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 the Gita are reminiscent of
the text of this Upanishad. The
Upanishad belongs to the Taittireeya School of the Yajur Veda.
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
self-born Lord forced the senses outward; hence one sees outward and not the
inner self. Some one who is wise, desiring immortality, sees the inner self, by
turning the eyes inward.
immature pursue outward pleasures, they are caught in the far flung snare of
death. But the wise, knowing
immortality, to be permanent, do not pray for anything here amidst what are
which one perceives colours, taste, odour, sounds and conjugal contacts by that
alone does one perceive, What else remains here? This verily it is.
which one perceives both what is within dreams and what is within the waking
state – having known that great, all-pervading self, the wise one does not
born first from penance- and he was born prior to the waters – one who sees him
well as dwelling along with the elements, having entered the cave of the heart.
knower of all (jatavedas) concealed between the two firesticks, like the
embryo well borne by pregnant women, and deserving of worship day after day by
men awake, offering oblations.
it is .
which the sun rises and that in which he sets, in that all the gods are
placed. No one ever goes beyond that.
here, the same is there. What is there,
the same is similarly here. From death
to death, he goes who sees here a manifold as it were.
इह नानेव पश्यति ॥
alone is this to be reached. There is no
plurality whatever here. From death to death, he goes who sees here a manifold
as it were.
of the size of a thumb rests in the middle of the self. He is the Lord of what has been and what will
be. One is not repelled from Him.
स उ श्वः॥
of the size of a thumb is like light
without smoke. Lord of what has been and
what will be, he alone is today; and he alone is also tomorrow.
water falling on a peak runs down the mountains, so he who sees the entities as
distinct, simply runs after them.
water poured into pure (water) remains the same, so becomes the self of the
seer who understands, O Gautama.
eleven gates belonging to the unborn of uncrooked intelligence – occupying it,
one does not grievve. And being released (therefrom) he is (finally) released.
is the swan dwelling in the bright (heavens), the Vasu dwelling in the
interspace; he is the sacrificer dwelling in the altar, he is the guest
dwelling in the sacrificial vessel; he dwells in men, in gods, in sacrifices,
in the heavens; he is born in water; he is born in cows; he is born in truth;
he is born on the
he is the true and the great.
देवा उपासते ॥
the prana upwards. He throws the apana
downwards. The dwarf seated in the
middle, all the gods worship.
soul which resides in the body and which is about to slip away, what remains
here when it is released from the body?
whatsoever lives either by the prana or by the apana.
other they live, on which these two are dependent.
गुह्यं ब्रह्म सनातनम्।
भवति गौतम ॥
I will explain to thee this Brahman that is secret and eternal; and how the
self is, O Gautama, after it comes to death.
souls enter a (new) womb to become embodied.
Others enter what is stationary (trees etc.) according to their action,
according to their learning.
सर्वे तदु नात्येति कश्चन॥
Person who is awake in those that sleep, fashioning desire after desire – that
alone is the bright; that is Brahman; that alone is called the immortal. Therein do all the worlds rest. And nothing at all surpasses that.
Agni(Fire), which is one, entering this world becomes varied in form
according to the respective forms (of the objects it burns), so also the one
inner self of all beings becomes varied in form according to the respective
forms of beings it inhabits and also (exists) outside.
the Sun who is the eye of all beings is not stained by the external defects
pertaining to the eyes, so also the inner self of all beings is not stained by
the misery of beings (though) external.
one controller, the inner self of all who makes his one form manifold; the wise
who perceived him as existing in themselves – for them there is eternal happiness;
not for others.
eternal among the eternal, the intelligent among the intelligent beings, the
one among the many, who grants desires; the wise who perceive him as existing
in themselves – for them there is eternal peace, not for others.
परं सुखम् ।
विभाति वा ॥
is this”- (thus) they think of the indescribable supreme happiness. How then may I come to know of it, whether it
shines (simply), or whether it shines distinctly?
there does the sun shine, nor the moon and the stars; nor do these lightnings
shine. Whence then is this Agni (fire)?
Him alone, as he shines, does everything (else) shine after. By this lustre, do all this shine distinctly.
सर्वे तदु नात्येति कश्चन॥
roots upward, with branches downward (there stands) this ancient fig tree. That alone is the bright; that is Brahman;
that alone is called the immortal.
Therein do all the worlds rest. And nothing at all surpasses that.
verily it is.
world there is moves in prana, coming out (of it). It is the great fear,
the thunder-bolt held aloft. They who
know that become immortal.
of fear for him, Agni (fire) burns; the sun burns out of fear
him). Out of fear (for him), Indra and
Vayu speed on; (and so does) Death as the fifth.
were, in the body; as in dream, so in the world of the departed Fathers; as in
waters, so in the world of the celestial nymphs; as in shade and sun , so in
the world of Brahman.
separately, and what forms their rising and setting – knowing these a wise man
does not grieve.
cast away, then the mortal becomes immortal. Here he attains Brahman.
then the mortal becomes immortal; this much is the Instruction.
the heart. One among them rises up
towards the head. Going up along that,
one attains immortality. the others are for getting out in various
self, resides always in the heart of men.
Him let a man draw forth from his body with firmness, as one draws the
core from a reed. Him let a man know as
the bright, the immortal; him let a man know
as the bright, the immortal.
Yama, as also the entire procedure of Yoga, Nachiketas attained Brahman and
became free from blemishes and deathless.
So also will it be with any other who knows thus what verily relates to