Essence of Prashna Upanishad: The Third Question: —

Introduction:   

Prashna Upanishad comes from the Brahmana portion of the Atharva Veda, belonging to Pippaladasakha. It has 67 mantras spread over six chapters. Each chapter contains one question. Prashna means question.  The scientific approach of Vedanta is the basis of the Prashna Upanishad, where the teacher and the students are engaged in an enquiry into the nature of Universe. This Upanishad leads the aspirant from the known to the unknown, from the manifest to the unmanifest, from the grossly materialistic mind to the Supremely subtle, Absolute and Pure Consciousness’. Here we will discuss the THIRD QUESTION (तृतीयः प्रश्नः)

तृतीयः प्रश्नः

3.1: Kausalya, the son of Asvalaya, put forward this third question:

 1.From whom does this Prana take its birth?                                             2. How does it get into body?                                                                       3. How does it there after dividing itself?                                                   4. How does it get out of the body?                                                               5.How does it support all that is outside and all that is inside?  

अथ हैनं कौशल्यश्चाश्वलायनः पप्रच्छ । भगवन् कुत
एष प्राणो जायते कथमायात्यस्मिञ्शरीर आत्मानं  वा
प्रविभज्य कथं प्रतिष्ठते केनोत्क्रमते कथं बाह्यमभिधत्ते
कथमध्यात्ममिति ॥ ३.१॥

तस्मै स होवाचातिप्रश्नान् पृच्छसि ब्रह्मिष्ठोऽसीति
तस्मात्तेऽहं ब्रवीमि ॥ ३.२॥

Difficult Question:

3.2:  Sage replied: ” Indeed the question is transcendental. You dig into the root. However, as you are an earnest seeker of Brahman (ब्रह्मिष्ठोऽसीति), so I shall explain it to you.”

आत्मन एष प्राणो जायते । 
यथैषा पुरुषे छायैतस्मिन्नेतदाततं
मनोकृतेनायात्यस्मिञ्शरीरे ॥ ३.३॥

यथा सम्रादेवाधिकृतान् विनियुङ्क्ते ।
एतन् ग्रामानोतान् ग्रामानधितिष्ठस्वेत्येवमेवैष
प्राण इतरान् प्राणान् पृथक् पृथगेव सन्निधत्ते ॥ ३.४॥

3.3: This prana is born of Atman(Self). Life falls from the Self as shadow falls from the man. 

3.4: How does prana come to abide in this Body?

It is the mind which makes the prana identify itself with a particular body only, and no other. Life and Self are interwoven, but Life comes into the body that the desires of the mind may be satisfied. [( Reason:- Causal ! Ref: BG: 8.5-6) ] As the king portions out his kingdom under different officials , lordly prana portions out and assign duties to his five other assistants to maintain respective departments.

Following two are the Shlokas from Bhagavad Gita, Chapter: 8.5-6:

अन्तकाले च मामेव स्मरन्मुक्त्वा कलेवरम् |
य: प्रयाति स मद्भावं याति नास्त्यत्र संशय: || 8.5||

यं यं वापि स्मरन्भावं त्यजत्यन्ते कलेवरम् |
तं तमेवैति कौन्तेय सदा तद्भावभावित: || 8.6||

पायूपस्थेऽपानं चक्षुःश्रोत्रे मुखनासिकाभ्यां प्राणः 
स्वयं प्रातिष्ठते मध्ये तु समानः ।
एष ह्येतद्धुतमन्नं समं नयति तस्मादेताः सप्तार्चिषो भवन्ति ॥ ३.५॥

3.5: The apana, prana and samana assistants:

Apana : The organs of excretion and generation under the downward stream.                                                                                        Prana: Functions of eye, ear, mouth and nostrils, where He lives himself under prana.                                                                        Samana:  Lying in the middle of the body is responsible for swallowing the food, distributing nutrients equally and kindler of the seven flames(2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils and mouth). 

हृदि ह्येष आत्मा । अत्रैतदेकशतं नाडीनां तासां शतं 
शतमेकैकस्या द्वासप्ततिर्द्वासप्ततिः प्रतिशाखानाडीसहस्राणि
भवन्त्यासु व्यानश्चरति ॥ ३.६॥

अथैकयोर्ध्व उदानः पुण्येन पुण्यं लोकं नयति पापेन
पापमुभाभ्यामेव मनुष्यलोकम् ॥ ३.७॥

3.6 The Vyana: Governs circulatory system.

Self lives in the heart. There are a hundred and one arteries, from every artery start one hundred veins, from every vein seventy two thousand smaller veins. All these are under the Vyana. It governs the circulatory system.

3.7: The Udana: Leads energy from lower to upper level of consciousness.

Climbing through one of these the upward stream, Udana leads the meritorious man to his reward; the sinful man to his punishment; if his merit and demerit are mixed, back to the world. Leads from lower to upper levels of consciousness.

 आदित्यो ह वै बाह्यः प्राण उदयत्येष ह्येनं चाक्षुषं प्राणमनुगृह्णानः । पृथिव्यां या देवता सैषा पुरुषस्य 
अपानमवष्टभ्यान्तरा यदाकाशः स समानो वायुर्व्यानः ॥ ३.८॥

तेजो ह वा उदानस्तस्मादुपशान्ततेजाः ।
पुनर्भवमिन्द्रियैर्मनसि सम्पद्यमानैः ॥ ३.९॥

3.8-9: Coupling of inner with outer Upa-pranas.

Rising Sun is the symbol of life. Sun maintains Prana of the eye. Earth draws down Apana. Air, filler of all maintains samana and external wind relates to vyana. Light maintains Udana. When light is out, sense dissolves in mind, man is born again. 

यच्चित्तस्तेनैष प्राणमायाति । प्राणस्तेजसा युक्तः सहात्मना 
तथासङ्कल्पितं लोकं नयति ॥ ३.१०॥

य एवं विद्वान् प्राणं वेद न हास्य प्रजा हीयतेऽमृतो
भवति तदेषः श्लोकः ॥ ३.११॥

3.10: How Does Prana Go Out? 

Udana united to the mind’s desire at the moment of death, returns to life and life. Udana lighting the way, brings the soul to whatever place it deserves.

3.11 : The fruit of knowledge on prana:

The man who knows this , knows the meaning of life, his children are never lost. 

उत्पत्तिमायतिं स्थानं विभुत्वं चैव पञ्चधा । 
अध्यात्मं चैव प्राणस्य
विज्ञायामृतमश्नुते विज्ञायामृतमश्नुत इति ॥ ३.१२॥

3.12: Shruti Quotation: A Summary:

“He who knows the sources and power of Life, how it enters, where it lives, how it divides itself into five, how it is related to the Self, attains immortality; yes attains immortality”

 

It is believed that Prana controls the Universal energy. It moves the whole Universe. According to ancient Texts, the whole of the manifested Universe is divided into two:

1) Akasha: the ultimate or basic stuff, out of which all the gross forms, from galaxies to atoms, from microscopic cells to the major animals and Human. Takes shape, and into which they resolve, and dissolve at the end to it’s pristine condition. Akasha, the matrix of all forms, can not itself be perceived. It is experienced only as its gross effects or combinations. [ Particle physics of you** ]

2) Prana: What works upon the Akasha and shapes it into all forms or manifestations is called prana.

