Showing posts with label Upanishads. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Upanishads. Show all posts

Monday, 12 December 2011

Kathopanishad - Chapter I

The Kathopanishad is considered as one of the major Upanishads, since Sankara Bhagavadpäda has commented on it. It belongs to the Kathaka-Säkhä of Krshna-Yajurveda. Although tradition considers Sruti as timeless, scholars place it belonging to the Sutra period of Vedic Sanskrit Literature. It is considered a middle Upanishad, since it contains passages that suggest contact with Buddhist ideas, so was likely composed after the fifth century BCE. It figures as third Upanishad in the list of 108 Upanishads in Muktikä Upanishad (Muk.Up.-30). It consists of two chapters (adhyāyas), each divided into three sections (vallis) that contain a total of 119 mantras. In volume, it comes third after Chändogya and Brhadäranyaka as can be seen below. Many mantras of Kathopanishad have been repeated in the Bhagavad-Gitä in verbatim/or adapted.

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Katha may be the most widely known amongst all the Upanishads; its early Persian translations first found their way into Europe. Max Muller translated it 1879, Edwin Arnold rendered it in verse, as "The Secret of Death" and Ralph Waldo Emerson gave the central story at the end of his essay, Immortality. The Upanishad is based on the text is the story of Nachiketä, son of sage Väjasravasa, and his encounter with Lord Yama, the Hindu God of Death and Righteousness (Yama Dharmaräja).

Significance of Kathopanishad
In the tradition of teaching of Advaita Vedänta ‘Kathopanishad’ is taught first. I feel privileged to quote Swämi Dayänanda Saraswati’s (Founder of ‘Ärsha Vidyä’ paramparä) exact words, regarding the first Vedanta Corse conducted by him in Sandipani, Mumbai in 1972,
‘The first time I introduced Sankara-Bhäshyam to the students was when I was teaching Kathopanishad. The Kathopanishad-Bhäshyam is the easiest among all the Upanishads, because there is no Purvapakshah-Siddhäntah. If you want to get introduced to bhäshyam, you must study Kathopanishad. It is long enough, and you can stay with it for sometime. There is an äkhyäyikä, a story, and that is the best for an introduction. This Upanishad also talks about the qualifications necessary for the student. It can create certain fervour, through Naciketä; you can create a lot of fervour. I judged that the Kathopanishad-Bhäshyam was the right choice.’
- c.f. - ‘Swämi Dayänanda Saraswati – Traditional teacher of Brahmavidyä’, -
           By Padmä Narasimhan

The Story


The seed of the story of Kathopanishad can be traced in Rgveda X.135, as well as in the Taittiriya Brähmana (III.1.8), and later the Mahäbhärata (Anusäsana Parva -106). Väjasravasa means son of Väjasravä. Väjasravä was the name of a sage, who was perhaps famous for his charity of giving grains, implying the great sage Aruna. Uddälaka Äaruni was the son of Aruna, and he performs the Visvajit sacrifice in which he was required to give away all his worldly possessions. His son Naciketä asks to whom was he given (since he too was a possession of the Rishi, and hence needed to be given away). The sage ignores him twice, but on third asking, the irritated sage said in anger, ‘Unto Yama, I give thee’. Naciketä goes to the abode of Yama, and, finding him absent, waits there for three days and nights. Yama on his return offers to grant him three boons. (1.1.9)
Yama Dharmaraja
In Kathopanishad, Lord Yama reveals the secret of ‘nitya-tattva’/’ ätmatattva’ to Naciketä.

1st Chapter – 1st Valli
Visvajit sacrifice by Väjasravasa

Tr.- Once upon a time, Väjasravasa (also known as Uddälaka, of Gautama lineage) performed the Visvajit sacrifice desiring its result. He had a son named Naciketä. (I.1.1)

Naciketä’s thoughts, and dialogue between father and son

One is supposed to give away all possessions in the Visvajit ritual. Naciketä was watching everything being gifted away. Although young, thinking that a son is also his father’s property and hence must be given away, he approached his father and asked –

Tr. - ‘To whom are you giving me away?’ The father ignored the child’s question and did not respond. Naciketä kept on harping the question, a second and a third time. Irritated, the father blurted – ‘I give you away to Death.’ (I.1.2, 3, & 4)

Naciketä started wondering –
Tr. - I am considered to be best amongst many in many aspects, above average in some aspects. Of what use I can be to Lord Yama, which father desires to be done by me? (I.1.5)

What was uttered has to be executed. Naciketä consoled his father advising him to note –
Tr. - what has been done by his forefathers, and what is being done by people currently and requested him to send him to Lord Yama as per his words. (I.1.6).
Naciketä in the Yamaloka

The story moves fast in the Upanishad.

