Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Search for a Meaning…..

The post is not as profound as the title might perhaps suggest.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Wikipedia, indeed carried an explanation of what my name means. Since it was a question that every new person I meet asks me at some point, I am posting the extract here

It’s pretty simple google it by clicking here

Or read on……….

Name: Nachiketa, meaning: Fire.

There is more about the name Nachiket. Nachiket means 'the Fire' which is a source of light at the dark hours of day. Nachiket stands as the source of knowledge. He was the only one who is appreciated so much by the god of death the 'Yama' that he offered him Greatest Knowledge the 'Bramha Gyaan'.

Who was nachiket?

The name of the grandson of Uddalaka, who was a young and famous Brahmachari noted for his great determination in pursuit of knowledge. He stands as the ideal seeker of Truth.

From Wikipedia:
Nachiketa (Sanskrit:नचिकेता, IAST: Naciketā) was son of a cowherd of the name Vājashrava, who was offered to Yama to find a place in Heaven by his father. Nachiketa with his wits learnt the wisdom taught by Yama (the god of Death), found the path of realising Brahman / Moksha i.e. emancipation of the soul from rebirth.

The story of Nachiketa and Yama is mentioned in Kathopanishad. There was cowherd of the name Vājashrava; desiring a gift from the gods, he made offerings of all he owned. But the kine he had were old, yielding no milk and worthless; not such a might buy the worshipper a place in Heaven. Vājashrava had a son; he would have his father make a worthier offering. To his sire he spoke: "To which god wilt thou offer me?" "To Death I give thee".

Nachiketa thought: "I shall be neither the first nor last that fares to Yama. yet what will he do with me? It shall be with me as with others. So Nachiketa went his way to death's wide home, and waited there three days; for Death was on a journey. When Death returned, his servants said: “A Brahman guest burns like a fire; Nachiketa waits three days unwelcomed; do thou soothe him with an offering of water, for all is lost to him in whose abode a Brahman waits unfed."

Then Death spoke to Nachiketa: “Since thou, an honoured guest, hast waited in my house three days unfed, ask of me three boons in return, I shall grant them". Then first he prayed: “Grant to my father peace and to know and welcome me when I return." Yama answered: "Be it so." Nachiketa asked again: “In Heaven-world the folk are quit of thee; there is neither hunger, nor eld, nor fear of death. Reveal to me the sacred fire that leads to Heaven." Then Yama described the sacred fire- what stones for its altar, and how disposed; and Nachiketa said it over, learning the lesson taught by Yama. Yama spoke again: “I grant thee, furthermore, that this sacred fire be known for ever by thy name; thine is the fire that leads to Heaven, thy second boon."

Nachiketa asked again: " The great mystery of what cometh after death; he is, some say; others say, he is no more. This great doubt I ask thee to resolve."

Yama replied: " Even the gods of old knew not this; this is a matter hard to be learnt; ask me any other boon only ask not of death."

But Nachiketa insisted to resolve mystery after death and no other boon.
Yama explained that the goal of sacred wisdom, of goodly works and faith, is Om! This word is Brahman, the supreme. He who doth comprehend this word, whatever he desires is his.

Thus having learnt the wisdom taught by Yama, and finding Brahman, Nachiketa was freed from death.

Some more extracts I found on the internet…. Read on.

Nachiketa’s Pitruvaakya paripaalana on Moral Stories

A tribute to the great Bharatiya Samskruti.

By Once upon a time there lived a braahmana named Vajashrava (Uddaalaka), who wished to accumulate punyam by performing a great yagnyam. The yagnyam was duly performed, but when the time for the daanams came, Vajashrava kept all the healthy cows for himself and gave away only those that were old and infirm. His son, Nachiketa, who was observing this, became very sad. He wanted his father to get the full phalitham for the yagnyam. He knew from shaastras that one must always give away things that are good, which will help others and the ones most liked by the donor. He went to his father and said: "O Father! Why are you donating only old cows that cannot give milk and cannot help the daana-grahitas? As you know, such an act is a great paapam. Your intent was to accumulate punyam. These gifts will have the opposite effect. Please donate your best of the cows".

Kathopanishad: The Mystery of Death and the Meaning of Life
by Swami Rama
From: Sacred Journey
This Upanishad is a beautiful, poetic explanation of the mystery of life and death, the law of karma, and how to attain liberation from grief and distress. It is composed in one hundred nineteen mantras and constructed around a dialogue between a spiritually minded young man named Nachiketa on one hand and Yama, the king of death on the other. Yama, unlike portrayals in Greek or Roman mythology of the king of death, is not something dreadful. He was the first man born on the earth to die and was a self realized master. In this scripture, Yama may be compared to the highest discriminating intelligence of the human being, while Nachiketa represents the lower mind, albeit with strength and courage.

The dialogue between the two reveals the character of a dedicated but yet unrealized spiritual seeker. Nachiketa is someone we can understand as well as admire. Though he has many doubts, his faith is indisputable. Above all he harbors a deep desire for the highest knowledge and ultimate happiness.

Nachiketa is tested by Yama to determine how strong his desire for truth is. Is it stronger than the attractions to the things of desire in the world? Yes. Nachiketa renounces everything for the sake of Self-realization. Above all else he wants to know Atman, the real Self.

The story of Nachiketa

This story about a Brahman hotra priests yagya and his son's propriety. One Auddaalaki "Vaajashravas (the gift giver)" Aruni by name decided to give away his possessions in order to earn some good Karma (He had the name Vaajashravas or food-giver). He had, however, at that particular ceremony called the vishvajit given only those goods which were defective. The cows were old and the skin barely hanging on their bony frames. The udders were not giving milk and the teeth could hardly chew. This was the sacrifice which Vajrashravas intended to give in order to get into heaven in the afterlife. His son called Nachiketa by name and a very astute young man saw his fathers dilemma. By way of rectifying the situation he suggested to his father that he be given away. In this way since the son was the prize possession his father could earn the necessary merits and would be absolved for his paltry offering which must surely have offended the Gods.


Nachiket Sambare said...

Nachiket is a noun of Sanskrit origin, which is combination of 3 basic sanskrit words.

na + chi + ket

"Na" represents negation.

"chi" represents "Chinmay" means - unending spiritual energy / happiness.

"ket" represents "Ketu" means - continuously revolving action.

Nachiket is the one who is continuously looking for nothing but unending spiritual energy/ happiness.

I got this meaning from a Nachiket in Pune.

Nachi said...


i always stuck to the 'Nachiketa & Yama' story as an explanation for my name to the curious Jones. today i find out that i am supposed to mean 'fire' as well (flame on!)

thanks. :)

~ Nachiketa

Anonymous said...

Thank you. My son's name is Nachiket & I wanted to know the meaning of the individual word. As mentioned by Nachiketa above, 'Nachiketa & Yama' story was the one that always was talked of.
Finally, a meaning...:-)

Anonymous said...

Na-Chi-Ketas = Imperceptible = the soul/the ultimate truth

That which cannot be perceived by intellect/chaitanya

In Hindi-- Jo chaitanya se bhi dekha na jaa sake.