Katha Upanishad

The Upanishad is the legendary story of a little boy, Nachiketa – the son of Sage Vajasravasa, who meets Yama (the Hindu deity of death). Their conversation evolves to a discussion of the nature of man, knowledge, Atman (Soul, Self) and moksha (liberation). When Nachiketas arrives at the Realm of Death, Yama is absent for three days and three nights. When Yama returns, the God of Death decides that, because he has been absent, and because this has been a breach of hospitality, he will make amends by offering to grant the boy three wishes. Nachiketas’ first wish is to return to his father, and to be accepted and welcomed by him. Yama grants this wish. Nachiketas’ second wish is to learn the secret of the sacred fire which leads to heaven. Yama also grants this wish. Nachiketas’ third wish is to know whether or not the Spirit continues to exist after death. Yama tells him that there are two paths, a path of wisdom and a path of ignorance. The path of wisdom leads to the Self, to Atman. The path of ignorance leads to the pursuit of only worldly pleasures. Yama says that the Self, Atman, is the inner being of all beings. Atman is the individual Self, Brahman is the universal Self. Yama tells Nachiketas that the Self is indescribable and indefinable. The pure consciousness which is the Self is eternal and all-knowing. The Self dwells in the mind and the body, but does not begin with birth or end with death. The Self is beginningless and endless. The Self is changeless, and omnipresent. The syllable Om is the symbol of the Self, of Brahman, of ultimate reality. Brahman is present in all being. It is the One in the many. The Katha Upanishad has two chapters (Adhyāyas), each with three sections (valli), thus a total of six sections. The first section has 29 verses, the second section 25 verses, and the third presents 17. The second chapter opens with the fourth section of the Katha Upanishad and has 15 verses, while the fifth valli also has 15 verses. The final section has 17 verses. This editions uses Shankara's commentary from the translation by S. Sitarama Sastri [Katha Upanishad with Shankara’s Commentary(1928)].

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Shanti Mantra

॥ कठोपनिषद् ॥

ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु । सहवीर्यं करवावहै ।

तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु । मा विद्विषावहै ॥

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Sloka : 1.1.1

॥ अथ कठोपनिषद् ॥

ॐ उशन्ह वै वाजश्रवसः सर्ववेदसं ददौ । तस्य ह नचिकेता नाम पुत्र आस ॥ १॥

oṃ uśanha vai vājaśravasaḥ sarvavedasaṃdadau | tasya ha naciketā nāma putra āsa || 1 ||

From desire, as story tells, the son of Vâjasrava made a gift of all his wealth; he had a son, so the story goes, by name Nachikêtas.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Ushan, desiring for the fruits of the sacrifice. Ha and vai are two particles which have the force of recalling to mind what had passed. Vâjasravasah:- vâja means food, srava means fame; the compound, therefore, means one who had attained fame by the giving of food; or, the compound may be a proper name. The son of Vâjasrava is Vâjasravasah. Vâjasravasah, it is said, performed the Visvajit sacrifice (in which all is given away) desirous of its fruits. During the sacrifice he gave away all his wealth. The performer of the sacrifice had a son named Nachikêtas.

Sloka : 1.1.2

त ह कुमार सन्तं दक्षिणासु नीयमानासु श्रद्धाविवेश सोऽमन्यत ॥ २॥

tam̐ ha kumāram̐ santaṃ dakṣiṇāsu nīyamānāsu śraddhā''viveśa so'manyata || 2 ||

Him, though young, zeal possessed when rewards were being distributed; he thought.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Him, i.e., Nachikôtas, though in the prime of life, i.e., young and not possessed of the power of procreating zeal, i.e., faith in the existence of a future state, entered, induced by the desire of good to his father. At what time is explained; when cows were brought to be distributed among the Ritviks and the sadasyas for their rewards; possessed of zeal, Nachikêtas thus thought.

Sloka : 1.1.3

पीतोदका जग्धतृणा दुग्धदोहा निरिन्द्रियाः ।

अनन्दा नाम ते लोकास्तान्स गच्छति ता ददत् ॥ ३॥

pītodakā jagdhatṛṇā dugdhadohā nirindriyāḥ |

anandā nāma te lokāstānsa gacchati tā dadat || 3 ||

(These cows) have drunk water for the last time, eaten grass for the last time, have yielded all their milk and are devoid of vigour. Joyless verily are those worlds; them he attains who gives these.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How he thought is explained; the epithet Pîtôdakâh and those which follow describe the cows to be given as rewards. Pítôdakâh, by which all water has been drunk; jagdhatrinâh, by which all grass has been eaten. Dugdhadôhâh, from which all milk has been milched. Nirindriâh (?), not capable of breeding. The meaning is—cows old and useless; giving such cows to the Ritviks for their rewards, the person performing the sacrifice attains those worlds which are joyless, i.e., devoid of happiness.

Sloka : 1.1.4

स होवाच पितरं तत कस्मै मां दास्यसीति ।

द्वितीयं तृतीयं त होवाच मृत्यवे त्वा ददामीति ॥ ४॥

sa hovāca pitaraṃ tata kasmai māṃ dāsyasīti ।

dvitīyaṃ tṛtīyaṃ tam̐ hovāca mṛtyave tvā dadāmīti ॥ 4॥

He said unto his sire, ‘father, to whom wilt thou give me’; he said this again and for the third time. To him, he said ‘unto Death do I give thee.’

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thinking that, as being the duty of a good son, he should ward off the undesirable consequences, which might befall his father on account of the imperfection in the sacrifice, by even giving himself away and thus perfect the sacrifice, he approached his father and said to him, ‘father, to whom, i.e., to which of the Ritviks will you give me as Dakshinâ, i.e., reward? though unheeded by his father thus addressed, he repeated the question a second time and a third time ‘to whom will you give me,’ ‘to whom will you give me?’ The father incensed at the thought that that was not like a boy said to the son ‘to Death do I give thee.’

Sloka : 1.1.5

बहूनामेमि प्रथमो बहूनामेमि मध्यमः ।

कि स्विद्यमस्य कर्तव्यं यन्मयाऽद्य करिष्यति ॥ ५॥

bahūnāmemi prathamo bahūnāmemi madhyamaḥ |

kim̐ svidyamasya kartavyaṃ yanmayādya kariṣyati || 5 ||

(Nachikêtas thought) of many I go the first; of many I go midmost; what is there for Death to do which he can now do by me?

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus addressed, the son alone in himself, anxiously reflected; how will be explained; among many, i.e., of disciples or sons, I go the first, i.e., in the matter of doing service as a disciple; of many a middling disciple, I behave like a middling disciple and never as the worst; still, my father has said that he will give me unto Death, though his son is of such good qualities. What is there to be done for Death which can now be done by me thus given? It is plain that my father has spoken under the influence of anger without any end in view; still my father’s words should not be falsified. Thus thinking, and after anxious reflection, he told his father who was full of grief ‘what have I said.’

Sloka : 1.1.6

अनुपश्य यथा पूर्वे प्रतिपश्य तथा परे ।

सस्यमिव मर्त्यः पच्यते सस्यमिवाजायते पुनः ॥ ६॥

anupaśya yathā pūrve pratipaśya tathāpare ।

sasyamiva martyaḥ pacyate sasyamivājāyate punaḥ ॥ 6 ॥

Call to mind how our ancestors behaved and mark also how others now behave; like corn, decays the mortal and like corn is born again.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Remember and reflect how your deceased ancestor's father, grandfather and the rest conducted themselves; seeing them, it behoves you to travel in their path; see also how others, good men, now behave. There never was or is any falsehood in them; falsifying one’s word is the manner of bad men and none who has broken his word can ever become undecaying and immortal. What is there gained by breaking one’s word, seeing that man decays and dies like corn and is again born like corn in this, transitory world of the Jîvas? The meaning is ‘protect your truth and send me to Death.’

Sloka : 1.1.7

वैश्वानरः प्रविशति अतिथिर्ब्राह्मणो गृहान् ।

तस्यैता शान्तिं कुर्वन्ति हर वैवस्वतोदकम् ॥ ७॥

vaiśvānaraḥ praviśatyatithirbrāhmaṇo gṛhān ।

tasyaitām̐ śāntiṃ hara vaivasvatodakam ॥ 7 ॥

Like fire, a Brahman guest enters houses; men give this to quiet him. Vaivasvaia! fetch water.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus addressed, the father sent him to Death to keep his word and he having gone to the mansion of Death fasted for three nights, Death being away; when Death had gone and returned, his ministers or wife said to inform him, ‘a Brâhman guest, verily like fire itself, enters houses burning them; and good men to allay his burning heat as that of fire, propitiate him by giving water to clean his feet, seat to sit upon, etc. Therefore, Oh Vaivasvata! fetch water to be given to Nachikètas; also because evil consequences are declared in default.

Sloka : 1.1.8

आशाप्रतीक्षे सङ्गत सूनृतां च इष्टापूर्ते पुत्रपशूश्च सर्वान् ।

एतद्वृङ्क्ते पुरुषस्याल्पमेधसो यस्यानश्नन्वसति ब्राह्मणो गृहे ॥ ८॥

āśāpratīkśe saṃgatam̐ sūnṛtāṃ ceṣṭāpūrte putrapaśūm̐śca sarvān ।

etadvṛṅkte puruṣasyālpamedhaso yasyānaśnanvasati brāhmaṇo gṛhe ॥ 8 ॥

Hope and expectation, company with good men, true and pleasant discourse, sacrifices, acts of pious liberality, children and cattle, all these are destroyed in the case of the ignorant man, in whose house a Brâhman guest fasting stays.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Hope, i.e., wish for something not definitely known but attainable. Expectation, looking out for something definitely known and attainable. Company with good men, i.e., the fruit resulting from association with good men. Sweet discourse, i.e., the fruit of true and pleasant speech. Ishtam, i.e., the fruit of a sacrifice. Púrtam, i.e., the fruit resulting from charities such as the laying out of a garden, etc. Putrapasûn, i.e., children and cattle. All this is destroyed of the men with little intelligence in whose house, a Brahman, fasting stays. The meaning is that a guest is, therefore, under no circumstances to be neglected.

Sloka : 1.1.9

तिस्रो रात्रीर्यदवात्सीर्गृहे मे अनश्नन् ब्रह्मन्नतिथिर्नमस्यः ।

नमस्तेऽस्तु ब्रह्मन्स्वस्ति मेऽस्तु तस्मात्प्रति त्रीन्वरान्वृणीष्व ॥ ९॥

tisro rātrīryadavātsīrgṛhe me'naśnanbrahmannatithirnamasyaḥ |

namaste'stu brahmansvasti me'stu tasmātprati trīnvarānvṛṇīṣva || 9 ||

As you have lived here. Oh Brâhman, a venerable guest in my house for three nights fasting, be my prostration to you, Oh Brâhman, may good befall me. Therefore, ask three boons in return.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus addressed, Death having approached Nachikêtas worshipfully, said ‘as you have been living in my house fasting for three nights, a Brâhman guest worthy of reverence, therefore be my prostration to you. Oh Brâhman, therefore be good unto me and let me be freed from the sin of your having lived here fasting; although all good may befall me by your mere grace, still in order that I may propitiate you better, ask of me any three objects you wish for, one for every night you fasted.

Sloka : 1.1.10

शान्तसङ्कल्पः सुमना यथा स्याद्वीतमन्युर्गौतमो माभिमृत्यो ।

त्वत्प्रसृष्टं माऽभिवदेत्प्रतीत एतत् त्रयाणां प्रथम वरं वृणे ॥ १०॥

śāntasaṃkalpaḥ sumanā yathā syādvītamanyurgautamo mābhimṛtyo |

tvatprasṛṣṭaṃ mābhivadetpratīta etattrayāṇāṃ prathamaṃ varaṃ vṛṇe || 10 ||

(Nachikêtas said) That Gautama may be freed from anxiety, be calm in mind, not wrath against me, that he may recognise and welcome me let go by you—is, Oh Death, the first of the three boons I ask.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—But Nachikêtas replies ‘if willing to grant boons, that my father be freed from anxiety, i.e., about me as to what his son would be doing after reaching Death, be calm in mind and not wrath against me; and again my father remember and believe me as the very son sent by him to you and sent home back by you and welcome me recognizing, Oh Death—is the first of the three boons I ask, the end of which is to gladden my father.’

Sloka : 1.1.11

यथा पुरस्ताद्भविता प्रतीत औद्दालकिरारुणिर्मत्प्रसृष्टः ।

सुख रात्रीः शयिता वीतमन्युः त्वां ददृशिवान्मृत्युमुखात् प्रमुक्तम् ॥ ११॥

yathā purastādbhavitā pratīta auddālakirāruṇirmatprasṛṣṭaḥ ||

sukham̐ rātrīḥ śayitā vītamanyuḥtvāṃ dadṛśivānmṛtyumukhātpramuktam || 11 ||

(Death replies) Auddâlaki, the son of Aruna will recognise you, as before, with my permission, will sleep during nights in peace and when he sees you returned from the jaws of Death, will lose his wrath.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Death replied ‘just as your father’s heart was affectionate towards you before, so your father Auddâlaki, the son of Aruna (or the Dvyamushyâyana, son of both Uddâlaka and Aruna), will be affectionate towards you and confide in you with my permission; he will sleep the rest of the nights in peace of mind and will lose his wrath when he sees you released from the jaws of Death.

Sloka : 1.1.12

स्वर्गे लोके न भयं किञ्चनास्ति न तत्र त्वं न जरया बिभेति ।

उभे तीर्त्वा अशनायापिपासे शोकातिगो मोदते स्वर्गलोके ॥ १२॥

svarge loke na bhayaṃ kiṃcanāsti na tatra tvaṃ na jarayā bibheti |

ubhe tīrtvāśanāyāpipāse śokātigo modate svargaloke || 12 ||

(Nachikêtas says) In heaven there is no fear. You are not there; nor there do they in old age fear. Having crossed both hunger and thirst, one in heaven rejoices being above grief.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com. —Nachikêtas said ‘In heaven there is no fear at all caused by disease, etc. Nor do you rule there of might.' Therefore, none there, fears you, as men in this world do in old age; again, having subdued both hunger and thirst, one in heaven being free from all afflictions of the mind rejoices.

Sloka : 1.1.13

स त्वमग्नि स्वर्ग्यमध्येषि मृत्यो प्रब्रूहि त्व श्रद्दधानाय मह्यम् ।

स्वर्गलोका अमृतत्वं भजन्त एतद् द्वितीयेन वृणे वरेण ॥ १३॥

sa tvamagnim̐ svargyamadhyeṣi mṛtyo prabrūhi tvam̐ śraddadhānāya mahyam |

svargalokā amṛtatvaṃ bhajanta etaddvitīyena vṛṇe vareṇa || 13 ||

Oh Death! thou knowest the fire which leads to heaven; explain to me who am zealous that (the fire) by which those, whose world is heaven, attain immortality. I pray for this by my second boon.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The fire, which helps one to attain the heaven possessed of such attributes, thou, Oh Death! knowest; and as thou knowest, teach me who am zealous by which fire sacrificing, men attain heaven and immortality or become Devas. This knowledge of the fire, I crave by my second boon.

Sloka : 1.1.14

प्र ते ब्रवीमि तदु मे निबोध स्वर्ग्यमग्निं नचिकेतः प्रजानन् ।

अनन्तलोकाप्तिमथो प्रतिष्ठां विद्धि त्वमेतं निहितं गुहायाम् ॥ १४॥

pra te bravīmi tadu me nibodha svargyamagniṃ naciketaḥ prajānan |

anantalokāptimatho pratiṣṭhāṃ viddhi tvametaṃ nihitaṃ guhāyām || 14 ||

(Death says) I will tell thee well; attend to me, Oh Nachikêtas, I know the fire leading to heaven; know the fire which leads to heaven and also the support of the universe and which is seated in the cavity.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This is Death’s declaration. I will tell thee what has been solicited by thee; attend to what I say with concentrated mind. I know the fire, Oh Nachikêtas, which helps one to heaven; ‘I will tell thee and attend’ are expressions used to concentrate the disciple's intellect; now he praises the fire, know this fire as leading to heaven and as the stay of the universe in its form of virât and as located in the intelligence of knowing men.

Sloka : 1.1.15

लोकादिमग्निं तमुवाच तस्मै या इष्टका यावतीर्वा यथा वा ।

स चापि तत्प्रत्यवदद्यथोक्तं अथास्य मृत्युः पुनरेवाह तुष्टः ॥ १५॥

lokādimagniṃ tamuvāca tasmai yā iṣṭakā yāvatīrvā yathā vā |

sa cāpi tatpratyavadadyathoktaṃathāsya mṛtyuḥ punarevāha tuṣṭaḥ || 15 ||

Death told him the fire, the source of the worlds what altars (to be raised), how many and how, and Nachikêtas repeated it all as explained. Then Death, being delighted, said to him again.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This, the Sruti itself says. Death explained o Nachikêtas, the fire, which was the source of the worlds, being the first embodied existence, the same that was asked for by Nachikêtas; again he told him of what form the sacrificial bricks were to be, how many in number and in what manner the sacrificial fire was to be lit and all this; Nachikêtas also faithfully repeated what was told him by Death. Then delighted by his repetition, Death said to him again inclined to grant him a boon other than the three promised.

Sloka : 1.1.16

तमब्रवीत्प्रीयमाणो महात्मा वरं तवेहाद्य ददामि भूयः ।

तवैव नाम्ना भवितायमग्निः सृङ्कां चेमामनेकरूपां गृहाण ॥ १६॥

tamabravītprīyamāṇo mahātmā varaṃ tavehādya dadāmi bhūyaḥ |

tavaiva nāmnā bhavitāyamagniḥ sṛṅkāṃ cemāmanekarūpāṃ gṛhāṇa || 16 ||

Delighted, the high-souled Death told him. ‘I give thee here this other boon; by thy name alone, shall this fire be known; and take, thou, this garland also of various hues.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How? He said to Nachikêtas, being delighted with, i.e., experiencing great delight at the sight of true discipleship, and being liberal-minded ‘I give you now here this other boon, the fourth, being pleased with you; the fire that I have explained shall become celebrated by your name alone. Moreover, accept this sounding garland set with precious stones and wonderful’; or, the word ‘srinkâm’ may mean ‘the no mean goal that can be attained by karma the whole passage signifying ' accept also the knowledge of Karma because it is the source of many fruits.

Sloka : 1.1.17

त्रिणाचिकेतस्त्रिभिरेत्य सन्धिं त्रिकर्मकृत्तरति जन्ममृत्यू ।

ब्रह्मजज्ञं देवमीड्यं विदित्वा निचाय्य मा शान्तिमत्यन्तमेति ॥ १७॥

triṇāciketastribhiretya sandhiṃ trikarmakṛttarati janmamṛtyū ।

brahmajajñaṃ devamīḍyaṃ viditvā nicāyyemām̐ śāntimatyantameti ॥ 17 ॥

The three-fold Nachikêtas, being united with the three doing, the three-fold Karma, crosses birth and death, knowing the adorable, the bright, the omniscient fire born of Brahman and realising him, attains thorough peace.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again he praises Karma; the three-fold Nachikêtas, i.e., he by whom the Nachikêta fire has been kindled thrice; or, he who knows, studies and performs in, the Nachikêta fire. United with the three, i.e., who united with his mother, father and preceptor, i.e., having duly received instruction from them; for, that such instruction is a source of authority, is inferred from other Srpitis, such as ‘he who has a mother’ and ‘he who has a father,’ etc. or, the three may refer to ‘direct perception,’ ‘inference’ and ‘ágamas or to ‘the vêdas,’ ‘the Smritis’ and ‘good men’; for, knowledge of virtue from these sources is an obvious fact. Doing the threefold karma, i.e., performing sacrifices, reciting the vêdas, and making gifts. Whoso does these, crosses or travels beyond birth and death; again Brahmajagnam:- Brahmaja means born of Brahma, i.e., Hiranyagarbha; he who is born of Brahma and is omniscient is Brahmajagnah. Dêvam, so called because shining, i.e., having the qualities of knowledge, etç. Idyam, worthy of praise. Knowing such fire, from the Sâstras and having realised him as his own âtman, one attains this absolute renunciation which is realized in his intellect. The meaning is that one attains the place of the virât, by the continued practice of Upâsana and Karma.

