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1. Death said: 'The good is one thing, the pleasant another; these two, having different objects, chain a man. It is well with him who clings to the good; he who chooses the pleasant, misses his end.'

2. 'The good and the pleasant approach man: the wise goes round about them and distinguishes them. Yea, the wise prefers the good to the pleasant, but the fool chooses the pleasant through greed and avarice.'

3. 'Thou, O Nakiketas, after pondering all pleasures that are or seem delightful, hast dismissed them all. Thou hast not gone into the road 1 that leadeth to wealth, in which many men perish.'

4. 'Wide apart and leading to different points are these two, ignorance, and what is known as wisdom. I believe Nakiketas to be one who desires knowledge, for even many pleasures did not tear thee away 2.'

5. 'Fools dwelling in darkness, wise in their own conceit, and puffed up with vain knowledge, go round and round, staggering to and fro, like blind men led by the blind 3.'

6. 'The Hereafter never rises before the eyes of the careless child, deluded by the delusion of wealth. "This is the world," he thinks, "there is no other;"--thus he falls again and again under my sway.'

7. 'He (the Self) of whom many are not even able

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to hear, whom many, even when they hear of him, do not comprehend; wonderful is a man, when found, who is able to teach him (the Self); wonderful is he who comprehends him, when taught by an able teacher 1.'

8. 'That (Self), when taught by an inferior man, is not easy to be known, even though often thought upon 2; unless it be taught by another, there is no way to it, for it is inconceivably smaller than what is small 3.'

9. 'That doctrine is not to be obtained 4 by argument, but when it is declared by another, then, O dearest, it is easy to understand. Thou hast obtained it now 5; thou art truly a man of true resolve. May we have always an inquirer like thee 6!'

10. Nakiketas said: 'I know that what is called a treasure is transient, for that eternal is not obtained by things which are not eternal. Hence the Nâkiketa fire(-sacrifice) has been laid by me (first); then, by means of transient things, I have obtained what is not transient (the teaching of Yama) 7.'

11. Yama said: 'Though thou hadst seen the fulfilment of all desires, the foundation of the world, the endless rewards of good deeds, the shore where

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there is no fear, that which is magnified by praise, the wide abode, the rest 1, yet being wise thou hast with firm resolve dismissed it all.'

12. 'The wise who, by means of meditation on his Self, recognises the Ancient, who is difficult to be seen, who has entered into the dark, who is hidden in the cave, who dwells in the abyss, as God, he indeed leaves joy and sorrow far behind 2.'

13. 'A mortal who has heard this and embraced it, who has separated from it all qualities, and has thus reached the subtle Being, rejoices, because he has obtained what is a cause for rejoicing. The house (of Brahman) is open, I believe, O Nakiketas.'

14. Nakiketas said: 'That which thou seest as neither this nor that, as neither effect nor cause, as neither past nor future, tell me that.'

15. Yama said: 'That word (or place) which all the Vedas record, which all penances proclaim, which men desire when they live as religious students, that word I tell thee briefly, it is Om 3.'

16. 'That (imperishable) syllable means Brahman, that syllable means the highest (Brahman); he who knows that syllable, whatever he desires, is his.'

17. 'This is the best support, this is the highest support; he who knows that support is magnified in the world of Brahmâ.'

18. 'The knowing (Self) is not born, it dies not; it sprang from nothing, nothing sprang from it. The

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[paragraph continues] Ancient is unborn, eternal, everlasting; he is not killed, though the body is killed 1.'

19. '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.'

20. 'The Self 2, smaller than small, greater than great, is hidden in the heart of that creature. A man who is free from desires and free from grief, sees the majesty of the Self by the grace of the Creator 3.'

21. 'Though sitting still, he walks far; though lying down, he goes everywhere 4. Who, save myself, is able to know that God who rejoices and rejoices not?'

22. 'The wise who knows the Self as bodiless within the bodies, as unchanging among changing things, as great and omnipresent, does never grieve.'

23. 'That Self 5 cannot be gained by the Veda, nor by understanding, nor by much learning. He whom the Self chooses, by him the Self can be gained. The Self chooses him (his body) as his own.'

24. 'But he who has not first turned away from his wickedness, who is not tranquil, and subdued, or whose mind is not at rest, he can never obtain the Self (even) by knowledge!

25. 'Who then knows where He is, He to whom the Brahmans and Kshatriyas are (as it were) but food 6, and death itself a condiment?'


8:1 Cf. I, 16.

8:2 The commentator explains lolupantah by vikkhedam kritavantah. Some MSS. read lolupante and lolupanti, but one expects either lolupyante or lolupati.

8:3 Cf. Mund. Up. II, 8.

9:1 Cf. Bhag. Gîtâ II, 29.

9:2 Cf. Mund. Up. II, 4.

9:3 I read anupramânât. Other interpretations: If it is taught by one who is identified with the Self, then there is no uncertainty. If it has been taught as identical with ourselves, then there is no perception of anything else. If it has been taught by one who is identified with it, then there is no failure in understanding it (agati).

9:4 Âpaneyâ; should it be âpanâya, as afterwards sugñânâya?

9:5 Because you insist on my teaching it to thee.

9:6 Unless no is negative, for Yama, at first, does not like to communicate his knowledge.

9:7 The words in parentheses have been added in order to remove the otherwise contradictory character of the two lines.

10:1 Cf. Khând. Up. VII, 12, 2.

10:2 Yama seems here to propound the lower Brahman only, not yet the highest. Deva, God, can only be that as what the Old, i.e. the Self in the heart, is to be recognised. It would therefore mean, he who finds God or the Self in his heart. See afterwards, verse 21.

10:3 Cf. Svet. Up. IV, 9; Bhag. Gîtâ VIII, 11.

11:1 As to verses 18 and 19, see Bhag. Gîtâ II, 19, 20.

11:2 Cf. Svet. Up. III, 2 0; Taitt. Âr. X, 12, 1.

11:3 The commentator translates 'through the tranquillity of the senses,' i.e. dhâtuprasâdât, taking prasâda in the technical sense of samprasâda. As to kratu, desire, or rather, will, see Brih. Âr. IV, 4; 5.

11:4 Cf. Tal. Up, 5.

11:5 Cf. I, 7-9; Mund. Up. III, 2, 3; Bhag. Gîtâ I, 53.

11:6 In whom all disappears, and in whom even death is swallowed up.

Next: I, 3