Chandogya Upanishad (english Translation)

by Swami Lokeswarananda | 165,421 words | ISBN-10: 8185843910 | ISBN-13: 9788185843919

This is the English translation of the Chandogya-upanishad, including a commentary based on Swami Lokeswarananda’s weekly discourses; incorporating extracts from Shankara’s bhasya. The Chandogya Upanishad is a major Hindu philosophical text incorporated in the Sama Veda, and dealing with meditation and Brahman. This edition includes the Sanskrit t...

Verse 6.2.1

सदेव सोम्येदमग्र आसीदेकमेवाद्वितीयम् । तद्धैक आहुरसदेवेदमग्र आसीदेकमेवाद्वितीयं तस्मादसतः सज्जायत ॥ ६.२.१ ॥

sadeva somyedamagra āsīdekamevādvitīyam | taddhaika āhurasadevedamagra āsīdekamevādvitīyaṃ tasmādasataḥ sajjāyata || 6.2.1 ||

1. Somya, before this world was manifest there was only existence, one without a second. On this subject, some maintain that before this world was manifest there was only non-existence, one without a second. Out of that non-existence, existence emerged.

Word-for-word explanation:

Somya, young man; idam, this [world as we see it, with its names and forms]; agre, before [its manifestation]; sat eva, was existence only; ekam eva advitīyam, one without a second; āsīt, existed; tat, about that; eke, some [Buddhists and others]; āhuḥ, say; idam, this [world]; agre, first [before its manifestation]; asat eva, nothingness only; ekam eva advitīyam, one without a second; āsīt, existed; tasmāt, from that; asataḥ, nothingness; sat jāyata, existence emerged.


‘Something out of nothing’ is an absurd idea. If there is a tree, it must have come out of a seed, whether the seed was seen by anyone or not. Sometimes you see a tree sprouting from a crack on the roof of a building. Where did it come from? From a seed which the wind must have blown on to the roof. A tree can only grow from a seed. Similarly, existence can only come from existence. This is what the Upaniṣad is suggesting when it says that before the world was manifest there was existence, one without a second.

The word means ‘existence.’ The Vedānta scriptures describe this existence as a state of being. It is one without a second. It is pure, all-pervasive, beyond thought and speech, and formless. It is consciousness.

Some philosophers maintain, however, that before the world originated there was nothing, one without a second. They claim that the world emerged from this nothing.

Vedānta says, suppose you are passing by a potter’s house and you see him with a huge lump of clay. Then you return that same way a few hours later, and you are surprised to see that the nameless and formless lump of clay is transformed into a number of pots, plates, bowls, cups, etc.—each distinct with a name and a form. Similarly, existence becomes manifest as this world, but it remains existence. It

The Naiyāyikas, the Buddhists, and others think just the opposite—that existence has come out of non-existence. But how can they know anything about a past non-existence? And how can they know, in particular, that it is one only without a second?

In fact, the concept of non-existence is being introduced here only to make a stronger foundation for the concept of existence. In order to know what to avoid, one must be able to see it. Similarly, the concept of non-existence is added only to make it clear what is meant by existence.