Good Example Of "Know The Self As A Rider In The Chariot, And The Body, As Simply The Chariot" Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Body, Soul, Human, Awareness, Consciousness, Life, Ego, God

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/01/03

Simply put, this famous phrase of Katha Upanishad reminds man that he is not a human body, but the observer of the human body. The atman or the self, which is the spiritual component of man, dwells in the human body and controls it. Katha Upanishad explains that a human being is not the body, but the higher awareness or the atman through the metaphor of chariot and the rider. Like a chariot which is controlled by the charioteer, the actions of the human body are controlled by the atman that dwells in man. Man is formed of two components; the materialistic component called the body, and the non-materialistic component called the atman or soul. As a chariot cannot run without a charioteer, the human body cannot function without the presence of the atman or intellect to lead it. As a chariot is destroyable and has a limited life, so is man’s body which has limited life and gets destroyed. However, according to Katha Upanishad, the atman of man is limitless and eternal. Thus the Upanishad teaches man to be aware of his limitlessness or eternity, and to control the actions of his body to sustain the purity of his atman.
This teaching could be deeply understood through the relationship between a chariot and its charioteer. A chariot cannot run on its own accord, and therefore human body is of no use without the realization of the atman. A seasoned charioteer knows the skills of charioting whereas an illiterate person may not even know how a chariot is ridden. Likewise, people without knowledge or enlightenment may not understand the presence of atman in them, and lead a life to satisfy the bodily needs by often abusing the body. Thus, habits like over eating, drug addiction and adultery centered on misusing one’s body are a result of not understanding that the body is only a chariot with limitations, unlike the charioteer without limitations to ride the chariot. A charioteer may establish a good or bad relationship with the chariot based on the condition of the chariot. If the chariot is well maintained, again because of the awareness of the charioteer himself, he feels good riding it and vice versa. Therefore identifying with one’s atman or self is the key to a life of fulfillment. The key teaching of the Katha Upanishad through this metaphor is something man hardly realizes; as a charioteer may not always feel happy maintaining his chariot alone since he may have many other needs like taking care of his family, only satisfying the needs of the body (chariot) may not satisfy the needs of the soul (charioteer). Thus man’s atman is real and the master of his body, and the inner awareness to control one’s body is the key to a fulfilling life.
The soul forms the basic source of all lives on the earth. The soul in turn projects as the mind, body and ultimately the universe we all experience. All individual souls (atman) are part of the universal source, which is the Brahman or god. Thus all human beings on this earth are extensions of god, whether they realize it or not. We can identify our atman or godliness when we tune our minds toward the universal source. The spiritual essence which is our primary source is stupendous and magnificent when compared with our physical self. When man gets inspired, he automatically gets connected to this universal atman or god that is far greater in all respects than his physical being. This is how man identifies the atman within himself. Thus, man always exists in only two mental states or consciousnesses; one is the human or ego state when he is driven by his own ego-centered thoughts, whereas in the other state of mind he exists as an atman duly connected with his universal source. God consciousness motivates man to feel content and joyful as he feels the vibrational positive energy of the source. We often identify our atman within us through certain inspirations like inner voices, silent reminders, messages or suggestions. These are the moments we are in full alignment with the universal energy flow or god consciousness. Man does evil things in his ego state of mind, after which his god consciousness makes him repent for his sins. This is another way of identifying the spirit or atman within man. Thus men with dominant god-consciousness identify more with the soul or atman whereas men with dominant ego-consciousness identify more with the body and its physical needs, which often leads to stress and conflicts.
Man’s intellect or buddhi (soul) is in fact his charioteer or rider of his physical self (body). Oneness with this charioteer or soul can be more realized through detachment that results from knowing that our behavior pattern is directed by a higher intelligence. Detachment is staying away from worldly pleasures that satisfy the body than the soul. To a person practicing the virtue of detachment, when things do not seem to go the way he intended them to go, he can easily overcome his ego and let go of the ideas of how things ought to be. Attachment to worldly things takes us far away from our very rider. Attachment also implies self-doubt and mistrust in nature’s abundance and intelligence. Attachment to worldly things to satisfy the body also originates from man’s ego, which is a sign of not realizing the true power of the rider because of insecurity and fear. Besides, attachment to worldly riches ironically creates more insecurity and misery. For example, attachment toward security and worldly riches only further creates insecurity; in other words, the anxiety and fear to take care of the wealth causes more insecurity. Therefore keeping away the ego or the bodily needs in favor of the needs of the soul keeps our chariot (body) always teamed up with the charioteer (soul).
Self inquiry or meditation through “Neti- Neti,” which in Sanskrit means “neither this nor that” helps us find the real meaning of our life’s purpose by discovering our soul. We normally identify ourselves with our bodies, personalities, feelings, thoughts, sexual orientations, family roles or societal status. We are indeed none of these, and we transcend all the roles we do as human beings on this earth since we are much more than we could perceive ourselves to be. Neti-Neti meditation gives us the power to rediscover ourselves and go back to our true nature. Listening to my deeper self in meditation helps me rediscover the true “I” that dwells in the home of my body. It is when someone is not able to find this true “I’ soul in his body, he runs after his emotions, bodily needs and roles to satisfy the chariot rather than the charioteer. Thus, the more someone transcends himself the freer he will be of the miseries of this world.
Man is a limitless creation, and this limitlessness can only be realized if he is always aligned with his soul. The more aligned he is with his soul, like the perfect match of a chariot with its charioteer, the more happy and fulfilling his life would be. Listening to our inner voice helps us in getting connected to our divinely souls. All our actions should thus be centered on satisfying our soul than our body. We are all spiritual beings presently undergoing different human experiences on this earth; hence our backgrounds and other labels are nothing but the paraphernalia that help us enjoy this human experience. Therefore a man achieves true liberation and freedom only when he realizes this truth and unifies himself by integrating his body, mind and senses to obey his soul and real master.

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WePapers. (2021, January, 03) Good Example Of "Know The Self As A Rider In The Chariot, And The Body, As Simply The Chariot" Essay. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from
"Good Example Of "Know The Self As A Rider In The Chariot, And The Body, As Simply The Chariot" Essay." WePapers, 03 Jan. 2021, Accessed 10 August 2022.
WePapers. 2021. Good Example Of "Know The Self As A Rider In The Chariot, And The Body, As Simply The Chariot" Essay., viewed August 10 2022, <>
WePapers. Good Example Of "Know The Self As A Rider In The Chariot, And The Body, As Simply The Chariot" Essay. [Internet]. January 2021. [Accessed August 10, 2022]. Available from:
"Good Example Of "Know The Self As A Rider In The Chariot, And The Body, As Simply The Chariot" Essay." WePapers, Jan 03, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2022.
WePapers. 2021. "Good Example Of "Know The Self As A Rider In The Chariot, And The Body, As Simply The Chariot" Essay." Free Essay Examples - Retrieved August 10, 2022. (
"Good Example Of "Know The Self As A Rider In The Chariot, And The Body, As Simply The Chariot" Essay," Free Essay Examples -, 03-Jan-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 10-Aug-2022].
Good Example Of "Know The Self As A Rider In The Chariot, And The Body, As Simply The Chariot" Essay. Free Essay Examples - Published Jan 03, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2022.

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