The Pipal Tree

by Swami Hariharananda Giri

Excerpt from a talk given in the New York ashram, July 1978

There are three main scriptures of Hinduism: the Vedas, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. If anyone reads the Bhagavad Gita and meditates and applies its instructions in their daily lives, then surely, although they are remaining as human beings, they will achieve constant salvation. You can remain in the world and yet constantly abide with God. That is Self-realization.

These three scriptures are called prasthana trayi which means that having read these books you can achieve constant salvation. Through every inhalation you will get constant awareness, and you will experience God in the whole universe, even in your gross body and the material world.

The Bhagavad Gita spoken by Lord Krishna gives everything you need for Self-realization. How you sit, eat, talk, behave, fight with evil propensities, how the good qualities are remaining in your body and how the soul should be sought through every activity. You needn't require any other books. The Lord Himself appeared as the incarnation of Lord Krishna. He also appeared in the West as Jesus. He appeared as a supreme person.

The human body is a tree

This human body is just like a tree. The tree's root remains inside the earth and the tree remains above the earth, you can see it. This body tree has a root, which symbolizes the soul but it points skyward, inside the cranium and is hidden. The soul is your psychological and philosophical force, knowledge, consciousness, superconsciousness are there inside. The root, that is, the soul, is the principal part of the tree. But the tree is also a vital part of the root because in the tree exists a trunk where there are so many branches and leaves. Similarly, in the body-tree, there is a trunk, with branches of limbs and blood vessels and leaves of skin.

It is said that the root is remaining inside the head, inside the cranium, where God is abiding in the pituitary and fontanel in a formless stage. From that place the whole tree is functioning. The human tree is inverted compared to the trees we see growing. The whole trunk and all the branches and leaves are remaining downwards. We have our material sense below the cranium and we are absorbed in the material world of delusion, illusion, and error. That truth, the root, which is allowing the entire body to function, is covered by the veil of nature's splendors. This tree is called the Pipal tree.

This body tree may unexpectedly become involved in an accident on the street. You may get heart trouble, you may get thrombosis, you may get food poisoning, you may die at any moment. This body tree is perishable. At any moment you body may be destroyed. This is why you should not keep anything for tomorrow. You are to know God now, to meditate, and to achieve super-sensation in the body tree. That sensation will come in the body tree but if the body is not there you will not know it.

The soul is indestructible. As we put on new clothing, similarly, the body will perish and again we will get a new body. The soul is there inside the body, inside the cranium, but the body, once it has died, is also remaining in the universal tree.

The tree takes food from the air by the leaves. If you cut off the leaves of the coconut tree or a palm tree, the tree will not survive, although the root remains. So this body tree is engrossed in the material world. We get energy from the food grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk. We also have so many dispositions which function by the soul abiding in the cranium. If the root doesn't remain, if the soul does not remain inside the body, you cannot enjoy the material world. The word for the Pipal tree in Sanskrit is ashvattha. A means no, sva means future, tha means existence. Together they mean that no one knows whether their existence will continue tomorrow.

The Vedas are active within you

We are always seeking the imperishable soul. In the Vedas the truth is remaining there, there are many verses which are spoken by the mouth. As I am saying many important things from my mouth but I cannot speak if the root doesn't remain inside the cranium, so the soul is talking from within. So it is the talk of God.

In each of your dispositions you are getting four qualities of Vedas: Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Artharva Veda. The Bhagavad Gita 15:1 says: chhandamsi yasya parnani, which means that although the body is not staying until tomorrow (it is perishable), the soul is imperishable. The body may die but the soul cannot die. Suppose you are thirsty. The invisible soul whispers that you are thirsty, that is Rig Veda. You ask for water. The request entered the brain from the soul, from the root, remaining invisible inside the cranium, and forced the mouth to ask for a cup of water that is Yajur Veda. The water came, you drank the water, that is Sama Veda. Then your thirst disappears, that is Atharva Veda. So in our every thought, in passion, anger, in avarice, in greediness, in whatever is coming to your mind, it is coming with four steps, four Vedas. You are getting satisfaction the entire day and night in the material world by the invisible soul, God. The power of God is remaining in the cranium.

The root is there in the soul. The root is evolving you, He is evolving the tree remaining inside the ground, taking in water and gradually growing upwards every day, every moment, every month in every year. The main root is going straight down, deepest into the earth; that is spiritual consciousness.

