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.