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 8.8.5

तस्मादप्यद्येहाददानमश्रद्दधानमयजमानमाहुरासुरो बतेत्यसुराणां ह्येषोपनिषत्प्रेतस्य शरीरं भिक्षया वसनेनालंकारेणेति संस्कुर्वन्त्येतेन ह्यमुं लोकं जेष्यन्तो मन्यन्ते ॥ ८.८.५ ॥
॥ इति अष्टमः खण्डः ॥

tasmādapyadyehādadānamaśraddadhānamayajamānamāhurāsuro batetyasurāṇāṃ hyeṣopaniṣatpretasya śarīraṃ bhikṣayā vasanenālaṃkāreṇeti saṃskurvantyetena hyamuṃ lokaṃ jeṣyanto manyante || 8.8.5 ||
|| iti aṣṭamaḥ khaṇḍaḥ ||

5. This is why in this world even today people say, ‘Oh, he is a demon,’ if that person is devoid of the feeling of charity, has no respect for others, and never cares to perform a sacrifice, because the demons have the idea that the body is the Self. When a person dies they decorate the body with all kinds of offerings, new clothes, and jewellery, for they think that by this, the person will conquer the other world.

Word-for-word explanation:

Tasmāt, this is why; api adya, till today; iha, here in this world; adadānam, one incapable of giving anything in charity; aśraddadhānam, one who has no respect for others; ayajamānam, one who never performs a sacrifice; āhuḥ, they say; āsuraḥ bata iti, ‘Oh, he is like a demon’; asurānām hi eṣaḥ upaniṣat, because this knowledge is suited for the demons; pretasya, of a dead person; śarīram, the body; bhikṣayā, with gifts [flowers, food, drink, etc.]; vasanena, with clothes; alaṅkāreṇa, with jewellery; saṃskurvanti, they decorate; hi, for; etena, in this way; annum lokam, the other world; jeṣyantaḥ, they will win; manyante, they think. Iti aṣṭamaḥ khaṇḍaḥ, here ends the eighth section.


Here the Upaniṣad says that there is a class of people who are not interested in self-discipline. They are the demons. They are only interested in sense pleasure, and they only believe in what can be perceived by the senses and what is present before them. They do not believe in God, and they are not interested in higher things. They are selfish and do not give anything in charity. They do not have faith in higher things, nor do they have respect for anything that is good—for good people or for good deeds. And they do not believe in sacrifice. Their attitude is: ‘Why should I share what I have? I want everything for myself.’

What is the aim of their life? What is their ideal? Only that which concerns their body. The body is everything to them. Even when someone dies, they decorate the body with all kinds of things they like—flowers, garlands, fragrance, ornaments, silk clothes. Everything is done to make the body appear beautiful, as if a dead body is beautiful! They think if the body is properly decorated in this way, the deceased will look like a prince and will conquer heaven. They think the gods and goddesses will receive him as their ruler, and so on.

In ancient Egypt, when the Pharaohs died, their bodies were treated with special ointments to preserve them. Then when they were put in their tombs, the bodies of their servants and attendants were also put there so they could look after them. Besides this, all the vessels and things the Pharaohs used were put in the tomb. Everything went with them.

The Hindu concept, however, is that the body will decay and perish, but the self is independent of the body. The self will never decay and never perish. It is a common experience that when a person dies, we see all his organs intact, but if we talk to him he does not answer. Why? Because the self has left the body.

The Upaniṣad does not mean to say that the body is not important. As a means to attain Self-knowledge it is important. It is a tool that we need for progress in our spiritual life and also in our mundane life. As the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad says, ‘Nāyamātmā balahīnena labhyaḥ—this Self is not attained by one who has no strength.’ If you have a weak, feeble body, then you cannot struggle or make sustained effort in any vocation—whether spiritual or secular. But when too much importance is given to the body, we forget that we are not the body, but the Self.