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Essence of the Chhandogya Upanishad

by Swami Sivananda

1. Hari Om! May my limbs, speech, Prana, eye, ear, strength and all my senses grow vigorous. All (everything) is the Brahman of the Upanishads. May I never deny Brahman. May Brahman never spurn me. May there be no denial of Brahman. May there be no spurning by the Brahman. Let all the virtues recited by the Upanishads repose in me, delighting in the Atman! May they in me repose!

Om Peace! Peace!! Peace!!!

Unitary Origin of Phenomena

2. Just as by a single clod of clay all that is made of clay is known, all modification being only a name, but the truth being that all is clay;

3. Just as by a single nugget of gold, all that is made of gold is known, the difference being only a name arising from speech, but the truth being that all is gold;

4. Just as by the knowledge of a single pair of scissors, all that is made of iron is known, all modifications being only a name based upon words, but the truth being that all is iron;

5. Thus is that instruction by which we hear what cannot be heard, by which we perceive what cannot be perceived, by which we know what cannot be known.

6. In the beginning, all this was Pure Being, One without a second.

7. It thought: 'May I be many, may I grow forth.' It created fire.

8. The fire thought: 'May I be many, may I grow forth.' It created water. Therefore, whenever anybody is hot, he perspires and water is produced on him from fire alone.

9. The water willed: 'May I be many, may I grow forth.' It created food. Therefore, whenever it rains anywhere, food is then produced. From water alone eatable food is produced.

10. The being thought: 'Well, may I enter into all these three things with this living self (Jivatma). Let me appear under different names and forms.'

He made each of these tripartite.

The Tri-Colour Analysis

11. The red colour of the sun is the colour of fire. The white colour of water. The black of the earth. Thus vanishes what we call the sun, being only a modification which is a mere name based upon words, the only truth being that there are three elements. So are moon, lightning, fire, etc., mere combinations of these elements.

12. Knowing this the ancient knowers of the Vedas, knew all. For everything is just these three things alone.

13. Whatever appeared red, they knew it to be the colour of fire. Whatever appeared white, they knew it to be the colour of water. Whatever appeared black, they knew it to be the colour of earth.

14. Whatever appeared to be unknown, they knew it to be a combination of these three.

15. Now learn from me how those three Devatas, when they reach man, become each of them tripartite.

16. Food, when eaten, becomes threefold: the grossest part becomes faeces; the middle part flesh and its subtlest part mind.

17. Water, when drunk, becomes threefold: Its grossest part becomes urine, its middle part blood and its subtlest part Prana.

18. Fire (i.e., in oil, butter, etc.) when eaten becomes threefold: its grossest part becomes bone, its middle part marrow and its subtlest part speech. When food that is eaten is led away by water, there is hunger. When water that is drunk is led away by fire, there is thirst.

Tat Tvam Asi

19. Learn from me, the true nature of sleep.

20. When a man sleeps here, he becomes united with pure being; he is gone to his own Self.

21. Therefore people say he sleeps (Svapiti), because he is gone (Apiti) to his own (Sva).

22. All these creatures have their root in Being. They dwell in Being. They rest in Being.

23. When a man departs from hence, his speech is merged in the mind, his mind in Prana his Prana in fire, and fire in the Highest Being.

24. That which is the subtle essence (the root of all), in that all that exists has its Self; that is the Truth. That is the self, that thou art, O Svetaketu!

25. Just as bees make honey by collecting the juices of distant trees and then reduce the juice to one uniform fluid, and as these juices have no discrimination so that they might say; I am the juice of this tree, or that tree. In the same manner, all these creatures, when they have reached the Being, do not know that they have reached the Being. That which is the subtle essence of all, in that all exists. That is the truth. That is the Self. That thou art.

26. Some rivers flow to the east; others to the west. They become one with the sea. They become the sea. And, just as these rivers, when they are in the sea, do not know: I am this river or that; in the same manner, these creatures, when they have come from the Being, do not know that they have come from the Truth. That which is the subtle essence, in that all that exists has its Being. That is the truth. That is the self that thou art.

27. If someone cuts a branch of a tree, it would bleed, but it would live. Pervaded by the living self, the tree stands firm, drinking in nourishment and rejoicing. But if the life (the living Self) leaves one of its branches that branch withers; and if it leaves the whole tree, the whole tree withers. Similarly, this body dies when the living Self has left it, the living Self dies not. That which is the subtle essence of all, in that all that exists has its Being. That is the Truth. That is the self that thou art.

