Katopanishad Session 7

Om Namo bhagavate  vaivasvatAya mrityave brahmavidyAchAryAya nachiketase cha

The question is after the death of body, mind and ego is there anything? People try to resolve this doubt by their own intellect, and so they cannot really come to any conclusion. This is not known through intellect or senses. So Vedanta is pramAnam.

Vedas are not authored by human, no one individual or group of rishisclaim they authored it. Rishis are seers of mantras. The credibility of Vedas is because Lord himself has revealed the Vedas. The manufacturer of one thing alone can give the manual. Lord created the world and humans, he alone can give us manual of how to live in this world.

Vedas are free of defects attributed to human authorship

  1. Bhrama – wrong understanding or delusion on part of the author
  2. PramAda – inadvertence. That is why despite of so many proof reads some mistakes do happen. One person wanted to write ‘immortality is our birth right’ but it came out as ‘immorality is our birth right’ :-)
  3. Karana apAtavam – deficiency in the instruments we use to know a thing
  4. Vipra lipsa – ulterior motives, wrong attitude, prejudices of the author

Hence Veda is not just a book written by some wise people. Omniscient Lord alone reveals It. Therefore this Knowledge can be learned only from a Guru who knows it. That’s why Nachiketas insists he wants to learn from Yamaraj.

But why should we know this? Whatever is beyond the framework of body-mind-intellect, will be infinite. Let’s approach this as 3 questions:

  1. Is there such a thing beyond BMI?
  2. If it is, whether it is infinite or small?
  3. If it is there and is infinite, what is my relationship with it?

Suppose I know there is a millionaire, what do I have to do with it? If I know there is something beyond all this and so it is infinite and it is ‘ME’, then, my whole perspective changes. Suddenly the subject matter is no longer in physical or phenomenal plane but moves to transcendental.

The Guru wants to know whether the student has real thirst for this highest Knowledge. Because there are some who just want objective type answer to know is it there or not. Some others just want intellectual collection of knowledge. So Yamaraj as Guru wants to test Nachiketas although he is seen to be of high calibre. Because if this highest knowledge goes to a wrong person it can harm him or others.

Earlier Yamaraj said ‘tathAstu’ so quickly, but now he tries to persuade…


देवैरत्रापि विचिकित्सितं पुरा

हिसुविज्ञेयमणुरेष धर्मः

अन्यं वरंनचिकेतो वृणीष्व

मा मोपरोत्सीरति मा सृजैनम् २१॥

“In yore, great Devataslike Indra and Varuna also had doubts about this. It being subtle, is not truly comprehended. So please request some other boon. Don’t press me! Give it up!”

Here Atman is referred to as Dharma - that which supports/holds together.

It is not that Dharmaraj was trying to avoid giving the knowledge but he just wanted to test. But of course our Nachiketas was not disheartened instead he was only excited.


देवैरत्रापि विचिकित्सितं किल

त्वं मृत्यो यन्न सुज्ञेयमात्थ

वक्ता चास्य त्वादृगन्यो लभ्यो

नान्यो वरस्तुल्य एतस्य कश्चित् २२॥

Nachiketas is surprised and excited to learn that even Devas had doubts. He says: ‘O Mrityu bhagavan, even the Gods had doubts in this regard. Even you say it is not easily understandable (which means a teacher is required). Of this knowledge can there be a better teacher than you? Nor can there be another boon at par with this knowledge’

Someone asked Shri Ramana Bhagavan ‘Is Guru needed?’ and he replied: ‘As long as laghu (small) is there, guru (big) is required’. That is to say, as long as there is small idea that I am limited, so long a Guru, the Big is required.

VaktA - Samshaya chEtta – not mere speaker but the one who can dispel our doubts

ShatEshu jAyate shUrah SahasrEshu panditah

VaktA dasha-sahasrEshu DhAta bhavati vA na vA||

A true dispeller of doubts is one among 10,000s. Nachiketas feels ‘There can be no other boon at par. What will I ask? Land, money? My father already gave everything. If Guru is there, then everything is easy.’ This shows Nachiketas strong determination.


शतायुषः पुत्रपौत्रान्वृणीष्वा

बहून्पशून् हस्तिहिरण्यमश्वान्

भूमेर्महदायतनं वृणीष्व

स्वयं जीवशरदो यावदिच्छसि २३॥

Yamaraj ji presents many temptations, thinking may be Nachiketas does not know what other things he can afford. If things are displayed, maybe he will be attracted.

“Ask for children and grandchildren who live long 100 years, then lots of (wealth like) cattle, elephants, gold and horses (to maintain them) and (to keep all of these) vast expanse of earth and yourself live as many years as you wish”.

Key takeaways:

  1. Vedas are not authored by human, no one individual or group of rishis claim they authored it. Rishis are seers of mantras.
  2. The credibility of Vedas is because Lord himself has revealed the Vedas. The manufacturer of one thing alone can give the manual.


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