A GREAT SAGE CALLED GAUTAMA
There was a great sage called Gautama in ancient India. He had a number of disciples studying under him. One day he called all his disciples and said: "My dear children! You know that we have been experiencing severe drought in this region and there are no signs of its abatement too. I am very much worried about the cattle of our hermitage. They have already become very lean and weak. I am unable to bear the sight of suffering of these dumb creatures. I think these cows have to be driven to a distant place where there is ample pasture and plenty of water. I will be very happy if one of you could volunteer to undertake this task. You can bring them back when the calamity has rolled over."
Many pupils just hung their heads lest their master should find out their true feelings. Some tried to hide behind others in order to avoid the direct stare of the Guru.
A pupil by name Sathyakama, got up and, paying his salutations to his master, said: "Master, I shall take them, don't worry." Many students tried to dissuade him from undertaking such a hazardous task. They warned him: "Oh! You have to be all alone in the wilds away from the comforts of the hermitage. You may not even find good food. Sathyakama replied: "My dear friends, I am quite confident that the good wishes of our Guru will provide me enough safety and sustenance. I shall not be alone for I will have these cows to keep company."
The Guru was happy that at least one among the many pupils volunteered to undertake the job as service to the Guru. He blessed Sathyakama and said: "You are taking with you 400 cows; you can return when the herd multiplies into a total strength of one thousand."
Sathyakama drove the cattle to a charming valley. Everyday, he used to wake up early in the morning, finish his ablutions and bath. Then he would offer prostration to the Sun God and recite prayers. While tending the cattle and while walking or sitting he would constantly chant the name of God. He affectionately looked after the cattle. He regarded 'go-seva' (Service to cows) as Guru Seva (Service to the Master). He never felt any anxiety or worry over his life in solitude. He never bothered to count the cows too.
One morning after the morning rites, he was seated under a tree. Indra the Chief of Gods appeared before him and said: "My dear son! Have you not observed that the herd has multiplied itself to the total number of 1000? You can now return to your master's hermitage. I will be traveling with you. Come on let us go."
Sathyakama prostrated to Indra and thanked him for reminding him of the fact that it was time for returning. Sathyakama and Indra had to spend four nights in four different places. Every morning Sathyakama was taught the essence of one Veda. Thus by the time he reached his Guru's hermitage he was the master of the four Vedas. His face shone with a strange splendour as a result of the Vedic illumination that he had been blessed with by the Lord of Heaven. Having enlightened Sathyakama, Lord Indra disappeared after showering his grace on the young boy.
Sathyakama walked into his Guru's hermitage with 1000 cows. His guru and the inmates gave him a rousing welcome. Sathyakama fell at the feet of his master. Gautama embraced him saying: "I know that you are now a great scholar of the four Vedas. You deserve it, my son." Sathyakama could please Indra, the Lord of Heaven, only because of his love and loyalty to his guru.