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July 26, 2007

Bhagavad-gita Chapter 15


Becoming detached from the material world - the reflection of the spiritual work

Chapter 15 presents the example of the inverted Banyan tree. Srila Prabhupada explains that inverted trees can be seen only when they are reflected in water. Just as the refection of a tree can be situated in the water of a river, the spiritual world reflected on the "water" of self-centered desire becomes the illusory material world.
The existence of this world implies the existence of the spiritual world, as the existence of a reflected tree implies the existence of a real tree.

Main theme:
One can be free from entanglement within the material world by cultivating a transcendental desire to enter into the spiritual world.

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Sub points:
A. The real form of the "banyan tree" of material existence cannot be understood in this
world (15.3-4). The real world is in the spiritual sky. This world is only a reflection. Reality
cannot be directly found here, although a shadow of reality is perceived.

Transmigration (15.6- 11)
The Lord concludes the Banyan tree example by explaining the proper method to gain freedom, which is to surrender to the Him and enter into His kingdom. Krsna begins this section by giving a description of the His spiritual abode, the refuge from material entanglement.

After this description, Krsna explains the fate of one who cannot surrender to Him. Such a person must remain on the Banyan tree of material existence, jumping from branch to branch in pursuit of sense
gratification. This process of jumping from branch to branch is called transmigration.

Main theme:
Until one attains to the spiritual world, he must continually take repeated births in many species of life, through the process of transmigration.

Sub points:

A. The living entity is constitutionally an eternal fragment of the Lord (15.7).
1. After text 6 describes the Lord's abode, text 7 explains why the living entity will not be
satisfied until he reaches that abode because it is his constitutional position to be related
with Krsna. Until one comes to the point of this consciousness, he is forced to transmigrate all over the Banyan tree of material existence and struggle for survival.
B. The conditioned living entity is forced to transmigrate through repeated births while searching
for pleasure within the material world (15.8-11).

C. After the constitutional position of the living entity is described in text 7, texts 8 and 9
describe the condition of the living entity that is on the tree of material existence: he is forced
to repeatedly change bodies through the subtle workings of reincarnation.

1. Describing reincarnation, the Lord first explains that the spirit soul is inherently pure like
Him. The soul acquires material bodies through misconceptions and misidentification with matter only (text 8). Next, the Lord explains the technical workings of how the spirit soul takes on a new body at death.
2. The new gross body of the living entity is molded around the subtle body of the
living entity at death. The condition of the subtle body is based on desires. According to
one’s desires (and of course, conditioning), he has a certain mentality and way of being. At the time of death and rebirth, one receives new senses, which are made to facilitate the mentality of the particular conditioned soul. His subtle body will, therefore, reflect that mentality.

D. One will not understand how this process of transmigration works unless he is
sufficiently purified of bodily identification through spiritual knowledge (15.10-11).

Krsna's position as the maintainer (15.12-15)

Lord Krsna stated that the endeavoring transcendentalists could understand the situation of the living entity that is trapped within the material world, but those whose minds are undeveloped cannot see what is happening. In this section, the Lord presents special information meant to bring the ignorant towards knowledge.
One can be freed from the banyan tree of the material world by cultivating attachment and surrender to the Supreme Lord, which begins by appreciating Krsna as the maintainer of the material world. It has previously been explained that one who is entrenched in material existence must appreciate Krsna through His opulence in the world. This section serves that purpose. Srila Prabhupada explains that "One should simply try to understand that the splendor of the sun, the splendor of the moon, and the splendor of electricity or fire are coming from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In such a conception of life, the beginning of Krsna consciousness lays a great deal of advancement for the conditioned souls in this material world” (15.12 purport).

Main theme
One who is entangled within the banyan tree of material existence can develop his Krsna consciousness by appreciating Krsna as the maintainer of the phenomenal world.

Sub points:
A. As the Paramatma, Lord Krsna is supplying remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness (15.15).

1. Meditating on Krsna as the maintainer culminates in knowing Him as the Lord in
the heart, who guides the living entity through the function of buddhi (intelligence).
2. According to the inherent desire (as well as the karma) of the spirit soul, Lord Krsna as
the Paramatma provides a certain intelligence. This directive of intelligence facilitates the
living entity's particular desire.
3. If one sincerely desires to realize Krsna, Krsna then provides him with the intelligence by
which he can come to Krsna. If the living entity desires to turn away from the Lord, the
Lord gives him intelligence that allows him not to see His presence.
B. Lord Krsna is the goal of all of the Vedas (15.15).
1. The Vedas describe a vast system of activities (divided into karma-kanda, jnana-kanda, and
upasana-kanda), which are designed to gradually purify the conscious of the general mass
of people. The ultimate end of all Vedic processes of purification is to realize Krsna.

The Three-sloka Gita: Summarizing the Vedas and the Vedanta (15.16-20)

After concluding that He is the goal of the Vedas and the compiler of the Vedanta, the Lord will summarize the Vedanta, which conclusively establishes His position as supreme. This section is very important to show that the personal realization is the most complete understanding of the Absolute.

Main theme:
Lord Krsna is the Supreme living being; He is therefore worthy of worship. This is the most confidential understanding of the Vedas.

Sub points:
A. Lord Krsna is above both the conditioned and liberated living entities (15.18).

1. The living entities are divided into two classes: fallible and infallible. The fallible are those
who have fallen from the spiritual world into material conditioning. The infallible are those
who have never fallen due to their unity of desire with the Lord's. The Supreme Lord,
Krsna is above both of them.
2 This clearly defeats Mayavada philosophy, which states that one is an individual
personality only until the time of liberation. At the time of liberation, one gives up false
ego and realizes that he is God. But in these verses, Lord Krsna explains that he is above
liberated living entities as well. Therefore, individuality exists after liberation (15.16).

3. Furthermore, the Lord explains that He has entered into the worlds and is maintaining
them. This is the special function of God. Understanding Krsna as the maintainer is
another way to defeat the Mayavadi doctrine. For example, one may gain Brahman
realization, by which he has a feeling of all pervasiveness. Mayavada understanding holds
that this is the state of Godhood. But to be God also means to be the total maintainer and
controller of the material manifestation. Can an impersonally realized yogi claim that by
his power the different universes are running perfectly or that he is full conscious of all
things happening in all places and all times? No. Therefore, Krsna is above the living
entities that are simply liberated. He is the Supreme maintainer of all things (15.17).
4. Because Lord Krsna holds the unique position of the purusottama (the Supreme Person),
He is glorified in the Vedas and the world (15.18).
5. Understanding Lord Krsna's supreme position is the topmost platform of knowledge. This
understanding leads to devotional service (15.19).
a) The fruit of all knowledge is to appreciate one's position as spirit soul and Krsna's
position as Supreme soul. In that knowledge, one acts in bhakti-yoga. Because
devotional service is the fruit of all knowledge, one who is performing devotional
service has no need for performing other spiritual processes to understand the absolute truth. Understanding Krsna’s position and devotional service is the most confidential understading in the Vedas.