Satyakama Jabala

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Satyakama Jabala appears in Chapter IV of the Chandogya Upanishad. Wanting to go out in search of a teacher who would guide him in the path of Self-realisation, the goal of mystic life, he had enquired about his Gotra from his mother. His mother, Jabala, who did not know about who his father was, told him to be truthful to his teacher about his own parentage. Indeed, Truth is the supreme virtue, the moral virtue that enables one to reach the Absolute Chandogya Upanishad IV 4.1-5. Rishi Gautama Haridrumata convinced that only a Brahmin could be sincere, truthful, fearless and eager for knowledge agreed to instruct Satyakama – since he spoke the truth he was a Brahmin. In due course of time Satyakama was blessed with wisdom firstly by the bull who told him about the four directions that are bright feet or aspects of Brahman which could lead him to the region of Light, secondly by the fire or Agni who told him about earth, space, heaven and the oceans as Brahman’s four feet that could lead him to the indestructible world, then by the swan who told him about the artistic actions of fire, the moon, the sun and lightning which were the illuminated aspects of Brahman, and lastly by the water-fowl who told Satyakama that the aspect of Brahman that is represented by prana, eyes, ears and mana takes the seeker after truth to Brahma-loka. Upon hearing about this experience of his, Gautama taught Satyakama these very sixteen arts comprehensively.[1] Satyakama had earlier on his own interpreted his inner voices as coming from the external world.[2]

Upakosala Kamalayana was a student of Satyakama Jabala. He had stayed as a celibate with his teacher for twelve long strenuous years without being certified as a graduate. Satyakama would not leave Upakosala while he had left others. One day, disappointed and filled with sorrow, he resolved to fast and sat before the three Fires of his teacher that he had tended for many years. The fires impressed by his service and filled with compassion decided to instruct him and said –

Prana (the Vital force) is Brahman, “Ka” (Bliss) is Brahman, “Kha” (Space) is Brahman.

Upakosala knew Prana to be Brahman but did not know the other two and thought how could they be Brahman?

The Fires by firstly qualifying Bliss by Space distinguished from the bliss arising from the contacts of objects and the senses, secondly, by qualifying Space by bliss the fires eliminated the material insentient space, that Space possessed of the quality of Bliss is Brahman. The Garhapatya fire told him that the ultimate reality was to be found in the sun, the Anvaharyapachana fire told him it is to be found in the moon, and the Ahavaniya fire told him it is in the lightning, temporarily satisfied with these three instructions Upakosal returned, his teacher saw his face aglow with spiritual illumination but told him that all such instructions were deficient and inferior to what he himself knew, he had been taught that the ultimate reality was to be found in the image of the person reflected in the human eye -

It is this image which is the Atman. It is this image which is fearless, and the ultimate reality. It is this image which brings all blessings. It is this image which is the most resplendent thing in the worlds. He who knows it to be so will himself be resplendent in the worlds. Chandogya Upanishad 4.10.15.

This instruction is a regress from the cosmological to the physiological category. Satyakama was not satisfied with objective existences, and even this instruction was the truth of an inferior kind. [3] Satyakama too had realised that the forces of Nature that one is aware of are ultimately only partial manifestations of power that is in the Absolute.[4]

From this section of the Chandogya Upanishad it is also learnt that the knowledge of Brahman was imparted to the Brahmins for the first time by the Kshatriyas.[citation needed]


  1. ^ B.B.Paliwal. Message of the Upanishads. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. p. 129. 
  2. ^ Swami Vivekanada. "Satyakama of Jabala". 
  3. ^ Mahendra Kulasrestha. The Golden Book of Upanishads. Lotus Press. p. 160. 
  4. ^ The Constructive Survey of Upanishadic Philosophy. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 186.