Chandogya Upanishad:

The Chanters' Teaching:

Book VI Part I


VI.1

1. OM. There once was a boy called Svetaketu Aruneya. 'A boy' is added for clarity. His father said to him, 'Svetaketu, go and live as a brahmacarin. Good lad, there is no one in our family who is just a Brahmana by birth, without learning.

2. So at twelve years old he went, and at twenty-four years old he returned, having learned all the Vedas, haughty, proud of his learning, and opinionated. His father said to him, 'Svetaketu, good lad, since you are haughty, proud of your learning, and opinionated, did you ask for the symbolic statement

'Blessed one, what sort of symbolic statement is that?'

4. 'Good lad, just as through one lump of clay everything made of clay is known, so difference of shape is just name, dependent on speech: "clay" is the reality.Vikshra, apparent difference  or change of shape, is less real than the
underlying reality (satya).

5. 'Good lad, just as through one copper ornament everything made of copper is known, so difference of shape is just name, dependent on speech: "copper" is the reality.

6. 'Good lad, just as through one nail clipper everything made of iron is known, so difference of shape is just name, dependent on speech: "iron" is the reality. Such, good lad, is the symbolic statement.'

7. 'The blessed ones certainly did not know this, for if they had known it, how would they not have told me? Blessed one, you tell me about it.' 'I will, good lad,' he said.

VI.2

1. 'In the beginning, good lad, this was being, one alone without a second. Some say, "In the beginning this was not-being, one alone without a second. From that not-being, being was produced."

2. 'But, good lad, how could that be?' he said. 'How could being be produced from not-being? In the beginning, good lad, surely this was being, one alone without a second.

3. 'It thought, "Let me become many; let me be born." It created heat.Throughout Books VI and VII, I have translated tejas, referring here to the fire element, as 'heat', rather than 'brightness', as elsewhere. I have kept the English word 'fire' for agni. The verb used of the act of creation is srj-, to emit or let go. Heat thought, "Let me become many; let me be born." It created the waters. So when and wherever a person grieves or sweats, the waters are born from heat.

4. 'The waters thought, "Let us become many; let us be born." They created food. So when and wherever it rains, food becomes more abundant. So good food is born from the waters.

VI.3

1. 'Beings have three seeds, the egg-born, the live-born, the shoot-born.

2. 'The deity thought, "Come, I must enter these three deities with life, with the self," and created differences of name and form. Encompasses both 'to make different and 'to make manifest, since difference is characteristic of the realm of samsara.

3. 'Thinking, "I must make each one of them three-fold—each one threefold," The repetition stresses that each individual one is in three parts. The
red, white and black forms (VI.4.1) seem to foreshadow the three gunas (rajas, sattua and tamos) of Sankhya philosophy. the deity entered the three deities with the life, with the self, and created differences of name and form.

4. 'He made each one of them threefold—each one threefold. Good lad, learn from me how those three deities each became threefold—each one threefold.

VI.4

1. 'The red form of fire is the form of heat; the white is that of water; the black is that of food. The "fire-ness" of fire has disappeared. Difference of shape is just name, dependent on speech: the three forms are the reality.

2. 'The red form of the sun is the form of heat; the white is that of water; the black is that of food. The "sun-ness" of the sun has disappeared. Difference of shape is just name, dependent on speech: the three forms are the reality.

3. 'The red form of the moon is the form of heat; the white is that of water; the black is that of food. The "moon-ness" of the moon has disappeared. Difference of shape is just name, dependent on speech: the three forms are the reality.

4. 'The red form of lightning is the form of heat; the white is that of water; the black is that of food. The "lightning-ness" of lightning has disappeared. Difference of shape is just name, dependent on speech: the three forms are the reality.

5. 'Knowing this, of old, great householders and great scholars said, "No one of ours will speak of the unheard, the unthought, the unknown," for they knew it through these—

6. 'What seemed red they knew as the form of heat; what seemed white they knew as the form of water; and what seemed black they knew as the form of food.

7. 'What seemed unknown they knew as the combination of these deities. Good lad, learn from me how those three deities become threefold—each one threefold—when they come into contact with the person. VI.5

1. 'Food, once eaten, is divided into three. The grossest element becomes faeces; the middling, flesh; the subtlest, mind.

2. 'Water, once drunk, is divided into three. The grossest element becomes urine; the middling, blood; the subtlest, breath.

3. 'Heat, once consumed,Literally, eaten is divided into three. The grossest element becomes bone; the middling, marrow; the subtlest, speech.

4. 'Good lad, the mind is made of food, the breath is made of water, the speech is made of heat.'

'Blessed one, explain it to me further.'

'I will, good lad,' he said.

VI.6

1. 'Good lad, when soured milk is churned, the subtle part of it rises to the top. That becomes butter.

