Katha Upanishad: The Secret of Death

When the five senses are stilled, and so is the mind, and even intellect does not stir, they call it the highest state. This state, the steady control of the senses, is considered to be yoga - Kaṭha Upaniṣad (6.10-11)

I’ve just completed a course on the history of yoga, which proclaimed that the word ‘yoga’ was first recorded in the Katha Upanishad (estimated 300 BCE).

In 2007, I made a short animation called ‘The Secret of Death’ based on the Katha Upanishad for my final year of Illustration with Animation degree. Katha Upanishad is said to be challenging to translate, as it contains many difficult and unique terms that are not clear. This short animation is a very simplified adaptation of the tale between a boy named Naciketas and Yama, the God of Death.

It’s made using shadow puppets and stop motion techniques. I remember making many puppets and background pieces, and spending lots of time in the dark moving them frame by frame. It was a frustrating but a meditative experience.  

I managed to get a lovely sitar player called Wasif Mullick to make the music and a friend called Tom Heron to narrate the story. My partner, Laurie Gibbs also helped too. After graduating, I did a bit of illustrating work but I mainly focused on teaching yoga. I do miss the creative aspects…maybe I will do something like this again.

I hope you enjoy watching!

Katha Upanishad