Sloka : 1.1.18

त्रिणाचिकेतस्त्रयमेतद्विदित्वा य एवं विद्वाश्चिनुते नाचिकेतम् ।

स मृत्युपाशान्पुरतः प्रणोद्य शोकातिगो मोदते स्वर्गलोके ॥ १८॥

triṇāciketastrayametadviditvā ya evaṃ vidvām̐ścinute nāciketam |

sa mṛtyupāśānpurataḥ praṇodya śokātigo modate svargaloke || 18 ||

The three-fold Nachikêtas, knowing these three, who propitiates the Nachikêta fire with this knowledge, casts off Death’s meshes behind him, travels beyond grief and rejoices in heaven.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—He now concludes the fruits, of the knowledge and the performance of sacrifice and with them, the present topic. The three-fold Nachikêtas who properly understands what was said about the bricks, their numbers and mode and who realizing the fire as the âtman completes the sacrifice called Nachikêta, shakes off even before death, the meshes of Death consisting in vice, ignorance, desire and hatred, etc., and devoid of all grief rejoices in heaven, i.e., by realizing his Self as the virât.

Sloka : 1.1.19

एष तेऽग्निर्नचिकेतः स्वर्ग्यो यमवृणीथा द्वितीयेन वरेण ।

एतमग्निं तवैव प्रवक्ष्यन्ति जनासः तृतीयं वरं नचिकेतो वृणीष्व ॥ १९॥

eṣa te'gnirnaciketaḥ svargyo yamavṛṇīthā dvitīyena vareṇa ।

etamagniṃ tavaiva pravakśyanti janāsastṛtīyaṃ varaṃ naciketo vṛṇīṣva ॥ 19 ॥

This is thy fire, Oh Nachikêtas, which leads to heaven and which you craved for, by the second boon; people will call this fire thine alone; Oh Nachikêtas, demand the third boon.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Oh Nachikêtas, this is the fire leading to heaven that you craved for, by the second boon; and the expression ‘the boon has been granted’ should be supplied by way of concluding what has been said again, people will call this fire by thy name; this is the fourth boon which I granted being delighted with thee; Oh Nachikêtas, demand the third boon. The meaning is that Death considered himself a debtor if that were not granted.

Sloka : 1.1.20

येयं प्रेते विचिकित्सा मनुष्ये अस्तीत्येके नायमस्तीति चैके ।

एतद्विद्यामनुशिष्टस्त्वयाऽहं वराणामेष वरस्तृतीयः ॥ २०॥

yeyaṃ prete vicikitsā manuṣye'stītyeke nāyamastīti caike |

etadvidyāmanuśiṣṭastvayā'haṃ varāṇāmeṣa varastṛtīyaḥ || 20 ||

(Nachikêtas said) This well-known doubt as to what becomes of a man after death,—some say he is and some, he is not,—I shall know being taught by thee. This boon is the third of the boons.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus much, which has been indicated by the two boons, is alone to be understood from the preceding Mantras and Brâhmanas, which are mandatory or prohibitory in their import but not the knowledge of the true nature of the entity of the âtman. Therefore, for the dispelling of natural ignorance (Avidya), which deals with matters the subject of positive and prohibitory injunctions, which consists in superposing on the âtman, activity, agency and enjoyment, and which is the seed of samsâra, it is necessary to explain the knowledge of the identity of the Brahman and the âtman, which is contrary to that previously explained which is free from the fault of superposition of activity; agency, and enjoyment on the âtman, and whose result is the attainment of absolute emancipation; with this end, the subsequent portion of this work is commenced. The anecdote explains how without this well-known knowledge of the âtman, the subject of the third boon, all that is desirable is not achieved even by the obtaining of the second boon. Because, it is only those, who are disgusted with the result previously named in the nature of means and ends, transitory, and produced by karma, that are entitled to acquire the knowledge of the âtman; therefore, to denounce Karma, it is sought to tempt Nachiketas away from his object, by promise of sons and the rest. Nachikêtas being asked by Death to name his third boon, said:- ‘This doubt regarding man when dead,—some say that there is an âtman distinct from body, senses, mind and intellect and entering into another body; some say that there is no such âtman; and this doubt cannot be resolved by us, either by direct perception or logical inference; and because the attainment of the highest consummation depends upon a clear knowledge of this. I would acquire this knowledge, being instructed by thee. This, the third, i.e., the last of the boons.

Sloka : 1.1.21

देवैरत्रापि विचिकित्सितं पुरा न हि सुविज्ञेयमणुरेष धर्मः ।

अन्यं वरं नचिकेतो वृणीष्व मा मोपरोत्सीरति मा सृजैनम् ॥ २१॥

devairatrāpi vicikitsitaṃ purā na hi suvijñeyamaṇureṣa dharmaḥ |

anyaṃ varaṃ naciketo vṛṇīṣva mā moparotsīrati mā sṛjainam || 21 ||

Here, even the gods of yore had doubt. Indeed it is not easy to know—subtle is this matter—Oh, Nachikêtas, ask for some other boon. Press not this on me; give this up for me.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Death in order to test whether he was or was not absolutely fit to acquire the knowledge of the âtman leading to emancipation, said this:- ‘Even by the gods in older times, doubt was entertained on this point. It is not easy to be known, though heard explained, by ordinary men. Because this subject of the âtman is subtle. Therefore, Oh, Nachikêtas, ask for another boon, whose fruit is certain; press me not as a creditor presses a debtor. Give up this boon for me.

Sloka : 1.1.22

देवैरत्रापि विचिकित्सितं किल त्वं च मृत्यो यन्न सुज्ञेयमात्थ ।

वक्ता चास्य त्वादृगन्यो न लभ्यो नान्यो वरस्तुल्य एतस्य कश्चित् ॥ २२॥

devairatrāpi vicikitsitaṃ kilatvaṃ ca mṛtyo yanna sujñeyamāttha |

vaktā cāsya tvādṛganyo na labhyo nānyo varastulya etasya kaścit || 22 ||

Thou sayest, Oh Death, that even the gods had doubts here and that this is not easy to know. None other like thee, who could tell of this, can be found; no other boon can at all equal this.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus addressed, Nachikêtas said, ‘I have heard from yourself that even the gods had doubt on this point and you say, Oh Death, that the true nature of the âtman is not easy to know. As this cannot be known even by the learned, another, learned like you 2 to explain this, cannot be found, though sought.’ This boon also is a means to the attainment of emancipation and there is no other boon which can at all weigh with this. The meaning is that other boons bear only transitory fruits.

Sloka : 1.1.23

शतायुषः पुत्रपौत्रान्वृणीष्वा बहून्पशून् हस्तिहिरण्यमश्वान् ।

भूमेर्महदायतनं वृणीष्व स्वयं च जीव शरदो यावदिच्छसि ॥ २३॥

śatāyuṣaḥ putrapautrānvṛṇīṣvā bahūnpaśūnhastihiraṇyamaśvān |

bhūmermahadāyatanaṃ vṛṇīṣva svayaṃ ca jīva śarado yāvadicchasi || 23 ||

(Death says) ask for centenarian sons and grandsons, many cattle, elephants, gold and horses. Ask for wide extent of earth and live yourself, as many autumns as you like.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Though thus addressed, still Death said, to tempt him again. ‘Satâyushah, those who live a hundred years, i.e., centenarians; ask for centenarian sons and grandsons, besides, many cattle such as cows, etc., elephants, gold and horses. Ask for sovereignty over a large circuit of earth.’ And as all this would be useless, if he were himself short-lived, Death added ‘and yourself live as many years as you like with a body, where all the organs are vigorou.’

Sloka : 1.1.24

एतत्तुल्यं यदि मन्यसे वरं वृणीष्व वित्तं चिरजीविकां च ।

महाभूमौ नचिकेतस्त्वमेधि कामानां त्वा कामभाजं करोमि ॥ २४॥

etattulyaṃ yadi manyase varaṃ vṛṇīṣva vittaṃ cirajīvikāṃ ca |

mahābhūmau naciketastvamedhi kāmānāṃ tvā kāmabhājaṃ karomi || 24 ||

Some boon equal to this, if thou thinkest fit, demand—wealth and longevity; be king of the wide earth, Nachikêtas, I shall make thee enjoy all thy desires (pertaining to earth and heaven).

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—If you think of any other boon equal to that already explained, ask for that also; besides, ask for large quantities of gold and precious stones and longevity to boot. In short, rule as king in the, wide earth; moreover, I shall make thee enjoy all thy desires pertaining to men and gods; for, I am a Dêva whose will never fails.

Sloka : 1.1.25

ये ये कामा दुर्लभा मर्त्यलोके सर्वान् कामाश्छन्दतः प्रार्थयस्व ।

इमा रामाः सरथाः सतूर्या न हीदृशा लम्भनीया मनुष्यैः ।

आभिर्मत्प्रत्ताभिः परिचारयस्व नचिकेतो मरणं माऽनुप्राक्षीः ॥ २५॥

ye ye kāmā durlabhā martyaloke sarvānkāmām̐śchandataḥ prārthayasva |

imā rāmāḥ sarathāḥ satūryā nahīdṛśā lambhanīyā manuṣyaiḥ |

ābhirmatprattābhiḥ paricārayasva naciketo maraṇaṃ mānuprākśīḥ || 25 ||

Whatever desires are difficult to realise in the land of mortals, ask, as thou likest, for all such desired objects. These nymphs have their chariots and lutes; and women like these are not enjoyable by mortals; with these, by me given, have thy services performed. Oh Nachikêtas, do not ask about death.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Ask, as you like, for all desired objects, which are covetable, but not easily attainable in the land of mortals. Again, here are these celestial nymphs (the term Râmâs meaning those who delight males) with their chariots and with their musical instruments; and women like these cannot be obtained by mortals without the grace of beings like us; with these female attendants given by me, have thy services performed, such as cleaning the feet with water, etc.; Oh Nachikêtas, it does not become you to put me the question connected with death, i.e., whether, when man is dead, there is or is not anything surviving—a question (as unprofitable as that) of examining the number of crow’s teeth.

Sloka : 1.1.26

श्वोभावा मर्त्यस्य यदन्तकैतत् सर्वेन्द्रियाणां जरयन्ति तेजः ।

अपि सर्वं जीवितमल्पमेव तवैव वाहास्तव नृत्यगीते ॥ २६॥

śvobhāvā martyasya yadantakaitatsarveṃdriyāṇāṃ jarayaṃti tejaḥ |

api sarvaṃ jīvitamalpameva tavaiva vāhāstava nṛtyagīte || 26 ||

(Nachikêtas says) Ephemeral these; Oh Death, these tend to the decay of the fire (vigour) of all the senses in man. Even the longest life is, indeed, short. Thine alone be the chariots, the dance and music.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Though thus tempted, Nachikêtas unagitated like a large lake, said:- svôbhâvah, enjoyments whose existence the next day is a matter of doubt; the enjoyments enumerated by you are ephemeral; again. Oh Death, they tend to the decline of the vigour of all the organs of man. These nymphs and other enjoyments only tend to harm, because they destroy virtue, strength, intellect, vigour, fame and the rest. As for the longevity that you will give me, hear me on that point. All life, even that of Brahma is, indeed, short. What need be said of our longevity. Therefore, keep the chariots, etc., for thyself alone, as also the dance and music.

Sloka : 1.1.27

न वित्तेन तर्पणीयो मनुष्यो लप्स्यामहे वित्तमद्राक्ष्म चेत्त्वा ।

जीविष्यामो यावदीशिष्यसि त्वं वरस्तु मे वरणीयः स एव ॥ २७॥

na vittena tarpaṇīyo manuṣyo lapsyāmahe vittamadrākśma cettvāṃ |

jīviṣyāmo yāvadīśiṣyasi tvaṃ varastu me varaṇīyaḥ sa eva || 27 ||

Man is not to be satisfied with wealth; if wealth, were wanted, we shall get it, if we only see thee. We shall also live, as long as you rule. Therefore, that boon alone is fit to be craved by me.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Moreover, man is not to be satisfied with much wealth; for, attainment of wealth has not been found to ensure delight to anybody. If ever we have thirst for wealth, we shall get it, if we have seen thee; so also, long life; we shall live, as long as you rule in your place; for, how could a mortal, after approaching thee, become poor or short-lived. Therefore, the boon fit to be craved for by me is that alone, i.e., the knowledge of the âtman.

Sloka : 1.1.28

अजीर्यताममृतानामुपेत्य जीर्यन्मर्त्यः क्वधःस्थः प्रजानन् ।

अभिध्यायन्वर्णरतिप्रमोदान् अतिदीर्घे जीविते को रमेत ॥ २८॥

ajīryatāmamṛtānāmupetya jīryanmartyaḥ kvadhaḥsthaḥ prajānan |

abhidhyāyanvarṇaratipramodānatidīrghe jīvite ko rameta || 28 ||

What decaying mortal living in the world below and possessed of knowledge, having reached the company of the undecaying and the immortal, will delight in long life, knowing the nature of the delight produced by song and sport?

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again, having approached those whose age knows no decay and who are immortal and knowing of some other surpassing benefit to be had from them, how çould a mortal, himself living on earth below (below, relatively the Antariksha, i.e., region of the sky), pray for such transitory things, as sons, wealth, gold, etc., covetable only by the ignorant? Another reading has ‘Kvatadasthah’ for ‘Kvadhasthah’; the meaning according to this reading is this:- Tadasthah, one who ardently covets them, i.e., sons and the rest; when will one, who seeks higher objects than these though difficult to attain, thirst for these? The meaning is that no one who knows them as valueless, will wish for them. Everybody in the world wishes to become something higher and higher than he is; therefore, I am not to be tempted by the prospect of sons, wealth, etc.; and what sensible man will delight in longevity who knows the transitory nature:- of nymphs and of the delights of music and sports?

Sloka : 1.1.29

यस्मिन्निदं विचिकित्सन्ति मृत्यो यत्साम्पराये महति ब्रूहि नस्तत् ।

योऽयं वरो गूढमनुप्रविष्टो नान्यं तस्मान्नचिकेता वृणीते ॥ २९॥

॥ इति काठकोपनिषदि प्रथमाध्याये प्रथमा वल्ली ॥

yasminnidaṃ vicikitsanti mṛtyo yatsāmparāye mahati brūhi nastat |

yo'yaṃ varo gūḍhamanupraviṣṭo nānyaṃ tasmānnaciketā vṛṇīte || 29 ||

Oh Death, tell us that in which men have this doubt, and which is about the great hereafter; no other boon doth Nachikêtas crave, than this which entered into the secret.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Therefore, giving up the idea of tempting me by promise of ephemeral objects, tell us, Oh Death, that which was solicited by me, i.e., the well-ascertained knowledge of the âtman, about which they doubt whether it is or no, when men die, which relates to the world to come and which serves to be of great benefit. Why say much? Than the present boon about the âtman which goes into an inexplicable secret, no other boon which is to be craved for only by the ignorant and whose subject is something transitory, Nachikêtas does crave for, even in thought. The Sruti itself says this.

Sloka : 1.2.1

अन्यच्छ्रेयोऽन्यदुतैव प्रेय-

स्ते उभे नानार्थे पुरुष सिनीतः ।

तयोः श्रेय आददानस्य साधु

भवति हीयतेऽर्थाद्य उ प्रेयो वृणीते ॥ १॥

anyacchreyo'nyadutaiva preya

ste ubhe nānārthe puruṣam̐ sinītaḥ |

tayoḥ śreya ādadānasya sādhur

bhavati hīyate'rthādya u preyo vṛṇīte || 1 ||

(Death said) One is good while another is pleasant. These two, serving different ends, bind men; happiness comes to him, who, of these, chooses the good; whoso chooses the pleasant forfeits the true end.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Having thus tested the disciple and found him worthy of the knowledge, Death said ‘good is one thing and pleasant is another.’ Both these, the good and the pleasant, serving different ends, bind man competent for both, subject to the varying conditions of caste, orders of life, etc., i.e., all men are propelled in their mind by these two actions; for, according as one wishes for prosperity or immortality, he attempts at what is good and what is pleasant. Therefore as men have to perform acts to obtain what is good and what is pleasant, all men are said to be bound by these. These two, though connected with the realisation of one or other of the covetables of man, are opposed to each other, one being in the nature of knowledge and the other of ignorance. Thus, as both these are impossible to be pursued by the same individual without abandoning either, happiness falls to him who, of these two, rejects what is merely pleasant, being in the nature of ignorance, and pursues only the good. But he, who is not far-sighted, who is ignorant and who pursues only the pleasant, is separated from, i.e., misses the true and eternal end of man.

Sloka : 1.2.2

श्रेयश्च प्रेयश्च मनुष्यमेतः

तौ सम्परीत्य विविनक्ति धीरः ।

श्रेयो हि धीरोऽभि प्रेयसो वृणीते

प्रेयो मन्दो योगक्षेमाद्वृणीते ॥ २॥

śreyaśca preyaśca manuṣyametas

tau saṃparītya vivinakti dhīraḥ |

śreyo hi dhīro'bhipreyaso vṛṇīte

preyo mando yogakśemādvṛṇīte || 2 ||

Both the good and the pleasant approach the mortal; the intelligent man examines and distinguishes them; for, the intelligent man prefers the good to the pleasant; the ignorant man chooses the pleasant for the sake of his body.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—If both the sweet and the good can be pursued at will, why do the mankind, in general, pursue the sweet? This is explained; it is true that they can both be pursued; still, as they are not easily distinguishable by persons of poor intelligence, either in respect of the means to their attainment, or in respect of their fruits, both the sweet and the good become as it were mingled, and approach man. Therefore the intelligent man examines both the sweet and the good as a flamingo separates milk and water and having considered in his mind their relative weight, divides them both and follows the good alone, as preferable to the sweet; but the man of poor intelligence, incapable of such discernment, pursues the sweet, such as cattle, sons and the rest, for the purpose of fattening and preserving his body, etc.

Sloka : 1.2.3

स त्वं प्रियान्प्रियरूपांश्च कामान्

अभिध्यायन्नचिकेतोऽत्यस्राक्षीः ।

नैता सृङ्कां वित्तमयीमवाप्तो

यस्यां मज्जन्ति बहवो मनुष्याः ॥ ३॥

sa tvaṃ priyānpriyarūpām̐śca kāmān

abhidhyāyannaciketo'tyasrākśīḥ ।

naitām̐ sṛṅkāṃ vittamayīmavāpto

yasyāṃ majjanti bahavo manuṣyāḥ ॥ 3 ॥

Oh Nachikêtas, thou hast renounced desires and desirable objects of sweet shape, judging them by their real value; thou hast not accepted this garland of such wealth, in which many mortals sink.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—You, though repeatedly tempted by me, have renounced objects of desires, such as sons, etc., and also objects of sweet shape, such as nymphs, judging well of them and ascertaining their faults, i.e., their ephemeral and sapless nature. Oh Nachikêtas, how intelligent you are! You have not taken up this contemptible path of wealth, trodden by the ignorant men, in which many fools come to grief.

Sloka : 1.2.4

दूरमेते विपरीते विषूची

अविद्या या च विद्येति ज्ञाता ।

विद्याभीप्सिनं नचिकेतसं मन्ये

न त्वा कामा बहवोऽलोलुपन्त ॥ ४॥

dūramete viparīte viṣūcī

avidyā yā ca vidyeti jñātā |

vidyābhīpsinaṃ naciketasaṃ manye

na tvā kāmā bahavo'lolupanta || 4 ||

These two are wide apart, mutually exclusive, leading to different ways, known as ignorance and knowledge. I regard Nachikêtas as wishing for knowledge; desires, though numerous, have not shaken thee.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—It has been stated that he who, of these pursues the good, attains the good and he that pursues the pleasant forfeits consummation; why is that so? Because, these two travel at a great distance from each-other, being mutually exclusive as they are of the nature of knowledge and ignorance, like light and darkness going different ways, i.e., leading to different results, being the cause of bondage and emancipation. What are these two is explained. Ignorance which, deals with ‘the pleasant’ and knowledge which deals with ‘the good,’ both well understood by the intelligent; here, I regard you Nachikêtas, as longings after knowledge, because objects of desire the nymphs and the rest—which tempt the intellect of the ignorant, have not, though numerous, shaken thee, i.e., diverted thee from the path of ‘the good, by creating in you a desire for worldly enjoyment. Therefore, I regards you as longing after knowledge and worthy of attaining ‘the good.’ This is the drift.

