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This story teaches us that we should never be afraid to ask questions.

Keywords: God, curiosity, courage

Story of Nachiketa

Story


The story of Nachiketa is found in an ancient Hindu scripture called the Katha Upanishad. Nachiketa was an intelligent and curious boy of about five years old.


Once, Nachiketa's father, Rishi Vajashrava, was performing a yajna (a ritual sacrifice). In this yajna, he was supposed to donate his most valuable assets to the Brahmins.


However, he was giving away old and weak cows, that were neither productive nor capable of providing milk. These cows were of no use to the Brahmins.


Seeing this, Nachiketa became upset and went to his father and asked, "Father, in a yajna, the most beloved and valuable possessions should be donated. Since I am your most beloved, to whom will you donate me?" 


Initially, Vajashrava did not respond to Nachiketa's question. However, upon Nachiketa repeatedly asking the same question, his father said, "Your mind always seeks answers to questions. Therefore, I am giving you to a teacher who will provide answers to all your queries. Go, I offer you to Yama." (Due to Nachiketa persistently asking the same question, Vajashrava, in anger, granted Nachiketa to Yama, who is the deity of death. Keeping in mind the sensitivities of children, we have portrayed Yama as a teacher.)


Obeying his father, Nachiketa went to see Yama at his place. There, the gatekeepers informed Nachiketa that Yama was currently not at home and would return after three days.


The gatekeepers advised Nachiketa to go back to his home. However, Nachiketa was determined and clear not to return without meeting Yama. He waited for Yama at the same door for three days without eating or drinking.


When Yama returned after three days, he was surprised to see a young boy waiting outside his door. Yama was impressed with Nachiketa's determination, and in return for waiting for three days rewarded him with three wishes,"Ask for whatever you desire."


Nachiketa, in turn, asked Yama for three wishes:

Nachiketa asked Yama for his first wish, "When I return home, I wish my father hugs me with love." (Nachiketa had asked Yama for his first wish to pacify his father's anger. Keeping children's sentiments in mind, some modifications have been made here.)


Yama answered, “I grant your wish. Your father will welcome you with love and affection when you return home.


Nachiketa asked for his Second Wish, "Tell me a way or method by which our sorrows end and we attain happiness."


Yama answered, “By doing good to others and always following the right path, we can experience real happiness.” (Yama instructed Nachiketa on a ritual called Nachiketa Yajna as a method to end sorrows and achieve happiness. To make it simpler for children to understand, some changes have been made here.)


Third Wish: Nachiketa asked Yama, “Who am I?” Yama was reluctant to answer the question. But, Nachiketa insisted. (Nachiketa desired to know the mystery of death as his third wish. This topic is sensitive for children, so some modifications have been made here.)



Yama answered, “You are the atman! The atman is eternal. It was never born. It can never be destroyed. It is pure and full of happiness.”


Yama further explained, “Think of the body as the chariot, and atman as the person sitting on the chariot. The atman can guide the chariot in a good direction or a bad direction. Always drive it in a good direction!”


Nachiketa became a wise sage through this knowledge. His story is recorded in Katha Upanishad! Ask questions like Nachiketa and look for their answers fearlessly


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Source: Katha Upanishad


नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन ।

यमेवैष वृणुते तेन लभ्यस्तस्यैष आत्मा विवृणुते तनूँ स्वाम् ॥ २३ ॥

Nayamatma pravacanena labhyo na medhaya na bahuna srutena |

yamevaisa vrnute tena labhyastasyaisa atma vivrnute tanum svam || 23 ||


This atman is not to be attained by a study of the Vedas, nor by intelligence, nor by much hearing, but the atman can be attained, only by him who seeks to know it. To him, this atman reveals its true nature.

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Story type: Mythological

Age: 7+ years; Class: 3+

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