"Men say that the Asvattha, the eternal sacred tree (1), grows with its roots above and its branches below, and the leaves of which are the Vedas; he who knows this knows the Vedas. Its branches growing out of the three qualities (2) with the objects of sense as the lesser shoots, spread forth, some above and some below; and those roots which ramify below in the regions of mankind are the connecting bonds of action. Its form is not thus understood by men; it has no beginning, nor can its present constitution be understood (3), nor has it any end. When one hath hewn down with the strong axe of dispassion this Asvattha tree with its deeply-imbedded roots, then that place is to be sought after from which those who there take refuge never more return to rebirth, for it (4) is the Primeval Spirit from which floweth the never-ending stream of conditioned existence. Those who are free from pride of self and whose discrimination is perfected, who have prevailed over the fault of attachment to action, who are constantly employed in devotion to meditation upon the Supreme Spirit, who have renounced desire and are free from the influence of the opposites known as pleasure and pain, are undeluded, and proceed to that place which endureth forever. Neither the sun nor the moon nor the fire enlighteneth that place; from it there is no return; it is my supreme abode.
"It is even a portion of myself which, having assumed life in this world of conditioned existence, draweth together the five senses and the mind in order that it may obtain a body and may leave it again. And those are carried by the Sovereign Lord to and from whatever body he enters or quits, even as the breeze bears the fragrance from the flower. Presiding over the eye, the ear, the touch, the taste, and the power of smelling, and also over the mind, he experienceth the objects of sense. The deluded do not see the spirit when it quitteth or remains in the body, nor when, moved by the qualities, it has experience in the world. But those who have the eye of wisdom perceive it, and devotees who industriously strive to do so see it dwelling in their own hearts; whilst those who have not overcome themselves, who are devoid of discrimination, see it not even though they strive thereafter. Know that the brilliance of the sun which illuminateth the whole world, and the light which is in the moon and in the fire, are the splendor of myself. I enter the earth supporting all living things by my power, and I am that property of sap which is taste, nourishing all the herbs and plants of the field. Becoming the internal fire of the living, I associate with the upward and downward breathing, and cause the four kinds of food to digest. I am in the hearts of all men, and from me come memory, knowledge, and also the loss of both. I am to be known by all the Vedas; I am he who is the author of the Vedanta, and I alone am the interpreter of the Vedas.
"There are two kinds of beings in the world, the one divisible, the other indivisible; the divisible is all things and the creatures, the indivisible is called Kutastha, or he who standeth on high unaffected. But there is another spirit designated as the Supreme Spirit — Paramatma — which permeates and sustains the three worlds. As I am above the divisible and also superior to the indivisible, therefore both in the world and in the Vedas am I known as the Supreme Spirit. He who being not deluded knoweth me thus as the Supreme Spirit, knoweth all things and worships me under every form and condition.
"Thus, O sinless one, have I declared unto thee this most sacred science; he who understandeth it, O son of Bharata, will be a wise man and the performer of all that is to be done."
Thus in the Upanishads, called the holy Bhagavad-Gita, in the science of the Supreme Spirit, in the book of devotion, in the colloquy between the Holy Krishna and Arjuna, stands the Fifteenth Chapter, by name —
DEVOTION THROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUPREME SPIRIT.
1. This is a symbol for the universe, which, although apparently destroyed and then again renovated, is never ending, for it is the same as the Evolutionary Stream. (return to text)
2. See preceding Chapter. (return to text)
3. This means that the bound Ego cannot understand it. (return to text)
4. It is the place of the Supreme. (return to text)