An Immortal Story For The Ages

This is a story we heard in our childhood, a story that has been told for at least 3,000 years. It is the story of:

  • a child from a poor family from the lower strata of society,
  • a child without a father but with a strong, determined mother,
  • a child who finds a great teacher and becomes a great scholar in his own right.
If this is not a universal story, then we don’t know what is.

This is the story of Satya-Kaam. The name means A Passion (Kaam) for Truth (Satya). His mother gave him this name because she was passionate about being truthful. This was a poor woman who worked as a maid. Her name was Jabaalaa.

Like other kids, young Satya-Kaam wanted to study at a great ashram (school) of a great Rushi (or Sage). So when he became eight years old, he went to the ashram of the Great Sage Gautam. There he was asked his name and his father’s name or his lineage. He didn’t know. So the other kids laughed at him.

Satya-Kaam returned to his mother and asked her for his father’s name. His mother Jabaalaa was steadfast to her commitment to the truth. She told him that as a maid she worked in the houses of many rich and powerful people. These men had relations with her. She admitted that Satya-Kaam was the son from one of these relationships. Unfortunately, she did not know which of the men was his father.

So she told Satya-Kaam that his lineage was Jaabaal which means the son of Jabaalaa. She advised him to go back to Sage Gautam and tell him the truth. Satya-Kaam did.

Sage Gautam was enormously pleased with his honesty and made the declaration that has become immortal in Sindhu Dharma:

  • Everyone is a Shudra (or of lowest class) at Birth [Janmataa Jayate Shudra];
  • It is by Education/Culture that one becomes Twice-Born or a Braahman [Samskaaraat Dwija Uchyate].
Gautam accepted young Satya-Kaam as his student. Satya-Kaam rose to became a great scholar in his own right. Though he received glory and success, he kept his name as Satya-Kaam Jaabaal in honor of his mother.

This great story from one the earliest texts of Sindhu Dharma is one of the reasons why Indian Families focus on their children’s education. It is the ticket to upward mobility in every way.

It is also a conclusive demonstration that heredity-based social status was never a part of Indian Society, at least in its early stages.

Editor’s Note:
The name Gautam and its feminine form Gautamee became highly respected names. For example, several centuries later, the name of Buddha’s mother was Gautamee and Buddha’s first name was Gautam.


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