When Naciketä reached the abode of Lord Yama, he had gone out on errand. Naciketä waited for Yama’s return three nights without partaking food.

Tr. - When Lord Yama returned from his errand, his wives/ministers advised him to pacify the young Brahmin boy immediately, failing which all his good deeds will be washed away. (I.1.7 & 8)

Lord Yama approached Naciketä and apologised to him and said,
Tr. - Oh Brahmin! You have been waiting in my place since three nights without food. Please ask me for three boons for each of those nights waited. (I.1.9)

Summary of Naciketä’s three wishes, and Yama’s response
1. to be allowed to return to his father alive, and that his father not be angry with him     (1.1.10);
2. to be instructed as to the proper performance of Vedic fire-sacrifice in order to  gain immortality (1.1.12–13);
3. to be given knowledge about life after death (1.1.20).
Lord Yama grants the first wish immediately (1.1.11). In answer to Naciketä's second question, Yama expounds the performance of a special fire-sacrifice, which he states is to be named after Naciketä (1.1.14–19).
Before answering the third question, Yama tests Naciketä, offering him all sorts of worldly pleasures instead, but Naciketä insists on knowing the secret of life after death (1.1.21–29). The remainder of the text (Chapters I.2 to II.3) contains Yama's teaching concerning true immortality.

The first boon – pacifying his father

As the first boon, Naciketä asked that his father should become calm and recognise him on his return and talk to him affectionately. (I.1.10) This was immediately granted by Lord Yama. (I.1.11)

The second boon - Agnividyä

For the second boon, Naciketä asked for that Agnividyä, knowing and performing which, a person could go to heaven, where there is no fear, no old age and death, since Lord Yama is not there. (I.1.12 & 13)

Lord Yama taught him the Agnividyä with details of selection of bricks and fire. In fact, seeing the young boy’s memory and grasping ability, Lord Yama was so pleased that he gifted a jewelled-necklace to Naciketä and proclaimed that, the said Agnividyä, henceforth will be known as ‘Naciketägni’. (I.1.14, 15, & 16)

Lord Yama continued the praise of the Naciketägni (I.1.17-18), and finally asked Naciketä to seek the third boon. (I.1.19))

The third boon

Now, Naciketä asked for the third boon,
Tr. - There is indeed doubt about what happens after death. Some say it exists, some say it does not exist. I desire to know the truth from you clearly. This is my request for the third boon. (I.1.20)

Lord Yama was stunned to hear the request. He said,
Tr. - Child, this subtle mystery was not clear to the Devatäs earlier, since it is not easily comprehensible. Hence, you abandon the idea. Ask for some other boon. (I.1.21)

Naciketä used Lord Yama’s this reason to support his request and insisted on knowing the truth, since it was earlier not known to the Devatäs, and there is no better instructor of this knowledge other than Lord Yama himself. (I.1.22)

Lord Yama’s offer to Naciketä

Lord Yama tried to dissuade Naciketä by offering pleasures of the world,
Tr. - You may ask for progeny with long life, abundant cattle, horses, elephants, gold and huge empire on the earth and longevity as per his desire. (I.1.23)

He offered to give anything that is desired by Naciketä, and objects that are not available on the earth, and advised Naciketä not to pester the question – what happens after death. (I.1.24 & 25)

Hearing Lord Yama, Naciketä said that all the gifts offered by Lord Yama are transient, and in fact, they age a person. ‘May all your gifts remain with you.’ (I.1.26) ‘A person cannot be satisfied with wealth. In fact, having seen you will ensure wealth and long life, but the only boon worth asking is the knowledge of that tattva.’ (I.1.27) ‘Having come to heaven, in contact with immortals, who would care for long life in the earth!’ (I.1.28) ‘Therefore, please teach me that tattva about which people have doubts. Naciketä does not want any other boon.’ (I.1.28 & 29).
From now onwards, (Ch.-I.2), until the end of the text (Ch.-II.3) Lord Yama teaches the nitya-tattva – the secret of what happens after death.

