"Purushottam" is a combination of two words - Purusha
and Uttama. Purusha is Atma and Uttama means the best.
This chapter contains
20 verses. God is also called Purushottama. In this chapter Krishna
talks about a tree planted upside down, and traces its origin into Him.
upside down tree - universe
He says, "There is
a tree called "Ashwattha". It has its roots on the top and
branches growing downward. Its leaves are the Vedas. He who knows this
tree knows Vedas. Some people say it is "imperishable". The
real form of this tree cannot be seen in this world. Its branches are
spread downwards and upwards, and are nourished by three gunas. Its
twigs are the objects of senses. This tree also has roots going down and
inhabitants of this world (the earth) are bound by their Karmas to them.
No one can understand its origin or end. None can comprehend its
foundation. Cut down this Ashwattha tree by the weapon of non attachment
and then seek that place from which, having reached there, no one
returns. Then surrender to this Purushottam from whom this very old tree
originated and spread downwards."
Ashwattha is a word
composed of three syllables "A" means (absence) or
"No"; Shwa in sanskrit means tomorrow; and ttha (sttha) means
to stay. The total meaning is "there is no guarantee that it will
stay tomorrow; which means it is perishable. Thus the tree referred to
here is the Universe which is here today but may not be there tomorrow.
This may be hard to believe but the message is, that anything that is
not permanent can vanish anytime. Also, when we talk of tomorrow, we
limit our knowledge to the day of 24 hours duration. But if we think of
one day of the creator, it amounts to one thousand times of the four
Yugas which aggregate to 4.320.000 years. Multiply this by 1000 and we
get 4.320.000.000 years on earth. When this one day of the Creator is
over, this Universe disappears. The new one is created by him after he
spends equal number of years as his night. So when the creator sees the
next day, the universe, he created the previous day, is not there. Hence
the name "Ashwattha" meaning (of that which is here now) there
is no guarantee it will be there tomorrow. So the tree is the universe
It has got its roots up.
The creation has come out from God. He planted the seed into His
Prakruti and it started germinating. The roots came out from Him and
started descending. As it grew, it became bigger and bigger. The entire
universe including the three worlds and their planets are its branches,
which grow downwards. The four Vedas, which have given expression to the
creation of the time, have decorated it. So the Vedas are leaves of this
tree. They cover all branches, meaning they tell us everything about the
universe. It is said, by some, to be permanent. It is obvious that we on
earth think of this universe as a permanent body. We believe that the
sun, the moon, and the stars will always be there. But it is not so. He,
who understands and grasps this, understands the knowledge of Vedas
The branches of this
tree are fed by the three gunas. We have seen that these gunas are
responsible for all action. They need sense objects for their food and
they work through sense organs. All these entities influence and compel
a human being to perform Karma. When Karma is done it rebounds, and the
human being is born again and again. They are like fruits growing on the
twigs of the tree. They come to life, grow and fall down. New fruits
come and follow the path. The water required for the entire tree is the
energy or God in whom the roots are hidden.
In the world, all trees
spring from earth. Roots are hidden in the soil. Branches grow upwards
and fruits are borne on them. All these trees on earth are but an
imitation of the original tree, the difference being that the original
one is upside down. We have to climb this tree to go to its roots. We
may all call it a game. We who grow on the branches as fruits have to
start cutting the twigs (sense objects), branches (senses) and stop
their food by controlling the flow of the three gunas. That is the way
to go up to its roots. It must be remembered that the twigs and branches
will grow if their nourishment is not stopped. Hence it is essential to
control the gunas. Our aim is to trace the roots and reach their origin.
