Author Topic: CHAPTER 15 - Puruṣottama Yoga  (Read 255 times)


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CHAPTER 15 - Puruṣottama Yoga
« on: April 09, 2019, 11:58:42 PM »
The Tree of Samsara

Because all living beings are dependent on Me for the fruits of (their) actions, and the wise for the fruit of their knowledge, therefore those who serve Me with Bhakti - Yoga (Devotion of Love) cross beyond the gunas by My Grace, through the attainment of knowledge, and attain liberation (moksha); much more so those who rightly understand the real nature of the Self. Wherefore the Lord proceeds in the present discourse to teach the real nature of the Self, though unasked by Arjuna. First he describes the nature of Samsara or mundane existence by a figurative representation as a tree in order to produce vairagya or absence of all attachment. For, he alone who is free from all attachment, and no other person, is fit for attaining the knowledge of the real nature of the Lord.

The Blessed Lord said:
1. They speak of the indestructible Asvattha having its root above and branches below, whose leaves are the metres. He who knows it knows the Vedas.
As Brahman with Maya or the unmanifested potentiality is subtle in point of time, as He is the Cause, as He is eternal, as He is great, He is spoken of as the One above. The One above is the root of this Tree of Samsara, which is therefore said to have its root above. The Sruti says: "With root above and branches below, this Asvattha is eternal." (Katha - Up. 3 - 2 - 1). In the Purana also it is said:
"The root from which the Eternal Tree of Brahman" has sprung is the Avyakta, the Unmanifested. It has developed by the strength of the same (Avyakta). Its trunk is Buddhi, the sense-apertures Its hollows, the great elements Its boughs, the sense-objects Its leaves and branches, dharma and a-dharma Its fair blossoms, pleasure and pain Its fruits affording livelihood to all creatures. And this is the resort of Brahman (the Highest Self), and that Highest Self is (the essence) of that Tree of Brahman. Having cut asunder and split the Tree with the mighty "sword of knowledge and then attained to the Bliss of the Self, none comes back from there again." They speak of the illusory Samsara as a tree rooted above. The Mahat, the Ahamkara (Egoism), the Tanmatras (the Elemental Essences), etc., are its branches as it were, and these extend downwards; whence the Tree is said to have its branches below. They call this tree ‘Asvattha’ because it will not abide the same even till tomorrow, because it undergoes destruction every moment. The illusion (Maya) of samsara having existed in time without beginning, they say that this Tree of samsara is eternal; for, it rests, as is well known, on a continuous series of births which is without beginning or end and is thus eternal. The Tree of Samsara is further qualified thus: The metres (chhandases) are its leaves as it were; they are so called because, like leaves, the metres (Vedas) such as Rik, Yajus and Saman protect (‘chad’ to cover) the Tree of Samsara. Just as the leaves of a tree serve to protect the tree, so do the Vedas serve to protect the Tree of Samsara, as treating of dharma (merit) and adharma (demerit), with their causes and fruits. He who knows the Tree of Samsara and its Root as described above is a knower of the Teaching of the Vedas. Indeed nothing else, not even an iota, remains to be known beyond this Tree of Samsara and its Root. He who knows It is therefore omniscient. - This is to extol the knowledge of the Tree of Samsara and its Root. Now follows another figurative representation of the members of this Tree of Samsara.

2. Below and above are its branches spread, nourished by the gunas, sense-objects its buds; and below in the world of man stretch forth the roots ending in action.
From man down to unmoving objects below, and from him up to the abode of Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, whatever regions are attained as the suitable reward of knowledge and action, - each varying according to the character of knowledge or of action, - they are the spreading branches as it were of that Tree; they are nourished and fattened by the gunas of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, which form their material basis (upadana). The sense-objects such as sound are the buds, as it were, sprouting from the branches of the physical and other bodies which are the result of actions. The Highest Root of the Tree of Samsara has been mentioned already, and now will be mentioned the secondary roots as it were (of the universe), as leading to acts of dharma or a-dharma: viz., the latent impressions (vasanas) of the feelings of attachment and aversion, etc., which were caused by the fruits of actions. These roots are spread in this world of man below - below the regions of Devas and the like - and give rise to acts of dharma and a-dharma, these acts springing up on the up - springing of those vasanas. Those roots are spread especially in the world of man. It is while here, as is well known to all, that men concern themselves with action.

Cut the Tree and seek the Goal
And as to the Tree of Samsara just described

3. Its form is not perceived as such here, neither its end nor its origin nor its existence. Having cut asunder this firm-rooted Asvattha with the strong sword of dispassion.