1st Chapter – 2nd Valli

When Lord Yama was convinced that Naciketä is indeed qualified to receive the Brahmavidyä and is resolved on knowing the truth, He first imparted the significance of Brahmavidyä, before the actual teaching.

Sreyas & Preyas

He commenced with the introduction of Sreyas and Preyas, and how they are opposed to each other. The option between these two is available to a person. Examining the two, the wise person chooses Sreyas, while the unwise chooses the Preyas for the sake of protection and growth and falls without reaching the true goal. (I.2.1 & 2)

Tr. - However, you Naciketä did not opt for progeny, wealth and others knowing its uselessness, which in fact allures many and bring the seeker to grief. (I.2.3)

To explain why Sreyas brings auspiciousness to its seeker while Preyas brings grief, Lord Yama said -

(As with Sreyas and Preyas, so also) Tr. - That which is known as knowledge and that which is known as ignorance are also contradictory to each other and give opposite results. However, I see you Naciketä as the seeker of knowledge, because various objects of desire did not tempt you. (I.2.4)

Fate of the worldly people

Tr. - People live in ignorance; still consider themselves as intelligent and wise. However, they grapple without reaching the goal, just as the blind led by a blind person. (I.2.5)

Tr. - The means for the attainment of heaven is not available to the unwise person, who is blinded by the temptation of wealth. One who thinks that this is the only world, and there is nothing hereafter, comes under my sway (death) repeatedly. (I.2.6)

Praise of Ätmatattva

Tr. - This Ätmatattva is not available to many for listening, and many who listen do not understand. In fact, the teacher (of this Ätmatattva) is a wonder and the receiver is also a wonder. One who gets to know this under an adept teacher is indeed a wonder. (I.2.7)

Tr. - This Ätmatattva is not intelligible when spoken by an ordinary person. Only when it is taught by a wise person, who has identified oneself with this, it is known. This tattva is beyond logic, being subtler than the subtle. (I.2.8)

Tr. - This tattva is not known by argument. You are endowed with resolution. May we get more seeker of the Truth like you, O Naciketä! (I.2.9)

Transience of result of action

Giving his own example, Lord Yama said,
Tr. - I know the timeless cannot be attained by anything time-bound. Therefore, knowingly by performing Naciketägni, I have attained the time-bound position of mine, in the heaven. (I.2.10)

Praise of Naciketä’s dispassion

Tr. - O Naciketä! You out of your wisdom, have rejected all the time-bound objects having examined the highest reach of desire, the position of  Hiranyagarbha, who is the support of the universe, the shore of fearlessness, and is the result of infinite meditation. (I.2.11)

Tr. - The wise person gives up happiness and sorrow by meditating on the Self that is inscrutable, that is available in the intellect. (I.2.12)

Tr. - After hearing this Ätmatattva, grasping it completely, separating it from the body-mind-sense complex, a person rejoices attaining this subtle tattva, for one indeed obtains the source of all happiness by knowing this. And I consider that the world of Brahman is wide open for you Naciketä! (I.2.13)

Naciketä’s question about that nitya-tattva

Hearing this, Naciketä immediately said,
Tr. - Please teach me that (nitya-tattva) – which is other than right and wrong, which is other than cause and effect, and which is other than past and future. (I.2.14)

The real teaching begins now
The teaching of Om-kära by Lord Yama

Approached thus, Lord Yama commences the teaching,
Tr. - I will briefly tell you about that goal, that is revealed by all the Vedas, is described by all the tapas, and desiring which the seekers practice celibacy. That tattva is Om. (I.2.15)

Tr. - This single syllable (Om) denotes the Apara-Brahman (Hiranyagarbha) as well as the Para-Brahman. Knowing this single syllable, one obtains either of the two. (I.2.16) In fact, this medium of Om is the best, meditating on which one rejoices in the Brahmaloka. (I.2.17)

The svarüpa of Ätmä

Lord Yama calls that tattva - Vipascit.

Tr. - This Ätmä is not born, nor dies. It did not originate from anything, neither it is a modification. It is unborn, timeless, un-decaying and ancient. Even with the death of the physical body, it does not die. (I.2.18)

Tr. - If the killer thinks (of It) in terms of killing, and the killed thinks (of It) as killed, both of them do not know the Truth. The Ätmä does not kill, nor can get killed by anything. (I.2.19)

How does then one gets to know the Ätmä?

