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 8.3.5

अथ य आत्मा स सेतुर्धृतिरेषां लोकानामसंभेदाय नैतं सेतुमहोरात्रे तरतो न जरा न मृत्युर्न शोको न सुकृतं न दुष्कृतं सर्वे पाप्मानोऽतो निवर्तन्तेऽपहतपाप्मा ह्येष ब्रह्मलोकः ॥ ८.४.१ ॥

atha ya ātmā sa seturdhṛtireṣāṃ lokānāmasaṃbhedāya naitaṃ setumahorātre tarato na jarā na mṛtyurna śoko na sukṛtaṃ na duṣkṛtaṃ sarve pāpmāno'to nivartante'pahatapāpmā hyeṣa brahmalokaḥ || 8.4.1 ||

5. Sa, tī, and yam—these are the three syllables [which represent Brahman]. Sa stands for that which is immortal. Ti stands for that which is mortal. And yam stands for that which controls both the mortal and the immortal. As both [the mortal and the immortal] are controlled by it, it is called yam. The person who knows the significance of these three syllables enjoys divine bliss every day in dreamless sleep.

Word-for-word explanation:

Tāni ha vai etāni trīṇi akṣarāṇi, these are the three syllables; sa tī yam iti, ‘sa’, ‘tī’, and ‘yam’; tat yat sat, that which is ‘sat’ [i.e., ‘sa’]; tat amṛtam, that is immortal; atha, then; yat ti, what is ‘ti’; tat martyam, that is mortal; atha, then; yat yam, what is ‘yam’; tena ubhe yacchati, both are controlled by it; yat anena ubhe yacchati, as both are controlled by it [i.e., by ‘yam’]; tasmāt, therefore; yam, it is ‘yam’; evamvit, one who knows thus; ahaḥ ahaḥ, daily; vai svargam lokam eti, goes to the heavenly world [in deep sleep]. Iti tṛtīyaḥ khaṇḍaḥ, here ends the third section.


The Upaniṣad says there are three syllables that make up the word satyamsa, tī, and yam. Sa stands for sat. Sat is derived from the root as, which means ‘existence.’ It is Existence Absolute, eternal. Here the Upaniṣad says, sa is that which is immortal and ti is that which is mortal. We have both immortal and mortal aspects to us. At the transcendental level we are immortal, but at the empirical, or phenomenal, level we are mortal. At the transcendental level there is no ‘I’ or ‘you’. There is no duality at all. There is only one.

Where does this universe come from? It comes from that which is immortal. That is to say, the immortal becomes the mortal. The Absolute becomes the relative. The syllable yam stands for saṃyama, to control. It is the Self that controls both the relative and the Absolute.

Similarly, one who has realized his true nature has control of both the transcendental and the relative. He is always the same, everywhere—whether in the transcendental world, in samādhi, which is here called sat, or in the phenomenal world, ti, the world that

“Evamvit ahaḥ ahaḥ svargam lokam eti”—one who knows this goes every day into heaven. That is to say, when we are in deep sleep we are in svargaloka, the world of peace. We are then one with the Self, resting on the Self. It’s like a bird resting on its nest. It is happy and safe. But sometimes the bird has to go about after food. Similarly, when we wake up we have to be involved in this empirical world. Then there is diversity—no more unity.

Śaṅkara says that when even the syllables of satyam, which is the name of Brahman, are so significant, how great then must be the state that the word signifies. Similarly, even the idea ‘I am Brahman’ is so inspiring—what to speak of having the experience itself.

Suppose you have been hearing for a long time about Benaras but you have never been there. You have some idea about it and would love to go there. Even the word Benaras excites you. How thrilled you feel then when you at last get there.

From our experience of deep sleep we have some idea of what Brahman is like. We know, even from this brief experience, how wonderful it is to be one with the Self. But when we are firmly established in Brahman and our ignorance is gone, what a wonderful thing it is.

So, as Śaṅkara says, we have to go on meditating that we are one with Brahman, and gradually this meditation will lead us to the experience itself. The experience is what we need. We have to have that. Swami Vivekananda used to say that religion is realization. Suppose we go on talking about Brahman. This may help us and inspire us. It may even give us some impetus, but that’s all. We must not stop there. Our goal is the experience.