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The first Adhyaya is considered to be of older origin than the second. Their conversation evolves to a discussion of the nature of man, knowledge, Atman Soul, Self and moksha liberation. The chronology of Katha Upanishad is unclear and contested, with Buddhism scholars stating it was likely composed after the early Buddhist texts fifth century BCE , [3] and Hinduism scholars stating it was likely composed before the early Buddhist texts in 1st part of 1st millennium BCE.

It asserts that "Atman Soul, Self exists", teaches the precept "seek Self-knowledge which is Highest Bliss", and expounds on this premise like the other primary Upanishads of Hinduism. It is among the most widely studied Upanishads. Katha Upanishad was translated into Persian in 17th century, copies of which were then translated into Latin and distributed in Europe. Other philosophers such as Arthur Schopenhauer praised it, Edwin Arnold rendered it in verse as "The Secret of Death", and Ralph Waldo Emerson credited Katha Upanishad for the central story at the end of his essay Immortality , as well as his poem " Brahma ".

Nachiketa, the boy and a central character in the Katha Upanishad legend, similarly, has closely related words with roots and meanings relevant to the text. Similarly, Na jiti is another word play and means "that which cannot be vanquished", which is contextually relevant to the Nachiketa's third boon. Paul Deussen states that this symbolic terminology is apt and likely reflects the root and nature of the Upanishads in Black Yajur veda, which too is largely independent of the liturgical Yajur Veda, and is attached to the main text.

The chronology of Katha Upanishad is unclear and contested by scholars. Buddhism scholars such as Richard King date Katha Upanishad's composition roughly to the 5th century BCE, chronologically placing it after the first Buddhist Pali canons. Hinduism scholars such as Stephen Phillips [4] note the disagreement between modern scholars. Ranade [19] posits a view similar to Phillips, with slightly different ordering, placing Katha's chronological composition in the fourth group of ancient Upanishads along with Mundaka and Svetasvatara.

Paul Deussen too considers Katha Upanishad to be a post-prose, yet earlier stage Upanishad composed about the time Kena and Isha Upanishads were, because of the poetic, mathematical metric structure of its hymns. The Katha Upanishad has two chapters, 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 The second chapter opens with the fourth section of the Katha Upanishad and has 15 verses, while the fifth valli also has 15 verses.

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The final section has 17 verses. The first chapter with the first three vallis is considered older, because the third section ends with a structure in Sanskrit that is typically found at closing of other Upanishads, and also because the central ideas are repeated though expanded in the last three sections, that is the second chapter.

The origin of the story of the little boy named Nachiketa , contained in Katha Upanishad is of a much older origin. The style and structure suggests that some of the verses in Katha Upanishad, such as 1. The Upanishad opens with the story of Vajasravasa, also called Aruni Auddalaki Gautama , [24] who gives away all his worldly possessions.

The father, seized by anger, replied: "To Death, I give you away. Nachiketa does not die, but accepts his father's gifting him to Death, by visiting the abode of Yama - the deity of death in the Indian pantheon of deities. Nachiketa arrives, but Yama is not in his abode. Nachiketa as guest goes hungry for three nights, states verse 9 of the first Valli of Katha Upanishad. Yama arrives and is apologetic for this dishonor to the guest, so he offers Nachiketa three wishes. Nachiketa' first wish is that Yama discharge him from the abode of death, back to his family, and that his father be calm, well-disposed, not resentful and same as he was before when he returns.

Yama grants the first wish immediately, states verse 1.

For his second wish, Nachiketa prefaces his request with the statement that heaven is a place where there is no fear, no anxiety, no old age, no hunger, no thirst, no sorrow. Yama responds by detailing the fire ritual, including how the bricks should be arranged, and how the fire represents the building of the world. Nachiketa remembers what Yama tells him, repeats the ritual, a feat which pleases Yama, and he declares that this fire ritual will thereafter be called the "Nachiketa fires".

