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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. III - The Basic Works > DISCOURSES ON THE GITA > Chapter XV
The Lord said, 'This world is like an ashvattha (sacred fig) tree with roots above and branches below and with the Vedic hymns as its leaves. And he who knows it knows the Vedas. The branches of this cosmic tree nourished by the qualities 'shoot to heaven and sink to earth' (Sir Edwin Arnold). Sense objects are its sprouts. It is these things of the senses which bind the soul with the bonds of karma in the world of men.
'The real nature of this tree cannot be known here, nor its beginning, nor end, nor foundation.
'This strongly rooted cosmic tree should be cut down with the weapon of non-co-operation, so that the soul may rise to a higher world from which there is no return to the world of mortals. With this end in view a man should engage himself in the constant worship of the Ancient of Days, from whom all this activity (the cosmic process) seems to flow. The wise man who is free from pride and delusion, victorious over the vice of attachment and devoted to the Supreme Soul, who is free from cravings and to whom pleasure and pain are alike,—that wise man reaches the state which is beyond all change, and which does not need to be illumined by the sun, the moon or fire. That is My supreme abode.
'An eternal part of Myself transformed into the individual soul in this world draws to itself the senses including the mind which reside in matter. When the soul enters the body or leaves it, it takes these senses with it even as the wind carries fragrance from its places. It enjoys sense objects with the help of the ear, the eye, the senses of touch and taste, the nose and the mind. The ignorant cannot recognize it as it goes or stays or enjoys itself under the influence of the qualities, but the sages see it with the eye of wisdom. Striving- yogis see it living in their own bodies, but those who have not achieved evenness of temper cannot see it even if they try.
'The light of the sun that illumines all the world, that which is in the moon and in fire,—know that all that light is Mine. Permeating the soil I sustain all living beings. I become the sap-producing moon and feed the plants. Becoming the fire of life in the bodies of all living creatures and being united with the life breaths, I digest the four kinds of food. I abide in all hearts. From Me are memory and wisdom as well as their absence. I am that which is to be known by all the Vedas. So also I am the author of Vedanta and the knower of the Vedas.
'There may be said to be two kinds of personalities in this world, namely kshara (the perishable) and a- kshara (the imperishable). The perishable is all beings; and the imperishable is I who inspire them, and am the same forever. But beyond either is the highest spirit who is called the Supreme Soul, and who, pervading all, sustains the three worlds. This too is I. I therefore transcend the perishable and even the imperishable, and am known in the world as well as in the Vedas as the supreme reality. The wise man who recognises Me as such knows all that need be known, and serves Me with his whole being.
'O sinless Arjuna, I have told you this most secret teaching. By knowing this a man becomes truly wise and reaches the shores of salvation.'