Chapter 15



Lord Krishna said: The universe (or human body) may be compared to an eternal tree that has its origin (or root) in the Supreme Being and its branches below in the cosmos. The Vedic hymns are the leaves of this tree. One who understands this tree is a knower of the Vedas. (15.01)

The branches of this eternal tree are spread all over the cosmos. The tree is nourished by the energy of material Nature; sense pleas­ures are its sprouts; and its roots of ego and desires stretch below in the human world, causing Karmic bondage. (15.02)

The human body, a microcosmic universe or world, may be also com­pared to a beginningless and endless tree. Karma is the seed; the countless desires are its roots; five basic elements are its main branches; and the ten organs of perception and action are its sub-branches. Three modes of material Nature provide the nourishment, and sense pleasures are its sprouts. This tree is ever changing, but eternal, without be­ginning and end. Just as the leaves protect the tree, so the rituals protect and perpetuate this tree. One who truly understands this marvelous tree, its origin (or root), its nature and working, is a knower of the Vedas in a true sense.

Two aspects of Eternal Being ¾ the divine Controller and the controlled (living entity, individual soul) ¾ make their nest and reside on the same tree as a part of the cosmic drama. Virtue and vice are its glorious flowers; pleasure and pain are its sweet and sour fruits. The living entity, due to ignorance, eats these fruits, whereas the controller sits on the tree, watches, and guides the living entity. The living entities are like beautiful birds of various hues. No two birds are the same. Creation is just beautiful. And the creator must be inconceivably beautiful.


The beginning, the end, or the real form of this tree is not perceptible on the earth. Having cut the firm roots ¾ the desires ¾ of this tree by the mighty ax of Self-knowledge and detachment, one should seek that Supreme Abode reaching where one does not come back to the mortal world again. One should be always thinking: “In that very primal person I take refuge from which this primal manifestation comes forth.” (15.03-04)

Creation is cyclic, without beginning and end. It is ever changing and has no permanent existence or real form. One must sharpen the ax of metaphysical knowledge and detachment over the stone of spiritual practice, cut the feeling of separateness between the living entity and the Lord, cheerfully participate in the drama of life made up of passing shadows of joys and sorrows, and live in this world completely free from ego and desires. When the attachments are severed, an attitude of sacred dispassion takes place, which is the prerequisite for spiritual progress.

The wise reach that eternal goal who are free from pride and delusion, who have conquered the evil of attachment, who constantly dwell in the Supreme Being with all lust completely stilled, and who are free from dualities of pleasure and pain. (15.05)

The sun does not illumine My Supreme Abode, nor the moon, nor the fire. Having reached there, people attain permanent liberation (Mukti) and do not come back to this temporal world. (15.06)

The Supreme Being is self-luminous, not illumined by any other source. He illumines the sun and the moon as a luminous lamp illumines other objects (DB 7.32.14). The Supreme Being existed before the sun, moon, and fire came into existence during creation, and it will exist even after everything gets dissolved into unmanifest Nature during complete dissolution.


The individual soul (Jiva, Jivatma) in the body of living beings is the integral part of the universal Spirit, or consciousness. The individual soul associates with the six sensory faculties of perception ¾ including the mind ¾ and activates them. (15.07)

In essence, Spirit is called Eternal Being or “Brahman” in Sanskrit. Spirit is the true nature of the Supreme Being (ParaBrahm), and therefore is also called the integral part of the Supreme Being. The same Spirit is called individual soul, living entity, Jiva, soul, and Jivatma in the bodies of living beings. The difference between Spirit and the individual soul is due to the limiting adjuncts ¾ the body and mind ¾ similar to the illusion that the enclosed pot space is different from unlimited space.

Just as the air takes aroma away from the flower, similarly, the individual soul takes the six sensory faculties from the physical body it casts off during death to the new physical body it acquires in reincarnation. (See also 2.13) (15.08)

The individual soul takes the subtle body ¾ six sensory faculties of perception, intellect, ego, and five vital forces ¾ from one physical body to another after death, as the wind takes dust from one place to another. The wind is neither af­fected nor unaffected by association with dust, similarly, the individual soul is nei­ther affected nor unaffected by association with the body (MB 12.211.13-14). Physical bodies are limited in space and time, but invisible subtle bodies are unlimited and all pervading. The subtle body carries the individual’s good and bad Karma to the next life till all Karma is exhausted. When all trace of desires is eradicated after the dawn of Self-knowledge, the physical body seems not to exist any more and the conception of subtle body is firmed up in the mind. The astral body is an exact duplicate of the physical body. The beings in the astral world are more advanced in art, technology, and culture. They take up physical bodies to improve and enhance the physical world. Hariharananda Giri says: One may not perceive, conceive, and realize God if one does not seek the in­visible subtle body.

During a wakeful state, the physical body, mind, intel­lect, and ego are active. In a dream state, the individual soul temporarily creates a dream world and wanders in it with a dream body without leaving the physical body. In deep sleep, the individual soul completely rests in the Eternal Being (Spirit) without being bothered by mind and intellect. Supreme Being, the Universal Consciousness, watches us as a witness during all the three states ¾ wakeful, dream, and deep sleep. The living entity leaves one physical body and takes another body after death. The living entity becomes bound or lost, then tries to be liberated by discovering its real nature. Reincarnation allows the living entity to change its vehicle, the physical body, during the long and difficult spiritual journey to the Supreme Being. The individual soul acquires different physical bodies till all Karma is ex­hausted; after that, the goal of attaining the Supreme Being is reached.

