Why does World Exist? Universe Never Began. Creation is Circular (156)


Lesson 156 visually describes the samsara tree in action, pointing out it's limitations. What reality is samsara/world? Mithya.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, Verse 1, 2, 3


  • What is samsara?
    • Must know it's limitations else won’t pursue means to it’s freedom (moksha), whose means is: Karma-Yoga > Upasana Yoga > Jnana Yoga. (All 3 comprise Bhakti).
  • Krishna equates samsara to peepal (aśvatha tree).
  • Comparisons:
    1. Avyaya (eternal): No beg, mid, end. First jiva? Seed/tree? Father/son? Samsara is circular.
    2. Inexplicable: Can’t put into any box. Neither absolute cause nor effect. Today cause & effect. Parent & child. Destiny & Free will.
    3. Roots invisible.
    4. Many branches. Type of experience.
    5. Full of leaves. Covers branches/trunk.  Leaves = desires (constantly progressing, expecting to find something) > punya/papa > Demands tomorrow.


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.



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


  • Features of samsara-tree continued from previous session:
    1. Tree bears fruits of mixed tastes.
      • SAMSARA TREE: Gives mixture of sukha/duhka tastes.
    2. Tree provides a cosy nesting domain for birds, which enjoy the fruits the tree grows. Birds enjoy/suffer the tastes of the fruit.
      • SAMSARA TREE: Jivas are like birds. Some on higher, middle, lower branches. Consuming their fruits.
    3. Tree is in constant motion because of the wind. The birds on it constantly switch between branches due to instability.
      • SAMSARA TREE: In constant motion because of winds of prarabdha-karma (past causes constantly fructifying into present effects).
        • Forces jivas to change locations amidst the tree. EG: Inattentive jiva on Vedanta branch, blown to lower branch.
    4. A big tree can be uprooted with a very strong axe. Not easy.
      • SAMSARA TREE: Uprooted with jnana-yoga. Not easy.
  • Ūrdhva-mūlam: Whose root is above.
    • Means (1) what is difficult to comprehend, (2) upward facing. Consciousness (parā-prakṛti [CH7] / puruṣa/kṣetrajña [CH13] / brahman [CH14]).
  • Adḥaḥ śākham: Whose branches are below.
    • Means (1) that which is inferior, (2) downward facing. Matter (aparā-prakṭi [CH7] / prakṛti [CH13] / 3 guṇas [CH14]).
  • saḥ yaḥ veda tam vedavit: Those who understand the limitations of the samsara tree (with it’s branches, leaves, fruits, and the root), have properly understood the eternal message of the scriptures.
  • NEXT VERSE: More about branches (names-forms)…


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, Verse 2:

adhaḥ ca ūrdhvam prasṛtāḥ tasya śākhāḥ
guṇa-pravṛddhāḥ viṣaya-pravālāḥ ।
adhaḥ ca mūlāni anusantatāni
karma-anubandhīni manuṣya-loke ॥ 15-2॥
Its branches, which are nourished by the guṇas and whose shoots are the sense-objects, are spread below and above. Further, (its) roots are stretched below, causing actions in the world of men.