“Prana” is vital energy and invisible to us. It is like Electric Power ,which gives life to the machines and machines run, animates.  Same way this vital energy “Prana” animates us, the live bodies.  It runs the 1st layer the Physical body. This prana is external to further subtler energy which is Mind. The mind is so subtle and transparent, that  mind can reflect consciousness. 

Prana (Breath) is verily the life of beings and hence it is called the Universal life. It is matter of common knowledge that life becomes possible only so long as the vital energy keeps the different organs of the organism alive. ” Though this vital life force makes the body animated and actions are performed but this is not the Real Self. This Prana separates life from death once the “Prana” leaves the body. Prana as a whole is  composed of five Pranas (prana, Udana, vyana, samana, Apana). These pranas have their own importance to operate The Body perfectly. Through practice of Pranayama (pranayama is breathing exercise, part of Yoga as described in the ancient texts) , we can transcend to the next layer. Pancha Kosha Tattva (Wisdom of five sheaths explains about the layers before and after Pranamaya kosha.

Prana and Cosmic Vibration: 

To the Yogi, the whole Universe is his Body. The matter which composes his Body is the same that evolved the Universe. It is by the power of controlled prana, faith healing is effected due to certain state of vibration. Also remote healing of others can be made by conveying similar vibration. It is also the secret of the power of the great men of the world. Thought is the highest expression of prana. Its expression is three fold. Unconscious, Conscious and Super Conscious. All manipulations of the subtle forces of the body, which are different manifestations of the prana, give a push to the mind to assume vibrations, which reveal facts of subtle levels of existence. The whole Universe is one unbroken mass of matter in flux beaten into different states of vibration by the prana. When the action of prana on akasha is most subtle, it is mind. Mind is also one unbroken continuum. The Universal Mind. If one gets into that subtle vibration through the regulation of prana within oneself, then the whole universe is seen as composed of subtle vibrations of thought. Samadhi brings the individual’s mind to those vibrations which enable it to apprehend the facts of these subtle levels of existence. He who has grasped this Prana, has grasped the very core of cosmic life. Through Pranayama, Yogi controls the prana.

  इति प्रश्नोपनिषदि तृतीयः प्रश्नः ॥

Conclusions: A Look : In the perspective of Modern Science: 

Efficiency of the Human Body

SELECTED VERSES FROM ATMA BODHA

Recommended readings:

  1. Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite.**
  2. THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit** Swami and W.B.Yeats
  3. Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.**
  4. Commentary of Prashna Upanishad: By Swami Krishnananda.
  5. Prashna Upanishad By Swami GuruBhaktananda.
  6. EIGHT UPANISADS -VOL-1 with commentary of Sankaracharya, Translated by SWAMI GAMBHIRANANDA.
  7. THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD: SHIKSHAVALLI-ANANDAVALLI-BHRIGUVALLI with Sri Shankara’s Commentary By Sri Swami Satchidanandera Saraswati.
  8. Information available on internet.

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Essence of Katha Upanishad: Part-3 of 4

                    Know the Atman(The Self) to be the master of the Chariot.

Disclaimer:

  • This article is purely based on my studies, my thoughts, my concept, my beliefs, my experiences and self realization.
  • ☆ I found some link between modern science(Quantum mechanics) and teachings of ancient sages as mentioned in Vedanta, regarding Universe, Supreme Consciousness or the Ultimate truth , the Ultimate Reality whatever we say.
  • ☆ The term “MAN” wherever used in this entire text is intended to consider as “HUMAN” irrespective of gender differences.
  • ♡ Having gone through the Vedanta/ancient texts, commentaries, translated by different writers, translators, publishers on the same topic, I have tried my best to share the subject matter as I understood and convinced too. My intention is to reach to you with the topic that I found very useful for human lives. I am not good in English literature. Please give your valuable suggestions for the improvement and valuable inputs to make the text beneficial for mankind. 
  • ☆ The Spiritual context is purely based on ancient sacred texts. Sanskrit slokas are taken from books and websites. There may be little variation in the translations and commentaries. I have shared my own views and explanations according to my concept gathered in the subject through experience and intuitions. There is no discrimination against any religion, race, cast or creed. 
  • Your feedback will be highly appreciated. I am sure that the subject matter is highly logical and does not bring any conflict. Hope you will enjoy reading. Regards. NAMASTE.

Katha Upanishad : —  It gives a direct teaching to the spiritual aspirant.

ॐ ॥ अथ कठोपनिषद् ॥

Peace Invocation:-

ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु । सहवीर्यं करवावहै ।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु । मा विद्विषावहै ॥
  ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
May HE protect us both. May HE take pleasure in us both. May we show courage together. May spiritual knowledge shine before us. May we never hate one another. May peace and peace and peace be everywhere.

प्रथमाध्याये तृतीया वल्ली॥  Introduction: 

This third section is very important for the seekers. Deals with process of Sadhana. How can an aspirant transcends himself ? Section-1: [ Essence of Katha Upanishad part-1 of 4 ] was an introduction on Nachiketas’ position. Section-2 [ Essence of Katha Upanishad part-2 of 4 ] introduced the existence of the Supreme Being. Now an extended Metaphor is introduced in this section to make the Text easy. Section has 17 verses. All verses are discussed.  Let us look into:

Two Selves :The Universal Self and The Individual Self: 

Two Selves:  One is in the process of attaining: The attainer. Other is that what to be attained. One is Traveller , other is Destination. Obviously between two the common is means of communication and that is “CHARIOT”.

