Narada Sanatkumara Samvada (नारदसनत्कुमारयोः संवादः)

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The tattva or nature and knowledge of the Brahman is often revealed in different Upanishads, in the conversations between different rshis, between rishis and rajas and ultimately in student teacher dialogues. The dialogues between Uddalaka and Shvetaketu in Chandogya Upanishad, between Yajnavalkya and Janaka Maharaja in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad are intricate and highly instructive.

Kathopanishad vividly describes the conversation between Yama and Nachiketa and the process of transiting to the higher realms. Prashnopanishad so named because of the Prashnas or questions being answered by sages like Pippalada, dealing with the subject of Jnana and Karma and the path to Brahmaloka. The conversation about Brahmavidya between Shaunaka rshi and Angiras is the subject matter Mundakopanishad.

Chandogya Upanishad a treasure house of Upasana methods, has different aspects of Brahmavidya discussed between Satyakama Jabali and Gautama, Upakosala and Satyakama while the Panchagnividya is elucidated through the conversation of Shvetaketu and Raja Pravahana Jaivali. In Chapter 7 of the Chandogya Upanishad is another famous conversation between Narada and Sanatkumar, who are both Lord Brahma's manasaputras and highly enlightened maharshis. This knowledge given by Sanatkumara called as भूमविद्या || Bhumavidya is also discussed in the Brahmasutras.

नामोपासनम् || Namopasana

Narada Sanatkumara samvada is initiated due to the fact that supreme good was not attained by Narada, even though he was endowed with excellent faculties and capabilities of all knowledge (being Brahma's manasaputra). For this reason, having renounced all his pride of excellent lineage, knowledge, conduct and capabilities, like any ordinary person, he approaches Sanatkumara, for obtaining the supreme good - this in itself shows that the knowledge of the Self is the only means to attain the Absolute Consciousness or Parabrahma. Chandogya Upanishad[1] which contains great expositions of all tattvas explains this Bhumavidya in the Adhyaya 7[2], in a very lucid manner.

Narada maharshi approached Sanatkumara and requested him to teach him Brahmajnana so that he could quieten his disturbed mind. Sanatkumara asks him what knowledge base he already has, so as to accordingly instruct him beyond that knowledge. (Chan. Upan. 7.1.1)

ऋग्वेदं भगवोऽध्येमि यजुर्वेदँ् सामवेदमाथर्वणं चतुर्थमितिहासपुराणं पञ्चमं वेदानां वेदं पित्र्यँ् राशिं दैवं निधिं वाकोवाक्यमेकायनं देवविद्यां ब्रह्मविद्यां भूतविद्यां क्षत्रविद्यां नक्षत्रविद्यां सर्पदेवज्ञविद्यामेतद्भगवोऽध्येमि ||(Chan. Upan. 7.1.2)

r̥gvedaṁ bhagavo'dhyemi yajurvedam̐ sāmavedamātharvaṇaṁ caturthamitihāsapurāṇaṁ pañcamaṁ vedānāṁ vedaṁ pitryam̐ rāśiṁ daivaṁ nidhiṁ vākovākyamekāyanaṁ devavidyāṁ brahmavidyāṁ bhūtavidyāṁ kṣatravidyāṁ nakṣatravidyāṁ sarpadevajñavidyāmetadbhagavo'dhyemi ||(Chan. Upan. 7.1.2)

Meaning : Narada replies: "Bhagavan, I know the Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvana the fourth veda. As the 5th the Itihasa (history) and Puranas, the Veda of Vedas namely Vyakarana (grammar), Pitrya (Shraddha kalpa or the rites for the forefathers), गणितम् || Ganita (Mathematics), दैवम् || Daiva (the science of portents), निधिः || Nidhi (the science of time), वाकोवाक्यम् || Vakovaakya (logic), एकायनम् || Ekayana (ethics and politics), देवविद्या || Deva vidya (Etymology) ब्रह्मविद्या || Brahmavidya (the science of the Vedas, including vedangas) भूतविद्या || Bhutavidya (science of elements), क्षत्रविद्या || Kshtravidya (Science of war or Dhanurveda), नक्षत्रविद्या || nakshatra vidya (science of stars or astronomy), सर्पदेवज्ञविद्या || Sarpavidya (science of snakecharming and fine arts). All these I know, Bhagavan.

