The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita :
The world appears to be there as a prakriti outside, but it is not really outside there. It is immanently controlled by a Supreme Principle – the kshetrajna, the Knower of all things – and even this so-called outside object, this prakriti, is not a solid substance. It is a sea of turbulent energies which attack each other with the force of a cyclone blowing over the surface of an ocean. Above these gunas of prakriti, transcendent to the visible structure of all this creation, beyond the individual seer, is the Supreme Purushottama. The whole universe is guided, controlled, illuminated and ruled by this Supreme Purushottama. God is called Purushottama to distinguish the supremacy of God over the ordinary purushas which are the individuals. While the jivas are called purushas, there is a Supreme Purusha who is the best of all purushas – that is Purushottama.
The fifteenth chapter again describes the nature of this universe, with a different type of emphasis – the subject which was touched upon in the thirteenth and the fourteenth chapters already. The thirteenth, fourteenth, and the fifteenth chapters concern themselves with cosmological themes, creation, and the entire series of the levels of manifestation, God's role in this creation and man's relationship to God, the connection with the universe, with the other principles, and so on. These are all in varieties of ways mentioned in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth chapters. The fifteenth chapter has an importance of its own because it very poetic. It has its own majesty, and in a beautiful allegory it compares the whole of creation to a tree with its roots above and branches spread below. This allegory of a tree is also to be found in certain mystical scriptures of the West, like the Scandinavian myth of 'The Tree of Yggdrasil', as it is called – they compare the universe to a large tree. There is some point in taking this as a suitable comparison in for the way in which universe spreads itself out, because the universe is like a spread-out, large banyan tree – asvatthavraksha, the peepul – the only difference being its roots are above and the roots are not below, as we have in the case of other peepul trees here.We have never seen a tree like that, where the tree's roots are above; they are fixed to the sky as it were.
But this is a very interesting analogy for us, for the purpose of meditation even. We know very well that we are always accustomed to this concept of the 'above' whenever we think of the higher realities, especially the Creator. Don't we look up when we pray to God? Do we look down on the ground? This is a symbolic inclination of the human consciousness – to recognise the transcendence of higher realities. And, whenever we speak of the sky, we look above, as if the sky is only above, though it is also underneath. If the sky is all around the earth, why should we say it is above? This earth is hanging in space, in mid-space – there is no below for the earth. But it is a notion of our mind on account of our inability to see the whole structure of this planetary system, and we cannot believe that we are a moving in a spaceship called this earth. We are not in a rocket, though it is so, perhaps, in some way. We are rushing, rocket-like, in some direction, but we think we are on the solid ground of the Earth.
This habit of the human mind is to consider that it is on a low ground, and everything which is of a controlling nature and an administrative type, especially divine in nature is above because the world and everything connected to the world is considered as 'effect' which proceeds from a cause, and the cause being superior, is also transcendent. And we, like children, think that all transcendent things are above in a spatial way, and look up. But, it is above also in a logical sense. Logically, God is above us. To repeat what I told you earlier, He is above in the same way as the higher class in a school is above the lower class. It is not above in space – it is not a 'spatial aboveness'. We don't find the higher classes in a school or a college standing in the sky and the lower classes below – yet, we still say it is a higher class. So in what sense do we call it a higher class? You know very well – it is a 'logical, conceptual higherness'. In that sense we speak of the 'higher self' transcendent to the lower self. We conceive of the realities above the world as 'above' in a very very specific, psychic, psychological or philosophical sense, mystical manner. In this way, we have to conceive that the rootedness of the tree of this universe in the Transcendent Being – God the Creator, the Absolute, and the descending of this tree, and all the effects that you see here, spread out as branches of which we are all parts.
Next : A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham
To be continued ....