Introduction: The Chhandogya Upanishad is an integral part of the Tavalkara Brahmana of the Samaveda. The Kenopanishad also belongs to the Tavalkara Brahmana. Therefore, the peace invocation for both of them is one. This is a very important Upanishad. The method of narration is very methodical and witty. It includes the comprehensive description of the Divine knowledge, the allied useful deeds and propitiation. This Upanishad comprises of eight chapters in which the first five chapters deal with worship and propitiation and the last three chapters deal with the analysis of knowledge.
THE SYNOPSIS OF CHHANDOGYA UPANISHAD
One sees the beautiful analysis of worship and knowledge in the Chhandogya Upanishad. To facilitate understanding, some stories have also been narrated when necessary. The first chapter speaks of Ushasti who would stay in Ibhyagrama. Ushasti was very adroit and conversant with the different rituals. Once upon a time, there was a famine in the region of Kuru where Ushasti was staying. There was rain of stones and hail due to which people had to live without food. When the situation worsened further, the people went to a mahout and asked for some food. He had some left over horse grams, which he was hesitating to give away. But Ushasti took it from him and protected his body. When mahout gave him the horse grams saying: “It is left over” and told him not to take it.
When the mahout expressed his doubt Won’t you be cursed with the sin of eating leftover food? Ushasti said: “I can stay alive without eating this. I can get water wherever and whenever I want. Thus I do not recommend drinking of left of water. In this way, he advised that a person can neglect or overlook the codes of conduct only when there is a question of survival or when one’s life is at stake.
The conversation between Shilak, Chaikitayan and Pravahana encompasses the entire first chapter. The fifth chapter speaks of the curiosity of the ancient Maharshis such as Shaal that brought them to the court of king Ashwapati to ask him about the Vaishwanar Atma. This thing is clear from all these incidents that the Brahmins are the only people authorized to give sermons according to the eternal code of conduct for disciples, but if there is some nobler type of knowledge possessed by someone else, one can seek his tutelage. The stories of the Aranyakas exhibit the fact that how much of penance, austerities, service one has to practice and how much humility and truthfulness one needs to imbibe the auspicious knowledge.
King Janashruti bore the humiliation by the charioteer named Raekva just to imbibe the knowledge of Samvarga, which he possessed. But the king has to pay a price for knowledge by giving the charioteer his daughter, the wealth and his empire. Indra practiced celibacy for hundred and one years to realize the cosmic spirit. When Satyakarma Jaabal requested his Guru Haridrumata Gautam to perform the thread ceremony he (Guru) asked him his gotra (lineage). Jaabal replied that he was ignorant about it. Seeing the truthfulness of Jaabal, Guru was assured that Jaabal was a Brahmin and performed his thread ceremony.
Satyakarma acquired the knowledge of divinity through his service of his Guru. After performing the thread ceremony of Satyakarma Jaabal, Acharya Haridrubhat asked him to take his four hundred cows to the jungle for grazing. He also told Satyakarma not to bring them until their number had grown to one thousand.
Satyakarma obeyed his Guru’s commands with total devotion. By just taking the cows to graze, he acquired the Divine cosmic knowledge. When he returned with the cows, he was so radiant and brilliant that even his Guru said: “O Saumya! You seem to be realized one. Who has given you the sermons.”
Similarly, Upakoshala, the disciple of Satyakarma, acquired Divine knowledge by merely performing the religious rites in a sacrifice.
The seventh chapter contains the conversation between Sanat kumar and Narad. Out of curiosity of divine knowledge, Devarishi Narad comes in the tutelage of Sanat kumar. Sanat kumar asked: “Tell me what knowledge you are appraised of?
After this I shall advice you. Narad replied: “I know , all the four Vedas, History, Puranas (Pancham Veda), Grammar, Shraddha Kalpa, mathematics, Utpaat Jnana, Nidhi Shastra, Logic, Neeti Shaastra, Nirukta, Shiksha, Bhuta Tantra, Archery, Astrology, Garuda, music etc.
Despite having such vast knowledge, Narad was dissatisfied. His condition was like a king who had all the pleasures unimaginable but because of some terrible ailment or pain he wasn’t satisfied.
Hence, curious Narad said: “O Lord! I am just well versed with the scriptures but I have not realized the soul. I have heard that the realization transcends all unhappiness. I am unhappy. Kindly help me to transcend all these miseries. I am assured that a person cannot transcend the ocean of misery just by being conversant with the scriptures.
In this way, there are many useful things in the Chhandogya Upanishad. Maximum sutras, which are explained in the Vedanta Sutras, are extracted from this Upanishad. The Jnana kanda is an infinite treasury for the curious. The great statement ‘Tatvamasi’ is the prime instrument of the Advaita school of philosophy which features in the sixth chapter of this Upanishad. Aruni has explained to his son Shwetaketu, the secret of self-realization using this statement nine times in nine different examples.
The ultimate aim of the ‘soul’ is happiness, divine, eternal happiness which is the knowledge of the self. The Shruti concludes by directing us towards the ultimate attainment of the human body and inspires us to do so.