सोऽहं भगवो मन्त्रविदेवास्मि नाऽऽत्मविच्छुतँ्ह्येव मे भगवोद्दृशेभ्यस्तरति शोकमात्मविदिति सोऽहं भगवः शोचामि तं मा भगवा ञ्छोकस्य परां तारयत्विति तँहोवाच यद्वै किंचैतदध्यगीष्ठानामैवैतत् || (Chan. Upan. 7.1.3)

so'haṁ bhagavo mantravidevāsmi nā''tmavicchutam̐hyeva me bhagavoddr̥śebhyastarati śokamātmaviditi so'haṁ bhagavaḥ śocāmi taṁ mā bhagavā ñchokasya parāṁ tārayatviti tam̐hovāca yadvai kiṁcaitadadhyagīṣṭhānāmaivaitat || (Chan. Upan. 7.1.3)

Meaning: Narada continues - In the Vedas, I know only the external sound of the word (mantra) and I am not an आत्मविद् || atmavid (being situated in atma). I have heard that people like you, that one who knows the Self passes beyond sorrow and have transcended misery. So I am in grief, do help me overcome this grief of mine. Narada rishi appeals to Sanatkumara to free him from his current state of misery just as Shaunaka rishi in the Mundaka Upanishad appeals to the Grhastha, Angirasa - "what is that when understood is equal to knowing everything?"

नाम वा ऋग्वेदो यजुर्वेदः सामवेद अथर्वणश्चतुर्थ इतिहासपुराणः पञ्चमो वेदानां वेदः पित्र्यो राशिदैवो निधिर्वाकोवाक्यमेकायनं देवविद्या ब्रह्मविद्या भूतविद्या क्षत्रविद्या नक्षत्रविद्या सर्पदेवज्ञविद्या नामैवैतन्नामोपास्स्वेति || (Chan. Upan. 7.1.4)

nāma vā r̥gvedo yajurvedaḥ sāmaveda atharvaṇaścaturtha itihāsapurāṇaḥ pañcamo vedānāṁ vedaḥ pitryo rāśidaivo nidhirvākovākyamekāyanaṁ devavidyā brahmavidyā bhūtavidyā kṣatravidyā nakṣatravidyā sarpadevajñavidyā nāmaivaitannāmopāssveti ||

Meaning : Sanatkumara says - "Whatever you have studied is only a name. All the vedas (Rig, Yajus, Sama and Atharvana. As the 5th the Itihasa (history) and Puranas, the Veda of Vedas namely Vyakarana (grammar), Pitrya (Shraddha kalpa or the rites for the forefathers), Ganita (Mathematics), Daiva (the science of portents), Nidhi (the science of time), Vakovaakya (logic), Ekayana (ethics and politics), Deva vidya (Etymology), Brahmavidya (the science of the Vedas, including vedangas) Bhutavidya (science of elements), Kshtravidya (Science of war or Dhanurveda), nakshatra vidya (science of stars or astronomy), Sarpavidya (science of snakecharming and fine arts) - All these are the name only. Meditate on the Name.

He who meditates on the Name as Brahman, becomes independent as far as the Name reaches.

भूमविद्या || Bhumavidya

Narada maharshi continues to ask if there is something better than a Name and Sanatkumara replies that there is something greater than the Name, which is capable of being thought of as Brahman.[3]

Thereafter, Sanatkumara in his brilliant exposition outlines a series of aspects starting with what is greater than Name and ultimately leads Narada to The Bhuma or Infinite (Brahman).

  1. Speech is greater than Name (Chan. Upan. 7.2.1 and 2)
  2. Mind is greater than Speech (Chan. Upan. 7.3.1 and 2)
  3. Will is greater than Mind (Chan. Upan. 7.4.1 to 3)
  4. Intelligence is greater than Will (Chan. Upan. 7.5.1 to 3)
  5. Contemplation is greater than Intelligence (Chan. Upan. 7.6.1 and 2)
  6. Knowledge is greater than Contemplation (Chan. Upan. 7.7.1 and 2)
  7. Strength is greater than Knowledge (Chan. Upan. 7.8.1 and 2)
  8. Food is greater than Strength (Chan. Upan. 7.9.1 and 2)
  9. Water is greater than Food (Chan. Upan. 7.10.1 and 2)
  10. Fire is greater than Water (Chan. Upan. 7.11.1 and 2)
  11. Akasha is greater than Fire (Chan. Upan. 7.12.1 and 2)
  12. Memory is greater than Akasha (Chan. Upan. 7.13.1 and 2)
  13. Aasha (Hope) is greater than Memory (Chan. Upan. 7.14.1 and 2)
  14. Prana (Spirit) is greater than Aasha (Chan. Upan. 7.15.1 and 4)

To clarify further Sanatkumara discusses the process of Understanding Satya (Truth), subtlities of Mati (Thought) , Shraddha (Faith), Nistha (Attendence), Kriti (Duty) Sukham (Bliss) and Bhuma (Infinite) (Chan. Upan. 7.17 to 24).

