The Fifteenth Teaching
The Ultimate Supreme Person
Roots above, branches below, the realm of sorrow is the world tree, sages say; its leaves are sacred hymns.
Its branches, stretching below and above and nourished by gunas, bud in sense objects; its aerial roots tangled in actions reach downward into the world of men.
Its vast form is unknown to the men in the world; unknown is the extent of its end and its beginning.
Cut down this deep-rooted tree with the sharp ax of detachment; then search for that primal One from whom the whole universe flows.
Find him in the place that one enters without returning; without arrogance or delusion intent on the Self alone,
serene with attachment overcome, desires extinguished, freed from dualities, from joy and suffering, wise men reach that realm beyond change.
Neither sun nor moon nor fire illumine this highest abode-those who reach it, they do not return.
A fragment of me, becoming an eternal soul in the world, draws to itself the senses and the mind inherent in nature.
When the lord takes on a body or leaves it, he carries these senses along, just like the wind carries scents from the places where it has been.
Presiding over hearing, sight, touch, taste, smell, and thought, he savors objects of the senses.
Deluded men do not see him whether he departs or stays or enjoys nature’s qualities; but wise men see him with their inner eye.
Men of yoga, striving, see him within themselves; but men without self-control, however they strive, fail to see him.
Know that the brilliance, flaming in the sun, in the moon, and in fire that illumines this whole universe in truth is mine.
I penetrate the earth and sustain beings by my life-giving power; becoming soma, the liquid of moonlight, I nurture all healing herbs.
I am the vital fire in the bellies of all beings; I join with the breath as it flows. I digest the foods that men consume.
I dwell deep in the heart of all beings; I am the source of memory, knowledge, and author of all sacred lore, its wisdom and its goal.
There is double spirit of man in the world, transient and eternal-transient as bodies but eternal within the Self.
Beyond transient and eternal is the ultimate Person, the supreme Self, and the immutable Lord who enters the worlds, brings it to life and sustains it.
I am beyond the transient and am higher than the eternal,
therefore I am known as the Ultimate Person by the world and in sacred lore.
Whoever, clear-minded knows me as the Ultimate Person, knows all that is truly worth knowing, and he devotes his whole being to me.
Thus, Arjuna, I have taught you the most secret doctrine; one who learns it, is wise and has done all there is to do.
As I Understand It:
Here is described the most exalted nature of Krishna. His abode, the place of light and eternal life yet beyond the human language. Krishna lives in the highest realm and also in the world below where light and darkness coexist. He transcends not only the material world but also the immortal Self, atman, the conscious “knower” who dwells within all beings. Krishna is the atman and he transcends atman.
Ultimately in his highest aspect Krishna abides in his own mystery. In his divine mystery he sends fragments of himself to become the inner Self in each being. Liberated souls enjoy union with Krishna but do not become Him. How can they become God?
The upside-down world tree with its aerial roots originate from Brahman. They branch out into a manifold creation in the realm below. Krishna as the Self enters the body at conception, dwells in the body and then departs at the time of death. Krishna is the prana-the breath.
The Bhagavad Gita, Introduced and Translated by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, California. Second Edition, 2008 (1st Pub. 1985).
The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna Counsel in Time of War, Translation and Introduction by Barbara Stoler Miller. Bantam Doubleday Dell Group, Inc. New York. Bantam Books, 1986.
Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation, Stephen Mitchell, Three Rivers Press, New York, 2000.