ऋतं पिबन्तौ सुकृतस्य लोके
    गुहां प्रविष्टौ परमे परार्धे ।
छायातपौ ब्रह्मविदो वदन्ति
    पञ्चाग्नयो ये च त्रिणाचिकेताः ॥ १॥

यः सेतुरीजानानामक्षरं ब्रह्म यत् परम् ।
अभयं तितीर्षतां पारं नाचिकेतँ शकेमहि ॥ २॥

Both the Individual Self and the Universal Self, are living in the heart, like shade and Light. Though beyond enjoyment, yet enjoy the fruit of action. Wise says this for the knowers of Brahman and the performers of the Nachiketas fire ( त्रिणाचिकेताः ~ trinachiketaah). [1.3.1]. The Heart here is referred to the Intellect, where the Supreme Self gets reflected and that reflection is Jiva or Ego (Ahamkara). “पञ्चाग्नयो~ pancha-agnayah refers here to the performers of the five fires, the house holders, the followers of Karma Kanda of Vedas. And  those who performs त्रिणाचिकेताः ~ trinachiketaah are worshipper of Upasana Kanda of Vedas. Man can kindle that Fire, that Spirit, a bridge for all who sacrifice, a guide for all who pass beyond fear.[1.3.2]

आत्मानँ रथितं विद्धि शरीरँ रथमेव तु ।
बुद्धिं तु सारथिं विद्धि मनः प्रग्रहमेव च ॥ ३॥

इन्द्रियाणि हयानाहुर्विषयाँ स्तेषु गोचरान् ।
आत्मेन्द्रियमनोयुक्तं भोक्तेत्याहुर्मनीषिणः ॥ ४॥

Know the Atman to be the master of the Chariot; the body, the chariot; the Intellect (buddhi) , the charioteer ; and the mind , the reins. The senses, they say , are the horses; the objects, the roads. When Self is joined to body, mind, sense, none but He enjoys. [1.3.3-4]

The Intellect: Avijnanvan and Vijnanavan:

यस्त्वविज्ञानवान्भवत्ययुक्तेन मनसा सदा ।
तस्येन्द्रियाण्यवश्यानि दुष्टाश्वा इव सारथेः ॥ ५॥

यस्तु विज्ञानवान्भवति युक्तेन मनसा सदा ।
तस्येन्द्रियाणि वश्यानि सदश्वा इव सारथेः ॥ ६॥

When a man lack steadiness, unable to control his mind, his senses are like unmanageable horses.  यस्त्वविज्ञानवान्भवत्ययुक्तेन~  “avijnaanavaan bhavati” means non-discriminating intellect and विज्ञानवान्भवतिdiscriminating intellect. The non-discriminating charioteer is most dangerous. The discriminating one takes care to rein in the mind so that the horses are well-controlled.[1.3.5-6 ]

The Destination: Reaching the Goal:

यस्त्वविज्ञानवान्भवत्यमनस्कः सदाऽशुचिः ।
न स तत्पदमाप्नोति संसारं चाधिगच्छति ॥ ७॥

यस्तु विज्ञानवान्भवति समनस्कः सदा शुचिः ।
स तु तत्पदमाप्नोति यस्माद्भूयो न जायते ॥ ८॥

विज्ञानसारथिर्यस्तु मनः प्रग्रहवान्नरः । 
सोऽध्वनः पारमाप्नोति तद्विष्णोः परमं पदम् ॥ ९॥

Three verses: 1.3.7 to 1.3.9 focus on the Destination, where the intellect is the key factor. The impure, self-willed, unsteady  man misses the goal and is born again and again. The self-controlled , steady, pure man goes to that Goal from which he never returns. He who calls intellect to manage the reins of his mind reaches the end of his journey, finds that Supreme abode of Vishnu.[ 1.3.7-9] 

The Route of the Journey: 

इन्द्रियेभ्यः परा ह्यर्था अर्थेभ्यश्च परं मनः ।
मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्बुद्धेरात्मा महान्परः ॥ १०

महतः परमव्यक्तमव्यक्तात्पुरुषः परः । 
पुरुषान्न परं किंचित्सा काष्ठा सा परा गतिः ॥ ११॥ 

Above the senses are the objects of desire, above the objects of desire is mind, above the mind is intellect, above the intellect manifest the great Atman, beyond the great Atman, the unmanifest, the Purusha. Beyond the Purusha, there is nothing. That is the END, the Supreme Goal. [1.3.10-11]

Here the journey is through understanding and reaching deeper levels within our Being. No physical distance needs to be covered. Only to meditate on ॐ (AUM) going deeper and subtler till it reaches the core. 

Self is seen only by Subtle intellect:

एष सर्वेषु भूतेषु गूढोऽऽत्मा न प्रकाशते ।
दृश्यते त्वग्र्यया बुद्ध्या सूक्ष्मया सूक्ष्मदर्शिभिः ॥ १२॥

This Atman is in all living beings. It is hidden there and not visible to eye (गूढोऽऽत्मा न प्रकाशते ). It can indeed be  seen by the sharp intellect with the subtle vision(बुद्ध्या सूक्ष्मया सूक्ष्मदर्शिभिः) [1.3.12]. Intellect of the sage finds Him.

Successive Merging from Speech to Self:

यच्छेद्वाङ्मनसी प्राज्ञस्तद्यच्छेज्ज्ञान आत्मनि ।
ज्ञानमात्मनि महति नियच्छेत्तद्यच्छेच्छान्त आत्मनि ॥ १३॥

उत्तिष्ठत जाग्रत
    प्राप्य वरान्निबोधत ।
क्षुरस्य धारा निशिता दुरत्यया
    दुर्गं पथस्तत्कवयो वदन्ति ॥ १४॥

The wise nature in  man would loose his speech in mind, mind in the intellect, intellect into the “Mahat” and the Mahat into The Peaceful Self. Arise, awake! Learn Wisdom at Master’s feet. The path is indeed difficult to cross and hard to tread, like the sharp edge of a razor. Mahat here is referred to the total MIND [1.3.13-14] { Please see the notes at the end}.

Subtlety of the Supreme Self:

अशब्दमस्पर्शमरूपमव्ययं
    तथाऽरसं नित्यमगन्धवच्च यत् ।
अनाद्यनन्तं महतः परं ध्रुवं
    निचाय्य तन्मृत्युमुखात् प्रमुच्यते ॥ १५॥

He who knows the soundless, odorless, tasteless,  intangible, formless, deathless, supernatural, unchangeable Reality, springs out of the mouth of Death.(1.3.15).

Glory of the ” Nachiketas ” Knowledge:

नाचिकेतमुपाख्यानं मृत्युप्रोक्तँ सनातनम् । 
उक्त्वा श्रुत्वा च मेधावी ब्रह्मलोके महीयते ॥ १६॥

य इमं परमं गुह्यं श्रावयेद् ब्रह्मसंसदि । 
प्रयतः श्राद्धकाले वा तदानन्त्याय कल्पते । 
तदानन्त्याय कल्पत इति ॥ १७॥

This Vedic knowledge as received by Nachiketas, and as told by the Lord of Death is Eternal. Those who hear and repeat correctly this ancient dialogue becomes worthy of glorification in the world of Brahman( Brahma Loka). He who sings this great mystery at the anniversary of his fathers to a rightly chosen company, finds good luck, good luck beyond measure.[1.3.16-17]

Conclusion:

The highest evolute in creation is Mahat. Then comes ahankara; then comes the tanmatras and then, at last, the five elements. But to us , the five elements come first. And as the world affects our thinking and perception, we are slaves of it. The jive is enslaved by Avidya (ignorance). Avidya has to be removed. Absence of knowledge brings fear of Death. With vidya( knowledge), people become fearless. Knowing this knowledge, people will welcome Lord of Death, Yama, not repel Him.

