Monday, 19 August 2013

Materialist Philosophy in Chāndogya Upaniṣad


Chandogya Upanisad (viii. 7-9)

As one of the principal Upaniads, the text is usually viewed as pre-Buddha, and hence, might have belonged to c. seventh century BC.

Since in the extract quoted here we have the earliest refer­ence to a view identifying the body with the self, which is reminiscent of one of the typical tenets of the Lokayatas/ Carvakas, S. N. Dasgupta is inclined to read in it an expression of the same, though the text does not mention the word Lokayata or Carvaka and attributes the view to the Asuras.

Note by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya (Carvaka/Lokayata: Source Materials, Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 1990: Page 3-6)


TEXT


viii. 7

  1. Thus declared Prajāpati: ‘The self (ātman) is free from evils, without age, without death, without sorrow, without hunger, without thirst; its desire inevitably comes true, its contemplation (samkalpa) inevitably comes true. Such a self is to be searched for, and one should desire to ascertain its nature. One who realises (the nature of) that self, after searching for it (in the prescribed way), attains all the worlds and obtains all the desires.’
  2. Both the gods and the Asuras listened to it (i.e., the words of Prajāpati). They said: 'Well, we shall search for that self - ­the self searching out which one attains all the worlds and obtains all the desires.' Then, from among the gods, Indra went away and from among the Asuras, Virocana. The two, without get­ting acquainted with each other, carrying fuel in hand (i.e., the traditional mode of approaching the preceptor) came into the presence to Prajapati.
  3. The two spent thirty-two years observing celibacy (brahmacarya). Then Prajāpati said to them: 'Desiring what are you living here?' They replied: 'The self is free from evils, without age, without death, without sorrow, without hunger, without thirst; its desire inevitably comes true, its contemplation inevitably comes true. Such a self is to be searched for and one should desire to know its nature. One, who realises that self, after searching for it, attains all the worlds and obtains all the desires. Sir, this is known to be declared by your very self. We are living here only desiring that self. '
  4. Prajapati said to the two: 'The very person (purua) that is seen in the eye is the self about whom I have spoken. It is immortal, it is fearless and it is the brahman.' (Then the two asked for clarification :) 'Sir, of the one that is reflected in the water and that one that is (reflected) in the mirror, which one is actually that (self)?' (Prajāpati replied :) 'In fact, the same one is reflected within all these. '
  
viii. 8


  1. (Prajāpati said :) 'Look at yourself in an earthen plate (Sarāba) full of water. Tell me then whatever you do not under­stand concerning the self.' Accordingly, they looked in an earthen plate full of water. Prajāpati said to the two: 'What do you see?' The two replied: 'Sir, we see everything of it. We see the self as the exactly corresponding one, even to the hair, even to the fingernails.’
  2. Prajāpati said to the two: 'Adorn yourselves well, put on good clothes, make yourselves clean and then, look in an earthen plate full of water. 'The two adorned themselves well, put on good clothes, made themselves clean and looked in an earthen plate full of water. Then, Prajāpati said to the two: 'What do you see?'
  3. The two said: 'Exactly as we two are, well-adorned, dres­sed in good clothes and made clean; we find ourselves to be the same, well-adorned, dressed in good clothes and made dean.' Prajāpati said: 'That is indeed the self. It is immortal, it is fearless, it is the brahman.' At this, the two went away with a peaceful mind.
  4. Seeing them (leaving in this way) Prajāpati said: 'These two are going away without realising, without ascertaining, the self. Whosoever they may be, gods or Asuras, if they have such doctrines (Upanishad) (i.e., such notions about the self), they will surely be defeated.'
But, then, Virocana, quite peaceful in mind, went to the Asuras and preached this doctrine to them: 'Here oneself alone is to be adored, oneself alone is to be looked after. It is by ador­ing and looking after oneself alone that one can attain both the worlds, this one as well as the other. '
  1. From then on, even till today, the followers of Asura (āsura) are said to be the ones who never give away anything, have no faith and never perform any sacrifice. And strange enough is the doctrine of the Asuras. They adorn the body of a person who has died, with clothes and ornaments 'which (they collect) by begging. They think that by this they will win the yonder world.

viii. 9

  1. Then Indra, even before he had reached the gods, found that there was cause for concern. (He thought :) 'Just as it becomes well-adorned when this body is well-adorned, it has good clothes (when this body) has good clothes, and it becomes clean (when this body) is made clean, so also, it becomes blind (when this body) becomes blind, it becomes sick (when this body) becomes sick, it becomes disfigured (when this body) is disfigured, and it perishes immediately upon the destruction of the body. I do not find anything worth enjoying in it.'
  2. Fuel in hand, he went back. Prajāpati said to him: 'O the munificent one (maghavat)! With a peaceful mind, you went away, along with Virocana. Desiring what have you come back?' He replied: 'Sir, just as it becomes well-adorned when this body is well-adorned, it has good clothes (when this body) has good clothes, and it becomes clean (when this body) is made clean, so also, it becomes blind (when this body) becomes blind, it becomes sick (when this body) becomes sick, it becomes disfigured (when this body) is disfigured, and it perishes imme­diately upon the destruction of the body. I do not find anything worth enjoying in it. '
  3. He (Prajapati) said to Indra: 'O the munificent one! It is indeed so. Well, I shall explain it to you once again. Stay with me for a further period of thirty-two years.' Then he (Indra) lived (with Prajāpati) for a further period of thirty-two years.


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