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Re: Information requested

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Thu Apr 05 2001 - 23:41:28 PDT

Bala Sundaram writes:
> Respected Swamis:
> 
> Long ago I read in a book that one child was denied vedic education as he 
> was not able to give particulars about his father and gothra etc. 
> Subsequently, I don't remember how, he was given that education.
> 
> Can someone give more particulars about this story and where I can read more 
> about this.
> 
> Adiyen Ramanuja Dasan
> 
> D Balasundaram

Dear Sri Balasundaram,

The story to which you refer comes from the chAndogya upanishad
(4.4.1-5), and the child's name is satyakAma jAbAla.  

The story goes as follows:

   Once there was a boy named satyakAma. He approached his mother jabAla
   and asked her, "Mother, I desire to live the life of brahmacarya
   and become a student of sacred knowledge. Of what family am I?" 

   She said to him, "I do not know, my child, of what family you are. 
   In my youth I traveled a great deal as a maid servant and gave 
   birth to you. So I do not know of what family you are. 
   However, I am jabAla by name and you are satyakAma. So you may 
   say that you are satyakAma jAbAla.

   satyakAma then went to gautama, the son of haridrumat, and said, 
   "I wish to become a student of sacred knowledge. May I become your pupil,
    venerable sir?" 

   gautama asked the boy, "Of what family are you, my dear?" 
   
   satyakAma replied, "I do not know of what family I am. I asked my mother, 
   and she replied, 'In my youth I traveled a great deal as a maid-servant 
   and gave birth to you. So I do not know of what family you are. However,
   I am jabAla by name and you are satyakAma.' So I am satykAma jAbAla, sir."

   gautama replied, "None but a brAhmaNa is capable of speaking the
   truth in this manner. Bring the fuel, my dear, I will receive you
   as a pupil. You have not departed from the truth." 

What is remarkable about this episode is the unornamented truthfulness
of satyakAma, and gautama's willing acceptance of him for this very
reason.  The teaching is that one's internal qualities are what makes 
one fit to receive sacred instruction. The actual origin of satyakAma is
unknown; but his speaking the truth despite the personal consequences 
makes him worthy of instruction, makes him worthy of the title "brAhmana".
The Upanishad here places emphasis on inner virtue over birth.

Incidentally, satyakAma jAbAla becomes a great rishi in his own right 
and he is mentioned in many other places in the Upanishads.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani







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