1. OM. Usan Vajasravasa once offered a sacrifice entailing the giving away of all his possessions. He had a son called Naciketas.
2. Though he was just a boy, when the gifts of cattle were being led away, faith entered him and he thought:
3. ‘They have drunk their water and eaten their grass, Have given their milk, senseless ones: Joyless the worlds called To which goes the one who gives these.’
4. And he said to his father, ‘Father, to whom will you give me? A second and a third time he said it.
‘I give you to Death!’
5. ‘First of many I go;
midst of many I go.
What work has Yama to do
6. ‘Looking toward those before me
And looking back at those who come after
Like the crops a mortal ripens
And like the crops springs up again.’
7. As fire a Brahmana
Guest enters a house,
And so they quench him.
Bring water, son of Vivasvat!
8. From that man of little wit
In whose house he stays, unfed,
A Brahmana takes hope and expectation,
Friendship, happiness, action and merit, sons and
9. ’Brahma, since you, a guest to be honored,
Have stayed three nights in my house, unfed,
Homage to you, Brahma! May it be well with me!
Choose three boons.
10. ‘May Gautama, his mind at peace, well disposed,
His anger toward me gone, O Death,
Greet me, content, when I am released by you.
I choose this as the first of the three boons.’
11. Auddalaka Aruni, released by me,
Shall be content as before.
He shall sleep well nights, his anger gone,
Once he has seen you set free from the mouth of Death.’
12. ‘In the heavenly world there is no fear:
You are not there, nor does one fear old age:
Having crossed over both hunger and thirst
One rejoices in that heavenly world beyond sorrow.
13. ‘You teach me, Death, about the heavenly fire.
Tell it to me, who have faith.
The heavenly worlds share in immortality.
I choose this by way of my second boon.’
14. ‘I will tell you, Naciketas, so listen to me
And learn of the heavenly fire.
Know of this, which is kept in a secret place
How to win an endless world, and remain there.’