Satyakāma jābāla (Chāndogya) continued
The night was over. Satyakāma finished his morning routine and started his journey back to the gurukula with the herd of cows. The dusk approached. He collected the herd at one place and started his evening routine. He finished the agnikārya and sat towards the east of the Agni. Sūrya flew to him in the form of a haṃsa and said, “Satyakāma, I’ll reveal to you the other pāda of the brahman. One of the four kalās in this pāda is Agni. Sūrya is one kalā, so are Candra and Vidyut. This pāda consisting of these four kalās is called 'jyotiṣmān'. One who realizes this becomes a tejasvin. He will attain Sūrya and other lokas. The last pāda of the brahman will be revealed to you by an aquatic bird.”
The next evening again he finished the agnikārya and sat towards the east of the Agni. As revealed on the previous day, an aquatic bird flew by. It was the Prāṇa. He said, “Satyakāma, I’ll reveal to you the last pāda of the brahman. It has these four kalās. Prāṇa, cakṣus, śrotṛ, and manas. This pāda is called 'āyatanavān'. One who realizes this will have all the material benefits in this world. And will attain superior lokas in his next.”
Finally Satyakāma reached the gurukula with the herd of cows and came to Gautama, he fell at his feet and said, “As per your orders, I’ve taken utmost care of the cows, now they have multiplied in number and they have reached a thousand.” Gautama was elated. After seeing a singular tejas in his disciple he said, “Vatsa, you look like a brahmajña! Who taught you the secret of brahman?” Satyakāma replied, “Being your disciple how would any human dare to teach me anything? The deities like Vāyu and others, being pleased, came forward and imparted to me the knowledge of the brahman consisting of the sixteen kalās. But it should happen from you, I’ve heard the maxim which says “आचार्याद्धैव विद्याविदिता साधिष्ठप्रापत्” from noble people like you.” Gautama, pleased with his disciple again imparted to him the same knowledge and also the secret of the brahman. Thus Satyakāma gained flawless knowledge.
Satyakāma became an expert in all the branches of knowledge and also became a brahmajña. He finished the samāvartana (graduation), married, became a gṛhastha (householder) and taught to students who came to him. The students came in large numbers and his house was turned into a gurukula. His fame knew no bounds. Students came from far and wide, became his disciples, gained knowledge and returned to their places. Upakosala, the son of Kamala, came to the gurukula and joined as a student. Satyakāma being agnihotrin would maintain the three agnis – gārhapatya, dakṣināgni, āhavanīya – and conduct the homa everyday as prescribed. Upakosala would specifically be in the yāgaśālā to help his guru in this routine. He liked doing the agniparicarya with great śraddhā and bhakti.
A horde of students would finish their education, take the permission of the guru, graduate and leave the gurukula. While many such students left, Upakosala never got the permission from his guru to graduate and leave. He was sad. But he couldn’t muster the courage to ask his guru. The wife of Satyakāma got to know this. Once she said to Satyakāma, “Upakosala has been doing your sevā diligently for so many years. With utmost dedication he takes care of the agniparicarya in the yāgaśālā. Still you have not permitted him to graduate. He is very sad. Please impart him the knowledge of brahman and permit him to graduate. Or else the three agnis, pleased with his dedication, might impart him the knowledge instead. It would be an infamy if that happens.” Satyakāma didn’t reply, he went on a tour.
Upakosala, tormented by his failure, stopped eating. The gurupatnī out of affection tried to convince him to have food, “Vatsa, please have some food. Don’t starve yourself.” Upakosala was not interested in anything. “Mother please don’t force me. I’m afflicted by mental distress. I won’t be able to eat anything.”
The three agnis were moved by his unshaken bhakti and his quest of knowledge. “This brahmacārin has served us with utmost dedication. He has been a tapasvin and a śraddhāvān. He is sad that his guru has not imparted to him the knowledge of the brahman. Let us help him.” They together said to Upakosala, “Upakosala, we shall impart to you the knowledge of the brahman. Listen, ‘प्राणोब्रह्म, कं ब्रह्म, खं ब्रह्म’ the prāṇa is brahman, so are ‘ka’ and ‘kha’” Upakosala said, “I understood the first part, ‘प्राणोब्रह्म’ but I’m not able to understand ‘कं ब्रह्म, खं ब्रह्म’” prāṇa is what supports the body. If that is gone we are dead. Prāṇa is what makes one active. If that is touted as brahman, in spirit, it makes perfect sense. But that is not the case with ‘ka' and ‘kha’. ‘Ka’ means happiness, the happiness we experience is fleeting and lowly. ‘Kha’ is akāśa. It is inanimate. How can these two be brahman? This is his doubt. The three agnis said, “O brahmacārin, ‘यद्वाव कं तदेव खम्, यदेव खं तदेव कम्’ Upakosala nodded his head saying, “understood”. The import is as follows, “The happiness qualified with akāśa is brahman, akāśa qualified with happiness is brahman” – like this since both have been given such adjectives/qualifications, the material happiness is indeed not the brahman. And thus the inanimate akāśa is also not the brahman. Also the brahman is famously known as the ānandasvarūpa, which resides in the daharākāśa (subtle space) of the heart, which can only be attained by the yogins. Thus one should do upāsanā of this daharākāśa qualified by ānandasvarūpa, and the prāṇa present in the daharākāśa. This is the secret.
To be continued...
This is the eighth part of the multi-part translation of the Kannada book "Upanishattina Kathegalu" by Mahamahopadhyaya Vidwan Dr. N Ranganatha Sharma. Thanks to Dr. Sharada Chaitra for granting us permission to translate this wonderful work. Thanks to B. N. Shashikiran for timely and appropriate edits. The original in Kannada can be read here