Alight With Inner Fire

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In ancient times, there lived in India, a seer, whose name was Uddalaka. He was the son of Vajashrava Aruni, who belonged to the lineage of famous Gautama Rishi. Uddalaka had a son named Nachiketa, who was simple, innocent and pure-hearted.

Uddalaka was well versed in scriptures, but was very ambitious. He was so pre-possessed of his own ideas that he could not transcend words to reach the Ultimate Reality. There was a strong desire in him to be known as a great seer and giver of charity. He wanted to become a Maharshi of Maharshis and to be known as the most learned and wisest among all the sages of his time. He, therefore, performed a Vishwajit Yajna to become a world conqueror. To possess the fruits of this Yajna, he gave away all his riches and livestock in charity to Brahmins.

When his cows were being taken to be given to Brahmins in charity, his son Nachiketa saw that they were very old. They were too old and emaciated to yield milk any more.

Seeing this, a feeling of sense of pity for his father arose in his mind and he thought, “What is my father doing by giving these old, useless cows? What is the use of that charity, which will be a burden on the recipients? By donating these useless cows, he will definitely go to the lower spheres of existence and face humiliation in the world. There will be no happiness for him. I must discourage him from doing such an act.”

He, therefore, said to his father, “You are giving old and useless cows but to whom are you going to give me? Where am I supposed to go?”

His father did not reply. He simply remained silent, but inwardly, he was very much hurt. He thought, “My son is going beyond the limit. How does he know that I am only renouncing my riches for gaining fame?”

When asked the same question a second and a third time, his father became angry and said, “Nachiketa, I give you to death.”

But the moment he realised what he had said to his son, he became sad and tried to dissuade his son from going to the realm of the Lord of Death.

Hearing this Nachiketa thought, “I have never done anything wrong. I have done only what is good. And at times, if I forget, I don’t do anything wrong as I always manage to stay aware. So this decision of my father cannot be on account of my faults. Perhaps Yama, the Lord of Death, may have some work to accomplish through me. That is why my father is handing me over to death.”

He said to his father, “Father, whatever you do, please be aware before you do it. First be full of awareness then decide what is the right thing for you to do.

“Birth gives way to death and death to birth, so why worry? All relationships and the people we meet are for a short span of time. Father, even our relationship was to end one day. How does it matter if this parting has come earlier? Please do not lament for me. What has happened has happened. It cannot be undone. Your word has been given, so please allow me to go to the Lord of Death.”

Having heard these words from his son, Uddalaka became sadder. Now there was no turning back. But seeing his son’s dedication to truth, he allowed him reluctantly to go to Yama.

Nachiketa reached the abode of Yama. He found that Yama was not at home. He waited for him for three days without taking food and water.

After three days, Yama returned home. His wife told him, “A son of a Brahmin has come to visit our house as a guest. It is our duty to prepare for his rest and give him our hospitality. He has not taken food and water for three days, yet he is glowing with divine light. Please go and receive him with reverence.”

Yama went to Nachiketa and said, “Please accept my obeisance and salutations. You are an honoured guest and also a Brahmin. You have stayed in my house for three nights without taking food and water. Therefore, you can ask for three boons from me, one for each night.”

Nachiketa said, “I am grateful to you, O Yama, for granting me the boons. The first boon, I ask for my father Uddalaka. May peace come to him and his anger disappear. And when I return from here, may he recognise and accept me as his loving son.”

Yama replied, “Inspired by me, your father Uddalaka will receive and recognise you as his son. He will also be free from anger and grief and spend the rest of his life in peace and joy.”

While asking the second boon, Nachiketa said, “O Yama, I have heard that in heaven there is no fear. Even death is not present there. Those living there are beyond decay, sorrow, hunger and thirst. Since you know the inner fire, O Lord of Death, please tell me the science of the inner fire by which those who are in heaven transcend death. This is my second boon.”

Yama replied, “Nachiketa, the fire by which you will attain to immortality is hidden in the inner sanctum of your heart. By this fire you will attain to Ultimate Freedom. You do not have to go anywhere to find that fire. Nor have you to ignite it somewhere outside you. This fire is always burning within you. You are owner of it. You are immortal though you are not aware of it.”

Nachiketa wanted to know the cause of bondage, which obstructs from reaching the state of heaven. Yama explained to him the science of the inner fire and the way to transcend the bricks involved in it.

Yama said, “I will tell you the causes of bondage and the science of inner fire and also about the bricks that act as obstacles. Listen carefully.

“This fire can take you towards the heaven or towards the physical world. All life that you see is because of this inner fire. In fact, the whole life is this fire. It has the tendency to flow towards the physical body. When you attach yourself to objects of desire, these desires act as cements and bind the sense organs through mental processes in the form of negative and positive emotions, and pleasures, which lead to attachment to the physical world.

“Through the ordinary mind, these experiences of sense organs get embedded in the unconscious. There are also negative and positive emotions, which you have gathered from many previous births. These emotions are rooted in the subliminal unconscious. Then comes the state of cosmic unconscious mind, which is the primal ignorance of `I’, which is known as samudra arnava. It is a great abyss of darkness.

