought going where one does not return !
तमेव चाद्यं पुरुषं प्रपद्ये
यतः प्रवृत्तिः प्रश्रुता पुराणी॥4||
(That state has to be sought thinking) I take refuge in him who is eternal from whom the whole universe ensued.

After bringing the analogy of the Aswattaha tree and telling 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:
निर्मानमोहा जितसंगदोषा
अध्यात्मनित्या विनिवृत्तकामाः।
द्वन्द्वैर्विमुक्ता सुखदुःखसंज्ञैः
गच्छन्त्यमूढाः पदमव्ययं तत् ॥5||
The wise ones (अमूढाः) who are free from pride and discrimination (निर्मानमोहा), who have conquered the evil of association ( जितसंगदोषा), who are ever devoted to spirituality ( अध्यात्मनित्या) completely free from desires (विनिवृत्तकामाः), free from dualities (द्वन्द्वैर्विमुक्ता) called happiness and sorrow ( सुखदुःखसंज्ञैः) reach that un-decaying ( अव्ययम्) state ( पदम्).

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 shlokas
Bhagavan said:
ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूतस्सनातनः।
मनष्षष्ठानीन्द्रियाणी प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति ॥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 ममैवांशो - 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 shloka:

The Bhagavan said:
अहं वैश्वानरोभूत्वा प्राणिनाम् देहमाश्रितः।
प्राणापान समायुक्तः पचाम्यन्नं चतुर्विधम्॥14||

Not only that by becoming the Visvanara - 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 shloka 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:

सर्वस्य चाहं हृधि सन्निविष्टो
मत्तः स्मृतिः ज्ञानमपोहनं च।

" 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:
वैदैश्च सर्वैरहमेव वेद्यो
वेदान्तकृद्वेदविदेव चाहम्॥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" Krishan 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:
द्वाविमौ पुरुषोलोके क्षरश्चाक्षर एवच ।
क्षरस्सर्वाणि भूतानि कूटस्थोsक्षर उच्यते॥16||
In this world, there are two Purushas namely the mutable (क्षर) and the immutable (अक्षर). The mutable consists of all beings. The one existing in Maya is immutable.

One person is क्षर in the sense of being subject to mutation. It is clearly perishable also. The other person is अक्षर 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 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||
इति गुह्यतमं शास्त्र मिदमुक्तं मयाsनघ।
एतद्भुद्ध्वा बुद्धिमान् स्यात्कृतकृत्यश्च भारत॥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 ||