From the time immemorial our India is known for its Rishis, Gurus and scholars. Here values were more respected than the material wealth. People were ready to sacrifice anything for the sake of truth. There is one famous story in the ‘Chandogya Upanishath’ about a young seeker of Brahman named ‘Satyakama’. His story was inspirational to many people in various state and time including noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Satyakama was the only son of a widow Jabala. They were leading a very poor life. At that time poverty was not a hindrance to seek the Vidya [Knowledge]. There were Gurukulas where students were serving in the Ashramas [hermitages] of Guru and learning in parallel. He wanted to seek the absolute truth, the Brahman. So he asked the permission from his mother and asked her which Gotra [lineage] he belongs, as that was a question which would be asked in the Gurukulas for the new joiners. She thought for a while and decided to reveal him the truth, irrespective of its consequences. She told “In my young age I was serving several guests in various places. I don’t know about your father. If Guru asks about it, tell him that I am the son of Jabala and called by the name Satyakama Jabala.”
Then he left the home entered sage Gautama’s [he was the son of Rishi Haridrumata] Tapovana and asked him to provide guidance to attain Brahmajnana. Pleased by his behavior and appearance, Gautama asked him about his whereabouts and Gotra. Satyakama repeated the words of his mother without any manipulation. The sage was stunned by this answer! He told “None other than a true Brahmin [this term should not be confused with the cast] speak out such a truth. I shall initiate to the path of Brahman. You need not be deprived from truth.”
After sometime being in Ashram, Gautama chosen four hundred weak and lean cows and told him to graze them in the forest and return only after they become thousand in number. He was living happily performing his daily duties in the forest with herd of cows and was in bliss being with the nature. After some years, one bull from that herd came to him and told him that they are thousand in numbers and he could take them back to the ashram. Also, it told him that Brahman shines [Prakashavan] from the east and the west, and from the north and south. This happens because Brahman is omnipresent. This is one quarter [or foot] of Brahman. And it continued saying him that next Agni would teach more about Brahman. After that he headed towards hermitage along with the cows. On the way, when he was performing his daily duties, Agni explained the next quarter of Brahman. He told that the earth, sky, heaven and ocean are each quarter and they form one foot of the Brahman called as Anantavan [endless]. Also Agni told that next he would get the teachings from a hamsa [Swan].
He continued his journey and when he was in Dhyana on the bank of a river a swan flew to him and it explained the next quarter of the Brahman. It told that each in quarter proportion, the fire, the sun, the moon and the lightning is one more foot of Brahman and this is called as Jyotishman [luminous]. Also it told that he would know more about this by a madgu [water fowl]. After this water fowl explained him the other and the last part of the Brahman. It said that the Prana is one quarter, the eye is one quarter, the ear is another quarter and the mind is one more quarter whose combination makes the other foot of Brhman called as Ayatanavan [support]. Also it told that Satyakama had knew all about of Brahman with its final teaching.
He thanked this bird and next day he reached sage Gautama’s ashram. Gautama recognized that he already attained the knowledge of Brahman and appreciated him. Also he told to Satyakama that he has learned about all and nothing left to learn. But Satyakama humbly replied him that he has gained this knowledge by nature. And only the knowledge gained from one’s Guru is considered to be true knowledge and requested him to teach him about Brahman. Then Gautama taught him the same knowledge.
This story teaches us about the importance of Satya [truth] in our lives, how gurubhakti is important to succeed in life and sincere performance of our duties lead to the ultimate, the Brahaman.
[Published in Sadguru's Blessings]