Nachiketa’s Mirror and Yama – the Lord of Death
This story is a conversation between Nachiketa a young boy and Yama – the Lord of Death. The teacher is Yama – The Death Himself and the student is a young Nachiketa in his teens.
In ancient India, there was Vajasrawas, a famous person .He was performing a sacrifice named Viswajet Yajna. In this Yajna, the performer had to give away all his wealth. It was a unique occasion. The place was beautifully decorated. Many rishis attended and they were chanting the mantras while offering to the holy fire. Cows were designated as valuable and special possessions in those very ancient days, and hence Vajashrava decided to donate all his cows to Brahmins.
Nachiketa was in his teens, and he was observing the sacrificial ritual with innocent interest. He was surprised to notice that his father was giving away only old and disabled cows. Those cows, who had given their milk for a long time and who were not capable of bearing calves.
This ‘worldly cleverness’ of his father brought a lot of change in the heart of the young boy.
Nachiketa, in order to dissuade his father from giving old cows, asked,” O father, to whom have you decided to give me away?”.
The purpose of the boy was to stop his father to do such things.
At first his father did not take any notice of this ‘childish’ question, but Nachiketa was insistent. He repeated the question thrice when the irritated father said,” Nachiketa, I give you to the God Death.”
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 he found that Yama was not at home. For three days and night the young boy waited without food, water and sleep at the doorstep of Yama’s abode. Yama on his return, was deeply grieved to see that there was no welcome to Nachiketa. Yama himself greeted him with due respect. For having kept Nachiketa waiting for three days, Yama granted him three boons.
The first boon, Nachiketa said, “I seek the welfare of my father as my first boon.” Yama granted him happily.
The second boon, “Sir I desire to know how one could reach heaven where there is no sorrow, old age or death”. Nachiketa did not ask this second boon for himself but for the sake of the people. He wanted everyone to learn this secret knowledge and free themselves from the sufferings.
Yama was pleased with the unselfishness of Nachiketa. Yama gave all the details of a particular sacrifice, the performance of which would take one to heaven.
As Nachiketa was an intelligent and a sincere boy with a spiritual knowledge, he could understand all that was taught. Yama was pleased with him and in appreciation, named that particular sacrifice after Nachiketa himself.
The third boon … Nachiketa asked to learn the mystery of what comes after death.
Yama was reluctant on this question. He said that this had been a mystery even to the gods. He asked Nachiketa to ask for some other boon, and offered many material gains.
But Nachiketa argues that all worldly treasures and heavenly pleasures come to an end sooner or later. If not the day after, after a hundred years. These are not permanent means of enjoyment. He insists to get the ultimate knowledge of Self, ” O Lord of Death, you have promised me the third boon”.
Yama was pleased with such a young truth-seeker who had rejected the path of enjoyment and chose the path of goodness. Then Yama taught him the knowledge of the Atman, realizing which man 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.
Brahman can be seen, as in a mirror
In a pure heart; in the world of the ancestors
As in a dream; in the gandharva world
As the reflections in trembling waters;
And clear as light in the realm of Brahma.
Thus having learned from Yama that the way to find Brahman was within himself as in a mirror, Nachiketa searched in his own self to discover the highest Universal Principle.
One cannot be told with words what the highest Universal Principle is; but must discover it within himself(herself).
Nachiketa has been one of the most influential characters in Hinduism. Indian monk swamy vivekananda said: “If I get ten or twelve boys with the faith of Nachiketa, I can turn the thoughts and pursuits of this country in a new channel.”
This forms the subject matter of one of the Upanishads called Katha Upanishad.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Impact of a drop of water in water, a common analogy for Brahman and the Ātman
In Hinduism, Brahman connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. In major schools of Hindu philosophy, it is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. Brahman as a metaphysical concept is the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe.
Hebrew variation of Brahman
We start with the first two words in Genesis 1:1:
ראשׁית rê’shîyth ray-sheeth’ the first principal thing
אלהים ‘ĕlôhîym el-o-heem’ the Supreme One
Eloheem is a plural masculine noun used with singular masculine verbs. This is contrary to rules of Hebrew grammar, but done on purpose..
The plural is used to show majesty, honor, or fullness.
One not as a separate entity; but as Complete Collective Consciousness (BEING).
Gen 1:1-3 Created by the Elohim were the heavens and the earth. Yet the earth became a chaos and vacant, and darkness was on the surface of the submerged chaos. Yet the spirit of the Elohim is vibrating over the surface of the water. And saying is the Elohim, “Become light!” And it is becoming light.
Spirit רוּח rûach roo’-akh wind, breath, a region of the sky, mind
Light אור ‘ôr ore illumination; to be or make luminous (be, give, or show light) enlightened, set on fire, shine.
Let enlightenment or illumination become; this is the first action of the Supreme One.
This is the same principal that Buddha called enlightenment or illumination.
I see now that all creatures have perfect enlightenment – but they do not know it. Buddha
Jesus’ version of Nachiketa’s Mirror
Psalms 91:1 He who is dwelling In the secret place of the Most High, In the shade of the Mighty lodgeth habitually,
Matthew 6:6 “But when you* are praying, enter into your private room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father, the [One] in secret, and your Father, the [One] seeing in secret, will reward you in the open.
your private room
a dispensary or magazine, that is, a chamber on the ground floor or interior of an Oriental house (generally used for storage or privacy, a spot for retirement): – secret chamber, closet, storehouse.
concealed, that is, private: – hid (-den), inward [-ly], secret.
Luke 17:20-21 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God is coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; neither will they say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ For listen! [Strong imperative](what I am saying next is very important) The kingdom of God is within [or, among] you*.”
There are common threads through all religions.
All Roads That Lead To God Are Good
– Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
All roads that lead to God are good.
What matters it, your faith, or mine?
Both centre at the goal divine
Of love’s eternal Brotherhood.
The kindly life in house or street –
The life of prayer and mystic rite –
The student’s search for truth and light –
These paths at one great Junction meet.
Before the oldest book was writ,
Full many a prehistoric soul
Arrived at this unchanging goal,
Through changeless Love, that leads to it.
What matters that one found his Christ
In rising sun, or burning fire?
In faith within him did not tire,
His longing for the Truth sufficed.
Before our modern hell was brought
To edify the modern world,
Full many a hate-filled soul was hurled
In lakes of fire by its own thought.
A thousand creeds have come and gone,
But what is that to you or me?
Creeds are but branches of a tree –
The root of love lives on and on.
Though branch by branch proved withered wood,
The root is warm with precious wine.
Then keep your faith, and leave me mine –
All roads that lead to God are good.