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 8.12.3

अथ यत्रैतदाकाशमनुविषण्णं चक्षुः स चाक्षुषः पुरुषो दर्शनाय चक्षुरथ यो वेदेदं जिघ्राणीति स आत्मा गन्धाय घ्राणमथ यो वेदेदमभिव्याहराणीति स आत्माभिव्याहाराय वागथ यो वेदेदं शृणवानीति स आत्मा श्रवणाय श्रोत्रम् ॥ ८.१२.४ ॥

atha yatraitadākāśamanuviṣaṇṇaṃ cakṣuḥ sa cākṣuṣaḥ puruṣo darśanāya cakṣuratha yo vededaṃ jighrāṇīti sa ātmā gandhāya ghrāṇamatha yo vededamabhivyāharāṇīti sa ātmābhivyāhārāya vāgatha yo vededaṃ śṛṇavānīti sa ātmā śravaṇāya śrotram || 8.12.4 ||

3. In the same way, the joyful self arises from the body and, attaining the light of the Cosmic Self, appears in his own form. This is the Paramātman, the Cosmic Self. He then freely moves about eating, playing, or enjoying himself with women, carriages, or relatives, not remembering at all the body in which he was born. Just as horses or bullocks are harnessed to carriages, similarly prāṇa [life] remains harnessed to the body [due to karma].

Word-for-word explanation:

Evam eva, just like that; eṣaḥ samprasādaḥ, this serene one [i.e., the individual self, after attaining Self-knowledge]; asmāt śarīrāt, from this body; samutthāya, arising; param jyotiḥ, the radiance of the Cosmic Self; upasampadya, attains; svena rūpeṇa abhiniṣpadyate, appears in his own form; saḥ uttama puruṣaḥ, this is the Supreme Being; saḥ tatra paryeti, he goes about; jakṣat krīḍan ramamāṇaḥ, eating, playing, and enjoying himself; strībhiḥ vā, with women; yānaiḥ vā, or in carriages; jñātibhiḥ vā, or with relatives; na smaran, not remembering; upajānam idam śarīram, this body in which he was born; yathā, just as; saḥ prayogyaḥ, an animal [a horse or bullock]; ācaraṇe yuktaḥ, is harnessed to a carriage [or chariot]; evam eva, like that; ayam prāṇaḥ, this life; asmin śarīre yuktaḥ, is harnessed to the body.

Commentary:

The question here is, who is the enjoyer? It is the self. This is something basic to Vedānta philosophy. The self is the master. The body is like a house, and the self is like the owner of the house. Just as the owner of a house can change his house at any time, so also, the self can change its body at any time.

Here the relationship of the self with the body is clearly brought out. The self is immortal and aśarīra, without a body. But, like lightning or clouds, the self is sometimes manifest in a form. With ordinary people the distinction between the self and the body is not noticeable, but with an enlightened person the distinction is quite conspicuous. In all his manners and his way of speaking, you see that the enlightened person is using his body as his instrument. He is always conscious that he is the self. He may be eating or drinking or talking or moving about like anyone else, but still you see there is a difference.

An ordinary person is not his own master. He is a slave to his body and mind. But a knower of the Self has conquered the body and the mind and can make them behave as he wants. He is merely the draṣṭā, the spectator. He sees the world going on with all its madness, and to him it is great fun, because he is totally unaffected and untouched.

Vedānta keeps trying to convince us of the fact that happiness is not outside. It is not dependent on any objective circumstances. It is all within. If happiness were dependent on external conditions then why doesn’t the same thing give happiness to everyone? Some people are very happy if they get some sweets to eat. But there are other people who don’t care for sweets at all. If the sweets were the source of happiness they should make everyone happy, but they don’t. There are people who, in spite of seemingly unfavorable circumstances, are very happy. They know that they don’t have to seek for happiness outside. They find it within.

But this is not to say a knower of the Self is cold and indifferent. Śaṅkara says, when you know your Self, when you know you are Brahman and that everything you see is nothing but Brahman, then you feel you are one with all. If others are happy, you are happy. If others are in pain, you are also in pain. Now we are separate from others because we think we are the body and we identify ourself with our body. Yet still we talk of love, compassion, of sharing the sorrows and sufferings of others. How can we share them? We can’t. We may have pity on someone, but often that pity is accompanied by a sense of superiority. By showing pity we are often merely showing our arrogance.

This is why the Taittirīya Upaniṣad says that when you give someone something, give it with respect. You may give something to a beggar. He may be in rags. Never mind, he is God. You should feel grateful to him that he is accepting your offering. The Upaniṣad also says, if you cannot give with respect then it is better not to give at all. You will hurt the other person’s self-respect. So whatever you give, give with love and humility. When you give something, you are giving it to your own Self, because you are everywhere—in the small, in the big, in a human being, and in an insect.