Whose son are you? What is your lineage? These are questions that are deemed important today. Sometimes it seems that abilities, effort and achievements take a distant second place to someone’s lineage.
Every society in history, whether in India, Europe or America, developed a system of social strata based on family lineage. Over decades & centuries, such systems became rigid in many societies and hindered upward social mobility of people with supposedly lower lineage. Such rigid societies eventually became stagnant and fell into backwardness.
Today, education is deemed to be the road to upward social mobility. A story from the Upanisad below shows this was true at the beginning of Eternal Dharma as well.
Jabaalaa or जबाला was a maid servant. She was a deep believer in truth. This is why she named her son सत्यकाम or Satya-Kam – someone who likes (kam) truth (satya).
When Satya-Kam became 8 years old, like other kids he wanted to go and study in a great ashram. Satya-Kam went to the ashram of the great sage Gautam. There he was asked the name of his father & his lineage. Satya-Kam did not know and other students of higher lineage laughed at him. Satya-Kam returned to his mother in tears.
His mother Jabaalaa then told him the unpleasant truth. She used to work in the homes of the rich and powerful. During this period, she had relationships in these homes. Satya-Kam was born during one of these relationships but she could not be sure which one of these was the real father of Satya-Kam. This is why she gave Satya-Kam the last name of Jaabaala or जाबाल which literally means son of जबाला, Jabaalaa. The mother then told Satya-Kam to go to Sage Gautam and tell him the truth.
Satya-Kam did and Sage Gautam was extremely pleased with his honesty. This is when Gautam made the now famous declaration:
- जन्मता जायते शूद्रः संस्कारात द्विज उच्यते
Janmata Jaayate Shudra, Samskaaraat Dwija Uchyate
Everyone is Shudra (of lowest social strata) at birth, It is with Education that one becomes Twice-Born
These great words need no explanation. Through his hard work and intelligence, Satya-Kam became a Scholar and a Sage himself. All his life, he proudly used his last name Jaabaala जाबाल or the Son of the woman Jabaalaa. His name and the name of his mother became immortal. The names of the other students of better lineage who laughed at him are forgotten.
This is one of the reasons why Indian families treat education with such great respect. It is their children’s ticket to upward mobility in every way.
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