॥ इति काठकोपनिषदि प्रथमाध्याये तृतीया वल्ली ॥***End of Second Valli of first Adhaya***

Thus ends the Third Chapter of the First Part of the Katha Upanishad.

Notes:-

  • a) Tanmatras are the 5 objects of perception, made up of the five subtle elements.
  • b) Mahat: Beyond the senses there are objects. Beyond the objects is mind, beyond the mind is intellect. Beyond the intellect is Great Self Mahat(cosmic intelligence).

Recommended readings:

  1. Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite.
  2. THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit Swami and W.B.Yeats
  3. Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.
  4. Commentary of Katha Upanishad By Swami Krishnananda.
  5. Katha Upanishad By Swami GuruBhaktananda.
  6. EIGHT UPANISADS -VOL-1 with commentary of Sankaracharya, Translated by SWAMI GAMBHIRANANDA.
  7. THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD: SHIKSHAVALLI-ANANDAVALLI-BHRIGUVALLI with Sri Shankara’s Commentary By Sri Swami Satchidanandera Saraswati.
  8. Information available on internet.

             It is my sincere request to the esteemed readers to share their opinion or queries if any. Suggestions to make the site attractive will be highly helpful for me. Readers are requested to read all the posts to have continuation of the topic from the beginning. My mail ID is :   arun7663@gmail.com 

Next part : Path to realization of Atman

 

Essence of Katha Upanishad: Part-2 of 4

Disclaimer:

  • The article is purely based on my studies, my thoughts, my concept, my beliefs, my experiences and self realization.
  • ☆ I found some link between modern science(Quantum mechanics) and teachings of ancient sages as mentioned in Vedanta, regarding Universe, Supreme Consciousness or the Ultimate truth , the Ultimate Reality whatever we say.
  • ☆ The term “MAN” wherever used in this entire text is intended to consider as “HUMAN” irrespective of gender differences.
  • ♡ Having gone through the Vedanta/ancient texts, commentaries, translated by different writers, translators, publishers on the same topic, I have tried my best to share the subject matter as I understood and convinced too. My intention is to reach to you with the topic that I found very useful for human lives. I am not good in English literature. Please give your valuable suggestions for the improvement and valuable inputs to make the text beneficial for mankind. 
  • ☆ The Spiritual context is purely based on ancient sacred texts. Sanskrit slokas are taken from books and websites. There may be little variation in the translations and commentaries. I have shared my own views and explanations according to my concept gathered in the subject through experience and intuitions. There is no discrimination against any religion, race, cast or creed. 
  • Your feedback will be highly appreciated. I am sure that the subject matter is highly logical and does not bring any conflict. Hope you will enjoy reading. Regards.    NAMASTE.

Katha Upanishad : —  It gives a direct teaching to the spiritual aspirant.

        ॐ       ॥ अथ कठोपनिषद् ॥

प्रथमाध्याये द्वितीया वल्ली॥  Introduction: 

In Essence of Katha Upanishad: Part-1 of 4 , Section-1/Chapter-1 has been discussed. In this part we will discuss second Valli of first Adhaya.(Section-2/Chapter-1- from verse -1 to verse-25). Text is lengthy, since all the verses are covered to know the Essence of Katha Upanishad. Readers are requested to read with patience. My efforts will be successful, if you like the content.

Two Paths in Human Life: ” The Good and the Pleasant”  # PREYAS & SREYAS #   

अन्यच्छ्रेयोऽन्यदुतैव प्रेय-
    स्ते उभे नानार्थे पुरुषँ सिनीतः ।
तयोः श्रेय आददानस्य साधु
    भवति हीयतेऽर्थाद्य उ प्रेयो वृणीते ॥ १॥

श्रेयश्च प्रेयश्च मनुष्यमेतः 
    तौ सम्परीत्य विविनक्ति धीरः । 
श्रेयो हि धीरोऽभि प्रेयसो वृणीते 
    प्रेयो मन्दो योगक्षेमाद्वृणीते ॥ २॥

Lord Yama said ” The preferable (Sreyas=श्रेय ) and the pleasurable (Preyas= प्रेयो ) both approach the mortal man. The good is one, the pleasant is another. These two serves divergent purposes. Both have commands. Who follows the good, attains sanctity; who follows the pleasant drops out of the race.” Every man faces both. The intelligent selects the electable in reference to the delectable. Choosing is always a function of the intellect, not the mind. The non intelligent person(मन्दो ) , driven by mind looks for short time happiness and chooses Preyas.[1.2.1-2]

Lord Yama praises Nachiketas’s discrimination:

स त्वं प्रियान्प्रियरूपांश्च कामान्
    अभिध्यायन्नचिकेतोऽत्यस्राक्षीः ।
नैतां सृङ्कां वित्तमयीमवाप्तो
    यस्यां मज्जन्ति बहवो मनुष्याः ॥ ३॥

Lord Yama said: Nachiketas! Having examined the pleasures, you have rejected them; turned from the vortex of the life and death. I showed you all the glitters there exists. You simply renounced them, where most people would have grabbed that I offered.[1.2.3]

Sreyas is Vidya(wisdom) and Preyas is Avidya (ignorance).

दूरमेते विपरीते विषूची
    अविद्या या च विद्येति ज्ञाता ।
विद्याभीप्सिनं नचिकेतसं मन्ये
    न त्वा कामा बहवोऽलोलुपन्त ॥ ४॥

अविद्यायामन्तरे वर्तमानाः 
    स्वयं धीराः पण्डितंमन्यमानाः । 
दन्द्रम्यमाणाः परियन्ति मूढा 
    अन्धेनैव नीयमाना यथान्धाः ॥ ५॥

Lord Yama continues: ” Diverging roads: one is called ignorance and the other is called wisdom. Nachiketas! you turn towards wisdom. Being an aspirant for wisdom, do I consider you to be, O Nachiketas!  Fools brag of their knowledge; proud, ignorant, deluded in many crooked ways, blind led by the blind, go round and round.[1.2.4-5]

Preyas: A false Vision:

न साम्परायः प्रतिभाति बालं
    प्रमाद्यन्तं वित्तमोहेन मूढम् ।
अयं लोको नास्ति पर इति मानी
    पुनः पुनर्वशमापद्यते मे ॥ ६॥

न साम्परायः प्रतिभाति बालं => na saam-paraayah prati-bhaati baalam” :- Meaning of the line is that, the means for the attainment of the long term goal are not revealed to those who have a short term goal. What can the money-maddened ignorant know of the future? This is the only world, and none hereafter- the fool thinks in this manner. I kill him again and again. (पुनः पुनर्वशमापद्यते मे ~ Poonah Poonah vasham aapadyate me). Remain in the cycle of birth and death.[1.2.6]

Wonder Teacher and Wonder Disciple:

श्रवणायापि बहुभिर्यो न लभ्यः
    श‍ृण्वन्तोऽपि बहवो यं न विद्युः ।
आश्चर्यो वक्ता कुशलोऽस्य लब्धा
    आश्चर्यो ज्ञाता कुशलानुशिष्टः ॥ ७॥

