Katopanishad Session 4

Inspirations from Talks by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda

Om Namo bhagavate  vaivasvatAya mrityave brahmavidyAchAryAya nachiketase cha

When Nachiketas reached yamaloka, Yamaraj was out of station. His Queen and ministers who were there welcomed Nachiketas and offered him hospitality. Nachiketas refused politely but firmly. His thought was that since he had been given to Yamaraj by his father, he cannot eat or drink or rest until he sees and receives further instructions from his master, Yamaraj. He waited thus for 3 days and 3 nights.

1.1.7

वैश्वानरः प्रविशत्यतिथिर्ब्राह्मणो गृहान्
तस्यैताँ शान्तिं कुर्वन्ति हर वैवस्वतोदकम् ७॥

A brAhmana (not merely by birth but) who is well learned in Vedas and abides in Dharma even at the cost of life is like fire (vaishvAnarah). When Yamaraj returned, his ministers informed him that ‘fire like brahmana that too a guest (atithi) has come. He must be treated and appeased like Fire-God indeed. Please carry water for washing his feet (pAdyam) etc.’
A guest without prior intimation (a+tithi) is to be treated like God. A sadhu is compared to fire because he may curse if displeased. But truly speaking, God or nature will burn such an unintelligent person who troubles a sadhu.

1.1.8

आशाप्रतीक्षे संगतँ सूनृतां चेष्टापूर्ते पुत्रपशूँश्च सर्वान्
एतद्वृङ्क्ते पुरुषस्याल्पमेधसो यस्यानश्नन्वसति ब्राह्मणो गृहे ८॥

Further they counselled Dharmaraj thus. (Although he does not need, it is for us). 
In whose house a highly sattvic person does not eat anything, for such a person of little intelligence (alpamedhas), all is destroyed by the brahmana.
The sin that a person accrues by inhospitality destroys him.
When a guest comes, he must treated like God, with respect and be given food & rest. If there is no food, give at least water, or at least a seat to sit, or at least some kind words. Where is dearth of sweet words?

What all is lost by defect of inhospitality?
·         AshA – hope for something desirable and attainable but unknown like heaven,
·         pratikshA – expectation for known and attainable things of liking such as job, house, etc. these will be lost.
·         Sanghatam – the results of hope & waiting or the results of satsangh are also lost
·         Further he loses punya accrued by:
·         sUnritAm –speaking pleasant words especially where harsh response is expected.
·         Ishta – performance of Vaidika/shrauta karma, vedic rituals
·         Purta - performance of SmArta karma like social service
·         Sons, cattle and all…
But all these will be safe if guest is served properly. Therefore at any cost a guest is not to be neglected. This also shows it is the duty of a good wife and ministers to counsel the King when needed and he should also pay heed.

1.1.9

तिस्रो रात्रीर्यदवात्सीर्गृहे मे – ऽनश्नन् ब्रह्मन्नतिथिर्नमस्यः
नमस्तेऽस्तु ब्रह्मन् स्वस्ति मेऽस्तु तस्मात्प्रति त्रीन्वरान्वृणीष्व ९॥

Yamaraj bhagavan being such an elder and greater person than our little Nachiketas, yet, to such a small boy does salutations and grants 3 boons, one for each night he had to undergo inconvenience on his account although unintended.
This shows Yama Bhagavan’s humility and sense of righteousness. Although it was not his wrong, without excuses or justifications, he apologises and gives boons. He speaks so kindly, politely and respectfully seeking forgiveness.

1.1.10 – first boon – for father’s happiness

शान्तसंकल्पः सुमना यथा स्याद्
वीतमन्युर्गौतमो माऽभि मृत्यो
त्वत्प्रसृष्टं माऽभिवदेत्प्रतीत
एतत् त्रयाणां प्रथमं वरं वृणे १०॥

Let my father become:
  • shaAnta sankalpah – peaceful, free of anxiety and agitation (even now while I am here, without anxiety of what I am doing with Yamaraj)
  • sumanA: – have a cheerful mind
  • vItamanyuh: – become free of anger and
  • Mam abhi abhivadEt – towards me, speak to me as before,
  • Tvat prasrishtam – freed by you when I return
  • pratItah - well recognizing me as his own son Nachiketas, without any hesitation (though he has come back from yamaloka)

This shows his concern for his father. Besides being a dutiful son, he was such a Medhavi to ask so many wishes packaged in one boon.

1.1.11

यथा पुरस्ताद् भविता प्रतीत औद्दालकिरारुणिर्मत्प्रसृष्टः।
सुखँ रात्रीः शयिता वीतमन्युः त्वां ददृशिवान्मृत्युमुखात् प्रमुक्तम् ११॥

Yama bhagavan says – As he was with you before you coming here, in the same way, he will recognize you, seeing you released by me. And while you are here he will sleep well at night without anxiety and future nights too.
Different names of vAjashravasa: GautamI; ArunI; AuddalakI. He might be having two family names because of association with two families.

1.1.12 svarga loka prashamsa

स्वर्गे लोके भयं किंचनास्ति  तत्र त्वं जरया बिभेति
उभे तीर्त्वाऽशनायापिपासेशोकातिगो मोदते स्वर्गलोके १२॥

Nachiketas says to Yamaraj ‘I have heard that, in svarga loka there is no fear of death or old age since you are not there. Going beyond hunger and thirst, free of delusion and sorrow, one rejoices in heavenly world.’
Mortals suffer from 6 waves of sorrow:
  • Physical level – old age & death
  • PrAna level – hunger & thirst
  • Mind level – grief & delusion

1.1.13 Boon 2 – asks agni vidya for loka kalyanam

त्वमग्निँ स्वर्ग्यमध्येषि मृत्यो प्रब्रूहि त्वँ श्रद्दधानाय मह्यम्
स्वर्गलोका अमृतत्वं भजन्त एतद् द्वितीयेन वृणे वरेण १३॥

Nachiketas asks the second boon:
‘Oh Lord Mrtyu, you know the yagna that leads to heaven, please explain to me who am full of faith in it. The dwellers of svarga enjoy immortality (though relative). This is what I ask by second boon.’
Notes: 
This verse talks of virAta upasanA which leads to vairAjya prapti, i.e. prajapthi loka/ svarga loka
Svah: sukham gamyate (anubhuyate) iti – higher realm of experience. Place where one experiences joy

Thus his second boon shows his sense of social responsibility. In his society then, there were people who wanted to know how to go to heaven as there is no sorrow there. Nachiketas wanted to go back and teach them. Although he had seen his own father do some vishvajit yaga, he felt YamarAja would be knowing some special rites where success is guaranteed.

Key takeaways:

Ø  All is lost for an unintelligent person who neglects a guest. Therefore at any cost a guest is not to be neglected.
Ø  Mahatma is one who is largehearted. Although it was not his wrong; being well established in righteousness, Yamaraj apologises and gives boons to Nachiketas, without excuses or justifications for the unintended inconvenience.
Ø  We again learn some more essential qualities of a seeker from Nachiketas:
o   Dutiful concern for his father expressed as the first boon
o   Concern for the society expressed as the second boon
o   Intelligence in managing so many wishes in a single boon

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