Sloka : 1.2.5

अविद्यायामन्तरे वर्तमानाः

स्वयं धीराः पण्डितंमन्यमानाः ।

दन्द्रम्यमाणाः परियन्ति मूढा

अन्धेनैव नीयमाना यथान्धाः ॥ ५॥

avidyāyāmantare vartamānāḥ

svayaṃ dhīrāḥ paṇḍitaṃ manyamānāḥ |

dandramyamāṇāḥ pariyanti mūḍhā

andhenaiva nīyamānā yathāndhāḥ || 5 ||

Living in the middle of ignorance and regarding themselves as intelligent and learned, the ignorant go round and round, in many crooked ways, like the blind led by the blind.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—But those men living in Samsâra in the midst of ignorance as in thick darkness, entangled in a hundred meshes formed by attachment for sons, cattle and the rest, regarding themselves as intelligent and well-versed in the Sâstras, go round and round, get into many crooked ways afflicted with miseries such as old age, death, disease, etc., devoid of discernment, just as the blind led by the blind in uneven paths come to great grief.

Sloka : 1.2.6

न साम्परायः प्रतिभाति बालं

प्रमाद्यन्तं वित्तमोहेन मूढम् ।

अयं लोको नास्ति पर इति मानी

पुनः पुनर्वशमापद्यते मे ॥ ६॥

na sāṃparāyaḥ pratibhāti bālam

pramādyantaṃ vittamohena mūḍham |

ayaṃ loko nāsti para iti mānī

punaḥ punarvaśamāpadyate me || 6 ||

The way to the future does not shine for the ignorant man who blunders, rendered, blind by folly caused by wealth; thinking thus ‘this world is and none other,’ be gets into my power again and again.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Therefore alone, i.e., being ignorant, the way to the other world shines not for him. Sâmparâyah, the other world. Sâmparâyah, some means pointed out by the Sâstras and leading to the attainment of the other world; that means does not shine for the benefit of the ignorant man who is led astray, his mind being engrossed by such benefits, as son, cattle, etc., and who is enveloped by the darkness Of ignorance caused by wealth. Constantly thinking that this world alone which is perceived and which consists of women, food, drink, etc., exists, and that there is no other invisible world, he is born again and again and becomes subject to me, i.e., Death. The meaning is that he becomes subject to be tossed in grief, such as birth, death, etc., such is the world in general.

Sloka : 1.2.7

श्रवणायापि बहुभिर्यो न लभ्यः

शृण्वन्तोऽपि बहवो यं न विद्युः ।

आश्चर्यो वक्ता कुशलोऽस्य लब्धा

आश्चर्यो ज्ञाता कुशलानुशिष्टः ॥ ७॥

śravaṇāyāpi bahubhiryo na labhyaḥ

śṛṇvanto'pi bahavo yaṃ na vidyuḥ |

āścaryo vaktā kuśalo'sya labdhā

āścaryo jñātā kuśalānuśiṣṭaḥ || 7 ||

Who cannot be attained even for hearing by many; whom, many though hearing, do not know; the expounder of him is a wonder; and able, the attainer of him; a wonder, the knower of him instructed by the able.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Of thousands who seek good, it is some one like you who becomes the knower of the âtman; for, even for hearing, the âtman is not attainable by many; many others, though they hear of him, do not know the âtman, not being entitled, because their minds are not purified; again, the expounder of the îtman is, like a wonder, some one among many, Similarly, even among many who have so heard, some one alone of many, that is able, attains the âtman; the knower of the âtman is a wonder—some me who is instructed by an able preceptor.

Sloka : 1.2.8

न नरेणावरेण प्रोक्त

एष सुविज्ञेयो बहुधा चिन्त्यमानः ।

अनन्यप्रोक्ते गतिरत्र नास्ति

अणीयान्ह्यतर्क्यमणुप्रमाणात् ॥ ८॥

na nareṇāvareṇa prokta

eṣa suvijñeyo bahudhā cintyamānaḥ |

ananyaprokte gatiratra nāsty

aṇīyān hyatarkyamaṇupramāṇāt || 8 ||

This âtman now explained cannot easily be known, of taught by a person of inferior intellect being variously regarded. When it is taught by a preceptor, one with the Brahman, there is no further travel, his being subtler than the subtle and not arguable.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Why so? Because, taught by a man of worldly understanding, the âtman which you ask me about, is not easily knowable, because he is variously discussed by disputants, whether he exists or not, whether he is a doer or not, whether he is pure or not and so forth. How then can he be well-known is explained. If the âtman is taught by a preceptor who is free from the notion of duality and who has become one with the Brahman, none of the various doubts exists, such as whether he is or not, etc., because the nature of the âtman absorbs all such doubtful alternatives; or, the text may be thus construed:- when the âtman, which is none other than his own Self, is taught, there is no knowing any other thing; for, there is no other knowable; for, the knowledge of the oneness of the âtman is the highest state of knowledge. Therefore, there being nothing else to be known, knowledge stops there; or, Gatiratra nâsti, may mean there is no travelling into Samsâra when the âtman, not distinct from the Self has been taught; because, emancipation, the fruit of such knowledge, is its necessary concomitant. Or, it may mean that when the âtman is explained by a preceptor who is become one with the Brahman to be taught, there is no failing to understand it. The meaning is that as in the case of the preceptor, the hearer’s knowledge of the Brahman will take the form, ‘I am not other than that.’ Thus the âtman can easily be known when explained by the preceptor versed in the âgamâs, to be no other than one’s self; otherwise, the âtman will be subtler than even the subtle and cannot be known by dint of one’s mere intelligent reasoning When the âtman is established by argument to be something subtle by one man, another argues it to be subtler than that and another infers it to be something yet subtler; for, there is no finality reached by mere argumentation.

Sloka : 1.2.9

नैषा तर्केण मतिरापनेया

प्रोक्तान्येनैव सुज्ञानाय प्रेष्ठ ।

यां त्वमापः सत्यधृतिर्बतासि

त्वादृङ् नो भूयान्नचिकेतः प्रष्टा ॥ ९॥

naiṣā tarkeṇa matirāpaneyā

proktānyenaiva sujñānāya preṣṭha |

yāntvamāpaḥ satyadhṛtirbatāsi

tvādṛṅno bhūyānnaciketaḥ praṣṭā || 9 ||

This idea cannot be reached by mere reasoning. This idea, Oh dearest, leads to sound knowledge, only if taught by another; thou hast reached it; Oh, thou art fixed in truth. May we find, Oh Nachikêtas, a questioner like thee!

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This idea of the âtman knowable by the âgamâs and taught by a preceptor who is one with the âtman is not to be attained by dint of one’s intelligent reasoning; or, it may mean, cannot be dispelled by mere intelligent reasoning; for, a logician not versed in the âgamâs will postulate something created by his own intelligence. Therefore alone, this idea arising from the âgamâs helps one, Oh dearest, to sound knowledge, only when taught by a preceptor who is not a logician and who is conversant with the âgamâs. What is that idea which can not be attained by reasoning is explained. That idea which you have now attained by my granting of the boon. Oh thou art fixed in truth. Death says this of Nachikêtas with sympathetic favour, for the purpose of enlogising the knowledge which he was going to inculcate. May we find, Oh Nachikêtas, a questioner like thee, a son or a disciple.

Sloka : 1.2.10

जानाम्यह शेवधिरित्यनित्यं

न ह्यध्रुवैः प्राप्यते हि ध्रुवं तत् ।

ततो मया नाचिकेतश्चितोऽग्नि-

रनित्यैर्द्रव्यैः प्राप्तवानस्मि नित्यम् ॥ १०॥

jānāmyaham̐ śevadhirityanityaṃ

na hyadhruvaiḥ prāpyate hi dhruvaṃ tat ।

tato mayā nāciketaścito'gni

ranityairdravyaiḥ prāptavānasmi nityam ॥ 10 ॥

I know that the treasure is uncertain; for, that which is constant is never reached by things which change. Therefore, has Nachikêta fire been propitiated by me with the perishable things, and I have attained the eternal.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Delighted, Death says again:- I know that the treasure, i.e., the reward of Karma, because it is sought after like a treasure, is not eternal; for, that which is constant, i.e., the treasure named Paramâtman cannot be reached by things not constant. That treasure alone, which is in the nature of uncertain happiness, can be obtained by uncertain things. Therefore, by me, though I know that the eternal cannot be attained by ephemeral aids, has been propitiated, the fire Nachikêtas leading to the attainment of heavenly joys with ephemeral things. By virtue of that, I have attained the position of authority, this office of Death known as Svarga eternal, but only relatively.

Sloka : 1.2.11

कामस्याप्तिं जगतः प्रतिष्ठां

क्रतोरानन्त्यमभयस्य पारम् ।

स्तोममहदुरुगायं प्रतिष्ठां

दृष्ट्वा धृत्या धीरो नचिकेतोऽत्यस्राक्षीः ॥ ११॥

kāmasyāptiṃ jagataḥ pratiṣṭhāṃ

kratorānantyamabhayasya pāraṃ ।

stomamahadurugāyaṃ pratiṣṭhāṃ

dṛṣṭvā dhṛtyā dhīro naciketo'tyasrākśīḥ ॥ 11 ॥

The end of all desires, the stay of all the universe, the endless fruit of worship, the other shore of fearlessness, the praiseworthy, the great and boundless goal, all these hast thou beheld, and being intelligent, Oh Nachikêtas, hast boldly rejected all.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—But you having beheld the end of all desires (for, here, i.e., in Hiranyagarbha, all desires are fulfilled), the support of all the worlds comprising the Adhyâtma, the Adhibhûta and the Adhidaiva, i.e., (the bodies, elements and gods), the immortal goal of worship, the place of Hiranyagarbha, the extreme state of fearlessness, praiseworthy, great as combining many desirable powers such as animâ (praiseworthy and great because it is unsurpassable) the boundless and unsurpassable goal of the âtman, have boldly, being intelligent, rejected, wishing only for the highest, all this host of enjoyments within the pale of Samsâra. Oh, what unsurpassable qualities you possess!

Sloka : 1.2.12

तं दुर्दर्शं गूढमनुप्रविष्टं

गुहाहितं गह्वरेष्ठं पुराणम् ।

अध्यात्मयोगाधिगमेन देवं

मत्वा धीरो हर्षशोकौ जहाति ॥ १२॥

taṃ durdarśaṃ gūḍhamanupraviṣṭaṃ

guhāhitaṃ gahvareṣṭhaṃ purāṇam |

adhyātmayogādhigamena devaṃ

matvā dhīro harṣaśokau jahāti || 12 ||

Contemplating with a concentrated mind, weaned from all external objects on the âtman, ancient, hard to see, lodged in the inmost recess, located in intelligence, and seated amidst miserable surroundings, the intelligent man renounces joy and grief.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The âtman which you wish to know is hard to see, being extremely subtle, lodged in the inmost recess, being concealed by the modifications of consciousness, caused by worldly objects. Located in intelligence (being realised, as if there lodged) and seated amidst manifold miseries. Being lodged in the inmost recess and located in intelligence, he is seated amidst miseries; (being thus seated he is hard to see) dwelling on that ancient âtman, with a mind weaned from all external objects and concentrated on the âtman, the intelligent man renounces joy and grief, as there is neither superiority nor inferiority for the âtman.

Sloka : 1.2.13

एतच्छ्रुत्वा सम्परिगृह्य मर्त्यः

प्रवृह्य धर्म्यमणुमेतमाप्य ।

स मोदते मोदनीयं हि लब्ध्वा

विवृत सद्म नचिकेतसं मन्ये ॥ १३॥

etacchrutvā saṃparigṛhya martyaḥ

pravṛhya dharmyamaṇumetamāpya ।

sa modate modanīyam̐ hi labdhvā

vivṛtam̐ sadma naciketasaṃ manye ॥ 13 ॥

Having heard and well-grasped this, the mortal abstracting the virtuous âtman, attaining this subtle âtman, rejoices having obtained what causes joy. I think that the mansion is wide open for Nachikêtas.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again having heard this, the true âtman which I shall explain to you—from the presence of the preceptor and well-grasped it as his own Self, having abstracted the virtuous âtman from the body, etc., and having realized this subtle âtman, the learned mortal rejoices having obtained what gives him joy, i.e., the âtman. The door of such abode of Brahman is, I think, wide open for you, Nachikêtas. The drift is ‘I think you worthy of emancipation.’

Sloka : 1.2.14

अन्यत्र धर्मादन्यत्राधर्मा-

दन्यत्रास्मात्कृताकृतात् ।

अन्यत्र भूताच्च भव्याच्च

यत्तत्पश्यसि तद्वद ॥ १४॥

anyatra dharmādanyatrādharmā

danyatrāsmātkṛtākṛtāt |

anyatra bhūtācca bhavyācca

yattatpaśyasi tadvada || 14 ||

What thou seest other than virtue and vice, other than what is made and what is not, other than the past and the future, tell me that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—If I am worthy, and you are, Oh Baghavan, pleased with me:- other than virture, i.e., different from the performance of acts enjoined by the Sâstras, their fruits and their requisites and similarly from vice; other than what is made, i.e., effect; and what is not made, i.e., cause; and again other than the past, i.e., time gone by; and the future, i.e., time yet to come; and similarly the present, i.e., what is not conditioned by time (past, present and future); if you see or know anything like this, beyond the reach of all wordly experience, tell me that.

Sloka : 1.2.15

सर्वे वेदा यत्पदमामनन्ति

तपांसि सर्वाणि च यद्वदन्ति ।

यदिच्छन्तो ब्रह्मचर्यं चरन्ति

तत्ते पदं सङ्ग्रहेण ब्रवीम्योमित्येतत् ॥ १५॥

sarve vedā yatpadamāmananti

tapām̐si sarvāṇi ca yadvadanti |

yadicchanto brahmacaryaṃ caranti

tatte padm̐ saṃgraheṇa bravīmyomityetat || 15 ||

The goal which all the Vêdâs uniformly extol, which all acts of tapas speak of, and wishing for which men lead the life of a Brahmachârin, that goal I tell you briefly—It is this—Om.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—To him, who had thus questioned, Death explained the thing asked for and also something else, i.e., the worship of ‘Om.’ What praiseworthy goal all Vêdâs without break, i.e., with one voice, declare, to which goal all acts of îapas are intended to lead, and desirous of which men live in the residence of their preceptor, or practise other kinds of Brahmacharya to attain the Brahman, that goal which you wish to learn, I shall tell you briefly. It is this — ‘Om’. The goal which you wish to learn is the goal which is denoted by the word ‘Om,’ and of which the word ‘Om’ is a substitute (Pratîka).

Sloka : 1.2.16

एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं ब्रह्म एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं परम् ।

एतद्ध्येवाक्षरं ज्ञात्वा यो यदिच्छति तस्य तत् ॥ १६॥

etaddhyevākśaraṃ brahma etaddhyevākśaraṃ param |

etaddhyevākśaraṃ jñātvā yo yadicchati tasya tat || 16 ||

This word is, indeed, Brahman, this word is, in deed, the highest; whoso knows this word obtains, indeed, whatever he wishes for.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Therefore, the word, indeed, is Brahman, (manifested). This word, indeed, is also the highest- Brahman. For, this word is the substitute for both of them. Whoso worships this word as Brahman obtains what he wants, i.e., the manifested or the unmanifested Brahman. If it be unmanifested, it should be known; if it be manifested, it should be reached.

Sloka : 1.2.17

एतदालम्बनँ श्रेष्ठमेतदालम्बनं परम् ।

एतदालम्बनं ज्ञात्वा ब्रह्मलोके महीयते ॥ १७॥

etadālambanam̐ śreṣṭhametadālambanaṃ paraṃ ।

etadālambanaṃ jñātvā brahmaloke mahīyate ॥ 17 ॥

This prop is the best. This prop is the highest Knowing this prop, one is worshipped in the world of Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This being so, this prop is the best, i.e., the most praiseworthy of all props, to attain the Brahman. This prop is both the higher and lower; for, it leads to both the highest and the manifested Brahman i.e., of the highest Brahman and the manifested Brahman. The meaning is:- he becomes one with the Brahman and he becomes fit to be worshipped like Brahman.

Sloka : 1.2.18

न जायते म्रियते वा विपश्चि-

न्नायं कुतश्चिन्न बभूव कश्चित् ।

अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो

न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ॥ १८॥

na jāyate mriyate vā vipaścin

nāyaṃ kutaścinna babhūva kaścit |

ajo nityaḥ śāśvato'yaṃ purāṇo

na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre || 18 ||

The intelligent âtman is not born, nor does he die; he did not come from anywhere nor was he anything, unborn, eternal, everlasting, ancient; he is not slain though the body is slain.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The particle ‘Om’ has been pointed out as a prop of and as a substitute for the âtman, asked about in the text beginning with ‘Anyaira dharmat,’ etc., and devoid of all attributes, for the benefit of the ignorant and the middling class of men who wish to attain the Brahman, manifested and unmanifested. Now, this text is indroduced for the purpose of directly ascertaining the real nature of the âtman, to attain whom the word ‘Om’ was mentioned as a prop; he is not born, i.e., produced; nor does he die; various modifications are incidental to a thing which is produced and not eternal. Of those, the first and the last modifications namely birth and death are at the outset denied of the âtman, with the object of denying all modifications by the expressions ‘he is not born nor does he die.’ Vipaschit, intelligent; for, he is by nature of indestructible intelligence. Again, this âtman came not from anything, i.e., from any other cause; nor did any other real thing proceed from this âtman; therefore, this âtman is unborn, eternal, everlasting, undecaying (for, whoso is not everlasting decays; but he is everlasting); therefore, ancient, i.e., new, even formerly; (for, that which undergoes a development of its parts, is then said to be new); for instance a pot, etc.; but the âtman who is of a contrary nature is ancient, i.e., incapable of development; this being so, he is not slain or affected, even though the body is slain by swords, etc. Though in it, he is in it like the âkâs.

Sloka : 1.2.19

हन्ता चेन्मन्यते हन्तुँ हतश्चेन्मन्यते हतम् ।

उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नायँ हन्ति न हन्यते ॥ १९॥

hantā cenmanyate hantum̐ hataścenmanyate hataṃ ।

ubhau tau na vijānīto nāyam̐ hanti na hanyate ॥ 19 ॥

The slayer who thinks of slaying this and the slain who thinks this slain, both these do not know. This slays not, nor is slain.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Even the âtman of such description, the slayer who sees the mere body as the âtman thinks of slaying and he who thinks that his âtman is slain, both these do not know their own âtman; for, he does not slay the âtman, being incapable of modification; nor is he slain being incapable of modification like the âkâs. Therefore, all samsâra, the fruit of virtue and vice is only in the case of those who do not know the âtman, and not in the case of one who knows the Brahman; for in his case, virtue and vice are inappropriate both from the authority of the srutis and from the cogency of reasoning.

Sloka : 1.2.20

अणोरणीयान्महतो महीया-

नात्माऽस्य जन्तोर्निहितो गुहायाम् ।

तमक्रतुः पश्यति वीतशोको

धातुप्रसादान्महिमानमात्मनः ॥ २०॥

aṇoraṇīyānmahato mahīyā

nātmāsya jantornihito guhāyāṃ |

tamakratuḥ paśyati vītaśoko

dhātuḥ prasādānmahimānamātmanaḥ || 20 ||

Subtler than the subtle, greater than the great, in the heart of each living being, the âtman reposes. One free from desire, with his mind and the senses composed, sees the glory of the âtman and becomes absolved from grief.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How then does one know the âtman is explained? Subtler than the subtle, i.e., subtler than grain, etc.; greater than the great, i.e., greater than things of great dimensions, such as the earth (whatever thing is in the world, that is known to exist only by virtue of the eternal âtman; divorced from the âtman it becomes a non-entity; therefore, this âtman alone is subtler than the subtle and greater than the great, because all names, forms and actions are only conditions imposed upon it). This âtman is seated, as the âtman, in the heart of every living creature, irons Brahma down to the worm. That âtman to whose realisation, hearing, thought and meditation are indicated as aids; one free from desire, i.e., one whose intelligence has been diverted from all external objects, either of this world or of the world to come (when he is so,—the mind and the senses which are called Dhâtus.—because they suppprt the body, become composed); sees, i.e., directly realises, in the form ‘I am he’, the glory of the âtman, devoid of increase or diminution due to Karma; and, therefore, he becomes absolved from grief.