Lord Yama says: “Some have never heard of the Self, some have heard but can not find Him. Who finds Him is a world’s wonder, who expounds Him is a 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. It is a wonder to find that rare expounder , who is proficient to teach , also it is wonder to find that rare listener who is proficient to grasp the teaching.”[1.2.7]

Principles in Spiritual teaching:

न नरेणावरेण प्रोक्त एष
    सुविज्ञेयो बहुधा चिन्त्यमानः ।
अनन्यप्रोक्ते गतिरत्र नास्ति
    अणीयान् ह्यतर्क्यमणुप्रमाणात् ॥ ८॥

नैषा तर्केण मतिरापनेया 
    प्रोक्तान्येनैव सुज्ञानाय प्रेष्ठ । 
यां त्वमापः सत्यधृतिर्बतासि 
    त्वादृङ्नो भूयान्नचिकेतः प्रष्टा ॥ ९॥

Beloved! logic brings no man to the Self. But when taught by one who sees no Duality, then no doubts and variations will arise. नरेणावरेण “प्रोक्त एष सुविज्ञेयो बहुधा चिन्त्यमानः ”  This knowledge can not be obtained from the inferior instructor( who has not attained Brahman). “अणीयान् ह्यतर्क्यमणुप्रमाणात् “  means:  Indeed, It  can not be argued that It is subtler than the subtlest. You have obtained that wisdom, as you are already soundly fixed in the Truth. [1.2.8-9]

Lord Yama’s attainment, when He was young: [1.2.10]

जानाम्यहं शेवधिरित्यनित्यं
    न ह्यध्रुवैः प्राप्यते हि ध्रुवं तत् ।
ततो मया नाचिकेतश्चितोऽग्निः
    अनित्यैर्द्रव्यैः प्राप्तवानस्मि नित्यम् ॥ १०॥

कामस्याप्तिं जगतः प्रतिष्ठां 
    क्रतोरानन्त्यमभयस्य पारम् । 
स्तोममहदुरुगायं प्रतिष्ठां दृष्ट्वा 
    धृत्या धीरो नचिकेतोऽत्यस्राक्षीः ॥ ११॥

Lord Yama explains here that impermanent means can not bring permanent. Because man can not find the Eternal through pleasures, means Preyas. Yama says: ” I have sought Nachiketas fire in these pleasures and worshiping that alone, found the Eternal. The fulfilment of all desires, the conquest of the world, freedom from fear, unlimited pleasure, magical powers, all were yours , O Nachiketas!, being full of wisdom and firm resolve, you have rejected them all.”[1.2.10-11]

The means to attain the Supreme Self: 

तं दुर्दर्शं गूढमनुप्रविष्टं
    गुहाहितं गह्वरेष्ठं पुराणम् ।
अध्यात्मयोगाधिगमेन देवं
    मत्वा धीरो हर्षशोकौ जहाति ॥ १२॥

एतच्छ्रुत्वा सम्परिगृह्य मर्त्यः 
    प्रवृह्य धर्म्यमणुमेतमाप्य । 
स मोदते मोदनीयँ हि लब्ध्वा 
    विवृतँ सद्म नचिकेतसं मन्ये ॥ १३॥

Lord Yama continues: “The wise meditating on God, concentrating their thought, discovering in the mouth of the cavern, deeper in the cavern (गुहाहितं गह्वरेष्ठं पुराणम्),  that Self, that  ancient Self, difficult to imagine (तं दुर्दर्शं गूढमनुप्रविष्टं), more difficult to understand, pass beyond joy and sorrow.  Hearing from the teacher and comprehending, distinguishes nature from the Self. He then rejoices, for that he has obtained the very cause of all joy. I think, the abode of Brahman , your gates of joy stands open.”[1.2.12-13]

The concept conveyed here is that; the Self is Real even though it can not be perceived through senses and mind. It is said that He is the most hidden of all hidden secrets. People go to different places seeking Him, but He is hidden in the bottom of the seeker himself. Seeker carries Him wherever he goes, yet he asks for Him. The cave represents the intellect. [deeper in the cavern (गुहाहितं गह्वरेष्ठं पुराणम्) : पुराणम् = pooranam which means ” from the time immemorial” ] By means of the science of inner Self, the Supreme Deity within is meditated upon (अध्यात्मयोगाधिगमेन देवं). The wise man who recognizes That Supreme Being, comes to renounce both joys and sorrows (मत्वा धीरो हर्षशोकौ जहाति ).

Boon 3: A reminder: Nachiketas says to Lord Yama: 

अन्यत्र धर्मादन्यत्राधर्मा-
    दन्यत्रास्मात्कृताकृतात् ।
अन्यत्र भूताच्च भव्याच्च
    यत्तत्पश्यसि तद्वद ॥ १४॥

Nachiketas asked: ” What lies beyond right and wrong, beyond cause and effect, beyond past and future , tell me of that thing as you see it” [1.2.14]

The Goal of all Spiritual efforts- “OM”

सर्वे वेदा यत्पदमामनन्ति
    तपाꣳसि सर्वाणि च यद्वदन्ति ।
यदिच्छन्तो ब्रह्मचर्यं चरन्ति
    तत्ते पदꣳ सङ्ग्रहेण ब्रवीम्योमित्येतत् ॥ १५॥

Brahman is AUM:

Yama said: ” The goal which all the Vedas declare, which all austerities aim at, and which men desire when they lead the life of continence, will tell you briefly: The word is AUM [1.2.15]

एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं ब्रह्म एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं परम् ।
एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं ज्ञात्वा यो यदिच्छति तस्य तत् ॥ १६॥
एतदालम्बनँ श्रेष्ठमेतदालम्बनं परम् । 
एतदालम्बनं ज्ञात्वा ब्रह्मलोके महीयते ॥ १७॥

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.[1.2.16-17]


The Yoga of the Self: The Nature of Atman:

Following two slokas are also seen in second Adhaya of Bhagvad Geeta: 

न जायते म्रियते वा विपश्चि-
    न्नायं कुतश्चिन्न बभूव कश्चित् ।
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो
    न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ॥ १८॥

हन्ता चेन्मन्यते हन्तुँ हतश्चेन्मन्यते हतम् ।
उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नायँ हन्ति न हन्यते ॥ १९॥

The knowing Self is not born; It does not die. It has not sprung from anything; nothing has sprung from It. Birth less, eternal, everlasting, and ancient, It is not killed when the body is killed.[1.2.18]

If the killer thinks he kills and if the killed man thinks he is killed, neither of these apprehends aright. The Self kills not, nor is it killed.[1.2.19]

Self-Knowledge-1 : Majesty of the Self: –

अणोरणीयान्महतो महीया-
    नात्माऽस्य जन्तोर्निहितो गुहायाम् ।
तमक्रतुः पश्यति वीतशोको
    धातुप्रसादान्महिमानमात्मनः ॥ २०॥