4. Then That Goal should be sought for whither having gone none return again. "I seek refuge in that Primeval Purusha whence streamed forth the Ancient Current."
As such: as described above. Its form as such is perceived by nobody here; for it is very much like a dream, a mirage, a gandharva nagara (an imaginary city in the sky) produced by a juggler's art; indeed, it appears and disappears. It has therefore no finality, no end. Neither has it a beginning: nobody knows ‘It has proceeded from this point.’ Its existence - i.e., its nature between the origin and the end - is perceived by nobody. Dispassion: freedom from attachment to children, to wealth, and to the world. Strong: strengthened by a resolute bent of mind towards the Supreme Self and sharpened again and again on the whetstone of the practice of true discrimination. Cut asunder: uprooted the Tree of samsara with its seed. Then the aspirant should seek for and know the abode of Vishnu beyond that Tree. Those who have reached this Goal never return to Samsara. How is that Goal to be sought after? - It is sought after thus: “I seek refuge in Him, the Primeval Purusha,” who is spoken of as the Goal; i.e., He is to be sought for by way of seeking refuge in Him.
Who is this Purusha? It is that Purusha from whom the emanation of the Tree of illusory Samsara streamed forth, just as illusory sights (maya) issue from out of a juggler.

The Path to the Goal
What sort of persons reach that Goal? Listen:

5. Free from pride and delusion, with the evil of attachment conquered, ever dwelling in the Self, their desires having completely turned away, liberated from the pairs of opposites known as pleasure and pain, the undeluded reach that Goal Eternal.
Dwelling, etc.: constantly engaged in the contemplation of the nature of the Supreme Self. Their desires, etc.: they become samnyasins, all desires having fled without leaving any taint behind. That: described above.

The Goal is the Lord's Glorious Being

6. That, the sun illumines not, nor the moon, nor fire; That is My Supreme Abode, to which having gone none return.
The sun, though possessed of the power of illumining all, does not illumine that Abode, the Abode of Light. That Abode to which having gone none return, and which the sun and other (luminous bodies) do not illumine, is the Highest Abode of Vishnu.

Jiva is a ray of the Lord
It has been said ‘to which having gone none return.’ But, as everybody knows, going ultimately leads to returning, union to disunion. How can it be said that there is no returning of those who have reached that Abode? Listen; how that may be is thus explained:

7. A ray of Myself, the eternal Jiva in the world of Jivas, attracts the senses, with manas the sixth, abiding in Prakriti.
An integral portion of Myself - of the Supreme Self, of Narayana, - is the eternal Jiva (individual soul) in Samsara, manifesting himself in everyone as the doer and enjoyer. He is like the sun reflected in water; the reflected sun is but a portion of the real sun; and on the removal of water the reflected sun returns to the original sun and remains as that very sun. Or, it is like the akasa (space) in the jar, which is limited by the upadhi of the jar. This akasa of the jar is but a portion of the infinite akasa and becomes one with the latter on the destruction of the jar which is the cause of limitation; then it returns no more. Thus the statement "to which having gone none return" is quite explicable.

Objection: How can there be a portion of the Supreme Self who has no parts? If He has parts. He would be liable to destruction on the separation of parts.
Answer: Our theory is not open to this objection; for, it is only a portion limited by the upadhi set up by avidya; it is a portion as it were, an imaginary portion. This truth was established at length in the thirteenth discourse.

How Jiva dwells in the body and departs from it
How does the Jiva or individual Soul, who is only an imaginary portion of Myself, live in the world? Or how does he leave it? Listen: He draws round himself the (five) senses, such as hearing, with the manas, the sixth sense - those six senses which abide in the Prakriti, i.e., in their respective seats such as the orifice of the ear. When (does he draw them round himself)?

8. When the Lord acquires a body, and when He leaves it, He takes these and goes, as the wind takes scents from their seats.
When the Jiva, the lord of the aggregate of the body and the rest, is to leave the body, then (he draws round himself the senses and the manas). When he leaves a former body and enters another, he does so, taking these – the (five) senses with the manas the sixth - with him as the wind takes with it the scents of flowers. What then are those (senses)?

9. The ear, the eye and the touch, the taste and the smell, using these and the manas, he enjoys the sense-objects.
Using the manas along with each sense separately, the Dweller in the body enjoys the sense objects such as sound.

The Self is visible only to the eye of knowledge

10. Him who departs, stays and enjoys, who is conjoined with gunas, the deluded perceive not; they see, who possess the eye of knowledge.
Him who thus dwells in the body, who leaves the body I once acquired, who stays in the body, who perceives sound and other objects, who is always in association with gunas, i.e., whom all dispositions of mind - such as pleasure, pain delusion - invariably accompany, the deluded do not recognize. They do not see Him, though in this way He comes quite within the range of their vision, because they are deluded in various ways, their minds being forcibly attracted by the enjoyment of objects seen and unseen. Ah! such is human perversity. - Thus, does the Lord regret. - But those whose wisdom-eye has been opened by an authoritative source of knowledge, i.e., who possess the power of discrimination, do recognize Him.

