The Katha Upanisad is the template of the jnana marg that is initiated by the confrontation with the fact of death.  The youth Nacitekas has seen through the merely formal and superficial religious practice of his father, its representative.  As an offering, worn out cows, cows within the meaning of the act, won't do, this is the accusation  which he throws up to his father. "To whom will you offer me"?  In anger his father replies - "To death I give you".

     When you seriously question your death and live in its presence this places you in the present as the action of the gunas is suspended under the glare of that basilisk.  That can bring power, force and efficacy into your life.  Living in the face of death you cannot be touched and being fearless you can accomplish much.  This is symbolised by Yama's offer of three boons one for each night that Naciketas had to wait while Yama was away, on business, from his kingdom and thus could not recieve him and kept him waiting.

     His first wish is that he be reconciled with his father.  In the face of death can we reall hold on to our quarrels?

     His second wish is that he be given instruction in the fire sacrifice or the Agnihotra.  This is a symbol of the reality of life lived as sacrifice before all consuming death.  Done and moreover: "let me give you a special boon: this sacrifice /shall be called by your name Nachiketa.

     For his third boon Naciketa asks

When a person dies there exists this doubt:

"He still exists," say some; "he does not,"

Say others.  I want you to teach me the truth.

This is my third boon. (I.i.20)

     This would symbolise the most authentic response to Death, an inquiry into the nature of the post mortem state.  This profound wish Yama is reluctant to grant for does it not put Death to death?  Death is the best teacher of the nature of the self. Ramana Maharshi as a boy of 17 took one giant step into Moksha under its tutelage.

  "he who leaves the body and departs, reciting the one-syllabled Brahman Om, and dwelling one Me in My absolute aspect, attains the supreme state."  B.G. VII.12,13.