Now Lord Yama describes the svarüpa of the Ätmä,
Tr. - This is subtler than the subtle, greater than the great, and exists inside every being. The glory of Ätmä can be seen only by a person devoid of any kind of desire, and with the grace of the sense organs, and seeing/knowing the Ätmä they become free from afflictions. (I.2.20)

Tr. - This Ätmä travels far while sitting, sleeping it goes everywhere. Who other than me (or a wise person) is capable of knowing this Ätmä that is joyful and joyless. (I.2.21)

Tr. - This Ätmä remains inside all the physical bodies, as the timeless inside the time-bound. It is great and all-pervasive, knowing which the wise does not grieve. (I.2.22)
Ätmä can be known only by its grace

Tr. - This Ätmä cannot be known through studying the Vedas, neither by intellect nor by much hearing. It reveals itself to that person who pleases It (meaning an adhikäri). (I.2.23) 

(I.2.3 is often quoted by the other schools against study of scripture/s).

Adhikäri/anadhikäri for Ätmajnänam

Tr. - One who has not refrained from wrong deeds, whose senses have not calmed down, whose mind is not steady and is full of anxieties, cannot obtain this knowledge. (I.2.24)

Tr. - In fact, how can an ordinary person know this Ätmä, for whom the brähmana and kshatriya are no more than food, and death is a side-dish! (I.2.25)

Summary of 2nd Valli
In the 2nd valli, Lord Yama describes the svarüpa of Ätmatattva. He states its various names i.e. Om, Vipascit, Brahman, Parambrahman, Ätmä etc.

1st Chapter – 3rd Valli

In the previous valli the nature of knowledge and ignorance was presented elaborately along with the different results they give. (I.2.4 & 5)

Tr. - The wise people, and those who perform the five-fires, or the Naciketä-fire thrice, know the two enjoyers of the karmaphala that reside in the intellect, and know them to be of opposite nature like shade and light. (I.3.1)

Tr. - We know that the Naciketä-fire is the means for Brahmaloka. May we know that Parabrahma and Aparabrahma. (I.3.2)

Imagery of a Chariot

To simplify, Lord Yama tells the kind of life-style a person must lead to understand that Brahman. This has been explained by means of an imagery of a chariot and the charioteer, in as much as it leads to easy comprehension.

Tr. - The physical body of the human being has been compared with a chariot, and the person as its master. The intellect is the charioteer, the mind is the reins. (I.3.3) The senses are the horses and the sense-objects are the field. For a wise person, the body, mind and the senses are together. (I.3.4)

Helplessness of an indiscriminating  person

Tr. - A person, who is not together and has a mind that is not calm, is devoid of viveka, his sense organs are not under control just as the wild horses do not follow the incompetent charioteer. (I.3.5)

Freedom of a discriminating person

Tr. - Whereas, for the wise person, who has his mind and the sense-organs under restraint, and is endowed with discrimination; the sense-organs are under control just as the trained horses obey the competent charioteer. (I.3.6)

Fate of an indiscriminating person

Tr. - The person with a non-discriminating intellect and unrestrained mind is impure, and continues his worldly existence without attaining the ultimate goal. (I.3.7)

Fate of a discriminating person

Tr. - Whereas the person with a discriminating intellect and restrained mind is pure, and attains that ultimate goal from which one is not born again. (I.3.8)

Tr. - Hence, the person who has a discriminating intellect as his charioteer, and who has the reins of the mind under his control, attains the end of the road; that is the highest abode of Vishnu (Brahman). (I.3.9)

Comparison of the senses

Tr. - The sense-objects are higher than the senses, the mind is higher than the sense-objects; the intellect still higher than the mind and the Mahat (Hiranyagarbha) is higher than the intellect. (1.3.10)

Who is That Mahat?

