Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Brahman in the Heart - Dahara Vidya of Chandogya Upanishad


According to an old Hindu legend there was a time when all men and women were gods, but they so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief god, decided to take away from men and women and hide it where they would never again find it. Where to hide it became the big question.

When the lesser gods were called in council to consider this question, they said, “We will bury man’s divinity deep in the earth.” But Brahma said, “No, that will not do, for man will dig deep down into the earth and find it.” Then they said, we will sink his divinity into the deepest ocean.” But again Brahma replied, “No, not out there, for man will learn to devise a way to dive into the deepest waters, will search out the ocean bed, and will find it.”

Then the lesser gods said, “We will take it to the top of the mountain and there hide it.” But again Brahma replied, “No, for man will eventually climb every high mountain on earth. He will be sure some day to find it and take it up again for himself.” Then the lesser gods gave up and concluded, “We do not know where to hide it, for it seems there is no place on earth or in the sea that man will not eventually reach.”

Then Brahma said, “Here is what we will do with man’s divinity. We will hide it deep down within man himself, for there he will never look”!

Arunachala - the Holy Mountain
Photo by Reinhard Jung

This story shows how little we explore ourselves and not surprisingly how little we know ourselves in spite of living several decades in this world. Swami Krishnananda in his commentary on Chhandogya Upanishad quotes from the Upanishad that in the deepest recess of our own heart, there is a great secret. Nothing can be a greater mystery than our own Self, because everything else can be investigated into using the senses and mind but not the Self, as it is always the subject never the object. Our Self hides within itself, the miracles of the whole creation. This Heart is the pivot of every kind of activity, whether internal or external.


In the eighth and final chapter of Chhandogya Upanishad is mentioned Dahara Vidya which is a method of Upasana where the sadhaka concentrates on 'Brahman'(the Universal Self) in the cave of the Heart.

The first verse:
"Harih om. atha yad-idam asmin brahma-pure daharam pundarikam vesma, daharo'smin antarakasah, tasmin yad-antah, tad-anvestavyam, tad-vava vijijnasitavyam."

"In  this city of Brahman, there is a small lotus, (as) a palace; therein is the small Akasa. And what is in that is to be sought after, to be understood."
The second and third verses:
"Tam ced-bruyuh, yad-idam asmin brahma-pure daharam pundarikam vesma, daharo'smin antarakasah, kim tadatra vidyate yad-anvestayam, yad-vava vijijnasitavyam iti."

"Sa bruyat, yavan va ayam akasah, tavan eso'ntarhrdaya akasah ubhe asmin dyava-prthivi antar-eva samahite, ubhav-agnis'ca vayus-ca surya-candramasav-ubhau, vidyun-naksatrani yac-casyehasti yac-ca nasti sarvam tadasmin samahitam iti."

"If they should say to him: "Now, with regard to the abode, the small lotus, in this city of Brahman and the small akasa within it−what is there in it that is to be sought after and what is there that one should desire to understand?"

Then he (the teacher) should say: "As far as, verily, this great akasa extends, so far extends the akasa within the heart. Both heaven and earth are contained within it, both fire and air, both sun and moon, both lightning and stars; and whatever belongs to him (i.e. the embodied creature) in this world and whatever does not, all that is contained within it (i.e.the akasa in the heart)."
                                                                              - Adhyaya VIII, Khanda I, Chandogya Upanishad

