Sunday 31 August 2014


2014-35    Katha Upahishad : The Story of Nachiketa - The Ideal Student

Nachiketa learning from Yama 
The Katha Upanishad belongs to the Katha saka [branch] of the Krishna Yajur Veda, according to orthodox commentators.  It is the most widely known among all the Upanishads.

This Upanishad consists of two main parts divided into six chapters. In the first chapter, one finds the story of Naciketa and the three boons he got from Yama, the Lord of Death. 

The second chapter mentions the characteristics required of a liberation aspirant and about the path to liberation. 

The third chapter contains the relation between the Jivatma and the Paramatma and the manner in which the Jiva can overcome death successfully. 

Tthe fourth, fifth and sixth chapters reinstate the contents of the earlier chapters in a much authoritative way and also relate about re-birth, the way in which a Yogi should leave his body behind, etc. 

We shall see in this posting, the Story of Nachiketa with which the Katha Upanishad starts, and in the next, two important teachings of the Upanishad.

The Story of Nachiketa, the Ideal Student

Once, long ago, Vajasravasa, desirous of heavenly rewards, gave away all his possessions at the Viswajit Sacrifice. He had a son named Nachiketa who, though only a boy, was full of sraddha [reverential faith] in the scriptures.
Nachiketa thought when the offerings were made: "What merit can one obtain by giving away cows that are too old to give milk?" To help his father understand this, Nachiketa said: "To whom will you offer me?" He asked this again and again. "To death I give you!" said his father in anger.
Nachiketa went to Yama's abode. He waited there for three days and three nights without food, as the Lord of Death was not there. When Yama returned, he granted Nachiketa three boons to atone for the three inhospitable nights he spent at his abode.
Nachiketa asked as the first boon that his father’s anger should be pacified and he should recognize and receive Nachiketa with love, when he was sent back home by Yama. The boon was granted.
As the second boon, Nachiketa wanted Yama to teach him the fire sacrifice that leads to heaven where there is no hunger nor fear of death.  Then the king of death taught Nachiketa in detail how to perform the fire sacrifice that leads to heaven and sustains the world. He added a special boon that it would be called Naciketa sacrifice, thereafter.
Then Nachiketa asked as his third boon that he be taught the truth about death. Yama replied that the secret of death was very subtle and difficult to comprehend. Even the gods of old had doubts on this point.  Yama tried to dissuade Nachiketa from asking this one boon, tempting him with the grant of all the riches of the world and all the pleasures of life. 
Nachiketa replied that all the riches and pleasures were transient.  He wanted to know only about the supreme life after death. Having tested young Nachiketa and found him fit to receive spiritual instruction, Yama, king of death, praised him and taught him the great secret of the Beyond.

Please don't miss to see the following brief and beautiful video on the illuminating story of Nachiketa, worth seeing again and again.

YouTube Video on Katha Upanishad - The Story of Nachiketa [Click Here] 8:35 min

For an accurate, brief and clear audio presentation of the summary of the entire Katha Upanishad, [by Svayam Prakash Sharma] please follow these links:


1 comment:

  1. So what is the great secret of the Beyond ?? NO one has clue ?