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(Chapter-wise Summary)



Dnyaneshwar Maharaj says, "There is no doubt that Knowledge leads to liberation but it must be steady in a person (i.e. a person must be constantly aware that he is the Soul).  This requires the mind to be very pure. Also, Knowledge cannot be steady without detachment. Shri Krishna has discussed how the mind can get completely detached once the idea of the impermanence of this world gets stamped on it.  The detachment thus gained does not leave you even if you try to get rid of it.

In this fifteenth chapter Shri Krishna compares the universe to a tree for explaining how the world is impermanent.  This tree (referred here as world-tree) has some unusual characteristics. He then elaborates further on the entities Kshara and Akshara Purushas (Persons) discussed in Ch 8 and introduces the concept of Purushottam or the Superior Person who is beyond both.

[NOTE: Readers will note that the discussion of the Brahman, appearance of Prakriti or Maya, formation of the universe from it, formation of life, destruction of the universe etc. discussed  through the simile of the tree is not very different from what was presented in the earlier chapters. There sems to be a definite purpose in repeating the same concepts a number of times in different ways and that is to make the reader grasp the difficult  points of philosophy in every possible way. Hence many topics, like  those related to the characteristics of a man of Knowledge, have been repeated many times. Though the topics are repeated, the comparison makes the reading very interesting and better understandable.  In this chapter the discussion gives weightage to Vedanta philosophy instead of the Sankhya philosophy].


Shri Krishna said, “What comes in the way of Self-realisation is not the expanse of the universe but its set-up.”  To explain this Shri Krishna compares the set-up of the universe to that of a giant tree. This tree is not like the other trees that have roots below and branches above.  The tree is upside down, i.e. the roots are above and the branches with foliage are below. It has proliferated on all sides and its tuft roots also have grown branches like a banyan or a Pipul tree. It has branches mainly below but innumerable branches have spread out on the upper side also. Looking at the world-tree gives the impression as if the three states viz. those of creation, sustenance and destruction have assumed this form.  Thus, the dense tree with roots above may be considered to be like this universe. Its expanse cannot be measured. Even if burns its roots or axes them, it proliferates instead of getting destroyed. It is always green but does not bear flowers or fruits.  This upside down world tree occupies whichever objects occur in this world. It is this giant world tree that creates the illusion that the universe is real, the very illusion that comes in the way of Self-realisation.


Shri Krishna now explains the following questions about this world-tree. He tells about

Brahman is the upward root

Brahman is the root of this universe, which is why this tree has its roots above.  Brahman is one and unique. It does not have middle, above or below but is everywhere. It is invisible but sees here, there, in front, at back and everywhere without sight. It becomes the universe with shape and name when it comes in contact with qualifications and attributes. Otherwise it is pure Knowledge free of either the Knower or the Object-to-be-Known and is pure bliss pervading the space.  By itself it is neither the cause nor its effect (i.e. action).  There is no duality or non-duality associated with it.  It is something that can be understood by an individual only through Self-realisation.  In this way this pure Brahman is the upward root of the world-tree.  And the shoots of the root are as follows.


The entity that is known as Maya does not exist.  One cannot say that Maya is real nor that it is unreal.  Maya does not exist for a person once he attains Knowledge. Yet it is mentioned as having no beginning.  Maya holds many principles (Mahat etc.).  The universe is formed in her.  She creates all sorts of forms and shapes. She is the root of the world-tree, source of the worldly affairs illuminated by the dim light of improper unrighteous knowledge.  She exists with the power of the Brahman and is supported by it.  But she makes Brahman forget its own nature and creates the I-am-the-body ignorance. This is the first basic root of the world-tree.  Non-realisation of the Self as Brahman is the main root-bulb of the tree at its top.  It is called "Beejabhaava" or "the root principle" in the form of Maya in Vedanta philosophy.  This deep ignorance is like the state of sleep and is called its "Bijankurabhaava" or "seed-sprout principle" while the dream and wakeful states are its "Phalabhaava" or "fruit principle".  This is how Vedantis express the aspects of Maya but understand that in all this the basic root is the ignorance.

