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Ch-2-Uddaalak and Shwetaketu-1

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Chhandogya Upanishad

Uddaalak and Shwetaketu-1

It is the dialog between Muni Uddaalak and his son Shwetaketu. Uddaalak was the son of one of the main disciples of Rishi Dhaumya - Aaruni. Uddaalak had two sons named Nachiketaa and Shwetaketu. Nachiketaa is the main character of Kath Upanishad and Shwetaketu's name appears in three main Upanishad - Brihadaaranyak, Chhaandogya and Kaushitakee Upanishad. Shwetaketu is the recipient of the knowledge enshrined in the Mahaa-vaakya (Tat-Twam-Asi) which appears in the sixteen chapters of the 6th section (Prapathak) of the Chhaandogya Upanishad.

After studying for 12 years in the Gurukul Shwetaketu returns to his father Uddaalak Aaruni and boasts of his educational attainments.
Uddaalak said - "Shwetaketu, Have you ever asked your teacher for that instruction by which we hear what cannot be heard, by which we perceive what cannot be perceived, by which we know what cannot be known?"
Shwetaketu now realized that his knowledge is not complete and requests his father to teach him that essential truth.
He said - "What is that instruction, Sir?"

The father replied - "My dear, The various earthen pots and toys are made of clay. To understand these shapes and sizes, you should know the nature of clay. Just as by a single lump of clay, all that is made of clay is known, all modifications being only a name based upon words, (the difference being only a name arising from speech) but the truth being that all is clay thus, my dear, is that instruction."

"Where does a man go when he sleeps?" asked the son.
Uddaalak replied - "At that time he becomes one with the eternal being. Man's mind is like a beast tied to a peg turning round and round. Mind turns around Praan. When the power of speech is merged in mind and mind absorbed in Praan, the Praan merges in the light and in the power beyond. This subtle power which pervades the universe is yourself Shwetaketu".
The son still did not understand the concept fully.
The father continued - "Like the droplets of honey brought from different flowers and collected in a beehive, all beings when they merge in the ocean of being, lose all their individuality. The ocean of consciousness, the one being is the spirit or Aatmaa is yourself Shwetaketu."
Continuing, he said - "The various rivers entering the vast sea also lose their identity there."

Realizing that the young man has still not understood the concept, the father continued --

Uddaalak - "Bring me a fruit of that Nyagrodh tree (banyan tree)."
Shwetaketu - "Here is one, Sir."
Uddaalak - "Break it."
Shwetaketu - "It is broken, Sir."
Uddaalak - "What do you see there?"
Shwetaketu - "Those extremely small seeds, Sir."
Uddaalak - "Break one of them, my dear."
Shwetaketu - "It is broken, Sir."
Uddaalak - "What do you see there?"
Shwetaketu - "Nothing, Sir."

The father said - "My son, that subtle essence which you do not perceive there, of that very essence this great Nyagrodh tree, grows (exists). Believe me, my son. Now, that which is the subtle essence (the root of all) in That all that exists has its Self; that is the Self; That is the Truth; That thou art, O Shwetaketu!"
Shwetaketu said - "Please, Sir, explain to me further."
"Be it so, my child," replied the father.

Uddaalak - "Place this salt in the water and come to me in the morning."
Shwetaketu, the son, did as he was commanded.
Next day the father said to him - "Bring the salt, my dear, which you put in the water last night." The son looked for it and did not find it, for it had become dissolved.
The father said - "My child, taste it from the surface of the water. How is it?"
The son replied - "It is salt."
Uddaalak - "Taste it from the middle. How is it?"
The son replied - "It is salt."
Uddaalak - "Taste it from the bottom. How is it?"
The son replied - "It is salt."
The father said - "Throw it away and come to me."
The son did so; It exists for ever.

Then the father said to him - "Here also in this body, forsooth, you do not perceive the Truth (Sat or Pure Being), my son, but there it is indeed."
The father said - "Now that which is the subtle essence (the root of all), in That all that exists has its Self: That is the Self; that is the Truth; That thou art; O Shwetaketu."

Comparing a man blind folded and left in a forest who first removes the cloth tied on his eyes and goes on enquiring where his village is and ultimately finds it after a number of attempts, we have to find our way to reach that spirit.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 02/09/13