How Samsara Traps & Creates Illusion of Two-ness (Dvaita) (155)


Lesson 155 connects Chapter 14 to Chapter 15. Then Verse 1 starts with description of Samsara tree. Also used fractal model to depict never-ending samsara.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, Verse 1

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15 INTRO:

  • Chapter 14 is about Subject / Object distinction (atma-anatma-viveka / satya-mithya / kṣetrajña-kṣetra discrimination). This continues into CH15 using a different model. CH14 depicted the unreal via 3-guna-model. CH15 depicts the unreal via samsara-tree model.  

What is nature of Individual?

  • NOT BODY: Don’t become body. Nor table. But have special relationship.
  • NOT MIND: Not mind because PRESENCE remains before, during and after cognitive thought.
  • Nature is presence is cit (awareness) or kṣetrajña/puruṣa/jñeya per CH13 or Brahman per CH14.
    • Is Awareness LOCAL or GLOBAL? Global. Only way to say it’s local is if assign attributes to awareness. But the attributes will always belong to something you've learned in past/seen/cognized/understood (thus all is of the mind and dependent; ie: mithya).
    • Although one awareness seems as though divided owing to 3-gunas (māyā/prakṛti). Like one space seems divided in reference to houses.

Cause of Universe:

  • 3 gunas are the CAUSE of universe (jagat). Jagat is defined as: time-space-objects.
  • 3 gunas are:
    1. Sattva: Intelligent cause (the knowledge blueprint of everything).
    2. Tama: The material (to create the forms).
    3. Raja: The “putting-together” power.
  • Metaphor: To create a pot, one needs (a) Sattva: Knowledge of what pot looks like (b) Tamas: Material in form of clay (c) Rajas: Putting the labour into it, and actually CREATING the clay-pot.
  • NOTE: Upanishads use several models to demonstrate the same concept. Example we have (in BG CH7 / CH13), the model of Isvhara as the CAUSE of the universe (jagat).
    • Ishvara is the intelligent (nimitta-karana) and material (upadana-karana) CAUSE of the universe.
      • How to demonstrate? Look at any object. It’s just forms within forms. At each level, intelligently organized. Finest building block (which no science can answer) is Knowledge and Power which Intelligently arranges the Material into a functional product (EG: Bird, hearth, spider web, saliva, relationship between clouds/rain/plants/sun, etc).
        • HOMEWORK:  Pick any object around you. Ask, “What is this made of?”. Keep drilling down far as you can go to the smallest constituent. Exercise help you see world deeper then perceptible form.
      • Demonstration in steps:
        • STEP 1:
          • Look into any form, and one can find it resolves into a smaller (MATERIAL; upadana-karanam) forms.
            • EG: Wood (depends on) Cellulose (depends on) 6 Carbon, 10 Hydrogen, 5 Oxygen atoms (depends on) Electron & Atomic nucleus (depends on) sub-atomic particles (depends on) space-time….
        • STEP 2:
          • Each level is intelligently organized (INTELLIGENT; nimitta-karanam).
            • EG: It's H2O and not H3O. Just 1 extra hydrogen atom and it's no longer water. This is intelligence.
  • How to know 3 gunas?
    • Universe: Look at any object. Material forms within forms. Intelligently organized at each level.
    • Individual: The qualities are shared in video.
  • INTRO INTO CH15: 2nd last verse of CH14, Krishna stated that Truth lovers (with unswerving devotion); are released from hold of 3 gunas (IE: “I” is placed in Awareness and not 3-guna-body-mind-complex).
    • Question comes. How did they accomplish that?
      1. By developing vairagyam (dispassion / detachment), by seeing samsara limitation.
      2. Carefully and diligently assimilating knowledge of Self (atman) using logic so one can actually understand it directly.
    • CH15 is about 2 topics above using a certain model…



Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, Verse 1:

ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ-śākham aśvattham prāhuḥ avyayam ।
chandāṃsi yasya parṇāni yaḥ tam veda saḥ vedavit ॥ 15-1॥
They say the imperishable aśvattha (peepal) tree (of saṃsāra) has its roots above, its branches below and the Vedas are its leaves. The one who knows that is a knower of the Veda.

