Selected verses from Kathopanishad – #6

Selected verses from Kathopanishad — Verses collated from the question papers for KSOU MA Sanskrit (2007 to 2014). Part 6 with notes from the classes conducted by Dr. Vanitha Ramaswamy (14-Oct-2015)


  • The Kathaka Upanishad with Shri Shankara’s Commentary, edited with notes by Sri Sri Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati, Adhyatma Prakasha Karyalaya
Online References for Sanskrit Verses and English Translation

Upanishad is read as part of the 13th day events, when someone passes away. Shraddha is performed at the residence and also at Gaya. Other places for performing PitruKaarya are at Kashi, Allahabad, Matru Gaya and Nasik in the north and Kokarana in the south. The obstacles in the worldly affairs are removed, when the Shraddha is done at these places for receiving the blessings of the ancestors. There are some rituals that are done for the well-being of the family and there are others that are done for the sake of the departed soul. When the Upanishads are read, the soul gets the Brahma gnana and gets the opportunity to enter a family with good samskaaraas. 

1.     तस्मात्पराङ् पश्यति नान्तरात्मन् । २०१०.०४

Therefore we see the external world and not the self.

पराञ्चि खानि व्यतृणत् स्वयम्भू-स्तस्मात्पराङ्पश्यति नान्तरात्मन् ।
कश्चिद्धीरः प्रत्यगात्मानमैक्ष-दावृत्तचक्षुरमृतत्वमिच्छन् ॥ २.१.१ ॥

पराञ्चि खानि व्यतृणत् स्वयम्भू: तस्मात् पराङ् पश्यति न अन्तरात्मन् ।
कश्चित् धीरः प्रत्यगात्मानम् ऐक्षत् आवृत्तचक्षु: अमृतत्वम् इच्छन् |

पराञ्चि – outgoing tendencies; खानि – senses (आकाश जन्याणि), व्यतृणत् – disturbed – mixed up things (हिंसितवान् हननं कृतवान्), स्वयम्भू: – the self-existent Brahma, तस्मात् – therefore, पराङ् – external world, पश्यति – see, न – not, अन्तरात्मन् – the self, कश्चित् – some, धीरः – wise man, प्रत्यगात्मानम् – atman within (प्रत्यक् च असौ आत्मा च) , ऐक्षत् – he wished (अपश्यत्), आवृत्तचक्षु: – one having eyes averted (with his senses turned away), अमृतत्वम् – immortality, इच्छन् – desiring.
2.1.1. The self existent self created the senses with outgoing tendencies. Therefore we see the external world and not the self. But the wise turn the senses away from the world and, seeking what is everlasting, realize the self within.

The Self-existent created the senses out-going; for this reason man sees the external, but not the inner Ātman (Self). Some wise man, however, desiring immortality, with eyes turned away (from the external) sees the Ātman within. Among the shlokas on काम एव आत्मज्ञानस्य प्रतिबन्ध:, this one is पराग्दृष्टि: स्वभावो लोकस्य, प्रत्यग्दृष्टिस्तु कस्यचिदेव |

आत्माज्ञानस्य स्वरूप: क: इति वक्तव्यम् | तत् पूर्वम् आत्मज्ञानस्य विघ्ना: के इति वदति | काम एव आत्मज्ञानस्य प्रतिबन्ध: |किमर्थं प्रबन्ध: ज्ञातव्यः ?

गूढ: आत्मा, सर्वेषुभूतेषु न प्रकाशते | केनापि न दृश्यते वा? अथवा कतिपयेषु दृष्टुं शक्यते वा? इति प्रश्न: अस्ति | स: वदति –अग्रया बुद्ध्यया दृष्टुं शक्यते | अग्रा बुद्धि: इत्युक्ते कुशाग्र मति: – the intellect that has the sharpness of the edge of the Kusha or Dharbha grass. Even these people have obstruction or obstacles – प्रतिबन्ध: | परंतुतस्य अपि काम एव आत्मज्ञानस्य प्रतिबन्ध: |विघ्नस्य ज्ञानम् अस्ति चेत् तस्य निवारणं कर्तुं शक्नुम: | विघ्ननिवारणात् फलं कर्यप्राप्ति:, फलप्राप्ति: | अस्माकं दृष्टिस्तु आत्मज्ञाने अस्ति | विघ्नविचार: किमर्थम्? यदि विघ्ना: निवार्यते तर्हि फलप्राप्ति: सुखकरम् |

In this chapter, Yama is trying to tell Nachiketas about all the obstacles on the road of Atma gnana. There is a question there – We are interested in knowing about the Aatman and attaining the atma gnana. Why are just delaying by talking about these obstacles. For this Yama says, “It is very important because when you know the obstacles your mind will be prepared to watch out for and remove the obstacles. Once the obstacles are avoided, your path will be smooth and you will be able to reach the goal. There is Shreyas or prosperity and well-being only for you by knowing the obstacles. विघ्नस्य अपनयनाय यत्न आरब्धुं शक्यते – न अन्यथा | As long as you are attached to the desires, you will not be able to start getting into that path of Atma Gnana. Only after removing these obstacles, you can progress in your path.

