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(The Philosophical Part)




Dnyaneshwar Maharaj says," There is no doubt that Knowledge leads to liberation. But in order that the knowledge steadies itself in a person the mind must be very pure. Without detachment knowledge cannot be steady. This principle has been very thoughtfully stated by Shri Krishna who has also discussed how the mind can get completely detached. Just as a person taking his meal leaves the dish and runs away if he knows that there is poison in it, similarly once the idea of the impermanence of this world gets stamped on the mind one runs away from attachment and the detachment (thus attained) does not leave you even if you try to get rid of it. In this fifteenth chapter Shri Krishna is explaining how the world is impermanent, using the simile of a tree." (15:35-40).


Shri Krishna said, " Arjuna, The illusion of the universe which comes in the way of the path towards Self-realisation is not the expanse of the universe but the giant tree of the worldly set-up. But it is not like the other trees which have roots below and branches above and therefore its expanse cannot be measured by anybody. Even if one sets fire to its roots or axes them instead of getting destroyed it proliferates. Other trees fall down along with the branches when cut at the roots but that is not the case with this tree which not an ordinary tree. (15:46-50).


Arjuna, it is an unusual thing that this tree is out of this world and it grows from below. (15:51). This tree in the form of the world is strange. Whichever objects occur in this world are all occupied by it. (15:53). It does not have fruits to be tasted nor flowers to be smelt. What occurs is only the tree itself. Though it is upside down it has not been uprooted therefore it is always green. Even though one may say that it has roots above, it has countless roots below too. This tree has proliferated on all sides and its tuft roots also have grown branches like banyan or Pipul tree. It is not that this world-tree has branches only below. Bunches of innumerable branches have spread out on the upper side also. Looking at it gives the impression that the sky itself has sprouted with green leaves or as if the wind itself has taken the shape of the tree or as if the three states of creation, sustenance and destruction have assumed this form. Thus, the dense tree with roots above is born in the shape of this universe. (15:55-62).


Now I shall explain to you in a way that you will clearly understand who is above this tree, who is its root, what are its characteristics, why it spreads downwards, which are its branches or which are the branches which have grown the upward branches and how they are created and how it received the name Ashwattha and what the Self-realised persons concluded from it. (15:63-65).

Brahman becomes the universe when tainted by attributes Arjuna, this tree has his roots above because of the Brahman above it. Otherwise this Brahman does not have middle, above or below and it is one and unique. (15:72-73). That which sees without sight here, there, front, back and everywhere but is itself invisible become the universe with name and shape when it comes in contact with qualifications and attributes. It is pure Knowledge free of either the knower or the object to be known and is pure bliss pervading the space. It is neither cause nor its effect (i.e. action). There is neither a sense of duality nor sense of uniqueness in it but which can be understood by an individual through Self-realisation. In this way this pure Brahman is the upward root of the world-tree. And the shoots of the root are as follows. (15:75-78).


The entity which is known by the name Maya does not exist. Actually it is like the child born to a barren woman and is named Maya. It cannot be said that Maya is real nor can it be said that it is unreal. It cannot survive in the presence of knowledge and yet it is called beginningless. It is the holder of many principles and just as clouds are formed in the sky the universe is formed in her. All sorts of forms and shapes are folded into the folds of her fabric. She is the root of the world-tree, source of the worldly affairs illuminated by the dim light of improper unrighteous knowledge. Such an entity as Maya is takes shelter in the Brahman and appears through its power. (15:79-84). The Maya which is created from Brahman makes it forget its own nature. This is the first root of the world-tree. Non-realisation of the Self as Brahman is the main root-bulb of the tree at its top. It is called "Beejabhava" or "the root principle" in the form of Maya by Vedantis. The sleep state of deep ignorance is called its "Bijankurabhava" or "seed-sprout principle" while the dream and wakeful states are its "Phalabhava" or "fruit principle". This is how Vedantis thus express these aspects of Maya but in all this understand that the basic root is the ignorance. (15:87-90).


Roots sprout upwards and downwards from the pure soul which is at the top and they become strong in the base-soil of Maya. Then shoots sprout in all directions from the centre of that root. Thus the world tree gets its strength from the Brahman. Then it develops bunches of shoots from below. Among those, the first to sprout is the delicate green leaf of Mahat principle in the form of consciousness (Chit). Next sprouts the three leaf shoot of the ego with the three attributes Sattva, Raja and Tama on the lower side. Later it sprouts another shoot, that of intellect which fosters the growth of feeling of differentiation which in turn gives rise to the twig that is the mind and keeps it fresh. Thus the root gaining strength from the sap of ignorance sprouts four types of young twigs namely mind, intellect, ego and consciousness. (15:91-97).

From these the branches of the five principles sky, air, fire, water and earth rise straight. From these branches the tender soft leaves of the five sense organs and their sense objects grow. Out of these when the shoot of the sound grows, the hearing organ grows twice as much and gives rise to the branches of desires. Then the creeper of the body and the leaves of skin gives rise to the sprout of touch leading to an abundance of novel passions. Then the leaves of form grow and the eyes rush to that branch leading to growing delusion. Then the leaves of taste grow and the tongue develops endless cravings. Similarly the leaves of smell give rise to increasing desire by the nose which leads to greed. In this way the Mahat principle, ego, intellect, mind and the five principles cause the world to grow. It grows only by means of these eight (?) parts (namely Mahat principle, ego, intellect, mind and the five principles). The world-tree grows more and more branches and just as a conch-shell appears like silver due to illusion, the Brahman, by showing itself in the form of the world-tree becomes the root of ignorance. (15:98-107).


I shall also tell you why knowledgeable people call this tree as Ashwatha. "Shwa" means morning or tomorrow. This world-tree does not remain like this even up to tomorrow. (15:110-111). It gets destroyed every moment therefore it is called Ashwatha. Shri Krishna does not imply this Ashwatha to be the ordinary Peepul (Ficus Religiosa) tree. (15:114-115). This tree is well-known to be indestructible but its hidden meaning is that just as ocean is depleted by the clouds on one hand and filled by the rivers on the other therefore it neither gets depleted nor does it grow. As long as the action of the clouds and the rivers does not cease it is always filled. Similarly the destruction and reformation of this tree occurs so fast that it cannot be guessed. Therefore people call it indestructible. (15:118-122). Over the passage of time the branch which represents the animal kingdom dries and falls down but it grows millions of shoots but one cannot understand when the first branch fell down and when the millions of other branches sprouted. At the time of the deluge the branches of this world tree fall down and at the time of creation they sprout into a veritable forest. The stormy winds at the time of deluge cause the barks of the tree drop and in the beginning of the new era they grow again. Then one Manu period follows the another, then dynasties like the Sun dynasty, Moon dynasty follow and expansion occurs. At the end of the Kali Yuga the barks of the trees in all the four yugas are shed and the tree dries but when the Krita Yuga starts again the barks grow many times faster. One cannot realize how many branches grow and how many fall. (15:125-129).


No sooner does a twig of a body fall hundreds of others sprout because which this world-tree appears to be indestructible. With whatever speed river water flows the water behind meets it with the same speed. In the same way this world appears perpetual even though it is destructible. People foolishly consider this world tree to be indestructible because it grows even as it breaks. But knowing its speed he who realises that this world-tree is momentary and is created millions of times during the batting of an eyelid and knows fully well that there is no cause for all this other than ignorance and its existence is unreal is the person who knows everything, one who knows the principles of Vedanta and is the one whom I adore. He alone gets fruits of yoga. Who can describe the person who realises this world tree to be impermanent? (15:132-143).

Then, branches grow on the lower side of the world-tree which after reaching the ground grow upward branches too. In turn they also grow roots. Creepers growing from them sprout new leaves. The root of this tree is ignorance and with the help of the eight constituents of Prakriti viz., Mahat etc. a forest of Vedas are created. (15:144-147)


Then four large branch-shoots of four types of life namely oviparous, those born from sweat, through seeds and through uterus, grow. From each branch are created 8.4 million branches of species of life. The criss-cross branches growing from these straight branches are different species. Individuals are divided into male, female and neuter which clash with one another due to the pressure of passions. Like clouds form one after another during the rainy season similarly different types of creatures are born through the cause of ignorance. The branches bend under their own weight and get entangled in one another; and then the attributes create a storm and with its force the world tree with upward roots gets split in three places. (15:148-154).


Effect of Raja attribute : When the winds of Raja attribute are strong the branch of human race grows rapidly. Instead of the upper side or lower side on this branch shoots grow abundantly in the middle part that is on the mortal earth plane and these shoots are those of the four castes. These branches grow constantly leaves of codes for deciding proper and improper actions according to the Vedas. Of the four dutiful actions the two namely, earning and sex, spread and shoots of passing pleasures sprout. Countless shoots of good and bad actions grow with the intention of increasing the action tendency. Similarly, by the time the past Karmas are annulled by suffering or pleasure and the dry branches of the bodies of past life drop off, branches of new bodies are sprouted in another place. And then new foliage of words and similar subjects which decorate by their natural hues constantly grows. Thus, when the winds of Raja attribute blow, bunches of the branches of human beings proliferate and the human race gets established on the earth. (15:155-162).

