Chandogya Upanishad

Chandogya Upanishad
   The classical Chandogya Upanishad is part of the Chandogya Brahmana, which is attached to the SAMA VEDA. It is one of the oldest UPA-NISHADS. It retains much of the character of the BRAHMANA from which it comes, in that it is largely devoted to delineating the deeper mean-ing and significance of the elements of the Vedic sacrifice or YA J N A (see VEDAS).
   Much of the Chandogya Upanishad is devoted to the true meaning of the Udigitha, the loud chant of the Sama Vedic priest at the sacrificial ritual. The Udgitha is said to be tantamount to OM (Ch. 1.1.1–10) and is identified with the breath (Ch. 1.2.1–14). The esoteric meaning of each of the syllables in the word Udgitha is explicated (Ch. 1.3.1–12). The Udgitha is also identified with the Sun, with space as the ultimate, and with divinities.
   The Chandoga Upanishad goes on to coordi-nate the sounds of the fuller Sama Vedic chant with cosmic and human entities. Through this process, the elements of the Sama Vedic chant are shown to encompass a wide range of human, worldly, and cosmic entities; it is much more important than a simple musical recitation.
   Chapter three raises the familiar Upanishadic theme of the identity of AT M A N (the individual self) and the BRAHMAN (the Ultimate Reality). The fifth chapter gives the famous teaching of Uddal-aka Aruni to his son, Shvetaketu; in defining the Ultimate Reality of the brahman he tells his son, “You are THAT” (TAT TVAM ASI). This is one of the most well known MAHAVAKYAS or “Great Sayings” quoted in the VEDANTA.
   Chapters seven and eight relate the nature of the atman or individual self and show that it resides within the human heart. They tell the famous tale in which INDRA, king of the gods, at last learns the nature of the brahman/atman identity.
   Further reading: S. N. Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 1 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975); Swami Nikhilandanda, trans., The Upanishads. Vol. 1 (New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1975); S. Radhakrishnan, The Principal Upanishads (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1974).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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