The Inverted Banyan tree (A Sequel to my Upanayanam Blog)

In my blog on ‘Upanayanam Explained’, I had illustrated the inverted banyan tree and the ‘Urdhva Mulam” sloka in Bhagavad Gita in the context of nAndi ceremony. Many people couldn’t connect the two. Here is a brief explanation of the connection.

sri-bhagavan uvaca
urdhva-mulam adhah-sakham
asvattham prahur avyayam
chandamsi yasya parnani
yas tam veda sa veda-vit

Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita “Roots upward, branch downwards is a tree, whose leaves are the intelligent beings.”

adhas cordhvam prasrtas 
tasya sakha
guna-pravrddha visaya-pravalah
adhas ca mulany anusantatani
karmanubandhini manusya-loke

“Nourished by the three gunas (Satvik, Rajas, Tamas), the branches grow downwards and upwards on which sprouts the biological ‘senses’ (from which intelligence matures).  Depending on the actions of human society, the roots (from which the tree evolves) also grows downwards to support further evolution of intelligence”

na rupam asyeha tathopalabhyate
nanto na cadir na ca sampratistha

asvattham enam su-virudha-mulam

“The real form of this tree, its beginning, end, its foundation can never be perceived completely “

asanga-sastrena drdhena chittva

tatah padam tat parimargitavyam
yasmin gata na nivartanti bhuyah

tam eva cadyam purusam prapadye

yatah pravrttih prasrta purani

“Independent studies that cut-down in-depth has to search that one from where nothing comes back again and arrive at the original purusha from where our origins/beginnings extended way back in time”.


From the above it is clear that Krishna is depicting the Universe as the Banyan tree. The root of the tree is Atman, as according to Aitareya Upanishad, Atman only existed in the beginning before anything existed.


Atman then decided to ‘realize itself’ and began the evolutionary process according to Nasadiya Suktam. It started evolving and hence is also called ‘Brahman’ (one that evolves).


Nasadiya Suktam says the one then became two (they got split). Their contents fused and the devas evolved. Brhadaranya Upanishad also depicts the same thing in a different way. But this process of evolution is actually well described in Aitareya Upanishad.


We all know Devas are the Adityas, Rudras and the Vasus. I had mapped them to Chemical elements born out of stellar evolution (Adityas), eleven forces of physics (Rudras) and the eight biological factors (Vasus) that evolve senses and intelligence in several of my blogs.


Krishna also talks about the evolution of beings of senses as the ‘sprouts’ and beings of intelligence as the ‘leaf’ in these slokas as described above.


The banyan tree is is the tree of the Universe, where the root is the Atman/Brahman, located deep inside the origins of Universe. The forces, chemical elements, biological beings evolve one on another as branches, sprouts and leaves evolve in a tree.


We the intelligent beings are at the leaf and if we look upwards at the origins of Universe where the root is located, through the forces of physics, chemistry and biology it is an inverted banyan tree.


Our Sastras do not see  death as an instantaneous change or ‘stoppage of life-breath (pranan)”. They see death as a process of transformation of a living biological beings into Vasus, Rudras and then ultimately Adityas. The Srardha procedures prescribed are to ‘symbolize’ this journey that happens through the process of death.


This simply means the biological living beings on death, become biological factors (vasus) and then further merge into forces of physics. Then they further merge into the elements of stellar evolution.


This journey according to sastras happen in succession of generations. If one generation of piturs (ancestors) become vasus, the previous one become rudras and the previous to previous one become Adityas. Such piturs are called asrumukha piturs.


The generations before the three generations become part of Atman or Brahman. Such piturs are called Nandimukha piturs. They have become part of the Atma.


In other words, from Atma, which is the ROOT of the tree, evolves devas (Adityas, Rudras) which are the branches of the tree, from which the shoots/senses (vasus) sprout and from which the intelligent beings evolve.


And where is this root located..? Krishna says it is way back in time. Modern science also says the same.


Modern science says BigBang happened way back in time and if we peep into the origins of Unvierse, it is way back in time. Modern science also exactly depicts the same evolutionary path that Gita and Upanishads talk about.


We, the humans are at the leaf of this tree and when we look up we see the root of the tree above us in the cosmic origins. Our piturs/ancestors have become part of nature and ancestors before 3 generations have become part of Brahman.


While we evolve from Atma in the process of life, we go back to it in the process of death.



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