Chandogya Upanishad – TAT TVAM ASI (THAT THOU ART) or You Are That

Hari Om

THERE lived once Shvetaketu, Aruna’s grandson; his father addressed him, saying Shvetaketu, go, learn the service of the Eternal; for no one, dear, of our family is an unlearned nominal worshipper.

So going when he was twelve years old, he returned when he was twenty-four; he had learned all the teachings, bat was conceited, vain of his learning, and proud.

His father addressed him: Shvetaketu, you are conceited, vain of your learning, and proud, dear; bat have you asked for that teaching through which the unheard is heard, the unthought is thought, the unknown is known?

What sort of teaching is that, Master? said he.

Just as, dear, by a single piece of clay anything made of clay may be known, for the difference is only one of words and names, and the real thing is that it is of clay; or just as, dear, by one jewel of gold, anything made of gold may be known, for the difference is only one of words and names, and the real is that it is gold; or just as, dear, by a single knife blade, anything made of iron may be known, for the difference is only one of words and names, and the real is that it is iron; just like this is the teaching that makes the unknown known.

But I am sure that those teachers did not know this themselves; for if they had known it, how would they not have taught it to me? said he; but now let my Master tell it to me.

Let it be so, dear; said he.

In the beginning, dear, there was Being, alone and secondless. But there are tome who say, that there was non-Being in the beginning, alone and secondless; so that Being would be born from non-Being; but how could this be so, dear? said he; how could Being be born from non-Being? So there was Being, dear, in the beginning, alone and secondless.

Then Being beholding said: Let me become great; let me give birth.

Then it put forth Radiance.

Then Radiance beholding said: Let me become great; let me give birth.

Then it put forth the Waters. Just as a man is hot and sweats, so from radiance the waters are born.

Then the Waters beholding said: Let us become great; let us give birth.

They put forth the world-food. Just as when it rains much food is produced, so from the Waters the world-food—Earth—is born.

 Of all these, of beings, there are three germs: what is born of the Egg, what is born of Life, what is born of Division.

That power—Being—beholding said: Let me enter these three powers—Radiance, Waters, Earth—by this life, by my Self, let me give them manifold forms and names. Let me make each one of them threefold, threefold.

So that power—Bring—entered those three powers—Radiance, Waters, Earth—by this life, by the Self, and gave them manifold forms and names; and so made each one of them threefold, threefold. And now learn, dear, how these three powers are, how each one of them becomes threefold, threefold.

 In fire, the radiant form is from Radiance; the dear form, from the Waters; the dark form, from Earth. But the separate nature of fire is a thing of names and words only, while the real thing is the three forms.

So of the sun, the radiant form is from Radiance; the dear form, from the Waters; the dark form, from Earth. But the separate nature of the sun is a thing of names and words only, while the real thing is the three forms.

So of the moon, the radiant form is from Radiance; the clear form, from the Waters; the dark form, from Earth. But the separate nature of the moon is a thing of names and words only, while the real thing is the three forms.

So of lightning, the radiant form is from Radiance; the clear form, from the Waters; the dark form, from Earth. But the separate nature of lightning is a thing of names and words only, the real thing is the three forms.

Therefore of old time those who knew this, the great sages and teachers of old, spoke thus: None of us may now speak of anything as unheard, unthought, unknown.

For by these three forms they knew everything. For whatever was like radiant, its form was from Radiance, they said, and thus knew it. And whatever was like clear, its form was from the Waters, they said, and so knew it. And whatever was like dark, its form was from Earth, they said, and so knew it. Thus whatever was known they took to be a union of these three powers, and thus they knew it.

But how these three powers are, dear, when they come to man, bow each of them becomes threefold, this learn from me now. Food that is eaten is divided threefold. Its grossest part becomes waste; its middle part becomes flesh; its lightest part becomes Mind. Waters that are drunk are divided threefold. The grossest part becomes waste; the middle part becomes blood; the lightest part becomes vital Breath.

Things that produce radiant heat, when absorbed, are divided threefold. The grossest part becomes bone; the middle part becomes nerve; the lightest part becomes formative Voice.

