Chandogya Upanishad (Shankara Bhashya)

by Ganganatha Jha | 1942 | 149,749 words | ISBN-10: 8170842840 | ISBN-13: 9788170842842

This is the English translation of the Chandogya Upanishad, an ancient philosophical text originally written in Sanksrit and dating to at least the 8th century BCE. Having eight chapters (adhyayas) and many sub-sections (khandas), this text is counted among the largest of it's kind. The Chandogya Upanishad, being connected to the Samaveda, represen...

Section 7.5 (fifth khaṇḍa) (four texts)

Commentary (Śaṅkara Bhāṣya):

That Self which has been eulogised as possessing the qualities of the Dam and other things,—for the attaining of that Self, it is necessary to lay down a means which would be subsidiary to knowledge (which alone is the direct means to it); and this subsidiary means is now laid down in the form of celibacy; and the text also eulogises it through Sacrifice and other things, in order that it is well worth carrying into practice.—

Upaniṣad text:

Now, that which they call ‘Sacrifice’ is only Celibacy; as it is only by means of Celibacy that the knower attains that. And that which they call ‘Worship’ is only Celibacy; as it is by means of Celibacy that, having worshipped, one attains the Self.—(1)

Commentary (Śaṅkara Bhāṣya):

Now that which, in the ordinary world, they call ‘Sacrifice’,—which cultured people declare to be the means of accomplishing the highest purpose of man, is only Celibacy; the result that follows from the sacrifice is secured only by one who is equipped with Celibacy, and in this sense the sacrifice also should be understood to be Celibacy,

Question:—“In what way is sacrifice Celibacy?”

Answer:—As it is only by means of Celibacy that the knower attains—secures—that—the Brahman-Region,—which is also the indirect result of sacrifice; hence, sacrifice also is only Celibacy. Further, Sacrifice (yajña) is only Celibacy, because of the presence of the letters I ya’ and ‘jña’ in the expressions ‘yajñātā’ (knower) (as also in the term ‘yajña’).

That which they call ‘worship’—that also is only celibacy.—“How?”—It is by means of celibacy that one Worships God or (iṣṭvā),—or evinces an eager desire for knowing the Self (which is also meant by ‘iṣṭvā’),—and attains the Self; so that because of the presence of the root ‘iṣ’ in both ‘eṣaṇā’ (worship or Desire) and ‘iṣṭa’ (worship), the worship also is only Celibacy.—(1)

Upaniṣad text:

Now, what they call Sattrāyaṇa (Sacrificial Session), that is only Celibacy; as it is by means of celibacy that one attains Salvation (‘trāṇa’) from Being (‘sat’). Now, that which they call ‘Mauna’, (Silent meditation)—that is only Celibacy, as it is by means of Celibacy that one understands the Self and then Meditates (‘manute’).—(2)

Commentary (Śaṅkara Bhāṣya):

Now, that which they call ‘Sattrāyaṇa’ (Sacrificial Session) that is only celibacy; as it is by means of celibacy that one secures—from the Supreme Self,—his salvation—protection.—Hence the name ‘Sattrāyaṇa’ also is only celibacy. Now, what they call ‘Mauna’ (Silent meditation), that is only celibacy;—as it is by means of celibacy,—when one is equipped with celibacy—that one understands the Self,—through the scriptures and the teacher,—and then meditates—contemplates (manute); hence, the name ‘Mauna’ also is only celibacy.—(2)

Upaniṣad text:

Now, what they call ‘Anāśakāyana’(Indestructible), that is celibacy; as his Self never perishes which one attains by means of celibacy.—Now, that which they call ‘Araṇyāyana’ (Ocean path), that is celibacy; as ‘Ara’ and ‘Ṇya’ are two oceans in the Brahman-Region in the third Heaven from this; and therein is the Airammadīya Lake, and there the Banyan-tree, Somasavana, there the Aparājitā ( unconquered) city of Brahman, as also the Golden (Hall), specially built by the Lord.—(3)

Commentary (Śaṅkara Bhāṣya):

Now, what they call ‘Anāśakāyana’ (Indestructible), that is Celibacy; the Self that one attains by means of Celibacy, that never perishes for the man who is equipped with Celibacy; hence, the Anāśakāyana also is only celibacy.—Now, that which they call ‘Araṇyāyana’ (Ocean-path), that is only celibacy; inasmuch as the two oceans named ‘Ara’ and ‘Ṇya’ are the ‘path’ (ayana) of the man equipped with celibacy,—the Araṇyāyana is celibacy.