Arunachala - the Holy Mountain
Photo by Reinhard Jung

Swami Krishnananda's commentary elaborates on the Upanishadic teacher's reply -
“You ask me what is inside this little space. I tell you that everything is inside here,” says the teacher. It is like a speck of sunlight. Though it may look like a speck, it contains constitutionally everything that is in the orb of the sun. Similarly, that which is in this little space can magnify itself to any extent. It is an emblem of the cosmic secret. Whatever is the extent of this vast space that is outside, that is the extent of this little space in our own heart also. So, one should not be under the impression that it is little in an arithmetical sense. It is little in a different sense altogether. It is not physically small. It is not a little handful of space. It is really as expansive and as extensive as this universal ether that we see outside. The whole of the heaven and the whole earth can be found inside this little space. The principles of the five elements,—earth, water, fire, air and ether—and whatever you see outside, is all present here in this little ether. The sun and the moon and also the stars can be seen inside this very heart of ours. They have a corresponding emissary planted in our own heart. We need not look up to the sun outside. He is inside our heart and he shines in the same way as he is seen outside in outer space. Even the lightning and the thunder that are seen outside are taking place inside our heart. Everything that happens in any manner, even the littlest thing, takes place here inside. Whatever we see in the outside world and whatever we cannot see in the outside world—all those things are inside our heart.


The Heart or Hridayam appears in Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi's teachings extensively.

D: Sri Bhagavan speaks of the heart as the seat of Consciousness and as identical with the Self. What
does the heart exactly signify?
M: The question about the heart arises because you are interested in seeking the source of consciousness.
To all deep thinking minds, the enquiry about the ‘I’ and its nature has an irresistible fascination. Call it by any name, God, Self, the heart or the seat of Consciousness, it is all the same. The point to be grasped is this, that Heart means the very core of one’s being, the Centre, without which there is nothing whatever.
D: But Sri Bhagavan has specified a particular place for the heart within the physical body, that it is in the
chest, two digits to the right from the median.
M: Yes, that is the centre of spiritual experience according to the testimony of Sages. This spiritual heart-centre is quite different from the bloodpropelling, muscular organ known by the same name.The spiritual heart-centre is not an organ of the body. All that you can say of the heart is that it is the very core of your being. That with which you are really identical (as the word in Sanskrit literally means), whether you are awake, asleep or dreaming, whether you are engaged in work or immersed in samadhi.

                                                                                                                              - Maharshi's Gospel

Bhagavan's Eka Sloki which appears in Sri Ramana Gita refers to Brahman in the cave of the Heart.

"Hridaya Kuhara Madhye Kevalam BrahmaMaatram
Hyahamahamiti Saakshaat Aatma Rupenena Bhati
Hridi Visha Manasa Svam Chinvata Majjata Va
Pavanachalana Rodhat Aatmanishto Bhavatvam"

Brahman is glowing lustrously in the middle of the cave
of the Heart in the shape of the Self, always proclaiming
‘I am, I am’. Become an Atmanishta, a Self-realised person,
either by making the mind absorbed in the search of the
Self or by making the mind drown itself through control
of the breath.

The entire universe is condensed in the body and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the whole universe. This world is not other than the mind, the mind is not other than the Heart; that is the whole truth.

The source is a point without any dimensions. It expands as the cosmos on the one hand and as Infinite bliss on the other. That point is the pivot. From it a single vasana starts and expands as the experiencer (`I'), the experience and the experienced (the world).

To Rama who questioned Vasishta: `Which is that big mirror in which all these are mere reflections? What is the heart of all souls or creatures in this universe?' Vasishta replied: `All creatures in this universe have two kinds of hearts — one to be taken note of and the other ignored. Hear their respective traits: The one to be ignored is the physical organ called the heart which is situated in the chest as a part of the perishable body. The one to be taken note of is the Heart which is of the nature of consciousness. It is both inside and outside (us) and has neither an inside nor an outside.'

This is the really important Heart. It is the mirror which holds all reflections. It is the basis and source of all objects and all kinds of wealth. Therefore, it is only that Consciousness, which is the Heart of all, not that organ - a small part of the body, which is insentient like a stone, and perishable. So one can achieve the eradication of all desires and control of breath, by the practice of merging the mind in the Heart, which is Pure Consciousness.

- Gems from Bhagavan


  1. Very interesting. To hide divinity inside where man never looks :-)
    Lots of valuable hints for every seeker..thank you!

  2.'s hard to find, because it isn't hidden...

  3. Thank you for the excellent writeup on Dahara Vidya

    Sounds almost like an object store in a simulation - where state of objects are compressed and saved and spread back for continuing simulation!!! :)