No self-knowledge without Yoga
A few, however,

11. Those who strive, endued with Yoga, perceive Him dwelling in the self; though striving, those of unrefined self, devoid of wisdom, perceive Him not. Those who strive, well balanced in their mind, behold Him, the Self, dwelling in their own mind (buddhi): they recognize Him, "This I am." But though striving to know Him by means of proper authorities such as the scriptures (sastra), men of unrefined self - whose self (mind) has not been regenerated by austerity (tapas) and subjugation of the senses, who have not abandoned their evil ways, whose pride has not been subdued, behold Him not.

Immanence of the Lord, (1) as the all - illumining Light of Consciousness
That Goal (the Supreme Self) which even such luminaries as fire and sun, the illuminators of all, do not illumine; which having reached, the seekers of moksha never return towards samsara; of which the Jivas (individual souls) are only parts manifesting themselves in conformity to the upadhis, as the akasa (space) in a jar is but a portion of the all-pervading akasa, with a view to show that that Goal is the essence of all and the real basis (i.e., object) of all experience, the Lord proceeds in the next four verses to give a brief summary of His manifestations.

12. That light which residing in the sun illumines the whole world, that which is in the moon and in the fire, that light do thou know to be Mine.
Light: splendor. Mine: Vishnu’s. Or, 'light ‘may be understood to mean the light of consciousness (chaitanya).

Objection: The light of consciousness exists in all alike, in the moving and unmoving objects: then why this qualification of light as ‘residing in the sun, ’etc.?
Answer: This objection does not apply here; for, the qualification may be explained on the ground that the better manifestation (of consciousness in the sun, etc.) is due to a higher proportion of Sattva. In the sun and other bodies (mentioned here) the Sattva is very brilliant and luminous; wherefore it is in them that the light of consciousness is better manifested. Hence the qualification; not that the light is a specific attribute of those bodies only. To illustrate it by an example from ordinary experience: A man's face is not reflected in a wall, in a piece of wood or the like; but the same face is reflected in a mirror in a greater or less degree of clearness, according as the mirror is more or less transparent.

(2) As the all-sustaining Life

13. Penetrating the earth I support all beings by (My) Energy; and having become the watery moon I nourish all herbs.
Energy (ojas): the energy of the Isvara. It is devoid of desires and passions. It permeates the earth for supporting the world. Held by that energy, the massive earth does not fall down and is not shattered to pieces. So it is chanted as follows: "Whereby the vast heaven and the earth are firmly held." "He held the earth firm." - (Taittiriya - Samhita, 4 - 1 - 8). Thus, do I, penetrating the Earth, support the moving and unmoving objects.
Moreover, becoming the savoury moon, I nourish all the herbs germinating on the Earth, such as rice and wheat, and make them savoury. Soma (the moon) is the repository of all savours. It is indeed the savoury moon that nourishes all herbs by infusing savours into them.

(3) As the Digestive Fire in all living organisms

14. Abiding in the body of living beings as Vaisvanara, associated with Prana and Apana, I digest the four-fold food.
Vaisvanara: the fire abiding in the stomach, as said in the sruti: "This fire is Vaisvanara, which is within man and by which this food is digested. " (Bri. Up. 5 - 9 - 1 ) Fourfold food: the food which has to be eaten by mastication, that which has to be sucked out, the food which has to be eaten by devouring, and that which is eaten by licking. He who regards that the eater is the Vaisvanara Fire, that the food eaten by Fire is the Soma (moon), and that thus the two together form Fire - Soma (Agni - shomau), is free from all taint of impurity in food,

(4) As the Self in the hearts of all

15. And I am seated in the hearts of all: from Me are memory, knowledge, as well as their loss; it is I who am to be known by all the Vedas, I am indeed the author of the Vedanta as well as the knower of the Vedas.
I dwell in the hearts (buddhi) of all sentient beings as their Self. Wherefore from Me, the Self of all sentient beings are memory, knowledge, as well as their loss. Just as knowledge and memory occur in righteous persons as a result of their good deeds (punyakarmani), so, as a result of their sins, loss of memory and knowledge occurs in the sinful. I, the Supreme Self, am to be known in all the Vedas. It is I who cause the Teaching of the Vedanta (Upanishads) to be handed down in regular succession, and It is I who know the Vedic Teaching.