The sense of all this is that the man who knows Brahman should carefully guard his celibacy, which is the highest auxiliary of knowledge, which has been eulogised as being identical with some of the best means of accomplishing man’s purpose in life,—e.g. being knowledge, it is Sacrifice,—being worshipped, it is worship,—being the salvation from Being, it is Sattrāyaṇa,—being meditation, it is Mauna,—being imperishable, it is Anāśakāyana,— passing through the two oceans ‘Ara’ and ‘Ṇya’, it is Araṇyāyana, and so forth.

In that Brahman-Region, there are the well-known oceans, ‘Ara’ and ‘Ṇya’,—two lakes like oceans,—in the third Heaven from this—i.e. the third, from the Earth and Sky (which are first and second)—in that third Heaven (i.e. counting from this World, Earth);—there also lies the Airammadīya Lake;—‘Aira’ is gruel, the lake Aira is filled with gruel, and it is also ‘Madīya, Exhilarating, rendering joyful, who make use of that gruel;—there also lies the Banyan tree-Somasavana—by name—or it may be an adjective signifying that wherefrom Soma, nectar, flows; so the tree is nectar-dropping.—In that same Brahman-Region is the Aparājitā (unconquered) city,—that is, that what is not conquered (won) by persons other than those equipped with Celibacy, who are not so equipped with it such is the City of Brahman, the Hiraṇya-Garbha;—as also the golden hall specially built by the Lord; the term ‘Hall’ has to be added to complete the sentence.—(3)

Upaniṣad text:

Those who attain the two oceans, Ara and Ṇya in the Brahman-Region,—by means of Celibacy,—to them, belongs this Brahman-Region and for them there is freedom of action in all regions.—(4)

Commentary (Śaṅkara Bhāṣya):

In the Brahman-Region, there are two oceans Ara and Ṇya as described above;—those who attain these oceans by means of celibacy,—to them belongs the Brahman-Region described above; and for those, who arc equipped with Celibacy and who know Brahman, there is freedom of action, in all regions; never for any others who are not firm in their celibacy and who have their merits attached to external things.

In this connection, some people hold the following view:—“In the ordinary world a great man is praised as ‘you arc Indra,—you are Yama—you are Varuṇa in the same manner, what deserves to be praised here, by means of the terms ‘Iṣṭa’ ‘Worship; and the rest, is not merely the cessation of the longing for woman and other sense-objects, but knowledge which is the Direct means of Liberation; hence, it is this knowledge that should be regarded as praised by means of the terms ‘worship’ and the rest.”

This is not right. For people whose mind is carried away by longings for woman and other external objects, it is not possible to have any discriminative knowledge of the Self and counter-Self; as is clear from hundreds of Vedic and Smṛti Texts, such as—‘The Self-born one pierced the sense-openings outwards, hence one sees what is outside, not the inner Self’ (Kaṭha. Upa. 4. 1.). Then again, it is necessary to lay down accessory aids to Knowledge, in the shape of the cessation of the longing for woman and other things,—hence it is only right and proper that there should be praise of this latter.

“Inasmuch as Celibacy has been praised as ‘Sacrifice and other things; it carries with it the implication that these latter also are the means of accomplishing the purposes of man.”

True, it does carry that implication; but when Celibacy is praised as ‘Sacrifice’ and the rest, it is not in view of the sacrifice and the rest being the means of attaining the Brahman-Region,—but in view of the well-known idea that they serve to accomplish some purposes of man; just as when the king is praised as ‘Indra’ and other deities, it does not mean that the king performs precisely those functions that are performed by Indra and other deities.

