Bhagwad Geeta

Chapter 15 - Purushottama Yoga

Chapter 15, Verse 1

The metaphor of Banyan tree is used to explain this chapter. The old banyan tree has its branches becoming roots and roots rise up to become branches. The qualities of banyan tree are :

  • The branches become roots.
  • Very difficult to identify the main stem. All the stems look like the same. The branches after touching the soil develop roots and they become stems. After a point of time, it is difficult to identify which is the main stem from the offshoots.
  • The leaves provide nutrition to the plant by the process of photosynthesis.

The above metaphor is used to denote samsara “ the life of a human being” in the society. The person gets so enmeshed in samsara that it is very difficult to identify the roots, stem, branches etc. The leaves of the tree are compared to Vedas. they provide nourishment to the samsaric life.

Chapter 15, Verse 2

The analogy of Banyan tree is extended here to compare the human being’s life to a Banyan tree. The leaves provide food whereas the water and other minerals are provided by the roots of the banyan tree. In the same way for a human being, the Guna’s provide the much necessary material for the body to live. The soul is fed by the Vedas. the body is fed by the Guna’s of material nature whereas the soul is fed by the Vedas.

Just as banyan tree needs nourishment from both leaves and roots, in the same way, the human being needs nourishment for both body and soul.

The twigs which become future branches are the senses. they go to the soil which will ultimately feed the plant. if the twigs go to the soil which is rich in particular mineral the plant will be rich in that particular material.

Chapter 15, Verse 3 & 4

Lord Krishna says that the Banyan tree should be taken as a metaphor as of how to reach him. A person should first develop detachment towards life and with strong determination identify all the branches and cut them.

What is the necessity to cut down the branches?

The branches because of the senses (the twigs & branches) have expanded to new areas of ground and have expanded the tree. In the same way, our senses have led us to new spheres of life and our life has expanded quite broadly. This spread of life happened just to satisfy the senses.

This spread is not necessary to a human being. the human being is getting enmeshed more and more in this world.

Now to stop the spread a person must stop his senses with the objective of detachment. The detachment must be very strong. detachment is detachment not to spread too much in samsara and cut the branches which will enmesh us more in samsara. the person should cut all the branches of senses and search for the main trunk of the tree which is the basic stem from which the tree has started.

The purpose of the man must cut the senses with help of vairagya and search for the basic stem of his life from which it has arisen. once the person has identified the stem he can search more and more and can go to the roots of his existence and when he searches more, he can go back to the single cell that it has come into existence.

Chapter 15, Verse 5

Once the base of the tree is found the person should understand the reality of life. he should come out of the illusion about the material existence of life. The life of a person is controlled by illusion. once the illusion is removed reality comes to the person. after knowing the reality, the person has to give up attachment to life. the attachment for illusion has to be cut. Once the attachment for desire is given up the person has to constantly engage in the service of the God.

A person who engages himself in the service of the God and overcomes the dualities of life of pleasure and pain will reach the root of the tree/source of life/ supreme consciousness.

Chapter 15, Verse 6

In this shloka, Lord Krishna explains how the divine /spiritual realm / the basic source looks like. The spiritual realm is neither powered by sun or moon or fire. the supreme consciousness is powered on its own. The material world is basically powered by the sun energy and moon. The supreme consciousness is powered by itself. once people reach supreme consciousness they will return to the normal state.

Chapter 15, Verse 7

Lord Krishna explains that all the living beings are made up of two types of aatma. One is jeevatma the soul of a person, and the second is paramatma, the supreme soul. the paramatma is a witness to the soul. the paramatma present in the living creatures is formed from the outer layer of supreme soul.

Chapter 15, Verse 8

This is a very powerful shloka. Lord Krishna says that the soul when moving from body to body also carries with it the mind and sense organs. This means to say that the memory of the past life is carried to the new life. Thus, the soul moves every day of life and everybody carrying with it the memory.

Chapter 15, Verse 9

The relation between jeevatma, senses and sense objects is given here. We have seen in the earlier shloka that jeevatma individual consciousness has the essence of supreme consciousness and both are alike. in this shloka Lord Krishna explains the purpose of jeevatma. The jeevatma/individual consciousness exists to enjoy the highest form of bliss. that bliss comes from merging individual consciousness with universal consciousness. Jeevatma is in an eternal quest for this happiness. to get that happiness it probes the material world through sense organs. The sense of sight, taste, smell, touch exist s mediums to transfer the happiness from sense objects to the soul. Sense organs are the medium of contact between soul and objects. The stimuli given by sense organs is first captured by sense organs, then it passes through brain, ego, intellect, mind and then to soul.

