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Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita, English translation and commentary by Swami Swarupananda, [1909], at

p. 323


The Blessed Lord said:

1. They speak of an eternal Ashvattha rooted above and branching below, whose leaves are the Vedas; he who knows it, is a Veda-knower. 1

p. 324

2. Below and above spread its branches, nourished by the Gunas; sense-objects are its buds; and below in the world of man stretch forth the roots, originating action. 2

p. 325

3-4. Its form is not here perceived as such, neither its end, nor its origin, nor its

p. 326

existence. Having cut asunder this firm-rooted Ashvattha with the strong axe of non-attachment,—then that Goal is to be sought for, going whither they (the wise) do not return again. I seek refuge in that Primeval Purusha whence streamed forth the Eternal Activity. 3

p. 327

5. Free from pride and delusion, with the evil of attachment conquered, ever dwelling in the Self, with desires completely receded, liberated from the pairs of opposites known as pleasure and pain, the undeluded reach that Goal Eternal.

6. That the sun illumines not, nor the moon, nor fire; that is My Supreme Abode, going whither they return not.

7. An eternal portion of Myself having become a living soul in the world of life, draws (to itself) the (five) senses

p. 328

with mind for the sixth, abiding in Prakriti. 7

8. When the Lord obtains a body and when He leaves it, He takes these and goes, as the wind takes the scents from their seats (the flowers). 8

p. 329

9. Presiding over the ear, the eye, the touch, the taste and the smell, as also the mind, He experiences objects.

10. Him while transmigrating from one body to another, or residing (in the same) or experiencing, or when united with the Gunas,—the deluded do not see; but those who have the eye of wisdom behold Him. 10

p. 330

11. The Yogis striving (for perfection) behold Him dwelling in themselves; but the unrefined and unintelligent, even though striving, see Him not. 11

12. The light which, residing in the sun illumines the whole world, that which is in the moon and in the fire—know that light to be Mine. 12

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13. Entering the earth with My energy, I support all beings, and I nourish all the herbs, becoming the watery moon. 13

14. Abiding in the body of living beings as (the fire) Vaishvânara, I, associated with Prâna and Apâna, digest the fourfold food. 14

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15. I am centred in the hearts of all; memory and perception as well as their loss come from Me. I am verily that which has to be known by all the Vedas, I indeed am the Author of the Vedânta, and the Knower of the Veda am I. 15

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16. There are two Purushas in the world,—the Perishable and the Imperishable. All beings are the Perishable; and the Kutastha is called Imperishable. 16

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17. But (there is) another, the Supreme Purusha, called the Highest Self, the immutable Lord, who pervading the three worlds, sustains them. 17

18. As I transcend the Perishable and am above even the Imperishable, therefore am I in the world and in the Veda celebrated as the Purushottama, (the Highest Purusha). 18

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19. He who free from delusion thus knows Me, the Highest Spirit, he knowing all, worships Me with all his heart, O descendant of Bharata.

20. Thus, O sinless one, has this most profound teaching been imparted by Me. Knowing this one attains the highest intelligence

p. 336

and will have accomplished all one's duties, O descendant of Bharata. 20


The end of the fifteenth chapter designated: The Way to the Supreme Spirit.


323:1 Ashvattha: literally, that which does not endure till to-morrow: the Samsâra, the ever-changing, phenomenal world.

Brahman with Its unmanifested energy Mâyâ, is spoken of as the One "above," for It is supreme over all things; the One above is the root of this Tree of Samsâra, as such it is said to have its root above. Mahat, Ahamkâra Tanmâtrâs, etc., are its branches p. 342 evolving to grosser and grosser states—hence it is said to be branching "below." As leaves protect a tree, so do the Vedas protect the Tree of Samsâra, as treating of Dharma and Adharma, with their causes and fruits.

Eternal—because this Tree of Samsâra rests on a continuous series of births without beginning and end, and it cannot be cut down except by the knowledge, "I am Brahman."

324:2 Below: from man downwards.

Above: up to Brahmâ.

Roots: The tap-root is the Lord "above"; the p. 325 secondary roots are the Samskâras, attachment and aversion etc. It is these that, being in perpetual succession the cause and consequence of good and evil deeds, bind one fast to actions—Dharma and Adharma.

326:3 As such: it cannot be said to exist, because it appears and vanishes every other moment. See commentary on II. 16.

Tat—That—Sankara and Anandagiri read 'Tatah,' and explain it as beyond or above the Ashvattha, the Tree of Samsâra.

The Eternal Activity: this ever-passing work of projection, this ever-flowing current of evolution, the world of phenomena.

328:7 The Jiva or the individual soul is that aspect of the Supreme Self which manifests itself in every one as the doer and enjoyer, being limited by the Upâdhis set up by Avidyâ; but in reality, both are the same. It is like the Akâsha (space) in the jar, which is a portion of the infinite Akâsha, and becomes one with the latter on the destruction of the jar, the cause of limitation.

328:8 Lord: Jiva spoken of in the preceding Sloka.

When the Jiva leaves the body, then he draws round himself the senses and the Manas. When he enters another he takes these again with him, i.e., he is born with these again.

329:10 Though Atman is nearest and comes most easily within the range of their consciousness in a variety of functions, still all do not see Him, because of their complete subservience to sense-objects.

330:11 The unrefined: Whose mind has not been regenerated by Tapas and subjugation of the senses, whose mind is not purified.

330:12 Light—may also be understood to mean the light of consciousness.

331:13 Energy—Ojas: The energy of the Ishvara, whereby the vast heaven and the earth are firmly held.

Nourish—by infusing sap into them.

The watery moon: The Soma, moon, is considered as the repository or the embodiment of all fluids (Rasas.)

331:14 p. 331 See IV. 29.

Vaishvânara: The fire abiding in the stomach.

Fourfold food: Food which has to be eaten by (1) mastication, (2) sucking, (3) licking, and (4):swallowing.

332:15 Memory—of what is experienced in the past births; and knowledge—of things transcending the ordinary limits of space, time and visible nature.—Anandagiri. p. 333

Come from Me—as the result of their good or evil deeds.

I indeed . . . Vedânta: It is I who am the Teacher of the wisdom of the Vedanta, and cause it to be handed down in regular succession.

333:16 Two Purushas: Two categories—arranged in, two separate groups of beings,—spoken of as: 'Purushas,' as they are the Upâdhis of the Purusha.

Imperishable—Mâyâ-Sakti of the Lord, the germ from which the perishable being takes its birth.

Kutastha: That which manifests Itself in various forms of illusion and deception. It is said to be imperishable, as the seed of Samsâra is endless,—in the sense that it does not perish in the absence of Brahma-Jnâna.

334:17 Another: quite distinct from the two.

The three Worlds: Bhuh (the Earth), Bhuvah (the Mid-Region) and Svah (the Heaven).

334:18 p. 335 The Perishable—The Tree of Samsâra called Ashvattha.

The Imperishable—Which constitutes the seed of the Tree of Samsâra.

336:20 Highest intelligence—which realises the Brahman.

Will have accomplished . . . duties: Whatever duty one has to do in life, all that duty has been done, when the Brahman is realised.

Next: Sixteenth Chapter. The Classification of the Divine and the Non-Divine Attributes