[NOTE: So far the terms from Sankhya philosophy, like Purusha and Prakriti were used. Now the discussion uses the terms from Vedanta philosophy like Maya].


Roots sprout upwards and downwards from the pure Soul (Brahman) which is at the top.  These roots become strong in the base-soil of Maya.  Then shoots sprout in all directions from the centre of that root.  Thus the world tree gets its strength from the Brahman.

The eight principles

Then the world tree develops bunches of shoots from below.

Thus, gaining strength from the sap of ignorance, the root sprouts four types of young twigs namely consciousness, ego, mind, and intellect.

From these twigs (branches) further branches of the five principles: sky, air, fire, water and earth rise straight. The five sense organs and their sense objects are the tender soft leaves growing on these branches. Out of these,

In this way the Mahat principle (Cosmic intelligence or awarenes) , ego, mind and the five principles cause the world to grow. It grows only by means of these eight parts.

The world-tree grows more and more branches creating an illusion that the Brahman has taken the form of the world-tree.  This illusion becomes the root of (I-am-not-the-soul-but-the-body) ignorance.


This tree is called Ashwattha for the following reasons: The prefix “A” means “not” and  "Shwa" means morning or tomorrow.  This world-tree does not remain the same even until tomorrow. Therefore it is called Ashwattha.

[NOTE: This Ashwattha it is not the same as the common peepul (Ficus Religiosa) tree which is also known by the same name, but an imaginary tree conceived as a symbol for the universe]. It gets destroyed every moment but it is also reformed continuously, therefore it is indestructible.

Continuous growth, death and regeneration

Over the passage of time the branches that represent the animal kingdom dry and fall down but millions of shoots grow again. However, one cannot understand when the first branch fell down and when the millions of other branches sprouted. Hence this world-tree appears to be indestructible. At the time of the deluge the branches of this world-tree fall down and at the time of creation they sprout into a veritable forest.

But though this world tree appears to be indestructible, its existence is only momentary. It is created millions of times during the batting of an eyelid. He who realises this and knows fully well that the tree appears real only due to ignorance is the person who knows everything. He is the one who knows the principles of Vedanta and becomes one with the Brahman.


Then four large branch-shoots of four types of life namely oviparous, those born from sweat, born through seeds and born through uterus.  From each branch are created 8.4 million branches of species of life.  The criss-cross branches growing from these straight branches are the different species.  Individuals are divided into male, female and neuter that clash with one another due to the pressure of passions.  The branches bend under their own weight and get entangled in one another.  Then the attributes take the world tree like a storm and cause the part of the world tree with upward roots to split in three places.


Effect of Raja attribute

When Raja attribute is strong the branch of human race grows rapidly, shoots grow abundantly in the middle part on this branch, (i.e. on the mortal earth plane), rather than on the upper or lower side.  These shoots are those of the four castes. These branches grow the leaves of righteous and unrighteous codes for actions constantly.

Of the four dutiful actions ( 1:Dharma or righteous living, 2: Artha or earning livelihood, 3: Kama or sexual satisfaction and 4:  Moksha or liberation), the Raja attribute influences two, namely, earning and sex. These give rise to the shoots of passing pleasures. The increasing tendency to action causes countless shoots of good and bad actions (karmas) to grow.

By the time the past Karmas are annulled by suffering or enjoying and the dry branches of the bodies of past life drop off, the branches of new bodies sprout in another place (meaning rebirth).  And then new foliage of art and literature and similar subjects, grows constantly decorating the tree by their natural hues.  Thus, when the winds of Raja attribute blow, the human race gets established on the earth.

