Bhagavadgita -Radhakrishnan 227

The Bhagavadgita -S. Radhakrishnan

The Tree of Life

 The Cosmic Tree
sribhagavan uvaca
1. urdhvamulam adhahgakham
asvattham prahur avyayam
chandamsi yasya ,parnani
yas tam veda sa vedavit
The Blessed Lord said:
(1) They speak of the imperishable aAvattham (peepal tree) as having its root above and branches below. Its leaves are the Vedas and he who knows this is the knower of the Vedas Cp. Katha Up. "With root 'above and branches below, this world tree is eternal. "[1] It is samsaravrksa, the cosmic tree. M.B. compares the cosmic process to a tree which can be cut off by the mighty sword of knowledge, iradnena paramasina' [2] As the tree originates in God, it is said to have its roots "above"; as it extends into the world, its branches are said to go "downwards." The world is a living organism united with the Supreme. According to ancient belief, the Vedic sacrificial cult is said to sustain the world and so the hymns are said to be the leaves which keep the tree with its trunk and branches alive.

2. adhas co 'rdhvam prasrtas tasya
sakha gunapravrddha the visayapravalah
adhas ca mulany anusamtatani
karmanubandh'ini manusyaloke
(2) Its branches extend below and above, nourished by the modes, with sense objects for its twigs and below in the world of men stretch forth the roots resulting in actions. S. makes out that the downward spreading roots are the secondary ones, vasanas, which the souls carry as results of past deeds.

3. na rupam asye 'ha tatho 'palabhyate
na 'nto na ca 'dir na ca sampratistha
asvattham evam saviordhamulam
asangasastrena drdhena chittva
(3) Its real form is not thus perceived here, nor its end nor beginning nor its foundation. Having cut off this firm-rooted Asvattham (peepal tree) with the strong sword of non-' attachment

4. tatah padam tat arimãrgitavyañi
yasmi n data na nivartanti bhuyah
tam eva ca 'dyam purusam
prapadye yatah pravrttih prasrta purani
(4) Then, that path must be sought from which those who have reached it never return, saying "I seek refuge only in that Primal Person from whom has come forth this ancient current of the world" (this cosmic process). The disciple, detaching himself from the objective, takes refuge m the primal consciousness from which cosmic energies issue.

5. nirmanamoha jitasangadosa
adhyatmanitya vinivrttakamah
dvandvair vimuktah sukhaduhkhasaanjnair
gacchanty amudhah padam avyayam tat
(5) Those, who are freed from pride and delusion, who have conquered the evil of attachment, who, all desires stilled, are ever devoted to the Supreme Spirit, who are liberated from the dualities known as pleasure and pain and are undecided, go to that eternal state.


References and Context

  1. V, 1. See also RI. Veda, I, 24, 7. I am the originator of the world tree. Taittziiya Up., I, io. The Petelia Orphic tablet suggests that our body comes from the earth and our soul from heaven. "I am a child of Earth and of Starry Heaven ; but my race is of Heaven alone." Cp. Plato : "As regards the most lordly part of our soul, we must conceive of it in this wise; we declare that God has given to each of us, as his demon, that kind of soul which is housed in the top of our body and which raises us—seeing that we are not an earthly but a heavenly plant—up from earth towards our kindred in heaven." Timaeus, 9o--A.
  2. A ivamedhaparva 47, 12-15.