The Axe of Non-Attachment

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

This inverted tree is nourished by the waters of the three gunas. The emergence of new leaves and flowers is like the budding of desires. When the three gunas water and nourish them, they sprout and each represents one vishaya, object of desire. The branches of the tree are spread in all directions and each represents a life form in creation. A person can be caught in the branches without being able to liberate himself. He is caught due to the bondage of karmas and attraction to the objects of desire.

This cosmic tree has no beginning or end as the source from which it is coming is eternal. If you want to free yourself from the bondage of karma and the branches of the cosmic tree, then you have to cut down the tree, and it can only be cut with a sharp instrument like an axe. That axe is non-attachment.

Cutting down this firmly rooted peepal tree with the strong weapon of non-attachment, one should seek that supreme state; once having reached this state, one never returns, saying, “I seek refuge in that Primeval Purusha from whom this ancient creation has streamed forth.” (15:3-4)

The axe has to be of non-attachment. If you can make sure that you are not attached to the objects of pleasure and can maintain your equanimity, you will be able to cut down the tree in which you are caught and liberate yourself.