That is the abode of God.
upside down tree - the body
In your own body, the
root of the tree is up in the head. In meditation, when you concentrate
in between the two eyebrows, you are tracing your roots. That part, is
called Agni Chakra in the Kundalini Yoga. The place above it, at the top
of the skull is called Sahasrar chakra. That is God's abode. All other
organs develop downwards and the three gunas nourish the senses. In
reaching Him in your own body, start from down below and go up to the
root. Aspirants of Kundalini Yoga start the path upwards from the
Muladhara Chakra near the anus and work their way upwards. This is the
"Ashwattha" of your body. Those who are interested in knowing
about Kundalini science may read other books on the subject. However, a
word of caution. Do not try on your own to climb up to your roots by
that way without expert guidance. You will surely fall down and get
can climb the tree
Those who have
conquered illusion, false prestige; who have won all attachments to
material objects; who are constantly in Adhyatma (spiritual path); who
have conquered lust; who are free of the dualitys like happiness and
sorrow; and who are unbewildered, know how to surrender to the
unmanifested God, go to Him
Worshipping His form is
a different thing. It is the beginning. Worship and other aspects of
idol devotion train the senses and the mind to be non attached. Idol
worship is the most suitable and ideal way to develop love for God. But
in the end this love must transcend and go beyond His manifested form.
When you follow any of the paths described in preceding chapters, you
reach a stage when your mind is fixed on the imperishable Brahma. It is
only then that you can really and truly surrender yourself to Him. When
you surrender in this way, you reach Him. Surrendering to His manifested
form paves the way for that. The ultimate goal to be achieved is to
trace the roots of the human tree and make way to His abode. He is there
in your body sitting at the Top. But that is your beginning. Your top is
downwards towards arms, legs, hands and feet, the main portion of the
body being supported on the hip joint. You make a beginning and reach
upwards towards your beginning. On the way, you will start cutting down
the branches and thus get rid of illusions, dualitys, false prestige
He says in verse no. 6,
"That which does not need the sun, the moon or fire for getting
illuminated, is My abode. Those who reach it, never return to this
He is light. Hundreds
of thousands of suns dazzling at the same time in the sky will not match
even a fraction of His effulgence. The light that illuminates the
universe comes from Him. His abode is always illuminated. That is the
last stage you reach in your search for God. But once you are there, you
cannot come back and tell about your experience. Each of us has to find
his own way.
All living beings are
parts of His existence. The Paramatma pervades each of them by His tiny
fraction. In the Purush-Prakruti combination of the body, the latter
rules over the five senses of knowledge and the mind. But He exercises a
pull over them. And when Atma enters a body He holds the senses and the
mind. When He leaves the body, He takes them away with Him. How does He
do that? The way a breeze carries away the fragrance from one place to
another, does Atma carry the mind and the senses of knowledge.
We have seen in
pervious chapters that every Karma is etched on the mind, which also has
all unfulfilled Vasanas. All this bundle forms the basis for next life.
All intellectual achievements are preserved. The human being is given
another chance in next human life to start from where he left and start
going upwards to trace his own roots in God. Hence He ensures that Atma
holds the mind and the five senses of knowledge all the time. The other
five senses of Karma (hands, legs, voice, anus, genitals) are with the
body. Atma does not need to take them away.
This Atma is the actual
enjoyer of all feelings. When He goes to another body, he obtains a
certain type of ear, eye, tongue, nose and sense of touch. These are all
then attached to the mind which He carries with Him. He enjoys what all
these sense including speech do in the other body. Thus, your Karma is
always with you. Whatever you do, will remain with you and you have to
bear its fruit. If you hate anybody in this life, the hatred will be
with you in the next life. Can it give you peace or happiness? Have you
ever analysed your own mind to see, if at any time you were envious,
jealous or hated anybody, how did you feel at that time? Well you
certainly felt bad. You remained upset. You could not enjoy the super
joy that is within you all the time. Now imagine that you will carry
this hate with you, wherever you go, in this world or another, after you
The rule applies to
everything. You may have been greedy sometime, angry many times. Did you
have lust? Did you succumb to false prestige, abusing others, cheating,
stealing, etc.? If you have, even once, you have that company for long
time. The only way to get rid of all these unwanted feelings is to be
free in this life. How? You know what you should do.
can see Atma travelling?
We do not see the
journey of Atma when He leaves one body and goes to another. We do not
see Him even when He is stable in a living body. Due to our ignorance we
cannot even think how He lives or travels. It is only he who has
"Dnyana" can see Atma. We can only believe what the scriptures
say. But it is true that the physical body is like a house of mud.
However well you may decorate it, it will collapse one day. We know it.
