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The original Sanskrit verses and
(word for word translated) of the
Mahābhārata, Bhīshma Parva ch. 23-40.

with comments taken from the writings of





'Residing in the heart of all beings they have from Me remembrance, knowledge and reasoning;
I am certainly knowable by the Vedas, I am its author and the one who knows its meaning surely too.'
B.G. 15:15

1 2a 2b 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18a 18b


Chapter 15
The Yoga of the Supreme Person
'About the realization of the characteristics, virtue and the glory of God'
Purushottamah Prāpti Yoga




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Verse 1.

śrī bhagavān uvāca
ūrdhva-mūlam adhah-śākham
aśvattham prāhur avyayam
chandāmsi yasya parnāni
yas tam veda sa veda-vit

      Usually, the word -ūrdhva- is taken to mean "above", "high", etc. But if you consider the world to be a tree, then it has its roots in Brahman; that is, the roots are above and the branches are below! This was taught to Arjuna by Krishna thus: "The tree of samsara or life is a very peculiar one. It is quite distinct from the trees of the world. The trees that you see in the world have their branches above and their roots below. It is a topsy-turvy tree."

Arjuna intercepted with a question. "How did it get the name aśvattha? It means a banyan tree, is it not? Why was the tree of life called so? Why not some other name?" A strange name for a strange tree! "Listen, aśvattha means anitya, impermanent, transient; it also means the 'banyan tree'. Its fruits and flowers are good neither for smelling nor for eating. However, its leaves will be ceaselessly quivering in the wind. So it is called chaladala, meaning 'quivering leaveś. Worldly objects too are ever wavering, unsteady, ever changing positions. In order to make people understand this truth and strive to overcome it, it is called aśvattha.

"This disquisition is to make man develop the higher vision and yearn for steady faith in Brahman. The objective world can be truly understood only by two types of examination: the outer and the inner. There is a reasoning that binds and a reasoning that liberates. He who sees the world as world sees wrong; he who sees it as Paramātmā sees right. The world is the effect; it has a cause; it cannot be different from the cause. It is just a mutation of Brahman, which constitutes it. The millions of beings are the branches, twigs and leaves; the seed is Brahman, in which all the tree is subsumed and summarized. He who knows this, knows the Vedas." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 209-10

Verse 2.

adhaś cordhvam prasritās tasya śākhā
guna-pravriddhā vishaya-pravālāh
adhaś ca mūlāny anusantatāni
karmānubandhīni manushya-loke

      The tree of creation is hanging down with its roots in heaven; or else, it will dry for want of sustenance; it is called aśvattha, the horse tree, for aśva or horse is in Indian tradition the symbol of restlessness, wavering agitatedness. The banyan tree which is the aśvattha shivers in every leaf, with the slightest whisper of wind. You must have heard of the Aśvamedha or Horse Sacrifice, a great rite in the past. The inner meaning of that rite is the destruction of the wayward mind, the aswa! - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 288

Verse 3-4.

na rūpam asyeha tathopalabhyate
nānto na cādir na ca sampratishthhā
aśvattham enam suvirūdha-mūlam
asanga-śastrena dridhena chittvā

tatah padam tat parimārgitavyam
yasmin gatā na nivartanti bhūyah
tam eva cādyam purusham prapadye
yatah pravrittih prasritā purānī

      [to verse 3:] It is the ups and downs that samsara involves that cause joy and grief. The decline in grief is welcomed as joy; the decline in joy is bewailed as grief. They are but the obverse and reverse of the same coin, samsara. Samsara has only some sara, that is to say, a little reality, a microscopic quantity of truth. It is called in the Bhagavad Gītā a tree named aśvattha, a name that means "that which will not exist another day". This appellation brings out the fact of illusion, which is mistaken as lasting and real. But being a huge big tree, it can be destroyed only by the axe of jāna or, as the Gītā says, by the fire of jāna (jāna-agni). - Saithya Sai Speaks V, p. 280

      [to verse 4:] Creation is happening from beyond the beginning of time. First the lotus arose from the navel of the Primal Person, called in scriptures Nārāyana. From this lotus, the Lord Himself manifested as Brahmā; Brahmā felt an urge to look at all the four quarters; so, he developed four faces. Brahmā became aware that he must activate himself, so that creation can happen, so He seated Himself in the padmasana posture of yoga and entertained the idea of all this creation. - Bhagavatha Vahini, chapter 33 (p. 240)

Verse 5.

nirmāna-mohā jita-sanga-doshā
adhyātma-nityā vinivritta-kāmāh
dvandvair vimuktāh sukha-duhkha-samjair
gacchanty amūdhāh padam avyayam tat

      The deha or the physical body is only an upadhi or instrument. It is the spirit within which is the sakshi or the witness. Karma cannot cease as long as attachment to the decaying body continues. Attachment to the body should be substituted by the realization of the reality of the ātmā. The deha or the physical body composed of the five elements, namely, earth, fire, water, air and ether, and subject to disease, decay and death, cannot cross the ocean of samsara. That is why one must surrender himself at the Lotus Feet of God and realize that he is not the deha (the mortal body) but the dehi (the divine ātmā inhabiting the deha), not the sarira (body) but the sariri (the divine ātmā residing in the sarira). - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 123

Verse 6.

na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśānko na pāvakah
yad gatvā na nivartante
tad dhāma paramam mama

Verse 7.

mamaivāmśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtah sanātanah
prakriti sthāni karshati

      Each one has to return to his home to which he originally belonged. For a time, a man may go out from his village elsewhere on some work. But once the work is over, he will feel restless and will not be at ease until he returns back to his village, to his home. The place he has visited may be good and attractive, but he will feel out of place until he gets back to his home. So also, the pilgrim of jīva, until he reaches back to the place of his origin, will not have true peace and happiness. What is that place of origin of the jīva? In the Bhagavad Gītā, it has been said: mamaivāmśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtah sanātanah
. It is Lord Krishna that said this. "All living beings have their origin in me; they are aspects of Mine; they are like sparks that come out of fire". Thus, God is the source, the origin of all. Godhead is the native abode of jīva. Unless one attains back to God, one can never have peace and happiness. One has to attain back the atmic state, the original state.
- Spirituality in Day to Day Living, p. 7

Verse 8.

śarīram yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvarah
grihītvaitāni samyāti
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt

      īśvara manifests Himself among individuals who aggregate together to constitute a community. Every individual is an aspect of īśvara. Likewise, society too has emerged from īśvara. An individual has form but society has no such definable form. In the same manner the world is visible but īśvara is invisible. Though He is invisible, His existence becomes indisputable because there cannot be creation without a creator. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 24

Verse 9.

śrotram cakshuh sparśanam ca
rasanam ghrānam eva ca
adhishthhāya manaś cāyam
vishayān upasevate

Verse 10.

utkrāmantam sthitam vāpi
bhujānam vā gunānvitam
vimūdhā nānupaśyanti
paśyanti jāna-cakshushah

      God is encased everywhere as the child in the womb. Some declare that they will believe only in a God that can be seen or demonstrated. This is the usual argument of the worldly minded. But it is not easy to see, with gross physical eyes, the Paramātmā, which is subtler than the subtlest. You must first get command over a powerful microscope, fit for the purpose. Either the jāna-chakshu or the prema-chakshu is wanted, the eye of wisdom or the eye of love; only with these can you see God. - Upanishad Vahini, p. 76

Verse 11.

yatanto yoginaś cainam
paśyanty ātmany avasthitam
yatanto 'py akritātmāno
nainam paśyanty acetasah

Verse 12.

yad āditya-gatam tejo
jagad bhāsayate 'khilam
yac candramasi yac cāgnau
tat tejo viddhi māmakam

Verse 13.

gām āviśya ca bhūtāni
dhārayāmy aham ojasā
pushnāmi caushadhīh sarvāh
somo bhūtvā rasātmakah

Verse 14.

aham vaiśvānaro bhūtvā
prāninām deham āśritah
pacāmy annam catur-vidham  

      The Bhagavad Gītā also declares that it is God who digests the food and distributes its essence to the entire body, in order to sustain it and strengthen it. The energy that digests the food is symbolized as the fire in the stomach. - Sanathana Sarathi, December 1978, p. 240.

       The Truth that is in all beings, is also in you. Search for that; discover that unity, the source of courage, of love, of wisdom. You do not realize that it is He who digests the food that you consume, for, as He says in the Gītā, "I am the vaiśvānarah fire that is in the bodies of all beings and digests the four types of food they eat." That fire digests food, but it is careful not to destroy the stomach itself! He is the basis of all activity, though Himself unconcerned. - Sathya Sai Speaks IV, p. 346.

