Essence Of Maha Bhagavatha Purana

Bhagvat Purana

Harischandra an unparalled Example of Truth and Virtue

King Harischandra etched for himself a bench-mark of truthfulness and virtue in Indian mythology. As a result of egoistic quarrels between the two Great Sages of Visvamitra and Vasishtha, the former backed up Trisanku-the father of Harischandra, as the latter defended Harischandra due to his truthfulness and virtuosity.  In course of time, as the quarrel became intense and climaxed in both the Sages cursing each other to become birds upto some time limit. King Harischandra ruled his Kingdom with honesty and justice for many years but he had no offspring and thus prayed to Lord Varuna, who agreed to bless him a child on condition of sacrificing the child in course of time.

Each time, Varuna reminded of the Sacrifice, Harischandra kept on postponing on some pretext or the other. Rohita the son knew about the arrangement and fled away into forests to save the sacrifice. As  Harischandra failed to fulfil the obligation, the King was attacked by dropsy. Rohita desired to return to his father. But Indra appeared as an old man and insisted on Rohita to go on pilgrimages. After a few years,  another person as a substitute sacrifice was arranged and Harischandra was rid of the disease.The Sacrifice was performed by Harischandra and Varuna absolved the former of the obligation. Yet, Visvamitra continued to test Harischandra about his tenacity to keep up his mental equilibrium even under tough provocations; the Sage said that he dreamt of Harischandra’s promise to donate  the entire Kigdom to him! Harischandra proved his virtue by making the Sage’s dream come true and left the Kingdom with his wife and son. He went to Kasi which was under the purview of Lord Siva and not out of the Kingdom donated. But the Sage appeared there and demanded ‘Dakshina’(Fees) for a Sacrifice done by the King under the supervision of the former. To pay the amount, Harischandra had to sell his wife and son as also bonded himself to work at a burial place and repay the remainder debt in running instalments! His wife and son had to perform menial chores in their Master’s house-hold and suffered unheard hardships. Once, the son was plucking flowers in the Master’s garden and died of a snake bite. With nobody to help, she carried the son’s body to the Cremation where Harischandra could not even recognise the family. As of his duty, he demanded taxes for the cremation of the son’s body and she had to sell her ‘Mangal Suthra’-the Sacred Chain, the most precious possesssion of a married woman, to pay for the taxes. She had to cover the dead body with half of her Saree, and as she was to take away the rest of the cloth too to pay for the last rites, there were miracles. Lord Vishnu, Indra and Devas appeared and so did  Sage Visvamitra who tested the King and the family to the lowest points of wretchedness and misery. Harischandra and his wife displayed unprecedented determination and tenacity to uphold Virtue and Self-sacrifice.  The Son Rohitasya was brought back to life and was made the King, while Harischandra and wife Chandramati were provided instant places in Heavens. Visvamitra helped to populate the Kingdom and set examples of  Dharma and  surrender to Almighty. Harischandra’s lineage after his son, Rohitasya was followed by sons  Haritha-Champa-Sudeva-Vijaya-Bharuka-Vakra-Bahuka and Sagara ( Sa-Gara ie born with poison, as Bahuka’s co-wives tried to poison  the boy’s mother). Emporer Sagara performed Asvamedha (Horse) Sacrifice and Indra hid the horse which was discovered by the unruly 60,000 sons of Sagara, nearby the place where Sage Kapila was practising Sankhaya Yoga and when disturbed badly, the Sage burnt all of them into ashes by his power. Sagara’s son by another wife, Asamanjasa or Ansuman pursued the search of the Sacrificial Horse and found the Horse where Kapila was in meditation. Ansuman begged of the Sage about the where- abouts of his cousins and was informed that the hooligans were burnt to death and could be brought back to life only when washed by the River of Ganges which could only  be brought down to Earth from the Skies. The Sacrifice of Horse having been performed by Sagara, Ansuman began his devotion to Lord Siva to bring Ganges down to Earth. But neither he nor his father Dilipa could succeed in the mission. It was for Bhagiradha to purse the operation further.

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