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The Child

Nachiketa was now a toddler and had begun to mumble. The boy took a fancy for the sacrificial hall (Yajnamantapa) of his father. But he was afraid to go anywhere near his father. He used to stay at a distance and listen to the hymns (Mantras) chanted by the sages. He used to demand of his mother to teach him also the verses recited by her daily. By merely hearing what his mother used to recite, he learnt those verses by heart. Nachiketa was very diligent. His memory power was amazing. It was enough for him to hear anything only once. He could repeat them the very next moment.

Nachiketa was free from mischief and obstinacy of any kind. He was an early riser. His first duty of the day was to pluck the flowers for his mother. After the daily bath he used to recite verses and offer his prayers to God, and then accompany his mother to the cowshed while she* worshipped the cows. Only then would he have his first glass of milk in the morning.

Vajashravas possessed a large number of cows. He used to receive cows as gifts from kings whenever he called upon them or helped them in performing some religious rites. Money was not much in vogue then. Cows were considered as wealth in those days. The more the number of cows owned by a person, the richer he was regarded.

One-day Nachiketa's mother was engaged in her usual worship of the cows in the pen. The boy who was present there asked: "Mother, why should we worship the cows?' She replied: "It is because of their motherly act, son. They give us milk for our use. In fact we address them as mother - cow."

"It is all right. But should we worship them simply because they give us milk ?'

"It is as good as saluting your own mother if you worship a cow. It is as good as going on a pilgrimage if you just go round the cow. One collects a lot of 'punya' (religious merit) out of this.

He could not follow the logic. Everything seemed strange to him. He continued:

"Mother, what is the use of this 'punya' you mentioned?"

"Have you not heard that 'punya' is a steppingstone to Heaven? Heaven is the abode of gods and goddesses. It is a place where one can fulfil all one's desires."

Instantly his thoughts went to his friend Soma. Soma was the son of another sage. But some was very poor. Nachiketa said:

"Mother, there are no cows in poor Soma's house. Shall we gift at least an old cow to him? Let him also attain Heaven through punya."

"No Nachiketa, never. It is a sin to gift an old cow, if it does not yield any milk. It will be useless to them. On the contrary, we will be sent to Hell because of the sin committed."

"Can we not fulfil our desires in Hell?"

"How can you expect a sinner to get his desires fulfilled? The God of Death (Yama) punishes such people. If you want to know more about such things, you must become a scholar."

"Mother, in that case, I will seek knowledge right now," said Nachiketa. He sincerely set himself to acquire knowledge from that very moment.

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Nachiketa - A Brave Lad who sought knowledge at a very tender age..
About Nachiketa
Uddalaka - Vishwavara
Fruit Of A Sacrifice
You are Here! The Chiild
'I Want only Knowledge'
Cynosure Of all
Desire To See Yama
Vishwajit yaga
Why did father act like this?
"Get Out I have Gifted you To Death"
Where Am I?
"Choose Three Boons"
Knowledge Of Fire
Atmavidya (knowledge of Self)
Again With Parents
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