At the age of seven, Mozart, the great Western musician, became so proficient at playing such complex music, music which even a man of seventy could not play. It is astonishing, because how can music which needs seventy years of practice be created by a child of seven? Mozart had started showing signs of being a great musician by the age of three! He certainly must have had some sort of preparation in a past life – past life experiences that he could not remember, past life treasures that he may not have been aware of, but they were within him. Even at the age of two children have given thousands of signs which cannot be explained except by the concept of past lives. Nachiketa is no exception. What Nachiketa has asked shows the fact that his search is very old and that this child is a very ancient soul.
It is said about Lao Tzu that he was born an old man. This Nachiketa is also such an old man: his search is connected with his past lives. He may not actually be aware of what he is asking, but he has inquired about these things many times, in many lives. He has knocked on many, many doors. He has been sitting at the feet of many masters. This stream, which only became apparent on that day, has been flowing in the past as an undercurrent. Keep this in mind, because only then will Nachiketa’s questions seem natural to you; otherwise they may seem unnatural. Otherwise it will seem to you that the sage is imposing, in the name of Nachiketa, things which even old people don’t ask. But many other children have also asked such questions.
Shankara died when he was just thirty-three years old. By then he had completed his great commentaries on Brahmasutra, the Upanishads and the Gita. Somebody else reaching even to the age of three hundred years would not have been able to compete with Shankara. There would be no possibility of somebody accomplishing all this writing in thirty-three years or even in three hundred years.
Shankara started writing his commentaries when he was seventeen. He had expressed the intention of becoming a sannyasin at the age of nine – this depth of longing at the age of nine! The age of nine is not much: you remain childish even at the age of ninety. Even at that age, your mind does not mature. Even in old age your mind remains like that of a stupid, ignorant man. How was it possible that a longing to become a sannyasin could arise in Shankara at the age of nine, even though he had not yet seen and experienced life? How could the issue arise of renouncing a life that he had yet to experience? He had not yet known misery, so what was the meaning of his longing to go beyond misery? He had not yet experienced the pleasures of life so what could be the meaning in his renouncing them?
He has certainly known many pleasures, because it is a consequence of entering deeply into the pleasures of life for many lifetimes that a boy of nine years of age can experience a longing to become a sannyasin.
Many times people come to me and ask me why I sometimes give sannyas even to small children. Nobody is a small child, and the age of the body is not the real age.