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 7.6.1

ध्यानं वाव चित्ताद्भूयो ध्यायतीव पृथिवी ध्यायतीवान्तरिक्षं ध्यायतीव द्यौर्ध्यायन्तीवापो ध्यायन्तीव पर्वता देवमनुष्यास्तस्माद्य इह मनुष्याणां महत्तां प्राप्नुवन्ति ध्यानापादांशा इवैव ते भवन्त्यथ येऽल्पाः कलहिनः पिशुना उपवादिनस्तेऽथ ये प्रभवो ध्यानापादांशा इवैव ते भवन्ति ध्यानमुपास्स्वेति ॥ ७.६.१ ॥

dhyānaṃ vāva cittādbhūyo dhyāyatīva pṛthivī dhyāyatīvāntarikṣaṃ dhyāyatīva dyaurdhyāyantīvāpo dhyāyantīva parvatā devamanuṣyāstasmādya iha manuṣyāṇāṃ mahattāṃ prāpnuvanti dhyānāpādāṃśā ivaiva te bhavantyatha ye'lpāḥ kalahinaḥ piśunā upavādinaste'tha ye prabhavo dhyānāpādāṃśā ivaiva te bhavanti dhyānamupāssveti || 7.6.1 ||

1. Meditation is certainly superior to intelligence. The earth seems to be meditating. The space between the earth and heaven seems to be meditating. So also, heaven seems to be meditating. Water seems to be meditating. The mountains seem to be meditating. Gods and human beings also seem to be meditating.

Word-for-word explanation:

Dhyānam vāva cittāt bhūyaḥ, meditation is certainly superior to intelligence; dhyāyati iva pṛthivī, the earth seems to be meditating; antarikṣam dhyāyati iva, the space between the earth and heaven seems to be meditating; dyauḥ dhyāyati iva, the heaven seems to be meditating; āpaḥ dhyāyanti iva, water seems to be meditating; parvatāḥ dhyāyanti iva, the mountains seem to be meditating; deva-manuṣyāḥ dhyāyanti iva, gods and human beings seem to be meditating; tasmāt, this is why; ye, those who; iha, in this world; manuṣyāṇām, among human beings; mahattām prāpnuvanti, attain greatness; dhyānāpādāṃśāḥ iva eva te bhavanti, they seem to enjoy the fruits of meditation; atha, but; ye alpāḥ, those who are small; kalahinaḥ, are quarrelsome; piśunāḥ, crooked; upavādinaḥ, those who love scandel-mongering; atha, but; ye prabhavaḥ, those who are great; dhyānāpādāṃśāḥ iva eva te bhavanti, they seem to enjoy the fruits of meditation; dhyānam upāssva iti, worship meditation.


This is why, those people in this world who attain greatness seem to enjoy the fruits of meditation. But there are people of small calibre. They are quarrelsome, crooked, and always finding fault with others. Those who are great, however, are so because of their habit of meditation. Therefore worship meditation.

According to Śaṅkara, dhyāna is an uninterrupted stream of thought directed towards some object. Thinking of some idea, you concentrate your mind on it without breaking the flow, without any interruption—like pouring oil from one vessel to another in a continuous stream. In the same way, you must fix your mind on God. You may meditate on him as something abstract, as an idea. Or, if that is difficult, you may meditate on him with some kind of form.

Sanatkumāra says here that everything seems to be meditating—the earth, the intermediate region, heaven, the mountains. Once Swami Vivekananda said: ‘Look at the Himalayas. Does it not strike you that it is a yogi meditating?’ Śaṅkara also compares the earth to a yogi sitting in meditation, firm and unmoving. As the earth is steady and fixed, so we also should be steady and fixed when we meditate.

Before Buddha attained illumination he vowed:

Ihāsane śuṣyatu me śarīraṃ tvagasthimāṃsaṃ pralayaṃ ca yātu;

Aprāpya bodhiṃ bahukalpadurlabhāṃ naivāsanātkāyamataścaliṣyate.

May my body shrivel up on this seat; may my skin, bones, and flesh disintegrate. Without attaining enlightenment, which is so hard to attain, I shall not leave this seat.

This is the sort of determination we must have.

If you can think of everything as meditating, then you also will be able to meditate. And those people who meditate attain greatness, because they constantly think of great things. Śaṅkara says that greatness comes through knowledge or wealth or some other thing. But in order to become great you must think in a great way, speak in a great way, and behave in a great way.

Suppose you cannot think in terms of being great. You condemn yourself and think, ‘Oh, that is not for me.’ This is not humility. It is foolishness. It is being small-minded, and it is condemned by the scriptures. Swami Vivekananda used to say, ‘You may have faith in all the gods and goddesses, but if you do not have faith in yourself you will never achieve anything.’

Similarly, if you are jealous or speak ill of others, you will not be able to meditate on great things. And if you cannot meditate on great things, your nature will deteriorate. Someone once told Vidyasagar that a certain person was criticizing him. Vidyasagar said, ‘I don’t remember having helped him in any way, so why should he criticize me?’ Sometimes you find that the very people who have received your help try to harm you. This is the nature of small-minded people. Thinking shapes our character. If we meditate on noble things we become noble.