Nachiketa confronts his father and tells him that his supposedly charitable actions are useless. Gautam, Nachiketa’s father found his remarks disrespectful and insulting.
And when Nachiketa asked: “To whom you shall give me?”
He became extremely angry and shouted “To death shall I give you”
I am sure we all would feel that it was wrong for the father to speak such harsh words to his son. A Father is supposed to love and take care of all his children, even if they are at fault and never have any ill-wishes towards them. Nachiketa’s father loved his son and his outburst was out of anger, not from heart.
At times, under certain circumstances, most people react out of momentary anger by shouting phrases like “I am gonna kill you” or “you are asking for your death warrant or “go to hell’ etc. If there isn’t true understanding between the parents and children, then such dialogues can have serious consequences, pull apart relationships, and even split up families.
But we can understand from his previous observations- and will see more as the story unfolds- that Nachiketa was not an ordinary child. Even at such tender age, he was very wise and seems to have learned the scriptures as well. He did not react in the same way; in anger, because he knew his father did not really mean what he said. He knew his father loved him very much and did not have any ill-wishes towards him.
Nachiketa also loved and respected his father very much and considered him as his mentor and Guru. He wanted to obey his father. He wanted to do whatever his father wanted him to do. So he began to think “what did my father really mean when he said, ‘To death shall I give you’. It cannot be what it sounds like…there must be a deeper meaning to what he said”.
He was too wise to take those words at the face value and began to ponder.
Since he had studied the Scriptures, he knew that a learned man, such as his father, knows very well that ‘no one dies before their time'.
“Perhaps by saying ‘to death shall I give you’, my father wants to send me away to find out and understand about Death", he thought.
Considering his father was too busy with his project of the Yagna, Nachiketa decided to embark on the journey on his own - to meet the Yam Raj - to find ‘Death’.
(To be continued)