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How Satyakam Jabali became Brahman


This story  has been mentioned in Sanatan dharma’s ancient text  Chhandogya Upanishad. This  story throws more light on the values and open mindedness of great sages of that era. This incident also proves that Varna systems( of Brahmana, Kshtriya, Vaishy, Shudra) was essentially based on the virtues and choices of people and was not necessarily a birth based prejudice.

Gautama, the son of the sage Haridruman, was a celebrated rishi of the Vedic age.Rishi Gautam was highly venerated sage and a very important figure in Vedic era.  He was well versed in the Vedic and transcendental knowledge and had many students in his  hermitage in forest.

A young boy named Satyakama once expressed a desire to his mother, Jabala, to go to Gautama’s asharam to study. Satyakama was Jabala’s only child,  but she had high aspirations for him and thus readily agreed to approve her son’s request. She was very glad that Satyakama wanted to become a celibate to train for the highest knowledge.

“Mother, please tell me my lineage? What is my Gotra?,” said Satyakama, for he knew that Gautama would  ask him the name of saint from whom his family traced descent.

The mother was in a fix. She  was perplexed to reveal her son that she didn’t know who Satyakama’s father was. She had never been married. Satyakama was an illegitimate child, and would probably be denied the right to study the Vedas. It was most embarrassing and awkward situation  for her to disclose this fact to her child. Imagine a mother’s agony that she is not able to tell her son about his father and fear of ruining his future because of this.


Jabala thought to herself: “First, It will give Satyakama quite a shock to know that he was born to parents not married to each other. Moreover, if and when Satyakama tells this to Gautama, the sage will not accept him as disciple as he will certainly be scandalized, and the students of his school will also be morally offended. Whoever hears our story will surely hate both my son and me.”

Jabala was oscillating in these painful thoughts for a while. Then finally she tool courage and resolved to speak the truth, whatever the consequences. She would now bequeath the truth to her son. She kissed Satyakama on the head and said: “My child, in my youth I was extremely poor and served many men in many places as a slave girl. Your mother has never been married. I am Jabala and you are my son Satyakam, this is all I know. So tell the sage that your name is Jabala Satyakama.”

Satyakama took leave of his mother and trekked to Gautama’s ashrama.
When Satyakama arrived at the forest hermitage of Rishi Gautama, the sun was about to set and the students were busy arranging the sacrificial fire for evening Sandhya and prayers. In the twilight hour Satyakama prostrated himself before the Rishi Gautama. Child was visibly exhausted from his long arduous journey.

The students had finished their evening worship-Sandhya, and Satyakama also found  a little rest in the meanwhile. When the Rishi Gautama summoned Satyakama ,he said: “Revered Sir, I want to live in your holy Ashrama as a celibate and study Vedas to attain highest knowledge. Kindly accept me as one of your disciples.”

“Most affectionate blessings! What is your gotra, my child ? From Which sage your family has descended? ” asked Rishi Gautama.

Satyakama told the sage what his mother had disclosed to him and traced his descent from his mother, saying, “Jabala is my mother; I am Satyakama; so I would be known as Jabala Satyakama.”

It was a startling disclosure and shocking for many. A Rishi of highest order,Rishi Gautama looked at the boy, an embodiment of purity and placidity,a seeker of knowledge and truth.

The Rishi rose from his seat and embraced the boy warmly. Then he said: ” My child, bring the firewood for the sacrificial fire. I have decided to initiate you into my discipleship. You are verily a Brahmin. You have not swerved from the Truth. None other than a Brahmin can utter such unalloyed Truth.Truth is most important  virtue of a Brahman. You posses this quality therefore you will be Brahman. ”

It was triumph of Jabala and her son Satyakama. They marched to victory under the banner of Truth. Satyakama was admitted to the inner circle of Gautama, and in course of time became an illumined soul.Same Satyakam Jabali later wrote Jabalyopanishad was acknowledged as seer of high order. Jabalyopanishad  is highly revered scripture even today. Devotion and ability to walk on the path of God realization is most important and can be a sole deciding factor  to become a Brahman. Casteism was not by birth it is by choice, in ancient times. This story stands as a testimony that virtues & choices only are  most important factors for success in life whether it was  ancient or new social era now.

If you go deep into Shastras and Puranas you will find more stories like Satyakam Jabali. Imagine Jabala’s agony and pain when she could see that not her only  son’s  future was at stake but also the an open revelation of the truth will make life hell for her son and herself.But she did not deter from the truth. This tells a about her real character. Also this indicates that in spite of all odds she faced, her soul remained pure and that’s why she asked her son to tell the truth to Acharya.

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