Starvation brings out true appetites. By starving the body, mind and intellect of any nourishment, by abandoning them to death, Nachiketas gains insights about the true appetites in their domains. He also realizes the potency of these appetites to achieve great things in their respective domains. Nachiketas then applies himself to intelligently deploy these appetites to aid his spiritual evolution.
Shanta sankalpah sumana yathasyad
Veetamanvir gautamo ma/bhimrutyo
Tvat prasrushtam ma/bhivadet prateeta
Etat trayam prathamam varam vrune
The spirit of Nachiketas had withdrawn from everything when it immersed itself in the encounter with the nothingness of death. He had purged himself of all preconceived notions and stilled his mind. The tides of imagination settled down to reveal the primordial state from where he had started. When the spirit returns to this stillness it could generate violent waves of emotions. The first concern of Nachiketas is that the ancestral body from which he commenced his spiritual journey must have the fortitude to contain the violent tides, and should be capable of containing the enlightened spirit harmoniously.
Gautama, the worldly ancestor of the enlightened soul, is just a packet of processes in the absence of the spirit. It squirms in anguish at the departure of the spirit. It now understands fully the value of the spirit. This anguish when stretched to the limit could make the worldly shell unfit for the habitation of the spirit. So Nachiketas uses the first boon to ensure that the anguish of the earthy being is kept well under control. He uses the power bestowed by the first boon to make the anxieties ruling his worldly shell to settle down.
Yatha purastad bhavita prateeta
Sukham ratrih shayita veetamanyu
Tvam dadrushivan mrutyumukhat prasrushtam
When the spirit returns after enlightenment everything in the earthy plane will appear to be exactly as before. But at the same time there will be subtle essential changes.
Uddalakam is a type of honey. The sweetness of complacence characterizes the inertia associated with the gross body. Gross body is a product of this inertia. Aruna is the charioteer of sun, which is the central source from where all processes emanate. Aruna has only the torso and has to depend on the chariot for his movement. The subtle body is the contribution of Aruna. The subtle body while it glows with inner life is dependent on the gross body.
Both the gross body and subtle body are the products of time. When the inner spirit reconciles with death, the extreme expression of change, the passage of time is no more a source of anxiety and fear. Then the gross body as well as the subtle body will not go back to their earlier confusions. They will enjoy restful sleep in the nights as they will be free from all agitations. The spirit while descending from the domain of death, from the state of deep meditation, cleanses all the substrates that support it. The gross body and subtle body are liberated from the clutches of death, from the fear of death, when the enlightened spirit descends.
Svargaloke na bhayam kinchinasti
Na tatra/tvam na jaraya vibheti
Ubhe teerta/shanaya pipase
Shokatigo modate svargalokeh
The domain of ideals is free from fear. Ideals remain fresh and unaffected whatever is made out of them. The products inspired by ideals are subject to change but the ideals per se are unaffected by the passage of time. Hence death does not rule over them. An idealist identifies with his ideals. He is moved neither by the cravings for the gross inputs nor by the thirst for the satisfaction of unworthy passions. By transcending hunger and thirst at all levels he is free to identify with his ideals totally. He overcomes all sorrows and enjoys the delightful stay in the heaven of ideals.
Sa tvamagnim svargya madhyeshi mrutyo
Prabroohi tam shraddadhanaya mahyam
Svargaloka amrutatvam bhajante
Etat dviteeyena vrune varena
The domain of worldly living is ruled by attachments. Contrary to this the heaven of ideals is the domain of total detachment. The process of death stands at the boundary between these two domains. The knowledge pertaining to the transition from the domain of earthly mortality to the domain of heavenly immortality is contained in the process of death. So the child Nachiketas looks up to the death experience to get instructions on how to secure entry to the blissful domain of ideals.
Prate braveemi tadu me nibodha
Svargyamagnim nachiketah prajanam
Vidhi tvametannihitam guhayam
On being sought by Nachiketas the death experience sets about to instruct Nachiketas about the fire of passion that can transport him from the domain of worldly living to the heavenly domain of ideals. This passion is very potent. Essentially this passion remains hidden in the subtle inner space within oneself. The innumerable worlds one weave around oneself are established in this passion.
Lokadimagnim tamuvacha tasmai
Ya ishtaka yavateerva yatha va
Sa chapi tat pratyavadadyathoktam
Athasya mrutyuh punaraha tushtah
Deep reflection is needed to recognize and understand the passion that carries one from the mortality of the earthy existence to the heavenly state of ideals untouched by death. Any concern for the possessions in this world is sufficient to distract one from the reflection. One has to abandon oneself to death and be totally free of all concerns to conceive that passion. When Nachiketas gave himself to death he could recognize the primordial passion that supports all domains. He could also discern the equipment and organization to be employed for harnessing that passion for spiritual evolution. Nachiketas was a good student. He was attentive and absorbed the knowledge accurately and reproduced it.
Tamabraveel priyamano mahatma
Varam tavehadyadadami bhooyah
Tavaiva namna bhavitayamagnih
Srungkam chemamanekaroopam gruhana
The dedication of Nachiketas also earns a bonus. He is blessed that the fire that lead one from the domain of mortality to the domain of immortality will henceforth be known as Nachiketa fire. In the domain that transcends this world this fire is a singular phenomenon. When manifested here it takes several forms depending on the person acting as a vessel for carrying the fire. The equanimity experienced by Nachiketas while courting death also reveals to him the unity in the diversity of paths followed for the propitiation and harnessing of the Nachiketa fire.
Trikarma krittarati janmamrutyu
Brahmajajnam devameedyam viditva
In this world the primordial passion manifests in three forms - in the domains of body, mind and intellect. To experience inner peace these fires of passion are to be propitiated and appeased by appropriate actions. Only after attaining this peace one can conceive the supreme principle from which Brahman, the essence of the universe, is born.
Ya evam vidvamshchinute nachiketam
Sa mrutyupasham puratah pranodya
Shokatigo modate svargaloke
By discerning the trilogy of Nachiketa fire, by recognizing the cravings in the domains of body, mind and intellect and disciplining oneself to consummate all actions in these fires one overcomes the bondage imposed by death. He is no more worried about the time dependent events and phenomena. Thus overcoming all the sorrows associated with the functions of time he rejoices in the domain of time independent ideals.
Esha te/gnir nachiketa svargyoyam
Avruneeta dviteeyna varena
Etamagnim pravakshyanti janasa
Truteeyam varam Nachiketo vruneeshva
Idealism is an inspiring thing. The Nachiketa fire that was sought by the second boon will thus become popular and spread among all those who pursue prosperity and peace. Now with the tranquility bestowed by this prosperity and peace Nachiketas is free to pursue higher pursuits. Now he is ready to use the third boon to know about the subtle secrets beyond this world.