Accomplished sages have striven to explain the nature of the world by various analogies.While some have described it as the forest of worldly life, others have represented it as the ocean of mortal existence. In a different context the same has been called the river or abyss of worldly life. Sometimes it has also been compared to the hoof of a cow. Apparently they all imply that the extension of the world is only so much as that of the senses. And the stage at last comes when even this fearsome”ocean” dries up.
In the words of revered Goswami Tulsidas Jee, the mere naming of God dries up this ocean. Yogeshwar Krishn, too, has used “ocean” and “tree” as epithets for the world. He has said that he soon delivers his loving devotees, who contemplate him-the manifest God-with firm concentration, from the gulf of the mortal world. Lord Krishn declares that the world is a tree which yogi who are seeking for the supreme goal have to cut down.
Lord Krishn sings:
“He who knows the Peepal (Fig) tree that the world is,
with its roots above and branches below
and which is said to be imperishable,
and of which Vedic verses are the foliage, is a knower of the Ved.”
The root of this everlasting Peepal-like world is the God above and its boughs are the nature below. A tree does not even last till the symbolic tomorrow, but the tree of the world is indestructible. Two things are immortal according to Lord Krishn. The first of these is the everlasting world and then beyond it there is the eternal Supreme Spirit.The Ved are said to be the leaves of this tree of the world.
The man who observes this tree well along with its root and is aware of its reality is an adept in the knowledge of Ved.
The man who has perceived the truth of the world-tree rather than one who has merely perused holy books, is a true knower of the Ved. Study of books only provides a motive for proceeding in that direction. It may well be asked at this point why the Ved are needed instead of leaves. Vedic verses, which generate well-being, are useful because they motivate from the very point when after a great deal of wandering about a Soul goes through his last birth which is like the final shoot of a tree. This is the turning point where the straying ceases and the seeker begins to proceed confidently towards God.
“Its branches nourished by the three properties extend high and low, objects of the senses are its shoots, and its action-engendering roots stretch below to the world of men.”
The boughs of sense-objects and their enjoyment, nourished and cultivated by the three properties, of the treelike world spread everywhere above and below, even going back into the earth and sprouting new shoots. They extend from the worms and insects below to the godly state and creator above, but they can bind only those who are born as men according to their past actions. All other births are only for the enjoyment of sense-objects; only human birth is subject to bondage in keeping with action. And-
“Since its form is not to be seen here as such
and it has neither an end nor a beginning,
nor a secure foundation, this immensely-grown tree should be cut down
with the axe of renunciation.”
The world-tree does not have a firm existence because it is changeable. So it has to be felled with the axe of total abandonment. It has to be cut down, not worshiped as it usually is because of the superstitious assumption that God resides in the roots of this tree and that its leaves are the Ved.
However, since this tree has grown from God’s own seed, can it be cut down? In fact, the meaning of this cutting down is escape from nature which is accomplished by renunciation.
Lord Krishn sings:
“Then that goal should be sought for,
after arriving at which one does not have to turn back again,
with a sense of total submission to that primal God
whence all worldly life is born.”
But how to effect the quest for this God? The Yogeshwar lays down that self-surrender is an essential condition for it. There should be the feeling that “I am at the mercy of God”-the Infinite Being from whom the primordial world-tree has sprouted and grown. This tree cannot be cut down without seeking shelter under him. Lord Krishn then speaks about the signs from which one may realize that the tree has been cut down.
“Men of knowledge who are free from vanity and delusion,
victorious against the evil of infatuation,
ever-abiding in the Supreme Spirit, total devoid of desire,
and liberated from the contradictions of joy and grief,
achieve the eternal goal.”
The destruction of vanity, delusion, infatuation, desire and of the contradictions of pleasure and pain is possible only by complete self-surrender to and abiding constantly in God. Only through this do men of true wisdom attain to the eternal state.
The world-tree cannot be severed without this attainment and renunciation is needed up to this point.
~Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans~