Chandogya Upanishad

The Best Quotes

Gayatri Mantra

The Gayatri is everything, whatever here exists. Speech is verily the Gayatri, for speech sings forth (gaya-ti) and protects (traya-te) everything, whatever here exists.

That Gayatri is also the earth; for everything that exists here rests on this earth and does not go beyond. (3.12.1-2)

Gayatri Mantra
Gayatri mantra
"Aum.
We meditate on the glory of that Being
who has produced this universe;
may He enlighten our minds."

All This is Brahman

All this is Brahman.
"sarvam khalvidam brahma"

All this is Brahman. From It the universe comes forth, in It the universe merges, and in It the universe breathes. Therefore a man should meditate on Brahman with a calm mind.

Now, verily, a man consists of will. As he wills in this world, so does he become when he has departed hence. Let him [with this knowledge in mind] form his will. (3.14.1)

He who consists of the mind, whose body is subtle, whose form is light, whose thoughts are true, whose nature is like the akasa, whose creation in this universe, who cherishes all righteous desires, who contains all pleasant odours, who is endowed with all tastes, who embraces all this, who never speaks and who is without longing— He is my Self within the heart, smaller than a grain of rice, smaller than a grain of barley, smaller than a mustard seed, smaller than a grain of millet; He is my Self within the heart, greater than the earth, greater than the mid—region, greater than heaven, greater than all these worlds.

He whose creation is this universe, who cherishes all desires, who contains all odours, who is endowed with all tastes, who embraces all this, who never speaks and who is without longing—He is my Self within the heart, He is that Brahman. When I shall have departed hence I shall certainly reach Him: one who has this faith and has no doubt will certainly attain to that Godhead. Thus said Sandilya, yea, thus he said. (3:14:2-4)

Non-duality of the Self

Svetaketu [*Svetaketu: young man, the son of sage Uddalaka, represents seeker of knowledge] went to his teacher’s house when he was twelve years old and studied the Vedas till he was twenty-four. Then he returned to his father, serious, considering himself well read and arrogant. His father said to him: "Svetaketu, since you are now so serious, think yourself well read and are so arrogant, have you, my dear, ever asked for that instruction by which one hears what cannot be heard, by which one perceives what cannot be perceived, by which one knows what cannot be known?" Svetaketu asked: "What is that instruction, venerable Sir?"

"Just as, my dear, by one clod of clay all that is made of clay is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is clay; "Just as, my dear, by one nugget of gold all that is made of gold is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is gold; "And just as, my dear, by one pair of nail—scissors all that is made of iron is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is iron—even so, my dear, is that instruction." (6:1:2-6)

Brahman is Being (Sat)
— The Cause of the Universe

"In the beginning, my dear, this [universe] was Being (Sat) alone, one only without a second. Some say that in the beginning this was non-being (asat) alone, one only without a second; and from that non-being, being was born." (6.2.1)

It (Being, or Brahman) thought:
'May I be many; may I grow forth.'

"It (Being, or Brahman) thought: ‘May I be many; may I grow forth.’ It created fire. That fire thought: ‘May I be many; may I grow forth.’ It created water. That is why, whenever a person is hot and perspires, water is produced from fire (heat) alone. (6:2:3)

"Just as a bird tied by a string to the hand of the bird—catcher first flies in every direction and then finding no rest anywhere, settles down at the place where it is bound, so also the mind (i.e. the individual soul reflected in the mind), my dear, after flying in every direction and finding no rest anywhere, settles down in the Prana (i.e. Pure Being); for the mind (the individual soul) is fastened to the Prana (Pure Being). (6:8:2)

That Thou Art

Now, that which is the subtle essence - in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu. (6.8.7)

"As bees, my dear, make honey by collecting the juices of trees located at different places, and reduce them to one form, "And as these juices have no discrimination [so as to be able to say]: 'I am the juice of this tree,' or 'I am the juice of that tree'—even so, indeed, my dear, all these creatures, though they reach Pure Being, do not know that they have reached Pure Being. (6.9.1-2)

"Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu." (6:9:4)

"These rivers, my dear, flow—the eastern toward the east and the western toward the west. They arise from the sea and flow into the sea. Just as these rivers, while they are in the sea, do not know: ‘I am this river’ or ‘I am that river,’ "Even so, my dear, all these creatures, even though they have come from Pure Being, do not know that they have come from Pure Being. Whatever these creatures are, here in this world—a tiger, a lion, a wolf a boar, a worm, a fly, a gnat, or a mosquito, that they become again. (6:10:1-2)

"Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu." (6:10:3)

This body dies, bereft of the living self; but the living self dies not. "Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu." (6:11:3)

"Bring me a fruit of that nyagrodha (banyan) tree." "Here it is’ venerable Sir." "Break it." "It is broken, venerable Sir." "What do you see there?" "These seeds, exceedingly small, "Break one of these, my son." "It is broken, venerable Sir." "What do you see there?" "Nothing at all, venerable Sir."

