Now, let us go back to the first verse of this chapter:
ūrdhva–mūlam adhaḥ–śākham aśvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam |
chandāṁsi yasya parṇāni yas taṁ veda sa veda–vit ||1|| (XV)
This world is now described. This world is a very curious world:
ūrdhva–mūlam Its roots are above: contrary to our normal trees where the roots are below, but this world has a root, but this root is above, not below; ūrdhva–mūlam adhaḥ–śākham: śākha, the branches are adhaḥ, are below. In ordinary tree the branches are above and the root is below, but this world is the contrary of it; ūrdhva–mūlam adhaḥ–śākham, that is because this world is created from high on, this world is not created by itself. This world has an origin which is higher than itself. The supreme Lord and supreme Prakriti is at the basis, is the root, the supreme is the highest: it is from there that the world proceeds downward.
It is as it were, if you look from top, you will find that the whole world is hanging downward, from above, the Supreme holds the whole world: mayā dhāryate jagat; the whole world is held by Me. He is the one who is the holder.
This is compared an Ashwattha tree: Ashwattha is ‘People tree’: ūrdhvamūlam adhaḥśākham aśvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam |, this world is inexhaustible, chandāṁsi yasya parṇāni yas taṁ veda sa vedavit ||, all the leaves of this tree…this tree has parṇāni, all the leaves of these are the chandāṁsi, are the Vedic Mantras and whoever knows this, is the knower of the Veda. Whoever knows that this world is hanging downward and whose leaves are all the Mantras of the Vedas, he himself becomes the knower of the Veda.
In this world, we come to the 2nd verse:
adhaś cordhvaṁ prasṛtās tasya śākhā: the branches are all spread out downward and upward.
adhaś cordhvaṁ prasṛtās tasya śākhā guṇa–pravṛddhā viṣaya–pravālāḥ |, but all these branches, they are griped, they are constituted by Guna, (Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas); guṇa–pravṛddhā viṣaya–pravālāḥ, all the objects of all these branches, it is full of desire: if is full of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas.
adhaś ca mūlāny anusantatāni karmānubandhīni manuṣya–loke ||2|| (XV)
These branches cast their roots…of course they are hanging from the top root, but also, these branches also cast their roots downward. Downward where? anusantatāni karmānubandhīni manuṣya–loke, they enter into human beings and they bind human beings: all the human beings are bound by the roots which have been cast by the branches of the cosmos.
This is the bandhana, the description of bandhana is beautifully given; where is bandhana? The whole world is full of parṇāni, of leaves which are hanging on the śākhā, on the branches and these branches cast their roots, they take up every individual as it were and bind every individual to the whole world, entire saṁsāra. This is the description of the bandhana, of the bondage, where is our bondage?
na rūpam asyeha tathopalabhyate nānto na cādir na ca sampratiṣṭhā |, it has no form, this whole world na rūpam asyeha, it has no form; nānto, it has no end; na cādir, it has no beginning; na ca sampratiṣṭhā, it has no foundation;
aśvattham enaṁ su–virūḍha–mūlam, this Ashwattha tree is binding us all by its branches, the roots of which have been cast below, and through those lower roots we are all bound by the various kinds of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. Now, this Ashwattha tree with its roots has to be cut asunder, chitvā; asaṅga–śastreṇa, there is one weapon by which you can cut yourself from this bondage and that is ‘non–attachment’, asaṅga–śastreṇa dṛḍhena, with a firm ‘non–attachment’, you have to cut asunder this bondage. (XV, 3)