Effects of Tama attribute Similarly when the winds of Raja attribute subside the strong winds of Tama attribute start blowing. Then the same branches of human beings grow foliage of low passions and twigs of evil deeds sprout below. Then twigs of wicked tendencies grow and on from them emerge transgressions. Young leaves of the prescribed rules and injunctions laid down by the three Vedas - Rigveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda grow at the end of these branches. Leaves of Agamas in which mantras and techniques of black magic for giving trouble to others are given emerge and the creeper of passions spreads. Later, as and when the roots of evil actions grow big the many branches of rebirth sprout. Then the large branch of Chandalas and other very low caste persons emerges from the tree and evil doers who have been attracted by evil deeds have to be reborn in those castes. Many horizontal branches of animals, birds, pigs, tigers, scorpions, snakes shoot out. Thus new branches continue growing and remain fresh on the tree and they give fruits of suffering in hell. The branches of the violence and wickedness grow for many lifetimes. In this way shoots of trees, grass, iron, soil and stones are formed and they also give similar fruits. Arjuna, the branches corresponding from human beings down to non-living things are thus on the lower part of the tree. Therefore the branch of human beings may be considered as the root of other living being and non-living things, and the world tree grows downward from it. Arjuna, if one searches the roots of the upward branches it will be found that this very same branch occurs midway between the upward and downward going branches. The branches of evil actions and good actions respectively corresponding to the Tama attribute and Sattva attribute go from this middle branch downwards and upwards respectively. (15:163-177).

The code of Vedas applicable only to human beings The code of the Vedas are not applicable to anybody else other than human beings therefore though the branches corresponding to human beings have grown from upper side roots the accumulation of actions grows from this branch. Other trees also behave similarly that is when branches grow the roots go deeper and when roots go deeper the branches grow more. Body also behaves similarly, i.e. as long as there is the accumulation of karmas (actions) one is compelled to acquire the body in this world and as long as one is in the body actions cannot be avoided. Therefore human body is the root of the branches of actions and there is no getting away from it. (15:178-182).

Effect of Sattva attribute After the storm of the Tama attribute subsides the storm of Sattva attribute starts with great force. When this happens the same branches of human beings sprout good desires from which shoots of knowledge grow. After these shoots of knowledge develop shoots of sharp intellect grow from them, which expand within moments. After the shoots of intellect expand they gain the strength from inspiration and the intellect gains discrimination. From there beautiful foliage of devotion filled with the essence of intellect grows and from it straight shoots of good tendency come out. From there many shoots of good actions come out leading to the foilage of Veda recital. Then leaves of proper social behaviour, behaviour as prescribed in the Vedas, and different types of Yajna rituals grow one after another. Thus branches of austerity with bunches of regular behaviour with self-control and young twigs of detachment grow. Shoots of some specific austerities (vratas) arise from the sharp sprouts of courage and go up rapidly. As long as the storm of Sattva attribute blows the twigs of knowledge grow with force from the thick foliage of Vedas. And then a straight twig of wealth arises and grows and gives rise to a cross branch of fruits like heaven etc. The second red branch of detachment also grows which grows by getting continuously new foliage of liberation. (15:183-194).

Next come the cross branches of the planets Sun, moon etc., the manes, rishis, Vidyadhars etc. Branches come out even higher than these and they get fruits like Indralok. To these branches sprout other high level branches of rishis like Marichi, Kashyap etc. who excel in austerity and knowledge. Thus the rows of branches grew and expanded more and more on the upper side and therefore though the tree is small at the base it has become big due to being full of fruits. The branches which come even above these get shoots like Brahmalok and Kailas and due to weight of the fruits the upper branches get bent down up to the root. In other trees also when branches become heavy with fruits they bend towards the root. Similarly due to attainment of deep knowledge the branches of this world tree bend towards the root i.e. the Brahman from which the tree sprouted in the first place. Therefore Arjuna, an individual cannot go above the level of Brahmalok or Kailas. If he goes above that he himself becomes Brahman. But the branches of Brahmalok etc. are nowhere in comparison with the root Brahman. The branches of renunciates like Sanak, Sanandan (The mind-children of Brahmadeo) etc. do not get fruits or roots and they are like Brahman itself. Thus the branches of Brahmalok etc. which are above those of human beings have gone very high up. They have grown out of the branches of human beings therefore the latter which are at the lower side are their roots. Thus I have described to you this unworldly world-tree which has the roots on the upper side and branches on both the upper and lower sides. I also discussed in detail the roots on the lower side of this tree. Now listen to how this tree can be uprooted. (15:195-209).


Arjuna, you may get a doubt as to what can uproot this giant tree. Because it is such a vast and strong tree, the uppermost branches of which have reached the Brahmalok, its root in the formless Brahman, its downward branches spread in non-living undergrowth, and the mortal world spread in its middle part. If you are going to bring ordinary thoughts like who will be able to destroy the tree then look here, what is the difficulty in uprooting this tree? (15:210-214).

Arjuna this world-tree is not real. What courage is required to uproot it? The description I made of this tree about its roots and branches is meaningless like describing the many children of a barren woman. (15:216-217). If the tree were really having strong roots and spread like I described then who on earth would have been capable of uprooting it? Arjuna the description of the world I made metaphorically by comparing it to the tree is all Maya. (15:219-220). Where ignorance itself is an illusion then how can the actions arising from it be otherwise? Therefore really speaking this world-tree is unreal. (15:223).

When it is said that it has no end, it is true in a way. (15:224). Arjuna, so long as discrimination is not generated in person there is no end to this tree. (15:226). Ignorance which is the root of this tree does not vanish unless knowledge arises. Similarly the talk that this tree is beginningless is not a rumour but is appropriate to its characteristics. Because if the tree is not real how can it have a beginning? Who is the mother of a person who is not even born? (15:229-233). Therefore it has been called beginningless because it has no existence. Arjuna, this tree has neither beginning nor end and its intermediate state is also unreal. (15:236-237). But what a wonder! This tree is unreal but at the same time real also. This world-tree appears beautiful to an ignorant person. IT creates an illusion which deludes an ignorant person. (15:239-241). But this illusion of the universe is momentary and hollow. It appears real but when one tries to grasp it slips away. (15:243-244). Therefore what efforts are required to uproot a tree which has no beginning, nor end nor existence nor a form? Arjuna, has not the tree proliferated because of the ignorance about ourselves? It has to be felled by the axe of Self-realisation. But other than that of knowledge whatever other methods you may use will get you more and more entangled in this tree. And how many branches will you climb up and get down from? Therefore you destroy ignorance, the root of this tree by appropriate knowledge. (15:247-250).

Persons engrossed in methods miss liberation Arjuna, a person who is worried about the methods to be used for destroying the unreal world misses Self-realisation and therefore the impression he has gained of the world being real actually strengthens. Only the sword of knowledge can destroy the world created from ignorance but to use that sword of knowledge with ease the intellect needs constant support of detachment. Once the detachment becomes firm then only the binding to the religious code, to the need for earning livelihood and passions vanish. Arjuna, the detachment becomes strong only when one gets disgusted with every worldly object. One should then take the sword from the sheath of ego in the hands of inward looking intellect and sharpen it on the stone of discrimination until it attains the sharpness of "I am the Brahman" and then clean it with knowledge of the Self. Then holding it in the grip of determination, one should try it once or twice and balance it with mind. Then once the sword becomes one with oneself by continued contemplation nothing can stand before it. That sword of Self- realisation shining with the brightness of non-duality will not let any part of the world-tree to survive. Just as all darkness vanishes as soon as sun rises similarly the sharp edge of the sword of knowledge does its task and the upper and lower roots of the world tree or the expanse of the branches grown on the lower side vanishes. Thus Arjuna, you cut the tree with upward root by the sword of Self-realisation. (15:253-266).

Once this is done one should observe the Self which is something that cannot be pointed at as "it is this" and by attaining which the ego goes away. But do not do like fools who look in the mirror and think they have two faces. (15:267-268). The proper way of observing the Self is similar to the fire which merges into its original latent form when fuel is over or like tasting its own taste or eye seeing its own pupil; that is one should observe it with the feeling of non-duality. (15:271- 272,274).

Realisation of the Self The primeval place which is seen without seeing and known without knowing is called the Primeval Man (Adya Purusha). But even he is described by Shrutis by taking help of attributes and make meaningless noise that it has a name and form. But people who are disgusted with heaven and worldly life swear that they will not be reborn and turn to yoga and knowledge. Then they become detached and turn their back to worldly life and crossing the Brahmalok which is the highest stage attainable by the path of action they march ahead. Then those persons of knowledge shaking off the feelings of ego etc. take the entry pass to enter the abode of the Self. The Self from which the tradition of the universe is growing, by lack of knowledge of which one feels the spread of this universe and the spirit of "I and you" duality has its play is something which must be experienced by oneself. There is one more sign of recognizing it and that is once this Self-realisation is attained one does not return from it to be reborn. Persons who are full of knowledge only can reach this state. (15:275-284).

Losing Duality Delusion and pride leave such persons. They do not come in the clutches of passions. Just as a banana tree falls after bearing fruit their actions gradually cease because of Self- realisation. All doubts leave them. They are not capable of seeing duality between themselves and others. The consciousness and pride about their body vanishes along with ignorance. The sense of duality which can cause delusion leaves them and they lack in it. They do not face the duel between pain and pleasure which a body experiences. The duel between pain and pleasure which causes sinful and meritorious actions does not affect them. These thoughtful persons are the swans who separate the water of material objects from the milk of the Self and drink the latter. (15:285-296). Because of ignorance they used to see the Brahman in its manifested form in things scattered here and there but once they attained the sight of knowledge they could see the Brahman as one continuous entity in all objects. Their thoughts merge steadily in Brahman. Because they see Brahman in everything desires do not touch them. No emotions enter their mind nor is it agitated by feelings of lust. They are not troubled by hope. They do not like the topic of sense pleasures be mentioned before them. In this way those who have burnt all sense pleasures in the fire of Knowledge go and get merged "there". If you ask where this "there" is then it is the place which never gets destroyed and which is not something that can be seen if you try to see it or know if you want to know it or can be described as similar to some object. (15:297-307).

