Bhagavad Gita, ch. 15

Krsangi Dasi - May 22, 2005 9:39 am

Dear devotees


After quite a long break we had our 15th Bhagavad Gita evening last week. "We" means Bhrigu, Kamalaksa, I and Gokula Chandra (the devotee formerly known as Jani, who's a disciple of Bir Krishna Goswami). It was nice to get together again, and we decided to try to go through the remaining chapters before Guru Maharaja comes here this summer.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15: Yoga of the Highest Person


In the beginning of this chapter Krishna presents the analogy of the asvattha tree, with its roots above and branches below. This has caused quite some confusion in our small brains as the trees we encounter in Finland quite seldom have these kind of qualities. Bhrigu helped us by making a drawing of a banyan tree, attached here.


In the drawing you can see the tree, with its branches growing downwards, and roots growing upwards. Its leaves are are the Vedic hymns, its twigs sense objects, its roots karmic reactions, nourished by the gunas. With the ax of detachment the tree can be cut down.


Krishna then once again describes the qualities of the pure devotee who can attain him, having defeated the attachments described in the beginning of the chapter. This would feel like a completely overwhelming task if we hadn't read all the previous chapters, where Krishna describes all the different paths one can take to attain him.


In verse 15.6 Krishna then describes his supreme abode, and states that having gone there no one returns. It's quite interesting to read this as the falldown of the jiva is such a big issue between Iskcon and other Gaudiya Vaishnava branches, and it's quite clearly stated here that no one returns from Krishna's abode, or falls down from the spiritual world.


Krishna goes on to speak about the individual souls, moving like the wind from one body to another. Deluded by their senses they don't understand their situation. In this way Krishna explains why the souls choose to stay in this world of dualities instead of trying to attain him.


I've been reading a book written by a Swedish woman who describes her problems with trying to lose weight. She constantly suffers from being seriously overweight, and promises herself that she'll start a diet next Monday, but by Monday afternoon she's back at McDonalds, Then she feels so bad about not being able to diet that she has to comfort herself with an extra portion of ice cream. And this just goes on and on, and she never actually loses any weight.


This made me think of our situation here in this world. We know this environment is not good for us, we know this life will end in death and suffering, and we know we'll have to give up all our belongings in the end. But still we want to hold on to sense enjoyment for comfort, and promise ourselves that on Monday we'll start concentrating on spiritual life and give up everything else. We know what we should do: give up all the saturated fat of pride and illusion and strictly follow the diet of spiritual practice, but still we find ourselves sneaking to the fridge in the evening to get an extra snack.


In the following verses Krishna describes how utterly dependent the living beings are from him. He is the light in the sun and the moon and the fire of digestion. We take the sun for granted, as well as digestion, but if the sun didn't rise one morning the whole world would be in chaos. It's quite a challenge to learn to look at everything around us as Krishna, and to appreciate it accordingly. If we remembered Krishna every time we see the sun that would already make us think of Krishna quite often (unless we were in Finland in the winter...).


Krishna then returns to the subject of the prakriti and purusa discussed earlier in the Gita, and states that there's an essential difference between the jivas and the supreme purusa, Krishna. This is clearly a different understanding of the relationship between the living beings and God than in the Mayavada philosophy. Guru Maharaja points out in his purport that the living beings are sometimes called para prakriti to stress the point that we're not equal with Krishna.


Shyam Gopal Das - May 22, 2005 10:55 am

Your point of not wanting to change diets but knowing it is not good for us reminded me of a verse in Bhagavad-Gita I encountered ths week that hit me pretty hard.


BG 4.40 "Those who are ignorant, faithless, or doubting are lost. There is neither hapiness nor success in this world or the next for the doubting soul"

It is saying to me that when we know our diets are bad, but we don't make a change, we will be in a state of limbo that gets us nowhere. It shows we lack faith in the process and should try to strengthen our faith. It shows we lack faith in Sri Guru, because he embodies our prospect. So don't doubt or the consequence of our doubting will be to lose everything.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - May 22, 2005 4:17 pm

About your picture -- I’m not sure it’s quite right. Because the tree you’ve drew is a material reflection of the real tree of the spiritual world, the root of it grows upward from Brahmaloka, but your picture has Krsna. So it looks like you are trying to sever connection with Krsna by detachment which is not correct.


Bhrigu - May 24, 2005 6:44 am



I drew the tree in this way since Guru Maharaja in the purport to 15.1 says that the tree has its roots up since "it is rooted in the Supreme Being". There wasn't anything about Brahmaloka there. And if we cut the tree at the root, we'll be left with the root -- Krishna, not Brahmaloka. :P