For Mind, dear, is formed of the world-food—Earth; vital Breath is formed of the Waters; formative Voice is formed of Radiance.

Let my master teach me further; said he.

Be it so, dear; said he.

Of churned milk, dear, the lightest part rises to the top and becomes butter. Just so of eaten food, dear, the lightest part rises to the top and becomes Mind. And so of waters that are drunk, the lightest part rises to the top, and becomes vital Breath. And so when heat-giving things are eaten, the lightest part rises to the top, and becomes formative Voice.

For Mind, dear, is formed of Food;vital Breath is formed of the Waters; formative Voice is formed of Radiance.

Let my Master teach me further; said he.

 Be it so, dear; said he.

Man, dear, is made of sixteen parts. Eat nothing for fifteen days, but drink as much as you wish; for vital Breath, being formed of the Waters, is cut off if you do not drink.

He ate nothing for fifteen days, and then returned to the Master, saying: What shall I repeat, Master?

Repeat the songs and liturgies and chants, dear; said he.

None of them come back into my mind, Master; said he.

He said to him: As, dear, after a big fire, if a single spark remain, as big as a fire-fly, it will not burn much; just so, dear, of your sixteen parts one remains, and by this one part you cannot remember the teachings.

Go, eat; and then you will understand me.

He ate, and then returned to the Master; and whatever the Master asked, all came back to his mind.

The Master said to him: As, dear, after a big fire, if even a single spark remain, as big as a fire-fly, and if it be fed with straw, it will blaze up and will then burn much; just so, dear, of your sixteen parts, one part was left; and this, being fed with food, blazed up, and through it you remembered the teachings.

For Mind is formed of Food; vital Breath is formed of the Waters; formative Voice is formed of Radiance.

Thus he learned; thus, verily, he learned.

ARUNA’s son Uddâlaka addressed his son Shvetaketu, saying: Learn from me, dear, the reality about sleep. When a man sinks to sleep, as they say, then, dear, he is wrapped by the Real; he has slipped back to his own. And so they say he sleeps, because he has slipped back to his own. And just as an eagle tied by a cord, flying hither and thither, and finding no other resting place, comes to rest where he is tied, so indeed, dear, the man’s Mind flying hither and thither, and

finding no other resting place, comes to rest in vital Breath; for Mind, dear, is bound by vital Breath.

Learn from me, dear, the meaning of hunger and thirst. When a man hungers, as they say, the Waters guide what he eats. And as there are guides of cows, guides of horses, guides of men, so they call the Waters the guides of what is eaten. Thus you must know, dear, that what he eats grows and sprouts forth; and it cannot grow without a root.

And where can the root of what he eats be? Where, but in the world-food—Earth?

And through the world-food—Earth—that has sprouted forth, you must seek the root, the Waters. And through the waters that have sprouted forth, you must seek the root, Radiance. And through Radiance that has sprouted forth, you must seek the root, the Real. For all these beings, dear, are rooted in the Real, resting in the Real, abiding in the Real.

And so when the man thirsts, as they say, the Radiance guides what he drinks. And as there are guidesof cows, guides of horses, guides of men, so, they say, the Radiance guides the Waters. Thus you must know, dear, that what he drinks grows and sprouts forth; and it cannot grow without a root.

And where can the root of what he drinks be? Where, but in the Waters? And through the Waters that sprout forth, you must seek their root, the Radiance. And through the Radiance, dear, that sprouts forth, you must seek its root, the Real. For all these beings, dear, are rooted in the Real, resting in the Real, abiding in the Real. And how these three: the world-food—Earth—the Waters, Radiance, coming to a man, become each threefold, threefold, this has been taught already.

And of a man who goes forth, formative Voice sinks back into Mind; Mind sinks back into vital Breath, vital Breath to Radiance, and Radiance to the higher Divinity. This is the soul, the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self, That thou art, O Shvetaketu.

Let the Master teach me more; said he.

Let it be so, dear; said he.