Lord Yama says - That Avyakta (unmanifest creation) is higher than the Mahat; and the Purusha (Consciousness) is higher than the Avyakta. There is nothing higher than the Purusha. He is the ultimate, the highest goal. (I.3.11)

The Ätmä is comprehensible to the subtle mind only

Tr. - This Ätmä in spite of being in all the beings, is not directly perceptible. It is perceptible only to those with subtle, pure and fine intellect. (I.3.12)

Tr. - To know this, the discriminating person should integrate the speech with the mind, and the mind with the intellect, the intellect with the Mahat, and the Mahat with the Ätmä. (I.3.13)

Inspiration by the Upanishad

Tr. - Arise, awake, and learn this by approaching the wise person. It is said the path to this goal is sharp like a razor’s edge, and is difficult to tread on. (I.3.14)

Svarüpa of the Ätmä

Lord Yama then describes the svarüpa of the Ätmä, 
Tr. - That is not comprehensible by sound, touch, is form-less, un-decaying, tasteless, not subject to time, odourless, beginning less and without end. It is distinct from Mahat and is ever constant. Knowing this one becomes free from the jaws of death. (I.3.15)


Tr. - The wise person, who listens to this dialogue between Naciketä and Lord Yama about the Ätmatattva, rejoices in the Brahmaloka. (I.3.16)

Tr. - Any person who recites this dialogue in the assembly of the wise, or at the time of a sräddha ceremony, then the whole assembly obtain Brahmaloka. (I.3.17)


Kathopanishad - Chapter II

1st Valli

It has been stated – ‘He is hidden in all beings, and hence does not appear as the Ätmä. However, He is seen through a pointed and fine intellect (I.3.12). The question naturally is, what is the obstacle to the intellect, because of which obstacle the Ätmä is not known. The second chapter begins with the first mantra showing Ätmä as the cause of that non-perception. When the cause of the obstacle is known, effort can be made to overcome the same.
Lord Yama-Devi Jagadamba Temple-Khajuraho
Tr. - The Lord destroyed every possibility (of knowing the Ätmä) by making the sense-organs face outward. Therefore, people see the outer objects, and not the Ätmä within. Only a rare discriminating person, desiring immortality, turns his/her eyes within and sees the Ätmä within. (II.1.1)

Tr. - The unintelligent people pursue the external objects; and become entangled in the net of death. Therefore, the discriminating people who know what immortality is, do not desire impermanent objects. (II.1.2)

In the 1st Chapter, 2nd Valli, The moment Lord Yama said, ‘I got to know that nitya-tattva by performing the Naciketägni (I.2.10); immediately Naciketä said – ‘Please teach me that nitya-tattva.’(1.2.14)

In this chapter, Lord Yama then goes on explaining this in various manner by saying ‘etat vai tat’ – (that which you asked, O! Naciketä.)

Omniscience of Ätmä  

Tr. - That through people perceive form, taste, odour, sound, touch and conjugal pleasure, is indeed That, which you asked (O! Naciketä). (II.1.3)

Tr. - Having known the great and all-pervasive Self, through which a person perceives the objects both in sleep and waking state, a wise person does not grieve. (II.1.4)

Tr. - Anyone who knows this Ätmä as oneself, as the karma-phala-bhoktä-experiencer of all actions, bestowing life to all, ruler of the past and the future, and knowing Him to be near him, is not afraid of anything. (II.1.5)

Tr. - That which was before the five great elements, and manifested as Hiranyagarbha by His tapas, That who is in everyone’s intellect, one who knows thus alone knows – This is That. (II.1.6)

Tr. - This nitya-tattva is the Aditi. It manifests along with all beings and remains in the intellect. One who knows Him thus, alone knows - This is That. (II.1.7)

Tr. - Just as the pregnant women carefully protect their foetus, just as the fire is hidden within two aranis, That to whom people offer oblations daily – That Fire is That. (II.1.8)

Tr. - By which tattva, the Sun rises, sets, and into which all deities are offered, that which cannot be superseded by anyone – This is That. (II.1.9)

Tr. - That which is here is there; similarly, what is there is here. He who sees duality here goes from death to death. (II.1.10)

Tr. - This (tattva) is to be known through the mind indeed. There is no duality here. One, who sees duality here, goes from death to death. (II.1.11)

(‘manasä-evam-idam-äptavyam’ - II.1.11 is apparently contradicted by Kena mantra – ‘yam mansä na manute’, ---- This is clarified in the ‘Brahmasutra’)

Tr. - The Purusha, is of the size of the thumb, resides within the physical body. Knowing Him to be the ruler of the past and the future, one does not want to save the Ätmä. This is That. (II.1.12)

Tr. - The Purusha, who is of the size of the thumb, is like light without smoke. He is the ruler of the past and the future. He exists today and will exist tomorrow. This is That. (II.1.13)

The Upanishad again presents a refutation of the perception of duality with reference to Brahman,

Tr. - As water rained from an inaccessible height gets dispersed on the lower hilly regions, similarly, one who sees duality, pursues after the duality. (II.1.14)
(And to think that there are philosophy/ies about duality, which is evident to everyone unexposed to the Upanishad/s).

