[Translation]

Satyakama the son of Jabala addressed his mother Jabala thus:

I am going to dwell with a teacher, in the service of the Eternal. Of what tribe am I?

She, verily, spoke to him thus:

I know not, dear, of what tribe thou art. For while I was going about much, and serving many, I received thee, in the time of my youth. Therefore I know not of what tribe thou art. But thou art Satyakama by name, and my name is Jabala; therefore thou mayest call thyself Satyakama, son of Jabala.

He came to Haridrumat’s son, of the Gotamas, and said:

I would dwell with thee as master, in service of the Eternal; let me come to thee as master.

He said to him:

Of what tribe art thou, beloved?

And he answered him:

I know not this, master, of what tribe I am. I asked my mother, but she answered me: While I was going about much, and serving many, in the season of my youth I received thee, so I know not of what tribe thou art. But my name is Jabala, and thy name is Satyakama.

So I am Satyakama son of Jabala, master.

And he replied to him:

No one who is not full of the Eternal is worthy to speak out, thus. Bring thou the fuel, and I will initiate thee, for thou didst not depart from the truth.

Then initiating him, he committed to him four hundred lean and ill-favored cattle, saying to him:

Have these in thy care, beloved!

And he, receiving them, said:

I will not return until they number a thousand.

And saying this, he remained for a series of years.

And when they had reached the thousand, the leader of the herd addressed him, saying:

Satyakama!

And Satyakama replied:

Speak!

And he continued:

We have reached the thousand; lead us back to the family of the teacher. And let me declare to thee one step of the Eternal.

Let it be declared, sir! Said he.

And he spoke to him:

The eastern space is a part; the western space is a part; the southern space is a part; the northern space is a part. This, verily, beloved, is a step of the Eternal, made up of four parts, and the name of it is the Manifest. And he who, knowing this thus, approaches this step of the Eternal with its four parts, as the Manifest, he becomes manifest in this world; he conquers manifest worlds, who, knowing this thus approaches this step of the Eternal as the Manifest. The Fire will teach thee the next step.

And, guarding the cattle on the next day, where they were at evening, there making a fire and penning the cattle, he put fuel on the fire, and sat down beside it, facing it.

The fire spoke to him, saying:

Satyakama!

And he replied, saying

Speak!

Let me tell thee a step of the Eternal.

Let it be told to me! Said he.

The fire said to him:

The earth is a part; the midworld is a part; the heaven is a part; the great deep is a part ; this, verily, beloved, is a step of the Eternal, made up of four parts, and the name of it is, the Unending.

He who, knowing this thus, approaches this fourfold step of the Eternal, as the Unending, he becomes unending in this world; he conquers unending worlds, who, knowing this thus, approaches this fourfold step of the Eternal as the Unending. The swan will teach thee the next step.

And guarding the cattle on the next day, where they were at evening, there making a fire and penning the cattle, he put fuel on the fire, and sat down beside it, facing it.

And a swan, descending, and drawing near to him addressed him, saying:

Satyakama!

And he replied, saying:

Speak!

Let me tell thee a step of the Eternal.

Let it be told to me! Said he.

The swan said to him:

Fire is a part; the sun is a part; the moon is a part; the lightning is a part ; this, verily, beloved; is a step of the Eternal, made up of four parts, and the name of it is, the Luminous.

He who, knowing this thus, approaches this fourfold step of the Eternal as the Luminous, becomes luminous in this world; he conquers luminous worlds, who, knowing this thus, approaches this fourfold step of the Eternal as the Luminous. The bird of the ocean will teach thee the next step.

And guarding the cattle on the next day, where they were at evening, there making a fire and penning the cattle, he put fuel on the fire, and sat down beside it, facing it.

And a bird of the ocean descending, and drawing near to him, addressed him, saying:

Satyakama!

And he replied, saying:

Speak!

Let me tell thee a step of the Eternal.

Let it be told to me, worthy one! Said he.

The bird of the ocean said to him;

Life is a part; seeing is a part; hearing is a part; mind is a part; this, verily, beloved, is a step of the Eternal, made up of four parts, and the name of it is, the Possessor of the Treasure.

He who, knowing this thus, approaches this fourfold step of the Eternal as the Possessor of the Treasure, becomes a possessor of the treasure in this world; he conquers worlds possessing the treasure, who, knowing this thus, approaches this fourfold step of the Eternal, as Possessor of the Treasure.