That place cannot be seen even when everything is visible in the light of a lamp, the moon or the sun. The world is apparent only when the Self is hidden. (15:308-309). It is only when light from the entity of Self is shaded that the Sun, moon etc. shine by their intense brightness. That entity is extremely bright and all encompassing and illuminates even the sun and the moon. The light of the sun and the moon originates from this light therefore giving brightness to all shining objects is the basic aspect of this entity of Self. (15:311-313).

The radiance of the Brahman Just as when the sun rises the moon and the stars disappear similarly in the light of this entity all universe along with sun and moon vanishes. (15:314). The entity in which no material object appears is my highest abode. Those who reach there do not come back. (15:316-317). Those who become one with me by means of pure knowledge are not reborn. (15:320).

Hearing this Arjuna expressed a doubt. He said, "Your statements are contradictory. If an individual is different from you then he will not become one with you and if he is one with you then the question of his returning does not arise." (15:321-328).

Some devotees do not prefer liberation Shri Krishna said, "There are both types of persons who do not return after reaching unity with me, those who are separate from me and those who are one with me. If you think deeply then they are one with me but if you think superficially they appear separate from me. (15:330-331). If one sees with the eyes of knowledge they are one with me but they appear separate due to ignorance. If you really consider Self then how can there be two types of behaviours of being one with and being different from me? (15:334-335).

Even if I am pure the influence of Maya creates ignorance. It then creates a doubt, "Who am I?" and itself gives the answer "I am the body". When the Knowledge of the self gets bounded by the body it is seen as part of me because of its smallness. Just as waves on the sea appear to be part of the ocean to a person of limited understanding, I the giver of vitality to the material body and creator of the I-am-the-body ego become apparent in the form of an individual. (15:341-345).

The activity that is seen by the intellect of the individual is called the living world. Where birth and death are considered as real I call that place as living world or world. The moon is different from water but we can see its reflection in water. The way I exist in this living world is similar. (15:346-348). The status of my being beginningless and a non-doer does not get disturbed but the appearance that I am the doer and the experiencer is an illusion. (15:350).

Prakriti This pure soul by mixing with Prakriti appropriates its properties to himself and then assuming that Prakriti, mind and the five sense organs are his gets engrossed in worldly activities. (15:351-352). Forgetting himself he considers himself to be similar to Prakriti and gets involved with it. Then he rides on the chariot of the mind, gets out through the ears and enters the woods of the words. He enters the deep forest of touch holding the apron strings of Prakriti. Sometimes he gets out through the eyes and roams freely on the hill of form. He goes out through the tongue and enters the valley of the taste. This individual who is my own fraction, gets out of the nose and enters the thick forest of odours and wanders there. Thus with the help of mind, this individual who is the master of the body and the organs, experiences the sense objects like sound etc. (15:354-360).

When that individual enters a body he gives the impression that he is the doer and experiencer. (15:361). His ego increases and the sense-objects and sense organs play havoc. (15:363). When he abandons the body he takes the five sense organs and the mind with him. (15:367). When the individual attains a body in this world or in the heaven he takes him the mind and the group of sense-organs. To an ignorant person the behaviour of an individual appears like a lamp which disappears along with its brightness when extinguished and reappears along with the brightness when lighted again. People think that it is the soul which entered the body and it is he who experienced the sense-objects and it also he who went along with the body. However, taking birth and dying or doing and experiencing are the properties of Prakriti. But it is considered that they belong to the soul. (15:368-370).

When the little body starts making movements due to vital force people say the individual is born. Similarly by association with the individual the organs experience their respective sense objects then that is called "experiencing". Then when the body becomes weak due to experiences and gets destroyed people cry that the individual has gone. Are we to suppose that only where there is a tree which makes movements wind is blowing and where there is no tree there is no wind? (15:373-376). In the same way people blinded by delusion determine that the birth and death of a body are actually those of the soul. It is a different class of people who know that the soul is in his own place in the body and he merely witnesses its activities. Those who through the eyes of knowledge consider the body to be merely a cover for the soul and do not get involved in its affairs and those whose sense of discrimination has grown and have been inspired towards realisation of the soul are the ones who know the soul. (15:380- 383). When we see the reflection of the star studded sky in water we know that it has not fallen down in it but has remained where it was and what we see in water is merely an illusion. Similarly the individual though covered in the body is actually the soul. (15:384-385). Body may come and go I remain unaffected and persons of knowledge know me as I always am. They know that the realm of the soul continues to be uninterrupted while bodies are, in ignorance, imagined as being created and destroyed. They understand me with proper knowledge of the Self that the soul does not grow or diminish, does not do actions nor cause them to be done. (15:389-390).