“When the flow of this fire is turned inwards, whatsoever you have suppressed can be conceived symbolically as bricks blocking the inward flow of the energy. These bricks have to be removed otherwise the flow will turn outwards.

“Through Yoga, you can transcend all these bricks and enter into a state of wakeful intelligence. It is the witnessing state or the state of heaven. Your mind will become like a mirror and everything will get reflected in it. If you remain there, this state can become an obstacle in the way of the next state -- the state of inner fire or the state of subliminal consciousness.

“The subliminal conscious state is also an obstacle. Here the joy is too much. It is unbelievable that there can be anything beyond it. It is so attractive. Many seekers stop at this state. But you have to transcend it. You have to move ahead -- a movement into the cosmic consciousness known as Para Prakriti the source of inner fire. This source is known as Heavenly Fire.”

Nachiketa repeated the details back to Yama who was pleased to listen to it. He said, “Now I will grant you an additional honour. From now onwards, this science of inner fire will be known by your name as Nachiket-fire. Also please accept this beautiful necklace of various hues and shades, which is an embodiment of non-attachment, divine qualities, divine intellect, non-duality, desirelessness, divine knowledge and sattavic qualities. . Now you can ask your third boon.”

Nachiketa asked, “There is much confusion about death. What comes up when a man dies? Some say he exists and some say he does not exist. What lies beyond all this mystery and beyond even the heavenly fire? This is what I want to know.”

Yama was hesitant and thought, “It is harmful to teach the secrets of the Supreme Self to this young boy though he is innocent and pure-hearted.”

He tried to dissuade Nachiketa by tempting him with worldly and heavenly pleasures. Nachiketa remained firm in his determination to know the science of the Supreme Self. He refused to accept the pleasures.

Yama, realising Nachiketa’s intense desire for the quest and the trust he had in him, was pleased and said, “How happy is that Guru, who finds pupil like you. Now I will explain to you the science of the Supreme Self. Listen to it carefully.

“First of all I am pleased that you have preferred the path of shreya, the path of ultimate good to preya, the path of worldly pleasures. I am also pleased that you preferred vidya, the path by which one can achieve the Ultimate Truth.

“I don’t reveal the secret of the Supreme Self to those who seek the path of preya and avidya. They are born again and again and only enjoy the limited happiness that this world can provide.”

Yama then explained to him the nature of the Supreme Self.

He said, “Nachiketa, remember, the Supreme Self is immortal. It is never born nor does it die. It is ageless, unborn, permanent, and eternal. Nothing can be added to it nor can be taken away from it. Even when the body dies, it remains. It resides in the inner sanctum of the heart of all living beings. It is smaller than the smallest yet larger than the largest. It can neither be known by studying scriptures, nor by discussion nor even by thinking.

“He is in all things as their root and source of their being. There is nothing that has not a source but the source itself springs from nothing but itself.

“The Supreme Self is ever-existent and he make manifest all else but himself is unmanifest because he is ever-existent. He is not himself brought into being in images but he presents all things to us in such images. It is he who is the eye of the mind. You cannot get the knowledge of this Supreme Self outside you but within you. Those who seek him somewhere else live in ignorance.

“The Supreme Self is neither Mind nor Truth but the cause of Mind and Truth and each and everything owes its existence to it.

“The mystery of the Supreme Self can either be known by one’s own effort, perseverance and practice of austerity or by the grace of the Supreme Self itself. Who lives consciously with a disciplined and pure mind, attains to the Ultimate Truth. For him there will be no return to the cycle of birth and rebirth.

“Remember Nachiketa, the Creative Force (Para Prakriti) of the Supreme Self is more powerful than the inner fire. The Supreme Self itself is more powerful than its Creative Energy. It cannot be known through intellect. It is transcendental. There is nothing beyond it. It is the final abode of all. The entire creation honours this Supreme Self.

“It is hidden within all, both living and non-living, as the Self. One, whose sight has become subtle, can know it.

“To know and get merged into the Supreme Self, you have first to dissolve your speech and other senses into the mind, the mind into the wakeful intelligence, the wakeful intelligence into the subliminal consciousness and the subliminal consciousness into the cosmic consciousness and the cosmic consciousness into the Supreme Self, which is the abode of silence.

“Nachiketa, once the Supreme Self is known, death loses all its fear. But this path is difficult and long. It is narrow and sharp like the razor’s edge because one who has known the Supreme Self is neither pleasing to many nor the many to them. They are thought mad and are ridiculed. They are hated and despised and perhaps they may even be put to death. But to one who has known the Supreme Self all things are good though they may be evil to others. When men devise mischief against him, he sees all this in the light of his knowledge of the Supreme Self.

So remember Nachiketa, going back to the origin is called peace. It only means reversion to the destiny and this reversion is called eternity. The knower of eternity is called enlightened. For him there is no fear of death; his body may decay but he shall never perish.”

Thus, receiving the secrets of the science of the Supreme Self and the methods of Yoga from Yama, Nachiketa became one with the Supreme Self.

2 comments:

pankaj said...

congratulations for making such a wonderfull explaination of poranic story.

MukeshVeda said...

Tnaks for the comments. I shall be adding more stories from ancient texts rewritten and changed from the point of view of Yoga.

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