Distinct Destinations

Distinct Destinations

Until here we discussed about the opposite attributes of Vidya (Knowledge) and Avidya (ignorance), but we did not define them on the basis of their impact and effect on our  lives.

The Knowledgeable ones say that there are two distinct elements (like sun and the shadow) residing in the   sacred alcove reserved in the deepest recess of mind inside the body. Their development follows the pattern of actions performed by the person.

We pray that we should be able to know the Fire (Yagya for different outcomes) which is the bridge to worldly achievements for the performers of action and the Word ( which grants freedom from all fears) which is the final refuge for ones who wish to transcend the material world.

A metaphor of chariot is used here to distinguish these two ways in terms of vehicle, journey and final destination of this mortal life.

The body is the chariot, intellect is the charioteer, mind is the bridle or leash and the soul is the Riding King.The Wise compare the faculties (organs of sensory perception and action) to the horses and the objects of perceptions to the way on which the chariot moves. They say that the soul acting in conjunction with the intellect, mind, body and faculties is the enjoyer of this world.

If intellect is indiscreet in nature and the mind is turbulent, the faculties go wild just as horses can not be tamed by an incompetent charioteer working with weak leash and bridle.

But if the intellect is discreet and self possessed and the mind calm, the faculties follow its command just as the disciplined horses obey the instructions of a skilled charioteer adeptly controlling the bridle.

Scriptures tell us about what becomes of the first kind. One who does not strive to know, whose mind is not disciplined and whose conduct is flawed, does not qualify to know about the Atman. He is resigned to the material world.

But the second kind, who is knowledgeable, possess a composed mind and bear excellent conduct, firmly gets positioned in Absolute after successfully traversing the worldly path.

(to continue)

ॐ The All Pervading Reality

ॐ The All Pervading Reality

Nachiketa: O Lord, If you are pleased and I am deserving, kindly tell me about what you perceive as distinct from Dharma (virtuous way of life that should be upheld even in situation of conflict) and different from adharma (which is not Dharma) too…… tell me about  what is beyond the mechanism of cause and effect….tell about what transcends time defined by past and future.

Yama: (explaining the attributes of the Reality)

  • (Aum) is posited as Absolute by the Veda.
  • (Aum)  is the final destination of practitioners of all methods of penance and austerities.
  • (Aum) is the ultimate achievement for all those who lead pious life after life in quest of knowledge.

The Word   depicts All Encompassing Truth. Knower of this Word gains everything she/he wishes for.

  is the Ultimate Reality and also the substratum of material Universe.

Achiever of this Position becomes one with Atman and is universally acknowledged and worshipped as the Enlightened One.

(Leaving description of commensurate rewards in this world for lowly and average worshippers of Onkar to other scriptures, Yama proceeds to describe the method to perceive Atman who resides in Onkar.)

Atman, the ever-intelligent consciousness, is neither born nor does it die. It does not come into being from other constituents or through conversion of its former self. It is unborn, eternal, ever present and never ending. It is not destroyed with the death of body.

If the assassin thinks that he has destroyed the Atmn with the body or the victim thinks that his Atmn has died too, both have no clue about Atman. The Atman neither kills nor gets killed.

Nachiketa: Then how can a seeker of Truth know the Atman?

Yama: Even smaller than the fundamental particle and still massive than cosmic proportions, Atman resides in the deepest alcove of our heart. The disciplined one who tames one’s organs of perceptions and turns them inward, perceives It clearly and moves beyond sufferings.

 Someone, whose perceptions and points of reference lie in the material world, is unable to even imagine about Atmn. For them it is difficult to conceive something that is stationery and moves to the farthest places at the same time, something that is dormant, still pervades everywhere.

Who else but I can know the Divinity that is abound in bliss but is still alert and aware.

(Now Yama elucidates how the knowledge of Atman can end sufferings)

The knowledge of Omnipresent and All pervading Atman, who resides in physical bodies but still not limited by them, who moves in transient material but is still eternal and permanent, leads the beholder to freedom from the grief.

Even though the Atman is singularly unyielding to common perception, persistent effort can lead to its knowledge.