28. That subtle essence which you do not perceive in a tiny Nyagrodha (banyan) seed grows into the great Nyagrodha tree. Similarly, That which is the subtle essence of all, in That all that exists has its Being. That is the Truth. That is the Self. That Thou art.

29. Just as when you add salt to a tumbler of water, you do not perceive it; but it is there, all the same; even so, in this body, though you do not perceive the Sat or Pure Being, it exists. That which is the subtle essence of all, in That all that exists has its Being. That is the Truth. That is the Self. That Thou art.

30. Suppose a person is brought away blind-folded from his native land and left in a foreign country. He realises that he has been so brought, and is told by a kind-hearted man that his native land lay in a particular direction. He proceeds in that direction and enquiring from village to village, reaches his home. Even so, the seeker, with the help of the Guru, understands his destination and arrives at the Truth. That which is the subtle essence in all, in That all that exists has its Being. That is the Truth. That is the Self. That Thou Art.

31. When a man is dying, his relatives surround him and ask: Do you recognise me? He does. But when his speech is merged in his mind, his mind in breath, breath in fire, and fire in the Highest Being, then he knows them not. That which is the subtle essence of all, in That all that exists has its being. That is the Truth. That is the Self. That Thou Art.

32. Suppose a man is charged with committing theft and is brought before the Magistrate. The heated axe is held before him. He holds it. If he has committed the theft and denies it, his hand is burnt. But if he is truthful, he is not burnt. As that (truthful) man is not burnt, thus has all that exists has that as its Self. That is the Truth. That is the Self. That Thou Art.

33. Thus instructed? Svetaketu understood the Truth.

Steps to Infinite Bliss

34. Narada approached Sanatkumara and said: Teach me, Sir.

35. Sanatkumara said: Please tell me first what you already know.

36. Narada replied: O Lord! I know the four Vedas. I know the Itihasa-Purana, grammar, all Sastras, all sciences and all the arts. But, sir, I am only like one who knows many words. I am not a knower of the Self. I have heard from great ones like you that he who knows the Self overcomes grief. And I am in grief. Do help me over this grief of mine.

37. Sanatkumara said to him: Whatever you have studied is only a name. Meditate on the Name. He who meditates on the Name as Brahman, becomes independent as far as the Name reaches.

38. Speech is greater than Name. Speech makes us understand the Vedas, etc.

39. If there were no speech, neither right nor wrong could be known; neither the true nor the false, neither the good nor the bad, neither the pleasant nor the unpleasant. Meditate on Speech.

40. He who meditates on Speech as Brahman becomes independent as far as speech reaches.

41. Mind is greater than speech. Mind holds within it both Name and speech.

42. When one wishes in his mind to read the Veda, he reads it. When he wishes in his mind to perform actions, he performs them.

43. Mind is the world. Mind is the Self indeed. Mind is Brahman. Meditate on the Mind.

44. He who meditates on the Mind as Brahman becomes independent as far as the Mind reaches.

45. Will is greater than the Mind. For, when a man wills, he thinks in his mind, then he sends forth speech, and then he utters it in name. All these are therefore centred in will, consist of will and abide in will. Meditate on Will.

46. He who meditates on Will as Brahman, he being himself permanent, firm and undistressed, obtains the permanent, renowned and undistressed worlds appointed for him. He is independent as far as Will reaches.

47. Intelligence is greater than will. For, when a man understands, then he wills, then he thinks in his mind, then he sends forth speech, and then he sends it forth in a name.

48. All these centre in intelligence, consist of intelligence, and abide in intelligence.

49. Therefore, if a man is unintelligent, even if he possesses much learning, people say of him, he is nothing.

50. If a man is intelligent, even though he knows but little, to him indeed do people listen gladly.

51. Intelligence is the centre of all these. Intelligence is their Self. Intelligence is their support. Meditate on Intelligence.

52. He who meditates on Intelligence as Brahman, is independent as far as intelligence reaches.

53. Meditation is greater than Intelligence.

54. The earth meditates, as it were: and thus do the sky, the heaven, water, the mountains, gods and men. Therefore, those who among men obtain greatness here on earth, appear to have obtained a share of meditation.

55. While small and vulgar people are always quarrelling, abusing and slandering, great men seem to have obtained a share of meditation.

