‘SAT’ IS THE CAUSE OF THE ENTIRE CREATION
‘सदेव सोम्येदमग्र आसीद्’ – ‘Sadeva somyedagamagra ãseed’ – ‘Son, before creation there was sat – an eternally unchanging element which is above mãyã’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 6/2/1). It is from this sat that the entire creation has arisen.
Sat can mean one of four things: an ãtmã roaming in the cycle of births and deaths, Paramãtmã, Aksharbrahman or a muktãtmã (liberated ãtmã). In this context, though, it does not imply an ãtmã which roams in the cycle of birth and death, because it is also entangled with mãyã and is therefore counted as part of creation. Furthermore, every muktãtmã was also previously bound by mãyã and has wandered in the world through various births; therefore, it can also not be counted as the cause of creation. Only the two entities Brahman and Parabrahman are eternally liberated, they have always been aloof from mãyã and are capable of creating the world. Therefore, here the word sat refers to these two divine entities.
His father continues, ‘सन्मूलाः सोम्येमाः सर्वाः प्रजाः सदायतनाः सत्प्रतिष्ठाः’ – ‘Sanmoolãhã somyemãhã sarvãhã prajãhã sadãyatanãhã satpratishthãhã’ – ‘Whatever creation can be seen, has all been created from that sat – Brahman and Parabrahman. Also, they are the cause of the sustenance and dissolution of creation’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 6/8/4).
Thus, O Shvetketu, that Brahman and Parabrahman are the cause of all. They are the ãtmã of all; they pervade all, control all and support all. Therefore, ‘तत्त्वमसि’ – ‘Tattvamasi’ – ‘They are even the ãtmã of your ãtmã. Hence, you are also pervaded, controlled and supported by them’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 6/8/7). Shvetketu was pleased with this knowledge of brahmavidyã.
Here, just as the word sat has been used for Brahman and Parabrahman, brahmavidyã has also become known as sadvidyã.
Thus, through this dialogue between a father and son, this Upanishad has explained the secret behind the cause of the whole of creation.
THE STORY OF NÃRAD AND SANATSUJÃT: ‘BHOOMÃVIDYÃ’
‘अघीहि भगवः’ – ‘Adheehi bhagavaha’ – ‘O lord, give me knowledge’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/1/1). This is the innermost desire of Nãrad’s heart. Nãrad Muni became the disciple of Sanatsujãt, who said, ‘यद् वेत्य तेन मोपसीद ततस्त वक्ष्यामीति।’ – ‘Yad vetya tena mopaseeda tatasta vakshyãmeeti’ – ‘First of all, tell me what you know, I will then give you knowledge beyond that’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/1/1). Nãrad then began to tell him what he knew, ‘ऋग्वेदं भगवोऽध्येमि यजुर्वेदš सामवेदमाथर्वणं चतुर्थमितिहासपुराणं पञ्चमं वेदानां वेदं पित्र्यš राशिं दैवं निघिं वाकोवाक्यमेकायनं देवविद्यां ब्रह्मविद्यां भूतविद्यां क्षत्रविद्यां नक्षत्रविद्याš सर्पदेवजनविद्यामेतद्भगवोऽध्येमि।’ – ‘Rugvedam bhagavo’dhyemi yajurvedam sãmavedam-ãtharvanam chaturthemitihãsapurãnam panchamam vedãnãm vedam pitryam rãshim daivam nidhim vãkovãkyamekãyanam devavidyãm brahmavidyãm bhootavidyãm kshatravidyãm nakshatravidyãm sarpadevajanavidyãmetadbhagavo’dhyemi’ – ‘O Lord! I know all the four Vedas. I know history and the Purãnas. I know grammar, shrãddh shãstra, mathematics, the science of utpãt, nidhi shastra, the science of reasoning, ethics, the knowledge of the devas, all the limbs of the Vedas, the science of archery, astrology, sarpavidyã, gandharvavidyã and other subjects like ayurveda (medicine), etc.’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/1/2). Despite this, ‘सोऽहं भगवो शोचामि’ – ‘So’ham bhagavo shochãmi’ – ‘I am immersed in an ocean of grief’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/1/3). ‘श्रुतं ह्येव मे भगवद्दृशेभ्यस्तरति शोकमात्मविदिति’ – ‘Shrutam hyeva me bhagavaddrushebhyastarati tam mã bhagavan shokamãtmaviditi’ – ‘I have heard from great people like yourself that one who knows Paramãtmã overcomes the ocean of misery’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/1/3). ‘शोकस्य पारं तारयतु’ – ‘Shokasya pãram tãrayatu’ – ‘Therefore, O lord, please help me cross the ocean of misery. Give the knowledge of Paramãtmã’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/1/13).
Hearing this, Sanatsujãt says, ‘नामैवैतद्’ – ‘Nãmaivaitad’ – “O Nãrad, the subjects you think you know are just names” (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/1/14). Saying this he then teaches, ‘नाम ब्रह्म’ – ‘Nãma Brahma’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/1/5), ‘वाचं ब्रह्म’ – ‘Vãcham Brahma’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/2/2), ‘मनो ब्रह्म’ – ‘Mano Brahma’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/3/2), ‘संकल्पं ब्रह्म’ – ‘Sankalpam Brahma’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/4/3), ‘चित्तं ब्रह्म’ – ‘Chittam Brahma’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/5/3). That is, one should see Brahman in everything. He then says that one must also see this feeling of Brahman in one’s ãtmã. Even in the Bhagavad Gita, only one who is brahmarup has been gifted with the bhakti of Paramãtmã. Therefore, although Nãrad did not question further, this tells us to do the upãsana of Paramãtmã. Then, stating, ‘एष तु वा अतिवदति यः सत्येनातिवदति’ – ‘Esha tu vã ativadati yaha satyenãtivadati’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/16/1), he tells us that one who speaks of Paramãtmã, the form of satya, in this way is the greatest orator. He then continues, “O Nãrad, know that Paramãtmã, contemplate on him, have faith and conviction in him. Only if you attempt to attain all this will you derive the true benefits. You should only endeavour in something that gives you happiness. Therefore you must know where true happiness is.” This is exactly what Nãrad wanted. Therefore he immediately requested, ‘सुखं भगवो विजिज्ञास इति’ – ‘Sukham bhagavo vijignãsa iti’ – ‘O lord, I want to know true happiness’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/22/1).
Sanatsujãt replied, ‘यो वै भूमा तत् सुखं नाल्पे सुखमस्ति भूमैव सुखम्।’ – ‘Yo vai bhoomã tat sukham nãlpe sukhamasti bhoomaiva sukham’ – ‘O Narad, Paramãtmã is the very form of bliss. There is no happiness in mundane objects’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/23/1). Therefore if you want to overcome misery then, ‘भूमा त्वेव विजिज्ञासितव्यः’ – ‘Bhoomã tveva vijignãsitavyaha’ – ‘You should realize Bhoomã – the greatest, i.e., Paramãtmã’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/23/1). Thus, he pleased Nãrad by showing him the true way to happiness.
Here, the word bhoomã has been used to mean ‘the greatest’ – Paramãtmã, therefore these precepts are also known as bhoomãvidyã.
The objective of these precepts is that by conceiving one’s ãtmã to be like Brahman and knowing Parabrahman one can overcome the ocean of misery.
THE CLOSE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HEART AND BRAHMAN: DAHARVIDYÃ
The eighth chapter of the Chãndogya Upanishad starts with the advice to know the two divine entities Brahman and Parabrahman. ‘अथ यदिदमस्मिन्ब्रह्मपुरे दहरं पुण्डरीकं वेश्म दहरोऽस्मिन्नन्तराकाश-स्तस्मिन्यदन्तस्तदन्वेष्टव्यं तद्वाव विजिज्ञासितव्यमिति।’ – ‘Atha yadidamasminbrahmapure daharam pundareekam veshma daharo’sminnantrãkãshastasminyadantastadanveshtavyam tadvãva vijignãsitavyamiti’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 7/23/1). Here, dahar means small. In the body – which is like a city, there is a dahar – a house in the form of a small lotus-like heart. In that small house-like heart, there is something which is even more dahar – an even smaller space. That space is called daharãkãsh or chidãkãsh. This is one of the forms of Aksharbrahman. In that daharãkãsh resides Paramãtmã. This mantra tells us to find both that Aksharbrahman and Parabrahman.