Sloka : 1.2.21

आसीनो दूरं व्रजति शयानो याति सर्वतः ।

कस्तं मदामदं देवं मदन्यो ज्ञातुमर्हति ॥ २१॥

āsīno dūraṃ vrajati śayāno yāti sarvataḥ |

kastaṃ madāmadaṃ devaṃ madanyo jñātumarhati || 21 ||

Sitting, he goes far; lying, he goes everywhere. Who else but me deserves to know the God, who is joyful and joyless.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Otherwise, this âtman cannot be known by worldly men having desires, because sitting, i.e., not moving, he goes a great distance. Lying, he goes everywhere. Thus the âtman is both joyful and joyless. Thus he has properties mutually opposed; therefore it being impossible to know him, who else but me can know the âtman, who is joyful and joyless. It is only by persons like us of subtle intellect and learning that the âtman can be known. Being conditioned by conflicting attributes of fixity and movement, and of constancy and change, the âtman appears as if itself possessed conflicting attributes like Visvarupa, a sum of various forms, or (more properly) like Chintâmani (a gem which appears according to the fancy of the seer). Therefore, Death indicates the difficulty of knowing the âtman by the statement ‘who else but me can know the âtman.’ The cessation of the activity of the senses is ‘lying;’ in the person lying, there is a cessation of the partial knowledge produced by the senses. In this state the âtman seems to go everywhere, because its knowledge then is of a general character, i.e., unqualified by conditions; but, though fixed in its own nature, when it has special or qualified knowledge it seems to go a great distance, because it is conditioned by the motion of the mind and the rest, but really he is here alone, i.e., in this body.

Sloka : 1.2.22

अशरीरँ शरीरेष्वनवस्थेष्ववस्थितम् ।

महान्तं विभुमात्मानं मत्वा धीरो न शोचति ॥ २२॥

aśarīram̐ śarīreṣvanavastheṣvavasthitaṃ |

mahāntaṃ vibhumātmānaṃ matvā dhīro na śocati || 22 ||

The intelligent man knowing the âtman, bodiless, seated firmly in perishable bodies, great and all-pervading, does not grieve.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This text shows that by knowing him, grief also vanishes. ‘Bodiless,’ the âtman being like the âkâs by its own nature; ‘bodies,’ bodies of the gods, the manes, men and the rest. ‘Perishable,’ devoid of firmness, not eternal; ‘firmly seate,’ eternal, i.e., not subject to modifications; ‘great,’ to avoid the doubt that the greatness may be relative, the text adds ‘all-pervading.’ The word ‘âtman’ is used to show that it is not distinct from one’s Self. The word âtman is primarily used to denote the Pratyagâtman, i.e., the âtman in the body. Having known the âtman of this description, i.e., having realised him in the form ‘I am he,’ the intelligent do not grieve. There is no occasion for such a knower of the âtman to grieve.

Sloka : 1.2.23

नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो

न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन ।

यमेवैष वृणुते तेन लभ्य

स्तस्यैष आत्मा विवृणुते तनू स्वाम् ॥ २३॥

nāyamātmā pravacanena labhyo

na medhayā na bahunā śrutena |

yamevaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhya

stasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanūm̐ svām || 23 ||

This âtman is not to be attained by a study of the Vêdâs, nor by intelligence, nor by much hearing, but the âtman can be attained, only by him who seeks to know it. To him, this âtman reveals its true nature.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This text says that though this âtman is hard to know, still he can certainly be known well by proper means. This âtman is not attainable by the study of many Vêdâs, or by intelligence, i.e., a retentive memory of the import of books, or by any amount of mere learning. By what then can he be attained is explained. That âtman (self) whom the neophyte seeks, by the same self, i.e., by the seeker, can the âtman be known. The meaning is that, of one who seeks only the âtman, being free from desire, the âtman is attained by the âtman alone. How it is attained is explained. To the man who seeks the âtman, the âtman reveals its real form, i.e., its own true nature.

Sloka : 1.2.24

नाविरतो दुश्चरितान्नाशान्तो नासमाहितः ।

नाशान्तमानसो वापि प्रज्ञानेनैनमाप्नुयात् ॥ २४॥

nāvirato duścaritānnāśānto nāsamāhitaḥ |

nāśāntamānaso vāpi prajñānenainamāpnuyāt || 24 ||

None who has not turned away from bad conducts whose senses are not under control, whose mind is not collected, or whose mind is not at rest, can attain this âtman by knowledge.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Yet something more:- who has not turned away from bad conduct, i.e., from sinful acts prohibited and not permitted by the srutis and the smritis, who has no quietude from the activity of the senses, whose mind is not concentrated, i.e., whose mind is deverted off and on; whose mind is not at rest, i.e., whose mind, though collected, is engaged in looking forward to the fruits of being so collected, cannot attain the âtman now treated of, but only by means of the knowledge of Brahman; the meaning is that he alone who has turned away from bad conduct, who is free from the activity of the senses, whose mind is collected, and whose mind is at rest, even in respect of the fruits of its being so collected, taught by a preceptor, attains the âtman above described by knowing him.

Sloka : 1.2.25

यस्य ब्रह्म च क्षत्रं च उभे भवत ओदनः ।

मृत्युर्यस्योपसेचनं क इत्था वेद यत्र सः ॥ २५॥

इति काठकोपनिषदि प्रथमाध्याये द्वितीया वल्ली ॥

yasya brahma ca kśatraṃ ca ubhe bhavata odanaḥ |

mṛtyuryasyopasecanaṃ ka itthā veda yatra saḥ || 25 ||

Of whom, the Brahma and the Kshatriya classes are the food, and Death but pickles (to supplement it); how can one thus know where that âtman is.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As for him who is not of this description, the sruti says:- Of whom Brahmins and Kshatriyas, though the stay of all virtue and the protectors of all, are the food; and Death, though destroyer of all, is only a pickle being insufficient as food. How can one of worldly intellect, devoid of helps above described, know where that âtman is, in this manner, as one who is furnished with the helps above described?

Sloka : 1.3.1

ऋतं पिबन्तौ सुकृतस्य लोके गुहां प्रविष्टौ परमे परार्धे ।

छायातपौ ब्रह्मविदो वदन्ति पञ्चाग्नयो ये च त्रिणाचिकेताः ॥ १॥

ṛtaṃ pibantau sukṛtasya loke guhāṃ praviṣṭau parame parārdhe |

chāyātapau brahmavido vadanti pañcāgnayo ye ca triṇāciketāḥ || 1 ||

The two, who enjoy the fruits of their good deeds, being lodged in the cavity of the seat of the supreme, the knowers of Brahman call shadow and light, as also those who maintain five fires and have thrice propitiated the Nachikêta fire.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.— The connection of the present valli is this. Knowledge and ignorance have already been described, as leading to many contrary results; but each of them has not been described, in its own nature, with its results. The imagining of the analogy of the chariot is for the purpose of determining them, as also for the easy understanding of the subject. Thus two âtmans are here described for the purpose of distinguishing between the attainer and the attained and the goer and the goal. Drinking, i.e., enjoying; truth, i.e., the fruits of the enjoyer, on the analogy of using the expression ‘the umbrella-carriers go’ when not all of them carry umbrellas. Sukritasya means of deeds done by themselves and is connected with the previous word ‘fruits.’ Lôkê, means in this body. Guhâm pravishtau, means lodged in intelligence. Paramê, superior in relation to the space of the âkâs of the external body. Parârdhê, in the abode of Brahman, for, there, can Brahman be realised. The meaning is that they are lodged in the âkâs within the cavity of the heart; again they are dissimilar like shadow and light, being within the pale of Samsâra and free from Samsâra, respectively. So do the knowers of Brahman tell; not those alone who do not perform Karma say so; but also householders maintaining five sacrificial fires, and others by whom the sacrificial Nachikêta fire has been thrice lit.

Sloka : 1.3.2

यः सेतुरीजानानामक्षरं ब्रह्म यत्परम् ।

अभयं तितीर्षतां पारं नाचिकेतं शकेमहि ॥ २॥

yaḥ seturījānānāmakśaraṃ brahma yatparam |

abhayaṃ titīrṣatāṃ pāraṃ nāciketam̐ śakemahi || 2 ||

We are able to know the fire which is the bridge of those who perform sacrifices, and also the highest immortal Brahman, fearless, and the other shore for those, who wish to cross the ocean of Samsâra.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The Nachikêta fire, which is, as it were, a bridge for persons performing sacrifices for the purpose of crossing grief, we can light up. Moreover, what is fearless, and what is the main support of the knowers of Brahman, who wish to go to the other shore of Samsâra, the immortal Brahman known as âtman, we can know. The meaning of the text is that both the unmanifested and the manifested Brahman, the goal of the knowers of Brahman, and those who perform Karma are worthy to be known. It is a description of these that has been given in the previous text.

Sloka : 1.3.3

आत्मानं रथितं विद्धि शरीरं रथमेव तु ।

बुद्धिं तु सारथिं विद्धि मनः प्रग्रहमेव च ॥ ३॥

ātmānam̐ rathitaṃ viddhi śarīram̐ rathameva tu |

buddhiṃ tu sārathiṃ viddhi manaḥ pragrahameva ca || 3 ||

Know the âtman as the lord of the chariot, the body as only the chariot, know also intelligence as the driver; know the minds as the reins.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Here a chariot is imagined for the âtman, conditioned in Samsâra, entitled to acquire knowledge and perform Karma for attaining emancipation and for travelling in Samsâra, as a means to reach both. Know the âtman, who is the enjoyer of the fruits of Karma and is in the bondage of Samsâra, to be the lord of the chariot. Know the body to be verily the chariot, because like a chariot the body is drawn by the senses occupying the place of horses. Know also the intelligence to be the driver, furnished with the capacity for determination, because the body is mainly guided by the intelligence, as the chariot is mainly guided by the driver; for, everything done by the body is generally done by the intelligence. Know the mind with its characteristics of volition, doubt, etc., to be the reins; for, the senses, such as the ear, perform their functions when grasped by the mind as horses by the reins.

Sloka : 1.3.4

इन्द्रियाणि हयानाहुर्विषयां स्तेषु गोचरान् ।

आत्मेन्द्रियमनोयुक्तं भोक्तेत्याहुर्मनीषिणः ॥ ४॥

indriyāṇi hayānāhurviṣayām̐ steṣu gocarān ।

ātmendriyamanoyuktaṃ bhoktetyāhurmanīṣiṇaḥ ॥ 4 ॥

The senses, they say, are the horses; the objects which they perceive, the way; the âtman, the senses and the mind combined, the intelligent call the enjoyer.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Those who are versed in the construction of chariots call the senses, such as the eye and the rest, horses, from the similitude of their drawing the body. Know the objects (such as form, etc.), of these senses, regarded as horses, to be the roads. The intelligent call the âtman combined with the body, the senses and the mind, the enjoyer, i.e., one in Samsâra; for, the pure âtman cannot be the enjoyer. Its enjoyment is only the product of its conditions such as intelligence, etc.; accordingly also, other srutis declare that the pure âtman is certainly not the enjoyer. ‘It seems to think and to move’; only if this is so, in working out the analogy of the chariot to be described, it will be appropriate to understand. ‘The Vishnu Pâda’ as the pure âtman but not otherwise; for, there can be no going beyond Samsâra in the case of the pure âtman.

Sloka : 1.3.5

यस्त्वविज्ञानवान्भवत्ययुक्तेन मनसा सदा ।

तस्येन्द्रियाण्यवश्यानि दुष्टाश्वा इव सारथेः ॥ ५॥

yastvavijñānavānbhavatyayuktena manasā sadā |

tasyendriyāṇyavaśyāni duṣṭāśvā iva sāratheḥ || 5 ||

But of him who is not possessed of discrimination, and whose mind is always uncontrolled, the senses are not controllable as vicious horses of a driver.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This being so, of that driver known as Buddhi, who is not capable of discrimination as to what is to be done or omitted to be done, as the other driver in the guiding of his chariot has a mind like the reins of a chariot not well-grasped by the driver, i.e., uncontrolled by the intellect; of that incompetent driver, i.e., intellect, the senses which stand in the place of the horses become unruly and uncontrollable, as the vicious horses of the other driver.

Sloka : 1.3.6

यस्तु विज्ञानवान्भवति युक्तेन मनसा सदा ।

तस्येन्द्रियाणि वश्यानि सदश्वा इव सारथेः ॥ ६॥

yastu vijñānavānbhavati yuktena manasā sadā |

tasyendriyāṇi vaśyāni sadaśvā iva sāratheḥ || 6 ||

But of him who knows and has a mind always controlled, the senses are always controllable as the good horses of the driver.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—But of him who is a driver, the contrary of one already explained, i.e., of the driver who knows and who has the mind always under restraint, the senses standing in the place of the horses can be let go or stopped, i.e., controlled like the good horses of the other driver.

Sloka : 1.3.7

यस्त्वविज्ञानवान्भवत्यमनस्कः सदाऽशुचिः ।

न स तत्पदमाप्नोति संसारं चाधिगच्छति ॥ ७॥

yastvavijñānavānbhavatyamanaskaḥ sadā'śuciḥ ।

na sa tatpadamāpnoti sam̐ sāraṃ cādhigacchati ॥ 7 ॥

But he, whose intellect has no discrimination and whose thind is not under control and who is always unclean, does not reach that goal and falls into Samsâra.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Now the text mentions the results produced by the driver (intelligence) who is unknowing, as above stated; the lord of the chariot, who does not know and who has not the mind under control and who is, therefore, always unclean, does not attain that immortal great goal already described, by reason of having such a driver. It is not alone that he does not attain that, but he reaches Samsâra marked by births and deaths.

Sloka : 1.3.8

यस्तु विज्ञानवान्भवति समनस्कः सदा शुचिः ।

स तु तत्पदमाप्नोति यस्माद्भूयो न जायते ॥ ८॥

yastu vijñānavānbhavati samanaskaḥ sadā śuciḥ |

sa tu tatpadamāpnoti yasmādbhūyo na jāyate || 8 ||

But he, who knows, who has his mind always under control and who is clean, reaches that goal from which he is not born again.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—But the second, i.e., the lord of the chariot who has a discriminating intellect as his driver, i.e., the knowing man, having his mind under control and being, therefore, always clean, reaches that goal from which never falling, he is not born again in Samsâra.

Sloka : 1.3.9

विज्ञानसारथिर्यस्तु मनः प्रग्रहवान्नरः ।

सोऽध्वनः पारमाप्नोति तद्विष्णोः परमं पदम् ॥ ९॥

vijñānasārathiryastu manaḥpragrahavānnaraḥ |

so'dhvanaḥ pāramāpnoti tadviṣṇoḥ paramaṃ padam || 9 ||

But the man who has a discriminating intellect for the driver and a controlling mind for the reins, reaches the end of the road, i.e., that highest place of Vishnu.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—What that goal is, is now explained; but the man who has discerning intelligence for the driver, whose mind is under control, and who is clean, i.e., the knowing man reaches the end of the road of Samsâra, i.e., realises the Supreme; i.e., is absolved from all the ties of Samsâra. The man of knowledge attains 1 the highest place of Vishnu, i.e., the nature of the all-pervading Brahman, the Paramâtman known as Vâsudêva (the Self-luminous).

Sloka : 1.3.10

इन्द्रियेभ्यः परा ह्यर्था अर्थेभ्यश्च परं मनः ।

मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्बुद्धेरात्मा महान्परः ॥ १०॥

indriyebhyaḥ parā hyarthā arthebhyaśca paraṃ manaḥ |

manasastu parā buddhirbuddherātmā mahānparaḥ || 10 ||

Beyond the senses, are the rudiments of its objects; beyond these rudiments is the mind; beyond the mind is âtman known as Mahat (great).

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Now this subsequent portion is introduced for the purpose of showing that the goal to be reached should be understood to be the Pratyak (the internal) âtman, the subtlest proceeding from the gross senses in the ascending degree of subtlety. The senses are gross and those rudiments (Vishaya) from which these spring for their own illumination are subtler than the senses, their own effects, greater than these and the âtman of these, i.e., bound up with these; subtler than these rudiments and greater than these, being the âtman of these, is the mind. Here, by the word mind is denoted the rudiments of the Bhûta (Bhûta Sûkshma) from which mind originates. Than the mind which is the origin of volition, deliberation and the rest, the intellect is subtler, greater, and more possessed of the functions of seeing, hearing, etc., does not shine, as the âtman of any being concealed by ignorance and delusion. Oh, how deep, unfathomable and marvellous this Mâya, that every living being, though really in its nature the Brahman, does not, though instructed, grasp the truth ‘I am the Paramâtman’ and feels convinced, without any instruction that he is such a person's son mistaking for the âtman the combination of the body, and the senses, etc., which is not the âtman and is only perceived by him, like the pot, etc.; indeed, the world wanders repeatedly deluded by the Mâya of the Brahman alone; so the smriti also says ‘Being concealed by Yôgamâya, I do not shine to all, etc.’ Are not these statements inconsistent? Knowing him, the intelligent do not grieve and ‘he does not shine.’ It is not so. It is said he does not shine, because he cannot be known by the unpurified intellect; but he is seen by the purified intellect. Agryayâ, like a point, i.e., concentrated, subtle, i.e., capable of perceiving subtle objects. By whom? By the subtle seers, i.e., by persons, who, by seeing the different degrees of subtlety as pointed out by the rudiments, are subtler than the senses, etc., are characteristically able to see the subtlest, i.e., by learned persons.

Sloka : 1.3.11

महतः परमव्यक्तमव्यक्तात्पुरुषः परः ।

पुरुषान्न परं किञ्चित्सा काष्ठा सा परा गतिः ॥ ११॥

mahataḥ paramavyaktamavyaktātpuruṣaḥ paraḥ |

puruṣānna paraṃ kiṃcitsā kāṣṭhā sā parā gatiḥ || 11 ||

Beyond the great Ātman is the Unmanifested; beyond the Unmanifested is the Puruṣa (the Cosmic Soul); beyond the Puruṣa there is nothing. That is the end that is the final goal.

Sloka : 1.3.12

एष सर्वेषु भूतेषु गूढोऽत्मा न प्रकाशते ।

दृश्यते त्वग्र्यया बुद्ध्या सूक्ष्मया सूक्ष्मदर्शिभिः ॥ १२॥

eṣa sarveṣu bhūteṣu gūḍho''tmā na prakāśate |

dṛśyate tvagryayā buddhyā sūkśmayā sūkśmadarśibhiḥ || 12 ||

This Ātman (Self), hidden in all beings, does not shine forth; but It is seen by subtle seers through keen and subtle understanding.

Sloka : 1.3.13

यच्छेद्वाङ्मनसी प्राज्ञस्तद्यच्छेज्ज्ञान आत्मनि ।

ज्ञानमात्मनि महति नियच्छेत्तद्यच्छेच्छान्त आत्मनि ॥ १३॥

yacchedvāṅmanasī prājñastadyacchejjñāna ātmani |

jñānamātmani mahati niyacchettadyacchecchānta ātmani || 13 ||

Let the intelligent man sink speech into mind, sink that into intelligence and intelligence into the great âtman and sink that into the peaceful âtman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The text states the means of attaining that Yatchêt, draw into. Prâjnah, one having discernment. What? Vâky, i.e., speech. The word ‘vâk,’ i.e, speech, is illustratively used to denote all the senses. Where? In the mind. The lengthening of the vowel in manasî is a Vedic license; and that mind, let him sink into gnâna, i.e., intellect bright by nature; ‘intellect’ is called âtman here; for, it pervades the mind and the other senses; therefore, it is their ‘Pratyagâtman,’ i.e., internal principle; let him sink the intellect into the âtman; ‘great,’ i.e., first born Hiranyagarbha. The meaning is, let him make his intelligence as clear in its nature as the first born; let him sink that great âtman also into the peaceful âtman, i.e., into the primary âtman whose nature does not admit of any conditions, which is unmodified, which is within all and which is the witness of all the modifications of the intellect.

