Katopanishad Session 2

Inspirations from Talks by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda

Session 2 – AkhyAyikA – As the Story goes…

Om Namo bhagavate  vaivasvatAya mrityave brahmavidyAchAryAya nachiketase cha
KatOpanishad has 2 chapters (adhyAya) and 3 sections (valli) in each

Prathamo adhyAya - prathamA vallI

1.1.1

उशन् वै वाजश्रवसः सर्ववेदसं ददौ
तस्य नचिकेता नाम पुत्र आस १॥

Upanishad starts with a story (AkhyAyika) for the purpose of glorifying the Knowledge. Once upon a time (Ha vai) there was a person named vAjashravasa:, who was son of VAjashravA; the one who became famous by dAnam of annam (vAjam- annam). He was performing a yagna called vishvajit desirous (ushan) to go to svarga. According to the preccints he had to give away all his wealth (sarva vedasam dadau) so he can get the results. He had a son (putra), by name NachiketA, who was not an ordinary one (ha), our hero of the story.

Nachiketas is an epithet for fire. True to his name was he. Fire burns away impurities, is brilliant and goes higher and higher (urdhvagAmi) so too Nachiketas ji had burnt away impurities, was brilliant with Vedic knowledge and had high aspirations. These are important qualities of a seeker.
1.1.2

तँ कुमारँ सन्तं दक्षिणासु
नीयमानासु श्रद्धाविवेश सोऽमन्यत २॥

He was only a young boy of 5 to 10 years of age (kumaram). Even a young person can carry wise head on his shoulders as we see in the case of many young seekers. He was observing the yagna that was going on and when he saw the quality of cows that were distributed during dakshina at the end of yagna (dakshinAsu NIyamAnAsu), his mind was filled with faith (shraddhA – Avivesha) and he thought (amanyata).

Again we learn two important qualities of a student: shraddha (faith) and viveka (right thinking). As we think so we become but then we think as per our convictions/value system. Yo yas shraddhA tasya sah| As the faith so the man.

We must know where we should accept with faith and where we should question & enquire. Faith has many connotations such as belief and trust. Faith is the belief in the existence of something that is not directly available for perception or rationalization.

We should enquire what is the purpose of our life? We go on by peer pressure without thinking; whereas on matters of faith we ask questions. But Nachiketas had total faith in the authority and validity of Vedas, VedA: pramAnam aloukika vishayE|

When any karma is done with desire there must be perfection else result may not come as expected. In desire-less actions performed to please Lord although there will be perfection automatically, God forgives any shortcomings.

1.1.3

पीतोदका जग्धतृणा दुग्धदोहा निरिन्द्रियाः
अनन्दा नाम ते लोकास्तान् गच्छति ता ददत् ३॥

Ushan – desire makes a person compromise. Generally at dakshina, healthy milk yielding cows that are fully decorated with jewels (sAlankrita) should be given. But here, the cows given were pItOdakAh: drunk the last sip of water; jagdhatrunAh chewed the last bit of straw; dugdhdohAh from which the last drop of milk had been milked; nirindriyAh - lost their organs. In short, worn out, very old and unworthy cows were offered to bhramanas and priests.

Householders had the practise of keeping some cows for their son. May be vAjashravasa had kept the good cows for his son and was giving away his own share of cows to brAhmanas. We don’t know. Whatever be the case, such cows should never be given as dAna especially in a yAga conducted for svarga loka in which all wealth is to be given away.

Desirous to go to svarga the yAga was being done. Sva sukham gacchati yasmin iti svarga – place where one enjoys joy. But people donating such useless cows would go to worlds of no joy, hell alone anandA nAma te lokAh.

Pum nAma narakAt trAyatE pitaram iti putra: A son is one who protects his parents from falling into hell called pum. Nachiketas observing this, was overpowered by faith. He was well versed in Vedas at such a young age. He came from a great lineage of cultural values & faith which he imbibed in himself. As a son, he thought it was his duty to see that his father’s yagna is completed fully and perfectly. A son is indeed his father’s wealth. His father should give away him and all the cows and wealth kept for him as well. Such a thought entered his mind. So he approached his father…

Key takeaways:

  • As we think so we become but then we think as per our convictions/value system.
  • We must know where we should accept with faith and where we should question & enquire.
  • Faith is the belief in the existence of something that is not directly available for perception or rationalization. 
  • Qualities of a seeker
    1. One who has burnt away impurities,
    2. Brilliant with Vedic knowledge
    3. Has high aspirations.
    4. Imbibes cultural values of Sanatana Dharma
    5. Shraddha - Faith in Vedas, Guru,
    6. Viveka - Right Thinking

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