May 29, 2015

Sutra 1.25. Ishvara and the world tree. The metaphysics of plato

The line 25 of Yoga Sutras compares Ishvara with a seed that contains omniscience (sarva-jnana-bidja):

तत्र निरतिशयं सार्वज्ञबीजम् ॥ २५॥
1. 25. tatra niratiśayaṃ sārva-jña-bījam 
1. 25. In Him [Ishvara] is the complete manifestation of the seed of omniscience. [Engl. transl. by Swami Satchidananda – translator’s note].

This happens to be in a remarkable manner aligned with an amazing line from Katha Upanishad:

3.3.1. “This is that eternal Ashvattha Tree with roots above and branches below. That indeed is the pure. That is Brahman. That alone is the immortal. In It, all worlds are contained, and none goes beyond”.
[Engl. transl. by Swami Krishnananda – translator’s note].

From this line a well-educated reader shall easily read the connotation of shamanistic World Tree. And he shall be undoubtedly right. Yet… Why is this tree described as upside down? Or, better say, with its roots up? The answer of the Indian pandits goes like this: because the source, the “seed” of Everything is Ishvara that is atop. And this answer bridges the lines of Katha Upanishad and Yoga Sutras. But this is not the only case. When considered better, these lines appear to embrace the basic idea of Plato about the world of Eide that comes as the aggregate of “absolute and perfect samples of possible things”. Isn’t this a seed?

“The mode of being for eidos in this case is its ability to be embodied and the fact of its embodiment in numerous things in accordance with its functional structure of the sample, the specie and the idea proper”. And here it is, the World Tree. With its roots above… 

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