2. 'In the same way, good lad, when food is eaten, the subtle part of it rises to the top. That becomes mind.

3. 'Good lad, when water is drunk, the subtle part of it rises to the top. That becomes breath.

4. 'Good lad, when heat is consumed, the subtle part of it rises to the top. That becomes speech.

5. 'Good lad, the mind is made of food, the breath is made of water, the speech is made of heat.'

'Blessed one, explain it to me further.'

'I will, good lad,' he said.

VI.7

1. 'Good lad, the person has sixteen fractions.Kali Do not eat for fifteen days, but drink water as you wish. The breath is made of water. If you not drink, your breath will be cut off.'

2. For fifteen days he did not eat. Then he approached him, saying, 'Father, what shall I say?'

'Re verses, yajus verses and saman verses, good lad,' he said.

'They do not come clear to me, father.'

3. He said to him, 'Good lad, just as when only one ember, the size of a firefly, is left of a great fire, it cannot bum anything big, now that you, good lad, have only one fraction left of your sixteen fractions, you have not the strength for the Vedas. Eat, and you will understand me.'

4. He ate, then approached him. Then he understood whatever he asked him.

5. He said to him, 'Good lad, just as when only one ember, the size of a firefly, is left of a great fire, one can make it blaze up by feeding it with grass, and then it can burn something big,

6. 'So, good lad, one fraction was left of your sixteen fractions: when fed with food, it blazed up, and so you have the strength for the Vedas. Good lad, the mind is made of food, the breath is made of water, the speech is made of heat.'

Then he understood his teaching: he understood.

VI. 8

1. Uddalaka Aruni once said to his son, Svetaketu, 'Good lad, leam from me about the state of sleep. When a person "sleeps", as it is called, then, good lad, he has entered into being; he is merged with his own. That is why they say of him, "he sleeps" (svapiti), for he is merged with his own (svam apita).

2. 'Just as a bird, tied by a thread, flies in every direction but, failing to reach a home elsewhere, returns to its bondage, so, good lad, the mind flies in every direction but, failing to reach a home elsewhere, returns to the breath. For, good lad, the mind is bound to breath.

3. 'Good lad, leam from me about hunger and thirst. When a person here "is hungry", as it is called, then water leads the food (asitam nayante). So they call water "the leader of food" {asandyd= hunger),Asanaya, 'desire for food, hunger' is a derivative of asana, 'food', from as-, to eat. The present passage links the second element with m-, to lead. just like a leader of cows (gonaya), a leader of horses (a'svanaya), a leader of men (purusamya). Good lad, learn from me where this shoot has sprung from: it cannot be rootless.

4. 'Where else could its root be, but in food? Good* lad, through food as the shoot seek for water as the root. Good lad, through water as the shoot seek for heat as the root. Good lad, through heat as the shoot seek for being as the root. Good lad, all creatures have being as their root, being as their home, being as their base.

5. 'When a person "is thirsty", as it is called, then heat leads the drink. So they call heat "leader of water",Linking udanya, 'desire for water, thirst, with uda[ka], water, + ni-, to lead. just like a leader of cows, a leader of horses, a leader of men. Good lad learn from me .where this shoot has sprung from: it cannot be rootless.

6. 'Where else could its root be, but in water? Good lad, through water as the shoot seek for heat as the root. Good lad, through heat as the shoot seek for being as the root. Good lad, all creatures have being as their root, being as their home, being a their base.

'Good lad, I have said before how those three deities each become threefold—each one threefold—when they come into contact with the person. Good lad, when the person departs, his speech enters into mind, his mind into breath, his breath into heat, his heat into the highest deity.

7. 'This subtle part is what all this has as self.Etadatmya idam sarvam, all this [universe] is etadatmya, having this {etad,the subtle  essence) as its atman. truth: it is the self. You are that,Tat tvam asi, perhaps the most famous saying in the Upanishads. Olivelle,following Brereton (1986), rejects this traditional interpretation on the grounds that in Vedic grammar, 'the neuter pronoun tat (that) cannot stand in apposition to a masculine pronoun (here tvam, you). Thus
if the author had wanted to assert the identity between that and you, he would have used the masculine of that; the phrase would then read sa tvam asi.' He therefore takes tat in an adverbial sense, referring back to what has gone before: 'And that's how you are, Svetaketu.' I confess I am not convinced. The examples that Brereton gives are not entirely parallel. In any case, there are numerous places in the Upanishads where the authors have departed from the strict rules of grammatical gender to make a teaching point: there are several in the Chandogya itself. In III.17.6 for example we have a series of neuter adjectives agreeing with a tvam which appears to stand for the masculine atman. The most obvious meaning of the words sa tvam asi would have been 'You are', leaving the hearer to wonder 'What am I?' Svetaketu.'

'Blessed one, explain it to me further.'

'I will, good lad,' he said.




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