Katopanishad Session 3

Inspirations from Talks by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda

Om Namo bhagavate  vaivasvatAya mrityave brahmavidyAchAryAya nachiketase cha

VAjashravas was performing a sacrifice desiring to attain heaven by giving away everything. But he was keeping the good cows for his son and giving away the useless ones to priests and others as dakshina. Watching this, Nachiketas determined to fulfill his duty as a son by warding off the ill-result of imperfection in the sacrifice even by offering himself. Since a son is also considered a father’s wealth.

स होवाच पितरं तत कस्मै मां दास्यसीति ।
द्वितीयं तृतीयं तँ होवाच मृत्यवे त्वा ददामीति ॥ ४॥

Approaching his father, Nachiketas asked, ‘Oh Father, to whom will you offer me’. His father at first did not respond. Thinking his father did not take notice, He asked repeatedly second and third time. This angered his father that this behaviour does not behove a small boy. And he said, ‘I give you to Mrityu, Death’.

बहूनामेमि प्रथमो बहूनामेमि मध्यमः ।
किँ स्विद्यमस्य कर्तव्यं यन्मयाऽद्य करिष्यति ॥ ५॥

There are 3 types of students
  1. Uttama – those who do their duty without being told (considering the context, Guru’s needs, likes & dislikes)
  2. Madhyama - those who do their duty after being told
  3. Adhama - those who do not do their duty despite being told
And there is a fourth category too, of those who do the opposite of what is told.

Nachiketa introspected: ‘I have mostly been the first type and sometimes a mediocre but never a worst type; never disobeyed any instruction. What purpose can my father achieve by sending me to Yama? Hence he must have only said in anger.’ Thus thinking he came to a conclusion. Even though said in anger what was said, was said and it had to be done.

Again, there are two types of people:
  • MahAvrata – People who follow the instructions given by parent/Guru; even if said in jest or anger; no questions asked
  • alpavrata  - People who ask confirmation, clarification, think about it, postpone and then do what was told. 
We find in our history, people of great vow (MahAvrata). Example, Lord Rama, Meera bhai who drank the poison given by her husband Rana even though she knew it. A great saint of Tamilnadu named Tiruvalluvar who wrote Tirukural once gave a handful of sand to his wife and asked her to cook rice. She just cooked and it became so. Nachiketas was a MahAvrata.

अनुपश्य यथा पूर्वे प्रतिपश्य तथाऽपरे ।
सस्यमिव मर्त्यः पच्यते सस्यमिवाजायते पुनः ॥ ६॥

Approaching his father who was sad, Nachiketas consoled his father saying ‘Please see; in retrospect how great people have lived in past, uncompromising in righteousness under all circumstances. See also such noble people of current age too who don’t waver from dharma even at the face of death. And look at the world which is so fickle like crops that decay, die and are born again. Will our life remain forever? Will the objects remain forever? Why do we compromise on eternal values for ephemeral things and fickle life?’

Uncertainty is the only certainty in lifeDharmo mitra mritasya ca - Dharma alone is the friend of the mortal. Our papa/punya alone will accompany us after death. One whose life is steadfast in dharma and mind in Lord, he alone can handle all situations.

For transitory things we should not compromise eternal values of life. Even a lion facing dire hunger does not give up its dharma and eat grass.
The path of Dharma is unfathomable; the path trodden by noble people is the way!
By falsehood, one does not become immortal. What is the point in false conduct in this impermanent world?

Thus Nachiketas succeeded in persuading his father and went to yama loka. Every child is born with a capital of knowledge and samskaras!

Ishvara’s Governance
Just as how the Government governs the nation through a constitution of laws which is administered by officials under various departments under the Government, So too this universe is governed by the Lord through Dharma which is enforced by various devatas like Yamaraja, Indra, Varuna, Agni, Vayu and so on. These are actually names of posts and the beings in those roles do change. These devatas enforce the laws within their department at microcosmic and macrocosmic levels and they have their own abodes too like samyamapuri, alakapuri, amaravati and so on.

Dharmaraj, Lord of Death is a great disciplinarian and himself follows the laws of dharma. He is a great leveller. To His abode of yamaloka/ samyamapuri, started off our Nachiketas. It is said a voice guided him, for such a mahavrat even devatas help and guide fulfill their vow. And he went bodily…

Key takeaways:
  • There are 3 types of students: uttama, madhyama and adhama
  • MahAvrata are those who follow the instructions given by parent or Guru; even if said in jest or anger.
  • Introspection, Obedience, discrimination between permanent and ephemeral and firm abidance in dharma are shown as some more essential qualities of a seeker.
  • Uncertainty is the only certainty in life.
  • One whose life is steadfast in dharma and mind in Lord, he alone can handle all situations.
  • For transitory things we should not compromise eternal values of life.


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