This poem is inspired by the story of Satyakama Jabala from the Chandogya Upanishad. The life of Satyakama Jabala teaches us that following the order of our spiritual master, adherence to truth and sincere performance of our duties are the only paths towards gaining the highest knowledge.
The young Satyakama approached the master
To be initiated and gain knowledge faster.
Gautama asked for his ‘gotra’ (family name),
Teary eyed Satyakama looked down in shame.
He went back to his mother forlorn and dejected
“I don’t know my father and so I was rejected.”
“Dear son! Our family name to me sadly is unknown
Tell the truth and use my name Jabala after your own.”
Bowing to the great sage, Satyakama spoke the truth
Gautama was pleased with this simple, truthful youth.
Accepting him as disciple and starting his education,
Satyakama was initiated and taught meditation.
Then taking him to pasture, Gautama did something unusual
Giving him four hundred cows –lean, weak and not beautiful,
He ordered Satyakama to take the cows and go to the mountains
Only to return when the cows multiply to a thousand.
Without a doubt in heart, Satyakama obeyed the order
Taking the cows to a meadow, he built a small quarter.
Lovingly tending the cows, he was so calm and content
That he neither noticed the growing herd nor the years spent
“The cows have become thousand, it’s time to head home” said the bull with a nod
“But first I’ll teach you one-fourth of the sacred truth about Brahman or God!”
“Brahman shines from North and the South and from the East and the West,
For He is universal. This is one-fourth and Agni (fire) will teach the rest.”
Starting the journey home with his herd and a heart full of gratitude,
Satyakama stopped at night for the cows to rest and lit a fire in solitude.
“Brahman is the Earth and the atmosphere and the sky and the ocean.”
Thus spoke Agni “For Brahman is endless. Now wait for a swan in motion.”
A swan came gliding by as he sat by riverside and hummed a tune,
“Brahman is the fire and the Sun and the lightning and the moon
For Brahman is the light of life. The rest will be told by a sunbird.”
And the journey continued while contemplating on what he had heard.
“Brahman is the breath and the eye and the ear and also the mind
For Brahman is the seat, the resting place. And this is all one has to find.”
Completing the puzzle of the Absolute Brahman, the sunbird flew away
And after the long journey, Satyakama reached his master the next day.
Sage Gautama noticed the settled senses, the content and the shining face
And he knew that Satyakama had learnt the secret by the Almighty’s grace.
Yet Satyakama humbly requested his master to instruct him further
For the knowledge gained through the master is the mark of a true learner.
Gautama replied “Performing your duties well with sincerity,
Serving your spiritual master with loyalty and integrity,
Thus gaining ultimate knowledge because you are blessed,
Nothing more to learn, you have fulfilled your quest.”
© 2017 Shaloo Walia All rights reserved