Having blessed the young Nachiketas with an additional boon that the particular sacrifice would be known henceforth as ‘Naachiketas sacrifice’, Yama, the lord of death, proceeded to extol the greatness of this sacrifice. He said:
17. Trinaachiketas tribhiretya sandhim trikarmakrit tarati janmamrityoo | Brahmajajnam devam eedyam viditvaa nicaaya imam shaantim atyantam eti ||
“He who has performed this Naachiketas sacrifice three times, who has been properly united (for instruction) with the three (mother, father and the guru), and has performed three duties (study of the scriptures, viz. Vedas; performance of sacrifices; and giving alms), overcomes birth and death. And having learnt and realised the respectable and all-knowing resplendent one (Agni), who is born of Brahman, he attains the supreme peace.”
In the above passage Yama glorifies this sacrifice which he has named after Nachiketas. Here, the term ‘trinachiketas’ means ‘one who has performed this sacrifice three times’ and also ‘one who has heard of this, learnt this and also performed this’. This is true in the case of spiritual practice also. One hears about a particular system of spiritual practice, then reads or learns about it, but this is not enough. Revered Babuji Maharaj rightly says, “Read and enjoy, do and feel.” Here the lord of death also says that one should perform this. In spirituality, practice, or abhyasa, is important. Only then one can experience the states described in the sacred texts. Revered Babuji Maharaj says that one should not merely read or learn about realisation, but should experience the same.
By the term ‘tribhiretya sandhim’ it is said that one should learn the truth from one’s mother, father and guru.In the Vedas, it is said that the mother comes first and then the father, who after training his son for some years, takes him to a proper guru. The Taittiriya Upanishad says, “maatru-devo bhava, pitru-devo bhava, aachaarya-devo bhava...” which means “Respect your mother as God, father as God and your master as God....” Our Master, Chariji Maharaj has also talked about this many times. In fact revered Babuji has said that one should consider the master as the mother, and this relationship would be ideal.
In the above passage, the term ‘trikarmakrit’ means ‘after performing the three actions, i.e. study of the Vedas (or sacred scriptures), performance of sacrifices and giving alms’. In spirituality also, this holds good. One first comes to know of the practice from books; then he has to practise it to experience the same. Otherwise it would be only the experience of the masters that we read from the books, and we would not be gaining much by reading alone. The third aspect is also very important. It says one should distribute or give away what he has obtained to others. Revered Master, quoting revered Babuji Maharaj said, “Spirituality is a charitable work. The Master goes on giving, whether you deserve this or not.” Revered Chariji also added that spirituality, knowledge, love, etc. are to be shared, given to others. We call it a river only when the water flows in it. If the water stagnates in one place, it becomes a pond or a lake, and during summer the water gets dried up and it would give only a stinking smell. So Yama reminds Nachiketas of the three important functions one should perform.
Yama further said that those who realised the divine nature of the sacred fire would attain supreme peace. This should not be taken to mean that it is the state of liberation or realisation of Brahman, though it may be an exalted state.
Yama further said:
18. Trinaaciketas trayam etad viditvaa ya evam vidvaams cinute naachiketam | Sa mrityu paashaan puratah pranodya shokaatigo modate svargaloke ||
“The wise one who has performed Naachiketas sacrifice three times, realising the three (what kind of bricks are required for the sacrifice, how many bricks, and also how the fire of sacrifice has to be kindled), having destroyed the chains of death before one dies, transcends sorrow and enjoys heaven.”
In the above Upanishadic passage, the word ‘paasha’ means that which binds. There are many chains which bind an individual soul to this world, like desire, attachment, greed, ignorance, prejudice and so on. So long as these are there in the human being, they bind him to this world and he is born here again and again. In the traditional methods it is recommended that one should cut them forcefully by controlling one’s mind. Sahaj Marg is a gentle system. It advocates only regulation of the mind through meditation and removing the unwanted tendencies by ‘cleaning’.
It is also said that one transcends sorrow by performing this sacrifice and enjoys heaven. The sorrow generally represents the worldly life, where one has to undergo all sorts of sufferings according to one’s samskaras. Therefore it is said that birth itself presupposes sorrow. But revered Chariji looks at birth in a different way also. He says that it is not to be condemned as such, since it gives another opportunity for the individual to transform and evolve and reach his destination, which is to merge with Ultimate Reality. He says that if a student does not qualify himself for higher class and is detained in the same class, it is not mere punishment, but it is because he would not be able to understand the lessons of a higher class. He also cautions that one should make use of the best opportunity that has been bestowed upon him when he is born as a human being.
Here it is also to be noted that Yama said that one could enjoy heaven. The Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita say that this is not an end, as one has to be born in this mortal world again, after the results of his meritorious deeds are exhausted in heaven. So it is only a temporary relaxation and not a permanent solution from breaking the chains which cause rebirth.
Yama addressed Nachiketas thus:
19. Esha te agnir nachiketah svargyo yam vrineethaah dviteeyena varane | Etam agnim tavaiva pravakshyanti janaasah triteeyam varam nachiketo vrineeshva ||
“O Nachiketas, this is your fire, which leads one to the heaven, which you have chosen as the second boon. People shall call this fire (sacrifice) by your name only. Now, O Nachiketas, choose your third boon.”
It may be remembered that Yama, the lord of death, had offered the young Nachiketas three boons, and with the above, the first two boons have been granted by Yama. The additional boon was that this particular fire sacrifice, which would lead the performer to heaven, would henceforth be called Naachiketas fire sacrifice.
For the third boon, Nachiketas asked for the higher knowledge, and Yama’s long reply, in the form of instruction about the nature of the Self, forms the main theme of this Upanishad, for which it is praised by all great teachers of yore and is also liked by revered Master.