Home Page of Satyakam

0ur- ancient system of Education was completely different from the modern one. Students in those days had their education in Ashramas. They used to sit and study under the trees or in huts. The teacher allowed them to study till he was completely satisfied with the knowledge gained by them. Only then did he allow the students to go home and live the life of householders.

Gautam Rishi was teaching some students in his Ashrama. One day a boy came there and saluted the Rishi by prostrating before him. In Sanskrit such prostration is called Sashtang Dandvat Pranama. He lay there like a stick, with his face down both hands folded saluting the teacher. This was the mode of saluting the teacher in ancient India. The boy appeared healthy and cheerful. He attracted the attention of the students present there. With folded hands he said to Gautam Rishi: "Sire, I have come here to learn. Please accept me as your student. I will follow your advice faithfully.' When they heard this. the other students became surprised and some even laughed, because he was the only boy who had come to the Ashrama without being escorted by his parents.

Other students had been brought by their parents. Moreover, the newcomer displayed no signs of be- longing to a rich and prosperous family. He was poorly dressed, though physically he appeared healthy, and mentally keen and alert. The students of the Ashrama thought: Here is a boy of ten years, but without the sacred thread around his neck, or the deer-skin on his shoulder. Either something is wrong with his family or something is wrong with him.'

Soon some students began to make fun of him, but Gautam Rishi gave a stern look at the boys in order to rebuke them. Turning to the newcomer the Rishi said : "Young one, you have done a good thing by coming here in search of knowledge. Tell me, where is your father? To which family do you belong? I will certainly give you as much knowledge as you can absorb."

In reply the boy said humbly : "Sire, I have not seen my father and I do not even know his name; I will ask my mother and only then can I tell you my father's name." Hearing the boy's answer, the other students began to laugh. They said among themselves: "Look here! There are people who do not even know their parents' name. He is one of them. Still they come here to learn spiritual knowledge." Presently, one boy stood up and asked the teacher: "Sire, can anyone who does not even know the name of his father also learn here?" The teacher replied: "For one without a father I act as one, and he may get all sorts of knowledge without any hesitation in my Ashrama."

Gautam Rishi then said to the boy: "You should go and get from your mother the name of your father and also your surname. Indeed these particulars are needed for performing your thread ceremony. Go to your mother just now and return by tomorrow morning; for tomorrow is a good day for the thread ceremony." The boy saluted the teacher and the students, and hurried off to his mother to get his father's name.

The next morning the boy came back to the Ashrama when the teacher was taking the class. He saluted the teacher and stood in one corner. Gautam Rishi bade him sit down and said : "Did you ask your mother the name of your father and your surname?" The boy stood up and replied: "Yes, Sir, I asked my mother. She said that she did not know my father's name either. In her youth she was serving ^ the sages and saints when she conceived. She confessed she did not know the name and surname of the man whose child she bore. She wanted me to tell you this. If by mother's name anything could be done, she asked me to tell you that her name is 'Jabala' This is all that my mother told me. Now what is more, dear sir, I am prepared to follow your advice." The students were surprised on hearing the words of the boy.

Gautam Rishi said: "My dear boy! I am extremely pleased with you. This is the first opportunity in my life to meet a boy like you. My heart is full of joy. From today, I am both your father and teacher. Now you do not have to say that you do not know your father's name. I believe my Ashrama will become brighter by your presence. I am naming you Satyakam Jabala, and I will teach you all that you are capable of learning on the spiritual path." The teacher then explained to the other students: "Today I will make him my disciple by performing the thread ceremony. I want all of you to go and collect the essential things for the ceremony."

At the appointed holy hour the thread ceremony was performed, with the Rishi's wife putting the sacred thread around the boy's neck, and Gautam Rishi accepting Satyakam as his disciple.

Only four days had passed after Satyakam started living in the Ashrama. He soon won the affection of all, by his pleasing behaviour and gentle manners- The teacher had come to know, by this time. that he was the only student who could do something worthwhile. Therefore, one day he called all the students together and said to Satyakam : "Satyakam, today I shall give you some very simple and easy work which is going to take you away from this place." Actually it was a very difficult task that the teacher had thought of, but he wanted to let the other students know that they were not prepared for it. Therefore, he described it as a simple task.

Said Satyakam: "Respected Sir, I am always ready to go wherever you want to send me, and do whatever you want me to do. It is my great fortune to have the opportunity of receiving your order."

Gautam Rishi continued: "My dear Satyakam! As you know, at present there is hardly any grass available in this place for our cows. Our cows are day by day becoming weaker and weaker. So, I have decided that you should take four hundred cows from here and move them some- where else in the forest where grass and water are available in plenty. When these cows multiply and become one thousand, you should bring them back to the Ashrama. I think only you can accomplish this task. What do you think? Let me know."

Satyakam humbly replied : "Sir. I am indeed fortunate to get the opportunity to receive your order. But I still feel a little uneasy that you should doubt my loyalty."

