Indra gets the message

Indra returned to Prajapati for another five years and then learned: “This body is mortal, always gripped by death, but within it dwells the immortal Self. This Self, when associated in our consciousness with the body, is subject to pleasure and pain; and so long as this association continues, freedom from pleasure and pain can no man find. But as this association ceases, there cease also the pleasure and pain. Rising above physical consciousness, knowing the Self to be distinct from the senses and the mind – knowing it in its true light – one rejoices and is free.”

The gods, the luminous ones, meditate on the Self, and by so doing obtain all the worlds and all desires. In like manner, whosoever among mortals knows the Self, meditates upon it and realises it – he too obtains all the worlds and all desires.

This completes our look at Chandogya Upanishad.

Thirty two years later

Prajapati tells Indra: “That which moves about in dreams, enjoying sensuous delights and clothed in glory, that is the Self. That is immortal, that is fearless, and that is Brahman.”

Pleased with what he had heard, Indra again departed. But before he had reached the other gods, he realised the uselessness of this knowledge also. “True it is,” he thought to himself, “that this Self is not blind when the body is blind, nor lame when the body is lame or hurt. But even in dreams it is conscious of many sufferings. So in this doctrine I can see no good.”

So he went back to Prajapati for further instruction. After thirty-two more years, Prajapati said: “When a man is sound asleep, free from dreams, and at perfect rest – that is the Self. The Self is immortal and fearless, and it is Brahman.”

Indra went away, but realised that even this knowledge was useless. “In reality,” thought he, “one does not know oneself as this or that while asleep. One is not conscious, in fact, of any existence at all. The state of one in deep sleep is next to annihilation. I can see no good in this knowledge either.”

Will Indra ever get to the bottom of this question??

Indra and Virochana

Continuing the story of Chandogya Upanishad: ‘Now Virochana, satisfied for his part that he had found out the Self, returned to the demons and began to teach them that the body alone is to be worshipped, that the body alone is to be served, and that he who worships the body and serves the body gains both worlds, this and the next. Such doctrine is, in very truth, the doctrine of the demons!

But Indra, on his way back to the gods, realised the uselessness of this knowledge. “As this Self,” he reasoned, “seems to be well adorned when the body is well adorned, well dressed when the body is well dressed, so will it be blind when the body is blind, lame when the body is lame, deformed when the body is deformed. When the body dies, this same Self will also die! In such knowledge I can see no good.”

So he returned to Prajapati and asked for further instruction. Prajapati required him to live with him for another thirty-two years.’

The gods and demons

The gods and demons both heard of this truth, and they thought to themselves, “Let us seek after and realise this Self, so that we may obtain all the worlds and all desires.”

Thereupon Indra from the gods, and Virochana from the demons, went to Prajapati, the renowned teacher. For thirty two years they lived with him as pupils. Then Prajapati asked them why they had lived with him for so long.

“We have heard,” they replied, “that one who realises the Self obtains all the worlds and all desires. We have lived here because we want to learn of this Self.”

Then said Prajapati: “That which is seen in the eye – that is the Self. That is immortal, that is fearless, and that is Brahman.”

“Sir,” inquired the disciples, “is that the Self which is seen reflected in the water, or in a mirror?”

“The Self is indeed seen reflected in these,” was the reply. Then Prajapati added, “Look at yourselves in the water, and whatever you do not understand, come and tell me about it.”
Indra and Virochana gazed on their reflections in the water, and returning to the sage, they said: “We have seen the Self, exactly like ourselves, well adorned and in our finest clothes.”

To which Prajapati rejoined: “The Self is indeed seen in these. The Self is immortal and fearless and it is Brahman.” And the pupils went away well pleased.

But Prajapati, looking after them, lamented thus: “Both of them departed without analysing or discriminating, and without truly comprehending the Self. Whosoever follows a false doctrine of the Self will perish.”

Chandogya Upanishad.


Our annual weekend retreat begins today. One lady said: “It is more of an advance than a retreat!”

On the Saturday evening, we are doing an enactment of Chandogya Upanishad. Taking part in the drama are my daughter, my two granddaughters, me and our friend, Andy. He plays Prajapati, the renowned teacher.

Our theme for the weekend is ‘The Lotus Flower’. In Chandogya Upanishad it says: ” Within the city of Brahman, which is the body, there is the heart, and within the heart there is a little house. This house has the shape of a lotus, and within it dwells that which is to be sought after, inquired about, and realised.”