  • ESSENCE OF VERSE: Tree’s branches (equated to world / body-mind) are nourished by the guṇas (intelligence that governs the world & jīva according to use/misuse of it’s freewill). Buds (shoot end of branch) are sense-objects (responsible for future births). The tree’s roots (jīvas causal-body) are unseen/hidden and compel actions.
  • The branches represent field-of-experience (higher, middle, lower branches; 14 lokas that comprise creation). In each loka, the jiva (subtle body + awareness) wears an appropriate gross body.
    • EG: Indra is a jiva with ordinary subtle body, enjoying Indra-sharira.
    • Who decides what type of gross-body jiva receives? Not bhagavān, not fate, but jivas freewill (that’s either used or abused). This explains every birth privilege, abnormality, premature death, and what genes child gets.
      • Even now, the jiva is deciding (on daily bases) what type of body will be worn next life.
  • The sense-objects (sounds, tastes, smells, feelings, forms) are the buds (end of branches) which give rise to more branches (fields of experience in form of pleasure/pain). Branches support more leaves (desires), flowers (actions), and fruits (results of actions).
    • Order:
      1. Sense objects give rise to desires.
      2. Desires compel participation in the field-of-experience.
      3. Participation in field-of-experience generates punya-papa.
      4. Punya-papa demands new birth because their results can’t all be fructified in a single life.
    • SAMSARA CYCLE: Sense objects of the world cause rebirth. Rebirth demands new mixture of sense-objects.
    • Also the type of sense objects surrounding the jīva, influences type of involvement jiva engages in.
    • Thus samsara gets more complex/sophisticated, the more jivas want newer/fresher combinations of experiences (3 gunas). Meaning the branches are nourished by the 3 gunas, which are in turn constantly modified by jiva’s use/misuse of free will.
  • Guṇapravṛddha: Branches are of the 3 guṇas which propel jīva into action for sake of experiencing pleasure and avoiding pain.
    • Therefore, jīva’s actions alone is reason why the universe (branches) are sustained eternally, because world needs to continue for sake of providing results of jivas past actions.
      • Meaning there will never be a time when all jivas collectively agree samsara is pointless. Because jivas also include insects, bacteria, plants, other worlds.
  • SECONDARY ROOTS: mūlāni anusantatāni adhaḥ karmānubandhīni: Tree’s (secondary) roots are stretched below, compelling actions.
    • These are unplanned/secondary roots result of rāga-dveṣa-vāsanās. IE: Repeated performance of past actions creates deep impressions/habits, which keep jīva attached/rooted to manuṣyaloka-branches.
    • They keep jiva helplessly stuck in samsara-cakra. Merry-go-round.



Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, Verse 3:

na rūpam asya iha tathā upalabhyate
na antaḥ na ca ādiḥ na ca sampratiṣṭhā ।
aśvattham enam suvirūḍha-mūlam
asaṅga-śastreṇa dṛḍhena chittvā ॥ 15-3॥

The form of this (tree) is not perceived here. (It has) no beginning, middle, or end. One should cut this well-rooted fig tree firmly with the weapon of detachment.

  • ESSENCE OF VERSE: This saṃsāra-tree is imperceptible. It has no beginning, middle, or end [because it stretches infinitively]. Only way is to cut it is with axe-of-dispassion (weapon of detachment) [CH13 value 10].
    • How to find the center-middle of something? By measuring the beginning and end (EG: Room). However Krishna says universe is immeasurable-incomprehensible because no aspect of it has a beginning, middle or end. Because the samsara tree is mithya (dependent on something else; mere name-form at each level).
      • “Beginning of creation” involves beginning of time. But “beginning of time” is a contradiction; means some other time was needed, in which time could begin. IE: Time started at 2pm.
        • Since everything is within beginningless creation, then anything experienced is beginningless in nature, it’s not away from the beginningless-creation. Meaning, everything experienced has been experienced since the beginningless beginning.
      • Chicken-egg. Father-son.
    • MITHYA EG:
      • From mountain, tree is small. From ground-level, it’s big. From particle level, there’s no tree.
      • Shirt > cotton > yarn > fibers > molecules > atoms > electron/neutron > space/time > Intelligence > Awareness (because even Ishvara needs Awareness to Intelligently puts things together).
      • Mithya definition: It’s neither non-existent nor absolutely-existent. But has a dependent existence.
        • Indicated by: na antaḥ na ca ādiḥ na ca sampratiṣṭhā; That which exists neither before, nor later, cannot be real right now.
          • EG: Before new wave was born, it wasn’t there. After it recedes into ocean, it’s not there. Thus it’s in-between birth-death existence is also seemingly-real.
    • Because samsara is mithya (reality within reality within reality, etc) – it's fruitless knowing the intricacies of Samsara (age of Earth, current cycle, other lokas). Only duty is to identify it’s nature (anything that’s born in time), so one can engage ātmā-anātmā-viveka.
      • EG: No matter how much try to understand the dream / oasis in the desert, it’s still a dream / oasis (unreal).



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

Recorded 18 Jan, 2022


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