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 7.16.1

एष तु वा अतिवदति यः सत्येनातिवदति सोऽहं भगवः सत्येनातिवदानीति सत्यं त्वेव विजिज्ञासितव्यमिति सत्यं भगवो विजिज्ञास इति ॥ ७.१६.१ ॥
॥ इति षोडशः खण्डः ॥

eṣa tu vā ativadati yaḥ satyenātivadati so'haṃ bhagavaḥ satyenātivadānīti satyaṃ tveva vijijñāsitavyamiti satyaṃ bhagavo vijijñāsa iti || 7.16.1 ||
|| iti ṣoḍaśaḥ khaṇḍaḥ ||

1. ‘But a person must first know the Truth. Then he is truly an ativādī.’ Nārada said, ‘Sir, I want to be an ativādī by knowing the Truth.’ Sanatkumāra replied, ‘But one must earnestly desire to know the Truth.’ ‘Sir, I earnestly desire to know the Truth,’ Nārada said.

Word-for-word explanation:

Eṣaḥ, this [person]; tu, but; vai ativadati, is truly an ativādī; yaḥ, who; satyena ativadati, who speaks of Truth after having known the Truth; bhagavaḥ, sir; saḥ aham, as I am that [i.e., one who is unhappy]; satyena ativadāni iti, I want to be an ativādī by knowing the Truth; satyam tu eva vijijñāsitavyam iti, but Truth must be thoroughly enquired into; bhagavaḥ, sir; satyam vijijñāse iti, I wish to thoroughly enquire into Truth. Iti ṣoḍaśaḥ khaṇḍaḥ, here ends the sixteenth section.


Hearing Sanatkumāra’s words about prāṇa, Nārada concluded that prāṇa is everything, that it is the ultimate. Thinking he was now an ativādī, he kept quiet. He did not make any further enquiries.

Sanatkumāra understood, however, and told him: ‘No, you do not know it yet. This is not the ultimate. This is not Brahman. Prāṇa is a manifestation of Brahman but not Brahman itself. In order to know Brahman one must know the Truth.’ That is to say, one must know the meaning behind the words.

You may speak of God, but have you seen God yourself? If you have not seen him, if you have not realized him, what right have you got to talk about him? You are like a blind man trying to lead another blind man. Have you yourself realized the Truth?—that is the criterion. You must have direct experience of the Truth—not just some information you have picked up from books or from other people. It must be a-parokṣa—that is, not through another source. It must be direct, personal, immediate.

Nārada immediately understood his mistake and with great humility asked to learn the Truth. This spirit of humility is very important. As Sri Ramakrishna says, water cannot accumulate in a high place. It always runs down to a low place. Similarly, good qualities cannot remain in a proud person. They will soon run off. Only in a humble person can they be retained. If you are humble the teacher will be glad to teach you. So also, a good teacher will never say: ‘I am supreme. I know everything.’