Another student interrupted : "Sir, Satyakam is a very small boy. How can he control four hundred cows?" At this another student got up and said: "Sir, our cows are very trouble- some. Satyakam alone will not be able to control them. He requires the assistance of a few friends. Besides there are wild animals which may attack our cows. Kindly let more students go with him."

But Satyakam answered: "My dear friends, I have such power that none can disturb me. By the grace of God and blessings of Gautam Rishi, all troubles will disappear and the wild animals will turn into friends of our cows. I think, fear is only in one's mind. If you want to run. then fear will follow you, and if you are prepared to suffer, then fear will not be there."

Hearing the courageous words of Satyakam, Gautam Rishi was very pleased and praised the enthusiasm of the young disciple, saying : "Whatever you say, Satyakam, is absolutely correct. I am sure you will be able to serve our cows and there will be no difficulty." Satyakam bowed at the feet of Rishi Gautam; after that he touched the feet of Cautam's wife and took from her some food to be had on the way. Then bidding goodbye to his fellow-students, he set out with four hundred cows in search of green pastures.

Here was a quest, a wandering, with no other purpose than that of saving the dumb animals from starvation and slow death. All that Satyakam needed was ample grass and plenty of water anywhere under the benevolent blue sky. Nothing would please him more than seeing his cows well-fed and contented.

This became his prayer as the herd moved on; sometimes he would walk in front of the herd, sometimes he would be seen in he rear: four hundred cows and one young boy, out to seek the bounty of Mother Nature to whom no child is unwanted — neither quadruped, nor biped.

As if Mother Nature smiled on them, Satyakam soon came to a place where grass and water were available in plenty. He decided to stay with his four hundred friends- As the cows began grazing Satyakam busied himself in building a hut for him- self where he could pray and meditate.

Now Satyakam was fully absorbed in the service of the cows. He was so busy that he did not even notice when the day began and the night ended. His whole aim was to keep the cows in a state of contentment in all possible ways. If some cows fell ill Satyakam was very upset. He took all the blame on himself. He thought: ‘Is it because of my carelessness? Otherwise, how could my cows fall ill?' And he did not forget to pray to God: '0 God! You should punish me alone; whatever illness you want to give, I am prepared to undergo it. But you should not make my cows ill. They are innocent animals; they do not know how to express their pain. 0 my supreme God! Kindly make my cows healthy.’ Satyakam's prayers were answered, and the sick cows soon became healthy, and the colony of cows flourished. Their number too increased.

Many years passed and the number of cows increased to over one thousand, but Satyakam did not notice it, as he was totally absorbed in their service- One day when he was performing his spiritual practices, in the morning, he heard a human voice nearby, and was startled. When he turned towards the cows, he saw a bull who was the leader of the cows calling Satyakam in words like a human being. Satyakam folded his hands in salutation and said:

‘0 my Lord, what is your order? What can I do for you? Order me, and I will obey."

The leader of the cows said: "0 Satyakam! As you know I am the Lord of cows, I am pleased with your service and sacrifice. I have come here to teach you spiritual knowledge. By my blessings you will obtain all branches of knowledge which none else can get, even after several years of penance. You do not know that your cows have become more than one thousand. Take them to your teacher, Gautam Rishi, as he will be happy to receive you." After saying these words the Lord of the cows disappeared.

Now Satyakam remembered the words of Gautam Rishi about returning to the Ashrama. He gathered his cows and proceeded to the Ashrama, which he reached before sunset. When Gautam Rishi and the Ashrama students saw Satyakam with the large number of cows, they were very pleased.

Gautam Rishi welcomed him saying: "Satyakam, I am so happy to have you amidst us in the Ashrama. I am sure our cows are now more than one thousand. I think you have met some sage there who has taught you spiritual knowledge." In humble words Satyakam replied: "Sir, one day before coming here, the Lord of the cows blessed me and assured me of his guidance in he matter of spiritual knowlege. He said he was pleased with my service and sacrifice for the cows." Hearing these words Gautam Rishi said: 'My dear boy, by your truthfulness and sacrifice, you succeeded in your work, and the Lord of the cows was pleased to bless you. I am doubly pleased that you are a student of my Ashrama." Satyakam reverentially touched the feet of Gautam and said that it was all due to the Rishi's kind grace without which nothing was possible.

Gautam Rishi assured him that whatever he needed to learn of the spiritual path, he had already learnt, and added: "Now you should go home. Your mother has been waiting for you for several years. Live like a householder." Satyakam once again saluted Gautam Rishi and taking leave of him, walked out of the Ashrama.

Thus we see in the story of Satyakam, that no work is too lowly if the aim is spiritual progress. What would appear to most of us as a drab and uninteresting task, like tending cows, yielded rich dividends to young Satyakam. This only shows that in the great scheme of things—which we call the Universe — with life pulsating in all beings, each and every bit of work is equally important, just as each and every brick is essential for the existence of a building. When the work is done with a sense of dedication, what a difference it creates! In fact, it no longer is work, but transforms itself into worship.

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