In the process of transmission, the ego makes a person feel that sense objects are there for the satisfaction of the body and not the soul. the soul’s desires and body desires become one and the person is caught up in samsara. the happiness of material world is equated with the happiness of the spiritual world.

Chapter 15, Verse 10

For a normal person there is no difference between body, soul, sense organs, sense objects. All are part of the material world. the spiritual world and material world are the same. The normal person cannot see the soul within himself. even if he is following “so-called” spiritual practices, they are there for the satisfaction of the body desires.

for the person who has wisdom and who has the eyes of wisdom, he can perceive the existence of the soul and what is the purpose of the soul. The person acknowledges the existence of soul and leads his life accordingly. he feeds the soul with the spiritual happiness.

Chapter 15, Verse 11

In this shloka the formula for achieving success in realising/perceiving the universal consciousness is given. Two things are needed for a person to succeed in any endeavour. one is sincere effort, and second quality is faith. if person has faith/devotion in the effort and if he does sincere hard work then the person will succeed. If the person does only effort without having faith/devotion in the God, he will not succeed. mere hard work is not the only requirement.

Chapter 15, Verse 12

In this shloka Lord Krishna says that the energy that is present in the sun and moon is from the God. Since the universe itself is born from the single source, the sun, moon etc. are all born from the same source.

Chapter 15, Verse 13

Lord Krishna says that becoming that he is the energy that sustains all the living creatures on earth. he is also the moon that sustains the plants on the earth. Both these mean that God is the source of energy for all the animals and plants on the earth. for the earth, he sustains them in the form of earth and for plants, he sustains them though heavenly object moon. Animal need earth to grow food, plants need moon for the energy.

Chapter 15, Verse 14

Lord Krishna further states that he is the fire if the digestion. Just like fire completely digests everything with its energy, in the same way, the process of digestion is a very energy intensive process. All the food we eat has to be converted to smaller and smaller form. This is possible with energy. all the digestive juices, movements in the intestine to make food into fine particles need energy. Krishna states that he is the digestive fire, meaning the fire that gives energy to the whole body. All the different kinds of food get digested in the stomach.

Chapter 15, Verse 15

Lord Krishna is the person who stays in the hearts of all people. He states very clearly that he stays in the hearts of all creatures. He states that from this seat arises the memory, knowledge and forgetfulness. the modern science says that memory, knowledge etc are all stored in the brain in the neurons. This may be true. The brain stores the information pertaining to memory, knowledge in this life. The memory, knowledge that goes beyond one life is stored in the heart. this is intuition. intuition is driven by the heart whereas analysis is driven by the brain.

Lord Krishna also says that he is the one who knows the real meaning of Vedas. all other teachers who walked on earth have given their interpretation of Vedas. The real meaning is known only to God.

Chapter 15, Verse 16

There are two different kinds of people on this earth. The people who are liberated and the people who are not liberated. The perishable people are those who are in the material world. The imperishable people are the ones in the spiritual world.

Chapter 15, Verse 17

Apart from the two consciousness elements mentioned in the previous shloka, there is another consciousness element in the universe. The third consciousness element is the imperishable, supreme consciousness. This supreme consciousness is the master of all the universe and sustains the universe. The supreme consciousness sustains the universe and also all the living creatures in the universe.

Chapter 15, Verse 18

In this shloka the reason is given as to why God is treated as God. It is because God is beyond the perishable and the imperishable. The supreme consciousness is superior to the material world and is also superior to the individual consciousness. The supreme consciousness was there before the material universe.

Chapter 15, Verse 19

Lord Krishna says whoever looks at him (as imperishable) etc will attain him. the people who look at material things as perishable and imperishable things as imperishable will attain God. Those people will work selflessly for the upliftment of the society. Because they know where to put efforts.

Chapter 15, Verse 20

Lord Krishna says that this is the secret he is passing on to Arjuna. Whoever knows this secret about God and strives to work to attain him, will attain him.

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