Sloka : 1.3.14

उत्तिष्ठत जाग्रत प्राप्य वरान्निबोधत ।

क्षुरस्य धारा निशिता दुरत्यया दुर्गं पथस्तत्कवयो वदन्ति ॥ १४॥

uttiṣṭhata jāgrata prāpya varānnibodhata |

kśurasya dhārā niśitā duratyayā durgaṃ pathastatkavayo vadanti || 14 ||

Arise, awake; having reached the great, learn; the edge of a razor is sharp and impassable; that path, the intelligent say, is hard to go by.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Having thus merged into the purusha, the âtman, all the three, i.e., name, form and karma which are produced by false knowledge and are of the nature of action, agents and fruits, by a knowledge of the true nature of his âtman, as the water in the mirage, the serpent in the rope and the colour of the sky, disappear by seeing the true nature of the mirage, rope and the sky, one becomes free from anxiety and calm, his purpose accomplished. Therefore to know that, arise, Oh, living beings sleeping in beginningless ignorance, i.e., turn towards the acquisition of the knowledge of the âtman; and awake, i.e., put an end to the sleep of ignorance, horrible in form and the seed of all misery. How? Having approached excellent preceptors who know that, realise the âtman taught by them, the innermost and in all, thus ‘I am he.’ This is not to be neglected. Thus, the sruti, like a mother, says from compassion; because the object to be known can be realised only by very subtle intelligence. Why is it stated ‘by subtle in-tellect’'? The edge of a razor is pointed, i.e., made sharp and impassable, i.e., passable with difficulty; as that cannot be walked over by the feet, similarly hard to attain, the intelligent say, is the road of the knowledge of truth. The meaning is that because the object to be known is very subtle, they say the road of knowledge leading to that is not easily attainable.

Sloka : 1.3.15

अशब्दमस्पर्शमरूपमव्ययं तथाऽरसं नित्यमगन्धवच्च यत् ।

अनाद्यनन्तं महतः परं ध्रुवं निचाय्य तं मृत्युमुखात् प्रमुच्यते ॥ १५॥

aśabdamasparśamarūpamavyayaṃ tathā'rasannityamagandhavacca yat |

anādyanantaṃ mahataḥ paraṃ dhruvaṃ nicāyya tanmṛtyumukhātpramucyate || 15 ||

Which is soundless, touchless, formless, undecaying, so tasteless, eternal and scentless, beginningless, endless, beyond the Mahat, and constant, knowing that, man escapes from the mouth of Death.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How the object to be known is very subtle is explained. This earth produced by sound, touch, form, taste and scent, and the object of all the senses, is gross; so is the body. Here, by the elimination one by one, of these gunâs, i.e., attributes from earth and the rest, difference in respect of subtlety, greatness, purity and durability, has been found in the element, from water upwards to the âkâs. Therefore the sruti shows that little need be said of the unsurpassable subtlety, etc., of that in which smell and the rest up to sound inclusive, mere modifications being gross, do not exist; which is soundless, touchless, formless, undecaying, so tasteless eternal and scentless, Brahman thus explained is undecaying; for, what has sound, etc., decays. But this having no sound, etc., does not decay or suffer diminution; therefore also, it is eternal; for what decays is ephemeral; but this does not decay. Therefore, it is eternal; and being eternal, it is beginningless; i.e., has no cause; what has a beginning, that being an effect, is not eternal and is absorbed into its cause as earth, etc. But this being the cause of all is not an effect and not being an effect, it is eternal. It has no cause into which it could be absorbed; similarly endless, i.e., that which has no end or anything to be done by it. As the ephemeral nature of plantains, etc., is seen, by the fact of their yielding fruit and other results; not even thus, is it seen that Brahman, has an end; therefore also eternal. Beyond the mahat, distinct in nature from the principle known as mahat called intelligence, for it is the witness of all, eternal knowledge being its nature, and Brahman being the âtman of all things. For, it has been already said ‘This âtman concealed in all living beings, etc.’ Constant, i.e., changeless and eternal. Its eternal nature is not relative like that of the earth, etc. Having realised Brahman thus described as the âtman, one releases the âtman from the mouth of Death, i.e., from what is incidental to Death, i.e., from ignorance, desire and karma.

Sloka : 1.3.16

नाचिकेतमुपाख्यानं मृत्युप्रोक्तँ सनातनम् ।

उक्त्वा श्रुत्वा च मेधावी ब्रह्मलोके महीयते ॥ १६॥

nāciketamupākhyānaṃ mṛtyuproktam̐ sanātanam |

uktvā śrutvā ca medhāvī brahmaloke mahīyate || 16 ||

Hearing and repeating the old Nachikêta’s story told by Death, the intelligent man attains glory in the world of Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The sruti, for extolling the knowledge treated of, says:- Nachikêtam ] obtained by Nachikêtas. Mrityuprôktam ] told by Death. The story] contained in the three vallis. Old] of ancient date, being narrated in the Vêdâs. Repeating] to Brâhmins. Hearing] from preceptors; world of Brahman ] world which is Brahman; attains glory] having become the âtman, is fit to be worshipped.

Sloka : 1.3.17

य इमं परमं गुह्यं श्रावयेद् ब्रह्मसंसदि ।

प्रयतः श्राद्धकाले वा तदानन्त्याय कल्पते । तदानन्त्याय कल्पत इति ॥ १७॥

इति काठकोपनिषदि प्रथमाध्याये तृतीया वल्ली ॥

ya imaṃ paramaṃ guhyaṃ śrāvayedbrahmasaṃsadi |

prayataḥ śrāddhakāle vā tadānantyāya kalpate tadānantyāya kalpata iti || 17 ||

Whoever with zeal, causes to be recited before an. assembly of Brâhmins or at the time of Srâddha of the ancestors, this highest secret, that secures immortality, secures immortality.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Whoever causes this text, this highest secret to be recited verbatim and with meaning, in an assembly of Brâhmins, being himself clean, or causes it to be recited at the time of Srâddha to those who are there fed, that Srâddha is able to secure for him endless fruits. The repetition is for concluding the chapter.

Sloka : 2.1.1

पराञ्चि खानि व्यतृणत् स्वयम्भू-

स्तस्मात्पराङ्पश्यति नान्तरात्मन् ।

कश्चिद्धीरः प्रत्यगात्मानमैक्ष-

दावृत्तचक्षुरमृतत्वमिच्छन् ॥ १॥

parāñci khāni vyatṛṇatsvayambhū

stasmātparāṅpaśyati nāntarātman |

kaściddhīraḥ pratyagātmānamaikṣa

dāvṛttacakśuramṛtatvamicchan || 1 ||

The self-existent created the senses out-going:- therefore, one sees outside and not the âtman within. Some intelligent man, with his senses turned away, (from their object), desirous of immortality, sees the âtman within.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—It was stated that this âtman concealed in all living beings does not shine but is seen by the subtle intellect. What is the obstacle to the subtle intellect seeing the âtman, in the absence of which the âtman can be seen? This valli is begun for the purpose of showing why it is not seen; for it is only when the cause of the obstacle to the attainment of good is known, that it is possible to attempt to remove it and not otherwise. Parânchi ] which go out; khâni ] the senses; the ear and the rest are indicated illustratively by this word khâni. These senses go outward to enlighten their objects, such as sound, etc., as they are of this nature; Paramêsvara has damned them. Who is that? The self-existent, the lord of all, because he alone is always independent and never dependent on others. Therefore, the perceiver sees the external objects which are not the âtman, such as sound, etc., and not the âtman within. Though this is the nature of the world, some discerning man, like turning back the current of a river, sees the âtman within (pratyagâtman) the âtman which is pratyak; it is to denote the pratyak (the inner spirit) that the word âtman is technically used in the world and not to denote any other; and even according to its etymology, it is that alone which the word âtman denotes; for, according to the smriti which declares the derivative meaning of the word âtman, what pervades, what absorbs, what enjoys objects here and what makes the continuous existence of this universe is, therefore, called the âtman. The word ‘aikshat’ meaning ‘saw’, here means ‘sees’; for the tense is not strictly observed in the Vêdâs. How he sees is explained. With his eyes turned with all his senses, the eye, the ear and the rest diverted from all objects. Thus prepared, he sees pratyagâtman; for it is not possible for the same man to be intent on external objects and go to see the pratyagâtman. Why again the intelligent man with such great efforts and by restraining his senses from their natural activity sees the pratyagâtman, is explained. Being desirous to secure immortality, i.e., eternal existence for his âtman.

Sloka : 2.1.2

पराचः कामाननुयन्ति बाला-

स्ते मृत्योर्यन्ति विततस्य पाशम् ।

अथ धीरा अमृतत्वं विदित्वा

ध्रुवमध्रुवेष्विह न प्रार्थयन्ते ॥ २॥

parācaḥ kāmānanuyanti bālā

ste mṛtyoryanti vitatasya pāśaṃ |

atha dhīrā amṛtatvaṃ viditvā

dhruvamadhruveṣviha na prārthayante || 2 ||

The ignorant pursue external objects of desire; they get into the meshes of widespread death:- but the intelligent, knowing sure immortality, do not covet the uncertain things here.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The natural tendency to see external objects which are not atman is the cause of the obstacle, i.e., ignorance, to the realisation of the âtman. Being, opposed to it, the desire of enjoyments pertaining to this world and to the next, external to self and held up by ignorance, is another obstacle. The realisation of the âtman being impeded by ignorance and desire, men with little intelligence pursue only external objects of desire. By that cause, they get into the meshes of widespread, i.e., omnipresent death, i.e., the combination of ignorance, desire and karma. Meshes] that which binds, consisting in the possession and deprivation of the body, the senses, etc. The meaning is that they fall into a continuous stream of manifold misery, such as birth, death, old age, sickness, etc., This being so, the intelligent, knowing the certain immortality of concentration in the pratyagâtman (the immortality of the Dêvâs and the rest is uncertain; but this consisting in concentration in the pratyagâtman is certain, because it does not increase or suffer diminution by karma); i.e., knowing this constant and unshakable immortality, the knowers of Brahman do not covet any, among the ephemeral objects here, i.e., in samsâra full of misery, because these objects are opposed to the realisation of the pratyagâtman. The drift is that they rise above the desires of sons, wealth and worlds.

Sloka : 2.1.3

येन रूपं रसं गन्धं शब्दान् स्पर्शांश्च मैथुनान् ।

एतेनैव विजानाति किमत्र परिशिष्यते । एतद्वै तत् ॥ ३॥

yena rūpaṃ rasaṃ gandhaṃ śabdānsparśām̐śca maithunān |

etenaiva vijānāti kimatra pariśiṣyate | etadvaitat || 3 ||

By which alone, one knows form, taste, smell, sounds, touch and the pleasures of the sexes; what remains here unknown to that. This verily is that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How is that to be known, other than the knowledge of which Brâhmins do not crave anything. This is explained. By which, i.e., the âtman whose nature is intelligence; all the world clearly knows form, taste, smell, sounds, touches and the pleasurable sensations due to the commingling of the sexes. It may here be objected that the experience of the world is not in the form ‘I know by the âtman distinct from the body, etc.’; but that all the world thinks in the form ‘I, the combination of the body, etc., Know.’ Not so; even the combination of the body, etc., not being distinguishable in its nature from sounds and the rest and being in the nature of a knowable, it is not reasonable to attribute the nature of knower to it; for if the combination of the body, etc., being no other than form, etc., could perceive other forms, etc., even external forms, etc., may perceive their own and

Sloka : 2.1.4

स्वप्नान्तं जागरितान्तं चोभौ येनानुपश्यति ।

महान्तं विभुमात्मानं मत्वा धीरो न शोचति ॥ ४॥

svapnāntaṃ jāgaritāntaṃ cobhau yenānupaśyati ।

mahāntaṃ vibhumātmānaṃ matvā dhīro na śocati ॥ 4 ॥

That by which a mortal perceives, both in dream and in waking, by knowing that great all-pervading Ātman the wise man grieves no more.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

NOTE:- Tranlsation and commentary is missing from the book. The alternate translation for the verse presented above is from Swami Paramananda.

Sloka : 2.1.5

य इमं मध्वदं वेद आत्मानं जीवमन्तिकात् ।

ईशानं भूतभव्यस्य न ततो विजुगुप्सते । एतद्वै तत् ॥ ५॥

ya imaṃ madhvadaṃ veda ātmānaṃ jīvamantikāt |

īśānaṃ bhūtabhavyasya na tato vijugupsate | etadvai tat || 5 ||

He who knows this Ātman, the honey- eater (perceiver and enjoyer of objects), ever near, as the lord of the past and future, fears no more. This verily is That.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

NOTE:- Tranlsation and commentary is missing from the book. The alternate translation for the verse presented above is from Swami Paramananda.

Sloka : 2.1.6

यः पूर्वं तपसो जातमद्भ्यः पूर्वमजायत ।

गुहां प्रविश्य तिष्ठन्तं यो भूतेभिर्व्यपश्यत । एतद्वै तत् ॥ ६॥

yaḥ pūrvaṃ tapaso jātamadbhyaḥ pūrvamajāyata |

guhāṃ praviśya tiṣṭhantaṃ yo bhūtebhirvyapaśyata | etadvai tat || 6 ||

Who sees him seated within the five elements,—him who was born of Tapas (Brahman) who was born before the waters and who having entered the cavity of the heart, is therein seated. This verily is that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This shows that he who was pointed as the pratyagâtman and Isvara is the âtman of all. Yah ] some seeker after emancipation. Pûrvam ] first. Tapasah ] from the Brahman defined as knowledge, etc. Jâtam ] created or produced, the first-born of Brahman, i.e., Hiranyagarhha. ‘Born before whom’ is explained. Adbhyah pûrvam ] before the five elements, including water; not before water alone; ajâyata ] was born. This first-born who having created the bodies of the Dêvâs, etc., entered the âkâs of the heart of every living thing and is there seated, perceiving sounds, etc., Bhûtêbhih means Bhûtâh or elements in the nature of cause and effect. Who sees him seated with them:- who sees thus. See this alone, i.e., Brahman the subject of our present discussion.

Sloka : 2.1.7

या प्राणेन सम्भवत्यदितिर्देवतामयी ।

गुहां प्रविश्य तिष्ठन्तीं या भूतेभिर्व्यजायत । एतद्वै तत् ॥ ७॥

yā prāṇena saṃbhavatyaditirdevatāmayī |

guhāṃ praviśya tiṣṭhantīṃ yā bhūtebhirvyajāyata | etadvaitat || 7 ||

Who is born along with prâpa manifested as all Dêvâs, the eater, seated, having entered the heart, who was born with the elements. This verily is that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Dêvatâmayî ] in the form of all the Dêvatâs. Prâpena ] as Hiranyagarbha; is born] from the highest Brahman; aditi ] so called, because she eats as it were sounds, etc.; her] who as before entered the heart and is there seated, the text describes her. Who was born along with bhûtâs or living creatures.

Sloka : 2.1.8

अरण्योर्निर्हितो जातवेदा गर्भ इव सुभृतो गर्भिणीभिः ।

दिवे दिव ईड्यो जागृवद्भिर्हविष्मद्भिर्मनुष्येभिरग्निः । एतद्वै तत् ॥ ८॥

araṇyornihito jātavedā garbha iva subhṛto garbhiṇībhiḥ |

dive dive īḍyo jāgṛvadbhirhaviṣmadbhirmanuṣyebhiragniḥ | etadvaitat || 8 ||

The fire lodged in the aranis, as the foetus is well-borne by the pregnant woman fit to be worshipped every day by watchful offerers and other men. This verily is that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again, the sacrificial fire lodged in the upper arani and the lower arani, the eater of all offerings and the fire within the body; which are well-maintained by the ritviks and yôgins, respectively, as the foetus is well-maintained in the world by pregnant women, by means of food, drink, etc., not condemned. Moreover, fit to be worshipped, i.e., eulogised and adored every day by those who follow Karma and by those who follow yôga, in sacrifices and at heart; jâgrivadbhih, who are by nature on the alert, i.e., watchful. Havishmadbhih, by those having offerings such as ghee, etc., and by those having contemplation and meditation. This verily is that—that Brahman now treated of.

Sloka : 2.1.9

यतश्चोदेति सूर्यः अस्तं यत्र च गच्छति ।

तं देवाः सर्वे अर्पितास्तदु नात्येति कश्चन । एतद्वै तत् ॥ ९॥

yataścodeti sūryo'staṃ yatra ca gacchati |

taṃ devāḥsarve arpitāstadu nātyeti kaścana | etadvaitat || 9 ||

Whence also the sun rises and where he sets, on that, all the Devas depend. None certainly passes beyond that. This verily is that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Moreover, that prâna from which the sun rises and that where alone the sun every day sets, that prana. i.e., the Adhidaiva and the Adhyâtma aspect of Atman as the gods and speech, etc., as the senses enter into, while they last, as spokes in a wheel. Even he is certainly Brahman. That is this Brahman, the âtman of all. None certainly passes beyond that] none ceasing to be of the nature of that becomes other than that. This verily is that.

Sloka : 2.1.10

यदेवेह तदमुत्र यदमुत्र तदन्विह ।

मृत्योः स मृत्युमाप्नोति य इह नानेव पश्यति ॥ १०॥

yadeveha tadamutra yadamutra tadanviha |

mṛtyoḥ sa mṛtyumāpnoti ya iha nāneva paśyati || 10 ||

What indeed is here, is there; what there, that here again; from Death to Death he goes; who here sees, as if different.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This is said in order that the doubt may not arise in anybody; that what exists in all from the Brahma down to the immovable and appears, being subject to particular conditions, as something other than Brahman and subject to samsâra, he is different from the highest Brahman. What indeed is here subject to conditions of causes and effects and appears to the ignorant as possessing the attributes of sâmsâra, he is indeed the Brahman there centred within the body, in his nature dense with eternal knowledge and devoid of the attributes of all samsâra; again, what there is centred with self is itself here subject to conditions of name, form, cause and effect and is no other. This being so, he who here deluded by ignorance, which consists in seeing difference by the nature of the conditions sees in the Brahman which is one, a variety, thinking thus ‘I am other than the highest Brahman and the highest Brahman is other than I’, goes from death to death, i.e., is again born and dies; so, one should not see thus. The drift of the text is that one should see thus. ‘I am indeed the Brahman, the one unalloyed intelligence, all-pervading, filling all space like the âkâs’.

Sloka : 2.1.11

मनसैवेदमाप्तव्यं नेह नानास्ति किञ्चन ।

मृत्योः स मृत्युं गच्छति य इह नानेव पश्यति ॥ ११॥

manasaivedamāptavyanneha nānāsti kiṃcana |

mṛtyoḥ sa mṛtyuṃ gacchati ya iha nāneva paśyati || 11 ||

By mind alone could this be obtained, there is no difference here at all. He goes from death to death who sees as if there were difference here.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Before attaining the knowledge of the oneness, by the mind purified by the sâstrâs and by the preceptor, this unalloyed essence of the Brahman should be attained in the form ‘There is the Brahman alone, nothing else exists.’ When attained, ignorance, the cause of the perception of difference being removed, there is not even the slightest difference here, i.e., in the Brahman. But he who does not give up....[1]

  1. The following page is missing from the book

Sloka : 2.1.12

अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषो मध्य आत्मनि तिष्ठति ।

ईशानं भूतभव्यस्य न ततो विजुगुप्सते । एतद्वै तत् ॥ १२॥

aṅguṣṭhamātraḥ puruṣo madhya ātmani tiṣṭhati |

īśānaṃ bhūtabhavyasya na tato vijugupsate | etadvai tat || 12 ||

The Puruṣa (Self), of the size of a thumb, resides in the middle of the body as the lord of the past and the future, (he who knows Him) fears no more. This verily is That.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

NOTE:- Tranlsation and commentary is missing from the book. The alternate translation for the verse presented above is from Swami Paramananda.

Sloka : 2.1.13

अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषो ज्योतिरिवाधूमकः ।

ईशानो भूतभव्यस्य स एवाद्य स उ श्वः । एतद्वै तत् ॥ १३॥

aṅguṣṭhamātraḥ puruṣo jyotirivādhūmakaḥ |

īśāno bhūtabhavyasya sa evādya sa u śvaḥ | etadvai tat || 13 ||

That Puruṣa, of the size of a thumb, is like a light without smoke, lord of the past and the future. He is the same today and tomorrow. This verily is That.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

NOTE:- Tranlsation and commentary is missing from the book. The alternate translation for the verse presented above is from Swami Paramananda.

Sloka : 2.1.14

यथोदकं दुर्गे वृष्टं पर्वतेषु विधावति ।

एवं धर्मान् पृथक्पश्यंस्तानेवानुविधावति ॥ १४॥

yathodakaṃ durge vṛṣṭaṃ parvateṣu vidhāvati |

evaṃ dharmān pṛthak paśyaṃstānevānuvidhāvati || 14 ||

As rain water, (falling) on the mountain top, runs down over the rocks on all sides; similarly, he who sees difference (between visible forms) runs after them in various directions.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

NOTE:- Tranlsation and commentary is missing from the book. The alternate translation for the verse presented above is from Swami Paramananda.

Sloka : 2.1.15

यथोदकं शुद्धे शुद्धमासिक्तं तादृगेव भवति ।

एवं मुनेर्विजानत आत्मा भवति गौतम ॥ १५॥

इति काठकोपनिषदि द्वितीयाध्याये प्रथमा वल्ली ॥

yathodakaṃ śuddhe śuddhamāsiktaṃ tādṛgeva bhavati ।

evaṃ munervijānata ātmā bhavati gautama ॥ 15 ॥

As water pure poured into pure becomes the same only, so the âtman of the thinker who knows thus, becomes; Oh Gautama.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—But how becomes the âtman of a thinker who has acquired knowledge, whose perception of difference due to conditions has been destroyed, and who knows the âtman pure, dense with knowledge unalloyed, and one without a second, is explained. As water pure poured into pure becomes of the same quality, not otherwise, the âtman also of the thinker becomes the same, Oh Gautama. Therefore, leaving the perception of difference induced by bad logic and the erroneous notion of no-here-after, the perception of the one-ness of the âtman inculcated by the Vêdâs, a better well-wisher than thousands of mothers and fathers should be anxiously respected by those whose pride has been quelled.

Sloka : 2.2.1

पुरमेकादशद्वारमजस्यावक्रचेतसः ।

अनुष्ठाय न शोचति विमुक्तश्च विमुच्यते । एतद्वै तत् ॥ १॥

puramekādaśadvāramajasyāvakracetasaḥ |

anuṣṭhāya na śocati vimuktaśca vimucyate | etadvaitat || 1 ||

The city of the unborn, whose knowledge is permanent, has eleven gates; thinking on him, one does not grieve and being freed, becomes free. This verily is that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As Brahman is not easily knowable, this if commenced for the purpose of ascertaining the entity of the Brahman, again by another method. City] being like a city, this body is called a city, because we find in it the appendages of a city such as gatekeepers, their controllers, etc.; a city with all its appendages has been found to exist, for an owner independent of it and not mixed up with it; similarly, from its resemblance to a city, the body, a bundle of many appendages, must exist for an owner occupying the place of a king and not mixed up with it; and this city named body has eleven gates; seven in the head, and three lower down including the navel and one at the top of the head; whose this is, i.e., of the unborn] of the âtman not subject to modifications such as birth, etc., occupying the place of the king and dissimilar in its properties to the city; avakra chêtasah:- whose chetah, i.e., knowledge is not crooked and eternally existent like the splendour of the sun and uniform, i.e., of the Brahman occupying the place of the king; contemplating on that Paramêsvara, highest Lord, the owner of the city; for the word anushthânam here means the contemplation of him leading to sound knowledge or realisation of him contemplating on him, as living equally in all things, one does not grieve, being freed from all desire; fearlessness being attained by knowing him, there being no occasion for grief, whence could he fear? Even here, he becomes freed from the ties of desire and karma induced by ignorance and being thus freed, he becomes free, i.e., does not enter a body again.

Sloka : 2.2.2

हसः शुचिषद्वसुरान्तरिक्षस-

द्धोता वेदिषदतिथिर्दुरोणसत् ।


दब्जा गोजा ऋतजा अद्रिजा ऋतं बृहत् ॥ २॥

ham̐saḥ śuciṣadvasurāntarikśasa

ddhotā vediṣadatithirduroṇasat ।


dabjā gojā ṛtajā adrijā ṛtaṃ bṛhat ॥ 2 ॥

As mover, he dwells in heaven; as pervader, in inter-space; as fire, in the altar; as guest, in a house; he dwells in man, dwells in betters, dwells in truth and dwells in the âkâs. He is all that is born in water, all that is born of earth, all that is born of sacrifices and all that is born of mountain; true and great.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—And he the âtman does not live in the city of one body alone; but he lives in all cities. How hamsah ] one who moves; suchishat ] dwelling in heaven as the sun. Vasuh, one who animates all; dwells in the inter-space, as wind; hôtâ ] fire, according to the sruti ‘fire indeed is hôtâ;’ Vêdishat ] dwelling in Vêdi or earth, according to the srutis ‘ this Vêdi is the supreme nature of earth,’ etc. Atithih ] sômah. Durônasat ] dwelling in Durôna, i.e., vessel; or a Brâhmin dwelling in the house (Durôna) as a guest (atithih); nrishat ] dwelling in men; Varasat ] dwelling in betters, i.e., the Devas. Ritasat dwelling in rita, i.e., truth or sacrifice; Vyômasat dwelling in Vyôma, i.e., âkâsa, Abjâh ] those born in water, in the form of conch, mother of pearl, whale, etc.; gojâh ] those born of the earth in the form of corn, grain, etc.; ritajâh, those born in the form of appendages ta sacrifice; adrijâh ] those born of mountains in the form of rivers, etc.; though the âtman of all, he is ritam, i.e., of unchanging nature. Brihat, great, being the cause of all; even when the sun alone is described by the mantra, even then, from the fact that the sun is accepted as âtman in his nature, there is no conflict in this commentary. The meaning of the mantra is that the âtman of the universe is only one and all-pervading and there is no difference in the âtman.

Sloka : 2.2.3

ऊर्ध्वं प्राणमुन्नयति अपानं प्रत्यगस्यति ।

मध्ये वामनमासीनं विश्वे देवा उपासते ॥ ३॥

ūrdhvaṃ prāṇamunnayatyapānaṃ pratyagasyati |

madhye vāmanamāsīnaṃ viśve devā upāsate || 3 ||

He leads the prâna upwards and casts the apâna downwards; the dwarf seated in the middle, all Devas worship.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—In realising the existence of the âtman an evidence is offered—Upwards] from the heart. Prâba ] the wind, whose function is connected with breath. Unnayati ] leads upwards. Similarly casts the apâna downwards. The word yah (who), should be supplied to complete the sentence. Him seated in the middle, i.e., in the âkâs of the lotus of the heart, with the light of knowledge clearly shining in the intellect and worthy of worship, all the Dêvâs, i.e., the senses, the eyes and the rest propitiate, by bringing in the perceptions of form, etc., as the subjects please the king, by offerings, i.e., they are uninterruptedly active on his account. The drift of the text is that there is another on whose behalf and by whom is directed all the activity of the winds and the senses.

Sloka : 2.2.4

अस्य विस्रंसमानस्य शरीरस्थस्य देहिनः ।

देहाद्विमुच्यमानस्य किमत्र परिशिष्यते । एतद्वै तत् ॥ ४॥

asya visraṃsamānasya śarīrasthasya dehinaḥ |

dehādvimucyamānasya kimatra pariśiṣyate | etadvaitat || 4 ||

When this âtman seated in the body escapes from the body what here remains? This verily is that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again, of this âtman in the body, visramsamânasya ] escaping. Dehinah ] embodied. The meaning of the word visramsamâna is explained by the expression dêhât vimuchyamânasya (being free from the body); what here remains? nothing of the whole lot of prâna, etc., remains. Here] in the body; the âtman, on whose leaving the body, all this lot of effects and causes becomes in an instant enervated, destroyed and defunct, as in the case of the inhabitants of a city, when the lord of the city, is driven out of it, has been established to be some other than all this.

Sloka : 2.2.5

न प्राणेन नापानेन मर्त्यो जीवति कश्चन ।

इतरेण तु जीवन्ति यस्मिन्नेतावुपाश्रितौ ॥ ५॥

na prāṇena nāpānena martyo jīvati kaścana |

itareṇa tu jīvanti yasminnetāvupāśritau || 5 ||

Not by prâna, not by apâna, does any mortal live; but it is by some other on which these two depend that men live.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The theory may be urged ‘that the body becomes destroyed only by the exit of prana, apâna, etc., and not by the exit of the âtman distinct from these; for, man lives only by prana and the rest’. This is not so; not by prâna, not by apâna, not by the eyes, etc., does a mortal having a body live. These acting jointly for the benefit of some other cannot be the source of life. The existence of houses, etc., composite in their nature, has not been seen in the world to be undirected by some other not connected with them, for whose benefit they exist; so also, it should be in the case of the combination of prâna and the rest. Therefore, it is by some other alone, dissimilar to the combination of prâpa and the rest, all these combined maintain their life. On which âtman, dissimilar to those combined, the really existent and the highest, these two prâna, and apâna combined with the eyes and the rest, depend and for the benefit of whom (not so combined) prâna, apâna and the rest perform their functions in combination, he is established to be other than they.

Sloka : 2.2.6

हन्त त इदं प्रवक्ष्यामि गुह्यं ब्रह्म सनातनम् ।

यथा च मरणं प्राप्य आत्मा भवति गौतम ॥ ६॥

hanta ta idaṃ pravakśyāmi guhyaṃ brahma sanātanam |

yathā ca maraṇaṃ prāpya ātmā bhavati gautama || 6 ||

To thee, Oh Gautama, I will explain the secret ancient Brahman and also how after death, the âtman becomes.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—I will now explain to thee again this secret ancient Brahman by whose knowledge cessation of all samsâra results and not knowing which, how after death the âtman travels in samsâra. Listen, Oh Gautama.

Sloka : 2.2.7

योनिमन्ये प्रपद्यन्ते शरीरत्वाय देहिनः ।

स्थाणुमन्येऽनुसंयन्ति यथाकर्म यथाश्रुतम् ॥ ७॥

yonimanye prapadyante śarīratvāya dehinaḥ ।

sthāṇumanye'nusaṃyanti yathākarma yathāśrutam ॥ 7 ॥

Some jîvas (dehinah) go into wombs to be embodied; others pass into the immoveable, according to their karma and to their knowledge.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Into wombs, combined with semen virile. Some ignorant fools go to take a body. The meaning is that the jîvas having a body enter the womb. Others, yet inferior after death, become immoveable, such as trees and the rest; ‘according to their karma, means according to karma performed by them, i.e., by the form of karma performed by them, in this birth. Similarly also , ‘ according to their knowledge,’ i.e., according to the nature of knowledge acquired by them. The meaning is that they take a body corresponding to them; for, another sruti says ‘they are born according to their knowledge.’

Sloka : 2.2.8

य एष सुप्तेषु जागर्ति कामं कामं पुरुषो निर्मिमाणः ।

तदेव शुक्रं तद्ब्रह्म तदेवामृतमुच्यते ।

तस्मिँल्लोकाः श्रिताः सर्वे तदु नात्येति कश्चन । एतद्वै तत् ॥ ८॥

ya eṣa supteṣu jāgarti kāmaṃ kāmaṃ puruṣo nirmimāṇaḥ |

tadeva śukraṃ tadbrahma tadevāmṛtamucyate |

tasmiṃllokāḥ śritāḥ sarve tadu nātyeti kaścana | etadvaitat || 8 ||

This Purusha who wakes when all sleep, creating what was desired is certainly ‘the pure,’ that is Brahman and that is said to be immortal. All worlds are fastened on that; none passes beyond that. This verily is that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—What was pledged in ‘I will explain the secret Brahman’ is now explained. This Purusha who wakes, i.e., does not sleep, when all, i.e., when prâna and the rest are asleep, creating by ignorance whatever was desired, i.e., objects of perception, such as woman and the rest, is certainly pure; and that is the Brahman. There is no other secret Brahman. It is that alone which is said to be immortal, i.e., deathless in all the sâstrâs. Moreover, the worlds, earth and the rest, all depend on the Brahman, that being the cause of all worlds. None passeth beyond that, etc., as already explained.

Sloka : 2.2.9

अग्निर्यथैको भुवनं प्रविष्टो

रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपो बभूव ।

एकस्तथा सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा

रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपो बहिश्च ॥ ९॥

agniryathaiko bhuvanaṃ praviṣṭo

rūpaṃ rūpaṃ pratirūpo babhūva |

ekastathā sarvabhūtāntarātmā

rūpaṃ rūpaṃ pratirūpo bahiśca || 9 ||

As fire, though one, having entered the world, takes a separate form in respect of every form, so does the internal âtman of all living things assume a form for every form and is outside all forms.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As the knowledge of the oneness of the âtman, though supported by authority and often reiterated, is not firmly grasped by the intellect of perverse-headed Brahmins, whose mind is shaken by the intellect (arguments) of many logicians, the sruti, being anxious to inculcate it, says again and again:- as fire, though one, bright by nature, having entered the world (Bhuvanam meaning world, because all bhavanti, i.e., are born there) in respect of everything to be burnt assumes separate shapes; so, being one only, the internal âtrnan of all, having entered all bodies such as fire in logs, etc., being extremely subtle, assumes forms responsive and is also without them all, like the âkâs, in his own unmodified nature.

Sloka : 2.2.10

वायुर्यथैको भुवनं प्रविष्टो

रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपो बभूव ।

एकस्तथा सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा

रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपो बहिश्च ॥ १०॥

vāyuryathaiko bhuvanaṃ praviṣṭo

rūpaṃ rūpaṃ pratirūpo babhūva |

ekastathā sarvabhūtāntarātmā

rūpaṃ rūpaṃ pratirūpo bahiśca || 10 ||

As wind, though one, having entered the world, assumes forms responsive to every form, so the internal âtman of all living things, though one, assumes forms responsive to every form and is outside them all.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.— So, another illustration (is offered by ‘as wind though one’, etc.). The analogy is complete, as he enters all bodies as prâtta and takes forms corresponding to every form.

Sloka : 2.2.11

सूर्यो यथा सर्वलोकस्य चक्षु-

र्न लिप्यते चाक्षुषैर्बाह्यदोषैः ।

एकस्तथा सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा

न लिप्यते लोकदुःखेन बाह्यः ॥ ११॥

sūryo yathā sarvalokasya cakśur

na lipyate cākśuṣairbāhyadoṣaiḥ |

ekastathā sarvabhūtāntarātmā

na lipyate lokaduḥkhena bāhyaḥ || 11 ||

As the sun, the eye of all the world, is not tainted with the stains in external objects seen by the eyes, so, the one internal âtman of all living things is not tainted with the world’s grief, being external to it.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Seeing that if one be the âtman of all, he may be regarded as subject to the grief of samsâra, this is said. As the sun benefiting the eye by its rays and manifesting even unclean things such as urine, ordure, etc., though being the eye of all, the world seeing them is not tainted with sins and other blemishes due to seeing unclean things, etc., and by stains caused by physical contact with unclean objects so the one internal âtman is not tainted with the misery of the world, being outside that; for, the world by ignorance superposed on the âtman, suffers misery arising from desire and karma. But that is not really in the âtman, just as, the serpent, silver, water and dirt superposed on the rope, mother-of-pearl, barren spot and the sky, respectively, do not really exist as blemishes in the rope, etc.; from the superposition, by false notion, they are perceived as blemishes in the true objects connected (by the notion); the true objects are not tainted by such blemishes because they are external to the false notion so superposed. Thus the world having superposed on the âtman, the false notion of deed, agency and fruits like the notion of the serpent (on the rope), suffers the misery of birth, death, etc., due to that. But the âtman, though the âtman of all the world, is not tainted by the misery of the world arising from the superposition of a false notion. Why? being external. Because he is like the rope, etc., external to the false notion superposed on him.

Sloka : 2.2.12

एको वशी सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा

एकं रूपं बहुधा यः करोति ।

तमात्मस्थं येऽनुपश्यन्ति धीरा-

स्तेषां सुखं शाश्वतं नेतरेषाम् ॥ १२॥

eko vaśī sarvabhūtāntarātmā

ekaṃ rūpaṃ bahudhā yaḥ karoti |

tamātmasthaṃ ye'nupaśyanti dhīrā

steṣāṃ sukhaṃ śāśvataṃ netareṣām || 12 ||

Sole, controller, the internal âtman of all living things who makes his own form diverse to the intelligent who realizes him as seated in the self, eternal bliss is theirs, not others.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Moreover, he, the lord of all, all-pervading, independent, is one (there is none other equal to him or greater than he); vasî ] under whose control all the universe is; because he is the internal âtman of all; for, he makes himself though one, of the nature of unalloyed pure knowledge, diverse by the differences of impure conditions of name, form, etc., by his mere existence, having unthinkable powers. Âtmastham ] clearly perceived in the form of knowledge, in the conditioned intellect, in the âkâsa of the heart, within the body; for, the body is not the supporter of the âtman, he being formless as the âkâsa. He is like the face reflected in the mirror. To those discerning persons who perceive this lord, this âtman, all their external activities being checked in accordance with the teaching of the preceptor and the âgamâs and realise him directly, to those who have become lords of all, belongs the eternal bliss, i.e., delight in self and not to the undiscerning others, whose intelligence is engrossed by external objects, though the bliss is their own âtman, which in the case of the latter is concealed by ignorance.

Sloka : 2.2.13

नित्योऽनित्यानां चेतनश्चेतनाना-

मेको बहूनां यो विदधाति कामान् ।

तमात्मस्थं येऽनुपश्यन्ति धीरा

स्तेषां शान्तिः शाश्वती नेतरेषाम् ॥ १३॥

nityo'nityānāṃ cetanaścetanānā

meko bahūnāṃ yo vidadhāti kāmān |

tamātmasthaṃ ye'nupaśyanti dhīrā

steṣāṃ śāntiḥ śāśvatīnetareṣām || 13 ||

Eternal among the ephemeral, conscious among the conscious, who, being one, dispenses desired objects to many, the intelligent who see him seated in their selves, to them, eternal peace, not to others.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again, deathless among mortal things, conscious among the conscious, such as Brahma and other living beings. As the power of burning in water and the rest, which are not fire in themselves, is due to fire, so, the intelligence of others is due to the intelligence of the âtman; again, he, omniscient and lord over all, dispenses to those having desire, i.e., to those in samsâra, according to their respective karma, the fruits of karma and desired objects, according to his grace, himself one, to many, without effort. To such intelligent men as see him seated in their selves, eternal peace accrues, not to others, i.e., to those who do not see so.

Sloka : 2.2.14

तदेतदिति मन्यन्तेऽनिर्देश्यं परमं सुखम् ।

कथं नु तद्विजानीयां किमु भाति विभाति वा ॥ १४॥

tadetaditi manyante'nirdeśyaṃ paramaṃ sukham |

kathaṃ nu tadvijānīyāṃ kimu bhāti vibhāti vā || 14 ||

They think of that as this—the indescribable highest bliss. How shall I know that, whether that which shines is seen clearly or not.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—That bliss of the knowledge of the âtman which is indescribable, highest and which, though beyond the speech and mind of men, under the sway of Prakriti, they, the Brâhmins freed from all desire, describe as this, i.e., as something directly perceived; how; i.e., by what process shall I know that bliss:- i.e., realise it as thus perceivable by my intelligence, as the sanyâsins freed from desire, do? Is that which is luminous of itself an object clearly perceivable by our intelligence or not?