But what we do not really know is that the one who lives in it, does not
collapse. He cannot be burnt, because He is the energy on which fire
burns. He cannot be cut. He lives and moves about from one body to
another, taking with Him the mind and five senses, wherever He goes. And
that one is You, my dear friend. It is you in your body. Think over it,
meditate and know who you really are.
Only Yogis can see Him,
with great difficulty, in a body. But those who have not reached the
stage of self realisation and whose minds are not developed, cannot see
Him, however they may try.
light inside the body
A Yogi is one who has
successfully renounced all His Karma fruits, which means He is not
attached to His Karmas. He can see the light inside Him and in other
bodies. His eyes can penetrate deep into human mind and see further. He
can at once know your stage in your path of self realization. He can see
beyond your mind and intellect into your Atma. But it is also not easy
for Him. A great deal of effort is required. But others who aspire to be
Yogis or Dnyanis, have no chance of seeing Him. Of course, those who are
totally lost in materialism can never see Him. What Krishna tells us in
this verse no. 11 is, that Atma exists as an invisible power. He is the
light in which the subtle elements like senses, mind, intellect, ego
work. When He goes, it is all dark inside. These elements also go with
Him because they cannot stay in darkness.
Just as Atma, a part of
God, spreads light in the body for its functioning, Parmatma, the God
who holds the universe in Him, gives His splendour to the sun, the moon
and the fire so that the living being in the universe may live. He
illumines the world outside us through bodies like sun, moon, fire etc.
and lights the inner world within the body through Atma.
Just as He pervades and
sustains all beings in the form of light, He pervades the earth and
sustains all beings. He becomes the juice of life to the plants. He
becomes the fire in the bodies of living beings and digests food. He
joins the air in the outgoing and incoming breath which circulates in
the body and with it helps the digestion of all four kinds of food stuff
(food that is swallowed, chewed, licked and sucked).
He is seated in
everybody's heart. He is source of remembrance, knowledge and
forgetfulness. He is the one to be known by means of Vedas. He is the
compiler of Vedas and He is also the knower of them.
In above verses 12 to
15, Krishna has made it clear that nothing can move, nothing can live
without Him. The statement made in scriptures that He is everything, is
thus true. There is a difference in saying, "God is
everywhere", and "God is everything." We normally say and
believe that He is everywhere. We can think and accept that He is by our
side watching us. But it is very difficult for you to grasp it if I say,
the cup of coffee you have on your desk is God Himself. But not only the
cup, but the coffee in it is also God. The chair, the cushion on which
you are sitting is God. God is everything.
He dissipates His
energy in all forms. Sometimes it is unseen. Sometimes it is not seen
but felt, sometimes it is in crude gross form. A small piece of stone is
energy in stone form. If somebody throws the stone at you and hurts you,
it is the energy in that stone coupled with the energy of speed with
which the stone is hurled at you, that you feel. In the path of
spiritual enlightenment, the last stage is to see God thus, in
everything; not only in living bodies as a flicker of light but as an
energy in every living and non living body.
Vedas were not written.
They are called "Apourusheya" means without the touch of man.
They were inspired. Sages who were on the path to seek Him, got the
knowledge of the universe. They could see, inside them, this upside down
tree with the root at the top of the head. They concentrated the life's
energy (all the five vayus) coming in the body through the breath. They
held the breathed Vayu at the base of spine and from there carried it
upwards to the top of the
head where they found the roots of the tree. That was the end. That was
the place of the energy which was part of God. They were able to
successfully bring down the captured breath, down the spine and out
through the nostrils. They had seen the light. They were enlightened.
They proclaimed Mantras in which they described their experience. They
were inspired by God to know the truth and then proclaim it to the world
for mankind to understand. Vedas came into existence. Hence Krishna says
in this verse no. 15, that He is the compiler and the knower of Vedas.
of Vedas to know God
A point to be
understood here is that even these sages came to know God through His
smaller fraction the Atma. Parmatma was still far away. Sages were
spiritually enlightened. But they were yet not with Parmatma. Hence,
even the Vedas, after going over the minutest details, about Brahman and
the Universe, said "Neti, Neti" means "not this",
"not this", when it came to describing God. Vedas did not know
God. Nobody knows Him. Only He knows Himself. When you want to know Him,
you can reach the stage when you can know yourself, that you are the
spirit, the light in your body. You may even see it and actually reach
His abode. But once you reach Him, you become one with Him. You do not
come back to narrate that experience.
types of Purusha
"There are two
types of Purusha in this world. One is perishable, the other is not. All
beings are perishable in their material visible form. The real being who
is in those forms is imperishable," Krishna says in verse no. 16.
