Introduction: Death is a Teacher:
Please read the first part of this story: The link is here: In the House of Death: Story of a Boy-Nachiketas: Part-1
This is the second part of the legendary story of a little boy Nachiketa, barely ten years old, son of Sage Vajasravasa , who meets Yama (The Death God in Hindu philosophy). Through conversation, Yama reveals Supreme Knowledge to Nachiketa, the knowledge of the nature of Self (Atman) and the path to gain Wisdom, for Moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death).
Text is lengthy, since all the dialogs are covered to get the Essence of Katha Upanishad. Readers are requested to read with patience. My efforts will be successful, if you like the content.
Yama: Lord of Death! In short, I address here as Death!
Death said: ” This question has been discussed by the gods, it is deep and difficult. Choose another gift, Nachiketa! Do not be hard. Do not be hard. Do not compel me to explain.
Nachiketa said: ” Death! you say that the gods have discussed it, that it is deep and difficult; what explanation can be good as yours?
Death tempts Nachiketa a bit more:
Death said: ” Take sons and grandsons, all long lived, cattle and horses, elephants and gold, take a great kingdom. Anything but this; wealth, long life, Nachiketa! Empire, anything whatever; satisfy the heart’s desire. Pleasure beyond reach, fine women with carriages, their musical instruments; mount beyond dreams; enjoy! But do not ask what lies beyond death”
Nachiketa said: “Destroyer of man! these things pass. Joy ends enjoyment, the longest life is short. keep those horses, keep singing and dancing, keep it all for yourself. Wealth cannot satisfy a man. If he but pleases you, master of all, he can live as long as he likes, get all he likes; but I will not change my gift. What man, subject to death and decay, getting the chance of Un decaying life, would still enjoy mere long life, thinking of copulation and beauty. Say where man goes after death; end all that discussion. This, which you have made so mysterious, is the only gift I will take.”
Two Paths in Human Life: ” The Good and the Pleasant” # SREYAS & PREYAS # Sreyas is Vidya(wisdom), and Preyas is Avidya (ignorance).
Death said: ” The good is one, the pleasant another; both command the Soul. Who follows the good, attains sanctity, who follows the pleasant, drops out of the race. Every man faces both. The mind of the wise man draws him to the good, the flesh of the fool drives him to the pleasant.
Lord Yama praises Nachiketas’s discrimination:
Death Continues: “Nachiketa! Having examined the pleasures, you have rejected them; turned from the vortex of life and death. Diverging roads: One called ignorance, the other Wisdom. Fools brag of their knowledge; proud, ignorant, dissolving, blind led by the blind, staggering to and fro. What can the money-maddened simpleton know of the future? ” This is the only world” cries he thinks there is no other, I kill him again and again. Some have never heard of the Self, some have heard of the Self, some have heard but cannot find Him. Who finds Him is a world’s wonder, who expounds Himis world’s wonder, who inherits Him from his Master is a world’s wonder. No man of common mind can teach Him; such men dispute one against another. But when the uncommon man speaks, dispute is over. Because the Self is a fine substance, He slips from the mind and deludes imagination. Beloved! logic brings no man to the Self. Yet when a wise man shows Him, He is found. Your longing eyes are turned towards reality.
Lord Yama’s attainment, when He was young:
Lord Yama continues: “Would that I had always such a pupil. because man cannot find the Eternal through passing pleasure, I have sought the Fire in these pleasures and, worshipping that alone, found the Eternal. Nachiketa! The fulfilment of all desire, the conquest of the world, freedom from fear, unlimited pleasure, magical power, all were yours, but you renounced them all, brave and wise man. ” The wise, meditating on God, concentrating their thought, discovering in the mouth of the cavern, deeper in the cavern, that Self, that ancient Self, difficult to imagine, more difficult to understand, pass beyond joy and sorrow. The man that, hearing from the Teacher and comprehending, distinguishes nature from the Self, goes to the source; that man attains joy, lives for ever in that joy. I think, Nachiketa! your gate of joy stands open.”