He returned to the home of the teacher. The teacher addressed him, saying:

Satyakama!

He replied, saying:

Speak, Master!

Thou shinest, beloved, like one who knows the Eternal; who has initiated thee into the teaching?

And he replied:

Other than mortals have initiated me. But let my teacher also speak according to my desire. For the teaching is learned from a teacher; this he gains as most excellent.

Then he told him the same teaching. He left nothing untold; he left nothing, verily, untold.


Commentary: Satyakama, son of Jabala

“Inquire of the earth, the air, and the water, of the secrets they hold for you.”

Here is a story of the utmost value, showing not only the best teaching of the books of Hidden Wisdom, but further admirably illustrating the manner in which the ancient mysteries are taught, and, lastly, pointing out the way in which we may follow in the same path, and master the same immemorial wisdom.

The story is, throughout, a consistent allegory, conforming to the laws of universal symbolism. Satyakama, the fatherless, is the type of every soul in its last rebirth; already free from the tyranny of works, his former birth having left no seed for further bondage; he is no longer one of a chain or tribe of successive embodied personalities. Thus he is born of a virgin mother, of a mother alone, without a father. Thus the birth of all souls who have reached the threshold of wisdom, who have no more work in the world, but the attainment of liberation, and the conquest of the world, is symbolized by universal tradition, they are without human fathers, they are Sons of the Eternal.

Satyakama, the tribeless son of the Eternal, goes to the teacher, though destined to be taught by teachers other than human. This teacher is the type of intellect and measured thought, of the soul’s individual and human destiny, enclosed within the intellect’s limits.

To Satyakama are entrusted four hundred cattle lean and ill-favored, which he is to guard and watch over, until they become a thousand. It will be remembered that, in the story of Raikva of the Chariot, a thousand cattle also formed the acceptable gift; and that, in the legend of Nachiketas, lean and ill-favored kine were the insufficient offering, lacking the virtue to win the worlds of the gods. It will become clear at once that the lean and ill-favored cattle are the type and symbol of the powers and knowledge of unregenerate man, which must grow, and increase, and gain their perfect force and number, before the man is ready to become regenerate.

In the philosphical systems of later times, when symbol and image gave place to logical and reasoned phrase, appealing now to the halting process of the mind, and no longer to direct intuition and imaginative power, the thousand cattle are spoken of as the ten qualifications, made up of six graces and four attainments, which must be fully gained, before any true progress is possible.

Here, it is said that the four hundred lean and ill-favored kine must become a thousand, well tended and well fed, before the pupil is entitled to approach the Master. The older symbol is far more living and vivid; for we must always remember that graces and attainments, and all works like these, are also symbols, shadows of realities; but shadows cast by the discursive reason, and no longer the potent images of free imagination.

Imagination, which is a form of will, deals far more directly with life than does discursive reason; though we, unaccustomed to touch life directly through our wills, have persuaded ourselves to believe that the decrees of discursive reason are in some way more absolute; that life is a matter to be decided by reason, while, in reality, it is a problem to be solved by will; reason’s whole function is to balance and adjust the more positive and active will; to aid, as a servant, but never to rule as a master. We are in the habit of translating the things of will and imagination,—which are the direct powers of life itself,—into terms of discursive reason, and thinking that the will is the enigma, of which reason offers the solution. In very truth, discursive reason and its works are an endless enigma, which reason itself can never unravel, and which can and must be solved by will alone. Hence parables and images, which speak to the will through the imagination, are far nearer to real truth than the interpretations of the same parables in terms of discursive reason, in spite of our habitual prejudice in favor of the latter. It is therefore a confession that we are in a lower mood of mind, when we require parables to be interpreted for us; and it is a mark of the true records of the mysteries that they offer us parables and symbols, instead of giving us intellectual solutions which, in the nature of things, are lower and less true than the symbols they pretend to solve.

This very truth, it would seem, is symbolized by the teachers of Satyakama. After learning from the “teachers other than human,” and gaining the light, so that his face shone as one who knows the Eternal, he returned to the human teacher, who repeated to him what he had already learned. Thus illumination comes first; after which it is the duty of discursive reason to adjust and equilibrate; to coordinate the result of enlightenment to the activities of outward life. For reason has no initiative, and can of itself bring no light; can of itself put us into possession of no substantial realities or living powers; these must come through the will, and only after reality and power are grasped, does the adjusting and coordinating work of reason begin. Reason can never create; it can only arrange and set in order.

