Katopanishad Session 11

Inspirations from Talks by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda

Om Namo bhagavate  vaivasvatAya mrityave brahmavidyAchAryAya nachiketase cha

1.2 4

दूरमेते विपरीते विषूची

अविद्या या विद्येति ज्ञाता

विद्याभीप्सिनं नचिकेतसं मन्ये

त्वा कामा बहवोऽलोलुपन्त ४॥

What we call shreyas is vidyA and preyas is avidyA (ignorance) and both are poles apart (dUram) and divergent i.e. leading to opposite goals (viparItE). Yamaraj ji says “I consider Nachiketas seeker of vidyA. Because all these very desirable objects did not tempt you.”

Shreyas and preyas are not only different but opposite. How? From stand point of seekers, sAdhana and result.

Shreyas – VidyA – Knowledge

Preyas – AvidyA – ignorance

Result is Moksha – liberation

Result is material prosperity, samsara gati

Path of renunciation & Self knowledge

desire and desire prompted actions

Seeker is a mumukshu

bhubhukshu want to enjoy power, prosperity, etc 

Thus seekers, goals and paths are all different. So one person cannot follow both.

1.2.5

अविद्यायामन्तरे वर्तमानाः

स्वयं धीराः पण्डितंमन्यमानाः

दन्द्रम्यमाणाः परियन्ति मूढा

अन्धेनैव नीयमाना यथान्धाः ५॥

They live in the middle of thick ignorance – with hopes, attachments, desires and actions. But they also think themselves to be very wise and learned scholars. They lead others like blind leading blind and just go round and round.

Gurudev says the blind don’t fall, they just go round and round if they lose the way. Just because we are moving does not mean we are making progress. Going round and round only gives an illusion of progress.

1.2.6

साम्परायः प्रतिभाति बालं

प्रमाद्यन्तं वित्तमोहेन मूढम्

अयं लोको नास्ति पर इति मानी

पुनः पुनर्वशमापद्यते मे ६॥

They are childish even though grown up, i.e. spiritually immature (bAlam), knowing nothing beyond this world, always indulgent and inadvertent. Why? Deluded by the glamour of wealth. They think there is nothing beyond this world and keep coming again and again under the sway of death.

Some don’t believe in anything beyond this realm of experience, some who believe in Vedas with faith, believe in heaven but nothing beyond it. They keep doing karma and going up, coming down to do karma again and so on…

Yamaraj ji answers why many don’t seek this Knowledge. 

There are 1000s who attend shows of entertainment but only few come for lecture but even that is a surprise.

1.2.7

श्रवणायापि बहुभिर्यो लभ्यः

शृण्वन्तोऽपि बहवो यं विद्युः

आश्चर्यो वक्ता कुशलोऽस्य लब्धा

आश्चर्यो ज्ञाता कुशलानुशिष्टः ७॥

shravanAyApi bahubhir yO na labhyah - Self knowledge is not available for countless people even as information. If they have not even heard that such a Knowledge exists, where is the question of seeking?

ShrunvantOpi bahavO yam na vidyuh - Those who come to hear also don’t come to know it. Why? Because they don’t have desire to know it. Some have desire but are not in a hurry, not ready to put forth effort. Those who start, give up half way, may be because sometimes right guidance is not there or because of some distractions which pull them down.

Only a rare individual comes to realize this in totality. This shows the rarity and specialty of this knowledge and seekers. Bhavagad Gita 2.29 also echoes the same idea.

  • Ascharyah - ah ah iti charati wonder; Vakta one who dispels doubt is wonder
  • kushalOsya labdhA - a highly qualified one who gains this is also a wonder
  • ashcaryO jnAtA kushalAnushishtah - One who knows this truth being taught by a competent teacher is also a wonder

To find a student interested in this when many are immersed in worldly thing is rare. Finding a speaker who is realized and can dispel doubts is also a wonder.

Any object we know has a name and form. When we hear a sound/name, its form comes to mind. Even for a feeling we have some idea. Concepts are more subtle but still we can objectify all forms, feelings and ideas.

Atma is not gained by sense perception or intellect. It can be made known only by a teacher who knows vedAnta pramAna. If it is not an object, name/form/feeling or idea, then we wonder what it is. Its nature also is wonder. One who is well versed in shastra and abiding in this Knowledge and is skilled in making the student understand something beyond the faculty of understanding is a wonder truly.

There is a subject called TOK (theory of knowledge), pramAna vicAra which deals with how we get knowledge. Although it appears we are using our faculties of hearing, thinking etc. but to know the Self without making it an object is unique. Hence Yamaraj ji is testing if Nachiketas has the ability.

Atma tatvam, its nature, method of knowing, student, teacher everything is wonder. 

Bhagavad Gita goes one step further and adds someone listening to this and manages to not understand is also wonderful! 

आश्चर्यवत्पश्यति कश्चिदेन-

        माश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्यः

आश्चर्यवच्चैनमन्यः शृणोति

        श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद चैव कश्चित् -२९॥ Bhagavad Gita 2.29

Key takeaways:

  1. Just because we are moving does not mean we are making progress. Going round and round only gives an illusion of progress. 
  2. One who is well versed in shastra and abiding in this Knowledge and is skilled in making the student understand something beyond the faculty of understanding is a wonder truly. 
  3. Atma is not an object, name/form/feeling or idea and is beyond our faculties of knowing. To know It without objectifying it is a wonder. 
  4. Atma tatvam, its nature, method of knowing, student, teacher everything is wonder. 



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