The Results of Actualizing the Second Boon of Nachiketas

Sri Aurobindo translates Katha Upanishad, First Cycle, First Chapter, Verses 17-19:  “Whose lights the three fires (3) of Nachiketas and comes to the union with the Three (4) and does the triple works, (5) beyond birth and death he crosses; for he finds the God of our adoration, the Knower (1) who is born from the Brahman, whom having beheld he attains to surpassing peace.”

“When a man has the three flames of Nachiketas and knows this that is Triple, when so knowing he beholds the Flame of Nachiketas, then he thrusts from in front of him the meshes of the snare of death; leaving sorrow behind him he in heaven rejoices.”

“This is the heavenly Flame, O Nachiketas, which thou hast chosen for the second boon; of this Flame the peoples shall speak that it is thine indeed.  A third boon choose, O Nachiketas.”

(3) “Probably, the Divine Force utilised to raise to divinity the triple being of man.”

(4) “Possibly, the three Purushas, soul-states or Personalities of the Divine Being, indicated by the three letters A U M.  The highest Brahman is beyond the three letters of the mystic syllable.”

(5)  “The sacrifice of the lower existence to the divine, consummated on the three planes of man’s physical, vital and mental consciousness.”

(1)  “The Purusha or Divine Being, Knower of the Field, who dwells within all and for whose pleasure Prakriti fulfils the cosmic play.”

The obscurity of the references here are illustrated by the footnotes of Sri Aurobindo.  Other references in the Upanishads give us some clues that the three fires are the  force within body, life and mind.  The three karmas seem to relate to the action on these three levels that represent the human being in the manifested world, actions gross, subtle and causal.  The supreme Brahman is beyond the limits of the manifested universe while containing and constituting that universe.  Unification with Brahman brings knowledge and peace as the pressure of individual desire and attachment to the results of efforts is relieved.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Katha Upanishad, pp. 213-241, and Kapali Sastry, Lights on the Upanishads, pp.  104-129