Sunday, September 15, 2019

Root at the Top, Branches Beneath – Which is this Tree?

Original Kannada Article by: Subrahmanya Somayaji 
English Rendering byM R Bhashyam

Trees with branches at the top and roots down below are a common observation. In Bhagavad Geetha Lord Shri Krishna says “Oordhvamoolam adahshaakham ashwattham  prahuravyayam; chhandaamsi yasya parnaani yastam veda sa vedavith” - meaning “there is an indestructible Aswattha tree which has roots at the top and branches down below. Vedas are its leaves.  The one who knows this tree is indeed the master of Vedas”

 Once, Sri SriRanga Mahaguru asked a gathering of his disciples whether any of them had seen such a tree. No one responded.  He went on to add that those types of trees were present right there.  Since still there was no answer from the puzzled audience, he proceeded to explain to them that their own bodies were those trees.

In our body the brain at the top within the crown is the root. The limbs and other organs down below are the branches.  The limbs and other body-parts function as per the command of the brain. If the brain is not present, the limbs will have no mobility.  The brain is our God. We live as per its command.  If we keep it sound, our lives would be joyous.

Sometimes we observe that in some trees the root and the trunk are of one type and the branches and leaves are of another. For example, the roots and trunk are that of the Mango but the branches and leaves are that of the Neem. A masquerading parasite has grown sucking the juice from the original tree.   The growth of the parasite is against the design of nature and the intent of the grower. A vigilant farmer will prevent the growth of this parasite and keep the tree safe.  One who has no idea of farming will assume that the fruits from the parasite are those of the original tree.

In our lives, the intent of the God-given seed and the root is violated by our improper cultivation. The growth, hence, is not as per His desire. Instead of savoring the unbounded joy and peace that the original tree can bestow, we delude ourselves and enjoy the fruits of the parasite.  Our sages say that if we cultivate this tree properly, we can enjoy the ultimate fruit here and now - in this very life.

Let us not forget that the culture and civilization that have been nurtured in our country have been designed to nourish the natural flowering and fructification of the capabilities of the human mind. Our sages were indeed experts par excellence in the art of life’s agronomy; they have bestowed on us various purificatory rites (samskaaras), methods of worship, practices of homa and oblations, temples and their gateways, holy places and sacred rivers. These and various other practices have been provided as tools to irrigate, cultivate and nurture the saplings of our lives into towering trees which could bring to us the joy of this world and the ecstasy of the ultimate. Their abundant kindness towards all beings can never be forgotten.  

Vedas teach us that this microcosm called the body as well as the entire macrocosm called the cosmos can be understood through our own inner experience in this body.  Only if we nurture that experience, our internal and external lives become bountiful. That is the ultimate fruit of this tree of life. “The one who has understood in entirety this tree with roots at the top and the branches down below, is the one who is the master of Vedas” - Are not these words of the Lord pregnant with meaning?

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs