Chaandogya Upanishad

Chhandogya Upanishad is rooted to Saama Veda and is the second lengthiest and most significant of Upanishads, next only to Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of Yajur Veda. Major references of Maharshis and Seekers like Kaushitaki, Satyakaama, Shvetaketu, and Narada and interactions of Prajapati and Indra are of great relevance in this Upanishad. Outstanding Truisms and Maxims like Maha Vaakyas are replete in the Upanishad such as Tatvamasi or Thou art Thou; and Sarvam khalu idam Brahma or All This Is Brahman Only. These pouular dictums are of unmistaken orientation of Advaita Philosophy emphasising that Paramatma and Antaratma are just the same. The role of Maya or Fallacy is so strong and deep that the thick screeen of dark ignorance totally camouflages the brilliance of Truth, owing to the severe sway of physical limbs and senses. ‘Avidya’ or Ignorance is necessarily mounted by ‘Jnaana’ and ‘Sadhana’ to descover the Self! Nitya Karma,Upasana, Sankalpa are the stationd of this voyage in the furious onslaught of high tides of ‘ Samsaara Saagara’only to discover within!The highlights of this Upanishad signify OM, the chanting styles and modes of Vedas with special reference to Saama Veda and its metrical regulation and import of mystic sounds; for instance this World is denoted by ‘haukaara’; Vaayu is ‘haikaara’; Chandra is of ‘atah kaara’; and the Self is of ‘Ihahkaara; and its chanting in five divisions of himkaara, prastaava, udgita, pratihaara and nidhaana is stated to be outstanding. Saama Chantings are related to Rains, Water, Rithus or Seasons and Coordination of Praana with Vaak, Chakshu, Shrotra, Twak, Manas! Emphasis is laid on Sacrifices highlighting Garhapatya, Anvaharya, Ahavaniya, Vaishvaanara Agnis and considerable details of ritualistic libations to Vasu-Rudra-Adityaadi Devatas as also ‘Mantha’ Sacrifices on Praana and other De ities; death and aftermath especially on ‘Devayaana’ or the course towards Swarga and higher lokas; outlines of Shanadya and Madhu Vidyas or Teachings and as the highlight ‘finale’ of Sanat Kumara on the glory and Unity of the Self and the Supreme, besides Prajapati’s demonstration of their Unity to Indra! There are 162 sections of Eight Chapters and a Chapter-wise Over- View is given:

Chapter One ) Om is the very first sound and word of all Vedas and Scriptures expressed in Udgita on the chant of the Supreme; the chant of Udgita explains Universal Creation, Vedas, Meditation, and Rites with reference to Reality. Devas resorted to Udgita to suppress Demons and meditated to the pure form of Vital Force and conquered Asuras. Humans too took to meditation with no contamination of the body parts and senses as addressed to OM while Praana overcame Asura-like forces like Maharshis proved by Udgita. On the divine level too, Udgita addressed to syllable OM and Praana would subdue enemies and enhance the intrinsic features besides enriching the Self but the methodology must be impeccable and its practice is a sure gateway to Devatva and Amaratva v) Udgita recognised as OM is Surya Deva and Pravaha Vayu, Earth, Fire, Sky, Air, Sun, Heaven, Moon, Stars, and Hiranya Purusha: this is on the Divine Plane; in the personal context of Eyes and Ears, on Praana, Food, Water, and Rains. The pre-eminence of Udgita of Saama Veda as recognised on Earth is supported by Space. In a Soma Sacrifice, it is essential that the roles of Udgita, Athurvyu, Hota and Brahma need to be defined and they should address to specific Devatas, lest the Sacrifice might be ineffective and even futile! In fact the rituals become ineffective as the incompetent priests are called flops and the Sacrifice becomes a farse!

