[In 2013, we launched an experimental project sharing mp3 talks, which we described below. The talk referenced here is no longer available, but we'll continue sharing other mp3 talks via the blog in 2014.]
Let me start with a story – one that has been handed down for thousands of years. Its hero is a teenager in ancient India named Nachiketa, who goes to the King of Death to learn the meaning of life. The place is not essential to the narrative, but Nachiketa’s age is not incidental. Teenagers can show tremendous spiritual potential, for they have the passion, the desire, the idealism, and the reckless daring to stake everything they have on an almost impossible goal.
– Eknath Easwaran, from Essence of the Upanishads
The story of Nachiketa has been a favorite of spiritual seekers of all ages, but since Nachiketa was a YA himself, we here at the YA Blog Team have always felt a special bond with him.
In the summer of 1974, Easwaran began a series of talks on the story of Nachiketa, the story of the Katha Upanishad. His audience? Close, dedicated students most of whom were in their 20s and 30s – YAs like us. Last month the Digital Library Team at the BMCM approached us about sharing a few of these talks in mp3 format with our YA blog audience, and we jumped at the chance!
Over the coming months we’ll be presenting a few of these talks on the Katha Upanishads on the YA blog. The talks are available to stream below, or to download to your computer or mobile mp3 player.
We’re offering these hour-long talks as they were given to that close group of YA students, largely un-edited. However, this also means there are some quirks! You’ll hear pauses in the audio where Easwaran takes a drink of water or refers to his notes. The Katha Upanishad was written in Sanskrit, and Easwaran recites many phrases of the original Sanskrit text. Sometimes he’ll translate each phrase, and sometimes he won’t, but, rest assured, the gist of what’s going on is always clear.
We are lucky that Easwaran’s teachings are being presented in a variety of ways, through books, video, and audio. Listening to this mp3 is a great experiment to see which way works best for you. If you don’t have time to listen to the hour-long talk in one go, break it up into 30, 15, 10, or even 5-minute increments.
Our main aim here is to share these wonderful talks with you, but we’re also interested in your feedback to give to the Digital Library team, who are working to build a digital library that will provide direct, worldwide access to Easwaran’s teachings. We’re still exploring what it means to build a digital library, so the more feedback you can share, the better!
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), so please send us your answers to any or all of these questions (as an aside, if you are a YA blog reader, but not a YA, we’d still LOVE to hear from you!):
- Do you have any observations on the content of the talk that you’d like to share?
- Do you have any observations on the audio experience of the talk that you’d like to share?
- How might we help you interact with this content better?
- Anything else?
We hope you enjoy this talk and look forward to hearing what you think. Also, before you hit “play” we thought we should warn you… Easwaran dives right into the subject of death in this talk, there is no holding back! You might be momentarily taken aback by the somber opening, but stick with it, it’s worth it!