Knowledge must be accompanied by detachment A person may attain this knowledge, his intellect may become so subtle as to penetrate even an atom and he may become learned in all branches of knowledge, but unless this learning is accompanied by detachment, he will not encounter me though I am all-pervasive. He may talk mouthfuls about discrimination but if he harbours sense-objects in his mind then definitely he will not find me. (15:391-393) Even if all branches of knowledge are on the tip of his tongue as long as ego exists in the mind he will not attain me even after millions of births. Now I shall explain to you how I encompass all beings. (15:396-397)

I support the Universe The radiance with the help of which the affairs of this world are seen, including the radiance of the sun is mine. Understand that this radiance is in the beginning as well as at the time of the end of the world. The moonlight which gives moisture to the world after the sun has made it dry is also mine. And the strong radiance which does the functions of burning and cooking also belongs to me. (15:398-400)

The earth does not get dissolved in the limitless ocean because I enter the earth and give it support. And the countless creatures which this earth supports does so because I support them by entering it. Arjuna, I have become a moving lake of nectar in the sky in the form of the moon. I nurture all the plant kingdom by forming canals of nectar of the rays which originate there and spread below. Thus I give life to all creatures in the form of food by means of growing and nurturing grains etc. And even if the food is grown how do the individual creatures digest it and feel satisfied? (15:401-406).

For this I set the fires burning at the navel in the stomach and that fire is myself. And by working the blowers of the Prana and Apana airs day in and day out I consume food in quantities which just cannot be measured. It is I who digests the four types of food : dry, fatty, cooked and raw. Thus I am all creatures, I am their life that is the food and I am the digestive fire which burns and digests this food which sustains life. What more can I tell you about my all-encompassing nature? There is nothing in this world other than me. I pervade everywhere. But then you will ask me why one sees some creatures happy and others unhappy? (15:407-412). If you are harbouring doubts like this than I shall completely remove your doubts. (15:414).

Now look, it is I alone who pervades everything and everywhere. Nothing is different from me. But I appear to individual creatures according to individual intellect. Sound is the property of space but different musical instruments give different sounds, in the same way my appearance results differently in different creatures. (15:415-416). If an ignorant person and a wise person both see a sapphire string then the ignorant person may think it is a snake but the wise person will know it as a sapphire string. (15:419). Similarly persons of knowledge gain happiness from me but the ignorant ones feel unhappy. (15:420).

Actually the ego in the hearts of all creatures that "I am so and so." is also me. But by keeping company of saints, by practice of yoga and knowledge, serving one's Guru with detachment and by good behaviour this ignorance disappears and the ego dissolves into the Self and when this happens the individual knows me and with the realisation of the Self he becomes happy. (15:421-424).

On the other hand, those whose ego is involved only with the body by serving it and by bragging about the worldly affairs follow the path of desirous action keeping in mind goal of worldly pleasures and attainment of heaven after death. Because of this choicest parts of sorrow come to their lot. Just as what we see while awake becomes the base for what we see in dreams similarly I am the base for the illusion due to their ignorance. (15:425-428). It is an established fact that I am alone the root of the knowledge and as well as of the ignorance. Therefore Arjuna, when the Vedas attempted to understand me, because they did not understand my form they split into three branches. But even though the branches are different they all lead to the understanding of my form. Even Shrutis (Upanishads) stumble when they reach the great Principle (Aham Brahmasmi or I am the Brahman) and where the Shrutis are not able to express my form it is I who reveals it. And I am alone the knower of that pure knowledge of the Self where everything including the Shrutis dissolves. (15:431-436). I know my unique form free of the worldly affairs and I am the cause of its realisation. (15:438). When the Knowledge which swallows the ignorance itself dissolves, it is not possible to state that it exists or that it does not. (15:440). Thus, while explaining to Arjuna how he pervades both the living and non-living universe Shri Krishna ultimately described the pure unattached form. (15:442).

On this Arjuna remarked, "What a wonder that more one knows about the Self more interesting it becomes! Oh Shri Krishna, please tell me again about the qualificationless nature which you described while telling me about your all-pervasiveness." (15:445-447)


On this, Shri Krishna expressed his happiness at Arjuna's enquiry and went on to describe two types of qualifications. (15:461-462). Speech stops short while attempting to describe the undescribable pure form. To tell that it cannot be described Shri Krishna is first telling about qualifications. Before telling about the qualificationless form it is necessary to discuss first about qualifications itself. (15:467-469)

Shri Krishna said, "Arjuna, if we consider this world to be a town its population is very small, consisting of only two individuals. There is a third individual also but he cannot bear to hear even the mention of the name of either of the two. But let us talk about him later. First let me tell about the two who have come to live in this town. (15:471-474)

Of these two, one is blind, foolish and crippled while the other has all his organs in good shape. Because they are living in the same town they happen to give company to each other. One of them is named Kshar and the other as Akshar. This world is completely filled by the two. Now who is Kshar and who is Akshar and what are their characteristics is what I shall explain to you. (15:475-477).