Nachiketa asked: ” what lies beyond right and wrong, beyond cause and effect, beyond past and future?”
The Goal of all Spiritual efforts- “OM”
Death said: “The word the Vedas extol, austerities proclaim, sanctities approach- that word is OM! ” That word is eternal Spirit, eternal distance, who knows it attains to his desire. ” That word is the ultimate foundation. who finds it is adored among the saints. “The Self knows all, is not born, does not die, is not the effect of any cause; is Eternal, self-existent, spelt AUM, perishable, ancient. How can the killing of the body kill Him? He who thinks that He kills, he who thinks that He is killed, is ignorant. He does not kill nor is He killed. ” The Self is lesser than the least, greater than the greatest. He lives in all hearts. When senses are at rest, free from desire, man finds him and mounts beyond sorrow. though sitting, he travels, though sleeping is everywhere. Who but I Death can understand that God is beyond joy and sorrow. Who knows the Self, bodiless among the embodied, unchanging among the changing, prevalent everywhere, goes beyond sorrow. “The Self is not known through discourse, splitting of hairs, learning however great; He comes to man He loves; takes that man’s body for His own. “The wicked man is restless, without concentration, without peace; how can he find Him, whatever his learning? He has made mere preachers and soldiers His food, death its condiment; how can a common man find Him?”
Let us put it mathematically: “smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest”. Suppose n is a number, and we consider two loops. n=n+1 and n=n-1 in two different cases.
case 1. n+1> n; in the loop n=n+1, n approaches to ∞ (infinity)
case 2. n-1 < n; in the loop n=n-1, n approaches to zero; ε (epsilon) but ≠ 0. This example will just help to imagine the vastness of Brahman.
Planck length, the smallest in size = 1.6 x 10–35 meters. Planck time, the smallest time = 10−44seconds. Volume of the observable Universe is 3.566×1080 m3
एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं ब्रह्म : = This word alone is verily “Saguna Brahman”. एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं परम्: = This word alone is verily the “Nirguna Brahman”. This syllable AUM(ॐ) is indeed Brahman. This syllable is the Highest, Eternal. Whosoever knows this syllable obtains all that he desires. एतदालम्बनं ज्ञात्वा ब्रह्मलोके महीयते : = This word is the ultimate foundation. Who finds it is adored among saints.
ब्रह्म` ~ “Brahman” : The Principal word in Upanishad: What is That?
Brahman: IT is That which is Absolute, fills all space, is complete in Itself, to which there is no second and which is continuously present in everything, in every being and everywhere. It is homogeneous in nature.
Important Reads related to this article
Failure to comprehend the Essential Unity of Being is the Cause of Rebirth.
Why do we take rebirth or otherwise we can say we move from death to death. Why? It is due to wish of fulfilling desires that remain till death. But if we can realize the True Reality of the Self, the Eternal Self, from whom everything manifests, the desires get vanished, get dried up. All desires melt is the light of the Self. This is Nirvana. Nachiketas wanted to know, what happens to the Souls after death. Lord of Death ” Yama ” explained the reality through conversations between them. That is the Essence of Katha Upanishad.
- Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite. **
- THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit** Swami and W.B.Yeats
- Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.**
- Commentary of Katha Upanishad: By Swami Krishnananda.
- Katha Upanishad: By Swami GuruBhaktananda.
- EIGHT UPANISADS -VOL-1 with commentary of Sankaracharya, Translated by SWAMI GAMBHIRANANDA.
- THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD: SHIKSHAVALLI-ANANDAVALLI-BHRIGUVALLI with Sri Shankara’s Commentary By Sri Swami Satchidanandera Saraswati.
- Commentary of Mandukya Upanishad: By Swami Krishnananda.
- MANDUKYA Upanishad By Swami GuruBhaktananda.
- A-U-M Awakening to Reality: By Dennis Waite***
- Panchadasi: Swami Vidyaranya:
- Information available on internet.
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