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Chandogya Upanishad

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Chandogya Upanishad

Devanagari छान्दोग्य
IAST Chāndogya
Date of composition before the 8th century BCE
Purported authors Uddalaka Aruni, Sanatkumara, Sandilya
Type of Upanishad Mukhya Upanishad
Associated Veda Samaveda
Associated Brahmana Chandogya Brahmana, Pancavimsa Brahmana
Number of chapters Eight
Core philosophy Oneness of the Atman
Commented upon by Adi Shankara, Madhvacharya
Popular verse Tat tvam asi
Part of a series on the
aum symbol
Bṛhadāraṇyaka  · Īṣa
Taittirīya  · Kaṭha
Chāndogya · Kena
Muṇḍaka ·Māṇḍūkya ·Praśna
Other Major Upanishads
Shvetashvatara ·Kaushitaki ·Maitrayaniya

The Chandogya Upanishad (also Chhandogya; Sanskrit: chāndogyopaniṣad छान्दोग्योपनिषद्) is one of the "primary" (mukhya) Upanishads. Together with the Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad it ranks among the oldest Upanishads, still dating to the Brahmana period of Vedic Sanskrit (before the 8th century BCE).[1] It is associated with the Kauthuma Shakha of the Samaveda.[2] It figures as number 9 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads. It is part of the Chandogya Brahmana, which has ten chapters. The first two chapters of the Brahmana deal with sacrifices and other forms of worship. The other eight constitute the Chandogya Upanishad.[3] Though there are more than two hundred Upanishads, ten are principal. These are called the Dashopanishads and are known for their philosophical depth, having become popular through the commentaries of Adi Shankara and Madhvacharya. Along with Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, the Chandogyopanishad is an ancient source of principal fundamentals of Vedanta philosophy. A number of references made to this Upanishad in Brahma sutras indicate the special importance of this Upanishad in Vedantic philosophy. Important Upasana's such as Dahara vidya and Shandilya vidya are its speciality.


  • Commentary 1
  • Organization 2
    • First Chapter 2.1
    • Second Chapter 2.2
    • Third Chapter 2.3
    • Fourth Chapter 2.4
    • Fifth Chapter 2.5
    • Sixth Chapter 2.6
    • Seventh Chapter 2.7
    • Eighth Chapter 2.8
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Sources 5
    • Primary sources 5.1
    • Secondary sources 5.2
  • External links 6


Of the available commentaries, the oldest was written by Adi Shankara. Adi Shankara stated that his commentary is a brief book for those who want a summary of this Upanishad. Ananda Giri mentioned in his commentary that a Dramidacharya wrote an elaborate and detailed commentary well before Adi Shakara, but little is known about this Dramidacharya and his work is now lost. Brahmanandi Tankacharya wrote a brief explanation for this upanishad and Dramidacharya wrote an elaborate and detailed commentary on the work of Brahmanandi Tankacharya. Sri Ramanuja makes many references to these two scholars in his commentaries, Vedanta Sangraha and Sri Bhasya.


The Chandogya Upanishad contains eight chapters, with each chapter divided into subchapters called Khanda.

First Chapter

The first chapter contains thirteen khandas.

The first khanda ordains the Upasana of udgitha (or holy syllable OM). The syllable OM is called by the term udgitha since a priest designated as Udgātṛ starts his singing of Sama's with OM in Vedic yajnas.

The second khanda ordains that udgitha should be meditated as Vital Life Force or Prana, and tells a story to explain the Holiness of Prana describing how it remained untouched by evil while all other five senses got tainted by evil.

Third khanda says that udgitha should be meditated as sun god.

Fourth khanda continues telling one more method ( Upasana )for meditating upon OM as the Eternal and Ultimate Refuge ( Amritam, Abhayam) and tells that one who meditates this way becomes himself an Eternal and Ultimate Refuge.

Fifth khanda tells that one who meditates on the Sun and its rays as separate from each other or Prana and its functions such as speech etc. as separate from each other would beget many children.

One more Upasana of udgitha is told in Sixth khanda for obtaining wealth.

