Fire rituals are performed to appease Gods. The oblations offered in the fire are said to be the carriers of our prayers to the respective Gods to whom oblations are offered. The procedures of fire rituals are interesting and we will have a look at them later. The fire that Yama and Naciketa are talking about is not the external fire but the internal fire of every living being. Yama says that this fire alone gives extracted and filtered results. Whatever form of God we worship, we have to identify ourselves with the form of the God. There should be no differentiation between the worshipper and the worshiped. Unless this unification is established, the end result of any ritual will not be available to us. Yama says that the fire burning within us is immortal and if we worship this internal fire, one becomes immortal. Yama first talked about external fire rituals like the number of bricks and other materials used for performing homa or havana or other major fire rituals. Naciketa grasped everything that Yama told him about these external rituals and was able to answer all the questions put to him by Yama. Yama was pleased beyond words and offered an extra boon to Naciketa saying this ritual will be named after Naciketa. This fire ritual is called Naciketa yaga (fire ritual). Yama also presented an ornament to Naciketa, as Yama was too pleased about his intelligence. The guru Yama was pleased with his disciple Naciketa. Imparting knowledge also gives happiness and, knowledge is not imparted by scholars without testing the capability of the disciple. It is said in the Upanishad that those who perform this Naciketa yaga three times in one’s life realizes the Brahman.
What is the significance of this three? The three represents father, mother and guru. Love from mother, father’s guidance to worldly affairs and the spiritual uplift by one’s Guru are the three important steps, one after another for success of a man. Then Yama started discussing about the significance of the internal fire. If any of the above is not forthcoming, a man’s life will not be complete. What does this complete life mean? A man’s mission in this universe is achieved only if he realises the Brahman. Knowing and realizing the Brahman which leads to liberation is called full life. Having talked about liberation, what then are the steps to attain liberation? One is living a contended life without wants and desires. Second is studying and understanding the scriptures. Reading something without knowing the deeper implications of the subject of study is of no use. The third is surrender to God. These three are taught by one’s mother, father and guru. The Upanishad confirms that the real and permanent peace is attained only by knowing the Brahman. That is why this Naciketa ritual is called Naciketa vidya. Vidya means knowledge. This ritual is called knowledge because, apart from dealing with the external fire ritual, the practice also imparts knowledge of knowing the Brahman. Yet another significance attached to this Upanishad is that it talks about attaining liberation during one’s existence in this earth. Here ends the discussions on the second boon given to Naciketa by Yama and the next boon discusses about life after death as the boon is about soul.