Atman, smaller than the small, greater than the great, is hidden in the hearts of all living creatures. A man who is free from desires beholds the majesty of the Self through tranquility of the senses and the mind and becomes free from grief.(1.2.20)

Let us put it mathematically: “smaller than the small, greater than the great”.  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 1035 meters. Planck time, the smallest time = 1044seconds. Volume of the observable Universe is 3.566×1080 m3           

आसीनो दूरं व्रजति शयानो याति सर्वतः ।
कस्तं मदामदं देवं मदन्यो ज्ञातुमर्हति ॥ २१॥

अशरीरँ शरीरेष्वनवस्थेष्ववस्थितम् ।
महान्तं विभुमात्मानं मत्वा धीरो न शोचति ॥ २२॥

Though sitting, He travels; though sleeping, yet everywhere. Who but you and  I , Death can comprehend that Supreme who is beyond joy and sorrow.[1.2.21]

The wise man, having realized Atman as dwelling within impermanent bodies but itself bodiless, vast, and all-pervading, does not grieve.(1.2.22)

The sole condition: Choose only the Self: 

नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो
    न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन ।
यमेवैष वृणुते तेन लभ्यः
    तस्यैष आत्मा विवृणुते तनूꣳ स्वाम् ॥ २३॥

नाविरतो दुश्चरितान्नाशान्तो नासमाहितः ।
नाशान्तमानसो वाऽपि प्रज्ञानेनैनमाप्नुयात् ॥ २४॥

The Self is not known through discourse, splitting of hairs, learning however great; He comes to the man He loves; takes that man’s body for his own. [1.2.23]

He who has not first turned away from wickedness, who is not tranquil and subdued, and whose mind is not at peace, can not attain Atman. It is realized only through the knowledge of Reality.[1.2.24]

यस्य ब्रह्म च क्षत्रं च उभे भवत ओदनः ।
मृत्युर्यस्योपसेचनं क इत्था वेद यत्र सः ॥ २५॥  

He has made mere preachers( Brahmanas) and soldiers(Kshatriyas) His food, death it’s condiment; how can a common man find Him? This verse means that How can one know thus as to where the Self is, for which both the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas become food, and for which death takes the place of curry. Above mantra (verse-25) has an intellectual in depth inner meaning, which need to be elaborated.

The Brahmanas and Kshatriyas represent knowledge and power. But that knowledge is not omniscience and power is not the authority.उभे भवत ओदनः = means both become food ( odanah = boiled rice).    मृत्युर्यस्योपसेचनं  = means , for which mrtyuh, death becomes upasecanam, supplement to the food, being unfit even to be food.        क इत्था वेद यत्र सः = means kah, who – being a man with worldly intellect, and devoid of the disciplines described above; veda knows; ittha, in this way- like the man endowed with above mentioned disciplines; yatra, as to where The Self, the eater-destroyer of the Universe-exists in Its own glory. Who knows It as such? In other words, it can be said as ” In the case of Atman, existence is general and absolute. This is paramarthika-satta. In it , individuality ( Brahmanas and Kshatriyas ) is ruled out. As such death has no meaning there; death is dissolved in it. Such Atman-who can know where He really is? “

॥ इति काठकोपनिषदि प्रथमाध्याये द्वितीया वल्ली ॥

***End of Second Valli of first Adhaya***


Recommended readings:

  1. Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite.
  2. THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit Swami and W.B.Yeats
  3. Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.
  4. Commentary of Katha Upanishad By Swami Krishnananda.
  5. Katha Upanishad By Swami GuruBhaktananda.
  6. EIGHT UPANISADS -VOL-1 with commentary of Sankaracharya, Translated by SWAMI GAMBHIRANANDA.
  7. THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD: SHIKSHAVALLI-ANANDAVALLI-BHRIGUVALLI with Sri Shankara’s Commentary By Sri Swami Satchidanandera Saraswati.
  8. Information available on internet.

             It is my sincere request to the esteemed readers to share their opinion or queries if any. Suggestions to make the site attractive will be highly helpful for me.  Readers are requested to read all the posts to have continuation of the topic from the beginning. My mail ID is :   arun7663@gmail.com 

 

Essence of Katha Upanishad: Part-1 of 4

Nachiketas at the door of Death!

Disclaimer:

  • The article is purely based on my studies, my thoughts, my concept, my beliefs, my experiences and self realization.
  • ☆I found some link between modern science(Quantum mechanics) and teachings of ancient sages as mentioned in Vedanta, regarding Universe, Supreme Consciousness or the Ultimate truth , the Ultimate Reality whatever we say.
  • ☆ The term “MAN” wherever used in this entire text is intended to consider as “HUMAN” irrespective of gender differences.
  • ♡ Having gone through the Vedanta/ancient texts, commentaries, translated by different writers, translators, publishers on the same topic, I have tried my best to share the subject matter as I understood and convinced too. My intention is to reach to you with the topic that I found very useful for human lives. I am not good in English literature. Please give your valuable suggestions for the improvement and valuable inputs to make the text beneficial for mankind. 
  • ☆ The Spiritual context is purely based on ancient sacred texts. Sanskrit slokas are taken from books and websites. There may be little variation in the translations and commentaries. I have shared my own views and explanations according to my concept gathered in the subject through experience and intuitions. There is no discrimination against any religion, race, cast or creed. 
  • Your feedback will be highly appreciated. I am sure that the subject matter is highly logical and does not bring any conflict. Hope you will enjoy reading. Regards. NAMASTE.

प्रथमाध्यायेप्रथमा वल्ली॥  Introduction:-

Katha Upanishad (Kathopanishad) is one among ten principal Upanishads and part of Krishna Yajurveda. Katha Upanishad consists of two Adhayas (Chapters). Each Chapter has three Vallis (sections). This is a legendary story of a little boy Nachiketas, barely ten years old, son of Sage Vajasravasa (also known as sage Gautama), who meets Yama (The Death God in Hindu philosophy). Through conversation, Yama reveals Supreme Knowledge to Nachiketas, the knowledge of the nature Atman and the path to gain WisdomMoksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death). Vajasravasa wished to perform a sacrifice called Vishwajit (Sarva Dakshina), meaning victory over the whole universe. Through such sacrifice, the performer aims to gain the fruit of going to a higher world and enjoying the pleasures there. (Vajasrava means a Giver). The boy faced wrath of his father after completion of sacrificial fire , when he found there was fault in the part of his father. as such the boy was offered to Yama, by his father in anger. finally he got the desired knowledge from Yama when he exhibited Mumukshautva(intense desire to seek wisdom) and vairagya(dispassion for all worldly pleasures).

Katha Upanishad : —  It gives a direct teaching to the spiritual aspirant.