Chapter Two) Meditation on Saama tends to yield encouraging fruits in the psyche and perspective of life and the person concerned becomes humbler by passage of time.Saama Veda is chanted in five divisions as himkara, prastava, udgita, pratihara and nidhana to be sung in rains, in waters, the sixth Ritus or Seasons; to protect cattle; to protect Praana-Vaak-Chakshur- Shrotra and Manas; for Synthesis of mind, praana, fulfillment of Life, longevity and progeny, fame. Brihat Saama chant linked to and emerging from Surya; Vairupa Saama chants firmly linked up with Parjanya bestows success, joy and fame to the chanter; Vairaja Saama Veda chants as unified with the qualities of Seasons or Rithus provide fulfillment to each and every being; Shakvari Saama eulogises the multi splendoured worlds; Yajnavalkya chant of Saama Veda yields all round well being of body parts; Raajana chant of Saama is best set to major Divinities of Agni, Vayu, Surya , Nakshatra, and Chandra. Saama Vidvans are fully aware of five stages of existence viz. himkaara, prastava, udgita, pratihara and nidhana xxii) Saama Veda chantings need to be appropriate like to Agni as high sounding, Soma as melodious, elastic and adjustable to Vayu, soft but pitched to Indra and distinct and unique to Prajapati, while vovels being strong and resonant while consonants as soft and careful. Three branches of Dharma viz. Yajna- Adhyaaa-Daana or Sacrifice-Study- Charity and meditation of OM are the essenses of Life. Assured fruits of offerings in Garhapatya Agni for Vasus in the mornings, Rudras in the noons and Aditya/ Vishvadevas in evenings with Saama chantings.

Chapter Three: Meditation on Surya, the honey of Devas, is to be by Rig Veda chants. Meditation is to be done on the southern side rays by Yajur Veda Mantras, the rays on the western side by Saama Veda and those of rays the northern side by AtharvaVeda hymns. As regards Pranava and the hidden meaning of the scriptures like Upanishads on Brahman, meditation is called for to bestow material and spiritual ends. The one who realises the immensity of Vedas should provide the first-second-third-fourth and fifth oblations of nectar or the cosmic essence of Vedas to Vasus-Rudras-Adityas-Maruds and Sadhyas respectively to attain the status of those very Deities! Now, the utmost confidential Truth of worldly existence is the constancy of Surya without days and nights. Gayatri is the heart and Soul of Earth and Beings vis-à-vis the Unknown! Brahman is Pancha Pranas viz. Praana, Vyana, Apana, Samana and Udana is goverened by Surya, Chandra, Agni, Parjanya and Akasha controlling sensory organs like vision, ear, speech, touch and mind respectively: Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma: True identity of the Self and the Supreme! Treasure hunt of the Universe is as follows: Dishas provide protection as Space inside, Bhumi as bottomline, Dishas as corners of Swarga and Sky as the lid, while ‘Bhurbhuvahswaha’ provides safety new new borns . Daily Sacrifices bless health and longevity by Devas. Controlled mind set conditions Vipratva and sustained conviction xviii) Synthesis of body functions of the Self via Devas connected to seek Brahman. Then the discussion on the Self Manifestation of the Golden Egg and but there is only the partial revelation of the Universe.

Chapter Four : Janashruta a popular person of charity heard that one Raikya was far greater and virtuous and the former approached Raikva offering several gifts and even his daughter to serve Raikya but he discarded them but agreed to teach him as follows: Food is the product of five organs of Individual Self and five creations of Brahman viz. Pancha Bhutas but both the entities are the same. Then the story of Satyakaama Jaabala proves that nature and nurture are far more important than Vamsha and Gautama accepts Satyakaama as his disciple. Vayu Deva the Deity of Dishas assumes the form of a bull and teaches Satyakaama about the magnificence of Brahman; He manifested just one ‘Paada’or foot and Agni was a part of that single foot .Then Agni in the form of a Swan explained that beside him, Surya-Chandra-Vidyut too were manifested in that one foot ; An aquatic bird confirmed what Agni stated and qualified further that Praana-Chakshu-Shrotra-Manas too were the objects of worship. Satyakaama returns to Guru Gautama as an enlightened person but he as Guru disqualified his student Upakhosla since his Agni karyas were faulty . But Agni’s flames defended Upakhosla and argued with the Guru but the latter stated that the primacy of Praana was ignored in the Agni Karyas. Garhyapatya Agni protected the student Anvaharya Agni too protected the actions of the student; Ahavniya Agni stated that the shortcoming be ignored . Collectively the three types of Agnis are prevailed on the Guru who said that waterdrops on lotus leaf were like the small blemishes as long is the procedure was not imperfect; Satyakama conceded and taught the student abuot the Divine Path after death to Brahma loka. The Guru underlined Self purification by perfoming Sacrifices stregging the fundamentas. Yet deficiencies of well meaning Sacrifies are self corrective and the role of the Chief Priest with experience is always proactive and discretionary!

