तरति शोकम् आत्मवित्

In Chandogya Upanishad Chapter 7 , there is a story of Narada and Sanatkumara highlighting the importance of Self Knowledge or Knowing the Atman.

Narada who is the knower of Vedas, epic and puranas, still he is affected by sorrow and to get rid of the the same, he approached Sanatkumara to understand the true knowledge.

Narada also highlighted the statement “तरति शोकमात्मवित्” means “one who know the Atman, he will cross over the sorrow”

Narada and Sanatkumara Story

Once Narada went to Sanatkumara and asked them to taught the Self Knowledge.

Narada Said – “Please teach me knowledge “.

Sanatkumara said “Please tell us first what you know, than we will teach you what you doesn’t know”

Narada Replied : Sir , I know the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Atharva-Veda as the fourth Veda, the Epics and Puranas being the fifth Veda, the Veda of the Vedas (grammar), funeral rites, mathematics, the science of omens, the science of underground resources, logic, moral science, astrology, Vedic knowledge, the science of the elements, archery, astronomy, the science relating to snakes, music, dance, and other arts

Narada furhter said :

सोऽहं भगवो मन्‍त्रविदेवास्मि नात्मविच्छ्रुतं ह्येव मे भगवद्दृशेभ्यस्तरति शोकमात्मविदिति सोऽहं भगवः शोचामि तं मा भगवाञ्छोकस्य पारं तारयत्विति तं होवाच यद्वै किञ्चैतदध्यगीष्ठा नामैवैतत् ॥ – Chandogya Upanishad 7.3

“Sir, I am the knower of Mantra only; I do not know the Self. I have heard from men like you, that he who knows the Self overcomes sorrow. Sir, I am affected by this sorrow, please help me cross over it.”

Sanatkumara said to Narada : “Whatever you have known is only a name (it doesn’t hold actual value)”

Adi Shankara Commentary on verse 3

Adi Shankara further explain this in his commentary – Atman cannot be known by names, because it is beyond names and forms.

Adi Shankara further highlights Taittiriya Upanishad statement “यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते” meaning the place where name and voice cannot go (that is Atman).


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