He calls both the body
as well as the Atma as Purusha, meaning both have their origin in Him.
As to the material form, He transformed His Prakruti into that form and
made it perishable. He called it Apara, or lower form of Prakruti. Why
lower? Because it does not stand on its own and cannot last for long. It
has limited existence. Then He transformed a part of His energy into
this material form so that the form could live and move into action.
This He called "Para" or higher energy because it never dies.
It is permanent and can only merge in Him. Since both are His parts, He
says there are two kinds of Purusha, one perishable and the other
imperishable. Up till now He has been talking about Purusha and
Prakruti. Now He has gone one step ahead and declared that Both are
Purusha. This declaration is made to emphasise the fact that He is
everywhere. He is all in all. When we use the term Prakruti, we
understand that it is separate from Him. By Purusha we mean He Himself
in part. So there remains subtle difference between the two. It is the
same thing like saying God is everywhere. But when both are called
Purusha, we understand that God is everything.
Now we get a clearer
meaning of the terms Kshara and Akshara or perishable and imperishable.
Kshara or perishable is the material form of God (Purusha) while Akshara
or imperishable is the spirit in the material form. He is also Purush.
One is a Kshara Purusha (the body), the other is the Akshara Purusha
Then in verse no. 17 He
declares, "Besides these two, there is one more being the best of
them (Uttama). He is the imperishable, supreme God Himself, who has
entered all the three worlds and is maintaining them."
This third being is the
Uttama Purusha or Purushottama. So God exists as living and non living
entities by fractions of His being, yet still remains whole as a Supreme
being and is called "Purushottama". He is called
"Purushottama" because He is beyond both the perishable and
imperishable, and also the greatest. Hence He is thus known in the world
as well as in the Vedas. In the last two verses, Krishna says.
"He who is not
under delusion and knows Me, without a doubt, as the Supreme Purusha
(Purushottama) becomes the knower of everything. Then He engages himself
in full devotional service to Me. This is the most secret part of all
the known scriptures that I have spoken to you. Whoever understands this
will become wise and his life as a human being will be well
The essence of Dnyana
is to know God. But God is not just an entity sitting in Heaven. He is
not also confined to his incarnations. He is unknowable by senses and
mind. The first step in trying to know Him, is to realise that He exists
in unmanifested form as some unknown energy which can transform itself
into any form. Second step is to understand that the entire universe
came out of Him and He, the energy transformed Himself in male form
Purusha and female form as Prakruti. These two combined to create
universe. All the creatures in the universe can be divided into two
parts, one that is alive and the other that appears alive. The first one
is the God's energy in superior form or Purusha. The second one is His
energy in lower form, or Prakruti. The body of a living being, though
also formed out of His energy, has a fixed life. It perishes. The
superior energy within the body is immortal. It is imperishable. This
one is the Atma or a part of Parmatma the Great God Himself.
reach God's abode know yourself first
In searching God, you
have to clearly understand the difference between the body and the Atma.
Then you must pay greater attention to Atma than to the body, because
unless you know Atma, the part, you will not know Parmatma, the whole.
The study of understanding Atma is called self realisation. Self is
Atma, i.e. you yourself. Once you know who you are, you search for your
own origin. In the beginning you traced the origin of your body to Him,
as His lower energy. Now you trace the roots of Atma. You can do so by
various means, discussed before.
If you ever reach the
stage when you know who you (the Atma) are, you concentrate on Him. To
reach Him is not easy. He does not need anything from you, except one
thing. All he wants is your undiluted love. Once you realise that He is
next to you in your own body, you go one step forward. You start seeing
Him in all beings. You are marching ahead. A day will dawn when you will
realise He is so very near, so very near that He is you and you are Him.
At that instant you may shout with joy "Aham Brahmasmi" (I am
Brahman). That is the stage when you will not see but experience God.