Gita Daily Readings

14th October
Chapter XV: 1-2
The blessed Lord said: They (the wise) speak of the indestructible peepul tree having its root above and branches below, whose leaves are the meters or hymns; he who knows it is a knower of the Vedas.

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

Commentary

A picturesque description of the cosmos. Krishna had already described the peepul tree as one of his special manifestations. Those who have seen this tree will admit that it is truly majestic and grand. Its majesty and grandeur qualify it for this special mention. Its roots go deep into the soil. Hence Krishna takes it up once again to illustrate the cosmos.

All trees have their roots below; but this tree, which is the image of the cosmos, has its roots above - not literally, but allegorically. Strange but true it is, that this material universe has its roots in the transcendent reality. Nothing exists but that. The substratum of what appears to be, is that; and incidentally, even the power of illusion that makes the illusory appearance possible is in a way transcendent too, for it cannot be properly explained. The cosmos-tree has its roots above!

To the yogi this tree might mean the shushumna-nadi (the psychic counterpart of the spinal cord), which has its root in the medulla oblongata (known as the “Tree of Life” in French). The trunk extends downwards, and contains the various chakras  - on whose petals are the various letters (varna) which are here described as the chandas (hymns composed of those letters). The nadis (subtle counterparts) branch out from this trunk with sense-objects as the buds.

This inverted tree has a root again below, which generates actions; the muladhara and the other lower chakras are thus referred to.

The tree and its root are of one substance - God.

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