Yama and Nachiketas*
The story of Nachiketas is one of the well known Upanishadic stories. The young boy Nachiketas goes to the world of Yama and waits patiently for the arrival of Yama.
Yama is astounded by the young boy’s commitment to acquiring knowledge and praises Nachiketas.
Yama says what is good in this world is not what we may consider pleasing. When confronted with a choice between what is good and what is pleasing, a wise man chooses what is good.
The man who lacks intelligence chooses what he finds pleasant. Kathopanishad uses the word ‘yogakshema,’ here. What it means is that the unintelligent one chooses what is pleasing in a worldly sense. But these things that give worldly prosperity are impermanent. They will be lost soon. Moksha is what we should seek, and the wise man knows this, because moksha is lasting and is never lost, said M.K. Srinivasan in a discourse.
Yama offers to Nachiketas many worldly things, but the boy wisely declines all of them. He is steadfast in his desire for knowledge about liberation of souls. Yama tells Nachiketas that the soul is not born. Nor does it die. When the body is destroyed, the soul is not destroyed. The Atman is not killed. Nor does the Atman kill.
In the same manner, Lord Krishna clarifies Arjuna’s doubts, through the Bhagavad Gita, when He says that all souls are eternal. So Arjuna does not have to think he is destroying Bhishma or others. Just as the Supreme One exists across time, so do all souls exist across time. When one has no material desires, only then can one try to understand Brahman.
Even so, He cannot be known through speech or by the eyes or by the mind. He can be known only through the scriptures.

*Source: The Hindu, February 20, 2017, FAITH


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