56. Meditate on meditation. He who meditates on meditation as Brahman, becomes independent as far as meditation reaches.

57. Knowledge is greater than meditation.

58. Through knowledge you know the Vedas and Sastras, arts and sciences.

59. Meditate on Knowledge. He who meditates on Knowledge as Brahman, obtains the worlds of the knowing and the wise; he becomes independent as far as knowledge reaches.

60. Power is greater than knowledge.

61. One powerful man shakes a hundred men of knowledge. If a man is powerful, he rises. If he rises, he visits wise people and by following them, he sees, hears, reflects, understands, acts and knows.

62. By power the earth stands. By power stand the sky, the heaven, the mountains, gods and men, cattle and animals down to ants, and worms. By power the world stands firm.

63. Meditate on power. He who meditates on Power as Brahman, becomes independent, as far as power reaches.

64. Food is greater than power. If a man abstains from food for ten days, though he lives, he is unable to see, hear, reflect, understand, act and know.

65. Meditate on Food. He who meditates on food as Brahman, obtains the worlds rich in food and drink. He is independent as far as the food reaches.

66. Water is greater than food. If there is no sufficient rain, the vital spirits are troubled and then there will be less food.

67. It is only water that has assumed different formsearth, sky, heaven, mountains, gods, men and beasts, down to ants and worms.

68. Meditate on water. He who meditates on water as Brahman obtains all wishes and gets satisfaction. He becomes independent as far as water reaches.

69. Fire is greater than water.

70. Through the medium of air, it warms the ether. Then people say: It is hot, it burns, it will rain. Thus does fire, after exhibiting this sign itself first, create water.

71. Thus again, thunderings come with lightning, flashing upward and across the sky. Then people say: There is lightning and thunder; it will rain. Then also does fire, after showing this sign first, create water.

72. Meditate on fire. He who meditates on fire as Brahman, being resplendent himself, obtains resplendent worlds, full of light and free from darkness; he becomes independent as far as fire reaches.

73. Ether (Akasa) is greater than fire. For, in the Akasa exists both sun and moon, the lightning, stars and fire. Through the Akasa we call, through the Akasa we hear, through the Akasa we answer.

74. In the Akasa all things are born; and towards Akasa all things grow.

75. Meditate on Akasa. He who meditates on Akasa as Brahman, obtains extensive worlds, full of light, free from the troubles of overgrowing, wide, and spacious; he becomes independent as far as Akasa reaches.

76. Memory is greater than Akasa. Where many are assembled together, if they have no memory, they would not hear anyone, they would not think, they would not know.

77. Meditate on memory. He who meditates on memory as Brahman, becomes independent so far as his memory reaches.

78. Hope is greater than memory. Fried by hope does memory read the Mantras, perform sacrifices, desires sons and cattle, desire this world and the next.

79. Meditate on hope. He who meditates on hope as Brahman, all his desires are fulfilled by Hope. His prayers are never vain. He becomes independent so far as hope reaches.

80. Prana is greater than hope. Just as the spokes of the wheel are fastened to the nave, so is everything fastened to the Prana.

81. Prana is the father. Prana is the Mother. Prana is the brother. Prana is the sister. Prana is the teacher. Prana is Brahman.

82. If one says anything harsh to his father, mother etc. then people say: Shame on thee! Thou has offended thy father, etc. But if after the Prana has departed from them, even if one were to burn them together, by a poker, they would not say: Thou hast killed thy father, mother, etc.

83. Prana is verily all these. He who sees thus, thinks thus and knows thus, becomes an Ativadin.

84. But verily he is an Ativadin who declares the Highest Being to be the Truth.

85. One should desire to know the Truth.

86. When one understands the Truth, then only one desires the Truth.

87. When one thinks, then he understands.

88. When one has faith, then he thinks.

89. When one attends on his teacher, then one has faith.

90. When one performs all sacred duties (control of the senses and concentration of the mind), then only one attends really on a teacher.

91. When one obtains Bliss then he does his duties.

92. The Infinite is Bliss. There is no bliss in anything finite.

93. Where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing elsethat is the Infinite.

94. Where, however, one sees something else, hears something else, understands something else that is the finite.

95. That which is Infinite is Immortal. That which is finite is mortal.

96. The Infinite is indeed below, above, behind, before, to the right, and to the left. It is indeed all this.

97. He who sees thus, thinks thus, and understands thus, loves the Self, delights in the Self, enjoys the company of the Self. and rejoices in the Self; he becomes the Svarat (Self-king); he becomes independent in all the worlds.

