A new series of articles on The Kathopanishat is being published by the Advaita Academy. The first part of the series can be read at the following URL:
An excerpt from the article:
Nachiketas was a boy of about seven or eight years. shaMkara says in the commentary for the word ‘kumAram’ (a young lad): one who has not attained the age of procreation. This boy was watching the ceremonies going on at the yAgashAla. The commissioned priests were being awarded the gifts. As part of the gifts were cows. Seeing the condition of these cows that were being given away as gifts, Nachiketas was struck with a gushing of shraddhA, faith, in the vedic teaching. He thought to himself: ‘My father who is giving such worthless cows to priests as gifts is certain to reach those worlds where there is going to be none other than suffering.’ The boy is a member of a family that is rooted in vedic tradition. He has acquired deep knowledge of various things through study and observation. He has genuine faith in the vedic teaching that comes naturally to someone who is exposed to such a traditional living. Why was Nachiketas so concerned? The condition of the cows was pathetic. They were in such bad shape that the one who receives them as gift will have no benefit from them. The cows had drunk water, eaten what grass they could and whatever milk could be had from them was already milked. And what is more, they had passed their stage of reproducing, they had become sterile. Nachiketas was concerned that the donor of such miserable cows would only reach hellish worlds. His concern for his father’s welfare, both here and in the hereafter, is a reflection of how a mature, dutiful son would behave. Even though so young in age, Nachiketas displayed great ripeness the like of which will be seen again when he seeks Yama’s blessings for his father’s peace and welfare. Torn by thoughts of his father’s imminent discomfiture, Nachiketas approached his father.
Om Tat Sat