Effects of Tama attribute

Under the influence of the Tama attribute, the same branches of human beings grow foliage of low passions. Twigs of wicked tendencies sprout on the lower side, giving rise to foliage of sinful actions.  Young leaves of the prescribed rules and injunctions (laid down by the three Vedas – (Rigveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda) grow at the end of these branches.  Leaves of Agamas in which mantras and techniques of black magic to trouble others are given, emerge and the creeper of passions spreads.

Later, as and when the roots of evil actions grow, numerous branches of rebirth sprout. The large branch of Chandalas and other very low caste persons then emerges from the tree and evildoers who have been attracted by evil deeds have to be reborn in those castes.

Many horizontal branches of animals, birds, pigs, tigers, scorpions, and snakes shoot out.  In this manner, new branches continue growing on the tree and they give fruits of suffering in hell. The branches of violence and wickedness grow for many lifetimes. In this way the shoots of immovable life forms like trees and grass and nonliving forms like iron, soil and stones are formed and they also give similar fruits.
Therefore, the branch of human beings may be considered as the root of the branches of other living beings and non-living things and that the lower part of the world tree spreads from it.

Human body and karma

If one considers that the original root is at the top, the above branches may be considered as occurring in the middle.  From here the branches of evil actions corresponding to the Tama attribute go downwards and those of good actions corresponding to the Sattva attributes go upwards. Thus, the branch of the human beings is the root for the branches of accumulated actions (karmas) since the code of the Vedas (Dharma) is applicable only to human beings and not to others.  The branches and roots of all trees, including the  world-tree, are mutually related in that when branches grow the roots go deeper and when roots go deeper the branches grow more. The same principle is applicable to the body and the karmas, Body also behaves similarly, i.e. as long as there is the accumulation of karmas (actions) one is compelled to acquire the body in this world and as long as one is in the body actions cannot be avoided.  Therefore human body is the root of the branches of actions and there is no getting away from it.

Effect of Sattva attribute

When the Sattva attribute predominates, the same branches of human beings sprout good desires from which shoots of Knowledge grow (upwards).  Shoots of sharp intellect grow from these shoots of Knowledge and expand within moments.  Then, strengthened by inspiration the intellect develops discrimination.  From there grows the beautiful foliage of devotion filled with the essence of intellect and straight shoots of good tendency come out from it.  These in turn  produce many shoots of good actions and leaves of proper social behaviour and rituals like Yajnas.  Then the branches of austerity (tapas) with bunches of self-controlled and regular behaviour and young twigs of detachment grow. Shoots of some specific austerities (vratas) arise from the sharp sprouts of courage and go up rapidly. As long as the Sattva attribute is strong the twigs of knowledge grow with force from the thick foliage of the Vedas.  And then a straight twig of wealth comes out and grows giving rise to a cross branch of fruits like heaven etc.  A second red branch of detachment also grows getting continuously new foliage of liberation.

Next come the cross branches of the planets Sun, moon etc., the manes, rishis, Vidyadhars etc.  Branches come out even higher than these and they get fruits like Indralok.  From these branches sprout other high level branches of rishis like Marichi, Kashyap etc. who excel in austerity and knowledge.  Thus, the rows of branches grow and expand more and more on the upper side and therefore though the tree is small at the base it has become big due to being full of fruits.

[NOTE: We note in the above that while the meaning of the universe is generally limited to the earth, sometimes extended to the heaven and nether, cognisance is taken here of heavenly bodies and other spiritual planes].

The branches, which come even above these, get shoots like Brahmaloka  and Kailas and due to the weight of fruits, the upper branches bend down up to the root.  In other trees also when branches become heavy with fruits they bend towards the root.  Similarly due to attainment of deep knowledge the branches of this world tree bend towards the root i.e. the Brahman from which the tree sprouted in the first place.  Therefore, an individual cannot go above the level of Brahmaloka or Kailas.  If he goes above that he himself becomes Brahman.  But the branches of Brahmaloka etc. are nothing in comparison with the root Brahman. The branches of renunciates like Sanak, Sanatkumar, Sanandan and Sanatan (the mind-children of Brahmadeo) etc. do not get fruits or roots because they are like the Brahman itself.  Thus, the branches of Brahmaloka etc. that are above those of human beings have gone very high up. They have grown out of the branches of human beings, therefore the latter which are at the lower side are their roots.  Thus this unworldly world-tree has the roots on the upper side and branches on both the upper and lower sides (the latter corresponding to Tama attribute and evil deeds).


