Since not many posters here may be familiar with the contents of the Vedas and the Upanishads, I may be permitted to present a few stories here for your enjoyment and comments, please. Part-I just now. If you people want to hear more then only Part-II will be posted.
Nachiketa was the son of a poor brahmin ( the priestly caste ). His father thought of propitiating the Gods by conducting a Sacrifice.This is a ceremony in which appropriate mantras ( chants ) are sung by priests in front of a sacred fire into which various articles like clarified butter etc. are dropped by way of offering to Gods.The host is also required to gift things to the priests to seek their blessings at the end of the Sacrifice. Since Nachiketa's father did not have any worthwhile things to give, he thought of giving the only cow left in his house,which was unfortunately barren. Nachiketa was upset and asked his father how he expected that the priests will bless him if he gifted a barren cow to them. His father was annoyed with Nachiketa.He asked Nachiketa what was to be done then.Nachiketa told that it is best if the thing dearest to him is gifted so that maximum merit can be earned. He further suggested that he, himself , be gifted as he was was very dear to his father. Nachiketa's father got really angry and said " All right then,I will gift you, but not to the priests but directly to the God of Death ! " Nachiketa agreed. Then ceremonially he was gifted to the God of Death. Nachiketa left his home and decided to go to the burning ghat ( a place near the village river ) where the corpses were burnt. He thought , may be the God of Death will pick him up there. A few ghosts soon approached him. Nachiketa asked them if they can take him to the God of Death.They said no they can't accompany him to the land of the dead but will be able to show the way only. Nachiketa on being shown the way to the land of the dead, entered the palace of the God of Death. The God was not in,being away ( probably on a big killing spree at an epidemic or so----This is my interjection! ) on work. For three days and nights Nachiketa sat there refusing any food offered by the servants of the God of Death. After three days the God came and on knowing Nachiketa's plight was moved to say " Nachiketa,you, a guest, have waited in my home three days without food ! All my merit will be gone if I do not make up for this lapse. So ask for three boons from me. " Nachiketa's first request was to make his father forget his impertinence. God said,yes, he will never remember this incident. The next boon asked was to give the details of a Sacrifice which will grant wealth to his father. That was also granted. The third boon asked was as follows " God, you are the lord of all dead people. Please tell me exactly what happens when one dies. Is it the end as some say or it is not an end but merely an interlude as some say. Tell me the secret of Death ". The God was understandably upset.He said,you small boy,why do you want to know these things ? These are not matters for your ears. If you want a kingdom on earth that can be easily given or if you want immense wealth,that also can be done. Nachiketa refused.He said God,I want to know the secret of Death, what happens when one dies, tell me. Again God offered blandishments.He said " My most beautiful women servants will entertain you on earth with the sweetest songs,you have never heard, take them." Nachiketa was unmoved and said that these things are best left where they were.The God had to relent. He said that Nachiketa,by your steadfast refusal to temptations and keenness to know,you have proved to be a worthy student of mine.I will certainly tell you all these esoteric matters.