Saturday, April 1, 2017

Story of Nachiketa Part 15 (Kathopnishad)

As his second boon, instead of asking for a guaranteed place in Heaven, Nachiketa wanted to know - what knowledge should be known and what Karmas should be performed in order to enter the Heaven.  

Dharam Raj must have been delighted to find such a great and keen student. He says to Nachiketa:
प्र ते ब्रवीमि तदु मे निबोध स्वर्ग्यमग्निम् नचिकेतः प्रजानन 
अनंतलोकाप्तिमथो प्रतिष्ठाम विद्धि त्वमेतं निहितं गुहायाम  

                   "Pra Te Braveemi Tadu May Nibodh
                   Swargyam-agnim Nachiketah Prajaanan
                   Anantlokaaptim atho Pratishthaam
                   Viddhi Tvametam Nihitam Guhaayaam"
                                                  (1 - 14 Kathopanishad)

“I will explain it to you well (in detail), Nachiketa, pay attention to me. Learn from me carefully and know about the Agni - the Gyan (knowledge) which leads to Swarg. 
Know it well to attain the Eternal Heaven and to remain in that realm - which is seated / hidden in the cave”. 

Many scholars translate the word ‘Agni’ literally, and talk about some special kind of ancient ritual, sacrificial ‘fire’ used to perform Yagnas in the Vedic period. Translating it literally makes it pertaining to or related to some particular religion and may create doubts and disagreements in the minds of the followers of other religions and atheists. Numerous times, the word Agni has been used as a symbol for Gyan or knowledge in Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and other Scriptures as well. 
Not rituals, but appropriate Gyan or knowledge is what leads to a happy and peaceful life in the outer and inner - physical and psychological worlds. And it is seated / hidden in the ‘Guha’ ‘the cave’. Just as a cave, hidden in the mountains or deep in the earth is not visible from outside, Similarly, this secret Gyan and the blissful state may not be visible from outside. It is seated deep in the cavity of heart or mind; the ‘Chita’ - the ‘sub-conscious’… beyond the dominions of the Conscious mind. 

It is not for a ‘show-off’. 
The ‘Shruti’ says: “The one who says I know- knows not.” 
Unfortunately, now a days, Spirituality has become a fashion, a social event - an entertainment or a thing to show off. Dharam Raj says “it is seated in the hidden cave of Sub-conscious mind”. It has to go beyond the grips of conscious mind.
Until and unless this ‘Fire’ - the Gyan finds its way into the Chita- Subconscious mind and stays seated in the Subconscious, it may not provide tranquility, the Bliss. To achieve such a state, one must practice and strive to remember the Gyan and repeat it often. (which Nachiketa did in the next verse – repeating the instructions he received, back to the Guru) 
There might be another reason for many students and disciples for not being able to achieve that state.  
Dharam Raj, the greatest teacher of the time, says to his worthy student: “Pay attention to me O’ Nachiketa. Listen carefully and know well this Fire - the Gyan, from me- from my mouth.” 

In olden days, the learning was directly between Teacher and student - Guru and disciple…especially the spiritual knowledge. Disciples learnt directly from the Guru’s mouth and cleared their doubts directly from the teacher, the Guru – not from other senior students or monitors or other sources. Unfortunately, now everything is learnt indirectly from other sources, or from the internet or Google- not directly from the Guru. And that makes a big difference.

When I was in high school, our teachers randomly used to pick some students and asked them to repeat what the teacher had just said. We were supposed to memorize the lesson and repeat it next day. 
When we went from high school to college, we learnt that the college teachers are not called ‘teachers’. They are called ‘lecturers’. True to the literal meaning of the word, they simply ‘deliver the lecture’. It’s up to the student whether to pay attention to his lecture or not- understand and grasp the lesson or not… the ‘Lecturers’ were not responsible. 

Unfortunately, the same is happening today with the Spiritual schools also. They have also become institutionalized – established organizations with hierarchies of their own. They simply deliver the prestigious spiritual knowledge in the form of lectures to masses – in groups of hundreds and thousands - or through their representatives. It’s totally up to the disciples and listeners to understand and grasp the Gyan and other instructions on their own. Some may be able to grasp it well and follow, while the others may not. 

Here, Dharam Raj is instructing his disciple directly and strongly: “Listen to me. Pay attention to me. You must know it well and absorb it deep in the cave of your heart – the subconscious mind”. 

Being face to face with his teacher – sitting alone at the feet of the Guru, and being instructed directly and so strongly by the Guru, Nachiketa, the disciple has no other choice than thoroughly paying full attention to his words–to his instructions…and then repeating it back to him.
                                                 ‘Rajan Sachdeva’

To Be Continued……

Please disregard few misspellings in the Sanskrit text as I do not have a proper Devanagari (Hindi) font... therefore cannot type Sanskrit words properly at this time. 


  1. LECTURER VERSUS TEACHER - great explanation and makes perfect sense!

  2. Deep insight on sub- concious mind and analogy between teacher vs lecturer was very beautiful... Dnj

  3. Very well explained. Thank you so much.
    Dhan Nirankar Ji


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