AUM AAPYAYANTU MMANGAANI|
NAKPRANA CHAKSHUHU SHROTRA
MATHO BALAM INDRIYAANI CHA SARVAANI|
SARVA BRAHMAUPANISHADAM MAHAM BRAHMA NIRAKURYAM
MA MA BRAHMA NIRA KARODANIRA KARANA-MASTVA NIRAKARANAM ME ASTU|
TADAATMANI NIRYATE YA UPANISHASTU DHARMASTE MAYI SANTU TEMAYI SANTU|
AUM SHANTI!SHANTI! SHANTI!
FIRST CHAPTER (1ST PART)
The first part of Chhadogya Upanishad’s first chapter speaks of the propitiation of the ‘Omkar’ through the ‘Udgeetha’ point of view. The topics covered are the beautiful elements of Udgeetha, the description of Udgeetha of ‘Rik’ and ‘Sama’ in the worship of Udgeetha, the fruit of the worship of Udgeetha, etc.
THE PROPITIATION OF OMKAR FROM UDGEETHA’S POINT OF VIEW
‘Aum.’ This word, says the Shruti, is the Udgeetha. The person who recites AUM or OM in the yagya and thereafter starts the ‘Saamagaana’. This is the propitiation of Udgeetha.
‘Aum’ is closest synonym of the Supreme God. One experiences happiness by using and reciting this word often just like happiness experienced by the common man by reciting the name of the beloved. Though it is synonymous with the Supreme God, the ‘AUMKAR’ is expressed in the word form only and eventually it represents itself in the form as the symbol of God. Reciting ‘Aum’ is the best way for propitiation of the Supreme God.
As the word Aum is an integral part of the Udgeetha Bhakti and is represented as ‘Udgeetha’. That is why one should with total concentration and devotion supplicate the ‘AUMKAR’ by Udgeetha who is the part of Karma (action) and is the symbol of the Supreme Lord.
A stotra of the Samaveda is referred to as Udgeetha. AUMKAR is the fraction of it, that is why it is referred to as Udgeetha.
THE BENEFIT OF THE PROPITIATION OF AUMKAR
That person who propitiates the Udgeetha form word ‘AUMKAR’ attains all what he desires. The Shruti states: “He becomes all that he worships and supplicates”.
THE PROPERTY/QUALITY OF AUMKAR
‘AUMKAR’ is embellished with the merit of prosperity as it is a word that hints towards experiences. Just as when we approve a particular thing said by someone we say ‘Hmm’ (AUM).
He who realizes the Udgeetha in this form and propitiates it attains all that he desires. Approval itself is prosperity. A person who is prosperous only can approve by saying ‘Aum’. This shows that ‘AUM’ is embellished by the property of prosperity.
As he who realizes the Udgeetha Akshar (word) becomes the worshipper of that thing that is embellished with quality of prosperity and fulfills all the desires of the person.
THE PRAISES OF AUMKAR
The Trayi Vidya of Rigveda, Samaveda and Yajurveda emerges from the word AUMKAR. By reciting AUM, the Adhvaryu (one of the Brahmins of the Yajurveda) performs his duty. The Udgeetha starts songs first by reciting AUM. The entire Vedic rituals are created for propitiation of this ‘Divine word’. For the initiation of action the juice of wheat and barley is presented as the oblation for its greatness.
The allied actions of the Rigveda etc. are also for supplication of the divine word. ‘AUMKAR’ is symbol of the Supreme God. The propitiation of ‘AUMKAR’ is done by the prana of ‘Ritvija’ and ‘Yajamana’ and recitation of the divine word.
That person who propitiates the ‘AUMKAR’ in that aforesaid manner and worships the Akshar Brahma, merges with the immortal divine element and is liberated. He becomes immortal just like the gods.
THE GLORY OF UDGEETHA WHICH REPRESENTS THE SKY AND ITS BENEFITS
To exhibit the greatness of the propitiation of Udgeetha, the conversation between Shilak, Dalabhya and Pravahana is narrated.
Seeking the approval of Pravahana, Shilak said to Dalabhya: “The ultimate state of this world is the sky (space). The word sky (space) is synonymous to the epitome of God. All humans take birth from that sky (space). Everything finds its end in the space element. The space is the refuge of each and everything. This Udgeetha which represents the Supreme God is the noblest of all.
That scholar who realizes that Udgeetha and propitiates that Supreme God ‘Aum’ attains good Lokas or states.
The son of Shaunak, Atidhanva explained it as the ‘stomach of Shandilya’ and said: “My descendants will know this Udgeetha from my children until then the life on this earth will ameliorate and improve gradually. Even in Heaven they shall attain good state and Lokas. That person who propitiates Udgeetha in form of the sky or space, his life becomes nobler and sublime and even in state of bliss , he attains better Lokas or states.
THE ANECDOTE OF USHASTI
The ten parts of the first chapter narrate the anecdote of Ushasti. During the famine, Ushasti took a handful of left over horse grams from a mahout to save his life. As he did not drink the left over water as potable water was available. Ushasti with the desire of becoming Ritwij went to the religious sacrifice organized by the king.