To turn, then, to the teachers of Satyakama, the instructors other than human. We must remember that the thousand cattle, are the perfectly developed and completed powers which bring the soul to the threshold of regeneration; which fit him, while still in the world, to conquer the world and pass beyond the world.

It is clear, therefore, that these powers can not in themselves bring regeneration, nor give a picture and understanding of the great Beyond, though they can point the way thither, when the lesson is to be carried on by higher powers.

The leader of the herd,—the head and front of the powers of man, still in personal life, but preparing to pass beyond it,—teaches, therefore, that the universe is made up of the four spaces, spoken of as eastern, western, southern, northern; or, as we should say, the perfected intellect, by itself, gives a picture of the universe as made up of four planes, each of which is imagined in the likeness of the visible plane we know, bound by space and time, though with other characters and colors. And so long as we are limited to the view of the intellect, even of the intellect perfected, we shall not be able to dissociate from the spiritual worlds these shadows of Space and Time which so thoroughly enthral us here. Thus far, the teaching of the leader of the herd, closed with the words: The Fire will teach thee the next step.

With admirable felicity, the allegory continues. Satyakama tends the cattle and watches over them, relinquishing none of the powers already gained and perfected. And where they have come to at “evening,”—at the end of that period of life and teaching, of that first cycle of knowledge,—he secures them against loss or harm, and kindles the fire which is to teach him further. Then sitting close to the fire, facing it, intent on the fire alone, he awaits its teaching.

The Fire is the symbol of that world,—call it what you will, astral or psychic,—which lies immediately within this world of ours; or, to speak more truly, it is the world which we begin to realize, when the grossest and crudest illusions of matter begin to burst before us and melt away. This world, is in no sense created or revealed by the intellect, or powers of habitual life, however perfected; therefore the “leader of the herd” can teach nothing of character or being. It must be borne in upon consciousness from without; the Fire must speak first.

Then arises a new understanding of the Universe; it is no longer grasped as four spaces or planes; it is understood as four limitless, infinite. worlds, spoken of here as the earth, mid-world, heaven and the great deep. At this point, the illusion of space begins to fade, and we enter deeper into realities. Again the Fire, taking us through this stage of understanding, brings us to the threshold of the next: The swan will teach thee the next step.

Satyakama, whose name, “the seeker after the Real,” strikes the keynote of the soul’s aspiration, once more secures his cattle at evening, and sits down, in the gloom, before the fire, facing its light shining in the darkness. Then, through the gloom, the swan descends to him from the upper air; the new life of the white-winged Self of the ether comes to him from the serene world above, and carries on the teaching.

Again, a new Universe is unfolded; a fresh treasure is revealed, of the incomparable riches of the Eternal. For it is part of the grand generosity of things that every step in advance is rewarded by the gift of a new world, in plenary possession. The Universe,—first conceived as four spaces, four planes; then as four unending worlds,—is now seen as the shining treasure of four luminous powers: fire, sun, moon, and lightning. We have come to understand all things as radiant outbursts of the infinite Will. We have conquered luminous worlds.

One more lesson remains to be learned: that these radiances blossoming forth into the infinite, from the everlasting Will are the powers, not of another, but of the Self; that the Universe is the Self, awful in its divinity. This lesson is taught by the bird of the ocean; the winged dweller in the great deep, who is, indeed, no other than that self whom we truly are. The four steps of the Universe, which we had partly learned as outward worlds and powers before, are now taught as Life, Seeing, Hearing, Mind.

Each of these is but a mode of the Self; whether as outward experience in the manifest world, outward perceiving in the mid-world, inward perceiving in the heavenly world, or inward consciousness,—perceived, perceiving and perceiver become one, in the supreme world of the mighty deep. Nothing is, but the Self, and these worlds are its powers, its radiances, its luminous breaths.

Learning this thus, Satyakama returned to the dwelling of his mortal teacher. And the teacher addressed him: Thou shinest, beloved, like one who knows the Eternal! The mind recognizes, and joyfully admits, the light of the soul; and completes the work of learning, by keeping the newly gained powers in perfect balance, coordinated with outward life.