The atman exists everywhere. It (atman or Brahman) is there in akash in the form of the sun (used for comparison only). It (Brahman) is the base of everything in this universe (every activity in the earth is based on the sun). It is there between the earth and the heaven, it is there in air, fire, earth, as guests at home (atiti), lives in a cave situated in our heart (not the biological heart), it is in all the deities and gods (meaning various types of energies), it is there in the truth, it manifests in fire rituals, it manifests in the earth, it manifests in the mountain. The Supreme Self is the biggest of all says Yama. This statement of Yama is to emphasize the fact that Brahman exists everywhere. It is in the form of jivan or soul which makes the prana (life energy) goes up and makes the apana goes down in our body. (The friction that takes place when prana and apana meets produces energy and makes the kundalini ascend) This (the soul) is in centre of the body (the heart chakra in the spinal cord) and other parts of the body look upon to it for their functioning. Here Yama talks about soul and not the atman, because the activity of moving prana and apana is associated with atman. If this soul or jiva leaves the body, what remains is what Naciketa is seeking. The secretive meaning of this statement is that Brahman exists in dead bodies too. Brahman remains even after the body is burnt or buried. But no living being lives solely on prana, apana, etc. They live on the strength of the atman only. That is why atman is compared to the sun. Yama then proceeds to explain the position of the soul after death. After death some of the souls enter human bodies. Some souls become plants, etc. The rebirth of the soul depends upon one’s karma alone.
When we enter the stage of deep sleep, our senses do not function. Though our senses do not work, the atman remains awake. It never sleeps. It is eternal. When we had a good sleep, next day morning we say that we had a good sleep. When we were in the stage of deep sleep, how we can say that we had good sleep? This is because the atman within did not sleep, was witnessing our act of deep sleep. This is a typical example of how atman never participates in our activities, and remains only as a witness. Yama tells Naciketa that is the atman which he was seeking for. Atman is compared to fire. The fire takes different shapes and forms. The flame of a candle is different from the flame of a gas oven. The fire of a welding machine is different from the fire of a furnace. But the nature of the fire remains the same. In the same way, atma is the same, but it takes different shapes according to the form of the being. Atma taking different shapes means atma is covered by different gross forms. Atman or the Brahman is the innermost of any living being and all other things form protective coverings. For example atma is the same in a tree as well as in a human. The external shape alone is different such as tree or human and the atman inside is the same in both. But it must also be remembered that atma also exists outside a tree or a human. This atman is covered by maya or illusion which misleads us from knowing the atman. As long as you are not able to remove the veil of maya, Brahman can never be realised. As long as maya exists, the duality continues. As long as duality continues, you have fear and associated miseries. But by removing the veil of maya, you realize the Brahman and if you further realize that you are one with the Brahman, where is the question of fear, sufferings, miseries, etc? Then there is comparison between happiness and sorrow. A comparison can be made only between two objects. When there is only one object with which can it be compared? Yogis have said that they had seen the Brahman. How can they see the Brahman when we say that Brahman does not have a form? Naciketa wanted an answer for this from Yama. He wanted to know whether the divine vision happens outside our body or inside of our body.
Yama says the vision of divinity is neither external nor internal. It is called bliss and it is to be experienced and cannot be seen. Bliss cannot be explained by words as your experience will be different from mine. Further it is beyond words as it is the rendezvous with the Brahman. Everything functions out of fear for the Brahman. He never expects anybody to break the laws as He Himself does not break the laws made by him. The law of karma is called the law of the Lord. Brahman never grants you anything that is outside the purview of your karma. Brahman is like a coin. Both sides are not the same. In the same way, on one side Brahman is kind and gracious. On the other side he is a strict disciplinarian. That is why He is terror to those who break the law of Nature. When your mind is totally free of duality, the divinity begins to dawn on you. If you are still associated with your senses, there is no way you can realize the Brahman. If you do not realize the Brahman you are going to die to be reborn as a human or an animal or a plant or it could be anything. Mind is powerful than the senses. Intellect is powerful than mind. Soul is powerful than the intellect. Maya or illusion is powerful than the soul. But the Brahman or the Supreme Self is all powerful and nothing can be compared to Him. God cannot be seen with the external eyes. He can be realized as the Brahman in the form of light only within. He can be realized only if the mind is clear or inactive. When mind is inactive, it means that it is not attached to the senses. If it is not attached to the senses, mind has time to look within, with the help of knowledge. Therefore, the basic requirement to realize the Brahman is the capacity to manifest with the help of knowledge. You can manifest only if you have sufficient practice. You can practice manifestation of the Brahman only if your mind is not associated with external objects. The one who realizes this becomes immortal. At the time of his death, his soul leaves his body through the orifice at the top of the head. In others, the souls leave through the remaining ten openings. They are born again. You must learn to separate this self illuminating atman from your body and realize it. This is called Naciketa vidya. By saying this, Yama concluded his teachings to Naciketa. This is considered to be the master piece on soul and the Brahman, as these are the words of the Lord of death, Yama. With this we conclude our discussion on Katha Upanishad. For comments and feedback you can mail me at email@example.com