Katha Upanishad
   The Katha Upanishad is part of the Black YAJUR VEDA. It is based on an ancient story of a young man, NACHIKETAS, who is mistakenly sent to hell by his father after he questions his father’s gener-osity. When the boy reaches the realm of the god of death (YAMA), he finds no one at home. Since he, as a guest, is kept waiting, Yama offers the young, but very wise, boy three boons.
   The story of the three boons of the god of death forms the narrative core of this Upani-shad. The first boon the boy asks for is that he be returned to the upper world to live with his father. The second boon he asks for is the secret of preserving good works. His final request is to learn the secret of overcoming continuous rebirth. Death gladly assents to the first two requests, giv-ing the boy the Nachiketas fire, named for him, to fulfill the second wish. When asked for the secret of ending rebirth, however, Death tries to dissuade the boy with offers of wealth and other boons. When Nachiketas persists he is given the secret of Ultimate Reality or the BRAHMAN.
   Further reading: Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Upa-nishads (New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1975); S. Radhakrishnan, The Principal Upanishads (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1994).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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