Cholars, artists and folk cried after freedom from time immemorial. Unfortunately, it frequently continues to be cry only for a simple reason – nobody of them knows what constitutes freedom and what slavery. So the meaning of the freedom itself is degraded.
In this essey I will deal with with bondage in its unalloyed and primary form as defined in Bhagavad-gita, the oldest book of freedom. My subject is easily understandable analogy of thraldom, which is described at the beginning of fifteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita, and illuminate topic of freedom in accordance with this analogy.
Analogy is something that is meant to help us understand ideas and definitions, which we may not grasp, are hard to understand, and we do not have practical realization of, by describing well knows objects and phenomenons. I am sorry that I will not debate recipes for achieving secondary freedoms sort of human freedom, animal freedom, freedom of nations, women, race, etc. The beauty and versatility of Bhagavadgita lies in discussing principles of freedom and bondage of highest grade. In that manner receptive and intelligent reader can not miss that it includes all other levels of freedom and slavery. Sri Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is not siding with just some ccategory of humans with particullar vision of freedom, rather his interest is for absolute good for all.
Tree of entanglement analogy and method how to get liberated are delineated in first four verses of fifteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita:
asvattham prahur avyayam
chandamsi yasya parnani
yas tam veda sa veda-vit
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is said that there is an imperishable banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.
Intricacy of material world is likened to banyan tree, which is upside-down (urdhva-mulam – roots up, adhah-sakham – branches down). Main root of this tree is in Satya-loka, the highest planet in material world, where sovereign creator Brahma lives. The whole world has its primary root at highest place – Satya-loka. This can be compared to the system of European Union. In Brussel there is head-office, with presiding chairman, who is taking care of Europe, which is also upside-down. Sometimes we sigh that all this world is upside-down, while reading newspaper political columns or some else. Krishna is looking at this world, which is his creation, and He is amazed how it is upside-down.
Normally in this world there are no trees upside-down. But such a tree could be seen as reflection on water surface. It is illusion to consider such tree reflection to be the tree itself, but thank to reflection we can get very clear idea about the origin of reflection, and understand substantiality of spiritual world by knowing perverted banyan tree of material existence. This perverted banyan is reflection of real variety of spiritual world on the surface of our independent desires, separated from Krishna. One, who understands that is veda-vit, scientist, the knower of Veda, and this knowledge is necessary foundation of detachment, which will be talked about later.
Further this tree is described as everlasting (avyayam), because those, who virtually do not want to know true nature material world, life after life are thoughtlessly holding to different enslaving world views trying to satisfy their plans for ekonomical development, religion, sense gratification and liberation. It is the way of jumping from one branch to another from time immemorial, for eternity, without desire to get to the root of the tree.
Its leaves are compared to Vedas, because they in pleasing way they explain activities leading to entanglement (chandamsi yasya parnani), since leaves makes branches of the tree much nicer. Persons, gravitating towards real tree of knowledge, are not attracted by flowery speeches of Vedas (chandamsi) in the form of leaves (parnani).
However, from the point of view of bhakti, this tree is temporary (a – not, svah – tomorrow). Asvattha therefore means that what will not last till tomorrow.
It is pragmatic matter. Gardener pours water to the root of the tree, not on branches and leaves, to get desired fruits. Bhakti adherents are looking towards the root, origin of whole creation.
adhas cordhvam prasrtas tasya sakha
adhas ca mulany anusantatani
The branches of this tree extend downward and upward, nourished by the three modes of material nature. The twigs are the objects of the senses. This tree also has roots going down, and these are bound to the fruitive actions of human society.
Trees are nourished by water and soil. This banyan tree is nourished by special substance – three modes of nature (guna-pravrddha). Branches, which grow up (urdhvam) are nourished by the mode of goodness. There are higher forms of life. Other branches are nourished by the mode of passion, and they grow in middle regions, where humans are in. Yet other branches, nourished be mode of ignorance, grow downwards (adha), where animals and lower life forms could be found. Senses are the tip of the branches to enjoy sense objects represented on this tree by buds growing out of the tips of the branches (visayapravalah).
Krishna selected banyan tree, the example of nature, to make easier our understanding how material entanglement is intricate. Banyan has one unique feature – from its branches grow secondary roots, which in time grow down to the ground to grow in the ground. In this way, in due course of time, from one tree whole forest will grow, so that the original trunk of the tree and the original root, from which everythinng grew up, can not be found any more. Similarly, living entities falling into material world loose orientation very soon, which way is root of their existence. Original root of this asvattha tree is on Brahmaloka or Satyaloka. Secondary roots extend everywhere (anusantatani), in the direction of planets of humans, down (adhah) under Brahmaloka, and they cause cycle in implication of activities (karmanubandhini). It means that after exhausting accumulated pious or sinful fruits of own activities, living entities return via these secondary roots to human spheres, where by their own action (karma) sink many further secondary roots due to no interest for finding out original main root and extricating from this forest of implication – therefore karmanubandhini.
na rupam asyeha tathopalabhyate
nanto na cadir na ca sampratistha
asvattham enam su-virudha-mulam
asanga-sastrena drdhena chittva
The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. But with determination one must cut down this strongly rooted tree with the weapon of detachment.
Real form of this tree is not perceivable, considering that this is the tree of entanglement, and many philosophers in this tree or material world offer their speculative theories about boundaries (antah) of universe, its beginning (adih) a from what it arose (sampratistha). In this way they bar observing (upalabhyate) real form (rupam) of this tree, about which is Krishna speaking. Thus most of the people, those looking after spiritual nature of their existence, is misled by these devious philosophies, and continues in endless pilgrimage thfoughout material world. Also without consideration to these theories, it is not possible by one's own endeavor to attain the root of this tree. Asvattha tree is intriguing to such a degree. The only option for everyone is to direct one's energy to detachment (asanga) from egoistic sense gratifying objects. By this weapon (sastrena) of detachment can be the chopped off directly at its mighty root (su-virudha-mulam) of entanglement and suffering.
tatah padam tat parimargitavyam
yasmin gata na nivartanti bhuyah
tam eva cadyam purusam prapadye
yatah pravrttih prasrta purani
Thereafter, one must seek that place from which, having gone, one never returns, and there surrender to that Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything began and from whom everything has extended since time immemorial.
To develop detachment one has to discuss spiritual science and surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna (purusam prapadye) under the guidance of competent guru. One can not be just detached. The process of finding out (parimargitavyam) of transcendental location (tat padam), by whose achievement is tree of entanglement completely rooted out is needed. In that way coming back to this illusory world does not occur (na nivartanti bhuyah) or in other words participating in cycle of actions and reactions does not occur, because the primeval (purani) cause (prasrta) Sri Krishna is found and one is firmly situated in a original (adyam) relationship with Supreme Person (purusam) or with Original (adyam) Supreme Person (purusam) who is the origin of asvattha tree of material entanglement.