98. But those who know otherwise, are ruled by others and live in perishable worlds; and they become dependent in all the worlds.

99. For one who sees thus, thinks thus and understands thus, Prana springs from the Self; hope springs from the Self; memory springs from the Self; so do Akasa, fire, water, etc. Everything springs from the Self for him.

100. He who sees thus, sees not death, nor disease nor pain; he who sees thus, sees everything, and obtains everything, everywhere.

101. When food is pure, the inner nature becomes purified. When the inner nature has been purified, the memory becomes firm. And when the memory of the Highest Self remains firm, then all the ties which bind man to belief in anything (but the Atman) are loosened.

The Three States and Beyond

102. Prajapati said: The Self or Atman which is free from sin, free from old age, free from death, free from grief, free from hunger and thirst, with true desires (Satyakama) and true will (Satya Sankalpa), that it is which we must search out, that it is which we must try to understand.

103. He who has sought after this Self and understands It, obtains all worlds and all desires.

104. Indra, chief of Devas, and Virochana, chief among Asuras, went to Prajapatji, with fuel in hands, as was the custom for pupils approaching their Guru.

105. They dwelt there as religious students observing the vow of celibacy for a period of thirty-two years.

106. When questioned by Prajapati, they said: It is with the purpose of knowing the Self that we have dwelt here.

107. Prajapati said: The person that is seen in the eye, that is the Self. This is the Immortal, the Fearless. This is Brahman.

108. They asked: Sir, He that is perceived in the water, and He that is seen in the mirror which of these is That?

109. He said: He himself indeed is seen in all these.

110. They went away satisfied. Virochana with a satisfied heart went to the Asura and preached this doctrine to them. The body alone is to be worshipped (as the Self).

111. Therefore, they call even now a man who does not give alms here, who has no faith, and offers no sacrifices, an Asura, for this is the doctrine of the Asura.

112. But Indra, before he had returned to the Devas, experienced this difficulty: As this body (seen in the water) is well adorned when the body is well dressed, well cleaned when the body is well-cleaned, that Self will also be blind, if the body is blind, and will perish in fact as soon as the body perishes. Therefore, I see no good in this doctrine.

113. He returned to Prajapati who asked him to remain with him for another thirty-two years.

114. At the end of this period, Prajapati said to Indra: He moves about happy in dreams, He is the Self, the Immortal, the Fearless, this is Brahman.

115. Once again, Indra went away, but found this difficulty: Thou the dream self is not blind when the body is blind, not one-eyed, when this body is one eyed, nor is it destroyed by the destruction of the body, yet they kill it, as it were. It becomes even conscious of pain and sheds tears, Therefore, I see no good in this.

116. Again he returned to Prajapati and remained with him for another period of thirty-two years.

117. At the end of this period, Prajapati said to Indra: When a man, being asleep, reposing, and at perfect rest, sees no dreams, that is the Self, that is the Immortal, the Fearless, that is Brahman.

118. Once again Indra went away, but returned with this difficulty: In truth he does not rightly know himself as 'This is I' nor does he know these beings. He is gone to utter annihilation. I see no good in this.

119. At Prajapati's command, Indra remained with him for a further period of five years.

120. Then Prajapati said to Indra: Indra! This body is mortal. It is subject to death. It is the abode of that Self which is Immortal and bodyless.

121. The embodied self is subject to pleasure and pain. But Self without the body is not troubled by pleasure and pain.

122. The wind is without body; the cloud, lightning and thunder are without body. Now, as these, rising above, appear in their own form, as soon as they have approached the highest light.

123. Thus does this Being, rising above this body, and having reached the Highest Light, appear in Its own form.

124. This is the Uttama-Purusha, the Supreme Person.

125. He moves about there laughing, playing and rejoicing, never minding that body in which he was born.

126. Just as a horse is attached to the cart, so also the Prana is attached to this body.

127. Now where the eye has entered into Akasa, (in the act of seeing), that is the person in the eye, the eye itself is the instrument of seeing.

128. He who knows: May I smell this, he is the Self, the nose is the instrument of smelling.

129. He who knows: May I think, he is the Self, the mind is his divine eye. And it is by means of his divine eye of the mind that he sees desires and rejoices.

130. The Devas who are in the world of Brahman meditate upon this Self (as taught by Prajapati to Indra, and by Indra to the Devas).


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