  • ESSENCE OF VERSE: A peepal-tree is compared to saṃsāra. Imagine it upside down. Roots are above; branches below; leaves are like the [karma-kānḍa of] Vedās (keeping the individual engaged, sustaining saṃsāra). One who knows this, is free of saṃsāra”.


samsara in hinduism - tree map
Visual map of samsara (as depicted in BG, CH15, Verse 1/2).


  • INTRO: Purpose of CH15 is liberation (moksha). Moksha means freedom from samsara.
    • What is samsara?
      • Going about in endless loops to address situations. Seeming fixes invoke sukha. Seeming cracks invoke duhka. It’s a struggle for peace, harmony, wellness, happiness.
      • If comfortable with samsara, then won’t be interested in moksha > jnana-yoga (means). Thus MOST IMPORTANT pre-requisite for moksha is seeing the problem/limitation of samsara.
    • Therefore Krishna starts with analysis of samsara by borrowing from Katha Upanishad 2.3.1. He compares samsara with a huge Peepal tree (aśvattha [ashvattha tree]; means “absent tomorrow”. Looks like mushroom).
  • Comparisons between Samsara and Peepal tree:
    1. Both are huge.
    2. Avyaya: Can’t trace beginning, middle, end. EG:
      • TREE: Beginning of one root/branch is not beginning of entire tree.
        • When was first jiva made? Can’t answer because jiva is an effect of past-causes (karma). Past-causes are from prior life, etc.
        • Which came first, seed or tree? Can’t answer as samsara is cyclical and not linear.
    3. Inexplicable. No part can be categorized as either being an absolute cause nor an absolute effect.
        • From standpoint of tomorrow, today is the cause. From standpoint of yesterday, today is an effect.
        • Is the parent is cause from standpoint of child. Effect from standpoint of it’s parents.
        • If look at any point right now as an effect of a past cause, it’s called fate/destiny. If look at any point right now, as a cause of the future, it’s called freewill.
    4. Roots are invisible. Yet logically know there must be root because of which the entire tree IS.
      • SAMSARA TREE: Universe (samsara) has an invisible root called Ishvara (the intelligence that governs and sustains everything).
    5. Tree has many branches. Top, middle, bottom.
      • SAMSARA TREE: Creation has higher, middle, lower lokas. Countless worlds within 14 lokas. Lower lokas = lower branches. Each loka represents type of experience for a jiva.
    6. Tree is full of leaves. Covers the branches and trunk, thus only see them partially. Leaves are ALSO important for tree’s nutrition, growth and protection.
      • SAMSARA TREE: yasya parṇāni chandāṃsi (Whose leaves are Vedas).
        • Has green, luscious leaves in form of karma-kanda of Vedas (rituals/religious/spiritual actions which promise future results). Actions keep the samsara tree going.
        • Since no-time, every jiva is born because of notion, “I am a doer/enjoyer” (implying ignorance because since nirguṇa is akarta/abhokta).
          • Thus jiva wants to continue doing to continue enjoying future results. > Produces punya-papa > Demands a future world in which past-causes can be converted into effects (in form of enjoyment/suffering).
          • Dominance of sattvic-past-causes = higher lokas. Raja = middle. Tamas = lower.
          • Thus most find jnana-yoga (self-knowledge) a turn-off. Hence the existence of big spiritual marketplace (EG: Tantra, Shaivism, Sects of Yoga like Kundalini Yoga, Dvaita Vedanta) and forms of religions.
        • SUMMARY:
          • Actions grow samsara. Self-Knowledge puts an end to it.
          • Two extremes:
            • (a) Avoid rituals/prayers. These types don’t purify the mind, hence can’t apply satya-mithya-viveka.
            • (b) Constantly do rituals, prayers, sadhanas. These types have a clean mind with ignorance.


Keywords: cycle, example, reincarnation, hinduism

Resource: Verse-by-Verse Essence

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 11 Jan, 2022


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