By Swami Harshananda
Śauva-udgitha literally means ‘the udgitha revealed through a dog’.
There is an interesting incident mentioned in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad. A sage named Glāva-maitreya had started searching for a suitable place to repeat and study the Vedas. He suddenly saw a beautiful white dog in front of him. Very soon few more dogs also appeared on the scene and requested the white dog to get them food because they were hungry by singing for the same. They were asked to be present in that very place the next morning. And they did so.
Now, as per the directions of the chief dog, they formed a continuous chain each dog catching hold of the tail of the dog in front of it, and started singing an udgitha which was a prayer addressed to the deity Āditya and requesting him for food. The dogs had actually imitated such a formation by the priests in a Somayāga during the chanting of the Bahiṣpavamāna hymn. This came to be known as the Sauva-udgītha, the udgitha revealed by a dog.
The white dog was a deva or a ṛṣi in that disguise. It had appeared before the sage Glāva-maitreya to teach him an udgitha by singing which one could get plenty of food. This had become necessary since the people, as per the previous section of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, were suffering from a famine. The dogs represent the mukhya or the chief prāṇa and the subsidiary prāṇas.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore