“This manifest world is likened to an eternal pipal tree, if the tree were to have its roots above and its branches below. In the deepest roots of this tree lives the brahman; it is the deathless. All the worlds are sustained in it. None can transcend it.”
“This, is that.”
“The entire universe has emerged out of this ultimate reality and all life functions within this. Those who know this ultimate reality to be fearsome as a thunderbolt set to strike become the deathless ones. They become free from the cycle of birth and death.”
“The heat of fire is because of this divine dread, the shine of the sun is because of this divine dread; Indra, Vayu and the gods of death, all five do their work because of this divine dread.”
“If one can realize the divine while still in human form, before the body has returned to the earth, it is well; else he will wander aimlessly through many worlds and many species, for millennia.”
“This, is that.”
A tree that stands near the bank of a lake will be reflected in the lake upside-down. The branches of the tree that spread near the bank of the lake are pointing towards the sky and its roots spread down within the earth, but the reflection will be reversed. In the reflection the roots will point upwards and the branches will point downwards. All reflection is in reverse; reflection is never straight. If we keep this scientific fact in mind then it will be easy to understand this sutra: when things are seen they are seen in the reverse of how they actually are, because seeing is only a reflection.
The eye is also a mirror: only reflections are made on the eye and the reflections are always in reverse. It is also true that this world is not as you see it. The laws of the world are just the opposite of what they seem to be.
Appearances are the exact opposite of the reality. On the basis of this fundamental understanding, Indian seers have used a very old symbol. That symbol is mentioned in this sutra:
“This manifest world is likened to an eternal pipal tree, if the tree were to have its roots above and its branches below. In the roots of this tree lives the brahman; it is the deathless.”
“This manifest world is likened to an eternal pipal tree, if the tree were to have its roots above and its branches below….” Normally, a tree has its roots at the bottom and its branches at the top. But in this sutra Yama is saying that in this other dimension, roots grow upwards and branches grow downwards. The truth of existence is just the opposite of what is seen by us in this manifest world. And this is the case in all different aspects of life.