This knowledge can neither be achieved through study of Veda, listening to scripture nor through contemplation.

Atman graciously reveals itself on its own volition to one who surrenders/ pledges oneself to It.

Besides, this knowledge cannot be glimpsed by one who causes injury to others, whose faculties are  governed by attachments and  whose mind is not quiet and equipoised.

The Disciplined one who doesn’t fit in aforesaid description can establish oneself in the Atman where all distinctions merge and where the death becomes a plaything.

( to continue)


Importance of Self Realisation

Importance of Self Realisation

Yama explains the importance of Self Realisation:

  • The Perfect cannot be perceived through imperfect means.
  • The transient components can not constitute the Eternal Whole.
  • The results of actions are impermanent in nature while the Atma or the Self is perfect, eternal and permanent.
  • So the eternally perfect Atman or Self can not be perceived as result of actions which are impermanent in nature.

Yama admits that he achieved a status of relative perfection through the use of Fire, the Nachiket.

He says that Nachiketa wisely rejected the offer of sensory enjoyments, repute & recognition in the world, unlimited rewards of sacred actions, freedom from fear, their immeasurable stature and its acclaim. He fully realized that despite their apparent expanse, these rewards are of limited  nature because they exist in restrictions of time and space.

He says that it is extremely arduous to perceive the Atman as It resides as sacred secret in deepest recess of mind. The wise one, who perceives Atman by redirecting the attention from the worldly affairs, transcends the pleasure and pain.  

One, who perceives Atma, understands that It is different and beyond the destructible body. Achieving this knowledge of Atman, the seeker enters in eternal bliss. He tells Nachiketa that he deserves to know this secret and be released from the endless cycles or death and birth.

( to continue)



Thus Spake Yama

Thus Spake Yama


Satisfied on both the counts, the intensity of intent and caliber of intelligence, on part of his new found disciple, Yama explains to him the finer secrets of existence and says…..

Human Nature is primarily identified by either of the two chief tendencies. One is Shreya(about wisdom) and the other is Preya(about material wellbeing). Both define the character, personality and predisposition of the beholder and lead her/him to different destinies following the set course.

One who selects Shreya  is marked by the desire to know and realize the Ultimate Reality while one who adopts Preya  is happy in this world gaining wealth, fame and recognition.

The Shreya person is said to be wise and worthy of emulation while Preya fellow ultimately falls from the grace.

The question arises that if it’s a matter of choice and Shreya is said to be a wiser choice then why it is so that the majority chooses Preya and opts for material possessions and laurels in worldly affairs.

The answer is that the choice is dependent on the wisdom and discretion of the person. The wise and discrete prefers the path of knowledge for one’s evolution, even though it is apparently fraught with uncertainties. The person with opposite disposition settles for the apparent advantage of security and wellbeing of material world. Since the people of former kind are not numerous, Preya emerges as the choice of majority.

Hey Nachiketa, since by rejecting the offer of transient pleasures & worldly riches you have firmly established yourself as a wise one, you will not suffer the ignoble end reserved for the unwise and the indiscrete.

 (Why it is said that the Preya person is wise and auspicious while the Preya fellow falls from the grace?)

Shreya paves the way to knowledge and Preya is the path of ignorance. Their intrinsic nature and destinations are pole opposite. That is why a wise minds like Nachiketa remain firm in their quest of Truth in the face of most tempting offers of worldly wealth and thereby transcend the scare of disease, disability and death

The ones aspiring for material well being are like the dimwitted who believe themselves to be the most knowledgeable ones. Driven by insecurities and fears of pain, disease and death, they stray and move away from Knowledge like the blind leading the blind into a bottomless pit. Blinded by the greed of money, these fools mistake apparent world as permanent and are repeatedly led to destruction through death.

But rare are the people who desire to know the Truth. Not many have the opportunity to even hear about it (the Truth), yet fewer are the one who can understand. Exceptional is the one who can elucidate and the blessed is the Knower who receives instructions from an enlightened Teacher.

