Thursday, December 8, 2016

Story of Nachiketa Part 6 (Kathopnishad)

Nachiketa knows from his knowledge of scriptures and personal experience that death is not some unique, uncommon or unnatural phenomenon. 
He knows that death is inevitable, but more importantly, he knows that it’s not ‘the end of the life’. He reminds himself:

अनुपश्य यथा पूर्वे, प्रतिपश्य तथा अपरे । 
सस्यमिव मर्त्य: पच्यते - सस्यमिवाजायते पुनः  

“Anupashya Yathaa poorvay, Pratipashya Tathaa aparay
 Sasyam iva Mratyah pachyatay, Sasyam ivaajaayatay punah”
                                                        (Kathopanishad 1-6)

“Look at our forefathers in the past, and look at the others now.
 Like the corn decays the mortal and like corn it’s born again” 

In the first sentence, by saying “Look at the forefathers in the past and look at others now” (Anupashya - remembering the past, and PratiPashya -  considering the present) Nachiketa might be contemplating on two important points. 

1. Look at what happened to the forefathers and others in the past; they are all gone and many others around are also going (dying).
2. Look at the forefathers and remember what they did, how they acted. And also, consider how the other wise people at the present time act now. 

We all know that our parents, grandparents and other loved ones have gone or will be gone; that one day we will be gone too. Yet this feeling creates a sadness and sort of depression in our mind. 
Hearing his father’s words “to death shall I give you” must have created some sadness and depression in Nachiketa’s mind too. 
Normally, sadness and depression makes people go down; mentally and physically. But many people, when faced with a challenge of ‘Life and death situation’- get courage, strength and great ideas to handle the situation. 
Like many other great people in the history, such as Guatam Buddha, Mahaveer Jain and Guru Nanak, this feeling of sadness or depression inspired Nachiketa to find out the ‘Reality’ and ‘the meaning of life’. 

Secondly, Nachiketa wants to remember what his forefathers did; what they believed and how they acted. He also wants to consider what other great and wise people of his time believe and how they act. Since he comes from a hereditary lineage of great Brahmans (Learned, scholars) he knows that death is not ‘the end’ of this life. He remembers the Scriptures: 
“Like the corn decays the mortal, and like corn it’s born again”

(Just like the corn or vegetation, people die and born again.) 

By quoting the Scriptures, he confirms his belief in Reincarnation - that the life does not end with the physical death. 

Reincarnation and theory of ‘Karma’ are the two major aspects of Vedantic philosophy, that are followed by all the major religions of Indian sub-continent, such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism including Nirankari mission and Radha Soami etc.
All religions believe that the Soul is immortal. 
Most Jews, Christians and Muslims believe that the soul will continue to live in the same physical form – but in spirit, like a shadow – along with their family and loved ones in heaven or hell for eternity. 

However, according to the Vedas and Vedanta, Soul or Consciousness moves on to live in another body. After the death of the body-according to the Karma- each individual Soul or consciousness takes another birth in a different form at a different place and time. This is known as ‘Reincarnation’. 

Even according to science, nothing is ever destroyed. Matter and Energy constantly change their form and characteristics but are never destroyed. Everything is re-cycled. The five elements; earth, fire, water, air and space, that body is consisted of, decay after the body dies and merge into nature to be re-cycled again.
According to Vedanta and Buddhism, ‘consciousness’ too, never dies. It also continues in a different form, in a different life. 

Knowing this, Nachiketa fearlessly embarks on his journey to meet ‘Yama’, the angel of death

                                   ‘Rajan Sachdeva’

   (To be Continued)


  1. Thank you ji for giving us opportunity to learn from kind of you sparing your time..

    Kind Regards

  2. A great learning experience indeed.


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