Satyakama Jabala

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For a Sanskrit text named after Satyakama Jabala, see Jabala Upanishad.

Satyakama Jabala is a boy, and later a Vedic sage, who first appears in Chapter IV of the ancient Hindu text, the Chandogya Upanishad.[1] As a boy, he enquires about his father from his mother. His mother Jabala, tells him that she went about many places in her youth, and did not know who his father was.[2]

As a boy, eager for knowledge, Satyakama goes to the sage Haridrumata Gautama, requesting the sage's permission to live in his school for Brahmacharya. The teacher asks, "my dear child, what family do you come from?" Satyakama replies that he is of uncertain parentage because his mother does not know who the father is. The sage declares that the boy's honesty is the mark of a "Brāhmaṇa, true seeker of the knowledge of the Brahman".[2][3] Sage Gautama accepts him as a student in his school.[4]

The sage sends Satyakama to tend four hundred cows, and come back when they multiply into a thousand.[3] The symbolic legend then presents conversation of Satyakama with a bull, a fire, a swan (Hamsa, हंस) and a diver bird (Madgu, मद्गु), which respectively are symbolism for Vayu, Agni, Āditya and Prāṇa.[1] Satyakama then learns from these creatures that forms of Brahman is in all cardinal directions (north, south, east, west), world-bodies (earth, atmosphere, sky and ocean), sources of light (fire, sun, moon, lightning), and in man (breath, eye, ear and mind).[4] Satyakama returns to his teacher with a thousand cows, and humbly learns the rest, the nature of Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality).[2][3]

Satyakama graduates and becomes a celebrated sage, according to the Hindu tradition, and a Vedic school is named after him, as is the influential ancient text Jabala Upanishad – a treatise on Sannyasa (Hindu monk, monastic life).[5] Upakosala Kamalayana was a student of Satyakama Jabala, whose story is also presented in the Chandogya Upanishad.[6]


  1. ^ a b Robert Hume, Chandogya Upanishad 4.4 - 4.9, The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Oxford University Press, pages 218-221
  2. ^ a b c Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 122-126 with preface and footnotes
  3. ^ a b c Max Muller, Chandogya Upanishad 4.4 - 4.9, The Upanishads, Part I, Oxford University Press, pages 60-64 with footnotes
  4. ^ a b Chandogya Upanishad with Shankara Bhashya Ganganath Jha (Translator), pages 189-198
  5. ^ Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 2, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 757-758
  6. ^ Danielle Feller (2004). Sanskrit Epics. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 217. ISBN 978-81-208-2008-1.