|Chapter 15||Realization of the Ultimate Truth||Verse 2|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The branches of this ancient banyan tree are the perishable jivas or embodied beings from Brahma the secondary creator who lives for trillions of years down to humans who may live for a hundred years down to an insect that may live only for some hours. All regardless of their span of life have their limiting adjuncts and restricted effects and represent the branches of this tree. Of those jivas who have the inclination for evil and demoniac activities their births will be in the reptile and insect species. Those jivas who are oblivious to their divine nature and act like beasts will correspondingly take birth in the animal kingdom and those jivas of virtuous and pious nature nature will take birth among the Brahmins, Vaisnavas and demigods. All jivas constitute the unlimited branches of this ancient banyan tree represented in the mundane material existence. Furthermore it should be understood that they are nutured by the three gunas or modes of goodness, passion and nescience according to their qualifications and propensities. The tips of the branches are the senses and the innumerable sprouts and shoots are the sense objects. The roots are spread out above and below with the central primary tap root representing the Supreme Lord alone with the roots below representing desires for enjoyment and the roots above representing subtle impressions of past enjoyments. The effects of such are specifird by the words karma anubandhani which refers to actions according to the proclivity to perform righteous or unrighteous activities which results in corresponding reactions some positive, some benign and some negative. When past reactions eventually have been finally exhausted the jiva once more takes birth in the world of humans directly related to the influence of the subtle impressions accumalated from enjoyments experienced in the previous lives and worlds which are the subtle motivating impetus for the inclinations and propensity to experience these activities again. The ability to experience these actions is limited to the worlds of humans alone and so Lord Krishna states manusya-loke meaning the world of men.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Since the unmanifest atma or immortal soul exists in an impreceptible sub- atomic form within the bodies of all jivas or embodied beings, they are described as spread upwards and downwards. The attributes are the modes of material nature, the three gunas of sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or ignorance. The pleasurable experiences are the sprouts and desires are the buds. The main central root is the divine resplendence representing the Supreme Lord and the subsidary roots are the results acquired due to following righteousness or unrighteousness. This is described in the Ballava section.
In this ancient asvattha or banyan tree representing material existence the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence as manifestation of the Supreme Lord is the primary and central root. The subsidary root is prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence and the three gunas are its attributes. The elements earth, water, fire, air and ether are the branches and the leaves are the Vedic hymns. The demigods who administer universal management are the smaller branches and human beings are the twigs. From adherance or rejection of the injunctions and prohibitions defined in the Vedic scriptures do sweet and bitter fruits results which are the karmas or reactions to the previous actions one has performed. Righteous actions bestow pleasant rewards and unrighteous actions bestow unpleasant rewards. This ancient banyan tree rewards liberation and bondage as well depending upon the merit of righteousness enacted. It also has fruits, branches and roots that are unmanifest as well as those that are apparent and manifest. This does not otherwise come to happen neither does it not come not to happen. This means that the cause is enveloped in the effect and that the effect is containing the cause. In this way as a tiny seed contains an entire tree and a tree contains a tiny seed the roots and the branches are intertwined eternally.
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The branches on this asvattha tree symbolise all the jivas or embodied beings who arise due to karma or reactions to actions. The downward branches symbolise humans, animals, plants, etc. and the upward branches symbolise the 300 million demigods administering universal management. All the branches are part of prakriti thematerial substratum pervading physical existence and all are nourished by the three gunas or three modes of material nature which are sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or ignorance. The sprouts on the branches symbolises desires for objects of the senses. This asvattha tree has its roots in Brahma-loka the highest material planet and its branches end in the worlds of humans but there the humans are constantly creating new rootlets which are the karmas acquired from performing actions which are enjoined and prohibited in the Vedic scriptures.The activities performed as jivas while in bodies of humans exclusively results in higher level or lower level births. By ignoring the injunctions and prohibitions of the Vedic scriptures the results are lower level births such as animals, reptiles, insects, plants. The adherance to the injunctions and prohibitions of the Vedic scriptures results in higher level births such as the demigods and also human births which still affords a jiva the golden opportunity to spiritually evolve and grow; sometimes even achieving moksa or liberation from material existence in their very next lifetime.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Describing the roots and branches of the asvattha or banyan tree allegorically to symbolise material existence. Lord Krishna further explains that the branches that rise upwards symbolise the higher level jivas or embodied beings such as the demigods and humans. The branches that turn downwards are lower level jivas such as animals, birds, fish and plants. The roots extend upwards to Satya loka the highest material planet of Brahma and extends downwards also into the worlds of humans where innumerable new sub-roots manifest which are the karma or reactions to actions performed by every human. The twigs are impressions from past desires and the sprouts are the desired sense objects. All parts of this tree are within prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence and are nourished by the three gunas or modes of material nature which are sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or nescience. Those lower level jivas who have degenerated into various forms of demoniac entities due to performing evil activities to others as well as degraded activities unto themselves inevitably sink into the fiery hellish worlds for aeons and aeons of atonement. Contrarily the higher level jivas who adhered to the injunctions and prohibitions of the Veidc scriptures receive meritorious births in the heavenly worlds of the demigods. Possessing the nature of good or evil each jivas karma binds them in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and is manifested in manusya the worlds of humans.
The purport is that after exhaustion of all karma and its residue of the jiva enjoying ecstatically in the heavenly worlds or suffering in misery in the hellish worlds due to either following or ignoring the injunctions and prohibitions of the Vedic scriptures. One is rewarded after death by performing meritorious deeds or punished by performing degraded deeds during each human lifetime in pursuit of pleasure and sense gratification. After hundreds of thousands of such lifetimes these desires for pleasure become deep rooted tendencies that causes subtle impressions to be imprinted upon the subtle body of the jiva who takes birth in the worlds of humans. These impressions are so resolute that subconsciously the jiva craves and seeks the same pleasures enjoyed in the previous life and performs the same and similar activities in which they had achieved fulfillment before.