Sloka : 2.2.15

न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्रतारकं

नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोऽयमग्निः ।

तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं

तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति ॥ १५॥

इति काठकोपनिषदि द्वितीयाध्याये द्वितीया वल्ली ॥

na tatra sūryo bhāti na candratārakaṃ

nemā vidyuto bhānti kuto'yamagniḥ |

tameva bhāntamanubhāti sarvaṃ

tasya bhāsā sarvamidaṃ vibhāti || 15 ||

The sun does not shine there; nor do the moon and the stars, nor do these lightnings shine. How could this fire? Him shining, all shine after. All this shines by his light.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The reply here is that it shines and is perceived as shining. The sun, though the enlightener of all, does not shine in the Brahman, being his âtman, i.e., the sun does not illumine the Brahman. Similarly, the moon and the stars do not; nor do these lightnings illumine. How could this fire, perceivable by us? Why say much? All these, the sun and the rest who shine, shine only after him, the lord of all; as water, firebrand, etc., from their contact with fire, burn after the burning fire and not by their own inherent virtue. It is by his light only, that all this, the sun and the rest shine. This being so, that Brahman alone shines and shines variously. From the various kinds of light possessed by its effects, the self-luminosity of the Brahman is inferred. It is not possible for one to impart to another luminosity, which one does not possess, because pots, etc., are found incapable of illumining other objects and the sun and the rest, luminous in their nature, are found capable of that.

Sloka : 2.3.1

ऊर्ध्वमूलोऽवाक्शातख एषोऽश्वत्थः सनातनः ।

तदेव शुक्रं तद्ब्रह्म तदेवामृतमुच्यते ।

तस्मिँल्लोकाः श्रिताः सर्वे तदु नात्येति कश्चन । एतद्वै तत् ॥ १॥

ūrdhvamūlo'vākśākha eṣo'śvatthaḥ sanātanaḥ |

tadeva śukraṃ tadbrahma tadevāmṛtamucyate |

tasmiṃllokāḥ śritāḥ sarve tadu nātyeti kaścana | etadvaitat || 1 ||

Root up and branches down is this ancient asvattha tree, that (its source) is pure. That is Brahman and that alone is called immortal. On that, do all worlds depend and none passes beyond that. This verily is that.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As in the world, the ascertainment of the root of a tree is made by ascertaining the nature of the tula (panicle of the flower), this sixth valli (part) is begun with the object of ascertaining the nature of the Brahman, the source (of the samsâra tree,) by ascertaining the nature of the effect, the tree of samsâra. Root up, having its root up, i.e., ‘that highest place of Vishnu’ is its root, this tree of samsâra, extending from the avyakta to the immoveable, has its root up, i.e., in Brahman. It is vriksha (tree), so called, because it is felled; this tree consisting in manifold miseries of birth, decay, death and grief, etc., changing its nature every moment, like jugglery, waters of the mirage, a city formed by the clouds in the sky, etc.; because like these perceived only to vanish ultimately, non-existent like a tree, sapless like the stem of the plantain tree, the subject of several doubtful alternatives in the intellects of many hundreds of sceptics, not ascertained to be what it really is by seekers after truth, receiving its sap from its source, i.e., the highest Brahman ascertained by Vêdânta, growing from the seed of ignorance, desire, karma and avyaktam, having for its sprout hiranyagarbha—the combination of the power of knowledge and activity of the lower Brahman, having for its skandha (trunk), the various subtle bodies of all living things, possessed of the pride of stature from the sprinkling of the waters of desire, having for its tender buds the objects of intelligence and the senses, having for its leaves the srutis, the smritis, logic, learning and instruction, filled with the lovely flowers of sacrifice, gift, penance and many other deeds, having various tastes such as the experience of joy and sorrow, having endless fruits on which living beings subsist, with its roots well grown, i.e., (tendencies of the mind) entwined and fastened firm by the sprinkling of the waters of desire for the fruits, with the nests built by birds, i.e., all living beings from Brahma downwards in the seven worlds beginning with that called satya, reverberating with the tumultuous noise arising from dancing, singing, instrumental music, joking, clapping on the shoulders, laughing, pulling, crying, exclaiming ‘leave me,’ ‘leave me,’ etc., induced by mirth and grief, produced by the happiness and misery of living beings and felled by the unresisted sword of the realisation of the Paramâtman proved by the Vêdânta, this tree of Samsâra, always shaking by its nature to the wind of desire and karma, like the asvattha tree, having its branches, i.e., heaven, hell, the world of beasts and prêtâs, etc., downwards, existing from time immemorial, because having no beginning. That which is the root of this tree of Samsâra is indeed pure, bright, i.e., resplendent, the intelligence of âtman; that indeed is Brahman, being greater than all; that indeed is described as immortal in nature, being true; any other than that is a mere matter of speech, modification, name and falsehood and therefore subject to death. On that, i. e., on the Brahman absolutely true, do all the worlds, false like the city of clouds in the sky, waters of the mirage and jugglery (mâya) and perceived as non-existent by the knowledge of the absolute truth, depend during their birth, stay and absorption. None, i.e., no modification passes beyond that, i.e., Brahman, as the thing made, such as pot, etc., does not pass beyond the mud, etc. This verily is that.

Sloka : 2.3.2

यदिदं किंच जगत्सर्वं प्राण एजति निःसृतम् ।

महद्भयं वज्रमुद्यतं य एतद्विदुरमृतास्ते भवन्ति ॥ २॥

yadidaṃ kiṃca jagatsarvaṃ prāṇa ejati niḥsṛtam |

mahadbhayaṃ vajramudyataṃ ya etadviduramṛtāste bhavanti || 2 ||

All this universe evolved (from prâna) moves while Prâna is; a mighty terror, the thunderbolt uplifted; those who know this become immortal.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—If it be said that Brahman, the source of the world, by knowledge of which men are said to become immortal, does not exist and that all this has come out of nothing, it is not sound; all this universe, the highest Brahman existing, moves; and having come out of that alone, acts regularly. This Brahman, the cause of the origin, etc., of the universe is mahatbhaya, i. e., great and terrible. It is like the thunderbolt uplifted; as, at the sight of the master with the thunderbolt raised in his hand, the servants regularly keep his commands, so this world, with its lords and with the sun, moon, planets, constellation and stars, etc., regularly and without a moment's respite obeys the law. This is the drift. Those who know this, this highest Brahman, the witness of all the modifications of one’s mind, become immortal.

Sloka : 2.3.3

भयादस्याग्निस्तपति भयात्तपति सूर्यः ।

भयादिन्द्रश्च वायुश्च मृत्युर्धावति पञ्चमः ॥ ३॥

bhayādasyāgnistapati bhayāttapati sūryaḥ |

bhayādindraśca vāyuśca mṛtyurdhāvati pañcamaḥ || 3 ||

From fear of him, fire burns; from fear, the sun shines; from fear, Indra and Wind; and Death, the fifth, speeds.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How the world lives from fear, of him, is explained. The fire burns from fear of him, the lord of all; the sun shines from fear; from fear, Indra and Wind; and Death, the fifth, runs; for, if Brahman did not exist as controller of the competent protectors of the world, like one with the thunderbolt uplifted in his hand, their well-regulated activity, as that of the servants trembling from fear of the master would not be possible.

Sloka : 2.3.4

इह चेदशकद्बोद्धुं प्राक्शरीरस्य विस्रसः ।

ततः सर्गेषु लोकेषु शरीरत्वाय कल्पते ॥ ४॥

iha cedaśakadboddhuṃ prākśarīrasya visrasaḥ |

tataḥ sargeṣu lokeṣu śarīratvāya kalpate || 4 ||

If here he is able to know before the falling of the body, then in the worlds of created things, he becomes embodied.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—If he is able to know and knows even during life, this Brahman} the cause of fear, before the falling of the body, then he becomes freed from the bond of Samsâra. If he is not able to know, then, i.e., from want of that knowledge, he becomes able to take, i.e., he takes a body in earth and other worlds, where those who are fit to be created, are created. Therefore, before the falling of the body, attempt should be made to realise the âtman; for the realisation of the âtman even here will be clearly horrible as that of a face reflected in a mirror; not in other worlds except the Brahmalôka; and that is hard to reach.

Sloka : 2.3.5

यथादर्शे तथाऽत्मनि यथा स्वप्ने तथा पितृलोके ।

यथाऽप्सु परीव ददृशे तथा गन्धर्वलोके

च्छायातपयोरिव ब्रह्मलोके ॥ ५॥

yathādarśe tathātmani yathā svapne tathā pitṛloke |

yathāpsu parīva dadṛśe tathā gandharvaloke

chāyātapayoriva brahmaloke || 5 ||

As in a mirror, so within one's self; as in dreams, so in the world of the manes; as indistinctly seen in water, so in the world of the Gandharvâs; as of light and shade, so in the world of Brahma.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How is explained. As one in the world sees his own image reflected in a mirror very distinctly, so the realisation of the âtman in one's intelligence, when spotless like a mirror, becomes clear. As in dreams, the perception is indistinct and produced, i.e., (obscured) by the reminiscences of the waking state, so indistinct is the realisation of the âtman in the world of the manes, being engrossed in the enjoyment of the fruits of karma. As the image of one's self reflected in water is seen indistinctly, with the various parts not defined, so is the realisation of the âtman in the world of the Gandharvâs certainly indistinct. Thus, it is inferred from the authority of the sâstrâs, even in other worlds, it is only in one, the Brahmalôka, that it is very distinct, as that of light and shadow and that (Brahmalôka) is hard to attain requiring as means, a combination of very special karma and knowledge, i.e., (worship). The drift, therefore, is that one should attempt to realise the âtman even while here (in this world).

Sloka : 2.3.6

इन्द्रियाणां पृथग्भावमुदयास्तमयौ च यत् ।

पृथगुत्पद्यमानानां मत्वा धीरो न शोचति ॥ ६॥

indriyāṇāṃ pṛthagbhāvamudayāstamayau ca yat |

pṛthagutpadyamānānāṃ matvā dhīro na śocati || 6 ||

The intelligent man knowing that the senses separately produced are distinct (from the âtman) and also their rising and setting, does not grieve.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How is he to be known and what avails it to know him are explained. Of the senses, such as the ear, etc., separately originating from their causes, the âkâsa, etc., for perceiving their respective objects, knowing their distinctness, i.e., dissimilarity of their nature to the nature of the âtman extremely pure, untainted, and all intelligence; and also the rising and setting, i.e., the creation and absorption of the senses, to depend on the waking and sleeping states and that the âtman has neither beginning nor end, the intelligent man does not grieve. The eternally identical nature of the âtman never changing, there can be no cause of grief. So also another sruti says ‘The knower of the âtman crosses grief.’

Sloka : 2.3.7

इन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनो मनसः सत्त्वमुत्तमम् ।

सत्त्वादधि महानात्मा महतोऽव्यक्तमुत्तमम् ॥ ७॥

indriyebhyaḥ paraṃ mano manasaḥ sattvamuttamam |

sattvādadhi mahānātmā mahato'vyaktamuttamam || 7 ||

Beyond the senses is the mind; higher than the mind is the intellect; above the intellect is the great âtman; higher than the mahat is Avyaktam.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As the senses have been stated to be distinct from the âtman, he cannot be externally perceived; because he is the internal principle of all. How it is so, is explained. Beyond the senses, is the mind, etc., As arthâs (rudiments) here are of the same class with the senses, they are included in the word Indriya. The rest as previously explained. The word saiva here denotes ‘intellect.’

Sloka : 2.3.8

अव्यक्तात्तु परः पुरुषो व्यापकोऽलिङ्ग एव च ।

यं ज्ञात्वा मुच्यते जन्तुरमृतत्वं च गच्छति ॥ ८॥

avyaktāttu paraḥ puruṣo vyāpako'liṅga eva ca |

yaṃ jñātvā mucyate janturamṛtatvaṃ ca gacchati || 8 ||

Beyond the Avyaktam is Purusha, all-pervading and devoid of linga (indicative mark), whom knowing the mortal is freed and attains immortality.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Beyond the Avyaktam is Purusha all-pervad-ing, being the cause of all âkâsa, etc., which is all-pervading. Devoid of linga ] that by which anything is reached (known) is linga such as intellect, etc. That does not exist in him; so he is devoid of linga. The meaning in effect is devoid of all the attributes of samsâra. Him knowing, both from the preceptor and the sâstrâs, the mortal, even during life, is freed from the knots of the heart, such as ignorance, etc., and even when the body falls, attains immortality. This clause is connected with the previous one thus. He is the Purusha beyond the Avyaktam, etc.

Sloka : 2.3.9

न सन्दृशे तिष्ठति रूपमस्य

न चक्षुषा पश्यति कश्चनैनम् ।

हृदा मनीषा मनसाऽभिक्लृप्तो

य एतद्विदुरमृतास्ते भवन्ति ॥ ९॥

na saṃdṛśe tiṣṭhati rūpamasya

na cakśuṣā paśyati kaścanainam |

hṛdā manīṣā manasābhiklṛpto

ya etadviduramṛtāste bhavanti || 9 ||

His form stands not within the fold of vision. None sees him with the eye. By the intellect controlling the mind, and by constant meditation is he revealed. Whoso knows that becomes immortal.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

NOTE:- Commentary is missing from the book.

Sloka : 2.3.10

यदा पञ्चावतिष्ठन्ते ज्ञानानि मनसा सह ।

बुद्धिश्च न विचेष्टति तामाहुः परमां गतिम् ॥ १०॥

yadā pañcāvatiṣṭhante jñānāni manasā saha |

buddhiśca na viceṣṭate tāmāhuḥ paramāṃ gatim || 10 ||

When the five organs of perception become still, together with the mind, and the intellect ceases to be active:- that is called the highest state.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

NOTE:- Tranlsation and commentary is missing from the book. The alternate translation for the verse presented above is from Swami Paramananda.

Sloka : 2.3.11

तां योगमिति मन्यन्ते स्थिरामिन्द्रियधारणाम् ।

अप्रमत्तस्तदा भवति योगो हि प्रभवाप्ययौ ॥ ११॥

tāṃ yogamiti manyante sthirāmindriyadhāraṇām |

apramattastadā bhavati yogo hi prabhavāpyayau || 11 ||

This firm holding back of the senses is what is known as Yoga. Then one should become watchful, for Yoga comes and goes.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

NOTE:- Tranlsation and commentary is missing from the book. The alternate translation for the verse presented above is from Swami Paramananda.

Sloka : 2.3.12

नैव वाचा न मनसा प्राप्तुं शक्यो न चक्षुषा ।

अस्तीति ब्रुवतोऽन्यत्र कथं तदुपलभ्यते ॥ १२॥

naiva vācā na manasā prāptuṃ śakyo na cakśuṣā |

astīti bruvato'nyatra kathaṃ tadupalabhyate || 12 ||

Not by speech, not by mind, not by the eye, can he be attained; except in his case who says ‘He is,’ how can that be known.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—If the Brahman could be perceived by the operation of the intellect, etc., it can be specifically apprehended as this or that. When the intellect, etc., cease to act, Brahman which is not cognised, in the absence of the cause of cognition, does certainly not exist; for, it is only when anything is perceived by the instruments of cognition, it is reputed in the world to exist; and the contrary is said to be non-existing; and, therefore, yôga is useless; or, the Brahman not being known should be known as non-existing. If it is thus urged, it is thus replied ‘true not by speech, not by mind, not by the eye, not by other senses, could he be known; still, though devoid of any attributes, being known as the origin of the universe, he certainly exists; for, that into which effects are absorbed must certainly exist; for, here also, this effect traced back in the ascending series of subtlety leads only to the conviction of something as existent (in the last resort).’ The intellect, even in the ultimate analysis of all the objects of perception, is still pregnant with a belief in the existence of something; for, the intellect is our authority in the comprehending of the real nature of existence and non-existence. If the universe had no existing cause, then the effect (the world) being inseparably connected with non-existence would be apprehended as nonexisting. But this is not so; it is perceived as existing only as pot, etc., made of earth, is perceived in combination with earth. Therefore, the cause of the world, the âtman, must be known as existing. Wherefore? In any other than him who believes in existence, follows the drift of the agâmâs and is possessed of faith, i.e., one who argues that there is no âtman, the source of the universe, and that all this effect not connected with any cause is absorbed into nonexistence and who thus sees perversely, how can that Brahman be truly known? The meaning is it cannot at all be known.

Sloka : 2.3.13

अस्तीत्येवोपलब्धव्यस्तत्त्वभावेन चोभयोः ।

अस्तीत्येवोपलब्धस्य तत्त्वभावः प्रसीदति ॥ १३॥

astītyevopalabdhavyastattvabhāvena cobhayoḥ |

astītyevopalabdhasya tattvabhāvaḥ prasīdati || 13 ||

He should be known to exist and also as he really is. Of these two, to him who knows him to exist, his real nature becomes revealed.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Therefore, having abandoned the theory of those who argue for non-existence, the âtman should be known as existing, as productive of effects and conditioned by intelligence. But when the âtman is devoid of that and subject to no modification (an effect has no existence independent of the cause); as the sruti says ‘a modification is a mere matter of speech and name; that it is mud is alone true,’ then, is the true nature of the âtman unconditioned, devoid of indicative marks, and incapable of being thought of, as existent or non-existent. In that nature also, ‘the âtman should be known’ follows. Of these two] of the conditioned and the unconditioned, i.e., known as existence and its true nature; the genitive case has the froce of Nirdhârana, i.e., determining; of the âtman previously known as merely existent] of the âtman known by the belief in its existence produced by its limitations, i.e., its perceived effects. Afterwards, the real nature of the âtman subject to no condition, different from both the known and the unknown, i.e., the manifested universe and the prakriti, one without a second, and indicated by the srutis ‘ not this, not that, etc.,’ ‘not gross, not subtle, not short ‘in the invisible, bodiless, supportless, etc.,’ faces him who had previously realised it as existent.

Sloka : 2.3.14

यदा सर्वे प्रमुच्यन्ते कामा येऽस्य हृदि श्रिताः ।

अथ मर्त्योऽमृतो भवत्यत्र ब्रह्म समश्नुते ॥ १४॥

yadā sarve pramucyante kāmā ye'sya hṛdi śritāḥ |

atha martyo'mṛto bhavatyatra brahma samaśnute || 14 ||

When all desires clinging to the heart of one fall off, then the mortal becomes immortal and here attains Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—When of the person thus seeing the truth, all desires, which were clinging to the intellect of the knower before he attained the knowledge, fall off from want of anything else to be desired (for intellect and not the âtman is the seat of desires, and also from another sruti which says desire, volition, etc.), then the mortal (he was so before he attained the knowledge), subsequently to the acquisition of knowledge, becomes immortal, death consisting in ignorance, desire and karma being destroyed, and becomes Brahman even here (there being no necessity of going, death resulting in a going having been destroyed) like fire extinguished, all bondage being destroyed.

Sloka : 2.3.15

यदा सर्वे प्रभिद्यन्ते हृदयस्येह ग्रन्थयः ।

अथ मर्त्योऽमृतो भवत्येतावद्ध्यनुशासनम् ॥ १५॥

yathā sarve prabhidyante hṛdayasyeha granthayaḥ |

atha martyo'mṛto bhavatyetāvaddhyanuśāsanam || 15 ||

When here all the knots of the heart are sundered, then the mortal becomes immortal. Thus, much, the instruction.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—When again, the up-rooting of all desires takes place is explained. When all the ties of the heart of one, while yet alive, i.e., all the modifications of the intellect due to ignorance which are in the nature of fast-bound knots are destroyed; when the ties of the heart, i.e., such as the beliefs ‘I am this body,’ ‘this is my wealth,’ ‘I am happy or miserable,’ etc., are destroyed by the rise of the contrary belief in the identity of the Brahman and the âtman, in the form ‘I am certainly Brahman not subject to Samsâra’ the desires which originate in those ties are destroyed to their very root; then the mortal becomes immortal. Thus much alone—the doubt that there is more should not be raised—is the instruction. Of all the Vedântâs’ should be supplied to complete the sentence,

Sloka : 2.3.16

शतं चैका च हृदयस्य नाड्य-

स्तासां मूर्धानमभिनिःसृतैका ।


विष्वङ्ङन्या उत्क्रमणे भवन्ति ॥ १६॥

śataṃ caikā ca hṛdayasya nāḍya

stāsāṃ mūrdhānamabhiniḥsṛtaikā |


viṣvaṅṅanyā utkramaṇe bhavanti || 16 ||

A hundred and one are the nerves of the heart. Of them, one has gone out piercing the head; going up through it, one attains immortality; others at the time of death lead different ways.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—It has been stated that there is no going; for, the knower who has attained the knowledge that the âtman is the all-pervading Brahman devoid of all attributes and who has untied all the knots due to ignorance, &c., and who has become Brahman even while alive; because, says the sruti ‘ he attains Brahman here’ and also says another sruti ‘ his prânâs do not go out.’ ‘Being Brahman, he attains Brahman; but, for those who attain Brahmalôka by the knowledge of the lower Brahman and by other kinds of worship and for those of an opposite kind who whirl in samsâra this special way is pointed out, with a view to eulogise the fruits of the knowledge of the higher Brahman now treated of; moreover, the knowledge of the agni has been made the subject of a question and a reply and this mantra is begun also for the purpose of stating the process by which the fruit of that knowledge is attained. Here, nerves, one hundred in number, and one other named sushumnâ branch out from the heart of man. Among them, the one named sushumnâ has gone out piercing the head. At the moment of death, one should control the âtman in the heart and make it join that nerve, nâdi; going up by that nerve, one goes through the orb of the sun and attains relative immortality; according to the smriti permanency till the absorption of the elements is spoken of as immortality; or, he attains absolute immortality along with Brahma, in due course of time, having enjoyed incomparable pleasures in the Brahmalôka. At the time of death, the other nerves travel diverse ways, i.e., they become the cause of one, being born again in samsâra alone.

Sloka : 2.3.17

अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषोऽन्तरात्मा

सदा जनानां हृदये संनिविष्टः ।

तं स्वाच्छरीरात्प्रवृहेन्मुञ्जादिवेषीकां धैर्येण ।

तं विद्याच्छुक्रममृतं तं विद्याच्छुक्रममृतमिति ॥ १७॥

aṅguṣṭhamātraḥ puruṣo'ntarātmā

sadā janānāṃ hṛdaye saṃniviṣṭaḥ |

taṃ svāccharīrātpravṛhenmuñjādiveṣīkāṃ dhairyeṇa |

taṃ vidyācchukramamṛtaṃ taṃ vidyācchukramamṛtamiti || 17 ||

The Purusha of the size of a thumb, the internal âtman, is always seated in the heart of all living creatures; one should draw him out from one’s own body boldly, as stalk from grass; one should know him as pure and immortal; one should know him as pure and immortal.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Now the sruti says this, for the purpose of concluding the drift of all the vallis. The Purusha of the size of a thumb, the internal âtman, as previously explained, is seated in the heart of all men. One should draw him out, i.e., separate him from one’s own body; ‘like what’ is explained. As the stalk within the grass, from the grass boldly with self-composure. Him, so drawn out from the body, one should know as Brahman previously described, pure, immortal and mere intelligence. The repetition and the use of the particle ‘iti’ are to show that the Upanishad ends here.

Sloka : 2.3.18

मृत्युप्रोक्तां नचिकेतोऽथ लब्ध्वा विद्यामेतां योगविधिं च कृत्स्नम् ।

ब्रह्मप्राप्तो विरजोऽभूद्विमृत्युरन्योऽप्येवं यो विदध्यात्ममेव ॥ १८॥

mṛtyuproktānnaciketo'tha labdhvā vidyāmetāṃ yogavidhiṃ ca kṛtsnam |

brahmaprāpto virajo'bhūdvimṛtyuranyo'pyevaṃ yo vidadhyātmameva || 18 ||

Nachikètas then having acquired this knowledge imparted by Death and also all the instruction about yôga, attained Brahman, having become free from taint and death; so does another also, who thus knows the nature of the âtman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This conclusion of the story intended to eulogise knowledge is now stated. Nachikêtas having obtained from Death by the granting of boons, the knowledge of the Brahman imparted as above said and also all the instruction about yôga with its fruits, attained Brahman, i.e., became immortal. How? Being already freed from vice and virtue and from desire and ignorance. Not merely Nachikêtas alone but even another who like Nachikêtas, knows the âtman and realizes its true nature unconditioned and within all, and not its form which is not within all. Who knows the nature of the âtman, as thus stated, such knower also; ‘being untainted becomes deathless, by attaining Brahman’ should be supplied to complete the sentence.

Sloka : 2.3.19

सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु । सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।

तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ॥ १९॥

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

इति काठकोपनिषदि द्वितीयाध्याये तृतीया वल्ली ॥

saha nāvavatu | saha nau bhunaktu | saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai |

tejasvināvadhītamastu mā vidviṣāvahai || 19 ||

Let Him protect us both; let us exert together may what we study be well studied; may we not hate.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This sânti (expiatory prayer) is stated here for the purpose of removing all faults incurred by the disciple and preceptor, in the course of receiving, and imparting knowledge respectively, and caused by dereliction of rules due to oversight or excitement. Let him protect us both by illumining the nature of knowledge. Who? He alone, the Lord of all, revealed by the Upanishads. Again, let him protect us both, by revealing the fruits of such knowledge. Let us together acquire the strength produced by knowledge. Moreover, may what is studied by us, who are bright, be well studied! Or may what is studied, i.e., acquired by study, by us, be very potent! May we, disciple and preceptor, never hate each other, owing to blame incurred by us, by improper recital or instruction due to oversight! The repetition three times of ‘Peace,’ as ‘Peace! Peace! Peace!’ is for averting all evil. The word Om is to show that the Upanishad ends here.

Shanti Mantra (END)

ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु । सहवीर्यं करवावहै ।

तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु । मा विद्विषावहै ॥

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

ॐ तत् सत् ॥


The Katha Upanishad (Sanskrit: कठोपनिषद् or कठ उपनिषद्) (Kaṭhopaniṣad) is one of the mukhya (primary) Upanishads, embedded in the last short eight sections of the Kaṭha school of the Krishna Yajurveda.

The opening invocation of this Upanishad is a famous mantra chanted to propitiate harmony among people:- om saha navavatu saha nau bhunaktu, saha viryam karavavahai, tejasvi navadhitamastu, ma vidvishavahai, “May (Brahman) protect us together, may we obtain strength together, may what we study give us strength, may we remain free from hostility.”

Vajasravasa Gautama performed a sacrifice called Sarvavedas or Sarvadakshina, a sacrifice in which one is supposed to offer everything he has, without exception; hence its name Sarvadakshina. It is a preparation for the last stage of spiritual life. However, he was not really ready for it. He wanted to offer only things which were not useful, thus following the letter of law, but losing the spirit behind it. He had a young son, Nachiketas by name, who clearly saw the two defects in the sacrifice: the giving of weak and barren cows, and the father’s ignorance of the fact that the son, too, was to be offered. “Joyless,” said the boy, “are the regions to which he goes who offers such sacrifices!” thus irritating his father. And he asked him: “To whom are you going to offer me?” He repeated this question thrice, and the displeased Gautama answered angrily: “To death I send you!”

Here ends the outline of the story, and now we have the real beginning of the Upanishad—a direct teaching to the spiritual aspirant.

The son questions his father

The Upanishad opens with the story of Vajasravasa, also called Aruni Auddalaki Gautama, who gives away all his worldly possessions. However, his son Nachiketa sees the charitable sacrifice as a farce, because all those worldly things have already been used to exhaustion, and are of no value to the recipients. The cows given away, for example, were so old that they had ‘drank-their-last-water’ (पीतोदकाः), ‘eaten-their-last-grass’ (जग्धतृणाः), ‘don’t give milk’ (दुग्धदोहाः), ‘who are barren’ (निरिन्द्रियाः).

The theory of good versus dear

Katha Upanishad characterizes Knowledge/Wisdom as the pursuit of good, and Ignorance/Delusion as the pursuit of pleasant.

Atman exists

Katha Upanishad, in verses 1.2.12 asserts Atman – Soul, Self – exists, though it is invisible and full of mystery. It is ancient, and recognizable by Yoga (meditation on one’s self), states Katha Upanishad.

The parable of the chariot

The third Valli of Katha Upanishad presents the parable of the chariot, to highlight how Atman, body, mind, senses and empirical reality relate to a human being.

The nature of Atman

It asserts that Artha (objects, means of life) are above Indriya (senses), that Manas (mind) is above Artha in this hierarchy, above the Manas is Buddhi (intellect, his ability to reason), above the Buddhi is Atman (his Soul, great Self). Beyond the Atman, states Katha Upanishad, is the Avyaktam (unmanifested Reality), and Purusha (cosmic soul) is beyond the Avyaktam, and beyond the Purusha, there is nothing - for it is the goal, for it is the highest road.

Oneness and Plurality

Atman, asserts Katha Upanishad, is the subject of Self-knowledge, the bearer of spiritual reality, that which is all-pervading, inside every being, which unifies all human beings as well as all creatures, the concealed, eternal, immortal, pure bliss. It exists and active when man is in awake-state, it exists and active when man is in dream-state.

Life is spirit, full of joy

That individual is perennially happy, asserts Katha Upanishad, who realizes the Atman is within him, that he himself is the Master, that the inner Self of all beings and his own Self are “one form manifold”, and none other. Life is spirit, full of joy. Meaning is Atman, full of perennial peace. “Truly, this is that”, once deeply felt and understood by man, is inexpressible highest joy. It is he who realizes this who shines, his splendour shines everything with and by (Anu), the whole world shines by such joy unleashed, such splendour manifested.


The first five verses of the last section of the Upanishad assert that those who do not know or do not understand Atman return to the world of creation, and those who do are free, liberated.

Realize you are perfect now and here

The state of perfection, according to the last section of the Upanishad, consists “not in the attainment of a future or yonder world, but it is already just now and here for one who is Self-realized, who knows his Self (Soul) as Brahman (Cosmic Soul)”.

Introduction by Shankaracharya

those[1] who are fully competent to acquire knowledge have been stated. The whole subject matter of knowledge has also been stated to be the highest Brahman, the internal âtman of all. The fruit of this knowledge has also been stated to be the thorough release from the bondage of samsâra consisting in the attainment of the Brahman. The connection has also been stated by the enunciation of this result. Therefore these chapters, by making as clear as the apple in the hand, the knowledge (persons competent to acquire which, the subject matter of which, the results achieved by which, and the connection with which have been explained) also indicate the persons entitled to study them, their subject matter, their results and their connection. We shall, therefore, proceed to comment upon them to the best of our understanding. Here the anecdote is for the purpose of eulogising knowledge.


[1] First 2 pages are missing.

Introduction by Max Müller

The Upanishads, Part 2 [1879]

THE Katha-upanishad is probably more widely known than any other Upanishad. It formed part of the Persian translation, was rendered into English by Râmmohun Roy, and has since been frequently quoted by English, French, and German writers as one of the most perfect specimens of the mystic philosophy and poetry of the ancient Hindus.

It was in the year 1845 that I first copied at Berlin the text of this Upanishad, the commentary of Saṅkara (MS. 127 Chambers[1]), and the gloss of Gopâlayogin (MS. 224 Chambers). The text and commentary of Saṅkara and the gloss of Ânandagiri have since been edited by Dr. Roer in the Bibliotheca Indica, with translation and notes. There are other translations, more or less perfect, by Râmmohun Roy, Windischmann, Poley, Weber, Muir, Regnaud, Gough, and others. But there still remained many difficult and obscure portions, and I hope that in some at least of the passages where I differ from my predecessors, not excepting Saṅkara, I may have succeeded in rendering the original meaning of the author more intelligible than it has hitherto been.

The text of the Katha-upanishad is in some MSS. ascribed to the Yagur-veda. In the Chambers MS. of the commentary also it is said to belong to that Veda[2], and in the Muktikopanishad it stands first among the Upanishads of the Black Yagur-veda. According to Colebrooke (Miscellaneous Essays, 1, 96, note) it is referred to the Sâma-veda also. Generally, however, it is counted as one of the Âtharvana Upanishads.

The reason why it is ascribed to the Yagur-veda, is probably because the legend of Nakiketas occurs in the Brâhmana of the Taittirîya Yagur-veda. Here we read (III, 1, 8):

Vâgasravasa, wishing for rewards, sacrificed all his wealth. He had a son, called Nakiketas. While he was still a boy, faith entered into him at the time when the cows that were to be given (by his father) as presents to the priests, were brought in. He said: ‘Father, to whom wilt thou give me?’ He said so a second and third time. The father turned round and said to him: ‘To Death, I give thee.’

Then a voice said to the young Gautama, as he stood up: ‘He (thy father) said, Go away to the house of Death, I give thee to Death.’ Go therefore to Death when he is not at home, and dwell in his house for three nights without eating. If he should ask thee, ‘Boy, how many nights hast thou been here?’ say, ‘Three.’ When he asks thee, ‘What didst thou eat the first night?’ say, ‘Thy offspring.’ ‘What didst thou eat the second night?’ say, ‘Thy cattle.’ ‘What didst thou eat the third night?’ say, ‘Thy good works.’

He went to Death, while he was away from home, and lie dwelt in his house for three nights without eating. When Death returned, he asked: ‘Boy, how many nights hast thou been here?’ He answered: ‘Three.’ ‘What didst thou eat the first night?’ ‘Thy offspring.’, ‘What didst thou eat the second night?’ ‘Thy cattle.’ ‘What didst thou eat the third night?’ ‘Thy good works.’

Then he said: ‘My respect to thee, O venerable sir! Choose a boon.’

‘May I return living to my father,’ he said.

‘Choose a second boon.’

‘Tell me how my good works may never perish.’

Then he explained to him this Nâkiketa fire (sacrifice), and hence his good works do not perish.

‘Choose a third boon.’

‘Tell me the conquest of death again.’

Then he explained to him this (chief) Nâkiketa fire (sacrifice), and hence he conquered death again[3].

This story, which in the Brâhmana is told in order to explain the name of a certain sacrificial ceremony called Nâkiketa, was used as a peg on which to hang the doctrines of the Upanishad. In its original form it may have constituted one Adhyâya only, and the very fact of its division into two Adhyâyas may show that the compilers of the Upanishad were still aware of its gradual origin. We have no means, however, of determining its original form, nor should we even be justified in maintaining that the first Adhyâya ever existed by itself, and that the second was added at a much later time. Whatever its component elements may have been before it was an Upanishad, when it was an Upanishad it consisted of six Vallîs, neither more nor less.

The name of vallî, lit. creeper, as a subdivision of a Vedic work, is important. It occurs again in the Taittirîya Upanishads. Professor Weber thinks that vallî, creeper, in the sense of chapter, is based on a modern metaphor, and was primarily intended for a creeper, attached to the sâkhâs or branches of the Veda[4]. More likely, however, it was used in the same sense as parvan, a joint, a shoot, a branch, i.e. a division.

Various attempts have been made to distinguish the more modern from the more ancient portions of our Upanishad[5]. No doubt there are peculiarities of metre, grammar, language, and thought which indicate the more primitive or the more modern character of certain verses. There are repetitions which offend us, and there are several passages which are clearly taken over from other Upanishads, where they seem to have had their original place. Thirty-five years ago, when I first worked at this Upanishad, I saw no difficulty in re-establishing what I thought the original text of the Upanishad must have been. I now feel that we know so little of the time and the circumstances when these half-prose and half-metrical Upanishads were first put together, that I should hesitate before expunging even the most modern-sounding lines from the original context of these Vedântic essays[6].

The mention of Dhâtri, creator, for instance (Kath. Up. II, 20), is certainly startling, and seems to have given rise to a very early conjectural emendation. But dhâtri and vidhâtri occur in the hymns of the Rig-veda (X, 82, 2), and in the Upanishads (Maitr. Up. VI, 8); and Dhâtri, as almost a personal deity, is invoked with Pragâpati in Rig-veda X, 184, I. Deva, in the sense of God (Kath. Up. II, 12), is equally strange, but occurs in other Upanishads also (Maitr. Up. VI, 23; Svetâsv. Up. I, 3). Much might be said about setu, bridge (Kath. Up. III, 2; Mund. Up. II, 2, 5), âdarsa, mirror (Kath. Up. VI, 5), as being characteristic of a later age. But setu is not a bridge, in our sense of the word, but rather a wall, a bank, a barrier, and occurs frequently in other Upanishads (Maitr. Up. VII. 7; Khând. Up. VIII, 4; Brih. Up. IV, 4, 22, &c.), while âdarsas, or mirrors, are mentioned in the Brihadâranyaka and the Srauta-sûtras. Till we know something more about the date of the first and the last composition or compilation of the Upanishads, how are we to tell what subjects and what ideas the first author or the last collector was familiar with? To attempt the impossible may seem courageous, but it is hardly scholarlike.

With regard to faulty or irregular readings, we can never know whether they are due to the original composers, the compilers, the repeaters, or lastly the writers of the Upanishads. It is easy to say that adresya (Mund. Up. I, 1, 6) ought to be adrisya; but who would venture to correct that form? Whenever that verse is quoted, it is quoted with adresya, not adrisya. The commentators themselves tell us sometimes that certain forms are either Vedic or due to carelessness (pramâdapâtha); but that very fact shows that such a form, for instance, as samîyâta (Khând. Up. I, 12, 3) rests on an old authority.

No doubt, if we have the original text of an author, and can prove that his text was corrupted by later compilers or copyists or printers, we have a right to remove those later alterations, whether they be improvements or corruptions. But where, as in our case, we can never hope to gain access to original documents, and where we can only hope, by pointing out what is clearly more modem than the rest or, it may be, faulty, to gain an approximate conception of what the original composer may have had in his mind, before handing his composition over to the safe keeping of oral tradition, it is almost a duty to discourage, as much as lies in our power, the work of reconstructing an old text by so-called conjectural emendations or critical omissions.

I have little doubt, for instance, that the three verses 16-18 in the first Vallî of the Katha-upanishad are later additions, but I should not therefore venture to remove them. Death had granted three boons to Nakiketas, and no more. In a later portion, however, of the Upanishad (II, 3), the expression sriṅkâ vittamayî occurs, which I have translated by ‘the road which leads to wealth.’ As it is said that Nakiketas did not choose that sriṅkâ, some reader must have supposed that a sriṅkâ was offered him by Death. Sriṅkâ, however, meant commonly a string or necklace, and hence arose the idea that Death must have offered a necklace as an additional gift to Nakiketas. Besides this, there was another honour done to Nakiketas by Mrityu, namely, his allowing the sacrifice which he had taught him, to be called by his name. This also, it was supposed, ought to have been distinctly mentioned before, and hence the insertion of the three verses 16-18. They are clumsily put in, for after punar evâha, ‘he said again,’ verse 16 ought not to have commenced by tam abravît, ‘he said to him.’ They contain nothing new, for the fact that the sacrifice is to be called after Nakiketas was sufficiently indicated by verse 19, ‘This, O Nakiketas, is thy fire which leads to heaven, which thou hast chosen as thy second boon.’ But so anxious was the interpolator to impress upon his hearers the fact that the sacrifice should in future go by that name, that, in spite of the metre, he inserted tavaiva, ‘of thee alone,’ in verse 19.

Footnotes by Max Müller

  1. xxi:1 MS. 133 is a mere copy of MS. 127.

  2. xxi:2 Yagurvede Kathavallîbhâshyam.

  3. xxii:1 The commentator explains punar-mrityu as the death that follows after the present inevitable death.

  4. xxiii:1 History of Indian Literature, p. 93, note; p. 157.

  5. xxiii:2 Though it would be unfair to hold Professor Weber responsible for his remarks on this and other questions connected with the Upanishads published many years ago (Indische Studien, 1853, p. 197), and though I have hardly ever thought it necessary to criticise them, some of his remarks are not without their value even now.

  6. xxiv:1 See Regnaud, Le Pessimisme Brahmanique, Annales du Musée Guimet, 1880; tom. i, p. 101.

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