Seventh khanda ordains that OM (or udgitha) should be meditated as Purusha (Divine Person) present in the right eye who is nothing but another manifestation of Sun (Aditya)who in turn another manifestation of OM. Hence describes the equality of OM, Divine Person present in the Right Eye and Sun.

Another Upasana of udgitha is told in ninth and tenth khanda's which is said to result in a Superior Divine Essence ( Parovareeya Satva ) in the practitioner. This is told in the form of a story of Three Scholars of Sama.

Tenth and Eleventh khandas describe three parts of Sama called Prastava, udgitha and Pratihaara which are sung by priests in vedic Rituals and their respective gods through a Story of Priest Ushasti Chakrayana.

Twelfth khanda tells about the Udgitha Sama revealed by gods in the form of Dogs. The result of singing this Sama is availability of food.

Thirteenth khanda describes the various Upasana's of Sthobha-Akshara's.

Second Chapter

There are 24 khandas in the second chapter. After having elaborated on different Upasana's of various organs of Sama, the second chapter elaborates many Upasana's of full Sama as a whole (that is, combined Sama with all Sama organs or parts). In other words, it can be said that if first chapter describes the Upasana of different body parts separately, the second chapter describes the Upasana's of whole body (Full Sama). Worshipping Full Sama or Whole Sama is described to be yielding good character (Saadhu Dharma) to worshipper in first khanda.

Second khanda describes Five-Fold Sama or Sama with Five Organs (Pancha Vidha Sama). HIM-Kara, Prastava, udgitha, Pratihara and Nidhana are the names of Five organs of Sama.

In second to seventh khanda's this Five-Fold Sama is ordained to be conceptualized or viewed as different worlds such as earth, heaven, etc. In worldview, as wind, lightning, etc. As a process, raining. Cloud, rain, ocean, etc. would be the water view. Different seasons such as spring in a seasons view, or as sheep etc. in terms of animals and finally as vital airs (Prana).

Each of these conceptualizations or views of FiveFold Sama is a separate Upasana of Fivefold Sama and described to be having definite fruit or result for the practitioner.

Eighth khanda ordains Seven-Fold Sama. Two more organs Adi and Upadrava are added to Five organs described in second khanda to make Sama Seven Fold. This Seven Fold Sama is ordained to be seen or viewed in the speech in eighth khanda. Fruit of this Upasana is worshipper never faces scarcity of food and will have enough food to provide for others.

Next Upasana is to meditate or view sevenfold sama in the movement of sun in the sky. Fruit of this upasana is worshipper attains Sun's form ( Aditya Swarupa ). This is the content of ninth khanda.

Tenth khanda ordains Upasana of syllables of seven organs of Seven Fold Sama (Sapta Vidha Sama Namakshara Upasana).

Khanda's 11–21 describe how some famous Samas or (Sama Mantras) to viewed.

Gayatra Sama is ordained to be viewed as Mind, Speech, Eye, etc.

Rathantara Sama is ordained to be viewed as process of generating fire by rubbing two wood pieces.

Vaamya Devya Sama is ordained to be viewed as mating process between male and female human beings.

Brihat Sama is ordained to be viewed as world activity as per of movement of sun across the horizon.

Vairupa Sama is ordained to be viewed as process of raining.

Vairaja Sama is ordained to be viewed as Seasonal Cycle.

Shakvaree Sama is ordained to be viewed as different worlds.

Revati Sama is ordained to be viewed as grazing animals.

Yagnya-Yagneeya Sama is ordained to be viewed as hair, skin, meat, etc.

Rajana Sama is ordained to be viewed as Fire, Wind, Stars, etc.

Finally Complete Sama or Sarva Sama is ordained to be viewed as three veda's (Trayi Vidya) which are Rigveda, Yajurveda and Sama veda and whole world.

Each of these Upasana's are mentioned along with a distinct fruit or result to the worshipper.

Later khandas of this chapter describe various modes of singing Sama, upasana on holy syllable OM, three Savana's, their respective gods and Sama's to them.

