Athato Brahma jignyasaa ! ......

“ Athato Brahma Jigyaasaa! :

The Katho Upanishad

In the tradition of conveying a complex subject through the use of a subtle parable the Kathopanishad starts with the story of a Rishi Vajasravas and his son Nachiketa.The dialog of Nachiketa with Lord Yama carries the message of the Upanishad.

Rishi Vajasravas performs 'Viswajit' sacrifice which involves giving away all his wealth. His son Nachiketa notices that his father is giving away gifts( cows) which are of no use. Very much concerned and trying to grab the attention of his father he asks his father to whom will he give 'Nachiketa'. Father being busy with teh rituals with without realizing says"to death". There upon to keep his fathers word Nachiketa moves to Yama's world. Yama was away when Nachiketa reaches the place. He waits for three nights till Yama returns. Alerted that a Brahman was waiting for him for three days without partaking anything as a guest , Yama offers him three boons for the three nights he waited. For the first boon Nachiketa wants to understand the Fire sacrifice and for the Second boon he wants that his Father be free of anxiety and be happy . Both the boons being granted Nachiketa asks for the third boon the knowledge about "hereafter". Nachiketa says that some say there is life after death some say not and he wants to know what happens after death. Yama tries to dissuade him with all sorts of worldly boons. Nachiketa could not be deterred. Yama tells him even Devas do not know, it is too difficult to understand . Nachiketa still insists on the knowledge then Yama relents.

So the kathopanishad continue into valli two of First Adhyaya ..

Yama contnues.

' The good is one thing and pleasant is another. The two have have diffrenet ends and bind the man. It is well with him who chooses good . But the one who chooses pleasant missses the True goal.

'Both 'Good' and 'Pleasant' approach the man. The intelligent one understanding fully separates the 'Good' from 'Pleasant' and selects the 'Good'. The unintelligent man for the growth and protection of his body selects 'Pleasant'.

'O Nachiketa you have discarded the 'Pleasant' in favor of 'Good'. The ignorance and the wisdom lead you in opposite directions and you are moving in teh right direction. O Nachketa I consider you to be a true aspirant of Knowledge. Fools living in ignorance , yet imagining themselves to be wise go round and round like the blind led by a blind. The thought of 'hereafter' never arises for the ignorant deluded by glamor and wealth. They think..

"This world alone is and none other". Thinking like that they fall under my (death) sway again and again. Wonderful is the Teacher who can teach and wonderful is the one who can receive when taught by a Teacher about that (self) which is not available for even hearing for many and many do not understand even while hearing. When taught by a man of inferior understanding the Atman cannot truly be known for it is thought of in many ways. When taught by a teacher who has become identified with it there will be no further doubts if it exists or not..

'O Nachiketa this wisdom cannot be understood by argument. This is truly known only when taught by another (wise) teacher. By your perseverance you have the knowledge to pursue . May we always have questioners like you.'

Yama praised Nachiketa because he rejected all boons for heavenly position achived through the rituals. Though aware of impermanence of such heavenly positions Yama himself sought the position of a God in Brahmaloka. The Knowledge of Brahman is possible only for one who renounces all enjoyments including the enjoyments of Brahmaloka. Yama, the king of Death is convinced that Nachiketa is worthy of Self Knowledge and liberation.

Yama continues.

'The wise man concentrating on Self realizes that unmanifest supreme one who is hard to be seen, hidden in the cave of the heart and dwells in the innermost recesses of Buddhi. He alone can leave the joys and sorrows far behind. O Nachiketa the abode of Brahman is open for you'.

Nachiketa then asks yama if he is worthy then he shall forthwith instruct him about the knowledge of self.

Nachiketa says, ' that which you see as other than righteousness and unrighteousness , other than cause and effect , other than what has been and what is to be - tell me that!'

Yama starts the teaching .Yama describes Brahman or Atman the goal by the symbol 'Om' .

'This word 'om' indeed is Brahman'.

'This word is Supreme. Whoever meditates on this word obtains all he desires.This word is the best support. He who knows this support achieves what ever he desires

After describing the nature of 'om' as the best support yama goes on to describe 'Atman' .

The intelligent self is neither born nor does it die. It did not originate from anything and nothing originates from it . It is birthless, eternal, undecaying, and ancient . It is not killed when the body is killed .

If the killer thinks in terms of Killing and killed thinks of it as killed, both of them do not know. It does not kill nor is it killed.

The self is subtler than subtle . Greater than the great. It is lodged in the heart of every creature. While sitting it travels far away. While sleeping it goes everywhere.

Having meditated on Self as bodyless among bodies and permanent in the midst of impermanent , the wise man does not grieve ( on death) .

This self cannot be known through study, nor through intellect, nor through hearing. It can be known through the self alone the aspirant prays to. The self of the seeker reveals its true nature to the seeker.

'He who has not turned away from evil conduct , whose senses are uncontrolled who is not tranquil whose mind is not at rest cannot obtain this Atman by knowledge . Then who can know where is this Self to whom death is only a sweetner?'

Yama continues

Thus ends valli two of Adhyaya one.