The Supreme Self

With imagery taken from the Katha Upanishad, Lord Krishna portrays the entire universe as the Ashvattha or pipal tree with roots above and branches below. In this chapter, Krishna urges you to cut apart this firmly rooted tree of the material world (and desires) with the weapon of detachment.


In this short yet immensely deep chapter, Krishna expounds the nature of Brahman and how It pervades the manifested world. He describes Brahman as a trinity of kshara , akshara and Uttama Purusha – perishable, imperishable and the Supreme Spirit.

Krishna begins his explanation of Brahman with the kshara , perishable aspect of Brahman. The kshara consists of the external universe and the individual. He says Brahman is the very core of the universe and the individual, you. He reinforces the thought that you are the Spirit acting through matter equipments. While the ignorant fail to perceive the Truth and get tossed by the material changes in the world, only the wise who see the underlying Reality experience lasting peace.


To dispel any false notions of Brahman being perishable, Krishna goes on to describe Brahman in terms of akshara , imperishable. He says Brahman is the imperishable foundation of the perishable world. As Brahman personified, He says He is the light of the sun and the moon through which He enters the earth and nourishes vegetation. He is the fire that digests the food eaten by humans. Thus He sustains both the macrocosm, the universe, as well as the microcosm, the individual. In this portion, Krishna asserts that Brahman is the akshara , imperishable supporter of the perishable world.


Finally, Krishna destroys any limitations you may have imposed on Brahman by saying it is not confined to the finite world. It is the Uttama Purusa , Supreme Being, far beyond the universe that we visualize. The universe with its millions of galaxies is only an infinitesimal disturbance in the immeasurable expanse of Brahman. With this Krishna completes the description of Brahman.


In essence Krishna says that Brahman pervades the perishable world and exists far beyond it. The wise aspire for the Uttama Purusa , setting aside the entire world and its fascinations. And it is they who invoke the power of the Spirit.