SELECTIONS FROM KATHOPANISHAD- CHAPTER 1

                                  Selections from
          Kathopanishad (कठोपनिषद्)
         
The Kathopanishad is a fairly
long text in six parts called vallis, divided into two Chapters, each
chapter consisting of three vallis.  Here
Death(Yama) discourses to a young boy called Nachiketas upon the problem of
“after death”.  The picture of this young
boy facing Death (yama) and compelling him to reveal the Secret adds a human
touch to what may otherwise be a dry philosophical discourse, and the situation
then is full of pathos.  Those who are
familiar with the Bhagavad Gita will note that many passages in the Gita are reminiscent
of the text of this Upanishad.  The
Upanishad belongs to the Taittireeya School of the Yajur Veda.
सह नाववतु। सह नौ भुनक्तु।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै। तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु। मा विद्विषावहै। ओं शान्तिः शन्तिः शन्तिः
Let it guard both of
us; let it protect both of us; let us both work together; let our study be well
illumined; let us not dislike each other. Om peace, peace, peace
                   ||प्रथमोऽध्यायः॥
                   CHAPTER ONE
                 ॥प्रथमा वल्ली॥     
                   VALLI ONE
उशन् ह वै वाजश्रवसः
सर्ववेदसं ददौ।
          तस्य ह नचिकेता नाम पुत्र आस ॥
Desiring (heavenly rewards),
Vajasravasa, they say, gave away all his possessions.  He had a son named Nachiketas.
तं ह कुमारं सन्तं दक्षिणासु
नीयमानासु श्रद्धाविवेश। सोऽमन्यत॥
When the gifts
(consisting of cows) were being led (to the priests), faith entered him, who
was still a boy; he thought:
          पीतोदका जग्धतृणा दुग्धदोहा निरीन्द्रियाः
          अनन्दा नाम ते लोकास्तान् स गच्छति ता ददत् ॥
These cows drink water,
eat grass,  (once) yielded milk and (now)
barren. Joyless, verily, are those worlds; to them he (the sacrificer) goes by
giving them away.
स होवाच पितरम् –  तात कस्मै मां दास्यसि – इति। द्वितीयं तृतीयं। तं होवाच – मृत्यवे त्वा ददामि – इति ॥
He said to his father”
“ O Sire, to whom wilt thou give me away?” Twice, thrice (he repeated).Then to
him (the father ) replied, “Unto Death(Yama) shall I give thee”
        बहूनामेमि प्रथमो बहूनामेमि मध्यमः।
        किं स्विद्यमस्य कर्तव्यं यन् मयाद्य करिष्यति ॥
(Nachiketas): Of many I
go as the first; of many I go as the middling. 
What remains for Death (Yama) to be accomplished that to-day through me
he will accomplish?
       अनुपश्य यथा पूर्वे प्रतिपश्य तथा परे।
       सस्यमिव मर्त्यः पच्यते सस्यमिवाजायते पुनः ॥
Looking back how it was
with men of old, looking forward thus with those who come later, like corn does
a mortal ripen; like corn does he spring to life again.
[Nachiketas went to
the abode of Death and he had to wait there for three nights before Death(Yama)
returned  and could show him hospitality
due to a guest]
 
