Chandogya Upanishad

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 14 Oct 2011 08:33 and updated at 19 Oct 2011 13:33

Chandogya Upanishad is the second largest among the Upanishads. It is also one of the oldest Upanishads. The oldest and largest Upanishad is Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Chandogya Upanishad is associated with the Samaveda. It is part of the Chandogya Brahmana of Sama Vedic tradition and forms the last 8 chapters among the ten chapters of Chandogya Brahmana.


This Upanishad is divided into eight chapters.

First Chapter

The first chapter contains 13 khanda's. The first khanda deals with the Upasana of Udgitha (holy syllable AUM). 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 AUM as the Eternal and Ultimate Refuge and tells that one who mediatates 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 all round 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 Aum. Hence describes the equality of Aum, Devine 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 Usasti 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 Stobha-Aksharas.

Second Chapter

There are 24 khanda's 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. in view of process of raining, as cloud, rain, ocean etc. in water view, as different seasons like spring etc. in seasons view, as sheep etc. in animal view 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.

The 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 AUM, three Savana's, their respective gods and Sama's to them.

Third Chapter

This chapter has 19 khanda's. First 11 khanda's 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 Sandilya. 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 [[U_Chand:Aitareya]]] lived for 116 years by practicing Purusha Vidya. 18th Khanda ordains that Mind should be meditated as Brahman.

Fourth Chapter

It contains a story of king Janasruti Pautrayana and Self realized seer Raikva. A meditational practice called Samvarga Vidya is described.

Fifth Chapter

It contains an esoteric knowledge of Five Fires ( Panchangi Vidya ) is described in this chapter.

Sixth Chapter

This chapter establishes the principle of Atman. In this chapter, the famous story of Uddalaka and his son Svetaketu is told and the dialogue between them establishes the principle of Atman. The Mahavakya Tat Tvam Asi ("That art Thou") is found in this chapter.

Seventh Chapter

In this chapter there is a well known dialogue between sage Sanatkumara and Narada establishing that realizing the ultimate principle of universe is only way to ride over sorrows of man.

Eighth Chapter

A meditation technique of concentrating in the cave of heart about Brahman (Dahara Vidya) is told in this chapter


The eight chapters of Chandogya is divided into sub sections called Khadas.

Further Reading

Internal Sources

  1. Upanishad
  2. Upanishad Wiki
  3. Chandogya Upanishad Nouns Alphabetical
  4. Chandogya Upanishad Nouns Frequency Wise
  5. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
  6. Chandogya Upanishad
  7. Other 8 Upanishads

External Sources

  1. Upanishads in Sanskrit Originals - astrojyoti
  2. Upanishads in English - sacred-text
  3. Upanishads in English - sacred-text
  4. 108 Upanishads - celextel
  5. Upanishads - wikipedia

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