But other roots are spread out near the surface all around the tree. These are like our social consciousness, they protect the tree from falling in bad weather, to criminal temptations, and viciousness. All the roots are remaining below the ground. Because all the roots are fixed just below the ground they are also giving some knowledge.

If we meditate and remain inside the cranium and feel that He is whispering and talking from within, His talk is coming like the four Vedas and giving us satisfaction. The man is wise who knows that we are like the Pipal tree, and that the whole body is functioning, getting peace, joy and bliss according to His guidance from the root. Whatever we are doing, we are doing it with joy. That joy is the joy of God. If you feel it always, one thought and then another, you are getting satisfaction and you are evolving. The thought is given by Him and it is the thought of God, the talk of God. He is functioning from the invisible soul. Although you are in the physical form, you will perceive the formless stage and will feel extreme divineness through your every propensity. The person who knows this will get salvation.

There are two aspects of the body tree. Below the cranium are the negative qualities: pride, anger, greed, and cruelty. If you meditate and if you feel that you may die in the next moment, then you can get constant awareness of the Self and love for God because He is constantly inhaling. Gradually your love will increase. The soul is very kind. He is abiding within you and with His permission you are doing everything. When you are aware of this, your mind will be balanced, you will get constant awareness of the Self, amity and affection. You may perceive two things, body and soul but the union of body and soul is yoga.

The five ministers

In the scriptures it is written that we are all blind kings. The king of the whole body is blind because we are not after soul. That is King Dhritarashtra from the Mahabharata. dhrita means conductor, rashtra means the body kingdom. So the body kingdom, Dhritarashtra, is engrossed in the material world and that is why we call it the blind king.

We are always engrossed in how to obtain all things, how to snatch all things, wanting to be the monarch. What is the result of all our evil propensities? We will get many troubles, anxieties, and diseases - these are the fruits of evil.

Also it is written that in this body tree there are good qualities. We have five centers in the spinal canal. The first three are the cervical center, which is education; the dorsal, which is controlling the administration by inhalation; and the lumbar, the food minister. We think that the food is going in the stomach and we are getting energy but in reality, the food is digested by the soul through inhalation and from this we are getting energy, strength, life force and everything. Through that life force, if we go in the ascending order, then we can fight with evil propensities. The last two centers are the sacral, the irrigation minister, giving help to create family and the coccygeal center, the agricultural minister that cultivates the life force and awakens the power which rises from the bottom and goes directly to the body kingdom. The soul is also in the remaining. He is the king of the body. He has five ministers, the five centers of the spinal canal. The soul is remaining inside the cranium: that is where the Divine Kingdom can be found.

In the cervical center is the knowledge body, minister of Lord Krishna. The minister of Lord Krishna is very educated. He is conducting the whole body tree and the whole tree is perceiving the knowledge body. Not delusion, illusion and error, but the perception of God. With the knowledge, consciousness and super consciousness remains in the cervical center up to the fontanel. Spirituality is there.

Arjuna was fighting, remaining in the navel center. If you take food you will get strength, then you will get power within you. You can fight with the evil propensities as Arjuna fought with evil people. So Arjuna is the main force of the body, holding the body in the proper way.

We are inhaling. That is our life. If you feel that air is life and you can control your heart center, then you will progress upwards. You will get to the root and know that the power of God is there, the soul is there, inside the cranium.

All human beings are born by the sex pleasure but without the soul you cannot perceive the sex pleasure or sex sense. We are living souls. So if we meditate, then although we are remaining in the sacral center, in the sex sense, still the soul is not attached to the sex sense but is remaining compassionately detached. The soul, the root, is remaining on the top, inside the cranium. The divine kingdom is there. God is there. You will know your physical body, also you will feel that without soul the physical body cannot do any work.

The psychological body, the knowledge body, is there so that you will think of God and get peace, bliss and joy even though you are remaining in the material world. He is always with you in your material body and soul. So the more you meditate, the more calmness you will get. Calmness is divineness. You will get seclusion, which is the base of Self-realization, and that will allow you to judge what is right and what is wrong. Then in every moment of your life you will get salvation, liberation, and Self-realization.

So it is written in the Bhagavad Gita 15:1 yas tam veda sa vedavit. "The man who really perceives this truth is the real knower of Brahma, or soul."

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