This is a very inspiring story that every person must read and assimilate into his/her life. It’s a story about nachiketa from “Katho upnishad”, one of the most popular upnishad. Nachiketa is a 6 year old boy was very inquisitive but he also showed certain characteristics that Swami Vivekananda wanted to see in every youth. So now what were the characteristics let me put in the story.
Nachiketa father named vajasrawas was a famous person he was performing a sacrifice named viswajet yajna. In this yajna the performer has to give away all his wealth. His father was doing all this very superficially. He has decorated the venue and invited many rishis. The yajna completed very successfully by chanting very powerful mantras while offering to the holy fire. And as per the sacrifice he has given the cows, and other things that is not required by him anymore and was not really valuable because all these cows were too old and many of them are disabled. Those cows, who had given their milk for long time and who were not capable of bearing calves.
Nachiketa surprised and shocked to see this that his father is giving all this things which is of no use to anyone. Then the Nachiketa started questioning his father that why did you given invaluable things to all the rishis? His father doesn’t replied. He keeps on asking to his father many times but not got the proper reply. Then nachiketa asked that Father I am your only son and that’s the best thing you got is me, so to who are you giving me to? Now this time his father got angry and said that I will give you to “Yama” (God of Death).
In India, father and mother are living God to their children. Vajasrawas did not mean what he said. He had uttered these words in anger. No father would like to send their son away to the land of death. Nachiketa decided to obey the words of his father by going to the abode of Yama. Vajasrawas asked his little son to stay back. Nachiketa loved was very firm. Folding his hands he told his father that their ancestors never went back on their words and he would like to follow the same. He wanted his father to follow the same tradition. Nachiketa knew that all the things in this world are temporary and he was not afraid of death. He understood that following the path of truth is the gateway to heaven.
Vajasrawas was very sad but gave him permission as a follower of truth. Nachiketa left for the abode of Yama. On reaching there Yama was not at home so for three days and night the young boy waited without food, water and slept at the doorsteps of Yama’s abode. Yama on his return was deeply grieved (felt sorry) to see that there was no welcome to Nachiketa. Yama greeted him with due respect. For having kept Nachiketa waiting for three days, Yama granted him three boons.
So, the first boon Nachiketa asked that “I seek the welfare of my father as my first boon.” Yama granted him happily.
Second boon was “I desire to know how one could reach heaven where there is no sorrow, old age or death”. Yama granted him happily again.
Third boon was “He wanted to learn the mystery of what comes after death? And when a man dies some say he is alive and others say that he is not. Instructed by you I desire to understand this. And not wanted to reincarnate again and again.” Yama was frightened on this question. He said that this had been a mystery even to the gods. This subtle law is not that easy to understand. He asked Nachiketa to ask for some other boon, and offered many material gains. But Nachiketa refused all the worldly pleasures and said “I want to know the ultimate knowledge of self please don’t bribe me “. So O lord of death Yama you have promised me for the 3rd boon.
Yama was pleased who had rejected the path of enjoyment and chosen the path of goodness. Then Yama taught him the knowledge of the Atman, realizing which a person attains immortality. Know the Self as lord of the chariot, the body as the chariot itself, the discriminating intellect as charioteer, and the mind as reins.
The senses, say the wise, are the horses; Selfish desires are the roads they travel. When the Self is confused with the body, Mind, and senses, they point out, he seems to enjoy pleasure and suffer sorrow.
The all knowing self was never born, nor will it die. Beyond cause and effect, This Self is eternal. When the body dies, the Self does not die.
One must discriminate the Soul from the body, which is the seat of desire. After death, it is the Soul that remains; the Soul is immortal. The spiritual development is permanent. The spiritual knowledge is permanent.
Thus having learned the wisdom from Yama, Nachiketa was freed from the cycle of births.
Nachiketa has been one of the most influential characters in Hinduism.
An electrifying Indian monk Swami Vivekananda said: “If I get 10 or 12 boys with the faith of Nachiketa, I can turn the thoughts and pursuits of this country in a new channel. And if I get 100 of like nachiketa, I can do it this with the whole world.”
Have faith as Nachiketa. At the time of his father’s sacrifice, faith came unto Nachiketa. I wish that faith would come to each one of you and everyone of you would stand up a giant, a world-mover with a gigantic intellect and an infinite God in every respect. That is what I want you to become. And Swami Vivekananda also said that “They live alone who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive”.