Arjuna, from the Mahat principle to grass blade, whatever is small or big, moving or stationary, intelligible to both mind and intellect, that which is acquires form after having been produced from the five principles and getting into the grip of the three attributes Sattva, Raja and Tama, the gold from which living beings are coined, he dice with which gambling game is played with Time, that which is can be understood through improper type of knowledge, that which is created and destroyed every moment, that which enters the woods of delusion and creates the world, and why talk more, is known as the universe has already been explained before as the Field formed out of eightfold Prakriti and thirty six principles. But why repeat all that? Recently I have told about it to you through the analogy of the tree. (15:478-485).


Kshara Person The conscious Self, having imagined this world to be its place of residence, has become like it. Like a lion who sees its reflection in the well water and jumps into it with anger, the non-dual Self deceives itself into assuming duality. In this way the Soul imagining the world to be its residence, slumbers in it disregarding its primary form. Under the influence of the sleep he snores that "I am happy" or "I am unhappy" and talks incoherently using words like "I" and "mine". Dreaming that "This is my father", "This is my mother", "I am fair skinned or dark or perfect", "Are not this son. this wealth, this woman mine?" the soul when he wanders in the forest that is this world and the heaven is known as Kshara person. (15:486-493).

When the Knower of the field in the state known as the individual, overlooks his nature of the Self and becomes like all creatures, then he is known as Kshar Person (Purusha). (15:494-495). He completely occupies the state of the Self, therefore he is called Purusha. Also, because he resides in the body albeit in a somnolent state he is again called Purusha (N.B. Puri means town; body is likened to a town in which the Soul resides as stated earlier). And because he has been tainted by qualifications he has been falsely accused as being a Kshara or perishable. He becomes freed of the qualifications once they are destroyed. The qualifications make him impermanent and thus by virtue of the impermanence of the qualifications he has been called Kshara. Thus all living creatures should be called Ksharas. (15:496-501).

Akshara Person Now let me explain what Akshara is. Arjuna, the second aspect of the individual which is Akshara is an intermediary i.e. behaving like a disinterested witness. He does not get involved either with knowledge nor with ignorance. He does not assume monistic nature by proper or true knowledge nor does he assume dualistic nature by the improper knowledge. Detached non-awareness is its natural form. When earth is mixed with water and made into a lump of mud for making a pot, it no longer remains the original earth and it has yet to take a form and become a pot. The state of the Akshara Purusha is similar to this in between state. (15:502-505). It may be compared with the sleep state which occurs between the state of wakefulness and the dreaming state. The state of ignorance which lies between the stage when delusion of the world has vanished but knowledge of the Self has not yet occurred is the state known as Akshara. (15:507-508).

Manifestable and Unmanifestable The place where the individual soul dissolves after all qualifications vanish, where qualifications and the qualified individual remain in a state of dissolution is called the Unmanifestable. Complete ignorance occurs during the state of deep sleep therefore it is called the root aspect of the Unmanifestable in Vedanta Philosophy while the dream state and the state of wakefulness are its fruit aspects. This root aspect is the place of the Akshara Person. From this place originates the improper knowledge which makes the states of wakefulness and dream to spread and journeys through the thought-forests of the intellect. Arjuna, the place from where the world is raised and where the Manifestable and the Unmanifestable meet is the state which is called the Akshara Person. (15:510-515).

The states of wakefulness and dream that the second i.e. the Kshara person experiences by taking up a body arise from this abode of the Akshara Person. These two states arise from the sleep state well-known as the state of ignorance and is one step lower that the state of attainment of Brahman. Really speaking, if the individual had not reached the wakeful or dream states from the state of sleep then he would reach the state of the Brahman (because ignorance would have vanished on wakefulness. Instead he reaches the wakefulness and dream states which are the attributes of the impermanent body.) The entity that experiences an illusion of the Field and the Knower of the Field in the dream state when the clouds in the form of Prakriti and Purusha cover the sky of the sleep state is the basic form of the Akshara Purusha who is also the root of the inverted world tree. The reason why he is called a Purusha or individual when he is really a Soul is that he takes a slumber in the town of Maya. Also the state in which the comings and goings of passions, which is a type of ignorance, is not felt is verily the sleep state. Therefore this Akshara Purusha does not get destroyed by itself and nothing except knowledge can destroy it. Therefore he is well-known as Akshara in the great principle of the Vedantic philosophy. Thus, Akshara Purusha is actually the Consciousness which due its being qualified by Maya assumes the form of an individual. (15:516-525)

