On Narayan Upanishad: The secret of the Rishi

Acharya Prashant
4 min readAug 23, 2021

Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Question (Q): Sir, the very fact that the Rishi said, “Naham Kalasya”, probably, he could also have had an occasion where Koham started. When he started asking Koham, only then this process of negation started. So, how to explain this process?

Acharya Prashant (AP): How did the Rishi come to that? That’s what you are asking?

Listener (L): Yes.

AP: It’s hurt, nothing else. It’s hurt. Life hurts all of us, does it not? Anybody here who has not been hurt? Anybody here who is not carrying wounds?

L: Several times.

AP: Several times. Right? In fact, every day, daily. The ego is a wound, a wound that doesn’t heal. A festering sore. Is it not? Is it not? Most of us learn to live with the perpetual sense of hurt. Most of us become numb towards our hurt. We say, “This is life, this has to be accepted.” And that’s what we also teach to our children.

The Rishi is one who says, “No, life was not meant to be suffering.” He says, “No, I do not believe that I was born to face hurt, to bleed, to tremble in fear, to be suspicious, to be struggling in doubt.” He says, “No! No! No! I do not like this!” Like kids who stamp their feet. “I do not like this candy.” Seen kids like that? The Rishi resembles those kids so much. “No! No! No! No! No! This is not my nature! This cannot be life! This cannot be life!” And then he says, “What else is there? Only this is there?

I must know, why is it the way it appears to be. Why does it hurt? More importantly, who is it that gets hurt all the time?” He asks him out, he dares him to show his face. He says, “You are always hurt, you are always feeling bad, who are you? Show your face! Reveal your identity.” And that is Koham. That is Koham. Without being a little disassociated from Aham, you cannot ask Koham.

He’s asking, “Who is this?” and because this ‘this’ is so proximate to ‘I‘, he’s asking, “Koham?” Again, again, again he asks, “Again you are hurt, again mistaken, again defeated, another error, another humiliation, more tears; why? why? Who are you? Who am I?