As the honey-makers, dear, gather the honey from many a tree, and weld the nectars together in a single nectar; and as they find no separateness there, nor say: Of that tree I am the nectar, of that tree I am the nectar. Thus, indeed, dear, all these beings, when they reach the Real, know not, nor say: We have reached the Real. But whatever they are here, whether tiger or lion or wolf or boar or worm or moth or gnat or fly, that they become again. And this soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu.

Let the Master teach me more; said he.

Let it be so, dear; said he.

These eastern rivers, dear, roll eastward; and the western, westward. From the ocean to the ocean they go, and in the ocean they are united. And there they know no separateness, nor say: This am I, this am I. Thus indeed, dear, all these beings, coming forth from the Real, know not, nor say: We have come from the Real.

And whatever they are here, whether tiger or lion or wolf or boar or worm or moth or gnat or fly or whatever they are, that they become again. And that soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu.

Let the Master teach me more; said he.

Let it be so, dear; said he.

 If any one strike the root of this great tree, dear, it will flow and live, if any one strike the middle of it, it will flow and live; if any one strike the top of it, it will flow and live. So filled with Life, with the Self, drinking in and rejoicing, it stands firm. But if the life of it leaves one branch, that branch dries up; it leaves a second, that dries up; it leaves a third, that dries up; it leaves the whole, the whole dries up. Thus indeed, dear, you must understand; said he. When abandoned by Life, verily, this dies; but Life itself does not die. For that soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu.

Let the Master teach me more; said he.

Let it be so, dear; said he.

Bring me a fruit of that fig-tree. Here is the fruit, Master.

Divide it into two; said he.

I have divided it, Master.

What do you see irk it? said he.

Atom-like seeds, Master.

Divide one of them in two; said he.

I have divided it, Master.

What do you see in it? said he.

I see nothing at all, Master.

So he said to him:

That soul that you perceive not at all, dear,—from that very soul the great fig-tree comes forth. Believe then, dear, that this soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu.

Let the Master teach me more; said he.

Let it be so, dear; said he.

Put this salt in water, and come to me early in the morning.

And he did so, and the Master said to him:

That salt you put in the water last night—bring it to me! And looking for its appearance, he could not see it, as it was melted in the water.

Taste the top of it; said he. How is it?

It is salt; said he.

Taste the middle of it; said he. How is it?

It is salt; said he.

Taste the bottom of it; said he. How is it?

It is salt; said he.

Take it away, then, and return to me.

And he did so; but that exists for ever. And the master said to him:

Just so, dear, you do not see the Real in the world. Yet it is here all the same. And this soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu.

Let the Master teach me more; said he.

Let it be so, dear; said he.

 Just as if they were to blindfold a man, and lead him far away from Gandhâra, and leave him in the wilderness; and as he cried to the east and the north and the west: I am led away blindfolded; I am deserted blindfolded. And just as if one came, and loosing the bandage from his eyes, told him: In that direction h Gandhâra; in that direction you must go. And he asking from village to village like a wise man and learned, Mould come safe to Gandhâra. Thus, eerily, a man who has found the true Teacher, knows. He must wait only till he is free, there he reaches the renting-place. And that soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu.

Let the Master teach me more; said he.

Let it be so, dear; said he.

When a man is near his end, his fiends gather round him: Do you mow me, do you know me? they say. And until formative Voice sinks back into Mind, and Mind into Breath, and Breath into the Radiance, and the Radiance into the higher Divinity, he still knows them. But when formative Voice sinks back into Mind, and Min into Breath, and Breath into the Radiance, and the Radiance into the higher Divinity, he knows them not. And that soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu.

Let the Master teach me more; said he.

Let it be so, dear; said he.

They bind a man and bring him: He has stolen, they say; he has committed theft. Heat the axe for the ordeal: and if he is the doer of its and makes himself untrue; maintaining untruth, and wrapping himself it untruth, he grasps the heated axe; bums, and so dies. But if he be not the doer of it, he makes himself true; maintaining truth, and wrapping himself in truth, he grasps the heated axe; he burns not, and so goes free. And the truth that saves him from burning is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu.

Thus he learned the truth; thus he learned it. (From Chandogya Upanishad)

GF’ Blessings.