The rest of the explanation continues with Sanatkumara giving the characteristics of what is Bhuma or Infinite by the exclusion method and describes the consequences of experiencing the Self. This is the Bhumavidya expounded by Sanatkumara who is also called as Skanda (Chan. Upan. 7.26.1 and 2).

जिज्ञासा || Intense desire for Knowledge

Upon Narada maharshi's expressing the intense desire to learn the Truth, Sanatkumara explains the highest principles. It is to be noted here that all knowledge reaches a person only when he has जिज्ञासा - meaning one who is passionate to not just learn but imbibe and bring that knowledge into अनुभूतिः || experience.[3]

सत्यम् || Satya

यदा वै विजानात्यथ सत्यं वदति नाविजानन्सत्यं वदति विजानन्नेव सत्यं वदति विज्ञानं त्वेव विजिज्ञासितव्यमिति विज्ञानं भगवो विजिज्ञास इति || (Chan. Upan. 7.17.1)

yadā vai vijānātyatha satyaṁ vadati nāvijānansatyaṁ vadati vijānanneva satyaṁ vadati vijñānaṁ tveva vijijñāsitavyamiti vijñānaṁ bhagavo vijijñāsa iti || (Chan. Upan. 7.17.1)

Meaning : When one understands the Truth (Absolute Truth), then only does he declare it. One who doesnt understand it does not declare it so. This विज्ञानं || Understanding one has to desire for (विजिज्ञास : one who desires to gain Knowledge). Bhagavan ! I desire to understand the Understanding (of Truth).

Discussion : Satya is pre-condition to Ativada, everyone who has Prana is not ativadi. Understanding the Truth does not come to anyone unasked for, hence it is added :'one should wish to understand the understanding.'

मतिः || Thought

यदा वै मनुतेऽथ विजानाति नामत्वा विजानाति मत्वैव विजानाति मतिस्त्वेव विजिज्ञासितव्येति मतिं भगवो विजिज्ञास इति || (Chan. Upan. 7.18.1)

yadā vai manute'tha vijānāti nāmatvā vijānāti matvaiva vijānāti matistveva vijijñāsitavyeti matiṁ bhagavo vijijñāsa iti || (Chan. Upan. 7.18.1)

Meaning : When one thinks, then only he understands thoroughly, without having thought (contemplated), one cannot know (gain the knowledge) only through thought (reasoning) can one understand; Bhagavan ! I desire to understand that Thought.

Discussion : It is to be noted that Mati and Manas are different from each other. Manas (Mind) is an invisible organ for reflection, which does the process determination - of doing or not doing certain actions. It is only while the mind exists that the man has the character of the doer and the enjoyer. Mati (Thought) is reasoning (the process of mulling over the positives and negative reasons), consideration of the object of thought.

श्रद्धा || Faith

यदा वै श्रद्दधात्यथ मनुते नाश्रद्दधन्मनुते श्रद्दधेव मनुते श्रद्धात्वेव विजिज्ञासितव्येति श्रद्धां भगवो विजिज्ञास इति || (Chan. Upan. 7.19.1)

yadā vai śraddadhātyatha manute nāśraddadhanmanute śraddadheva manute śraddhātveva vijijñāsitavyeti śraddhāṁ bhagavo vijijñāsa iti || (Chan. Upan. 7.19.1)

Meaning : When one has Faith, then he thinks, without faith he does not think, only with faith one thinks; Bhagavan ! I desire to understand Faith.

निष्ठा || Firm Devotion

यदा वै निस्तिष्ठत्यथ श्रद्दधाति नानिस्तिष्ठच्छ्रद्दधाति निस्तिष्ठन्नेव श्रद्दधाति निष्ठात्वेव विजिज्ञासितव्येति निष्ठां भगवो विजिज्ञास इति || (Chan. Upan. 7.20.1)

yadā vai nistiṣṭhatyatha śraddadhāti nānistiṣṭhacchraddadhāti nistiṣṭhanneva śraddadhāti niṣṭhātveva vijijñāsitavyeti niṣṭhāṁ bhagavo vijijñāsa iti || (Chan. Upan. 7.20.1)

Meaning : When one attends on his Teacher with firm devotion, then one has faith. One who is not devoted has no faith, only he who attends with devotion has faith; Bhagavan ! I desire to understand Devotion.

कृतिः || Duty

यदा वै करोत्यथ निस्तिष्ठति नाकृत्वा निस्तिष्ठति कृत्वैव निस्तिष्ठति कृतिस्त्वेव विजिज्ञासितव्येति कृतिं भगवो विजिज्ञास इति || (Chan. Upan. 7.21.1)

yadā vai karotyatha nistiṣṭhati nākr̥tvā nistiṣṭhati kr̥tvaiva nistiṣṭhati kr̥tistveva vijijñāsitavyeti kr̥tiṁ bhagavo vijijñāsa iti || (Chan. Upan. 7.21.1)

Meaning : When one does his duties, then he is said to be devoted to a teacher. One who does not perform his duties he does not really attend to the teacher. Bhagavan ! I desire to understand Duty.

Discussion : Duty consists of controlling the senses and concentration of the Mind.

सुखम् || Bliss

यदा वै सुखं लभतेऽथ करोति नासुखं लब्ध्वा करोति सुखमेव लब्ध्वा करोति सुखं त्वेव विजिज्ञासितव्यमिति सुखं भगवो विजिज्ञास इति || (Chan. Upan. 7.22.1)

yadā vai sukhaṁ labhate'tha karoti nāsukhaṁ labdhvā karoti sukhameva labdhvā karoti sukhaṁ tveva vijijñāsitavyamiti sukhaṁ bhagavo vijijñāsa iti || (Chan. Upan. 7.22.1)

Meaning : When one obtains Bliss, he does his duties; without bliss he does not undertake any action. It is only after obtaining Bliss that he does them. Bhagavan ! I desire to understand Bliss.

Discussion : Without निष्ठा || Devotion, there is no श्रद्धा || Faith. Self control, the concentration of Chitta caused by action, favoured by Tapasya is greater than निष्ठा. This Tapasya is possible only to those who are contented or सुखी || blissful .


Dr. K. S. Narayanacharya's insights[4] are as follows :

"The ill-informed consider their children, wives, friends, cartels, horses, elephants, money, gold, vehicles, land, gardens, home and other possessions as bhuma (big). This is not my opinion, because all of these are sheltered by others. Real bhuma is not dependent on anything. Parambrahma is all pervasive and across all directions. On perceiving, reflecting and understanding this tattva one becomes a अात्मरति || atmarati (fully absorbed), अात्मक्रीडा || atmakrida (whatever we do is offered to Ishvara) and अात्ममिथुन || atma-mithuna (emotionally free) and अात्मानन्द || atmananda (bliss in atma) (being attach to Brahmananda) and ultimately a स्वराट् || Svaraat (beyond any one to control). In other words, he becomes a jnani (wise person), free and achieves all the worlds. The one who does not understand this principle remains dependent on others, and resides in temporary लोक || lokas. They become ordinary followers of worldly people and do not achieve freedom. One who understands this principle achieves Prana || प्राणा (life-force), Asha || अाशा (hope), Smirti || स्मृति (memory), Akasha || आकाश (sky) from paramatma. He achieves all, what is explained previously up till Name.

With the blessing of Paramatma one can achieve everything. After receiving Svarajya, the jnani, overcomes death, being freed from diseases while experiencing no miseries will perceive everything and can get anything he desires. The jnani, simaltaneously can extend himself into many bodies. For brahmaprapti and required sadhana, food is the main ingredient. Only if the food is pure then one's existence will be purified. From such purification, one will experience eternal Smriti (rememberance) and eventually one will be freed from all the knots in the heart and achieve liberation."


  1. Jha, Ganganatha. (1923). The Chandogya Upanishad and Sri Sankara's Commentary, Fourth Volume. Madras:The India Printing Works.
  2. Chandogya Upanishad (Adhyaya 7)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Swami Sivananda Saraswati, (1936). Dialogues from Upanishads, Amritsar : The Star Press
  4. Narayanacharya, K. S. (2011). Veda Samskrita Parichaya. Hubli:​Sahitya Prakashana​.