Nachiketa said, “Oh Yama! As the first of the three wishes, I ask that my father, Uddalaka, may become peaceful, joyous and free from sorrow and anger. And when I am sent back to him by you, may he receive me lovingly as his son.”
Yama replied, “Seeing you returning from the mouth of death your father, Uddalaka, inspired by me, will receive you and recognize you as his son. He will be freed from anger and grief and will spend the rest of the days and nights of his life in peace and joy.”
Having had his first wish granted, Nachiketa said, “Oh Lord, in heaven there is no fear. Even you, Death, are not there. There, none are afraid of old age. Those living in heaven are beyond hunger and thirst. Free from all suffering, they are in bliss.”
“Oh, Lord of Death, you know the inner fire which is the path to heaven. So tell me, a sincere seeker, the science of the inner fire, the science by which those who are in heaven attain to the deathless. This is my second wish.”
Yama said, “Oh, Nachiketa, I know the science of the inner fire which bestows heaven. I will tell it to you so that you may understand it completely. Know that this science will give boundless heavenly joy. This fire is hidden in the innermost sanctum of your heart.”
Yama then explained the science of the inner fire to Nachiketa, the science which bestows heaven. He explained in detail all the processes involved. Having understood it Nachiketa repeated the details back to Yama, and Yama was satisfied.
Seeing Nachiketa’s extraordinary intelligence, Yama was well pleased. He said, “Now I will grant you an additional honor – that the science of the inner fire be known by your name, the Naachiket-Fire. Please also accept this beautiful necklace of jewels.”
Yama then said, “One who ignites this inner fire three times and desirelessly practices the fire ritual, practices sharing and practices austerity in accordance with the three Vedas, will become free from birth and death. By knowing this sacred fire and by choosing it with sincerity, he will attain to eternal peace, the peace which I know.”
Yama continued, “One who ignites and attains to this inner fire will cut the snares of death while still in the body. He will go beyond sorrow. He will experience the joys of heaven.”
“Oh Nachiketa, this is the science of the inner fire that will lead to heaven. You have asked this as your second wish. From now onwards this fire will be known by your name.”
“Now, what is your third wish?”
The Upanishads are unique scriptures on this Earth about the mysteries of life, and the Kathopanishad is unique amongst all the Upanishads. Before we enter into this Upanishad, it will be good to understand the inner current that is underlying this Kathopanishad.