Though this tree is vast and strong, the uppermost branches reaching the Brahmaloka, its root in the formless Brahman, its downward branches spread in non-living undergrowth and the mortal world spread in its middle part, it is not difficult to uproot it.

This world-tree is not real and the description about its roots and branches is meaningless.  The tree was used metaphorically to describe Maya.  Where ignorance itself is an illusion then how can the actions arising from it be otherwise? Therefore it does not require courage to uproot it.

Since the tree is imaginary, it has no beginning, no end and its intermediate state is also unreal. The tree has proliferated because of the ignorance about ourselves. What is needed to uproot this unreal tree rooted in ignorance is Knowledge, and one cannot get Knowledge unless discrimination is generated in a person. It has to be felled by the axe of Self-realisation.  Until then delusion makes this unreal tree appear as real and beautiful to an ignorant person. But this illusion of the universe is momentary and hollow.  It appears real but when one tries to grasp it slips away.

Persons engrossed in methods miss liberation

A person who is bothered about the methods to be used for destroying the unreality of the world misses Self-realisation and therefore  his impression of the world being real actually strengthens.  Only the sword of Knowledge can destroy the world created from ignorance. But to use that sword of knowledge with ease the intellect requires constant support of detachment.  Only when the detachment becomes firm can the binding to the religious code, to the need for earning livelihood and to passions vanish.

The detachment becomes strong only when one gets disgusted with every worldly object.  Next, the intellect requires to be made free from ego.  This ego-free intellect should make use of discrimination to develop the feeling of "I am the Brahman" and be steady in it.  One can then attain the knowledge of the Self.  Continued use of discrimination and meditation will bring about the sense of non-duality with the Brahman and will not let any part of the world-tree survive.  Thus, metaphorically, one can cut all the branches of the world tree by the sword of Self-realisation.  Once the non-duality with the Brahman is steadily experienced then the seeker will see Brahman in himself and himself in the Brahman. That primeval place seen without seeing and known without knowing is called the Primeval Person (Adya Purusha). But to describe him one has to take recourse to the use of attributes, giving him a name and form.

Realisation of the Self

Both worldly life and life in heaven lead to rebirth. But people who are disgusted with it and are determined that they will not be reborn, turn to yoga and Knowledge.  Practising detachment they turn their back to worldly life. Brahmaloka is the highest stage attainable by the path of action but they desire to cross that and go higher. They march ahead and shaking off the feelings of ego etc. attain the Self.

Before experiencing the Self, they were under the delusion that this universe was real and they were filled with the spirit of  "I and you" duality.  The Self is something that must be experienced by oneself.  Once this Self-realisation is attained one does not return from it to be reborn.  People who are full of Knowledge only can reach this state.

Consequence of Self-realisation

When ignorance leaves such (Self-realised) persons, delusion, doubts and pride also leave along with it.  Passions do not affect them any more.  Their actions gradually cease. The consciousness and I-am-the–body feeling vanishes. They cannot see duality between themselves and others any more.  They are indifferent to pain and pleasure experienced by a body and hence to the fruits of their actions i.e. whether they are sinful or meritorious.  They keep away from worldly affairs and get immersed in the bliss of the Self. Before Self-realisation they used to see the Brahman only in its diverse manifested form but once they gained the vision of  Knowledge they see the Brahman as one continuous entity in all objects. Having become desireless they are not troubled by hope and longings. Emotions do not enter their mind therefore it is not agitated by feelings of lust.  They do not like sense pleasures even to be mentioned before them.  In this way those who have burnt all sense pleasures in the fire of knowledge go and get merged "there".  If you ask where this "there" is then it is that indestructible place which cannot be seen even if you try to see it, cannot be known even if  you want to know it or can be described with reference to any known object. It cannot be seen even when everything else is made visible by light of the sun or a lamp.