     तिस्रो रात्रीर्यदवात्सीत् गृहे मे
     अनश्नन् ब्रह्मन्नतिथिर्नमस्यः।
     नमस्तेऽस्तु ब्रह्मन् स्वस्ति मेऽस्तु
     तस्मात् प्रति त्रीन् वरान् वृणिष्व॥
(Yama said): O Brahman,
since thou, a venerable guest, hast stayed in my abode three nights without
eating, obeisance to thee, O Brahman; may prosperity be to me.  Choose three boons (for the three nights of
waiting)
[The first two boons
chosen by Nachiketas are not of any philosophical importance.  The first was that his father’s anger be
appeased.  The second was that he might
know the nature of the Agni (Fire) which led those who performed sacrifices to
heaven.  Both these boons were readily
granted by Death (Yama).  And the
boy was asked to choose
the third boon.     
     येयं प्रेते विचिकित्सा मनुष्ये
     अस्तीत्येके नायमस्तीति चैके।  
     एतद्विद्यामनुषिष्टस्त्वयाहं
     वराणामेष वरस्तृतीयः॥
[Nachiketas]:
There is this doubt in
respect of a man who is dead – some saying, “he is”, and others, “he is
not”.  May I know this, instructed by
thee? This boon is the third of the boons.
        देवैरत्रापि विचिकित्सितं पुरा
      न हि   सुविज्ञेयमणुरेष धर्मः।
        अन्यं वरं नचिकेतो वृणीष्व
      मा मोपरोत्सीरति मा सृजैनम्॥
(Yama):
The gods of yore had
doubts even on this point.  It is not,
indeed, easy to understand: (so)  subtle
is this truth (dharma).  Choose
another boon, O Nachiketas.  Do not stand
in my way.  Release me from this.
      देवैरत्रापि विचिकित्सितं
किल
      त्वं च मृत्यो यन्न सुविज्ञेयमात्थ।
      वक्ता चास्य त्वादृगन्यो न लभ्यो
      नान्यो वरस्तुल्य एतस्य कश्चित्॥
(Nachiketas):
The gods, it may be,
had doubts even on this point.  And thou,
O Death, has declared it to be not easy to understand.And another teacher of
this, like thee, is not to be found. 
There is no other boon equal to this.
      शतायुषः पुत्रपौत्रान् वृणीष्व
      बहून् पशून् हस्तिहिरण्यमश्वान्।
      भूमेर्महदायतनं वृणीष्व
      स्वयं च जीव शरदो यावदिच्छसि ॥
(Yama):
Choose sons and
grandsons who would live a hundred years, many cattle, elephants, gold, and
horses.  Choose the great
sovereignty  over earth.  And thou thyself live as many years as thou
wilt.
      एतत्तुल्यं यदि मन्यसे वरं
      वृणीष्व वित्तं चिरजीविकां च।
      महाभूमौ नचिकेतस्त्वमेधि 
      कामानां त्वा कामभाजं करोमि ॥
If thou considers this
as an equal boon, choose wealth and long life. 
O Nachiketas, prosper thou on this vast earth.  I will make thee the enjoyer of thy desires.
      ये ये कामा दुर्लभा मर्त्यलोके
        सर्वान् कामांश्छ्न्दतः प्रार्थयस्व।
     इमा रामाः सरथाः सतूर्या
       न हीदृशा लम्भनीया मनुष्यैः।
       आभिर्मत्प्रत्ताभिः परिचारयस्व
       नचिकेतो मरणं मानुप्राक्षीः॥
Whatever desires there
are that are difficult to attain in this world of mortals, all those desires
thou mayst ask at thy will. Here are lovely maidens, with chariots, with lutes.
The like of them are not to be attained by men. 
With them bestowed by me, have thee well served.  O Nachiketas, do no ask about death.
       श्वोभावा मर्त्यस्य यदन्तकैतत्
         सर्वेन्द्रियाणां जरयन्ति तेजः।
       अपि सर्वं जीवितमल्पमेव
         तवैव वाहास्तव नृत्यगीते॥
(Nachiketas):
(These may or may not )
last till tomorrow.  O Death, this (which
thou hast offered) wears away the vigour of all the senses of men. Even every
kind of life is small indeed. Thine (be) the vehicles; thine the dance and the
music.
       न वित्तेन तर्पणीयो मनुष्यो
       लप्स्यामहे वित्तमद्राक्ष चेत्त्वा।
       जीविष्यामो यावदीशिष्यसि त्वम्
       वरस्तु मे वरणीयः स एव॥
Man cannot be
propitiated with wealth.  We will get
wealth if we meet thee.  We will live as
long as thou shalt rule. But that alone is the boon which I can choose.
        अजीर्यताममृतानामुपेत्य
          जीर्यन् मर्त्यः कधःस्थः प्रजानन्।
        अभिध्यायन् वर्णरतिप्रमोदा-
          नतिदीर्घे जिविते को रमेत ॥
Having come to the
immortals who never decay, which decaying mortal living on the earth below,
(now) knowing, will, thinking on colour, pleasures and enjoyments, delight in
the life (that may be) very long?.       
  
