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84. The Nature of the Tree of Life:

Hitherto the world has been described analytically. In chapter fifteen, the world is described in a synthetic way. Of the three constituents of the cosmos, the matter, the soul and the God, the last one is the Supreme entity in the whole universe. While the highest among the category of beings is the Lakshmi principle, Prakriti is the chiefest in the category of non-beings. The whole universe is based on these three fundamental entities and the whole world is created out of these. While the inert matter (jaýaprak®ti jfàk«it) is the substance out of which the world is made, Lakshmi, the citprak®ti icTàk«it as the presiding deity in the universe, and the Supreme God, of course, pervading everything as the controlling power, are the creators of this universe. The Gita has compared the whole universe to a huge tree and calls these three entities, God, Lakshmi, and Nature as its roots. The five elements and their presiding deities are the branches and twigs of this tree. It is only by the adoration of God, there will be happiness and advancement of this world. We are foolishly engaged in watering the branches instead of the roots of this tree. Forgetting the supreme entity, God, we engage ourselves in worshipping the five elements and the lesser deities. If we water the roots of the tree, the whole tree will blossom out and yield fruits. Similarly if we worship the Supreme Lord, all the deities and all the elements will be propitiated.
ywaih SkNxzaoata<traemU<lavsecn<,
@vmara xn<iv:[ae> sveR;amaTmníih.
yath˜hi skandhaþ˜kh˜t˜ntarom¨Õl˜vasecanaÕ
evam˜r˜ dhanaÕviÿõo× sarveÿ˜m˜tmanaþcahi -- Bhagavata
(Just as the trunk and the branches are fed if the root of the tree is watered, so also all the souls (goods) are satisfied if Vishnu is adored.)

The worldly pleasures are the budding leaves of this tree of life and Vedas are its bigger leaves. By their tenderness and different colours the budding things of worldly pleasures tempt us but they are not sweet or wholesome. Those who want to reap the best fruits, if they abuse the budding twigs of sensuous pleasures, would be deprived of sweet fruits later. The philosophy of the Vedas, which are like the grown up leaves, alone can yield the highest fruits of life.
DNda<is ySy p[aRin ... ... ...,
chand˜Õsi yasya parõ˜ni ... ... ... -- XV-1
(Whose leaves are the Vedic slokas.)

We cannot expect any fruits from a leafless, withered tree. How can we see the immortal fruit of salvation in a barren life, bereft of the Vedic philosophy? We should closely examine the variegated world which is a complex of the instruments of pleasures and means of perfection. We are amazed by the extraordinary vegetation of the other-worldly universe permeating the created and the uncreated universe. It is not possible for us to see its beginning, middle and end or to gauge its vastness. It is only when we critically analyse, we are able to get the knowledge recognising the fundamental entities of matter, the soul and God involved in this universe. When we thus go deep and analyse the world with the help of the sharp knife of knowledge, we see the presence of the Almighty Lord pervading every corner of even the minutest particle. Our intellect and knowledge have been blunted by contact with worldly pleasure and we have lost the power of analysis and discernment. With a mind free from attachment to worldly pleasures and with true know ledge we should analyse all the objects of the universe mentally and get at the Supreme Spirit which is hidden within. Just as butter lies hidden in milk, gold in its ore, the Godhead permeates this visible universe in an unmanifest way. The mind and the spirit find fulfilment only in searching for this Godhead secretly permeating the universe. Where is the fulness of knowledge which does not see God as the ground of the tree of the universe permeating every leaf and branch and nourishing it? The skill and the insight that discovers gold in its ore can enable us to search for God who is in the universe. We can have permanent relief from a life of eternal struggle, trouble and mutability only if we have a vision of God who abounds in auspicious qualities and is omnipotent. Only by reaching Him we would be accomplishing the goal of our life's pilgrimage.