At the ceremony, he criticized the Presentator and the Udgeetha (one who recites) that if without knowing the gods, they invoke them, they will immediately meet their death. On this, the king welcomed Ushasti and entrusted the work of Ritwij.
He answered the questions one by one put forward by the Udgeetha and the presentator.
THE GOD OF PRANA THAT LIES IN INVOCATION
The prastotra asked Ushasti with the emotion of a disciple: “Who is that god who lies in the invocation. Ushasti replied: “That God is the prana (breath) as he pervades all the humans. He takes birth from all the prana. All the creatures static and dynamic at the time of final dissolution end in prana. At the time of evolution also that human is created from that prana. So it is this God of prana lies in the introduction. If you invoke God without realization, your head would be decapitated. On my prohibition, you did not do that deed, otherwise you would have met your death.
ADITYA IS THE GOD ACCORDING TO UDGEETHA
The Udgeetha asked Ushasti with humility and devotion: “Lord! Who is the God concerned with Udgeetha. On this Ushasti said: “That God is Aditya. As all humans sing the praises of that Aditya who has risen. That Aditya God is the one concerned with the Udgeetha.
FOOD IS THE GOD CONCERNED WITH PROTECTION
The Pratiharta asked Ushasti: “O Lord! Who is the God concerned with protection and preservation? Ushasti said: “That God is food. All the humans exist and sustain on food. Hence food is the sole preserver of human life on this Loka.
In this way, the synopsis of the Shruti says that we should propitiate the invocation, The Udgeetha and Pratihar (preserver) with the Prana, Aditya and the Anna (food)
The benefit is the tangibility of the prana and the prosperity of the work (karma)
THE PROPITIATION OF THE SAMA ACCORDING TO THE SAINTS
The second chapter narrates the worship of all the Samas through the Shrutis. The first chapter speaks of the propitiation of the eleven organs of the body and the second chapter deals with the gods of the eleven organs. Shruti says: “The propitiation of all the Samas is good and sublime. That which is sublime is known as Sama. An example is cited to explain the same. When it is said that this person went to the king via the Sama, it means that he has become noble and sublime.
On the contrary if one comes with the ‘Asama’ it means that he has come with an inferior motive or is considered mean.
After this it is also said that ‘Our Sama is done’ which means that auspicious work is accomplished. When it is auspicious, it is considered good and when it is inauspicious, it is considered as bad. In this way, the one solitary meaning of Sama, Sadhu and Shubha is delineated.
That person who realizes (known as Samasadhu) this and worships in that manner, is embellished with all the good qualities and becomes humble as a result.
After narrating the different types of propitiation of the Sama, the Shruti speaks about the fruit of the yagya as the embodiment of the Sun. It is one thing that can bestow upon us the greatest of all things amongst all the four attainments.
MADHU VIDYA (KNOWLEDGE OF NECTAR)
This Aditya is unequivocally the nectar of the Gods. The sky itself is the ‘horizontal bars’ on which it is suspended. The space is the ‘umbrella’ or ‘parapet’ and the rays are the ‘small mosquitoes’ staying in it.
As Aditya pleases all the Gods and is beloved, he is really the nectar. When all the food, fluids, juices cease to exist, this Aditya merges in the Supreme God and becomes one. He attains Brahma Loka. In the Brahma Loka, the Sun neither rises nor sets. He who realizes the Veda in form of the Madhu Vidya, the Sun never sets for him. That Aditya becomes the unborn Supreme God who neither rises nor sets.
SHANDILYA VIDYA (KNOWLEDGE BESTOWED BY SHANDILYA
The Shruti speaks of that supreme divine God who is embellished with three feet, infinite qualities and insurmountable powers and who can be propitiated in different forms. This entire universe is definitely Brahma. The universe takes birth and finally dissolute in that Brahma. All actions and deeds take place in that Brahma. Hence, one ought to worship God without desire or hatred. The purush is embellished with Yagya and is definite. Like that purush is definite, also attains death. Hence the purush should decide and resolute a particular thing.
THE TOTAL BRAHMA EMBELLISHED WITH THE QUALITIES
How should the soul (purush) decide? The Shruti comments on this- That Brahma is Manomaya (pervaded in the mind), the prana is the body, embodiment of divine light, a truthful resolution, the sky is the body, Sarvakarma (one who accomplishes all deeds), Sarvakama (One who satisfies and exhausts all desires), Sarvagandha (embodiment of all fragrances) and Sarvarasa (embodiment of all juices/tastes).
He is the one who encompasses the entire universe, devoid of speech and dilemma.
BRAHMA IS THE BIGGEST AND THE MINUTEST
The Shrutis say: “The soul which resides in the heart is smaller than mustard and food and is bigger than the space, the sky and the other Lokas. This soul is all pervasive and is in every atom and molecule of this world.
He who decides in this way that “I shall attain the supreme God after death” attains bliss, undoubtedly. This is said by Shandilya. Shandilya Rishi says: “Those people who are the principal teachers of the knowledge of propitiation, that scholar who takes a resolution definitely attains godhood”.