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 वीर्यं करवावहै। तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु। मा विद्विषावहै। ओं शान्तिः शन्तिः शन्तिः
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
Vajasravasa, they say, gave away all his possessions. He had a son named Nachiketas.
नीयमानासु श्रद्धाविवेश। सोऽमन्यत॥
(consisting of cows) were being led (to the priests), faith entered him, who
was still a boy; he thought:
eat grass, (once) yielded milk and (now)
barren. Joyless, verily, are those worlds; to them he (the sacrificer) goes by
giving them away.
“ 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”
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?
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.
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]
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
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
the third boon.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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?.
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
worthy of the Teaching, Death (Yama)
begins to explain the great secret to him.
उभे नानार्थे पुरुषं सिनीतः।
श्रेय आददानस्य साधु
हीयतेऽर्थाद्य उ प्रेयो वृणीते ॥
man. It becomes well with him who
accepts the good. But he who choses the
pleasant falls away from the purpose.
संपरीत्य विविनक्ति धीरः।
हि धीरोऽभिप्रेयसो वृणीते
मन्दो योगक्षेमाद्वृणीते ॥
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.
compliments Nachiketas onhis preferring the good. Then he proceeds with the explanation of the
धीराः पण्डितं मन्यमानाः।
considering themselves learned, fools go round and round staggering to and fro,
like blind men led by one who too is blind.
बहुभिर्यो न लभ्यः
वक्ता कुशलोऽस्य लब्धा-
ज्ञाता कुशलानुशिष्टः ॥
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).
instruction on what transcends the duals like dharma and adharma; and Death
(Yama) continues his discourse]
सर्वे वेदा यत्पदमामनन्ति
सर्वाणि च यद्वदन्ति
पदं संग्रहेण प्रवक्ष्ये॥
penances proclaim, and desiring which people lead an austere life, that word
(or goal) I tell thee in brief: it is Om.
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
slaying and the slain thinks of being slain, both of them do not know. He
neither slays nor is he slain.
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.
afar; lying he goes everywhere. Who save
myself is fit to know that God who rejoices and rejoices not?
धीरो न शोचति ॥
without body among the embodied, the abiding among the transitory, great and
all-pervading, the wise one does not grieve.
नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो
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.
बुद्धिं तु सारथिं विद्धि मनः प्रग्रहमेव च ॥
lord of the chariot and the body as verily the chariot; know the intellect as
the charioteer and the mind as verily the reins.
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.
of knowledge because of mind ever unyoked, for him the senses are
uncontrollable, as wild horses are for a charioteer.
endowed with knowledge because of mind ever yoked, for him the senses are
controllable, as trained horses are for a charioteer.
of knowledge without control over the mind and ever impure, does not reach that
place, but gets into transmigratory life.
endowed with knowledge, with control over the mind and ever pure reaches that
place, whence he is not born again.
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),
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.
attained thy boons, know them. The sharp
edge of a sword is hard to tread. So also that path, the wise declare, is hard
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.
Nachiketas, narrated by Yama, eternal, if intelligent person narrates it or
hears it, he attains glory in the world