Chapter Five: Undoubted supremacy of Praana the vital force in the body of a Being vis-a-vis the organs and senses; ii) Methodology of executing ‘Mantha’Sacrifice ton Prana with its food and clothing defined and the resultant fruit of the Rite to achieve desired results iii) Status of Post Life Soul upto the stage of transmigration explained vide iv to ix). The courses of transmigration are interpreted by five oblations to Ahavaneeya Agni and the final oblation by water. Any person of Satkarma would take to Deva Yaana or the Divine Path versus Saamaanya Yaana or the Common Route after death; cautions for do’s and don’t’s while alive need however to be observed. xi) An assembly of Vedic Pandits approached King Ashvapati to learn about Vaishvanara xii) Vaishvanara being a huge mass of radiance like Heaven is the Head of the Universal Self xiii-xvii) The Univesal Self or the Vaishvanara has Surya as eye/ Vayu as breathing/ Space as the middle part, Water as the bladder-applicable to both the Universal and Individual Self, and Bhumi as the feet! xviii) Much unlike the blind man and the elephant, the Universal Self is comprehensive comprising Sky, Vayu / Praana, Space, Earth etc and so is Vaishvanara; Agnihotra Sacrifice Pancha Pranas coordinating for eg. Prana to Chakshu to Adiya etc. Knowledge and performance of homa yield miraculous fruits but ignorance lands in futility!

Chapter Six: Futility of Teachings lands in arrogance but not the realisation of Truth ‘Adviteeya’ or the singularity of existence manifests surprising plurality all rolled out of the same Uniqueness as with Andaja, Jeevaja and Udbhuja or born out of eggs, reproduction or sprouts. Having explained ommissions of Sun, Moon , Lightnings, the three folded forms of Agni, Aapas and Prithvi, the three basic colours of red-white-black have been highlighted for merger into Oneness.Three folded forms of Food-Water- Heat are evidenced by and emerging from Manas or Mind-Breathing and Speech. Svetaketu however doubted as to how mind was the product of food. Mind indeed is the dominant factor for the survival of foood. Uddalaka explains to Svetketu about TAT TWAM ASI .Like bees collect honey from flowers, Truth or that Antaratma of all the Beings is similar too. Rivers flow in th same direction and so do various Beings remain as the same species as they are born, yet the common thread of Antaratma is retained always. The illustration of a live banyan tree since got dried up is dead but the Eternal Soul moves on further. Tiny and wasteful seed of a massive banyan tree is realisable only by the mind and faith as that explains its subtle essence of the Self in which indeed is the truth! More explicitly explained is the salt dissloved in water which is the Supreme Self as AHAM BRAHMA ASMI! Practical knowledge reveals that how a kidnapped Gandhara citizen once freed was restored back home by his own general awaremess, guidance and required action as that is the Subtle Essence of regaining the Self; indeed That isThat! A dying person loses speech, mind, energy and body warmth ready for merger into the Subtle Essence. In the mortal world, justice is delayed but never denied; retribution and recompense are real and definite; indeed THOU ART THAT! THAT IS THE TRUTH AND THE SELF!

Chapter Seven: Narada approaches Sanat Kumara to realise Brahman and the latter underlines the Power of Speech and Mental Calibre, Strong Sankalpa, Sturdy Self and Will Power, Application of Mind, Vijaana / Knowledge, Physical Strength arising from Anna / Ideal Food, Water, Heat Energy, Mental Power to see, hear, and think, Hope, Trust and Firm Conviction, and above all Praana, Nishtha / Commitment, Karyacharana /Involved Activity and Service towards Fulfillment. Sanat Kumara assured that the Infinity of Brahman who is incomprehensible is indeed the Individual Self within one Self itself!

Chapter Eight: Indra representing Devas and Virochana from Danavas did deep Tatasya to Prajapati to seek Brahaman; the latter showed reflections in a mirror and on water surface and affirmed that the Self was Brahman likewise. Virochana was satisfied and left Indra too left but was not convinced and thus performed Tapasya again with vigour. Prajapati gave the analogy of dream stage when the Self would get affected as organs and senses are with drawn excepting mind. Still unconvinced Indra intensified Tapasya but his life time was inadequate. Prajapati extended Indra’s life span to let Indra perform Tapasya. On concluding theTapasya, Indra raised the doubt that mind was afterall was functional in the dream state although the body and senses would be at rest. Parjapati then explained that the Inner Conscience had mind as the divine eye yet got influenced by the sensory organs; he gave the example of horse and carriage since the former had to carry the load of the body parts and senses viz. the mortal body. Finally Indra attained the vision of the Antaratma and became ecstatic!

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at [email protected]