85. The Jiva is verily similar to Myself -- mamaiv˜ÕþojŸvaloke mmEva<zaejIvlaeke:

The essence of this Tree of the Universe is the Supreme Lord; and without Him, it has no being and movement. His qualities and powers are unfathomed and infinite. The whole cosmos is only a spark before His effulgence of infinite suns.
padae=Syivña -Utain ... ... ...,
p˜do'syaviþv˜ bh¨t˜ni ... ... ... -- Purusha Sukta
(The universe of beings is but an iota of His self.)

If His knowledge and qualities are an infinite ocean, the individual soul is just a drop in it.
mmEva<zae jIvlaeke jIv-Ut> snatn>,
mamaiv˜Õþo jŸva-loke jŸva-bh¨ta× san˜tana× -- XV-7
(The jiva who indwells the bodies of persons is similar to My radiant Self.)

There is an infinite gulf of difference between Brahman and the world, between the individual soul and the Lord. From the perspective of God's infinitude, the individual soul is but an infinitesimal. Before His perfection, the imperfection of the individual soul and the world stand exposed. Some people are of the opinion that the soul is but a part of God. How could a troubled individual soul, in the grip of misery, ignorance and delusion be a part of Infinite God who transcends all matter? If imperfect and mutable souls could be fragments of the Supreme Lord, it would mean bundling up His very perfection and immutability. We shall be denying the very principle of the Supreme Indivisible Godhead if we accept a multiplicity of His fragments and subject them to the tyranny of matter. Before the infinite mass of the Almighty's qualities, the individual soul is but a speck, and, in this sense, it is described as a fragment of the Supreme God. When one says that one's wealth is but a fraction of a millionaire's wealth, it does not mean that fraction of the millionaire's money itself has been transferred from his treasury into the other man's pocket. The word (Amsa) fraction is used only to suggest an idea of the quantum of the wealth possessed by a person in relation to that of a millionaire. It is in this sense that we must interpret the statement, that the jiva is a fragment of the Supreme Lord. Such a soul caught in the grip of powerful nature must take refuge, in order to be released from bondage, in the Supreme Lord who is the summit of all power. Instead of running after worldly pleasures we must seek and run after God alone. Even if God is always with us in all our actions, a perpetual companion, an unfailing steersman, our unbaked mind has no capacity to see Him.
ytNtae=Pyk«taTmanae nEn< pZyNTycets>,
yatanto'py-ak®t˜tm˜no nainaÕ paþyanty-acetasa× -- XV-11
(The mindless and impure of heart cannot see Him even if they try hard.)

One whose heart has been cultivated by karmayoga and bhaktiyoga alone has the great fortune to see God. From a syrup only a scientist can crystallise and take out sugar. A layman cannot do it. Even though God is always with us, our eyes do not discern Him.
prai oain Vyt&[t! Svy<-U>
tSmat! pra'œ pZyit naNtraTmn!,
par˜ñci kh˜ni vyat®õat svayambh¨×
tasm˜t par˜ð paþyati n˜ntar˜tman -- Kathopanishad 4-1
(The Creator Brahma shaped the senses to be extrovertial; therefore do they look outwards into the objects of sense and do not turn inwards towards the soul.)

As all our sense organs are projecting outwards, our vision is outward-oriented. Men have lagged behind in the practice of developing the inward-look. Only the bold soul who can swim counter to the outward-flowing current of sense-organs can succeed in accomplishing the inward vision. Thus we who have been dwelling in this tree of life should thoroughly understand it and make efforts to know the root which sustains the whole tree in order to achieve the consummation of our life.

86. The Yoga of the Supreme Self -- puruÿottamayoga (pué;aeÄmyaeg)

Just as the universe is analysed into its three fundamental entities, the individual soul, matter and the Supreme Soul for a clearer understanding of the mutual relationship between God and the individual soul, another classification is made towards the end of the fifteenth chapter.

