The fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is entitled Purushottama Yoga or Yoga of the Supreme Spirit. Following are three translations of the text.
- Krishna said:
They speak of the eternal Ashvattha tree
Having its origin above and its branches below
Whose leaves are the (Vedic) hymns.
One who understands this
Is a knower of the Vedas.
- The branches spread below and above.
The tree is nourished by the Gunas;
Sense pleasures are its sprouts;
And its roots stretch below
In the human world causing Karmic bondage.
- Neither its form nor its beginning,
Neither its end nor its existence
Is perceptible here on the earth.
Having cut these firm roots of the Ashvattha tree
By the mighty axe of Vairaagya or detachment;
- The goal should be sought reaching
Which one does not come back; thus thinking:
In that very primal spirit I take refuge
From which this primal manifestation comes forth.
- Those who are free from pride and delusion,
Who have conquered the evil of attachment,
Who are constantly dwelling in the Supreme Self
With all Kaama completely stilled, who are free
From the dualities known as pleasure and pain;
Such undeluded persons reach the eternal goal.
- The sun does not illumine there,
Nor the moon, nor the fire.
That is My supreme abode.
Having reached there they do not come back.
- Atma in the body is My eternal
Indivisible fragment indeed.
Atma gets bound due to superimposition
Or association with the six sensory faculties,
Including the mind, of perception.
- As the air takes away the aroma from the source,
Similarly Atma takes the six sensory faculties
From the physical body it casts off
To the body it acquires.
- The Jeevaatma enjoys sense pleasures
With the help of six sensory faculties:
Hearing, touch, sight, taste, smell, and mind.
- The ignorant do not perceive Jeeva
Departing from the body, or remaining in the body
And enjoying sense pleasures by associating with the Gunas.
Those with the eye of knowledge can see.
- The yogis striving behold Atma
Abiding in their heart; but the ignorant,
Whose intellect is not pure,
Do not perceive Him even though striving.
- The light that coming from the sun
Illumines the whole world;
And which is in the moon, and in the fire;
Know that light to be Mine.
- Entering the earth
I support all beings with My energy;
Becoming the sap-giving moon
I nourish all the plants.
- Becoming the digestive fire,
I remain in the body of all living beings;
Uniting with vital breaths, the Prana and Apana,
I digest all four varieties of food; and
- I am seated in the hearts of all beings.
The memory, knowledge, and the removal of doubts
And wrong notions by reasoning or in Samadhi come from Me.
I am verily that which is to be known by all the Vedas.
I am, indeed, the author of the Vedanta
And the knower of the Vedas.
- There are two entities in this world:
The perishable and the imperishable.
All beings are perishable,
And the Atma is imperishable.
- There is another supreme spirit
Called Ishvara or Paramaatma,
The indestructible Lord who pervades
The three worlds and sustains them.
- I am beyond the perishable body,
And higher than the imperishable Atma;
Therefore, I am known in this world and in the Vedas
As Purushottama, or the Supreme Spirit.
- The wise one, who truly knows Me as the Purushottama,
Knows everything and worships Me wholeheartedly, O Arjuna.
- Thus this most secret science
Has been explained by Me, O sinless Arjuna.
Having understood this, one becomes enlightened
And one’s all duties are accomplished.
This is the end of Chapter XV of the Bhagavad Gita
Purushottama Yoga: (The Yoga of the Supreme Person)
1. The Blessed Lord said: “Creation, with its Eternal as well as ephemeral aspects, can be likened to the Ashwattha tree which has its roots above70and branches below; the Vedas are its leaves. He who fully comprehends the nature of this tree truly understands.
2. “Above and below spread its branches; the sense objects are its buds and nourished it is by the Gunas; and its roots which bind the soul according to Karma, stretch forth into the world.
3. “Its true form is not comprehended here 71 , nor its end, nor its origin, nor even its existence. With determination one must cut down this strongly rooted tree with the sharp axe of non-attachment.
4. “Thereafter, one must seek that Supreme State from which there is no return and there surrender to that Primeval Being from Whom this Creation has emanated.
5. “To that imperishable haven go the enlightened ones who are free from both pride and delusion, who have transcended the desire for objects of the senses, who are ever dwelling in the Self, and are also beyond the clutches of the pairs of opposites such as pleasure and pain.
6. “Neither the Sun, nor the Moon, nor fire can illumine that Supreme Self-effulgent State upon reaching which there is no return. That is My Supreme Abode.
7. “The Eternal Jivatma in the human body is but a small part of My own Being; and It is that alone which draws round Itself the mind and the senses, both of which are rooted in Prakriti.
8. “Even as the wind carries the scents from flower beds, so too the Jivatma who is the Master of the body, carries with Him the senses and the mind whenever He discards one body and acquires another.
9. “It is while dwelling in the senses of sound, sight, touch, taste, and smell, and in the mind that the Jivatma experiences objects.
10. “The deluded perceive Him neither when He experiences sense objects in association with the Gunas, nor when He departs from a body; but they see, who are endowed with the eyes of Knowledge.
