स्वर्ग लोके न भयं किंचनास्ति
न तत्र त्वं - न जरया बिभेति
उभे तीर्त्वा अशनाया पिपासे
शोकातिगो मोदते स्वर्गलोके (कठोपनिषद 1 -12)
Swarge Loke Na Bhayam kinchanaasti
Na Tatra Tvam, Na Jarya bibheti
Ubhe TirtvaAshnaaya Pipaase
Shokaatigo Modatay Swarglokay
In Heaven, there is no fear of any kind.
Neither you (death) are there, nor the fear of old age.
Having crossed both- hunger and thirst
Being above grief, one rejoices in Heaven.
This is a brief but precise and beautiful description of the Swarg or Heaven.
‘In Heaven, there is no fear of any kind’
When we say, A is equal to B, the equation automatically implies that B is also equal to A.
‘In Heaven, there is no fear of any kind’ - would also mean that the moment we do not have any fear, of any kind – of a person, people or situation, present or future, being unsuccessful or failure, of old age or even death - we are in the Heaven.
Nachiketa, even at such tender age, had a great deal of knowledge of the Scriptures. He must have known that, pleased with their devotion, whenever Lord asked the devotees to ask for any boom, most of the ancient sages and bhaktas, including Bhakt Prehlad asked for one thing only…. and that was ‘Abhaya Daan’- Fearlessness. They knew the secret that living in the state of 'fearlessness' is in fact living in the 'kingdom of Heaven'. Therefore, instead of asking directly to be granted the entry into Swarg as a reward for their sacrifice, devotion and meditation, they asked for fearlessness.
“Neither you (death) are there, nor the fear of old age”
Besides disease and poverty - not being able to get enough food for oneself and his family- old age and death are two main reasons to fear in almost everyone’s mind. However, Nachiketa says, even both these greatest fears are not there in the Heaven.
“Having crossed both- hunger and thirst …”
Now, this line may create a confusion in some people’s minds. They may translate this phrase connecting to physical hunger and thirst. Therefore, for them, this could be one of the reasons for ‘Fasting’ for longer periods of time - to control and cross over the normal limits of hunger and thirst. In fact, some teachers and scholars do translate this Mantra saying that one must cross the normal limits of hunger and thirst by practicing to ‘fast’ for longer periods of time… with absolutely no food or water for several days or even weeks.
But the next line of this Mantra makes it clear that this is not about physical hunger, but about mental hunger and thirst.
“Being above grief, one rejoices in Heaven”
We know one cannot control and rise above grief simply by controlling the physical hunger or thirst.
When struck with grief over a great loss – or death of a family member or a beloved friend, one does not feel hungry or thirsty at all. Friends and family members have to force them to drink water and eat some food. Obviously, by simply ‘having crossed over physical hunger and thirst", one may not - and does not rise above ‘grief’.
Upanishads are Spiritual Scriptures.
Spirituality, as the name suggests, is pertaining to the mind and spirit...not to the physical body.
Therefore, it should be understood as “Having crossed hunger and thirst of mind” - that is hunger for power and lust, praise and appreciation, respect and obedience etc. – “being above grief, one rejoices in heaven”.
(To be Continued)
Note: Gurubani also continued to preach the same concept...
"Tere sevak kau Bhau Kichhu nahin, Jam nahin aave Nere"
(Your (God's) servant fears no one, even (fear of) Death does not come near (them)
(M- 5 Page 749)
(M- 5 Page 749)
Nirbhau bhaye Sagal Bhai Khoye Gobind charan otaai
(M -5 Page 1000)
‘Nirbhaya hoye bhajahu Bhagvaana’
Worship the Lord fearlessly