शब्दगुणकमाकाशम् | The sound is the quality of space. The sound is captured by the ears. Sound can’t be heard in Vacuum. पराञ्चि = पराक् गच्छन्ति (अञ्चन्ति). वातावरणे ओंकारः सदा अस्ति | But the ears are not capable of hearing it. The creator has removed the power of hearing that sound from this sense organ. पराङ् = अनात्मभूतान् शब्दादीन् = the sounds in these worldly environment. लौकिकशब्दा: ये सन्ति ते व्यवाहारे एव दृश्यते | अत: व्यवहारे एव ये ते शब्दा: शोत्रुं साद्यम् अस्ति | परन्तु ज्ञानी ओंकारम् एव शृणोति | At the time of creation, the creator disturbed and destroyed the sense so that it cannot hear the omkara and it can hear only the other sounds in the environment. लोकस्य स्वाभाव: एवं सति अपि, कश्चित्, नद्या: प्रतिस्रोत: प्रवर्तनामिव धीर: इन्द्रिय-प्रत्याहरणं कृत्वा प्रत्यगात्मानं अपश्यत् | Even if the nature of the world is like this, there will be some person who will control his senses and he will be able to realize the true self. Every sense wants to experience the pleasure. But a true seeker does not go after such pleasures – अमृतत्वम् अमरन+धर्मत्वं नित्य+स्वभावताम् इच्छन्, महता प्रयासेन स्वभावप्रवृत्तिनिरोधं करोति |

2.    अरण्योर्निहितो जातवेदा गर्भ इव सुभृतो गर्भिणीभिः ।२००७.०२

Like fire is hidden in the two tender sticks and like a fetus is well protected by pregnant women

अरण्योर्निहितो जातवेदा गर्भ इव सुभृतो गर्भिणीभिः ।

दिवे दिव ईड्यो जागृवद्भिर्हविष्मद्भिर्मनुष्येभिरग्निः ।एतद्वै तत् ॥ २.१.८ ॥

अरण्यो: निहित: जातवेदा: गर्भ इव सुभृत: गर्भिणीभिः ।

दिवे दिव ईड्यो जागृवद्भि: हविष्मद्भि: मनुष्येभि: अग्निः । एतत् वै तत् ॥ २.१.८ ॥

अरण्यो: – pair of fire-sticks, निहित: – reside (स्थित:), जातवेदा: – fire, गर्भ – fetus इव – like सुभृत: – well-guarded (सुष्ठु भरित:) गर्भिणीभिः – by the pregnant woman । दिवे दिव – day after day ईड्य: – worshipped, जागृवद्भि: – by wakeful seekers, हविष्मद्भि: – by one who does sacrifice, मनुष्येभि: – by such people, अग्निः – Agni । एतत् वै तत् – Certainly this is that !

2.1.8. The all-seeing consciousness that, like fire, is hidden in wood and concealed like a fetus in the womb is worshipped by self inquirers and ritualists. This is what you wish to know.

Ritualists are also self worshippers although their worship is indirect i.e. through rituals. Even though they worship deities, they actually worship the self in so far as the self works through the deity to bolster their faith.

The all-seeing fire which exists hidden in the two sticks, as the fetus is well- guarded in the womb by the mother, (that fire) is to be worshipped day after day by wakeful seekers (after wisdom), as well as by sacrificers. This verily is That.

Context: Brahman (The supreme self) and aatman (the inner self) are identical.

Among the shlokas on प्रत्यगात्मब्रह्मण: सर्वात्मत्वम्, this one is हिरन्यगर्भस्य सर्वभूतात्मत्वम् |

There is some heat in the atmosphere. All the five elements are present. Agni is virat. Even that is Brahma only. In the Yogis, Agni is present in their heart. The mother eats food which is converted to energy that passes on to the fetus by means of the agni inside the body. Agni is there inside everyone. That is only Brahman and Aatman. अग्निः ऋत्विग्भि: योगिभिश्च सम्यक् भृत: | The Rutvig are the great rishis who conduct the yaga, namely Hotr, Adhvaryu, Udgatr, and Brahman. अध्वरे हृदये च – in the homa and in the hearts.

[Side note: The hotṛ is the reciter of invocations (representing Rig Veda). The adhvaryu is in charge of the physical details of the sacrifice (representing yajurveda). The udgātṛ is a chanter of hymns set to melodies (sāman) drawn from the sāmaveda. The brahman is the reciter of hymns from the atharvaveda who was largely silent and observes the procedures and uses Atharvaveda mantras to ‘heal’ it when mistakes have been made.

Side note: Isa Vasya Upanishad : Agni! Take me in the right path! अग्ने नय सुपथा |] 


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