Third Chapter

This chapter has 19 khandas. First 11 khandas deal with Upasana of Sun and this Upasana is known as Madhu Vidya. Khandas 12 and 13 teach Brahman through Gayatri. 14th Khanda elaborates famous meditation Shandilya Vidya, known after its revealer the seer Shandilya. This Khanda describes the atman in terms of a grain: ‘This atman, which dwells in the heart, is smaller than a grain of rice, smaller than a grain of barely, smaller than a grain of mustard, smaller than a grain of millet, smaller than the germ which is in the grain of millet; this atman, which dwells in the heart, is also greater than the earth [the sphere of gross manifestation], greater than the atmosphere [the sphere of subtle manifestation], greater than the sky [the sphere of formless manifestation], greater than all the worlds together [that is, beyond all manifestation, being the unconditioned]. 15th Khanda describes Kosha Vidya for begetting long life and valour for one's son. 16th and 17th Khandas detail Purusha Vidya which results in increased life span of practitioner. It is told that seer Mahidasa Aitareya lived for 116 years by practicing Purusha Vidya. 18th Khanda ordains that Mind should be meditated as Brahman.

Fourth Chapter

The story of king Janushruti Pautrayana and the Self realized seer Raikva; and of Satyakama, the son of Jabala, is told in this chapter.[4] A meditational practice called Samvarga Vidya, propagated by Raikva, is also described.

Fifth Chapter

The fifth chapter starts with a fable proclaiming the superiority of life breath over other senses. An esoteric knowledge of Five Fires (Panchagni Vidya) is also described. The concept of Vaishvanara Atman is also elucidated in this chapter.[4]

Sixth Chapter

This chapter contains one of the more important metaphysical messages of this Upanishad. It contains the Mahavakya Tat Tvam Asi ("That art Thou").[5] This chapter also establishes the principle of Atman through a dialogue between Uddalaka and his son Shvetaketu. Many metaphors, such as, the illustration of curd and butter, banyan tree and its seed, rivers, ocean, etc., are given to illustrate the concept of Atman. Within this dialogue, the theory of being (sat) arising from non-being(asat) is refuted.[6]

Seventh Chapter

At the start of this chapter, the four Vedas, the Itihasas, Puranas, mathematics, astrology, the science of treasures, logic, the science of ethics, etymology, fine arts, etc. are held as mere words by Narada who visits Sanatkumara seeking the knowledge of Atman or the Self. Sanatkumara through remainder of the verses describes the Self progressively through various stages, from grosser ones to subtler ones, culminating in the establishment of the Self as Bhuma or the Absolute. The various stages mentioned in order of subtlety as well as appearance in this chapter are Name, Speech, Mind, Will, Memory, Contemplation, Understanding, Strength, Food, Water, Heat, Ether, Memory, Hope, Life, Truth, Truth and Understanding, Thought and Understanding, Faith, Steadfastness, Activity, Happiness, The Infinite, The Infinite and the Finite, The Ego and the Self and The Primacy of the Self.[7]

Eighth Chapter

The story of Indra's persistence in gaining the knowledge of Brahman is recounted in this chapter.[4] The meditational technique of concentrating on the Universal Self (Brahman) in the cave of the heart (Dahara Vidya) is also explained.

See also


  1. ^ Rosen, Steven J. (2006). Essential Hinduism. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. p. 125.  
  2. ^ Jones, Constance (2007). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. New York: Infobase Publishing. p. 103.  
  3. ^ Sharma, p. 8.
  4. ^ a b c Sharma, p. 9.
  5. ^ Raphael, Edwin (1992). The pathway of non-duality, Advaitavada: an approach to some key-points of Gaudapada's Asparśavāda and Śaṁkara's Advaita Vedanta by means of a series of questions answered by an Asparśin. Iia: Philosophy Series. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-0929-7, ISBN 978-81-208-0929-1., p.Back Cover
  6. ^ Mehta, p.237-239
  7. ^ Goodall, p.141-151


Primary sources

  • Chandogya Upanishad in ITRANS

Secondary sources

External links

  • Multiple translations (Johnston, Nikhilānanda, Swahananda)
  • Chhandogya Upanishad – A translation by swami Nikhilananda
  • Chandogya Upanishad with Shankara Bhashya translated to English by Ganganath Jha (1942) at
  • etext
  • Translation of Chandogya Upanishad at Celextel's Online Spiritual Library
  • Swami Krishnananda Speaks on The Chhandogya Upanishad – Contains audios
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