Having said this, the glory of the form of Aksharbrahman is first explained. ‘यावान्वा अयमाकाशस्तावानेषोऽन्तर्हृदय आकाश उभे अस्मिन् द्यावापृथिवी अन्तरेव समाहिते उभावग्निश्र्च वायुश्र्च सूर्याचन्द्रमसावुभौ विद्युन्नक्षत्राणि यत्व्चास्येहास्ति यत्व्च नास्ति सर्वं तदस्मिन्समाहितमिति।’ – ‘Yãnvãnvã ayamãkãshastãvãnesho’ntarhrudaya ãkãsha ubhe asmin dyãvãpruthivee antareva samãhite ubhãvagnishcha vãyushcha sooryãchandramasãvubhau vidyunnakshatrãni yachchãsyehãsti yachcha nãsti sarvam tadasminsamãhitamiti’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 8/1/3). Meaning, just like this external space pervades, similarly this space – chidãkãsh Aksharbrahman – that resides inside everyone’s hearts pervades everywhere. The only difference is that the external space is mundane and limited, whereas this chidãkãsh is unearthly, infinite
(ष्श्ठ्ठह्लस्र. श्ठ्ठ श्र्च. २६)
(contd. from p. 22)
and pervades even the mundane space. The intermediate worlds, our world and all the other worlds reside in it. Even fire, air, the sun, the moon, the constellations, etc. are all supported by it. Also, whatever existed before was supported by chidãkãsh Aksharbrahman, and whatever will exist in the future will all be supported by it. Thus, in this Upanishad the pervasive Aksharbrahman has been linked to the hearts of all.
Further, since the word dahar has been used to describe Aksharbrahman that resides in everyone’s heart, these precepts have also become known as daharvidyã.
Parabrahman Purushottam Bhagwãn Swaminarayan has also stated this in the Vachanãmrut: “In this way, Chidãkãsh is present on all four sides of the brahmãnd as well as within the brahmãnd. When one’s vision reaches the perspective of that all-supporting Chidãkãsh, it is known as daharvidyã. Just as akshividyã and many other types of brahmavidyã have been described, this is also one type of brahmavidyã” (Vachanãmrut Gadhadã I-46).
One natural question that may arise here is that if Aksharbrahman is always resident in our hearts as the pervading daharãkãsh, then why do we not experience it? The Chãndogya Upanishad gives a clear answer to this: ‘तद्यथापि हिरण्यनिघिं निहितमक्षेत्रज्ञा उपर्युपरि सञ्चरन्तो न विन्देयुरेवमेवेमाः सर्वाः प्रजा अहरहर्गत्व्छन्त्य एतं ब्रह्मलोकं न विन्दन्त्यनृतेन हि प्रत्यूढाः।’ – ‘Tadyathãpi hiranyanidhim nihitamakshetragnã uparyupari sancharanto na vindeyurevamevamãhã sarvãhã prajã aharahargachchhantya etam Brahmalokam na vindantyanrutena hi pratyoodhãhã’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 8/3/2). The example of an ignorant farmer is given. Just like a farmer on whose land there is buried gold, and who wanders on that land everyday and ploughs it, but because he does not know about the gold, he continues to plough the field in poverty. Thus, he is deprived of the benefits of that gold. Similarly, we are all in the same situation as the farmer. Aksharbrahman resides in our hearts, but our ãtmã is ‘अनृतेन हि प्रत्यूढाः’ – ‘Anrutena hi pratyoodhãhã’ (Chãndogya Upanishad: 8/3/2). Here, anrut means ‘covered by the obstruction of eternal mãyã’. Therefore, we do not experience that divine treasure.
Now, if we want to experience it, then there is no other means than to know about that buried gold. Therefore, the Upanishad now shows us the divine qualities of Aksharbrahman.
Translated by: Sadhu Paramvivekdas