Humility leads to knowledge

Five Vedic scholars once got together to discuss Brahman.

The five men were Pracheenasala, Satyayajnya,

Indradyumna, Jana and Budila. Their discussion was

inconclusive. So they approached Uddalaka for instruction

about Vaisvanara Atman, said M.K. Srinivasan, in a

discourse. Uddalaka’s knowledge in this respect was

incomplete. So he took them to King Asvapathi. When

Asvapathi saw the six Vedic scholars approaching, he

thought they wanted some gifts from him. A king before

giving charities had to say: “In my kingdom, there are no

misers; there are no drunkards; there are no thieves. Come,

let me honour you with gifts.” Asvapathi made the

mandatory declaration. The six men said to him that they

were there for knowledge of Vaisvanara Atman. The king

promised to tell them about it the next day. The six men

came to him the next day, bringing with them sacrificial

sticks as offering.

The king did not accept the sacrificial sticks which they

brought, and he did not formally initiate them as his

disciples. He simply accepted them as his pupils and

taught them what they wanted to know. The six rishis who

had come to him seeking knowledge were all scholars in

their own right. They had only come to him to fill some

gaps in their knowledge. Yet, they had come to him

humbly, with no trace of pride in their demeanour. They

had approached him as would any novice, as yet

uninitiated into Vedic study. Their humility was rewarded

when the king accepted them as disciples. There is yet

another moral to the story. Social status is no determinant

of knowledge. The king was not from a traditional Vedic

family, and yet because he had knowledge of Vaisvanara

Atman, those who had studied the Vedas took instruction

from him.