Question:—“These oceans and other things described as existing in the Brahman-Region,—and the experiencing of meeting with one’s ancestors, described as resulting from one’s Will,—are these real and exterior like the Earth, and Acquatic things found in the ordinary world, in the form of Ocean, tree, city, and golden hall,—or have they mere ideas present only in the mental conception of the man. What if it is so?”

If they are like ordinary Earthly and Acquatic things, existing in the gross physical (external) world, then they cannot be ‘contained’ in the Ākāśa of the Heart (as described above); and secondly, such a conception would go against the declaration in the Purāṇas that the Body and other things’, in the Brahman-Region, are purely mental (ideas) also against such Vedic texts as ‘It is without grief, without cold’. (Bṛhada. Upa. V. x. 1.)

But if these things existed only in the mind, then this would be incompatible with such Purāṇic texts as ‘oceans, rivers, lakes, tanks, wells, sacrifices, Vedas, Mantras and such other things approach Brahman in their gross physical forms.’

Not so; because if they had real physical forms, then it would be impossible for them to go to Brahman in their well-known (physical) forms; hence it has to be assumed that what is described as going to Brahman is some form assumed by the ocean and other things, other than their well-known physical forms. And as some sort of an

assumption is necessary in both cases, it is more reasonable to assume the generally accepted purely mental forms actually in the shape of men and women; specially as all the connections described above are possible only with regard to the mental body. In fact, in dreams what are seen are men and women with purely mental bodies.

But those are all unreal; and hence if these were what was meant then it would melitate against the Vedic text that ‘His desires are true (real.’)

Not so; because there is a reality in the mental concept; as a matter of fact men and women in purely mental forms are actually perceived during dreams.

But what are perceived during dreams exist only in the tendencies and impressions of the previous waking cognitions.

What you say is a very small part of the truth; in fact, even those things that are perceived during the waking state are evolved only out of consciousness which is purely mental; as it has been declared before that the whole external world, which is perceived during the waking state, consists of Fire, Food and Water which are the products of the Reflection of the Being, (and Reflection is a purely mental process). It has also been declared that all regions have their root in the Will in such texts as ‘they concerned the Heaven and Earth (Chā. Upa. VII. iv. 1—) in fact, in all Vedic texts, it is in the Self alone that all regions have their origin, existence and dissolution: vide such texts as ‘just as the spokes are fastened to the nave’ etc., etc. (Chā. Upa. VII. xv, 1.). Thus, then, as between external (physical) and mental (internal) things, the relation of cause and effect is mutual, like that between the seed and the sprout. Though the mental are external and the external are the mental, yet they are never unreal in regard to the man’s own Self.

But objects perceived during dreams become unreal for the man on waking.

True, but that unreality is in relation to the waking cognition, and does not attach to the dreamt of things by themselves. (That is, they are unreal not per se, but only relatively to the waking cognition.) Similarly (commonly) the objects of waking perception are unreal, not by themselves, but the dream-cognition. What is truly unreal in regard to all things is the particular form (perceived), which, in all cases, is the product of false (wrong) cognition, as declared in the text—‘all product has its origin in some word, it is a mere name and is unreal, all that is real and true is that there are three forms (universal, not particular); but these also, in their particular forms, are unreal, though by themselves, in the form of Pure Being, they are real.

Before the cognition of the True Self, every cognition is real in regard to its own object, like things perceived during dreams. So that there is no contradiction (or incompatibility). From all this it follows that the Ara, the Ṇya and other things connected with the Brahman-Region are purely mental objects; and so also are the fathers and other desired things, born of will. And as these are free from impurities attaching to the enjoyment of external things,—being the products of the will of Pure Being,—they are supremely happy and real for the Lords. And even on the Cognition of Being, the True Self, all things that had been produced by such volitions become merged into the form of the Being, the True Self,—just like the Serpent and other things produced by the imagination of the person become dissolved into the rope (which had been mistaken for the Serpent); and on thus becoming merged into Being, they become quite real and true.—(4)

End of Section (5) of Discourse VIII.

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