1. 'There are the two, drinking their reward in the world of their own works,
entered into the cave (of the heart), dwelling on the highest summit (the ether
in the heart). Those who know Brahman call them shade and light; likewise, those
householders who perform the Trinakiketa sacrifice.'
2. 'May we be able to master that Nakiketa rite which is a bridge for
sacrificers; also that which is the highest, imperishable Brahman for those who
wish to cross over to the fearless shore.'
3. 'Know the Self to be sitting in the chariot, the body to be the chariot,
the intellect (buddhi) the charioteer, and the mind the reins.'
4. 'The senses they call the horses, the objects of the senses their roads.
When he (the Highest Self) is in union with the body, the senses, and the mind,
then wise people call him the Enjoyer.'
5. 'He who has no understanding and whose mind (the reins) is never firmly
held, his senses (horses) are unmanageable, like vicious horses of a
6. 'But he who has understanding and whose mind is always firmly held, his
senses are under control, like good horses of a charioteer.'
7. 'He who has no understanding, who is unmindful and always impure, never
reaches that place, but enters into the round of births.'
8. 'But he who has understanding, who is mindful and always pure, reaches
indeed that place, from whence he is not born again.'
9. 'But he who has understanding for his charioteer, and who holds the reins
of the mind, he reaches the end of his journey, and that is the highest place of
10. 'Beyond the senses there are the objects, beyond the objects there is the
mind, beyond the mind there is the intellect, the Great Self is beyond the
11. 'Beyond the Great there is the Undeveloped, beyond the Undeveloped there
is the Person (purusha). Beyond the Person there is nothing this is the goal,
the highest road.'
12. 'That Self is hidden in all beings and does not shine forth, but it is
seen by subtle seers through their sharp and subtle intellect.'
13. 'A wise man should keep down speech and mind; he should keep them within
the Self which is knowledge; he should keep knowledge within the Self which is
the Great; and he should keep that (the Great) within the Self which is the
14. 'Rise, awake! having obtained your boons', understand them! The sharp
edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path (to the
Self) is hard.'
15. 'He who has perceived that which is without sound, without touch, without
form, without decay, without taste, eternal, without smell, without beginning,
without end, beyond the Great, and unchangeable, is freed from the jaws of
16. 'A wise man who has repeated or heard the ancient story of Nakiketas told
by Death, is magnified in the world of Brahman.'
17. 'And he who repeats this greatest mystery in an assembly of Brahmans, or
full of devotion at the time of the Sraddha sacrifice, obtains thereby infinite
1. Death said: 'The Self-existent pierced the openings (of the senses) so
that they turn forward: therefore man looks forward, not backward into himself.
Some wise man, however,with his eyes closed and wishing for immortality, saw the
2. 'Children follow after outward pleasures, and fall into the snare of
wide-spread death. Wise men only, knowing the nature of what is immortal, do not
look for anything stable here among things unstable!
3. 'That by which we know form, taste, smell, sounds, and loving touches, by
that also we know what exists besides. This is that (which thou hast asked
4. 'The wise, when he knows that that by which he perceives all objects in
sleep or in waking is the great omnipresent Self, grieves no more.'
5. 'He who knows this living soul which eats honey (perceives objects) as
being the Self, always near, the Lord of the past and the future, henceforward
fears no more. This is that!
6. 'He who (knows) him' who was born first from the brooding heat, (for he
was born before the water), who, entering into the heart, abides therein, and
was perceived from the elements. This is that.'
7. '(He who knows) Aditi also, who is one with all deities, who arises with
Prana (breath or Hiranyagarbha), who, entering into the heart, abides therein,
and was born from the elements. This is that.'
8. 'There is Agni (fire), the all-seeing, hidden in the two fire-sticks,
well-guarded like a child (in the womb) by the mother, day after day to be
adored by men when they awake and bring oblations. This is that.'
9. 'And that whence the sun rises, and whither it goes to set, there all the
Devas are contained, and no one goes beyond. This is that.'
10. 'What is here (visible in the world), the same is there (invisible in
Brahman); and what is there, the same is here. He who sees any difference here
(between Brahman and the world), goes from death to death.'
11. 'Even by the mind this (Brahman) is to be obtained, and then there is no
difference whatsoever. He goes from death to death who sees any difference
12. 'The person (purusha), of the size of a thumb, stands in the middle of
the Self (body?), as lord of the past and the future, and henceforward fears no
more. This is that.'
13. 'That person, of the size of a thumb, is like a light without smoke, lord
of the past and the future, he is the same to-day and to-morrow. This is that.'
14. 'As rain-water that has fallen on a mountain ridge runs down the rocks on
all sides, thus does he, who sees a difference between qualities, run after them
on all sides.'
15. 'As pure water poured into pure water remains the same, thus, O Gautama,
is the Self of a thinker who knows.'
1. 'There is a town with eleven gates belonging to the Unborn (Brahman),
whose thoughts are never crooked. He who approaches it, grieves no more, and
liberated (from all bonds of ignorance) becomes free. This is that.'