Among the animate beings there are three categories, the Ksharapurushas, the Aksharapurusha and the Purushottamma. All living creatures possessing material, perishable bodies, subject to the cycle of birth and death, are Ksharapurushas. Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, who is free from the cycle of birth and death, who has an imperishable body made of pure energy, who is the presiding deity of all elemental nature, and who is constantly cooperating with Her Lord in the affairs of the cosmic, is called the Aksharapurusha. One who is superior to both these is Purushottama, the Supreme God:
ÖaivmaE pué;aE laeke ]ría]r @v c,
]r> svaRi[ -Utain kªqSwae=]r %Cyte.
dv˜v-imau puruÿau loke kÿaraþ-c˜kÿara eva ca
kÿara× sarv˜õi bh¨t˜ni k¨÷astho'kÿara ucyate -- XV-16
%Äm> pué;STvNy> prmaTmeTyudaùt>,
uttama× puruÿastvanya× param˜tmety-ud˜h®ta× -- XV-17
Vishnu and His consort Lakshmi (the Chitprakriti) are the father and the mother, and all living creatures in the universe are their children.
satrailokyaku÷umbap˜lanapara× -- Mangalashtaka
(He is engaged in looking after the family of the three worlds.)

The whole cosmos is the one vast family of the Supreme Lord. We are members of this family. One who protects all of us is the Supreme Lord. All those who accept the overlordship of the Supreme God are brothers and we should carry on our activities in this world in this brotherly spirit.

Some people think that Kshara and Akshara refer to non-living and living entities in this universe. But when we consider the word 'Purusha', we clearly feel that the categories belong to the living beings only. However, it is here made clear that Sri Krishna the Supreme Lord is different from and far superior to both the living and non-living entities in the cosmos.
%Äm pué;STvNy> ... ... ...,
uttama puruÿastvanya× ... ... ... -- XV-17
Atae=iSm laeke vede c àiwt> pué;aeÄm>.
ato'smi loke vede ca prathita× puruÿottama× -- XV-18
(That is why I am reputed to be Purushottama both in the Smriti and the Shruti.)

The above slokas not only indicate that the Supreme Self is superior to all other living creatures but also establish that the Supreme Self is none other than the Lord Sri Krishna Himself. Some people argue that Sri Krishna is not the Supreme Self, the Overlord of the living and the non-living. The Supreme Lord according to them is without any qualities and Sri Krishna, who is full of qualities, cannot be the Supreme Lord. They say that He is the creature of the Maya of the Brahman. But the unambiguous statement in the Gita that Lord Sri Krishna is the Supreme Lord of the Universe and there is none else equal to or superior to Him clearly proves that such an argument is untenable. This part of the Gita which upholds the supremacy of the Lord Sri Krishna is the quintessence of the whole Gita. This is the favourite part of Sri Madhvacharya. Based on this alone Sri Madhvacharya has propounded his philosophy of the supremacy of Sri Hari. This part of the Gita states in unambiguous terms the relationship between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul and the lordship of the Supreme Soul over both the living and non-living entities in the universe. Even Sri Sankaracharya has accepted this portion as the sum and substance of all the holy scriptures:
svaeRih gItazaSÇayae<=iSmÚXyaye smasenaeKt>,
n kevl< gIta zaSÇawR @v ikNtu svR ívedawR #h pirsmaPt>,
sarvohi gŸt˜þ˜str˜yoÕ'sminnadhy˜ye sam˜senokta×
na kevalaÕ gŸt˜ þ˜str˜rtha eva kintu sarva þcaved˜rtha iha parisam˜pta×
(The whole science of the Gita has been summed up in this chapter, not only the science of the Gita but the whole meaning of the Vedas has been summed up conclusively here.)

As explained here, the whole universe is but the kingdom of God and Sri Hari is its Supreme Lord; the one undisputed path lies in behaving like disciplined subjects of His kingdom, without forgetting His supremacy.

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This page prepared by  Ramadas
Created March 02, 2000; last modified March 08, 2000