Book: From the Upanishads
Author: Charles Johnston

From the Upanishads By Charles Johnston

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 34
Publication Date: 1899

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This short book contains translations from three crucial Upanishads, the Katha, Prasna and Chhandogya. The elegant, lucid translation makes this a delight to read.

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VÂJASHRAVASA, verily, seeking favour, made a sacrifice of all he possessed. He had a son, also, by name Nachiketas. Him, though still a child, faith entered, while the gifts were being led up.

He meditated:

They have drunk water, eaten grass, given up their milk, and lost their strength. Joyless worlds, in truth, he gains, who offers these.

He addressed his father:

To whom, then, wilt thou give me? said he.

Twice and thrice he asked him. To Death I give thee, said he.

Nachiketas ponders:

I go the first of many; I go in the midst of many. What is Death's work that he will work on me to-day?

Look, as those that have gone before, behold so are those that shall come after. As corn a mortal ripens, as corn he is born again.

Nachiketas comes to the House of Death; he speaks:

Like the Lord of Fire, a pure guest comes to the house. They offer him this greeting. Bring water, O Death. Son of the Sun!

Hope and expectation, friendship, kind words, just and holy deeds, sons and cattle, this destroys, for the foolish man in whose house a pure guest dwells without food.

After three days Death comes. Death speaks:

As thou hast dwelt three nights in my bowie, without food, thou, a pure guest and honourable—honour to thee, pure one, welfare to me—against this choose thou three wishes

Nachiketas speaks:

That the descendant of Gotama may be at peace, well-minded, and with sorrow gone, towards me, O Death; that he may speak kindly to me when sent forth by thee; this, of the three, as my first wish I choose.

'Death speaks:

As before will the son of Aruna, Uddâlaka's son, be kind to thee, sent forth by me; by night will he sleep well, with sorrow gone, seeing thee freed from the mouth of Death.

Nachiketas speaks:

In the heaven-world there is no fear at all; nor art thou there, nor does he fear from old age. Crossing over both hunger and thirst, and going beyond sorrow, he exults in the heaven-world.

The heavenly fire thou knowest, Death, tell it to me, for I am faithful. The heaven-worlds enjoy deathlessness; this, as my second wish, I choose.

Death speaks:

To thee I tell it; learn then from me, Nachiketas, finding the heavenly fire. Know thou also the obtaining of unending worlds, the resting-place, for this is hidden in secret. He told him then that fire, the beginning of the worlds, and the bricks of the altar, and how many and how they are. And he again spoke it back to him as it was told; and Death, well-pleased, again addressed him.

This is thy heavenly fire, O Nachiketas, which thou hast chosen as thy second wish. This fire of thine shall they proclaim. Choose now, Nachiketas, thy third wish.

Nachiketas speaks:

This doubt that there is of a man that has gone forth: "He exists," say some; and "He exists not," others say: a knowledge of this, taught by thee, this of my wishes is the third wish.

Death speaks:

Even by the gods of old it was doubted about this; not easily knowable, and subtle is this law. Choose, Nachiketas, another wish; hold me not to it, but spare me this.

Nachiketas speaks:

Even by the gods, thou sayest, it was doubted about this; and not easily knowable is it, O Death. Another teacher of it cannot be found like thee. No other wish is equal to this.