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chhAndogya upaniShad 6.1.1 - 6.1.3

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chhAndogya upaniShad 6.1.1 - 6.1.3


Om. shvetaketur hAruNeya Asa, taM ha pitovAca: shvetaketo,

vasa brahmacaryam, na vai, saumya, asmat-kulIno.ananUcya

brahma-bandhur iva bhavatIti 6.1.1



shvetaketu: shvetaketu, by name

AruNeya: the grandson of AruNa

Asa ha: there was (once upon a time)

taM: to him

pitA: (his) father

uvAca ha: said

shvetaketo: O shvetaketu

brahmacaryaM: the disciplined life of a celibate student

vasa: live

saumya: dear boy

asmatkulIno: anyone in our family

ananUcya: who does not study (the vedA-s)

brahmabanduH iva: like one who does not have the conduct of

brAhmaNa but only points to the brAhmaNA-s as his relations;

i.e. who is only a brAhmaNa for namesake

na vai: never was

bhavati: there is

iti: thus


Om. Once upon a time there was one Shvetaketu, the grandson

of AruNa. His father (UddAlaka) said to him, "O Shvetaketu,

live the life of a celibate student in the teacher's house.

Dear boy, there never is anyone in our family who does not

study (the vedA-s) and is only a namesake-brAhmaNa".



according to vedic dharma, there are four stages in a human

life: brahmacarya, gr^ihastha, vAnaprastha, and sannyAsa.

brahmacarya: at around seven years of age, after the thread

ceremony, the boy is sent to the teacher's house (gurukula)

to be a celibate student and to learn the vedA-s at the feet

of the teacher.

gR^ihastha: after learning the vedA-s for 12 years, the boy

returns home, gets married and enters into family life, taking

care of the house and the family.

vAnaprastha: after being a gR^ihastha for 25 years, he gives up

family life and returns to the forest with his wife. While

being in the gR^ihastha stage, the offerings to God are in

material form, while during vAnaprastha, the offerings are

symbolic only. This period is the period for contemplation.

sannyAsa: here the person gives up everything and becomes a



In the context of c.u. 6.1.1, uddAlaka is asking his son

shvetaketu who is 12 years of age (as coming up in the next

mantra) to start the gurukula stage and go and learn vedA-s

at the feet of a guru.


brahmabandhu: is one who mentions brAhmins as his relatives,

while he himself does not behave like a brAhmin. shri sha^Nkara

says of brahmabandhu: brAhmaNAn bandhUn vyapadishati na svayam

brAhmaNa-vr^itta iti.




sa ha dvAdasha-varSha upetya caturviMshati varShaH sarvAn vedAn

adhItya mahAmanA anUcAna-mAnI stabdha evAya, taM ha pitOvAca,

shvetaketO, yan nu saumya idaM mahAmanA anUcAnamAnI stabdho'si

uta tam Adesham aprAkshyaH 6.1.2


yenAshrutam shrutam bhavti, amatam matam, avijnAtam vijnAtam

iti; kathaM nu, bhagavaH, sa Adesho bhavatIti 6.1.3



dvAdashavarShaH: when twelve years old

sa: he

upetya: having gone (to the teacher's house)

caturviMshati-varShaH: (when he was) twenty four years old

sarvAn: all

vedAn: vedA-s

adhItya: having studied

mahAmanA: conceited

anUcAnamAnI: regarding himself as very learned

stabdhaH: arrogant

eyAya ha: came back

taM: to him

pitA: (his) father

uvAca ha: said

saumya: dear boy

shvetaketo: O shvetaketu,

yat nu idam: since now (I see)

mahAmanA: conceited

anUcAnamAnI: regarding yourself as very learned

stabdhaH: arrogant

asa: you are

tam: that

Adesham: teaching

uta aprAkshyaH: did you ask for



yena: through (the knowledge of) which

ashrutam: what is unheard (unhearable)

shrutam: heard

bhavati: becomes

amatam: that which is unthought of (beyond thought)

matam: thought of

avijnAtam: what is unknown (unknowable)

vijnAtam: becomes known

bhagavaH: revered sir

katham nu: in what way

sah AdeshaH: that instruction

nu bhavati: is it

iti: thus



He, of twelve years age, after going to the teacher and

having studied all the vedA-s, till the age of twenty-four

years, returned conceited, regarding himself as very learned,

and arrogant. To him, the father said, "O shvetakeu, dear boy,

now that you are conceited, think yourself as well-learned

and immodest, did you ask about that teaching


through which the unheard of becomes heard, the unthought-of

becomes thought-of, the unknowable becomes known?"

(shvetaketu asked): "O venerable sir, in what way is that

instruction imparted?"


These two mantrA-s imply that shvetaketu has attained only

intellectual knowledge, having understood the vedA-s only as

a text. That made him mahAmanA, anUcAnamAnI and stabdha. The

father recognized this and asked shvetaketu whether he has

asked the teacher for that teaching by which the unknowable

becomes knowable, and the unhearable becomes hearable.

shvetaketu wondered how that teaching can be imparted and,

with reverence, asked the father for that teaching. There

are instances in the upaniShads where distinction is made

between knowledge as intellectual knowledge and Knowledge

as the SELF itself.



Gummuluru Murthy


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