SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
aśvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam
chandāṁsi yasya parṇāni
yas taṁ veda sa veda-vit
The Blessed Lord continued :—
‘With root above and branches below, they speak of an Aśvattha Tree1 indestructible, of which the leaves are the Vedas. Whoso knows this knows the Vedas.’
Samsāra is emblematized as the Tree Aśvattha, with root above and branches below. Its indestructible or everlasting nature is declared in the Śrutis thus:
‘Whoso, now, knows this Tree, of root above and branches below,’3 etc., etc.,
The Tree is said to have the root above, since the four-faced Brahmā (the Demiurge of the Brahmāṇḍa, or a mundane egg) is seated above the seven4 worlds. It is said to have branches below since on earth below, are all its denizens, man, animals, beasts, worms, insects, moths, plants etc.
It is said to be indestructible, (avyayam) or never-ending like a stream flowing for ever, or a Tree which cannot be felled, till the dawning of spiritual illumination which would wean one from (material) clingings.
Chhandāmsi= the Śrutis=the Vedas, which are said to be the Tree’s leaves, since the Tree of Samsara flourishes in proportion to the performance of Śruti-enjoined kāmya-karmas (or works performed with a view to obtain material pleasures). Such as are declared in:
‘The desirer of riches (prosperity) shall sacrifice a white (victim) for Vāyu(-deva).’5
‘The desirer of offspring shall oblate to Indra-Agni in eleven cups (or dishes=kapāla)6 etc.
Leaves are supposed to be instrumental in preserving trees.
Whoso has the knowledge of this aforesaid Tree is the knower of the Vedas, since the Vedas teach the way how to fell the Tree. He is called the knower of the Vedas, since a knowledge of the nature of this destruction-worthy Tree, is essential as giving the knowledge necessary for felling the same.
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