        ॐ       ॥ अथ कठोपनिषद् ॥

Peace Invocation:-

ॐ सह नाववतु। सह नौभुनक्तु । सहवीर्यं करवावहै।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु। मा विद्विषावहै॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Gifts(Dakshina) not worth the name:

Desiring heavenly enjoyment, sage Gautama performed a sacrifice(rituals part of karma kanda) called  “Sarva Dakshina” . After completion of Sacrifice, Nachiketas, son of Sage Gautama, noticed something not quite right about the gifts that were being presented to the priests.  Nachiketas thought:  ” These cows have drunk water for the last time, and eaten grass for the last time. They have yielded all their milk means can not yield more. They have lost their senses and can be treated as barren. They were totally useless. (1.1.3)

Nachiketas went to his father and asked, ” sa hovaca pitram taata, Kasmai maam daasyasi?” iti;” means ” To whom you have given me as sarva dakshina? Three times asked Nachiketa this question. His father was angry and replied, “Mrityave tvaa dadaami! iti.” means ” Unto death I offer you” (1.1.4)

“kimsvid yamasya kartavyam; yat mayaa adya karishyati” Nachiketas thought; ” Whether I die now or later hardly matters; but what would I like to know is what happens if Death gets me now ? (1.1.5) .

The Glory of upholding tradition:

” asyam iva martyah pachyate; sasyam iva aajaayate” Vajasrava would have taken back his words, but Nachiketas said: ” Think of those who went before and those who will come after; their words their bound. “Man dies and is born again like a blade of grass. This means seed grows only to fall and fall only to grow. This is the cycle of human life because birth and death are correlatives.” 1.1.6

Nachiketa then proceeded to Yama -loka. Upon reaching Lord Yama’s abode, he found Yama was out of his kingdom and he was on his usual duty to Martya Loka. Nachiketa waited for three days and nights and refused to accept food that was offered by the ministers of Yama. On Yama’s return, his ministers informed him that one atithih (guest) is waiting for him.

Lord Yama’s Instructions on Hospitality: 

वैश्वानरः प्रविशत्यतिथिर्ब्राह्मणोगृहान् ।तस्यैताँशान्तिं कुर्वन्ति हर वैवस्वतोदकम् ॥ ७

When a Brahmana (holy man) enters a house as a guest it is as if Fire has entered. The wise man cools him down. So please give him water. We should pacify guest, as is customary. A guest who comes of his own accord, an atithih -means the one who come without a particular tithih ( particular time or particular day) is regarded as God.(1.1.7)

आशाप्रतीक्षेसंगतँसूनृतां चेष्टापूर्ते पुत्रपशूँश्च सर्वान् ।एतद्वृङ्क्ते पुरुषस्याल्पमेधसो यस्यानश्नन्वसति ब्राह्मणोगृहे॥ ८

Of the person in whose house a guest starves, is not being given, even when asked for; of that person, the guest goes away taking all virtues and merits, and also lives of all children and cows; all these are destroyed.(1.1.8)

As such, Yama said to Nachiketas; ” you have dwelt three nights in my house; without food, O venerable Brahmana guest, I beg of you, O Brahmana, be good to me. Hence, in return, please choose three boons.”[1.1.9] And so, Nachiketas asked his boons one by one. 

शान्तसंकल्पः सुमना यथा स्याद्;वीतमन्युर्गौतमोमाऽभि मृत्यो।
त्वत्प्रसृष्टं माऽभिवदेत्प्रतीत;एतत् त्रयाणां प्रथमं वरं वृणे॥ १0 ॥

The First Boon: 

Nachiketas said: ” I will take as my first gift that I may be reconciled to my father, that he may be happy, that he may keep no grudge against me and when I am sent back to him by you, may he greet me and recognize me“.[1.1.10]     Yama grants the first boon! [1.1.11]

The Second Boon:

स्वर्गे लोके न भयं किंचनास्ति;न तत्र त्वं न जरया बिभेति ।
उभेतीर्त्वाऽशनायापिपासे;शोकातिगोमोदतेस्वर्गलोके ॥ १२ ॥

Nachiketas said: ” There is no fear in the kingdom of Heaven; because you are not there, nobody there is afraid of old age; man is beyond hunger, thirst and sorrow. being free from such grief, one rejoices there.” [1.1.12]Nachiketas continued: ” you know that fire sacrifice which leads to Heaven, O Yama; Explain that to me. I am full of faith. I pray for this knowledge as my second boon.” [ 1.1.13]. Yama grants the second boon! 

प्र तेब्रवीमि तदुमेनिबोध;स्वर्ग्यमग्निं नचिकेतः प्रजानन् ।
अनन्तलोकाप्तिमथोप्रतिष्ठां;विद्धि त्वमेतं निहितं गुहायाम् ॥ १४॥

Lord Yama says to Nachiketas: ” I will explain it, you must learn it well from me. The fire sacrifice that leads one to heaven- O Nachiketas, I am well versed in it. It is a means to attain eternal heaven( Hiranyagarbha Loka or Brahma Loka); and it is also the support of the Universe. You should know that knowledge to be seated in the hidden cave of the intellect.[1.1.14] ** Beyond Brahma loka, it is the unmanifest , causal state of the Universe when it goes into cosmic dissolution. Beyond even this is the unconditioned Absolute Brahman.  

Detailed Knowledge is Taught!

लोकादिमग्निं तमुवाच तस्मै;या इष्टका यावतीर्वा यथा वा । 
स चापि तत्प्रत्यवदद्यथोक्तं;अथास्य मृत्युः पुनरेवाह तुष्टः ॥ १५॥

The perfect sacrifice is explained by Yama. Out of fire arises all that exists in the Universe. Mastering this, one gains mastery over any field of human activity, and acquires whatever one desires in terms of worldly prosperity and power. However, it is all within the transitory realm; all gains here are impermanent. Nachiketas very attentively listened and was able to follow what was said. He repeated all that Yama explained. Being happy with Nachiketas, Yama encouraged and said ” I will give you another gift. This fire shall be called by your name.” And it is known as “Nachiketas Fire”. 

