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#Gita Chapter 15 (English translation)

November 16, 2017

Introduction, Acknowledgements, Translation notes

Chapter 15




Sri Krishna Bhagavan speaks:

In poetic meters, they (the wise) speak of the indestructible Ashvatta tree (pipalficus religiosa) as having its roots above and branches below, whose leaves are the Vedas. He who knows this is alone a knower of the Vedas. II15.1II


(Change in poetic metre)

Its branches are spread below and above, nourished by the gunas, with the sense-objects as its shoots; its roots stretch forth in the world of men, originating action. II15.2II


This Tree of Samsaara which has been described is not seen here in that form–neither its end, nor its beginning, or the existence (the middle between the beginning and the end). Having cut asunder this firm-rooted tree with the weapon of detachment …II15.3II


… then seek that State, having reached which there is no return. Seek refuge in that Primeval Being from which stems forth all manifestation (energy). II15.4II


Free from pride and delusion, having conquered the evil of attachment, abiding constantly in the Self, completely free of desires, liberated from the pairs-of-opposites such as joy and sorrow, undeluded, reach the Changeless State. II15.5II


Neither the sun, the moon, nor fire can illumine That–My Supreme Abode–reaching which you do not return. II15.6II


A fragment of Me becomes the eternal individual soul (jiva bhuta sanaatanah) and exists in the region of living beings–with the five senses and the mind as the sixth–abiding in the world of matter. II15.7II


When the Lord acquires a body (as an individual soul) or leaves it, He gathers these (the six senses mentioned in the previous verse) and goes with them, just like the wind gathers scents from flowers. II15.8II


The ear, eyes, touch, taste, and smell, and also the mind–using these, It (the Lord seated in the individual body) enjoys the sense-objects. II15.9II

The deluded do not perceive that it is Him (the Lord embodied as an individual soul) that leaves the body, resides in the body, or experiences the sense-identifications with the gunas (temperaments of sattva, rajas, and tamas). But those who possess the eye of knowledge do perceive Him. II15.10II


Yogis striving for perfection see Him dwelling within themselves. But unintelligent men, though they strive, do not see Him. II15.11II


That radiance of the sun, the luminescence of the moon, and also the light in fire, which illuminate the whole world, know that brilliance to be Mine. II15.12II


And penetrating the earth, I infuse all beings with my energy. Being the cool moon (considered to be “the repository of all rasas–savors”), I nourish the plants and herbs with all flavors. II15.13II

(Quotes from commentary of Swami Sivananda)


I am Vaisvaanara (the digestive fire) dwelling in the body of living beings. Uniting with the vital breaths of praana (“that vital force which goes upward and has its seat really in the heart, but it is said to be located at the tip of the nose since its presence is directly felt there”) and apaana (“that vital force which goes downward, below the navel, and has its seat in the organs of excretion”), I digest the four kinds of food consumed. II15.14II

(Quotes from Swami Gambhirananda’s translation of Adi Shankaracharya’s Sankara Bhashyam)

(Note: The four kinds of food consumed are:

1. Bhakshyam – by mastication or chewing

2. Bhojyam – by sucking

3. Lehyam – by licking

4. Choshyam – by swallowing)


(Change in poetic metre)

I am seated (as the Self) in the hearts of all. From Me come their faculty of memory, knowledge, and discrimination. I alone am the Supreme to be known through all scriptures. I am the Originator of Vedanta and I Myself am the Knower of the Vedas. II15.15II


There are two aspects in this (manifested) world–that which can be destroyed (perishable) and that which is indestructible (imperishable). All beings are perishable. The unchanging (kutastha–“that which manifests itself in various forms of illusion and deception”) is imperishable (“As the seed of samsaara is endless, it is said to be imperishable.”). II15.16II

(Quotes from Alladi Mahadeva Sastry’s translation of Adi Shankaracharya’s Sankara Bhashya)


But distinct (from the two mentioned in the previous verse) is the Highest Spirit, spoken of as the Supreme Self, the indestructible Lord who penetrates and sustains the three worlds. II15.17II

(Verbatim from Alladi Mahadeva Sastry’s The Bhagavad Gita. Parentheses not included in original.)


Having transcended the perishable and the imperishable, I am known in the world and in the Vedas as Purushottama, the Supreme Spirit. II15.18II


He who is free from delusion, knows Me as the Supreme Spirit, and all-knowing, worships Me with his whole being, Bhaarata (Arjuna). II15.19II


I have spoken this most secret science, Anagha (Arjuna). He who understands this gains wisdom and has accomplished what has to be accomplished. II15.20II


Concluding verse:

Om! Such is the Truth in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. This is the knowledge of Supreme Consciousness. It is a scripture of union; a dialogue between Sri Krishna (the teacher) and Arjuna (the student). The fifteenth discourse ends, titled “Yoga of the Supreme Spirit–Purushottama Yoga”.

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