1. ‘Two drink law (rta) in the world of the good deed,
Having entered both the secret place and the utmost height:
Knowers of Brahman call them ‘shadow’ and ‘light’:
So do those with the five fires, and those of three Naciketa fires.
2. ‘May we be capable of the Naciketa
Which is the bridge for those who sacrifice,
Which is the supreme imperishable Brahman,
The other shore, free from fear, for those who long to cross.
3. ‘Know the self as a chariot owner,
The body as a chariot,
The intelligence (buddhi) as a charioteer,
The mind (manas) as the reins.
4. ‘The senses they call the horses,
The objects of sense their courses.
The self, joined with senses and mind,
The wise call the enjoyer.
5. ‘The senses of the one without understanding,
With mind ever undisciplined,
Are out of his control,
Like evil horses of a charioteer.
6. ‘The senses of the one with understanding
With mind eve disciplined,
And under his control,
Like good horses of a charioteer.
7. ‘The one without understanding,
Unmindful, ever impure,
Does not reach that place,
But goes on to samsara.
8. ‘The one with understanding,
Mindful, ever pure,
Attains that place
From which he is not born again.
9. ‘The man who has understanding as his charioteer
And mind as his reins
Attains the journey’s end,
Visnu’s highest step.
10. ‘For the objects are higher than the senses,
The mind higher than the objects,
Intelligence higher than the mind,
The great self higher than intelligence.
11. ‘The unmanifest (avyakta) is higher than the great one,
The person (purusa) higher than the unmanifest.
Nothing is higher than the person:
That is the goal, the highest bourne.
12. ‘Hidden in all beings,
The self does not shine forth.
But it is seen with supreme, subtle intelligence
By those of subtle sight.
13. ‘The wise one should offer up speech and mind:
He should offer it up into the knowing self.
He should offer up the knowing into the great self:
He should offer up that into the peaceful self.
14. ‘Stand up! Wake up!
Now you have got your boons, pay attention!
This is a difficult path,
A razor’s sharp edge, hard to cross
So the poets say.
15. ‘The one who has seen that which is wordless,
untouched, formless, unperishing,
Without taste, too, eternal, without scent,
Beginningless, endless, higher than the great, constant,
Is freed from the mouth of Death.’
16. Speaking and hearing the eternal teaching of Naciketas
Spoken by Death,
The intelligent one
Is honoured in the world of Brahma.
17. The one who, well prepared, recites this supreme secret
In an assembly of the priesthood
Or at the time of the sraddha-offering
Becomes fitted for immortality
Becomes fitted for immortality.