Uddalak said, “Then go back, but now go to another person I have come to know about while you were gone. And unless you have experienced, don’t come back. You have come here not more than when I sent you but less. You have lost something of immense value. And what you call knowledge – if it is borrowed, it only covers your ignorance; it does not make you a knower. Go to this man and tell him that you have not come for more information about truth, about God, about love. Tell him you have come to know truth, to know love, to know God. Tell him, ‘If you can fulfill the promise, only then waste my time; otherwise I will find another master.’”
Satyakam said exactly this.
The master was sitting under a tree with a few of his disciples. After listening to the request, he said, “It is possible, but you are asking something very difficult. There are so many disciples here – they all want more knowledge. They want to know about and about. But if you insist that you are not interested in information, that you are ready to do anything, that your devotion to truth is total, then I will find a way for you.”
Satyakam said, “I am ready to sacrifice my life, but I cannot go without knowing the truth. Neither can I go to my teacher nor can I go to my mother, who has given me the name Satyakam. And my teacher accepted me without knowing whether I was a brahmin or not, just on the simple grounds that I was truthful. Tell me what has to be done.”
The master said, “Take all these cows that you see here, deep into the forest. Go as deep as possible, so you don’t come in contact again with any human being. The purpose is that you forget language, words. Live with the cows, take care of the cows, play on your flute, dance – but forget words. And when the cows have grown to one thousand, come back.”
The other disciples could not believe what was happening – because there were just a dozen or two dozen cows. How long is it going to take for them to become one thousand?
But Satyakam took the cows, went as deep as possible into the forest, beyond human contact, beyond human context. For a few days it was difficult but slowly, slowly… The cows were his only company. And they are very silent people. He played on the flute, he danced alone in the forest; he rested under the trees.
For a few years he continued to count the cows. Then by and by he dropped it, because it seemed impossible that they would become one thousand. And moreover he was forgetting how to count; language was disappearing. Words disappeared; counting could not be saved.
And the story is so immensely beautiful: the cows became worried when they became one thousand, because they wanted to go back home, and this man had forgotten how to count. Finally the cows decided, “We have to speak; otherwise this lonely forest is going to become our grave.”
So one day the cows caught hold of him and told him, “Listen, Satyakam, we are now one thousand and it is time to go back home.”