Nachiketa then asks for his third wish, asking Yama in verse 1. Does he continue to exist in another form? Yama states that even gods doubt and are uncertain about that question, and urges Nachiketa to pick another wish. Yama offers him all sorts of worldly wealth and pleasures instead, but Nachiketa says human life is short, asks Yama to keep the worldly wealth and pleasures to himself, declares that pompous wealth, lust and pleasures are fleeting and vain, then insists on knowing the nature of Atman Soul and sticks to his question, "what happens after death?


Different is the good and different is the dear, they both, having different aims, fetter you men; He, who chooses for himself the good, comes to wellbeing, he, who chooses the dear, loses the goal. The good and the dear approach the man, The wise man, pondering over both, distinguishes them; The wise one chooses the good over the dear, The fool, acquisitive and craving, chooses the dear. The verses 1. Knowledge requires effort, and often not comprehended by man even when he reads it or hears it or by internal argument. A similar discussion and distinction between the pleasant and the beneficial is found in ancient Greek philosophy, such as in Phaedrus by Plato.

Katha Upanishad, in verses 1.

This is one of the earliest mentions of Yoga in ancient Sanskrit literature, in the context of Self-development and meditation. He the Atman , difficult to be seen, full of mystery, the Ancient, primaeval one, concealed deep within, He who, by yoga means of meditation on his self, comprehends Atman within him as God, He leaves joy and sorrow far behind. In verses 1.

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Yama, as the spokesman in the second Valli of the Katha Upanishad asserts that man must not fear anyone, anything, not even death, because the true essence of man, his Atman is neither born nor dies, he is eternal, he is Brahman. These passages have been widely studied, and inspired Emerson among others, [8] [45]. The seer Atman, Self is not born, nor does he die, He does not originate from anybody, nor does he become anybody, Eternal, ancient one, he remains eternal, he is not killed, even though the body is killed.

If the killer thinks that he kills, if the killed thinks that he is killed, they do not understand; for this one does not kill, nor is that one killed. The Self Atman , smaller than small, greater than great, is hidden in the heart of each creature, Free from avarice, free from grief, peaceful and content, he sees the supreme glory of Atman.

In final verses of the second Valli, the Katha Upanishad asserts that Atman-knowledge, or Self-realization, is not attained by instruction, not arguments nor reasoning from scriptures. It is comprehended by oneself through meditation and introspection. It is not attained by those who do not abstain from misconduct, not those who are restless nor composed, not those whose mind is not calm and tranquil, but only those who live ethically, are composed, tranquil, internally peaceful, search within and examine their own nature.

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. Know that the Atman is the rider in the chariot, and the body is the chariot, Know that the Buddhi intelligence, ability to reason is the charioteer, and Manas mind is the reins. The senses are called the horses, the objects of the senses are their paths, Formed out of the union of the Atman, the senses and the mind, him they call the "enjoyer".

The Katha Upanishad asserts that one who does not use his powers of reasoning, whose senses are unruly and mind unbridled, his life drifts in chaos and confusion, his existence entangled in samsara. Those who use their intelligence, have their senses calm and under reason, they live a life of bliss and liberation, which is the highest place of Vishnu. This metaphorical parable of chariot is found in multiple ancient Indian texts, and is called the Ratha Kalpana.

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A similar simile is found in ancient Greek literature, such as the Parmenides , Xenophon 's prologue of Prodikos, and in the Platonic dialogue Phaedrus. The Katha Upanishad, in verses 1. 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.

The Soul is hidden in all beings, asserts the Katha Upanishad; it does not show itself, but its awareness is felt by seers with agrya sukshma subtle, more self-evident conscious, keen thinkers. In verse 1. Man should, asserts Katha Upanishad, holistically unify his tempered senses and mind with his intellect, all these with his Atman Soul, great Self , and unify his "great Self" with the Self of the rest, the tranquility of Oneness with the Avyaktam and "cosmic soul".

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