The world is apparent only when the Self is hidden. Sun, moon etc. shine only when light from the entity of Self is shaded (by Maya). That entity is extremely bright and all encompassing.  Even the sun and the moon that illuminate the material world derive their light from this entity (i.e. the Self or the Brahman).  When Brahman is not shaded by Maya the world disappears and no material object appears. Shri Krishna (as Bhagawan, says, “This is my highest abode. Those who reach there do not come back. Those who become one with Me by means of pure knowledge are not reborn.”

[NOTE: the material world vanishes and only the indestructible Brahman remains when there is dissolution of the universe at the end of an Aeon.  But in the above paragraph, the vanishing of the world refers to the perspective of a Self-realised person, a person of Knowledge.  For him the material world and worldly matters do not exist even during the sustenance stage of the universe because of his indifference to them and because of his preoccupation only with the Brahman].

Shri Krishna adds, "Persons who reach Me do not return whether they become one with Me or remain separate from Me. Actually, if one thinks deeply instead of superficially, it will be seen that either type is not separate from Me.  It is only ignorance that makes one think about the separateness, and it is the influence of Maya that creates this ignorance.

It creates a doubt, "Who am I?" and itself gives the answer "I am the body".  When Knowledge of the Self gets bounded by the body, it is seen as only a part of Me because of its smallness, just as waves on the sea appear to be part of the ocean. It is I who am the giver of vitality to the material body and creator of the I-am-the-body ego and who becomes apparent in the form of an individual.
The activity seen by the limited intellect of the individual is called the living world which is merely My projection.  In this living world birth and death are considered as real. Also, there is an illusion that I am the doer and the one who experiences, though I continue to be beginningless and a non-doer.


Actually, when this pure soul interacts with Prakriti  he forgets himself and gets involved with her, considering himself to be similar to her.  It then appears to him as if her properties e.g. mind and the five sense organs belong to him and he gets engrossed in the worldly activities.  He becomes an individual. His mind wanders, sense organs viz. ears, eyes, skin, tongue and nose get busy in doing their duties of experiencing the sense-objects.  He gives the impression that he is the doer and one who experiences. His ego increases and he gets engrossed in the pleasures and pains of the sense-objects. When the individual “dies” he leaves his body but takes with him the mind and the five sense organs. And when he takes rebirth on this earth or  gets an abode in heaven, they continue to accompany him.

An ignorant person thinks that the soul entered the new body and experienced the sense-objects. However, taking birth and dying or doing and experiencing are the properties of Prakriti, though people mistakenly consider that they belong to the soul.

When the little body (of a baby) starts making movements due to vital force people say the individual is born.  When the organs experience their respective sense objects then they say that that the individual is "experiencing". Then when the body becomes weak and gets destroyed people cry that the individual has gone. People blinded by delusion determine that the birth and death of a body are actually those of the soul.

It is the people with Knowledge who know that the soul is in his own place in the body and he merely witnesses its activities. People of  knowledge consider the body to be merely a cover for the soul and do not get involved in its affairs.  Those with a high sense of discrimination who have reached the stage of self-realisation are the ones who know the soul.  The individual though covered in the body is actually the soul.

Persons of Knowledge know that I (i.e. the Soul or the Brahman) remain unaffected and uninterrupted while bodies are imagined in ignorance as being created and destroyed; and they know me as I always am. They also know that the soul does not grow or diminish, he does not do actions nor cause them to be done.

