śrī bhagavān uvāca –
ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ śākham aśvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam
chandāṁsi yasya parṇāni yas taṁ veda sa vedavit
(Bhagavān said:) O Arjuna! If you think it is better to take refuge in the material world with support from the statements of the Vedas, then listen to Me. This world which is created by karma (material activities) is a unique aśvattha tree. There is no end to it for those who take refuge in karma. The statements of the Vedas that promote karma are its leaves. The roots of this tree grow upwards. Its branches all extend below. In other words, this tree is created by Me, the Highest Principal of all and it is established to award the results of the jīva’s karma. One who is aware of the temporary nature of this tree is a knower of the truth.
adhaś cordhvaṁ prasṛtās tasya śākhā
adhaś ca mūlāny-anusantatāni
All the branches of this tree that take refuge in tama-guṇa grow downwards. Some that take refuge in raja-guṇa spread out in an equal way. Some that take refuge in sattva-guṇa expand upwards. All of them are nourished by the modes of material nature. Material sense-objects are the many twigs on the branches. Like a banyan tree, all the tendrils of this aśvattha tree spread downwards searching for the results of karma.
na rūpam asyeha tathopalabhyate
nānto na cādir na ca sampratiṣṭhā
aśvattham enaṁ suvirūḍha-mūlaṁ
asaṅga-śastreṇa dṛḍhena chittvā
tataḥ padaṁ tat parimārgitavyaṁ
yasmin gatā na nivartanti bhūyaḥ
tam eva cādyaṁ puruṣaṁ prapadye
yataḥ pravṛttiḥ prasṛtā purāṇī
The intrinsic form of this tree is difficult for men to comprehend, because its beginning, end and shelter are not perceived. It is one’s duty to cut through the roots of this aśvattha tree, which is temporary, with the weapon of detachment and to search for the true objective. Being situated in that true principle, the jīva is no longer covered over. From this Original Personality, the tendency towards this long-prevailing material world expands. If you seek the cessation of this tendency, then you should surrender to this Original Personality.
dvandvair vimuktāḥ sukha-duḥkha-saṁjñair
gacchanty-amūḍhāḥ padam avyayaṁ tat
All men who are without pride and bewilderment, who are devoid of the defect of attachment, who are devoted to deliberating upon that which is eternal and that which is temporary, who are free from lust and the dualities of pleasure and distress etc. achieve that imperishable abode.
na tad bhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
Sun, moon and fire cannot illuminate that imperishable abode of Mine. Having achieved that abode of Mine, the bliss of the jīva never ceases. The main point is this – the jīva has two states, namely saṁsāra (bound to the material world) and mukti (liberated). In the state of saṁsāra, the jīva desires association with matter because he identifies the self with the material body. In the liberated state, the pure jīva constantly relishes My pure bhāva. In order to attain that state, it is the duty of a person in the state of saṁsāra to cut down the aśvattha tree with the weapon of detachment. Attachment in relation to matter is called saṅga. One who is able to reject material saṅga even though he is situated in the material world is nirguṇa by nature. He achieves exclusive nirguṇa-bhakti. Association with transcendence is called asaṅga. Therefore, saṁsārī-jīvas, by rejecting attachment to matter and taking shelter of sat-saṅga, in other words, devotees, they can sever the roots of saṁsāra. Simply by accepting the symbols of sannyāsa and following renunciation, their samsāra is not destroyed. If one gives up the thirst for other things and takes support from My bhakti which has the greatest rasa, freedom from saṁsāra becomes a negligible result for the jīva. Therefore, the instructions on bhakti which have been given in the Twelfth Chapter are the only requirement for a jīva desiring auspiciousness. In the previous chapter, all knowledge was explained as being connected to the modes, and knowledge which is nirguṇa was described as a servant of bhakti. In this chapter, all kinds of renunciation are explained to be connected to the modes, and renunciation which is nirguṇa is described as being a secondary result of bhakti.
mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛtisthāni karṣati
If you ask why the jīva has these two kinds of states, then listen. I am the complete sac-cid-ānanda Bhagavān. I have two kinds of expansions, namely svāṁśa and vibhinnāṁśa. As svāṁśa, I engage in pastimes in the forms of Rāma, Nṛsiṁha etc. As vibhinnāṁśa, I manifest the jīvas who are my eternal servitors. Manifesting as svāṁśas, My ahaṁ-tattva (the principle of I-ness) fully exists. Manifesting as vibhinnāṁśas, My ahaṁ-tattva as the Supreme Controller does not exist. In that, the jīvas naturally develop their own ahaṁ-tattva. The principle of the jīva as a vibhinnāṁśa has two states – the liberated state and the bound state. In both states the jīva is sanātana, i.e. eternal. In the liberated state the jīva is fully under My shelter and is devoid of any connection with matter. In the bound state, the jīva is situated in his own mundane designation of the mind and the five external senses, and accepting these six senses as his own, he becomes attracted to them.
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti yac cāpy-utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
It is not the case that one’s state of bondage ends at death. This gross body is acquired by the jīva according to karma and is abandoned when the time comes. At the time of moving from one body to another, the related impressions and activities of this body go with it. Just as the wind carries the scent of receptacles of fragrance such as from flowers or sandalwood and travels everywhere, similarly the jīva moves from one gross body to another with all the senses along with the subtle body.
śrotraṁ cakṣuḥ sparśanaṁ ca rasanaṁ ghrāṇam eva ca
adhiṣṭhāya manaś cāyaṁ viṣayān upasevate
Attaining another gross body and taking refuge in the external senses such as the ear, eye, skin, tongue, nose etc, as well the mind, he serves the objects of the senses.
utkrāmantaṁ sthitaṁ vāpi bhuñjānaṁ vā guṇānvitam
vimūḍhā nānupaśyanti paśyanti jñāna-cakṣuṣaḥ
In this way, foolish persons do not perceive with discrimination or deliberation the jīva leaving (the body), his remaining (in the body), and his enjoyment of the modes of nature. Those who are fixed in pure knowledge deliberate on all of this and conclude that the bound state of the jīva is extreme misery for him.
yatanto yoginaś cainaṁ paśyanty-ātmany-avasthitam
yatanto’py akṛtātmāno nainaṁ paśyanty-acetasaḥ
With endeavour, the yogīs perceive the movements of the bound jīvas in relation to the reality of the ātma (ātma-tattva). Those sannyāsīs with an impure consciousness do not perceive jīva-tattva as they do not deliberate on transcendental reality.
yad āditya-gataṁ tejo jagad bhāsayate’khilam
yac candramasi yac cāgnau tat tejo viddhi māmakam
If it is said that a jīva situated in saṁsāra is unable to perceive anything except matter, so how is he able to perceive spirit, then listen! My transcendental existence shines forth even in the mundane world. By taking support from it, it is possible to eventually achieve pure transcendence and eliminate the mundane. The radiance you see of the sun, the moon and fire which reveals the entire world
gām āviśya ca bhūtāni dhārayāmy-aham ojasā
puṣṇāmi cauṣadhīḥ sarvāḥ somo bhūtvā rasātmakaḥ
Entering within the earth, through My potency I support all creatures. As the moon, full of rasa, I nourish plants such as rice.
ahaṁ vaiśvānaro bhūtvā prāṇināṁ deham āśritaḥ
prāṇāpāna-samāyuktaḥ pachāmy-annaṁ catur-vidham
I enter the bodies of all living beings in the form of the fire of digestion, and along with the prāṇa and apāna airs, I digest the four kinds of food which are chewed, drank, licked and sucked. Thus, I am Brahman according to the statement sarvaṁ khalv-idam brahma (‘There is nothing except Brahman’).