Superior Person From the improper knowledge arise the two states of wakefulness and the dream and dissolve themselves in deep ignorance. When that ignorance disappears and you face Knowledge it destroys the ignorance and itself disappears after giving you an experience of the Brahman, similar to the fire which destroys itself after burning wood. Thus, after Knowledge has destroyed ignorance and destroyed itself, the state of experience of the Self which remains without the Knowledge itself should be considered the Superior Being. This third type of person is different from the two (Kshara and Akshara) discussed earlier. Just as the state of wakefulness is different from the two other states, namely the sleep and the dream states in that the experiences differ, (15:526-530), similarly the Superior Being is different from the Kshara and Akshara (15:531). He is different from them in the manner fire though intrinsically existing in wood, is different from it. (15:532). No trace of the three states of dream, sleep and wakefulness remains there and because all the three states have been nullified neither monistic nor dualistic state is experienced nor is experienced being and not being. Such a state is called the Superior Being which is also called the Supreme Soul in this world. But calling him by such a name is possible by not dissolving oneself into Him and supported by the state as an individual. Arjuna, just as only a person standing on the shore can speak about drowning in the river, the Vedas are able to speak about superior and inferior only by staying on the border of discrimination. Therefore they consider Kshara and Akshara as inferior as compared with the Superior Being and identify Him with the form of the Supreme Soul. Understand therefore that the term "Supreme Soul" thus signifies the Superior Being. (15:534-540).

Otherwise, the supreme Soul is such that He is spoken about without actually speaking, about whom knowing nothing is actually same as knowing Him, who occurs without any happening. There, even the aspect of "I am that" vanishes, the speaker becomes the spoken and view disappears along with the viewer. (15:541-542).

Can anybody say that something has survived behind? Whatever one experiences in this situation should be considered as His form. The light which occurs besides the illuminated object, the controller who is besides the controlled exists in His own form. He who is the realm of sound which gives the power to hear, the realm of the taste which gives the power to taste, the cosmic bliss which creates the bliss, the pinnacle of perfection, Supreme Person among all persons, the resting place of the repose, bliss of the bliss, brilliance of the brilliance and the place of dissolution of the zero of the big naught, who is beyond the growth and dissolution, who is larger than the largest, bears the universe without becoming it. (15:545-550).


The universe and the Supreme Soul are not different. (15:552). He is the one responsible for the expansion and contraction of the universe. He does not change if takes the form of the universe or does not go anywhere if the universe dissolves. He does not get destroyed by anything under any circumstances. He can be compared only with Himself. I am that unique Entity who illuminates Himself, in whom no duality occurs, he who is beyond form and superior to Kshara and Akshara and therefore Vedas and people call me as Supreme Person. Dawn of Knowledge has arrived for him who understands me as such. After the onset of Knowledge the whole universe appears to be meaningless to him. Once he attains my knowledge he no longer gets deceived by the illusion that is this world. Knowing my real form he gives up the sense of distinction and says, " I myself am a self-created true bliss existing everywhere." and he knows me as not being different from himself. It is difficult to state that he has known everything because no sense of duality exists within him. Therefore Arjuna he alone is worthy of my devotion just as sky alone is fit to embrace sky. (15:554-565). Only he who becomes one with me can be devoted to me, otherwise how can the devotional relation develop?. (15:567-568). The relation between me and the devotion of one who is devoted to me with the sense of oneness with me can be compared only with the Sun and its aura which are not different from each other. (15:570).


Thus, the fragrance of the Gita, which can obtained only through the Shastras, spread from the lotus of the Upanishads right from the beginning of this chapter. The Gita is the essence extracted from the Vedas by churning them using the intellect of the sage Vyas. It is the river of the nectar of Knowledge, the seventeenth phase of the moon of bliss or the goddess Laxmi rising from the milk ocean of contemplation. Therefore none other than me knows it from the heart by one’s own words or letters or meaning. When Kshara and Akshara persons confronted it, it surrendered to me completely. Therefore the Gita which you are now hearing is my faithful spouse. Really speaking, this Gita is not a shastra which can be told through words. It is the science of conquering this world. The letters of this Gita are mantras which can lead you to attaining the Self. Arjuna, by telling you this Gita I have brought forth my secret treasure. If my conscious Self is compared to Lord Shiva then you who has managed to bring out the Ganges of Gita from his head are like the Sage Gautama. (15:571-579). Arjuna, because the impurity of the three attributes has left you, you have become my residence along with the Gita. The Gita is my creeper of knowledge and he who understands it becomes free of all delusions. (15:582-583). But what is there to wonder if delusion vanishes when one understands the Gita perfectly? That Knowledge of the Self leads him to the form of the Self. After this Knowledge of the Self is attained Karma also dissolves realising that its life work is over. When the pinnacle of Knowledge is installed over the temple of Karma, Karma ceases automatically. Therefore a person who has attained Knowledge has no reason to perform duties. Thus said the saviour of the destitute. (15:585-588).

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Last update: Essen, 2010-NOV-07