11. “Yogis who strive, see Him seated in themselves but not so the ignorant, whose heart is impure, even though they may try hard.
12. “The light of the Sun that illumines the whole world, as also that of the Moon and even fire – know thou that all this light is Mine.
13. “Pervading this world, I animate all beings with My energy; and becoming the sap, I nourish all plants.
14. “It is I again as Vaiswanara 72 fire, who entering the body of living beings digests, in association with breath, the four kinds of food 73 .
15. “I reside in the hearts of all; from Me proceed the faculties of memory, wisdom and discrimination; it is I who am to be known in all the Vedas; it is I who am the Author of Vedanta and the Knower of the Vedas as well.
16. “There are two Purushas in the world, associated respectively with the perishable 74 and the Imperishable 75 . All the perishable aspects belong to the former, and the eternal aspects to the latter.
17. “But distinct from these two and above them both is the Supreme Purusha 76 called the Universal Self 77 , who as the Indestructible Lord 78 pervades the three worlds and sustains them.
18. “Because I transcend the perishable and even the Imperishable as well, I am known in the world and also in the Vedas as Purushottama, the Supreme Person.
19. “O Bharata, he who, undeluded, knows Me as Purushottama, knows all, and he worships Me with all his heart.
20. “Thus, O sinless one, have I revealed to thee this most profound Knowledge. He who grasps it becomes enlightened and his mission in life is accomplished.”
Thus in the Bhagavad Gita, the Essence of the Upanishads, the Science of Brahman, the Scripture of Yoga, the Dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fifteenth chapter, entitled: Purushottama Yoga
71In the state of being involved in the worldly life. This phenomenon (the tree of Samsara) vanishes to one upon attainment of Brahma Jnana. But it continues to exist for all others, in ignorance.
72The fire in the stomach.
73i.e., that which is masticated, sucked, licked and drunk.
FIFTEEN: THE LORD-GOD
“Lord Shri Krishna continued: This phenomenal creation, which is both ephemeral and eternal, is like a tree, but having its seed above in the Highest and its ramifications on this earth below. The scriptures are its leaves, and he who understands this, knows.
Its branches shoot upwards and downwards, deriving their nourishment from the Qualities; its buds are the objects of sense; and its roots, which follow the Law causing man’s regeneration and degeneration, pierce downwards into the soil.
In this world its true form is not known, neither its origin nor its end, and its strength is not understood., until the tree with its roots striking deep into the earth is hewn down by the sharp axe of non-attachment.
Beyond lies the Path, from which, when found, there is no return. This is the Primal God from whence this ancient creation has sprung.
The wise attain Eternity when, freed from pride and delusion, they have conquered their love for the things of sense; when, renouncing desire and fixing their gaze on the Self, they have ceased to be tossed to and fro by the opposing sensations, like pleasure and pain.
Neither sun, moon, nor fire shines there. Those who go thither never come back. For, O Arjuna, that is my Celestial Home!
It is only a very small part of My Eternal Self, which is the life of the universe, drawing round itself the six senses, the mind the last, which have their source in Nature.
When the Supreme Lord enters a body or leaves it, He gathers these senses together and travels on with them, as the wind gathers perfume while passing through the flowers.
He is the perception of the ear, the eye, the touch, the taste and the smell, yea and of the mind also; and the enjoyment the things which they perceive is also His.
The ignorant do not see that it is He Who is present in life and Who departs at death or even that it is He Who enjoys pleasure through the Qualities. Only the eye of wisdom sees.
The saints with great effort find Him within themselves; but not the unintelligent, who in spite of every effort cannot control their minds.
Remember that the Light which, proceeding from the sun, illumines the whole world, and the Light which is in the moon, and That which is in the fire also, all are born of Me.
I enter this world and animate all My creatures with My vitality; and by My cool moonbeams I nourish the plants.
Becoming the fire of life, I pass into their bodies and, uniting with the vital streams of Prana and Apana, I digest the various kinds of food.
I am enthroned in the hearts of all; memory, wisdom and discrimination owe their origins to Me. I am He Who is to be realised in the scriptures; I inspire their wisdom and I know their truth.
There are two aspects in Nature: the perishable and the imperishable. All life in this world belongs to the former, the unchanging element belongs to the latter.
But higher than all am I, the Supreme God, the Absolute Self, the Eternal Lord, Who pervades the worlds and upholds them all.
Beyond comparison of the Eternal with the non-eternal am I, Who am called by scriptures and sages the Supreme Personality, the Highest God.
He who with unclouded vision sees Me as the Lord-God, knows all there is to be known, and always shall worship Me with his whole heart.
Thus, O Sinless One, I have revealed to thee this most mystic knowledge. He who understands gains wisdom and attains the consummation of life.”
Thus, in the Holy Book the Bhagavad Gita, one of the Upanishads, in the Science of the Supreme Spirit, in the Art of Self-Knowledge, in the colloquy between the Divine Lord Shri Krishna and the Prince Arjuna, stands the fifteenth chapter, entitled: The Lord-God.