Kathopanishat 1-1

Vajashravasa, who craved heaven and sacrificed all his fortune, had a son Nachiketas.

When all the sacrifice gifts were given, faith entered this young man of justice and he thought:

Without joy, really, are the worlds, which one enters who gives away such cows that drank all the water, ate all the grass, drained all the milk and are barren.

So he asked his father: "Daddy, to whom will I be given?" And he said this twice and thrice. So he answered him: "To Death I shall give you."

I am just the first of many, I am just the middle of many; what can Yama do for him, what will he do with me?

Look, so it was with the predecessors, look, so it will be with the successors: Like the corn ripens the mortal, like the corn he is born again.


Like the fire, enters the house a guest, the Brahman, and it is necessary to satisfy him. Vaivasvata, fetch the water for the foot ablution.

Hopes and expectations, meetings, delight and merits, sons and cattle; these all are denied to the man of little intellect, in whose house the Brahman dwells without nourishment.

Because you dwelled three nights in my house without food, Brahman, being a good guest, I bestow you with honor, Brahman. In order to obtain the bliss myself, choose for three nights three wishes.

Gautama should be at ease, friendly and without anger towards me; released from you, Death, he should embrace me - this I choose as my first wish.

It should be like before, with my permission; Audalaki Aruni, disengaged from my commitment, will sleep quietly in the night, without anger, when he sees you again.

In the celestial world there is no fear, there is no you, and the man is not afraid of aging. In the celestial word a man is joyous, for he has overcome hunger and thirst and is free of grief.

Death, you know the fire reaching to the sky. Tell me, full of confidence, about it. The Celestials enjoy immortality. This I choose as my second wish.

I, knowing it, can tell you about celestial fire; listen to it, Nachiketas; know this fire, the facility to reach and to support the endless worlds hidden in the cave.

And he told him about this fire, which is the origin of the world, and how much and how. And then he responded to him as it was told. And Yama spoke to him again, content.

The satisfied one of the great mind told him: And now, in addition, I will give you a blessing: This fire will bear even your name; and accept this succession of many forms.

The one, who makes the three Nachiketas fires, comes into connection with the three and making three sacrifices conquers both birth and death. Knowing and innerly experiencing the god of fire, the bestowed one, comes to this boundless peace.

The one, who makes the three Nachiketas fires and realises these three, knowing it, makes the Nachiketas fire, in addition, he throws away the slings of death as well, and free of sorrow, enjoys the celestial world.

This is, Nachiketas, your fire, conveying the heaven you have chosen by your second wish. This fire will be named your own. Nachiketas, choose your third wish.

There is hesitancy concerning a dead man: ones say he is, others say he is not. Let me know this, taught by yourself. This is my third wish.

Even the gods were formerly in doubt, because it is not easy to know. This knowledge is too subtle. Choose, Nachiketas, some other wish, do not force me, free me from this wish.

Even the gods were in doubt about this and you, yourself, Death, maintained that it is hard to know. And there is nobody else like you who could speak about this and no other wish could be compared with this one.

Choose the sons and grandsons of a hundred years, a great many cattle, elephants and gold, horses, choose a great expanse of land and live as many autumns as you wish.

If you consider this wish to be commensurate, choose affluence and long life. Rule, Nachiketas, the vast land. I make you provider of fruition among of all the fruitions.

Wish according to your will all the pleasures which in the world of mortals are hard to attain - the girls of joy with the chariots and musical instruments, for these are not attainable by men. Let them attend on you, bestowed by myself, Nachiketas, do not inquire about death!

It all holds no longer then until tomorrow, god of death, and brings about the aging of the senses to a mortal. The whole life is very short. Keep your chariots and your dances and songs.

The men cannot be nourished by affluence. Should we strive for fortune when we have seen you? We will not live any longer then you behest. That is why I choose the wish I have uttered.

How could the mortal enjoy the very long life, which submits to aging, when he has approached the unaging immortal, when he has been wise and under valuing the allurement of beauty and delight here?

Tell us, god of death, about the great retreat to the world beyond of which nothing is known! Nachiketas chooses henceforth no other wish than this one, which is clouded in mystery.