Now the Upanishad states as to how the Ätmä is known,

Tr. - O Gautama! Just as pure water poured on pure water becomes verily the same; so also the Ätmä of the wise man. (2.1.15)

One who understands this nitya-tattva goes back to that, just as the rainwater from the clouds.

Lastly one question emerges naturally – Why are we not being able to understand this nitya-tattva that was so well presented by Lord Yama? The explanations are given in the next Valli.

 2nd Valli

In the previous Valli, Lord Yama presented the nitya-tattva in various manner saying – ‘etat vai tat’. Still it is difficult to understand that nitya-tattva Brahman. Hence, Lord Yama continues to explain that tattva again in another method.

Tr. - That tattva remains in the city of eleven gates. Meditating on Him, one becomes free from grief, and free being already free – This is indeed That. (II.2.1)

(II.2.1 is pramäna-väkya for the law of Jivan-mukta in Advaita)

Tr. As the moving sun, He dwells in the sky, as Väyu He pervades all and dwells in the space, as the fire He resides on the earth, as Soma He stays in the container, He lives among people, among the celestials, in the truth, in the space. He is existent in the water and earth in various forms, in the mountains as the rivers. He is unchanging; He is great. (II.2.2 c.f. RV-IV.40.5)

Tr. - He that takes up the präna, and makes the apäna enter inside, all the deities worship Him, who sits in the middle. This that is in the heart of all. (II.2.3)

Tr. - That which remains after the falling of the physical body, This is That. (II.2.4) (meaning That makes the präna and the senses function)

Tr. - No mortal can live without präna-apäna, but all live by something else, due to which these two find base. (II.2.5)

Tr. - O Gautama! I shall tell you of this secret, Brahman; and also what happens to the Ätmä after death. (II.2.6)

Tr. - Some souls enter the womb for acquiring bodies, and others assume the motionless forms (trees), all in accordance with their deeds and in conformity with their knowledge. (II.2.7)
(This is pramäna-väkya for the theory/law of reincarnation.)

The Upanishad now speaks of the secret of Brahman about which it was promised, ‘I shall tell’.

Tr. - That Purusha who is awake when everyone is asleep, He who goes on creating desirable objects even when the senses fall asleep, That pure tattva Brahman, That is called Amrta (Immortal). The whole creation is based on Him, and there is nothing can transcend Him. That is indeed That. (II.2.8)

An analogy -

Tr. - Just as the fire, though one, entering the world assumes different forms, so also That remains as the Antarätmä in each being, and remains outside also. (II.2.9)

Another analogy -

Tr. - Just as the air, though one, entering the world assumes different forms, so also That remains as the Antarätmä in each being, and remains outside also. (II.2.10)

Since it should not be construed that if a single entity is the Ätmä of all, then all the sorrows of the world would belong to the Brahman Itself, Upanishad says - 

Yet another analogy –

Tr. - Just as the Sun, which is the eyes of the whole world, is not affected by the defective sight of the onlooker, similarly the Ätmä, that is but one in all being, is not affected by the afflictions of the world. (II.2.11)

Tr. - The wise person, who sees this Lord of all beings who controls all, and has become many in his heart always, obtains happiness, not someone else. (II.2.12)

Tr. - That who is the timeless amongst all temporary beings, That which is the consciousness of sentient jagat, That which makes the desires, the wise man sees that inside Him and obtains happiness, not someone else. (II.2.13)

Listening to this nitya-tattva and the peace it brings about to the knower, Naciketä asked,

Tr. - How can I know this tattva, which gives änanda and sänti. Is that self-effulgent, does it shine distinctly or not? (II.2.14)

To this question Yamaraj replied,
Tr. - The Sun does not shine there, neither the Moon nor the Stars; nor the flashes of lightening shine. What to talk of this Agni? He alone shines; everything else shines after Him through His lustre. (II.2.15)

This mantra II.2.15 is in other Upanishads in to to.

3rd Valli

In the first mantra of this Valli, Yamaraja gives another imagery of ‘etat vai tat’. The Upanishad presents the samsära as an Asvattha tree. Its root system if facing up and the branches are hanging down. The roots are in the nitya-tattva. That is Brahman, That is Amrta. All the regions are based on That. No one can transcend That. This is That (you asked). (II.3.1)

(This  imagery of Asvattha tree compared to the samsara, is repeated in the BhagavadGitä-XV.)

