Kathopanishad – A Dialogue With Death

Author : Commentary by Swami Chinmayananda

Genre : Spirituality, Philosophy

Upanishads, written between 300 to 800 BCE (i.e. 2500 years ago), contain the heart of the Hinduism philosophy. They are also called Vedanta, literally the highest point of the Vedas (the religious text of Hindus). Most of the core messages are similar to hindu reformist movements like Buddhism and Jainism which also started around the same time.

Kathopanishad is one of the most popular of the series of 12 mukhya (Principal) upanishads. It is relatively short, just two chapters containing 3 sections each, and about 15-20 verses in each. Most of the teaching is in the first chapter and the second tends to elaborate and reinforce the learnings. It is the story of a young boy, Nachiketa, who meets Yama (the lord of death) to understand the mystery of death. In answering that, Yama also explains how we should be living. I resonated with 3 core learnings: