Hero Story

 Upakosala Kamalayana 

The story of Upakosala is extracted from Chandogya Upanishad (verse 4.10 and on). 

Upakosala lived as a Brahmachari and studied under Satyakama Japala for 12 years in his Gurukula. After his studies, when Upakosala was about to leave the Aashram, Satyakama retained him leaving others to depart. He became sad at his Guru’s response, but only Satyakama knew that his disciple had not realized the Tatva, The Mahavaakya. 

Both Upakosala and Satyakama’s wife did not understand why he was retained back by the Guru. Not understanding the reason, Gurumaata too tried to plead him to leave Upakosala to return to his house, but the Guru refused and went on a journey. She offered Upakosala some food to eat with loving heart and kindness. But he could not receive it as he was sick at heart. Finally, he broke out,  

“O mother, my heart is still impure; I am too unhappy to eat.” 

It is important to understand the significance of Mahavaakya before one enters the Grihasthaashrama according to Dharma, and hence the Guru had kept Upakosala back in his Gurukula just to give him time for contemplation. At the Gurukula, Upakosala too, after thinking a lot, knew he was not an academic weakling, but a person with fragile inner disposition. He kept mumbling to Gurumaata that he was filled with many desires which tend towards many things like others. 

Upakosala was left in the Gurukula with no other choice than to think, meditate, and contemplate. 


He understands that desires may not be negative or foolish, yet they pull one in many directions, whirling one around and confusing one’s mind and consuming all of one’s life energies.  

Finally, Upakosala deciphers the truth behind the words that only when the mind is fixed on the One, it can realize the essential nature of the self. Upakosala keeps aspiring for attaining this oneness and gets the answer one day. 

While performing a fire sacrament, he hears the voice of Agni Deva through the sacred fire, saying, 

“This life is Brahman, the sky is Brahman, bliss is Brahman, know thou Brahman!” 

Upakosala replies, “I know that life is Brahman, but that the sky is Brahman or that bliss is Brahman I do not know.” 

He heard the voice again from the fire, “Both,” said it, “refers to Brahman” and it continues to teach Upakosala, “The earth, fire, food, and the sun,” all these you worship “are forms of Brahman. He who is seen in the sun that One – I am.” He who is felt in the directions, He who is seen in the moon, in the stars, and in water that One – I am. He who creates lighting in the sky that One – I am. Understand the nature of the world, so that it may do you no harm. 

Since the fire is only the manifestation of the Lord himself, the truth is revealed in the form of the fire. The earth, life, the sun, the moon, the stars, the lightening, everything is transformed for Upakosala and he starts to deify everything.


It was thus that Upakosala came to know of the ultimate truth. In few days, Satyakama returned home from his journey. When he saw Upakosala, he asked, “My son, your face shines like the one who knows Brahman, who has taught you?” “Beings other than men”, answered Upakosala. Pleased with what Upakosala had learnt, Satyakama replied, “My son, what you have learnt is true. True also is that I teach you now. Lo! To him who knows it shall no evil cling, as drops of water cling not to the leaf of the lotus. He who glows in the depths of your eyes – that is Brahman; that is the Self. He is the beautiful One, He is the luminous One. In all the world, forever and ever, He shines!” 

Thus, teaching the various other aspects of Brahman, Satyakama considers Upakosala to be a worthy disciple.   

A person in a pool of water

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T. R. Surya is the special correspondent of the company. He is an eloquent speaker and compendious writer of English. An avid learner of Sanskrit and Indian scriptures under the guidance of Swami Ganeshaswarupananda and Gita Chaitanya of Arshavidyalaya. His inclination and interests are towards studying Metaphysics and philosophies.