Katopanishad Session 8
Om Namo bhagavate vaivasvatAya mrityave brahmavidyAchAryAya nachiketase ca
Yamaraj very gladly and readily gave the first and second boons. But when Nachiketas asked about transcendental truth, he wanted to make sure.
एतत्तुल्यं यदि मन्यसे वरं
वृणीष्व वित्तं चिरजीविकां च ।
कामानां त्वा कामभाजं करोमि ॥ २४॥
Sometimes people promise so many things and they cannot fulfill anything. But Yamaraj ji is satyasankalpah. As though assuring Nachiketas that all his wishes come true, He says “Ask some other things like the above, wealth and long life. May you become ruler of vast regions! I will make you fit for enjoyment (kAmabhAjam) of all desirable things (kAmAnAm)”
ये ये कामा दुर्लभा मर्त्यलोके
सर्वान् कामाँश्छन्दतः प्रार्थयस्व ।
इमा रामाः सरथाः सतूर्या
न हीदृशा लम्भनीया मनुष्यैः ।
नचिकेतो मरणं माऽनुप्राक्षीः ॥ २५॥
‘Whatever things that are desirable but difficult to get on Earth, ask for those pleasurable things as you fancy. All these apsarAs (celestial women - young, beautiful, and versed in art of pleasing), along with chariots, orchestra music; human beings cannot get anything like this… Sent by me (so they can’t refuse), get served by them. Do not ask again and again about death.’
Evam pralObhyamAnO api nachiketA mahA-hradavat akshObhya—Nachiketas was undisturbed like a huge lake despite so much persuasion.
श्वोभावा मर्त्यस्य यदन्तकैतत्
सर्वेंद्रियाणां जरयंति तेजः ।
अपि सर्वं जीवितमल्पमेव
तवैव वाहास्तव नृत्यगीते ॥ २६॥
Nachiketas describes the nature of these desirable objects and enjoyments as he has analysed;
- shvobhAvA - things that will last till the next day only (or) things that may not be there tomorrow. Meaning ephemeral things.
- O antaka – name of Yamaraj; which means terminator. As though implying ‘you will make sure all will end’
- jarayanti tEjah - Even if one says though temporary, let us enjoy while these last; these will drain away the vitality of all senses. Indulgence only makes us weak. BhashyakAr adds righteousness, valour, spiritual lustre, fame, everything goes away when one indulges.
- Sarvam api jIvitam aplam Eva - Moreover everyone’s life (including Yamaraj and BrahmA ji) is short indeed. Long life is also short only. A mosquito may feel man lives so long, but man does not feel that way.
Pleasure lasts only for a few moments, but how much planning, money, time, efforts go into it. Sometimes we rub shoulders with some good friends or relatives. Sometimes in a moment it can even probe us to evil means by which dharma, yasha, vIrya, tEja and all is lost. Investment is so much but return is insignificant or only self-annihilation. It is like we invest 1 million and if lucky we will get 1 rupees. Pleasure is for time being but bondage is permanent.
And so Nachiketas firmly refuses saying ‘let these dances and songs be with you’. How bold! Futher…
न वित्तेन तर्पणीयो मनुष्यो
लप्स्यामहे वित्तमद्राक्ष्म चेत्त्वा ।
जीविष्यामो यावदीशिष्यसि त्वं
वरस्तु मे वरणीयः स एव ॥ २७॥
Man as such can never be pleased with any amount of money. People following capitalism, socialism and whatever else truly only follow ‘morism’ mostly.
When I have seen you, how will I go empty handed…Even when I go to uncle’s house I will never return empty handed. For me, greatest wealth is that I saw you. How can any material wealth be greater? All other wealth you are talking about that also I will get without asking having seen you.
I will anyway live long as long as you are in the post. The moment you go I will be gone too.
Therefore, the only boon worthy of en-cashing is what I had asked. I only realize its worth more and more now.
क्वधःस्थः प्रजानन् ।
अतिदीर्घे जीविते को रमेत ॥ २८॥
- jIryan martyah – aging & dying – this is the description of mortal humans.
- Kvadhasthah – (ku- prithvi; adha – below; sthah – one who lives on it) one who lives on this earth (which is below other worlds like svargah)
- abhidhyAyan - having considered the pros and cons of all the enjoyments granted
Being such an ordinary mortal living on earth, coming to svargaloka and having approached the immortal devas, and also realizing (prajAnan) their greatness and what they can grant; who will ask for these kind of things.
- Nachiketas was undisturbed like a huge lake despite so much persuasion. To be firm in one’s determination without falling prey to temptation is yet an important quality for a seeker.
- Indulgences only makes us weak.
- Long life is also short ultimately.