Nachiketas goes to the abode of Yama, the God of death, and he asks Yama many questions. When Nachiketas asks Yama the meaning of death and about where the atma goes, Yama tells the boy to ask him some other boon, and not to seek answers to such questions. But Nachiketas, a boy though, is unwilling to settle for anything else.
Yama suggests that he ask for a long life, prosperity, children, cattle, elephants, gold and horses. Yama says that in his kingdom are beautiful damsels and Nachiketas should choose to be entertained by them rather than ask for answers to difficult questions. But Nachiketas only wants an answer to his question, elaborated Valayapet Ramachariar in a discourse. Yama says even the gods do not know the answer to Nachiketas’ question about what happens to a person upon his death. Nachiketas replies that since even the gods do not know the answer, the only person to clarify his doubts is Yama himself. What better teacher can there be, wonders Nachiketas. Moreover he adds that all the things that Yama is offering him in lieu of an answer to his questions will one day be lost. How long can a person hope to live? How long will wealth of any kind last? Therefore Nachiketas says he wants to know about moksha and wants noting else from Yama.
In this world, we can choose between that which is good and that which gives us pleasure. Invariably, people choose that which gives them pleasure, not that which is good. Such people are bound to be caught up in the cycle of births and deaths. Only the wise who spurn material wealth and the pleasures of the senses, will attain moksha. Yama says that by rejecting his offers of wealth and other material benefits, Nachiketas has made a wise choice. The Supreme One is not easily comprehended, says Yama. Only if one approaches a proper preceptor and receives instruction will one understand Him. Nachiketas has indicated his steadfastness by refusing to take anything from Yama other than an answer to his question. Yama praises the boy and says it is hard to come by sincere enquirers like Nachiketas. So Yama decides to answer the boy’s question. Thus Nachiketas’ perseverance pays off.