Baghawad Gita, Class 190: Chapter 15, Verses 1 to 4


Shloka 15.1:

The Blessed Lord said They say that the peepul Tree, which has its roots upward and the branches downward, and of which the Vedas are the leaves, is imperishable. He who realizes it is knower of the Vedas.

Continuing his teachings Swamiji said, in the beginning of the 15th chapter, Sri Krishna gives a description of Samsara, so that a seeker will know what is moksha;because moksha is defined as samsara Nivrithi; or as freedom from samsara. So if I do not know, what samsara is, I will not know what is samsara nivrithi. And only when I know what is samsara, I can understand samsara moksha and only when I value moksha; I will turn my attention to the means of attaining moksha.

We will be committed to this spiritual sadhana only when we clearly know what is the sadhyam, the destination, which we are attempting to reach. And therefore, we get the description of samsara in the first 2-1/2 verses of this chapter.

We have covered the first verse, in which Sri Krishna compared samsara to a huge and eternal tree of birth and death. And this tree comparison continues in the next verse as well

Shloka 15.2:

15.2 The branches of that (Tree), extending down-wards and upwards, are strengthened by the alities and have sense-objects as their shoots. And the roots, which are followed by actions, spread down-wards in the human world [According to A.G. and M.S. manusya-loke means a body distinguished by Brahminhood etc.].

In the previous verse Sri Krishna has mentioned that God or Brahman is the primary root of the samsara tree and the entire visible universe is the trunk as well as, the branches and all the karma kanda or the ritualistic portions of the veda are to be taken as the leaves of the tree, which sustain the samsara tree.

Now in this verse, more details about the branches of the samsara tree are given. Sri Krishna says the branches of the huge samsara tree, the tree of life, are spread far and wide.

Some of the branches are up above, and some of them are down below; and some of them are in the middle. All the 14 lokas are the branches of the huge samsara tree. Some lokas occupy the upper branches; some the lower branches; and some the middle branches. The branches are far spread.

Now in every loka there is a corresponding body to experience in the specific world. Higher lokas means the superior body such as Deva Shariram, Pitr Shariram etc. These bodies have more refined physical bodies.

Similarly the middle body, the human body, is neither superior nor inferior; it is madhyama shariram.

Adho lokas have inferior bodies like the animal body, the plant body etc. And the jiva is not the body itself because we have seen body is not the individual rather body is the tenement or house in which the jiva comes for occupation. Now jiva consists of the subtle body with the reflected consciousness (RC).  And this physical body is in madhyama branch; mediocre branch and occupying this branch the jiva is experiencing pleasures and pain. And at some point due to karmas the jiva leaves this branch and then the body dies. A jiva can occupy any shariram at any level.

Thus Indra shariram is not the Indra, it is only an abode or tenement; even I can occupy the Indra shariram, a body which is superior.

So we saw in Kathopanishad, 2.II, that a human being need not always progress. It is not that a jiva always goes higher and higher. According to veda, after manushya janma, a person can come down to lower janma also. While the theory of evolution says one evolves to a higher-level veda does not accept the linear progression. If we do not lead a proper life, there is a chance of slipping as well.

But our goal is freedom. We want to be free birds and therefore do not worry about upper branch or lower branches.

Now how are these branches, which include the three forms of bodies, how are they generated? We ourselves give our order for the type of body we want. What will be my next body is not decided by Bhagavan; not decided by fate, but decided by my freewill which I can use or abuse or misuse. So each body is determined by the three gunas.

All the sense objects are like all the shoots, which are responsible for the branch; before a full fledged branch comes on the tree from the trunk of the tree, initially the branches emerge in the form of a small shoot and that shoot alone, it is called shoot, because it shoots forth, and this shoot is the rudimentary form of the branch and the shoot alone is gradually nourished and will become a full fledged branch.

Similarly my next body must exist in this janma itself, in the form of a shoot. I am preparing my next body, now itself by the type of activity I perform.  Sri Krishna says the sense objects of the world are responsible for the type of activity I choose to perform. Because these objects alone create a desire in me. Every sense object is the producer of a desire. That is why we have an overkill of advertisements; every time, they show something, they want to generate a want in you. And therefore sense objects are responsible for kama;

And kama means desire. Every sense organ is a potential kama. And Kama leads to desires that can be fulfilled only by activity. If you see a particular brand of Benz I have to start to save now to be able to afford it.

That means Vishaya leads to Kama; kama leads to karma; karma leads to karma phalam called punya papa, punya papa determines next shariram. See the grand connection: Objects to desire, to action to punya papa to next shariram. And once you get the next body, do we keep quiet. We continue the same process.

And therefore sense objects are the shoots that are responsible, for the next shariram. And not only that, any tree, will have several roots; one the main root, and several secondary roots, all-spreading all over. Bigger the tree, more the number of secondary roots and more vast it is.

The samsara vrksha also must have primary as well as secondary roots.

Brahman or Bhagavan is the primary root.

Sri Krishna says there are many secondary roots, spreading all over, as well. He does not actually name them but they are raga-dvesha or vasanas that are the spreading secondary roots. Raga-dvesha vasanas are Well-entrenched vasanas. These are tendencies, in the form of raga, I like these things, and I dislike these things. In fact, every experience makes me judge the experience. As I go forward in my life every experience makes my intellect classify things, as this is welcome, this is not welcome. You meet a person for two days or three days, youwill classify. Even in the class if you do not like, you will sit elsewhere. In the camp,do not put this person as my room mate.

Clear slotting or categorization; such as, this is welcome; this is not welcome. And every raga leads to pravrtti. When I consider some thing as favorable, I have to chase that object. I have to go after that object. Thus raga leads to pravrithi and once I dislike something, dvesha, that leads to nivrtti; withdrawal or avoidance. So thus raga-dvesha lead to pravrtti, nivrtti; pravrtti nivrttis are karma and karma will lead to punya papa; punya papa will lead to punarjanma.

 Anubhanda in shloka means consequences. Consequences of raga-dvesha vasanas are karmas. What type of karmas? Either pravrtti karma or nivrtti karmas; or going after or going away.

And all these are happening in manushyaloka. This wheel of samsara goes round and round and we as human beings are helplessly stuck in this wheel.

And why does Sri Krishna specifically use the mention manushya loka? Because it is only in this loka that karma can be performed. All other Lokas are Bhoga Pradhana Lokas.

Shloka 15.3:

 15.3 Its form is not perceived here in that way; nor its end, nor beginning, nor continuance, After felling this Peepul whose roots are well developed, with the strong sword of detachment-;

In first half of this shloka Samsara description continues. Here Sri Krishna tells us a very important technical information. The more we try to understand this life, the more mysterious it becomes. Thus creation is a mystery and is also called Maya. Scientists have been thinking that they will have clear explanation to every phenomenon. They are all working for a theory of everything. It is called the TOE. They want a theory of everything. They solve certain mysteries and find

 they are replaced by further and deeper mysteries. And therefore, Sri Krishna says the nature of the universe is not comprehensible. It is anirvachaniyam.

Question comes up, why are you born; due to our Karma. Why did I do that karma, because of your perevious janma. How did previous janma come; it came due to previous karma. How did first janma come? How did first Karma come? Gaudapada talks about this Theory of Causation in Mandukya Upanishad.

Now, beginning of creation involves beginning of time, they are inseparable. Beginning of time is a contradiction, as you need another time to measure it. (Thus one may say the creation started at 9 O clock. It is similar with space. It is a paradox. Like the chicken or egg, which came first, this is also a paradox. Even scientists say these questions may never be answered.

Maya is samsara. So, we can’t talk of beginning of universe nor its end (end of time). After time, before time, are all contradictions. Hence they say Na anthaha, na adihi. What about the middle? Citing example of a hall, if I ask you to mark the middle of the hall, the first thing you do is try to find out both the ends of the hall. Without locating the beginning and end, you cannot pinpoint the middle; therefore, if you do not know the beginning and end, you cannot talk about the middle.

So never try to understand Samsara; only try to remove it. If dream creates a problem, there is no sense in trying to understand the dream; we just need to wake up from the dream. So how to get over Samsara is now described in the next line of this shloka. We are in the next topic of the chapter of how to get out of the Samsara Chakra. Sri Krishna talks about four disciplines and none of them is optional to achieve this.

They are:

  1. Vairagyam or Dispassion.
  2. Brahma Vichara: Enquiry into Brahman.
  3. Sharanagathi: Devotion or surrender. Prapatti is a very important concept in Vishnu Sampradya.
  4. Sadgunaha: developing a healthy and refined mind.

The above four Upayas or methods will now be described.

Sri Krishna says with the axe of Vairagya learn to reduce your dependence on the world, as the world is unpredictable.

It is not hatred of the world. It does not mean hatred rather it means from world dependence, gradually develop God-dependence. God in any form initially can be worshipped, such as in the form of an ishta devatha. And later, when we discover that Lord in our own heart, in the form of our own higher nature, then, from God-dependence I will come to self-dependence, which is otherwise independence. What is independence; it is independence of myself. And therefore turn your attention from world dependence to God dependence. So:

World dependent>God dependent>Self dependent.

What should you cut?

May you cut the dependence on this samsara vrksha.

And what type of samsara vrksha; one with very strong roots; this well rooted, well entrenched samsara, you are leaning upon, is a risky thing.

I have often told you that when there is a cardboard chair; a well-decorated cardboard chair is there; it is beautiful and nice, you can keep for showcase it but you can’t sit on it. Similarly, love people, move with people, and show your care, everything you do; it is a gift from the Lord, whatever I have, but when you need stability and security, have the Lord as the source of security. So stage No.1. is from world dependence to God dependence. This is called Vairagyam. Not hatred. Maturity. Having done that, don’t stop with that; there are three more disciplines, which you have to practice. What are those three?

That is given in the next verse.

Shloka 15.4:

15.4 Thereafter, that State has to be sought for, going where they do not return again: I take refuge in that Primeval Person Himself, from whom has ensued the eternal Manifestation.

After getting vairagyam one goes to parimargitavyam, that is towards Brahman.Vairagyam is not suppression, but mature dispassion. Suppression is never correct; it is growing out of the dependence, just as we grow out of the attachment to the dolls and play things we used in our childhood, only thing is the physical growth from childhood is a natural process. But we need emotional growth as well. Emotional growth requires working on it. That is called viveka janya vairagyam.

We have to study our experiences and learn and after getting that dispassion, healthy dispassion; you have to go to the second upaya known as parimargitavyam. Parimarganam means enquiry. Vichara means searching and seeking of padam. Padam here means that ultimate destination of life and also the ultimate substratum of the samsara tree that is the Brahman. So may you enquire into Brahman through Guru Shastra Vichrara or Vedanta Vichara.

Take Away:

Moving from world dependence to God dependence is called Vairagyam.

Objects lead to desire that lead to action that leads to punya papa that leads to next shariram.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy