Namaskaar. Moving on to Part 6 of Kathopanishat commentary. The concepts being explained in these verses are so subtle to grasp. These are therefore explained in a story form so that the idea sinks in….. “the coin drops” as is said 🙂
Nachiketa has asked that crucial question in exchange for the third boon from Yama, the Lord of Death. However, as this is a question that weighs very heavy from the point of view of spiritual teaching and learning, the Teacher, Yama, does not want to give the reply just like that. He wants to ascertain the total capability, the preparedness, of Nachiketa to receive this esoteric knowledge. Hence, Yama says, as if to dissuade Nachiketa from entering this territory:
देवैः अत्र अपि विचिकित्सितं पुरा
न हि विज्ञेयं अणुः एष धर्म: ।
अन्यं वरं नचिकेता वृणीष्व
मा मा उपरोत्सीः अति मा सृजैनम् ॥
देवैः gods अत्र with regard to this अपि even विचिकित्सितं entertained doubt पुरा in the past. न हि not truly विज्ञेयं comprehended अणुः being subtle एष this धर्म: substance (called the Self). अन्यं some other वरं boon नचिकेता O Nachiketa वृणीष्व ask for मा मा do not ever उपरोत्सीः press me इति मा सृज give up एनम् this boon (that you have demanded of me).
Yama said: On this subject even the gods formerly had their doubts. It is not easy to understand; the nature of Atman is subtle. Choose another boon, O Nachiketa! Do not press me. Release me from that boon.
The gods, deva-s, are also jIva-s alone but endowed with highly refined intellectual apparatus. They have performed extraordinary meditation and vedic rituals and obtained divine positions. Their capacity to accomplish tough tasks is very great in comparison to the humans. Hence, Yama is taking the case of deva-s to dissuade Nachiketa from embarking upon this stupendous task of knowing the Self. Even the deva-s have had the kind of doubt you have and attempted to know the Self. Therefore the nature of the Self is not easily known by ordinary mortals. Even if people hear about the Self one faces immense difficulty in gaining its knowledge since the Self is extremely subtle in nature. What do we mean by being very subtle? A gross object is easily identifiable, describable, perceptible to our senses and intellect as it possesses attributes like form, smell, color, taste and touch. With these attributes one easily grasps the nature of the objects that are gross. However, being devoid of any attributes the Self is specified as being extremely subtle and hence ordinary effort to know it does not bring success. Continue reading