The Lord beyond the perishable and the imperishable universe
From XV. 12, et seq, a. summary has been given of the glories of Narayana, the Blessed Lord, as manifested through superior upadhis. Now, in the following verses, the Lord proceeds to determine the true nature of the same (Blessed Lord), who is pure and unlimited, being quite distinct from all perishable (akshara) and imperishable (akshara) upadhis. First, then, the Lord arranges all that is taught in the preceding as well as in the succeeding discourses in three groups and says:

16. There are these two beings in the world the perishable and the imperishable: the perishable comprises all creatures; the immutable is called the imperishable.
In samsara, there are two categories, we see, arranged in two separate groups of beings, spoken of as ‘purushas.’ One group consists of the perishable (kshara); and the other is the imperishable (akshara) - the contrary of the first - viz., the Maya-Sakti, the Illusion - Power of the Lord, the germ from which the perishable being takes its birth, the seat of all the latent impressions (samskaras) of desires, actions, etc., pertaining to the numerous mortal creatures. As to what the two beings (Purushas) comprise, the Lord Himself says: The perishable comprises the whole universe of changing forms; the imperishable is what is known as immutable (kutastha) - that which remains immovable like a heap. Or, ‘kutastha’ means illusion, and ‘kutastha’ means that which manifests itself in various forms of illusion and deception. As the seed of Samsara is endless, it is said to be imperishable.
Distinct from these two, - the perishable and the imperishable, and untainted by the evils of the two upadhis of the perishable and imperishable, eternal, pure, intelligent and free by nature is the Highest Spirit.

17. But distinct is the Highest Spirit spoken of as the Supreme Self, the indestructible Lord who penetrates and sustains the three worlds.
But the Highest Spirit is quite distinct from the two. He is the Supreme Self. He is Supreme as compared with the other selves set up by avidya, such as the physical body; and He is the Self as constituting the unfailing Inner Consciousness of all beings. He is therefore known as the Supreme Self in the Vedantas (Upanishads). The Highest Spirit is further specified thus: He is the Eternal Omniscient Lord, Narayana, who penetrates by His Vital Energy (Bala- Sakti) the three worlds - the Earth (Bhuh), the Mid-region (Bhuvah) and Heaven (Suvah;) - and supports them by His mere existence in them. ‘Purushottama,’ the Highest Spirit, is a well - known name of the Lord described above. Now the Lord, while showing, by a declaration of the etymology of the word, that the name is significant, shows what He really is, "I am the unsurpassed Lord."

18. Because I transcend the perishable and am even higher than the imperishable, therefore am I known in the world and in the Veda as ‘Purushottama,’ the Highest Spirit.
Because I transcend the perishable, the Tree of illusory Samsara called Asvattha, because I am higher than even the imperishable which constitutes the seed of that Tree of the illusory Samsara, because I am thus superior to the perishable and the imperishable, I am known in the world and in the Veda as the Highest Spirit: devotees know Me as such, and the poets, too, incorporate this name in their poems and other works.

The Glory of Self-knowledge
Now the Lord speaks of the fruit accruing to him who realizes the Self as described above:

19. He who, undeluded, thus knows Me, the Highest Spirit, he, knowing all, worships Me with his whole being, O Bharata.
Me: the Lord as above specified. Knows: ‘that I am He.’ With his whole being: with his whole thought devoted exclusively to the Self of all. A knowledge of the true nature of the Lord having been imparted in this discourse, a knowledge which leads to moksha, - it is now extolled as follows:

20. Thus, this most Secret Science has been taught by Me, O sinless one; on knowing this, (a man) becomes wise, O Bharata and all his duties are accomplished.
Though the whole of the Gita is called Science (Sastra), yet from the context it appears that the fifteenth discourse alone is here spoken of as the Science, for the purpose of extolling it. In fact, the whole teaching of the Gita-sastra has been summed up in this discourse.
Not the teaching of the Gita-sastra only, but the whole teaching of the Veda is here embodied; and it has been said that ‘he who knows it (the Asvattha) knows the Veda’ (xii. i), and that ‘It is I who am to be known by all the Vedas’ ( xv. 15). On knowing this science as taught above - but not otherwise - a man becomes wise. He has accomplished all duties. Whatever duty a brahmana of superior birth has to do, all that duty has been done when the real truth about the Lord is known; that is to say, by no other means can a man's duty have been accomplished. And it has been said "All actions, without exception, O son of Pritha are comprehended in wisdom" (iv. 33). And here is the saying of Manu: "This is the fulfilment of the birth, especially for a brahmana; for, by attaining to this does the twice - born become the accomplisher of all duties, and not otherwise" (xii. 93). Since you have heard from Me this truth about the Supreme Being, you are a happy man, O Bharata.

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