Revisiting Mahabharata 2

Revisiting Mahabharata 2 Chapter 64 in the book "Completing Vyasa's Mahabharata" is captioned "Nachiketa: An Appointment with Yama" Many of us may not remember Nachiketa story in the context of Mahabharata. The story appears in 56 Shlokas in Upa parva "Daana Dharma" under Anushasan Parva. Nachiketa story appears also in Kathopanishad, perhaps in little more detail. My friend C V Subbaraman Sir says : "I was curious to know whether Mahabharatha preceded Kathopanishad. The character Nachiketa appears in Kathopanishad. On googling, I found the age of Mahabharatha older than Kathopanishad!" Briefly, the Mahabharata version of the story is about the Sage Uddaaliki cursing his son Nachiketa as the latter was not able to bring water from the river as ordered by the former. The curse was "You will go to Yama". Instantly Nachiketa fell dead on the ground. Uddaaliki cried with his son's body before him. His tears revived Nachiketa. His father embraced him and asked if he knew how he came back to life. Once Nachiketa reached Yama's abode, Vaivasvata offered him a seat and Yama told him that though he was brought to Yamaloka to fulfill his father's curse, he was not dead and could return to his father. Yama took him around the Yamaloka and explained what happened to those who lived righteous life and also the fate of others. Nachiketa returned to his father wiser. In the Upanishadic version, Nachiketa's encounter with Death is in greater detail and on his insistence, Death revealed the secret of Death till then kept away from living beings. ****. ****


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