Yamaräja continues to present That Brahman thus,

Tr. - This is the präna. The whole universe emerges and moves because of This Brahman, which is a great terror like an uplifted thunderbolt. Those who know This become immortal. (II.3.2)

Yamaräja then explains how the order is maintained because of Its presence –

Tr. - Out of fear of Him fire burns, out of fear of Him the Sun shines, out of fear of Him, Indra, Väyu and Death perform their duties. (II.3.3)

(The concept of II.3.3 is repeated in Taittiriya Upanishad-II.8.1).

Tr. - If one succeeds in knowing Him before the fall of the physical body, one becomes free; else, because of that one continues to be born in the world of creatures. (II.3.4)

(This concept is a famous and oft-quoted mantra in Kenopanishad-II.5)

Yamaräja continues to explain the spirit of the mantras –

Clarity of Vision of Atma is maximum here

Tr. - That tattva is clearly seen here in the intellect, just as the reflection in the mirror, in the Pitrloka It is seen like in the dream, in Gandharva-loka as seen in water. However, in Brahmaloka It is seen as clearly as light and shade. (II.3.5) (Since it is very difficult to go to Brahmaloka, one should strive to know That in this life.)

Now Yamaräja explains how to know That and the necessity of that knowledge.

(This physical body functions with the help of the five senses.)

Tr. - The wise man who knows the differences of the senses and rising and setting, does not grieve. (II.3.6)

Tr. - The mind is superior to the senses, and the intellect superior to the mind and Mahat is superior to the intellect, and the Avyaktam (Unmanifest Creation) is superior to Mahat. (II.3.7)
(This is repetition of mantra I.3.10,  and the concept is repeated in BhagavadGita-III.42)

Tr. - The all-pervasive Purusha is superior to the Avyakta, and is devoid of any attributes. Knowing Him, a man becomes free and obtains immortality. (II.3.8)

Tr. - His form is not within the range of the vision, nobody sees Him with the physical eyes. When this Self is revealed through meditation, it is known by the intellect, the ruler of the mind. Those who know Him become immortal. (II.3.9)

But how can the ruler of the heart be known? For that purpose, Yoga is introduced,

Tr. - When the five senses along with the mind and intellect calm down, that is called the highest state. (II.3.10)

Tr. - Such a state of keeping the senses steady is called Yoga. One becomes alert and vigilant at that time, since Yoga is subject to rising and setting. (II.3.11)

Such a state is achieved through effort and practice,

Tr. That nitya-tattva is not attained through speech, nor mind (contradiction of  mantra II.1.11), nor the eyes. It is not available to anyone other than him, who knows that It indeed is. (II.3.12) (meaning the wise know it as himself/herself)

Tr. - First, the Self is to be accepted as existing, and then as It is really. Of these two aspects, the real nature of the Self that is known as mere existence becomes favourably disposed (for self-revelation). (II.3.13)

Tr. - When all the desires of the mind fall off, then the man becomes free even while alive. He attains the Brahman here. (II.3.14)

(2nd Pramäna-väkya for the theory/law of Jivanmukta in Advaita)

But when the desires will be totally uprooted? Upanishad says –

Tr. - When all the knots of the heart (mind/intellect) fall off, even while the man is alive, then a mortal becomes immortal. This much alone is the teaching of the Upanishad. (II.3.15)

Tr. - The nerves of the mind is 101 in number. Of them, one nerve passes through the crown of the head. Going up through that nerve, one gets immortality. The others who go through different directions, become causes of birth and death. (II.3.16)

Now, with the view to conclude the purport of the chapters, the Upanishad says -

Tr. - The Purusha, the indweller of the body is of the size of the thumb (for visualisation and meditation only) and is ever-seated in the minds of the people. One should unerringly separate Him from the physical body, just as the stalk is separated from the munjä grass. One should know Him as pure and immortal, one should now Him as pure and immortal. (II.3.17)

Tr. - Naciketä having first become free from virtue and vice, and desire and ignorance received this knowledge of Yoga in its totality revealed by Lord of Death, and attained Brahman. Anyone else, too, who becomes a knower like him (Naciketä) attains Brahman. (II.3.18)