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Teachings from Katha Upanishad - Knowledge and Thoughts from Kathopanishad

Katha Upanishad, also known as Kathopanishad, contains the famous conversation between young Nachiketas and Yama, the god of death. Here are few teachings from the Katha Upanishad.

What is the value of wealth or life, as there are impermanent? So long as death is in power we cannot enjoy wealth or life for the fear of death destroys the zest for living. Teach me self knowledge which is beyond the power of death (I.1.27)

Both the good and the pleasant approach a man. The wise man, pondering over them, discriminates. The wise chooses the good in preference to the pleasant. (I.2.2)

 Knowledge and Thoughts from Kathopanishad

He who is filled with selfish desires and attracted by worldly possessions becomes subject to the law of karma which leads him from birth to birth and so he is under the control of Yama.

One who has not desisted from bad conduct, whose senses are not under control, whose mind is not concentrated, whose mind is not free from anxiety (about the result of concentration), cannot attain this Self.

Smaller than the small, greater than the great, the self is set in the heart of every creature. The unstriving man beholds Him, freed from sorrow. Through tranquility of the mind and the senses he sees the greatness of the Self.

His form is not to be seen. No one beholds Him with the eye. By controlling the mind by the intellect and by incessant meditation He is revealed. Those who know this (Brahman) become immortal.

When the five organs of knowledge are at rest together with the mind, and when the intellect ceases functioning (becomes calm), that they call the highest state.

Beyond the Avyakta is Purusha, all-pervading and devoid of Linga (indicative sign). He who knows Him is liberated and obtains Immortality.

Beyond the senses is the mind, higher than the mind is the intellect, higher than the intellect is the great Atman, higher than the Mahat is Avyaktam (the unmanifested).

A wise man, having understood that the senses, separately produced, are distinct from the Atman, and also their rising and setting, grieves no more.

To a confused person the idea of heaven and hell is very complex.

However, to a person with a clear, calm, and tranquil mind it is very simple – the state of mind free from fear is heaven.

A fearful person lives in hell here and hereafter.

The day you attain freedom from the fear associated with old age and death, you have created a heaven that cannot be destroyed by anyone.

Practicing truth in solitude is necessary only in the beginning stages of your quest.

In a sheltered environment you can practice truth without too many distractions, but in that environment you do not have the opportunity to test your strength. Conforming to truth while living in the world is a higher practice. Once you conquer the adverse conditions there, you have become the master of yourself.

No man can be made truly happy by wealth. What use are these: wealth, long life and desires and objects of enjoyment? They wear out the vigor of all the senses and even the longest life is verily short.

These two, ignorance and knowledge, are wide apart and lead to different points of goals.

The good and the pleasant take hold of a man. The wise man examines and distinguishes them. He prefers the good (Sreya) to the pleasant, but the ignorant man choose the pleasant (Preya) for the sake of the body.

Going outward is inborn to us. Hence, we see the outer things and not the inner Self. Only a rare discriminating, brave man, desiring everlasting bliss and peace, turns his eyes away from the external and searches within. (Chapter 2, I, 1)

Know the Self as the lord of the chariot and the body as, verily, the chariot, know the intellect as the charioteer and the mind as, verily, the reins. The senses, they say, are the horses; the objects of sense the paths (they range over); (the self) associated with the body, the senses and the mind—wise men declare—is the enjoyer. (Chapter 1, III, 3-4)

One who has not desisted from bad conduct, whose senses are not under control, whose mind is not concentrated, whose mind is not free from anxiety, cannot attain this Self through knowledge. (Chapter 1, II, 24)

Know the atman to be the master of the chariot; the body, the chariot; the buddhi, the charioteer; and the mind, the reins.

The senses, they say, are the horses; the objects, the roads. The wise call the atman —united with the body, the senses, and the mind — the enjoyer.

If the buddhi [intellect], being related to a mind that is always distracted, loses its discrimination, then the senses become uncontrolled, like the vicious horses of a charioteer.

But if the buddhi, being related to a mind that is always restrained, possesses discrimination, then the senses come under control, like the good horses of a charioteer.

Look within to become immortal – Kathopanishad

Wild horses and incompetent charioteer (Kathopanishad 2.410) – a man with uncontrolled senses.

Controlled horses and competent charioteer – a man who is the master of his senses.

Incompetent charioteer leads to the worldly – a miserable existence in the world.

Competent charioteer leads to emancipation – attains bliss while living on earth.

Fine perception: A prerequisite – only a purified mind can escape from the web of Maya.

Know Him and be free – To be free means to known That Supreme Truth – The One which is beyond words and description.

Look within to become immortal – To attain moksha here on earth search for the truth inside not outside.

Infinite not to be found in the finite – do not limit the Supreme Truth.