Author: A Composition
Publisher: Gita Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): N/A
The Chandogya Upanishad is found in the Chandogya Brahmana of the Sama Veda. The Chandogya Brahmana has ten chapters altogether, the last eight of which constitute the Upanishad. The name of this Upanishad is derived from the world Chandas. And the beliefs and practices of the Chandogas are set forth in the Chandogya Upanishad.
Each of the chapters of the Chandogya Upanishad is important. The first five chapters are about worship and meditation (that is, they are dualistic); whereas from the sixth chapter on, they are about Brahman ( and in that sense they are more or less non-dualistic). The purpose of the meditation chapters is to emphasize the need for a pure heart. Only when the heart is pure can instructions about Brahman be effective.
The Chandogya Upanishad occupies a high place among the extant Upanishads. Its language is simple and its tells many stories, but its subject matter is profound. It takes care of the needs of ordinary people as well as those who are highly intellectual. It is like a loving mother, leading her child by the hand. The Chandogya Upanishad occupies a high place among the extant Upanishads. Its language is simple and its tells many stories, but its subject matter is profound. It takes care of the needs of ordinary people as well as those who are highly intellectual. It is like a loving mother, leading her child by the hand.
The Upanishad begins by telling people what they have to do to maintain spiritual progress, and it offers two options: ritualistic worship as prescribed by the scriptures, or meditation on the sublime Brahman, again as prescribed by the scriptures. The Chandogya concedes that for most people the first option is the best. They are people incapable of thinking of anything beyond the reach of sense perception. Brahman, beyond thought and speech, means nothing to them. They have many desires and they would be happy to have those desires fulfilled. Ritualistic worship offers them the opportunity to attain just those things they desire.
But the Upanishad makes no secret of the fact that everything that ritualistic worship offers - money, health, beauty, power, even heaven - is short lived. If a person wants permanent peace and happiness, he has to have liberation - liberation from the bondage of desires. And this is attainable only though Self-Knowledge.
The Chandogya Upanishad was often quoted by Sankara in his commentaries to establish his philosophy of non-daulism.In fact, there is hardly any issue in Vedanta which is not discussed in the Chandogya. It is a complete manual on Vedanta.