All beings have the choice to pursue either of the two outstanding goals, worldly attainments or spiritual salvation which are opposed to each other. The former is known as Preyas and the latter Sreyas. Yama elaborates on these two paths to Nachiketas only after he is sure of the disciple’s spiritual state of mind, said Sri N. Veezhinathan in a lecture. Yama observes that Nachiketas is eager for wisdom that is most beneficial for the soul unlike worldly knowledge that entraps men into the snare of the cycle of birth. The boy passes the test that qualifies him to receive the instruction on the eternal self. Nachiketas rejected after examining carefully the nature of the desires that offer delight to a normal worldly being. He opted out of the path of the Preyas or the way of the pleasant which leads men to ruin. Nachiketas has already learnt the basic lesson that the highest good of man is not pleasure but Sreyas or moral goodness.
Man faces the good and evil alike in life and their paths divide and diverge. The evil leads to hell but the final destination of the good is heaven. The wise man, pondering over them discriminates and chooses the good in preference to the pleasant. Others choose the pleasant for the sake of worldly well being.
The temptation of worldly glitter and sense enjoyments has proved to be too powerful and many find it difficult to remain unaffected by it. In the course of involvement in worldly life, the yearning of the immortal Self deep within remains latent. Another young realised soul is Prahlada. His jnana and vairagya symbolise spiritual maturity of high order. Though born in the asura clan, the inherent devotion has shaped his personality thus. When the Lord insists that the boy may ask for boons Prahlada merely prays: ‘May you grant me that no desire for any boon should arise in my mind at any point of time.’