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Children's Corner - Stories -Satyakama, the truthful

One day a young boy came to the ashrama of Sage Gautama and said: "Holy Sire, I want to get the sacred knowledge by serving you. Please accept me as your student."

The sage asked: "Child, What is your gotra?" (Gotra is one's family name).

The boy replied: "Sire, I asked it of my mother. She said: 'Child, when you were born, I used to be very busy serving guests at home. I had no time to ask the gotra from your father. Now he is no more. So I do not know it. My name is Jabala and yours, Satyakama. So call yourself Satya- kama -Jabala and say that to your Guru."

On hearing it, the rishi smiled and said: "I admire you, child, for saying the truth. I am sure you must be born of a noble gotra. I shall accept you as my student. Go and get me some samid. I shall initiate you in brahmacharya."

The twigs of the sacred peepal tree are called samid.

For studying the sastras, one has to become a brahmachari. And the teacher has to be paid in kind like samid for his service.

The boy brought the samid, and the guru made him a brahmachari by giving him the sacred thread and the Gayatri Mantra. This mantra says: "O God, give me intelligence!"

After a few days, the rishi gave the boy four hundred lean and ill fed cows and said: "Child, take these to the forest and graze them."

The boy said: "Sire, I shall return when these cows multiply into a thousand."

Satyakama built an ashrama for himself in the forest and looked after the cows. All the time he carefully practised the duties of a brahmachari.

Years went by. The number of cows increased to a thousand.

One day a bull among them spoke to him: "Satyakama! Now the cows are a thousand in number. Take them to your Guru. I shall teach you 'a fourth' about Brahman or God. His name is Prakasavan. Agni, the God of fire, will teach you more later."

And he taught Satyakama a quarter of the sacred truth.

Accordingly, Jabala drove the cows to the Guru's ashrama.

He stopped on the way for the night and lighted a fire to warm himself.

From that fire God Agni appeared before him and said: "Satyakama! I shall teach you the second quarter of the sacred truth about Brahman. He is called Anantavan."

And he taught him another quarter of the sacred knowledge. Accordingly, Jabala drove the cows to the Guru's ashrama.

On the following evening Satyakama stayed near a lake along with the cows.

At that time a swan came flying from the waters and said, "Satyakama! I shall teach you the third quarter of Brahman. He is called Jyotishman." And he taught him more of the sacred truth. On the following day, he stayed beneath a peepal tree.

In the evening a waterfowl came before him and said: "Satyakama! I shall teach you the fourth and last part of Brahamn.

And he taught him the fourth part, naming it "Ayatanavan."

When Satyakama reached the Guru's ashram with the thousand cows, the Guru asked: "Child, your face shines with Brahma Gyana or the knowledge of Brahman. Who taught you?"

Satyakama told him about his four teachers and said: "Sire, I now request you to teach me personally Brahma - Gyana. Then only will it be perfect."

The rishi said: "Child! whatever you have learnt is real Brahma Gyana. There is little else that I can add. I bless you!"

By serving the Guru faithfully one gets real spiritual knowledge.

This story is told in the great Upanishad called Chhandogya.

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