It is said that Spiritual Being wears the veil of illusion, becomes an individual soul, and takes human and other forms just to perform the cosmic drama in which the writer, producer, director, all the players, as well as the audience are the same. Lord performs, plays, and enjoys His own creation. Our problems will disappear if we keep in mind that we are just playing a role and never take things very personally. In order to see the cosmic player, we must detach our mind from the play. Science deals with the knowledge of the cosmic play; spirituality deals with the knowledge of the cosmic Player as partially understood by the player.

The living entity enjoys sense pleasures using six sensory faculties of hearing, touch, sight, taste, smell, and mind. The ignorant cannot perceive living entity departing from the body nor staying in the body and enjoying sense pleasures by associating with the material body. But those who have the eye of Self-knowledge can see it. (15.09-10)

Senses lose their taste for material enjoyment when they develop a higher taste for the nectar of spiritual bliss. The attainment of spiritual bliss is the real fulfillment of one’s desire for sense gratification. A purified soul will refrain from doing wrong things that arise from residual, subtle desires for sensual pleasures.

The yogis, striving for perfection, behold the living entity abiding in their inner psyche as consciousness, but the ignorant whose inner psyche is not pure, even though striving, cannot perceive Him. (15.11)


Know that light energy to be Mine that comes from the sun and illumines the whole world and is in the moon, and in fire. (See also 13.17 and 15.06) (15.12).

The light of the sun is a reflection of His radiance (RV 10.07.03). The knowers of the Supreme Being visualize everywhere — in themselves, in every human being, and in the whole universe — that supreme cluster of light which is the source of the visible world and which shines like the all-pervading daylight (ChU 3.17.07). The world and its ob­jects are only pictures made of shadows and light, cast on a cosmic movie screen (Yogananda). The Koran says: Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth (Surah 24.35).

The holy eternal light has the shape of a huge shining cluster of bright light energy. It is the light of the Supreme Being that is in the eternal light and in all the luminaries of the galaxies, such as the sun, the moon, and the stars. It is His light that is in wood, lamps, candles, and is the energy in all living beings. His light is behind all lights and the source of all energy in the universe. Without the power of the Supreme Being, fire is unable to burn a blade of grass. This light of the Supreme Being can­not be realized and seen unless one has completely stilled and strengthened the mind, purified the intellect, and developed the power of will and visu­alization. One must also be strong enough to bear the mental shock generated while experiencing the light of all lights in trance.

Just as the complete spectrum of sunlight is not vis­ible to the human eye without a prism, similarly, we cannot see the light of the Supreme Being without the grace of God and scriptural reading. The yogis who have tuned-in their consciousness with the supreme con­sciousness can see the eternal light in trance. The entire universe is sustained by the energy of the Supreme Being and reflects His glory.

Entering the earth, I support all beings with My energy. Becoming the sap-giving moon, I nourish all the plants. (15.13)

Becoming the digestive fire, I remain in the body of all living beings. Uniting with vital breaths or bioimpulses, I digest all types of food. (15.14)

And I am seated in the inner psyche of all beings. Memory, Self-knowledge, and removal of doubts and wrong notions about God come from Me. I am, in truth, that which is to be known by the study of all the Vedas. I am, indeed, the author as well as the student of the Vedas. (See also 6.39) (15.15)

The Supreme Being is the source of all scriptures (BS 1.01.03). The Lord resides in the inner psyche (or the causal heart) as the consciousness of all beings ¾ not in the physical heart of the body as commonly misunderstood.


There are two entities in the cosmos: The changeable Temporal Beings, and the unchangeable Eternal Being (Spirit). All created beings are subject to change, but the Spirit does not change. (15.16)

Two aspects of divine manifestation — Temporal Beings and the Eternal Being (Spirit) — are described here. The entire creation ¾ including Lord Brahmaa (the creative force), all celestial controllers, fourteen planetary spheres, down to a blade of grass ¾ is the expansion of Temporal Beings. Spirit is the Consciousness, the cause of all causes, from which Temporal Beings, material Nature, and countless cosmos take birth, by which they are sustained, and into which they become dissolved again and again. Temporal Beings and Spirit are called creation and the creator in verses 13.01-02, and Womb and seed-giving Father in verses 14.03-04. The Supreme Being is beyond both Temporal Beings and Spirit, and is called the Absolute Reality in the scriptures and in the following verses:

The Supreme Being is beyond both ¾ the Temporal Beings and the Eternal Being. He is also called the Absolute Reality that sustains both the Temporal and the Eternal by pervading everything. (15.17)

Because I, the Supreme Being, am beyond both the temporal and the eternal, therefore I am known in this world and in the scriptures as the Supreme Being (Absolute Reality, Truth, Supersoul) (15.18)

Basically, there are two different aspects (or levels of existence) — Temporal Beings (also called Divine Souls, Divine Beings, Divine Temporal beings, Deva, celestial forces, guardian angels), and the Eternal Being (Spirit, Atma, Brahm) — of One and the same Absolute Reality known as the Supreme Being. The invisible, unchanging, and immutable entity is called Eternal Being. The Temporal Beings are the expansions of the Eternal Being in the material world. The entire creation is ever-chang­ing and mutable and is also called temporal. Both Temporal and Eternal Beings are expansions of the Supreme Being. The Supreme Being ¾ the basis of both Temporal and Eternal ¾ is the highest or the Absolute, who is referred to by various names. The personal aspect of the Absolute is called by names, such as Krishna, Mother, Father, and Allah.

The wise, who truly understand Me as the Supreme Being, know everything and worship Me wholeheartedly, O Arjuna. (See also 7.14, 14.26, and 18.66) (15.19)

Thus, I have explained this most secret transcendental science of the Absolute. Having understood this, one becomes enlightened, one’s all duties are accomplished, and the goal of human life is achieved, O Arjuna. (15.20)