तमब्रवीत् प्रीयमाणोमहात्मा;वरं तवेहाद्य ददामि भूयः ।
तवैव नाम्ना भविताऽयमग्निः;सृङ्कां चेमामनेकरूपां गृहाण ॥ १६॥

त्रिणाचिकेतस्त्रिभिरेत्य सन्धिं;त्रिकर्मकृत्तरति जन्ममृत्यू।
ब्रह्मजज्ञं देवमीड्यं विदित्वा;निचाय्येमाँशान्तिमत्यन्तमेति ॥ १७॥

Yama explained: “Count the links of the chain. Worship “Trinachiketah” the triple Fire: Knowledge, meditation, practice, TribhihSandhim” :the triple process: evidence, inference, experience; “Trikarmakrit” :the triple duty: study, concentration, renunciation; understand  ” Brahmaja-jnam” that everything comes from Brahman, that Brahman alone is sought and found ;attain everlasting peace; mount beyond birth and death. When man understands himself, understands Universal Self, the union of the two, kindles the triple Fire, offers sacrifice; then shall he , though still on earth, break the bonds of death, beyond sorrow, mount into heaven”. [1.1.16 & 1.1.17]

Yama asks for choice of third Boon[1.1.19]

एष तेऽग्निर्नचिकेतः स्वर्ग्यो;यमवृणीथा द्वितीयेन वरेण ।
एतमग्निं तवैव प्रवक्ष्यन्ति जनासःतृतीयं वरं नचिकेतोवृणीष्व ॥ १९॥

The Third Boon:

येयं प्रेतेविचिकित्सा मनुष्येऽस्तीत्येके नायमस्तीति चैके ।
एतद्विद्यामनुशिष्टस्त्वयाऽहं;वराणामेष वरस्तृतीयः ॥ २०॥

Nachiketas said: ” Some say that when man dies he continues to exist, others that he does not. Please explain. This is my third boon”.[1.1.20]

Lord Yama’s response:

देवैरत्रापि विचिकित्सितं पुरा न हि सुविज्ञेयमणुरेष धर्मः ।
अन्यं वरं नचिकेतोवृणीष्व;मा मोपरोत्सीरति मा सृजैनम् ॥ २१॥

Lord Yama replied: ” This question has been discussed by the Devatas(gods), it is deep and difficult. choose another gift, Nachiketas! Do not be hard. Please do not compel me to explain.[1.1.21]

देवैरत्रापि विचिकित्सितं किल त्वं च मृत्योयन्न सुज्ञेयमात्थ ।
वक्ता चास्य त्वादृगन्यो न लभ्यो नान्यो वरस्तुल्य एतस्य कश्चित् ॥ २२॥

Nachiketas said: ” Indeed, on this matter, even by the gods doubt have been entertained! That it is so deep and difficult; what explanation can be as good as yours? No other boon equal to this can there be.[1.1.22]

शतायुषः पुत्रपौत्रान्वृणीष्वा; बहून्पशून् हस्तिहिरण्यमश्वान् ।
भूमेर्महदायतनं वृणीष्व;स्वयं च जीव शरदोयावदिच्छसि ॥ २३॥

Lord Yama starts tempting Nachiketas:

Yama says: ” Take  sons and grand sons, all long lived ( centenarians) , cattle and horses, elephants and gold, take a great kingdom. From this vast Earth (over which I rule), choose an estate of any size; and for yourself a long life consisting of as many autumns(years) as you like. [1.1.23]

एतत्तुल्यं यदि मन्यसेवरं;वृणीष्व वित्तं चिरजीविकां च ।
महाभूमौनचिकेतस्त्वमेधि;कामानां त्वा कामभाजं करोमि ॥ २४॥

येयेकामा दुर्लभा मर्त्यलोके;सर्वान् कामाँश्छन्दतः प्रार्थयस्व ।
इमा रामाः सरथाः सतूर्या;न हीदृशा लम्भनीया मनुष्यैः ।
आभिर्मत्प्रत्ताभिः परिचारयस्व;नचिकेतोमरणं माऽनुप्राक्षीः ॥ २५॥

Yama tempts Nachiketas a bit more: Includes Heavenly and Sexual Pleasures”[1.1.24-25]

Yama offers Heavenly & Sexual Pleasures. Says for pleasures beyond human reach, fine women with carriages, their musical instruments; mount beyond dreams, enjoy. But do not ask to know what lies beyond death. Finding that even these extreme pleasures are having no effect on the boy, Yama plays for an offer that has unfailingly worked on many. The most tantalizing and demoralizing, of all sensual objects is beautiful woman. Yama’s ultimate weapon is now MAYA.[1.1.24-25]

श्वोभावा मर्त्यस्य यदन्तकैतत्;सर्वेंद्रियाणां जरयन्ति तेजः ।
अपि सर्वं जीवितमल्पमेव;तवैव वाहास्तव नृत्यगीते॥ २६॥

न वित्तेन तर्पणीयोमनुष्यो;लप्स्यामहेवित्तमद्राक्ष्म चेत्त्वा ।
जीविष्यामोयावदीशिष्यसि त्वं;वरस्तुमेवरणीयः स एव ॥ २७॥

Nachiketas said: ” Destroyer of man! these things pass.  This is ephemeral world. The longest life is short here. Man with all the sense organs are subject to death and decay.  Keep those horses, keep singing and dancing, keep it all for yourself. Wealth can not satisfy a man. If he but please you, Master of all, he can live as long as he likes, get all that he likes. Hence, the boon that is worth praying for by me is THAT” alone. [1.1.26-27

अजीर्यताममृतानामुपेत्य;जीर्यन्मर्त्यः क्वधःस्थः प्रजानन् ।
अभिध्यायन् वर्णरतिप्रमोदान्;अतिदीर्घे जीवितेकोरमेत २८॥

यस्मिन्निदं विचिकित्सन्ति मृत्यो;यत्साम्परायेमहति ब्रूहि नस्तत् ।
योऽयं वरोगूढमनुप्रविष्टो;नान्यं तस्मान्नचिकेता वृणीते ॥ २९॥

Nachiketas chooses Wisdom over Folly and stick to his original boon.

Nachiketas said:” I have reached to the proximity of immortals. When I know being a perishable mortal self , why will I rejoice in wanting extended span of life? Please say where does man go after death?. 

Conclusion: Temptations are to be discarded through “Viveka”.

The story is nothing but an example of teaching of the Supreme Knowledge. Here Teacher is Lord of Death ” Yama” and the student is “Nachiketas”. In this “Valli” (first part, first section),the message to be taken away is : Beware of all temptations !!. Temptations only make us down fall. The temptation that was offered to Lord Buddha and in other stories in puranas are relevant here. When temptations come, one can not recognise them as temptations. They come as realities and it requires an extra ordinary intelligence to divert them. Always comes as an offer. If we can detect the root cause of those offers and reject those offers, we can easily overcome main handles in the progress of spiritual journey. Temptations are to be treated as “Tests” . Should not fall prey to those offers. Viveka (intellect) must always be active because Viveka acts as true guide, mentor, teacher, guru whatever you say. If we follow Viveka, Truth will be revealed at the earliest.

॥ इति काठकोपनिषदि प्रथमाध्यायेप्रथमा वल्ली

     ***End of First Valli of first Adhaya***


Recommended readings:

  1. Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite.
  2. THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit Swami and W.B.Yeats
  3. Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.
  4. Commentary of Katha Upanishad By Swami Krishnananda.
  5. Katha Upanishad By Swami GuruBhaktananda.
  6. THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD: SHIKSHAVALLI-ANANDAVALLI-BHRIGUVALLI with Sri Shankara’s Commentary By Sri Swami Satchidanandera Saraswati.
  7. Information available on internet.

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