Charaiveti – the What and the Why

In 2008 when change enveloped me like a blanket in every sphere possible & it became too hot to handle, I took a break from work and took refuge in reading. That’s when I came across this interesting Sanskrit word, CHARAIVETI (चरैवेति) an aphorism from the Aitareya Brahmana*, which means “Go on”. A powerful and potent word, in true Upanishadic style it exhorts us to move on and keep going!

चरैवेति Chara+eva+iti = Chara = moving (things) + eva = alone ; only + iti = thus

The actual source of the word is a hymn about the long endless journey towards self-realization which each one of us must embark on, and each verse ends with the refrain: ‘Charaiveti, Charaiveti’, meaning, oh traveller, march along, march along!’

“Charanbai madhu vindati charantsvadu mudambaram.

Suryasya pasya sreemanam yo na tandrayate charan.

Charaiveti, charaiveti.”

Aitareya Brahmana*, 7.15

I am not a Vedic or Sanskrit scholar; yet the verse and its translation fascinated me.
[The literal translation of the verse according to sources is “The honey bee, by its motion, collects honey, and birds enjoy tasty fruits by constant movement. The sun is revered, by virtue of its constant shining movement; therefore, one should be constantly in motion. Keep moving, keep moving on!”]

Curious about the word, I googled it (No wonder today’s generation feel next to God is the Google – or is it the other way around? :P)

I discovered that Lord Buddha used to conclude his discourses & sermons everyday with these words: Charaiveti, Charaiveti. What a positive and meaningful way of urging and encouraging his audience!

Whatever the circumstances, we have to move on and persist like a dogged traveller in the journey of life. Enchanted by the word I have named it for my blogs and my FB page, both of which aims to inspire.

In the journey of life, we are sure to traverse through hills and vales, acmes and abysses. Success and failure, rising and falling. All these bring about change. Well, it sounds clichéd, yet change is inevitable and is in fact the only thing that is permanent, like the seasons.

Sometimes change can be exhilarating and exciting. Sometimes it can be frustrating and demoralizing. And sometimes it can be scary and terrifying.

Whatever the emotion it draws out from within us, change can really be a wonderful thing, if only we welcome, introspect, appreciate and learn from it. The learning in turn will strengthen our hearts, expand our minds and enrich our very lives. It would be a useful exercise to introspect and examine how much we have changed. And if we find that we have changed in one way or the other, we can pat ourselves on the back, for it is either for survival or for excellence. And the ultimate truth is the day we stop changing, we fossilize, we die!

Much later, when we look back, we realize that the change was to be. It made us stronger and clarified to us our life’s purpose. Wasn’t Friedrich Nietzsche who said that that which does not kill us makes us stronger? Besides change is one of the best of teachers!


So, no matter how arduous the climb is, how long and winding the road is, how worn out we are, we need to carry on. . . . Charaveti, Charaiveti . . . keep going, keep going and never stop moving till the last breath of life.

Communications Psychologist Dr. Dennis O’ Grady says, “Change has a bad reputation in our society. But it isn’t all bad — not by any means. In fact, change is necessary in life — to keep us moving … to keep us growing … to keep us interested. … Imagine life without change. It would be static … boring … dull.”

So let’s embrace change – it may seem rotten now, but sweet later! And let’s keep going! Smile and move on!! I do know it is easier said than done. But do give it a try. I did. And I have never regretted.

CHARAIVETI, CHARAIVETI!! Move on, Move on! March along, March along!!!


19 thoughts on “Charaiveti – the What and the Why

  1. Awesome Quotation and insightful write up…hv come across some upnishad verses…i feel an urgent need for i myself and society to start life only after having been a student of vedaant , such thorough insight and we are wandering the world and promoting the crappy knowledge relatively


  2. Is it really in Aitireya Upanishad? Looked up the entire text on the internet and didn’t find this verse in it. You said verse 7.16 but since it is a small upanishad, it hardly has 3 chapters. Kindly let your readers know where exactly it is located. Just curious. Cheers!


  3. Its very nice and adaptable in one’s life. and its very truth that first we go for our ancestors what have given to us by the Vedant, Upanishad… Happy Navaratri Amma


  4. Pingback: चरैवेति अनंत रे | Bluefeatherer

  5. Dear Mr. Menon,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Charaiveti.

    Responding to one of your paragraphs here..
    “In the journey of life, we are sure to traverse through hills and vales, acmes and abysses. Success and failure, rising and falling. All these bring about change. Well, it sounds clichéd, yet change is inevitable and is in fact the only thing that is permanent, like the seasons.”

    The permanence discussed in the upanishads do not refer to the ‘inevitable phenomenon of change’ as that permanence. The self ( aka brahman, atman, God) is the unchanging awareness. Everything ( dream, waking world and the changes you mentioned ) is seen in that awareness – and it is by the reality of the awareness – everything that is seen in the awareness is appears to be real at that time.

    The idea of Charaiveti is – as you rightly pointed – is not to give up when faced by a certain adversity but instead keep going..until one is able to settle in self realization (..where one’s identity is only awareness and nothing else and hence not disturbed by the appearance of the changing world ).

    Best wishes…to all !


  6. Loved it.
    My naniji mentioned this to me when I was telling her of troubling things I was going through. I searched it on the net and came across on your blog.
    What a wonderful story, and so heartwarming. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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