Now, it must be remembered that even though a person has attained this knowledge, even though he has a fine intellect and is highly learned, he will not experience Me (i.e. the Souls or the Brahman) unless this learning is accompanied by a lack of ego and by detachment with aversion towards sense objects,  even though I am everywhere.

[NOTE: This is a beautiful and concise summary of the interactions of the Brahman (soul), Prakriti and an individual vis-à-vis birth, death, life, Self-realisation and experiencing Brahman. It is quite clear that Realisation is not possible with only intellect. It requires other qualities as described above].


Shri Krishna (as Bhagwan) now explains how He encompass all beings. He says,

I am the radiance

"The radiance which illuminates the world and in the light of which people see the its affairs, is Mine.  This radiance remains in existence from the beginning of the world to the time it ends. In daytime it takes the form of sunlight and at night of moonlight. The strong radiance (of the fire)  that does the functions of burning and cooking is also Mine.

I support the earth

"The earth does not get dissolved in the limitless ocean because I enter the earth and give it support.  With that same support the earth is able support the countless creatures.

I give life and support it

"I nurture the entire plant kingdom through the nursing rays of the moon in the sky.  Thus, I give life to all creatures in the form of food by means of growing and nurturing grains etc.

I digest all the food

"Individual creatures eat the food thus grown; and I am the fire in the stomach that digests the food and feel satisfied.  By circulating the Prana and Apana airs day in and day out I consume immeasurable quantities of food.  It is I who digests the four types of food :dry, fatty, cooked and raw.

I am all creatures

"Thus, I am all creatures, I am their life i.e. the food and I am the digestive fire that burns and digests this food that sustains life. I am all encompassing and all pervasive;  and there is nothing in this world other than me.

Why some creatures are happy and others unhappy

"Though I pervade everything, everywhere and am everything, I appear differently to different persons according to individual intellect. Persons of Knowledge gain happiness from Me while the ignorant ones feel unhappy.

I am the ego, Knowledge and ignorance

"Actually, I am also  the ego that "I am so and so." in the hearts of all creatures.  But by keeping company of saints, by practice of yoga and Knowledge, serving one's Guru with detachment and by good behaviour this ignorance disappears and the ego dissolves into the Self.  When this happens the individual knows Me and with the realisation of the Self he becomes happy.

On the other hand, those whose ego is involved only with the body, act out of desire to gain worldly pleasures while they live and to attain heaven after death. This leads to sorrow.  But  here also I am the base for the I-am-the-body illusion due to their ignorance. It is an established fact that I alone am the root of both Knowledge as well as ignorance. I know My pure, unique and unattached form, free of the worldly affairs and I am the cause of its realisation."

On this, Arjuna requested Shri Krishna to tell again about the qualificationless nature that he had described while telling about His all-pervasiveness.


Shri Krishna goes on to describe two types of qualifications.  Before telling about the qualification-less form it is necessary to discuss first about qualifications itself.

This world is filled with only two types of entities: the first is Kshara  which is blind, foolish and crippled; the second is Akshara with all his organs in good shape.  They give company to each other.  Who Kshara and Akshara  are and  their characteristics are explained below.


It has already been explained earlier and also through the analogy of the world tree that universe is the same as the Field formed out of eightfold Prakriti and the thirty-six principles.  It includes everything from the Mahat principle and ego to a grass blade, whether small or big, moving or stationary.  It is what is intelligible to both mind and intellect.  After its formation from the five principles it acquires form and  gets into the grip of the three attributes (Sattva, Raja and Tama).  It is where living beings live constantly in the shadow of death.  It is created and destroyed every  moment (i.e. it continuously undergoes changes).  Knowledge of this universe is not different from delusion and ignorance.


Kshara Purusha

The Soul disregards its primary form, imagines the world to be its residence and becomes like it.  It is as if the Soul is asleep and dreaming. In this dream state his ego makes him think in terms of "I" and "mine", "I am happy" or "I am unhappy”,” This is my father", "This is my mother", "I am fair skinned or dark or perfect", "Are not this son,  this wealth, this woman mine?" etc. This Soul, who is now under delusion of the dream, is known as Kshara Purusha.

