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 Bhagavad Gita in English >> The Supreme Being - Chapter 15

Bhagavad Gita in English - Chapter 15
The Supreme Being - Chapter 15


Lord Krishna said: The sages talk about an imperishable, ever-changing tree (or the creation) having its Source above (in the Supreme Being) and countless cosmos as its branches below. The Vedic hymns are the leaves. One who truly understands this tree is a knower of the Vedas. (See also KaU 2.3.01) (15.01)

The creation is like a tree that is infinite, ever changing and eternal. This tree has its origin or root in the Supreme Being, the Eternal Being is the main stem. The tree is supported by the leaves of Vedic knowledge. One who truly knows this marvelous tree, its origin, its nature and working, is wise in a true sense.

The branches of “the tree of human life” spread below and above (or all over the cosmos). This tree is nourished by the energy of material Nature and the sense objects are its sprouts. Its sustaining roots---ego and attachment---stretch deep in human world causing Karmic bondage. (15.02)

The human body, a microcosmic universe, has also been com­pared to a tree of human life and death (or transmigration) on earth in verses 15.02-03 and the Upanishads. Karma is its seed; five basic elements are its main branches; and the ten organs of perception and action are its sub-branches. Right and wrong actions are its flowers and pain and pleasures are the fruits. Senses’ going towards sense objects produces worldly desires. Fulfillment of desires gives sense pleasures and creates attachment. Ignorance-born ego, worldly desires, and attachment are the roots of Karmic bondage causing cycles of transmigration.


The beginning, the end, the basis, or the real form of this tree of human life is not perceptible on earth. Having cut its deep sustaining roots---ego and attachment---by the axe of (Self-knowledge and) strong detachment, the Supreme goal should be sought, reaching which one does not come back to the mortal world again. One should be always thinking: I take refuge in that very primal person from which this primal manifestation comes forth. (15.03-04)

Human life is also without beginning and end. It has no permanent existence or real form. One must sharpen the axe 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 free from ego and worldly desires. When the attachments are severed, an attitude of sacred dispassion (Vairagya) takes place, which is the prerequisite for reaching the Supreme goal.

The Supreme goal is reached by the wise who are free from pride and delusion, who have conquered the evil of attachment, who are ever Self-conscious 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 does the moon, nor the fire. Having reached there, people attain permanent liberation (Moksha) and do not come back to this temporal world. (See also Gita 13.17 and 15.12, and KaU 5.15, ShU 6.14, MuU 2.02.10) (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). Transcendental light of Brahman (Divine Light, Brahma Jyoti) is the source of all light energy and is called the light of all lights in verse 13.17. 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 word attaining ‘ParamaDhama’ or its equivalent Sanskrit words have been used several places in the Gita. This word is used to mean Supreme state of consciousness or Moksha, the freedom from the cycles of birth and death. It is the transcendental state of mind, attaining which one does not come back to a lower plane of worldly consciousness. It may, very well, also mean to be a transcendental space in the cosmos. We have translated this word as: Supreme Abode, Supreme Goal, and Eternal abode. This word is also used for ParaBrahma, the Absolute.


The eternal individual soul (Jiva, Jivatma) in the body of living beings is, indeed, My integral part. Abiding in material nature or the body, it activates the six senses, including the mind. (15.07)

Spirit is called Eternal Being or ‘Brahma’ in Sanskrit. Spirit is the true nature of the Supreme Being (ParaBrahma), 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 the Supreme Spirit (ParaBrahma), Spirit (Brahma), Soul (Atma) and the individual soul (Jivatma) is due to extent only and there is no real difference. It is similar to room space being a part of the unlimited space. The individual soul as well as the entire creation is a real but limited manifestation of the Absolute. Here is a description of how the subtle and causal bodies leave one physical body and acquire another:

When the Lord (or Jivatma, the individual soul) leaves one physical body and acquires a new physical body, He carries away the causal and subtle bodies from the physical body just as the wind carries away aroma from the flower. (See also 2.13) (15.08)

The individual soul takes its subtle body---six sensory faculties of perception, intellect, ego, and five vital forces---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 causal body stores individual's good and bad Karma. When all Karmas and trace of desires are eradicated from the causal body 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 or subtle 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 feel 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---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 individual player.

The living entity enjoys sense objects using six sensory faculties of hearing, touch, sight, taste, smell, and mind. The ignorant cannot perceive the living entity departing from the body or 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 Vasana, the residual, subtle desires for sensual pleasures. Vasanas are subtle impressions left on subconscious mind by past actions and desires that has the power to rekindle.

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)


The light energy of the sun which illumines the entire world, which is in the moon and in fire, know that light to be Mine. (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). God is the light of the heavens and the earth.

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 study. 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---not in the physical heart of the body as commonly misunderstood.


There are two entities in the cosmos: The changeable or temporal Divine 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---Divine Beings and the Eternal Being (Spirit)---are described here. The entire creation ---including Lord Brahma (the creative force), all celestial controllers, fourteen planetary spheres, down to a blade of grass ---is the expansion of Divine Beings. Spirit is the Consciousness, the cause of all causes, from which Divine Beings, material Nature, and countless cosmos take birth, by which they are sustained, and into which they become dissolved again and again. Divine Beings and Spirit are called matter and spirit in verses 7.04-05, Asat and Sat in verses 9.19, creation and the Creator, respectively, in verses 13.01-02, and Womb and seed-giving Father in verses 14.03-04.

The Supreme Being is beyond both Divine Beings and Spirit, and is called the Absolute Reality in the scriptures and in the following verses:

The Supreme Being is beyond both the temporal Divine Beings and the Eternal Being. He is also called the eternal Lord (Ishvara), who pervades the three worlds and supports them. (15.17)

Because I, the Supreme Being, am beyond both the Temporal (Divine) Beings and the Eternal Being, 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, temporal Divine Beings, Deva, celestial forces, guardian angels), and the Eternal Being (Spirit, Atma, Brahma)
---of One and the same Absolute Reality known as the Supreme Being. The invisible, unchanging, and immutable entity is called Eternal Being. The temporal Divine 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 Being are expansions of the Supreme Being. The Supreme Being---the basis of both Temporal and Eternal---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. According to our scriptures, no one, except ParaBrahma Paramatma, has their own power or consciousness. Everyone, including the Eternal Being (Akshar Brahma), receives power from the Absolute, Lord Krishna.

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)

Saint Tulasidas said: Without understanding His almighty power there can be no belief in God, without belief there can be no faith, without faith there can be no love, without love there can be no unshakable devotion to God. Thus to know is to love and to love is to know (Gita10.10).

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


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