Verse 15.

sarvasya cāham hridi sannivishtho
mattah smritir jānam apohanam ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-krid veda-vid eva cāham

Verse 16.

dvāv imau purushau loke
ksharaś cākshara eva ca
ksharah sarvāni bhūtāni
kūtha-stho 'kshara ucyate

      Sat-Cit-ānanda is kūtha-sthah (changeless; the never changing entity is ātmā or Brahman). Sat-Cit-ānanda represents the integrated reality of truth, consciousness and bliss. Kūtha-sthah is the immutable and immortal reality ... Kūtha-sthah in this context refers to the unchanging, immutable and eternal principle of spirituality. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, pp. 52-3

      There are two purushas: the ksharah-purusha, and akshara-purusha. The ksharah-purusha is bound up with material life and so is subject to change. He is entangled with the five kośas or sheaths, the five prānas (vital airs), the five indriyas (senses of perception). The akshara-purusha is the witness, the sakshi. - Sathya Sai Speaks VIII, pp. 123-4.

      In the aspect of purusha, there are two kinds: the individual purusha and the group purusha. If there is one individual, he is called purusha but when there is a group of individuals, it should be described as Prajnanam Brahma.

As an example to illustrate this, if there is one tree we call it a tree but if there are a large number of trees, we call the combination a forest. In the same manner, if God is present in the totality, he is referred to as creation. The individual is born because of God's wanting to be born. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1978, p. 110.

Verse 17.

uttamah purushas tv anyah
paramātmety udāhritah
yo loka-trayam āviśya
bibharty avyaya īśvarah

      īśvara is present in all the living beings in God's creation. This was the truth spread by Lord Krishna. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1978, p. 52-3.

      īśavasyam idam sarvam - all this is inhabited by God. Every person is a sanctuary of the divine ātmā. Therefore, if you hurt others, you will hurt īśvara who resides in them. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 154.

Verse 18.

yasmāt ksharam atīto 'ham
aksharād api cottamah
ato 'mi loke vede ca
prathitah purushottamah

      There is another over-all purusha, the Purushottamah (Supreme Personality), who is beyond the three segments of time, the three universes and is everywhere at the same moment. His glory is evident in all things and beings. You should strive to escape from the identification with the body and feel that you are only the residents of the body - the ksharah-purusha. Then, by sādhana you are able to cognize the akshara-purusha, the witness of even the ksharah-purusha, the jīva. By pacticing the unbroken presence of the Purushottamah who is resplendent in all creation, you can ultimately merge in Him, as the consummation of all the lives you have spent here below. - Sathya Sai Speaks VIII, p. 124.

      On the other hand the nameless, formless aspect of God is referred to as Purushottamah. We should see here that if the formless aspect of Purushottamah takes a human form, we call him purusha. Having taken the form of a human being, the Purushottamah sets an example to other living things and establishes the oneness of all creation. We should recognize the truth that the aspect of the ātmā can be realized only if you have a clean mind. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1978, pp. 110-111.

Verse 19.

yo mām evam asammūdho
jānāti purushottamam
sa sarva-vid bhajati mām
sarva-bhāvena bhārata

      The most satisfying prize is Purushottamah-prāpti, the attainment of the Lord, the Supremest Purusha. Purusha is "he who lives in the pura", namely the body, the physical body. He who lives in the universe which is His body - He is the Supremest, the Purushottamah. A tiny ant creeping over the foot is cognized by your consciousness; that is to say, the purusha has consciousness filling the entire body. The Purushottamah has consciousness filling and activating the entire universe, which is His body. The individual tree is the purusha, the forest is the Purushottamah. The jīvi is the vyashti (individual object, part of whole), the samashti (collective aggregate of individual parts; integrated whole) is God. For the purusha to become Purushottamah, the path is yoga (union of the individual self or ātmā with the Supreme Being or Universal Self etc.), or jāna (spiritual knowledge; experiental wisdom) won by karma (activity, action, work, duty; fate; consequences of acts done in this life and past lives) and bhakti ( devotion, duty to God) - Sathya Sai Speaks IV, p. 78.

Verse 20.

iti guhyatamam śāstram
idam uktam mayānagha
etad buddhvā buddhimān syāt
krita-krityaś ca bhārata


Aśvamedha-(yaja): 'Horse Sacrifice' A Vedic horse sacrifice; At the end of life or a period of government of a king, a horse with a plaque around his neck is sent out into the kingdom accompanied by an army; Anyone who challenges the honor of the king will be disputed. Also a method to separate from wordly detachment and status. (see also S.B. 6.13, & S.B. 8.18)
Indriyas: the senses, karmendriyas en jānendriyas: the working and knowing senses. The ten senses are the organs of the hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling, (for perception) with the mouth, the hands, the legs, the genitals and the excretion organs as the tenth (for acting). Sometimes the mind is added as the eleventh sense (S.B.







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