The knowledge of the Self cannot be beheld by an average intellect. It is extremely difficult to perceive even if it is taught by a teacher of  integrated intelligence because it lies in the realm beyond the known terms of references of ordinary life like whether it is or it is not.

This knowledge cannot be achieved through discussions and reasoning of scholars. Someone with clear wisdom, instructed by an erudite exponent, can only assume the position of Truth.

Yama so expresses his desire to have such disciple or son  who can be instructed into the sacred secret of existence.

(To continue)

Journey of Nachiketa

Journey of Nachiketa


Nachiketa walks to the abode of Yama, the god of death.

Yama is not home. The boy waits for him without accepting food or water for three days.

Yama offers him to grant three wishes as a compensation for his discomfort.

Realising that he will eventually head back home, Nachiketa asks that his father should welcome him back forgetting his anger and remorse over the incidence as his first wish.

As a second, he says that he is aware of the Land of Immortals where people dwell without fear of hunger, disease, old age and death. He desires to know the secret of the sacred fire which is instrument to this immortality.

Yama teaches him the method to invoke such fire. Having learnt it properly, the boy repeats the procedure to Yama for his approval. Happy with his understanding of the subject, Yama blesses him that this fire will be known by his name, as Nachiket.

Then encouraged to ask for third wish, Nachiketa enquires about  what happens after death. He says that according to some existence continues after death but for others this is the end. He asks to know what the real situation is.

This question makes the Lord of Death thoughtful. Apparently he wishes to ascertain whether Nachiketa deserves to know the sacred secret of the Existence.

He tells him that this secret lies in finest realm of knowledge and even the gods attempted to know but failed to comprehend it fully. He offers some other boon instead.

(The dialogue that ensues is the crux of this scripture)

Nachiketa remains firm and reiterates his question.

Nachiketa:  O lord of Death, certainly gods also raised such doubt and even as you tell me that this doesn’t make an easy learning, you are my ultimate resort of knowledge. Where would I get another Teacher like you?

Yama: O young boy….Ask for anything and that shall be granted. You can have centenarian children and grand children, large territories to rule and a healthy life of as many years as you desire. Ask for ever-growing kingdom & boundless wealth in perpetuity.   Please freely ask for the sense enjoyments which are beyond reach of gods. You go ahead and enjoy unlimited possession of chariots, horses and above all the beautiful seductress in unbridled manner.

Oh, don’t ask for anything, I will bless you with ability to enjoy your every desire coming true.

But please don’t ask what lies beyond death.

Nachiketa :  O Yama, All these enjoyments are transient and wither our sensory perceptions. This life is too short. Let these possessions and pleasures remain with you. Man can never be satisfied with wealth. And anyone, who  has once been in your presence, will naturally be able to live long and have enough wealth, but my question remains same. Having blessed by you, no mortal mankind can desire for mere physical and worldly pleasures because they are ephemeral.

Dear Lord, kindly do not tempt me with the offers of transient gratifications. Please answer my question about existence beyond death. This quest of knowledge comes from my deepest being. I do not seek anything else.

Yama: Dear Nachiketa, your perseverance proves that you deserve to know the truth.

Having a worthy disciple with brilliant intelligence seeking mysteries of life, the god of Death proceeds to explain the Reality, which is the quintessence of Kathopnishad.


The Boy who looked straight in the eyes of Death

  • This is the story of a young teenager, Nachiketa.
  •  One day his father Vajashrava undertakes to conduct a ritual of giving away all he has to Brahmans.
  • At the time of culmination, Nachiketa observes that all his father was giving away were hardly his prized possessions. The cows given in gift, were well past their prime.


  • It  dawns on him that the ritual was conducted with sole intention of earning praise and recognition.
  •  Desirous to remedy the folly, he intervenes, only to be ignored by his father.
  • Nachiketa continues his contemplation. He realises that he is the most prized possession of his father. Somehow he feels that he should be gifted away by his father to retrieve the situation.
  •  He decides to ask his father whom he intended to offer his only son to.
  •  The father, supremely satisfied with his own conduct initially does not pay heed to his query.
  • Nachiketa persists.
  •  infuriated at son’s temerity, the father declares that the son goes to Yama, the God of Death..