तद्धोभये देवासुरा अनुबुबुधिरे ते होचुर्हन्त तमात्मानमन्वेच्छामो यमात्मानमन्विष्य सर्वांश्च लोकानाप्नोति सर्वांश्च कामानितीन्द्रो हैव देवानामभिप्रवव्राज विरोचनोऽसुराणां तौ हासंविदानावेव समित्पाणी प्रजापतिसकाशमाजग्मतुः ॥ ८.७.२ ॥
taddhobhaye devāsurā anububudhire te hocurhanta tamātmānamanvecchāmo yamātmānamanviṣya sarvāṃśca lokānāpnoti sarvāṃśca kāmānitīndro haiva devānāmabhipravavrāja virocano’surāṇāṃ tau hāsaṃvidānāveva samitpāṇī prajāpatisakāśamājagmatuḥ || 8.7.2 ||
2. Both the gods and the demons came to know from people what Prajāpati had said. They said, ‘We shall search for that Self, by knowing which we can attain all the worlds and whatever things we desire.’ With this object in view, Indra among the gods and Virocana among the demons went to Prajāpati, carrying fuel in their hands. But they did not let each other know their plans.
Tat ha, that [what Prajāpati had said]; ubhaye deva-asurāḥ, both the gods and the demons; anububudhire, learned from what other people said; te ha ucuḥ, they said [among themselves]; hanta tam ātmānam anvicchāmaḥ, so let us search for the Self; yam ātmānam, that Self; anviṣya, by seeking; sarvān ca lokān āpnoti, a person attains all worlds; sarvān ca kāmān hi, and all desires; indraḥ, Indra; ha eva devānām, among all the gods; abhipravrāja, went [to Prajāpati]; virocanaḥ asurānām, [and] Virocana from among the asuras; tau, those two; ha asaṃvidānau, without letting each other know; eva samitpāṇī, with fuel in hand; prajāpati-sakāśam, to Prajāpati; ājagmatuḥ, went.
Indra is the chief of the gods and goddesses, and Virocana is the chief of the demons. Though Prajāpati is the grandparent of both of them, they are adversaries. Both Indra and Virocana heard from people what Prajāpati had said about the Self, and they were curious. They each decided to go to Prajāpati for instructions. As they often fought with one another, they never let each other know what they were doing. Everything was secret and confidential. But by chance both Indra and Virocana came to Prajāpati at the same time.
How did they go? Śaṅkara says they went with great humility. Both of them were rulers, yet they put aside their royal robes and regalia, and wore the simplest clothes. They also came samitpāṇī ‘with fuel in hand,’ as an offering and as a sign of humility. Why? To show that they knew this knowledge to be superior even to rulership of the three worlds.
In the Kaṭha Upaniṣad, Yama told Naciketā he would give him anything he wanted instead of Naciketā’s request for knowledge of the Self. Naciketā could have been ruler of the three worlds if he wanted,