On the insistent questioning of the highly determined Naciketas, Lord Yama had no alternative but to reveal the secret code to ending the transient mortal world and realizing the “immortality” that one actually and already is. It is not some thing new that one acquires. It is prAptasya prAptiH (प्राप्तस्य प्राप्ति:). Or, as kaTha says at 2.5.1, विमुक्तश्च विमुच्यते (i.e. becoming freed, one becomes emancipated. In other words, he does not take up a body again).
Shankara explains it in his own inimitable way unpacking the involved intricacies in simple words. He writes in his commentary at 1.3.14, kaTha in the following way:
‘There is doubt concerning a man who has departed. Some say, “He is”, and others say, “He is not”. Taught by you [Yama, god of death], I would know this. This is the third of my boons’.
‘Do not, do not insist: release me from this’…. Choose a hundred years, sons and grand sons… elephants, gold, horses… Naciketas, enter a great realm of desires: I will make you the enjoyer of your desires… but do not ask me about dying’.
Naciketas, the young seeker, will have none of that.
‘Since you, Death, tell me it is not easily understood, and no one else can be found who can teach this as you can, there is no boon to equal this’.
‘Yama continues: ‘The wise one [inner self] is not born, nor does it die. [Hidden in all beings] it is not from anywhere, nor was it anyone. Unborn, everlasting, eternal, primeval, it is not slain when the body is slain.’ Continue reading →