2. 'He (Brahman) is the swan (sun), dwelling in the bright heaven; he is the
Vasu (air), dwelling in the sky; he is the sacrificer (fire), dwelling on the
hearth; he is the guest (Soma), dwelling in the sacrificial jar; he dwells in
men, in gods (vara), in the sacrifice (rita), in heaven; he is born in the
water, on earth, in the sacrifice (rita), on the mountains; he is the True and
3. 'He (Brahman) it is who sends up the breath (prana), and who throws back
the breath (apgma)All the Devas (senses) worship him, the adorable (or the
dwarf), who sits in the centre.'
4. 'When that incorporated (Brahman), who dwells in the body, is torn away
and freed from the body, what remains then? This is that!
5. 'No mortal lives by the breath that goes up and by the breath that goes
down. We live by another, in whom these two repose.'
6. 'Well then, O Gautama, I shall tell thee this mystery, the old Brahman,
and what happens to the Self, after reaching death.'
7. 'Some enter the womb in order to have a body, as organic beings, others go
into inorganic matter, according to their work and according to their
8. 'He, the highest Person, who is awake in us while we are asleep, shaping
one lovely sight after another, that indeed is the Bright, that is Brahman, that
alone is called the Immortal. All worlds are contained in it, and no one goes
beyond. This is that.'
9. 'As the one fire, after it has entered the world, though one, becomes
different according to whatever it burns, thus the one Self within all things
becomes different, according to whatever it enters, and exists also without.'
10. 'As the one air, after it has entered the world, though one, becomes
different according to whatever it enters, thus the one Self within all things
becomes different, according to whatever it enters', and exists also without.'
11. 'As the sun, the eye of the whole world, is not contaminated by the
external impurities seen by the eyes, thus the one Self within all things is
never contaminated by the misery of the world, being himself without.'
12. 'There is one ruler, the Self within all things, who makes the one form
manifold. The wise who perceive him within their Self, to them belongs eternal
happiness, not to others.'
13. 'There is one eternal thinker, thinking non-eternal thoughts, who, though
one, fulfils the desires of many. The wise who perceive him within their Self,
to them belongs eternal peace, not to others.'
14. 'They perceive that highest indescribable pleasure, saying, This is that.
How then can I understand it? Has it its own light, or does it reflect light?'
15. 'The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these
lightnings, and much less this fire. When he shines, everything shines after
him; by his light all this is lighted.'
1. 'There is that ancient tree, whose roots grow upward and whose branches
grow downward;-that indeed is called the Bright, that is called Brahman, that
alone is called the Immortal . All worlds are contained in it, and no one goes
beyond. This is that.'
2. 'Whatever there is, the whole world, when gone forth (from the Brahman),
trembles in its breath. That Brahman is a great terror, like a drawn sword.
Those who know it become immortal.'
3. 'From terror of Brahman fire burns, from terror the sun burns, from terror
Indra and Vayu, and Death, as the fifth, run away.'
4. 'If a man could not understand it before the falling asunder of his body,
then he has to take body again in the worlds of creation.'
5. 'As in a mirror, so (Brahman may be seen clearly) here in this body; as in
a dream, in the world of the Fathers; as in the water, he is seen about in the
world of the Gandharvas; as in light and shade, in the world of Brahma.'
6. 'Having understood that the senses are distinct (from the Atman), and that
their rising and setting (their waking and sleeping) belongs to them in their
distinct existence (and not to the Atman), a wise man grieves no more.'
7. 'Beyond the senses is the mind, beyond the mind is the highest (created)
Being, higher than that Being is the Great Self, higher than the Great, the
8. 'Beyond the Undeveloped is the Person, the all-pervading and entirely
imperceptible. Every creature that knows him is liberated, and obtains
9. 'His form is not to be seen, no one beholds him with the eye. He is
imagined by the heart, by wisdom, by the mind. Those who know this, are
10. 'When the five instruments of knowledge stand still together with the
mind, and when the intellect does not move, that is called the highest state.'
11. 'This, the firm holding back of the senses, is what is called Yoga. He
must be free from thoughtlessness then, for Yoga comes and goes.'
12. 'He (the Self) cannot be reached by speech, by mind, or by the eye. How
can it be apprehended except by him who says: "He is?"'
13. 'By the words "He is," is he to be apprehended, and by
(admitting) the reality of both (the invisible Brahman and the visible world, as
coming from Brahman). When he has been apprehended by the words "He
is," then his reality reveals itself.'
14. 'When all desires that dwell in his heart cease, then the mortal becomes
immortal, and obtains Brahman.'
15. 'When all the ties of the heart are severed here on earth, then the
mortal becomes immortal here ends the teaching.'
16. 'There are a hundred and one arteries of the heart, one of them
penetrates the crown of the head. Moving upwards by it, a man (at his death)
reaches the Immortal; the other arteries serve for departing in different
17. 'The Person not larger than a thumb, the inner Self, is always settled in
the heart of men. Let a man draw that Self forth from his body with steadiness,
as one draws the pith from a reed. Let him know that Self as the Bright, as the
Immortal; yes, as the Bright, as the Immortal.'
18. Having received this knowledge taught by Death and the whole rule of Yoga
(meditation), Nakiketa became free from passion and death, and obtained Brahman.
Thus it will be with another also who knows thus what relates to the Self.
19. May He protect us both! May He enjoy us both! May we acquire strength
together! May our knowledge become bright! May we never quarre1! Om! Peace!
peace! peace! Harih, Om!
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