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
I am situated in the hearts of all jīvas as the controller. From Me, as a result of the jīva’s activities, remembrance and forgetfulness arise. I am not only Brahman who pervades the universe, but the Paramātmā who is situated in the heart of the jīva who awards them the results to their karma. I am not only worshiped by the jīvas as Brahman or Paramātmā, but also I am the giver of eternal auspiciousness to the jīva and I am their instructor. I am known that Bhagavān who is known by all the Vedas. I am the creator of the entire Vedānta and the knower of Vedānta. Therefore, to bestow auspiciousness on all jīvas – as Brahman within material nature, as the controller, or Paramātmā within the heart of the jīva , and as Bhagavān who awards the supreme goal – through these three kinds of manifestations I deliver the bound jīva.
dvāv-imau puruṣau loke kṣaraś cākṣara eva ca
kṣaraḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni kūṭastho’kṣara ucyate
If you say that you understand that there is one material nature, but you cannot understand how there are many conscious puruṣas, then listen. In reality, there are not more than two kinds of puruṣas. They are known as kṣara (fallible) and akṣara (infallible). The conscious vibhinnāṁśa jīva is a kṣara–puruṣa. The jīva is referred to as akṣara–puruṣa due to his marginal nature, which is the tendency to leave his original status (svarūpa). Those that never leave their svarūpa are akṣara–puruṣa and are svāṁśa–tattva. Another name for the akṣara-puruṣa is the kuṭastha–puruṣa (one exists in a single form, but is all-pervading). Three kinds of this kuṭastha akṣara-puruṣa have been revealed. When the universe is created, the akṣara-puruṣa is perceived as the inherent all-pervading existence in a state contrary to all material qualities – that is Brahman. Therefore, Brahman is a specific tattva in relation to the universe. It is not an independent tattva. That manifestation which gives refuge to all the jīvas possessing inherent consciousness in the universe, which manifests the pure spiritual tattva to a certain extent, is Paramātmā. He is a specific tattva in relation to the universe. He is not independent.
uttamaḥ puruṣas tv-anyaḥ paramātmety-udhāhṛtaḥ
yo loka-trayam āviśya bibharty-avyaya īśvaraḥ
The second akṣara-puruṣa in the form of Paramātmā, is generally more superior to the akṣara-puruṣa form of Brahman. He is the Controller and entering the three worlds, He exists as their maintainer.
yasmāt kṣaram atīto’ham akṣarādapi cottamaḥ
ato’smi loke vede ca prathitaḥ puruṣottamaḥ
The third and most superior akṣara-puruṣa is called Bhagavān. I am that bhagavat-tattva. I am beyond the kṣara-puruṣa jīva. I am higher than the akṣara-puruṣas, Brahman and Paramātmā, therefore, I am called Puruṣottama by all the worlds and the Vedas. Thus, you should know that in conclusion, there are two puruṣas – the kṣara and akṣara. The akṣara-puruṣa has three manifestations. His ordinary manifestation is Brahman, higher than that is the manifestation of Paramātmā and higher than these is the manifestation of Bhagavān.
yo mām evam asammūḍho jānāti puruṣottamam
sa sarva-vid bhajati māṁ sarva-bhāvena bhārata
He who knows My sac-cid-ānanda nature as puruṣottama-tattva without being deluded by various doctrines, knows everything and is capable of worshiping Me in all bhāvas.
iti guhyatamaṁ śāstram idam uktaṁ mayānagha
etad buddhvā buddhimān syāt kṛta-kṛtyaś ca bhārata
O virtuous one! This puruṣottama-tattva is most confidential treatise. By understanding this, a wise jīva becomes successful. O Bhārata! When this yoga is realised by taking refuge in bhakti, all anomalies that come from sense-objects are removed. Bhakti is a specific function. In order for it to accomplish it’s beautiful actions, there must be the purity of the jīva as its refuge, and the complete appearance of Bhagavān as its subject – these two things are absolutely necessary. As long as one only considers Brahman or Paramātmā as bhagavat–tattva, activities in pure bhakti will not be achieved. The conception of Puruṣottama leads to a mood of pure bhakti.
This chapter describes the difference between matter and consciousness, and the various manifestations of conscious realities (caitanya-tattva). Thus ends the Fifteenth Chapter.