In this state, the Knower of the Field, known as the individual, disregards his original nature of the Self and behaves like all living creatures, hence he is called Kshara Purusha.  He is Purusha because he is the Soul.  Another reason to call him Purusha is that he resides in the body (See Ch 8), even though he is in the sleep state (not aware that he is the Soul),  because "Puri" means a town; body is likened to a town in which the Soul resides as stated earlier.  However, he is also qualified as Kshara or perishable, (though basically he is the imperishable Soul) because he has been tainted by qualifications. The impermanent qualifications make him also appear impermanent.  But once the qualifications are destroyed he appears again as the imperishable Soul.  Thus, all living creatures may be considered as Kshara.

Akshara Purusha

The second type of Purusha  is the Akshara Purusha (immutable person).  He is like a disinterested witness, not getting involved either with knowledge or with ignorance.  He does not assume non-dualistic nature by proper or true knowledge nor does he assume dualistic nature by improper knowledge.  Detached non-awareness is his natural form.  A lump of  mud  prepared by mixing earth and water for making a pot can no longer be called earth and has not taken yet the form of a pot either, but is in an intermediate stage; similarly, the Akshara Purusha also is in a similar in-between state. The in-between state of unawareness, between the stage when delusion of the world has vanished but knowledge of the Self has not yet occurred, is the state known as Akshara. It may be compared with the sleep state that occurs between the state of wakefulness and the dream state.

Manifestable and Unmanifestable

 When all qualifications of the individual soul vanish he dissolves into the Unmanifestable (Brahman).  The state of deep sleep is also the state of complete unawareness (ignorance). In Vedanta  Philosophy it is called the root or seed aspect of the Unmanifestable. The dream and the wakefulness states are produced from the deep sleep state, they are called the fruit aspect. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, this root aspect (of the Unmanifestable) is the abode of the Akshara  Purusha. It separates the Unmanifestable and the Manifestable, therefore it is just a step lower than the abode of the Unmanifestable i.e. the state of attainment of Brahman.

This sleep state or the abode of the Akshara  Purusha is where the Manifestable (duality or universe i.e. Prakriti) and the Unmanifestable (non-duality or Brahman) meet. When improper knowledge originates from here, it creates the states of wakefulness and dream, which give rise to diverse ideas and fancies, misguiding the intellect into thinking  that the universe is real.

Really speaking, if the individual had not reached the wakeful or dream states from the state of sleep then he would have reached the state of the Brahman. Instead,  under the shadowing influence of  Purusha and Prakriti  the Akshara Purusha experiences an illusion of the Field and the Knower of the Field.  In the context of the world tree, Akshara Purusha is the root of the inverted world tree.

The reason why he is called a Purusha or individual when he is really a Soul is that he takes a slumber in the town (puri) of Maya.

Also the state in which the comings and goings of passions, which is a type of ignorance, is not felt is really the sleep state.  Therefore this Akshara Purusha does not get destroyed by itself and nothing except knowledge can destroy it.  Therefore he is well known as Akshara in the great principle of the Vedanta philosophy. Thus, Akshara Purusha is actually the Consciousness (Chetana) which assumes the form of an individual due its being qualified by Maya.

Superior Person ( Purushottam)

Improper knowledge gives rise to the two states, of wakefulness and dream.  These are the states of deep ignorance. Disappearance of that ignorance gives rise to Knowledge. That Knowledge itself disappears after giving  you an experience of the Brahman. (Knowledge merges into Knowledge that is Brahman). Thus, after Knowledge has destroyed ignorance and also destroyed itself, the state of experience of the Self which remains without the Knowledge itself should be considered the
Superior Person.