        यस्मिन्निदं विचिकित्सन्ति मृत्यो
         
यत्सांपराये महति
ब्रूहि नस्तत्।
       योऽयं वरो गूढमनुप्रविष्टो
          नान्यं तस्मान्नचिकेता वृणीते ॥  
In respect of which, O
Death, people doubt thus, what there is in that great hereafter, tell us that.
This boon which penetrates into the hidden, no other than this will Nachiketas
choose.
॥द्वितीया वल्ली॥
VALLI TWO
(Nachiketas was firm; and finding him
worthy of the Teaching, Death (Yama) 
begins to explain the great secret to him. 
                         अन्यच्छ्रेयोऽन्यदुतैवप्रेय-
              स्ते
उभे नानार्थे पुरुषं सिनीतः।
           तयोः
श्रेय आददानस्य साधु
              भवति
हीयतेऽर्थाद्य उ प्रेयो वृणीते ॥
Different is the good, and different, indeed, is the pleasing.  These two having different purposes , bind
man.  It becomes well with him who
accepts the good.  But he who choses the
pleasant falls away from the purpose.
             श्रेयश्च
प्रेयश्च मनुष्यमेत-
               स्तौ
संपरीत्य विविनक्ति धीरः।
            श्रेयो
हि धीरोऽभिप्रेयसो वृणीते
              प्रेयो
मन्दो योगक्षेमाद्वृणीते ॥ 
Both the good and the pleasing come to man.  One who is wise considers the two all round
and discriminates them. He chooses the good in preference to the pleasing.  One who is stupid chooses the pleasing for
the sake of acquisition and prosperity.
[Yama explains why people mostly choose the pleasant, and
compliments Nachiketas onhis preferring the good.  Then he proceeds with the explanation of the
great Teaching]         
        अविद्यायामन्तरे
वर्तमानाः
          स्वयं
धीराः पण्डितं मन्यमानाः।
        दन्द्रम्यमाणाः
परियन्ति मूढा
          अन्धेनेव
नीयमाना यथान्धाः॥
Remaining in the midst of ignorance, wise in themselves and
considering themselves learned, fools go round and round staggering to and fro,
like blind men led by one who too is blind.
        श्रवणायापि
बहुभिर्यो न लभ्यः
          शृण्वन्तोऽपि बहवो यं न विद्युः।
       आश्चर्यो
वक्ता कुशलोऽस्य लब्धा-
         श्चर्यो
ज्ञाता कुशलानुशिष्टः ॥
He (the self) who is not available even to be heard of by many, and
whom many do not know even when they hear (of him), wonderful is he who teaches
him (the self) and skilled is he who attains him; wonderful is he who knows
(him) when taught by a skilled (teacher).
[After further elaboration of the point, Nachiketas asks for
instruction on what transcends the duals like dharma and adharma; and Death
(Yama) continues his discourse] 
      
         सर्वे वेदा यत्पदमामनन्ति
             तपांसि
सर्वाणि च यद्वदन्ति
         यदिच्छन्तो
ब्रह्मचर्यं चरन्ति
             तत्ते
पदं संग्रहेण प्रवक्ष्ये॥
        ओमित्येतत्॥
The word (or goal) which all the Vedas declare, that which all
penances proclaim, and desiring which people lead an austere life, that word
(or goal) I tell thee in brief: it is Om.
        
         न जायते म्रियते वा विपश्चि-
         न्नायं कुतश्चिन्न बभूव कश्चित्।
         अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो
         न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ॥    
The knowing self is not
born; nor does he die.  He sprang from
nothing and nothing sprang (from him). He is unborn, eternal, everlasting and
ancient.  He is not slain when the body
is slain.
        हन्ता चेन्मन्यते हन्तुं हतश्चेन्मन्यते हतम्।
        उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नाऽयं हन्ति न हन्यते॥
If the slayer thinks of
slaying and the slain thinks of being slain, both of them do not know. He
neither slays nor is he slain. 
       अणोरणीयान् महतो महीया-
         नात्माऽस्य जन्तोर्निहितो गुहायाम्।
       तमक्रतुः पश्यति वीतशोको
         धातुः प्रसादान्महिमानमात्मनः ॥
Subtle than the subtle,
grosser than the gross, the self is concealed in the heart-cave of this
creature.  He who is free from desire and
free from sorrow perceives the glory of the self through the purity of the mind
and the senses.           
  
       आसीनो दूरं व्रजति शयानो याति सर्वतः।
       कस्तं मदामदं देवं मदन्यो ज्ञातुमर्हति ॥
Sitting he wanders
afar; lying he goes everywhere.  Who save
myself is fit to know that God who rejoices and rejoices not?
       अशरीरं शरीरेष्वनवस्थेष्ववस्थितम्।
       महान्तं विभुमात्मानं मत्वा
धीरो न शोचति ॥
Knowing the self as
without body among the embodied, the abiding among the transitory, great and
all-pervading, the wise one does not grieve.
              
       नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो
         न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन।  
       यमेवैष वृणुते तेन लभ्य-
         स्तस्यैष आत्मा विवृणुते तनूं स्वाम्॥
This self cannot be
attained through exposition, nor through intellectual power, nor even through
vast learning.  He whom alone this (self)
accepts, by him he is to be attained.  To
him this self reveals his own nature.
         
          
॥तृतीया वल्ली॥
VALLI THREE
              आत्मानं रथिनं विद्धि शरीरं रथमेव तु।
          
 बुद्धिं तु सारथिं विद्धि मनः प्रग्रहमेव च ॥
                      
Know the self as the
lord of the chariot and the body as verily the chariot; know the intellect as
the charioteer and the mind as verily the reins.
           इन्द्रियाणि हयानाहुर्विषयांस्तेषु गोचरान्
           आत्मेन्द्रियमनोयुक्तं भोक्तेत्याहुर्मनीषिणः
The senses are the
horses, theysay; the sense-pbjects are the spheres for them.  (The individual self) as associated with the
body, the senses and mind, is the enjoyer; so say the wise men.
          यस्त्वविज्ञानवान् भवत्ययुक्तेन मनसा सदा ।
          तस्येन्द्रियाण्यवश्यानि दुष्टाश्वा इव सारथेः
Whoever becomes devoid
of knowledge because of mind ever unyoked, for him the senses are
uncontrollable, as wild horses are for a charioteer.
         यस्तु विज्ञानवान् भवति युक्तेन
मनसा सदा।
         तस्येन्द्रियाणि वश्यानि सदश्वा इव सारथेः ॥
But whoever becomes
endowed with knowledge because of mind ever yoked, for him the senses are
controllable, as trained horses are for a charioteer.
        यस्त्वविज्ञानवान् भवत्यमनस्कः
सदाऽशुचिः।
        न स तत्पदमाप्नोति संसारं चाधिगच्छति ॥
Whoever becomes devoid
of knowledge without control over the mind and ever impure, does not reach that
place, but gets into transmigratory life.   
   
        यस्तु ज्ञानवान् भवति समनस्कः
सदा शुचिः।
        स तु तत्पदमाप्नोति यस्माद्भूयो न जायते ॥
But whoever becomes
endowed with knowledge, with control over the mind and ever pure reaches that
place, whence he is not born again.
         इन्द्रियेभ्यः परा ह्यर्था अर्थेभ्यश्च परं मनः।
         मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्बुद्धेरात्मा महान् परः ॥
Superior to the senses
are indeed the objects; and superior to the objects is the mind. Even superior
to the mind is the intellect; and superior to the intellect is the Great(Mahat),
the self.
         महतः परमव्यक्तमव्यक्तात् पुरुषः परः।
         पुरुषान्न परं किञ्चित् सा काष्ठा सा परा गतिः ॥
Superior to the Great
is the Unmanifest; superior to the Unmanifest is the Person. Superior to the
Person there is nothing.  That is the
goal, that the supreme destination.
        उत्तिष्ठत जाग्रत
          प्राप्य वरान्निबोधत।
        क्षुरस्य धारा निशिता दुरत्यया
          दुर्गं पथस्तत् कवयो वदन्ति॥
Arise, awake; having
attained thy boons, know them.  The sharp
edge of a sword is hard to tread. So also that path, the wise declare, is hard
to travel.
       अशब्दमस्पर्शमरूपमव्ययं
       तथाऽरसं नित्यमगन्धवच्च यत्।
       अनाद्यनन्तं महतः परं ध्रुवं
       निचाय्य तन्मृत्युमुखात् प्रमुच्यते ॥
Devoid of sound, of
touch, of form, without decay, and likewise devoid of taste, eternal and devoid
of odour, beginningless, endless, superior to the Great (Mahat) and firm;
realising that, one is released from the jaws of death.     
      नाचिकेतमुपाख्यानं  मृत्युप्रोक्तं सनातनम्।
      उक्त्वा श्रुत्वा च मेधावी ब्रह्मलोके महीयते ॥
This story of
Nachiketas, narrated by Yama, eternal, if intelligent person narrates it or
hears it, he attains glory  in the world
of Brahman.      
       

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