The father said: "That subtle essence, my dear, which you do not perceive there—from that very essence this great nyagrodha arises. Believe me, my dear. (6:12:1-2)

"Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu." (6:12:3)

The Invisibility of and Existent Object

"Place this salt in water and then come to me in the morning." The son did as he was told. The father said to him: "My son, bring me the salt which you placed in the water last night." Looking for it, the son did not find it, for it was completely dissolved.

The father said: "My son, take a sip of water from the surface. How is it?" "It is salt." "Take a sip from the middle. How is it?" "It is salt." "Take a sip from the bottom. How is it?" "It is salt." "Throw it away and come to me." The son did as he was told, saying: "The salt was there all the time." Then the father said: "Here also, my dear, in this body you do not perceive Sat (Being); but It is indeed there." (6:13:1-2)

"Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self That thou art, Svetaketu." (6:13:3)

Self-Knowledge

"Just as someone, my dear, might lead a person, with his eyes covered, away from the country of the Gandharas and leave him in a place where there were no human beings; and just as that person would turn toward the east, or the north, or the south, or the west, shouting: ‘I have been brought here with my eyes covered, I have been left here with my eyes covered!’

"And as thereupon someone might loosen the covering and say to him: ‘Gandhara is in that direction; go that way’; and as thereupon, having been informed and being capable of judgement, he would, by asking his way from one village to another, arrive at last at Gandhara—in exactly the same manner does a man who has found a teacher to instruct him obtain the true knowledge. For him there is delay only so long as he is not liberated from the body; then he reaches perfection. (6:14:1-2)

"Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self That thou art, Svetaketu." (6:14:3)

The Knower of Brahman

"My dear, they (i.e. the police) bring a man whom they have seized by the hand and say: ‘He has taken something, he has committed a theft.’ When he denies it, they say: ‘Heat the axe for him.’ If he has committed the theft but denies it, then he makes himself a liar. Being false—minded, he covers himself with falsehood, grasps the heated axe and is burnt. Then he is killed.

"But if he did not commit the theft, then he makes himself what he really is. Being true—minded, he covers himself with truth, grasps the heated axe and is not burnt. He is released.

"As that truthful man is not burnt so also one who has known Sat is not born again. Thus in That (Sat) all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu." (6:16:1-3)

Commentary on the sixth part:

The real home of the jiva, or embodied soul, is Sat, or Pure Being. He is carried away by thieves in the form of the good and evil deeds performed by him on account of ignorance of his true nature. The forest into which he is carried away is the body, consisting of fire, water, and earth and containing bile, phlegm, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, faecal matter, and other impure elements. The covering of the eye consists of avidya, fastened by the strings of longing for wife, children, friends, possessions, and various visible and invisible objects. He cries, saying: ‘I am the son of So-and-so, these are my relatives, I am happy, I am miserable, I am foolish, I am wise, I am born, I am dead, my fortune is gone, I am done for. How shall I live? Where shall I go? Who will save me?’

Then, as a result of good deeds performed in the past, he finds a compassionate person, illumined by the Knowledge of the Self, whose bonds have been broken. The latter takes pity on him, points out the imperfection of the phenomenal life, and exhorts him thus:

'You do not really belong to this world; you are neither a father nor a son. You are Pure Being. Thou art That!' The embodied soul, after hearing and assimilating these words of instruction, realizes that he is Pure Being (Sat). The covering of ignorance is removed and he arrives at his Abode, the Self, or Sat, and becomes happy and blessed. (Adapted from Shankara's commentary.)

Prior to receiving the instruction from his father Svetaketu did not know that the Self is Pure Being, the Self of all, neither a cause nor an effect. Now, having been taught by his father through reasoning and illustrations, Svetaketu realized his identity with Pure Being.

What does a person gain from the teaching given in the sixth part of the Upanishad ? Prior to the instruction, he cherishes the notion that it is his duty to perform ritualistic actions and that he will experience their results in this world and the next. In other words, he regards himself as the doer of actions and the enjoyer of their results. But all these notions cease for one who is awakened to the Knowledge of Reality by understanding the meaning of the statement: "That thou art." The notions of being the doer and of enjoying the result are contrary to the Knowledge of Pure Being. When a person realizes himself as Pure Being, one and without a second, there is then no possibility of his cherishing the idea that he is one entity and that work is something else, which it is his duty to perform in order to enjoy a certain result. All ideas of diversity vanish for him. Therefore the notion that the human soul is a modification disappears when one has rightly understood Pure Being, the non-dual Self.

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* Excerpts translated by Swami Nikhilananda