This third type of person is different from the two (Kshara and Akshara) discussed earlier.  The nature of the difference is like fire which intrinsically exists in wood but is different from it. The Superior Person  (Purushottam) is a state of experience of the Self.  In this state, no trace of the three states of dream, sleep and wakefulness remains.  Since all the three states have been nullified, neither non-dualistic nor dualistic state is experienced.  Sense of being or not being is also not experienced.  This state is also called the Supreme Soul. But calling Him by this name is possible only if  one remains somewhat separate as an individual by not dissolving oneself into Him.  To give a simile, a person standing on the shore can speak about drowning in the river but not the person who has drowned.  It is on this basis that Vedas consider Kshara and Akshara as inferior as compared with the Superior Person and identify Him with the form of the Supreme Soul.
Understand therefore that the term "Supreme Soul" (Paramatma) thus signifies the Superior Person (Purushottam).

The Supreme Soul is such that He is spoken about without actually speaking, about whom knowing nothing is actually same as knowing Him, who occurs without any happening.  There, even the aspect of "I am that" vanishes, the speaker becomes the spoken and view disappears along with the viewer.

Whatever one experiences in this situation should be considered as His form.  The light which occurs besides the illuminated object, the controller who is besides the controlled, exists in His own form.  He who is the realm of sound that gives the power to hear, the realm of the taste that gives the power to taste, the cosmic bliss that creates the bliss, the pinnacle of perfection, Supreme Person among all persons, the resting place of the repose, bliss of the bliss, brilliance of the brilliance and the place of dissolution of the zero of the big naught, who is beyond the growth and dissolution, who is larger than the largest, bears the universe without becoming it.


The universe and the Supreme Soul are not different.  He is the one responsible for the expansion and contraction of the universe.  He does not change if  He takes the form of the universe or if the universe dissolves.  He does not get destroyed by anything under any circumstances.  He can be compared only with Himself.

Shri Krishna (as Bhagwan)  tells,

“I am that unique Entity that illuminates Itself, in whom no duality occurs, he who is beyond form and superior to Kshara and Akshara and therefore is called Supreme Person.  He who understands Me as such is  near to the dawn of Knowledge.  After the onset of Knowledge the whole universe appears to be meaningless to him.  Once he attains My knowledge he no longer gets deceived by the illusion of this world.  Knowing My real form he gives up the sense of distinction and says, "I myself am a self-created true bliss existing everywhere”, and he knows Me as not being different from himself.  It is difficult to state that he has known everything because no sense of duality exists within him.  Therefore he alone is worthy of My devotion just as sky alone is fit to embrace sky. The relation between Me and the devotion of one who is devoted to Me with the sense of oneness with Me can be compared only with the Sun and its aura, which are not different from each other.


Dnyaneshwar Maharaj has put the following words in the mouth of Shri Krishna, in praise of Gita.

Really speaking, this Gita is not a shastra that can be told through words.  It is the science of conquering this world.  The letters of this Gita are mantras which can lead you to attaining the Self.  Arjuna, by telling you this Gita I have brought forth my secret treasure.  If my conscious Self is compared to Lord Shiva then you who have managed to bring out the Ganges of the Gita from his head are like the Sage Gautama. Arjuna, because the impurity of the three attributes has left you, you have become My abode along with the Gita. The Gita is My creeper of knowledge and he who understands it becomes free of all delusions. But what is there to wonder if delusion vanishes when one understands the Gita perfectly? That Knowledge of the Self leads him to the form of the Self.  After this Knowledge of the Self is attained Karma also dissolves realising that its life work is over.  When the pinnacle of Knowledge is installed over the temple of Karma, Karma ceases automatically.  Therefore a person who has attained Knowledge has no reason to perform duties.”




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Dr V. V. shirvaikar,                                     email: vshirvaikar@yahoo.com
A-23 Yashodhan Soc.
Chintamaninagar 2,
Pune 411037, INDIA

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