Once Dhruvah saw his step-brother, Uttamah, play with the king. The five-year-old Dhruvah wished the same and approached Uttanpadah. His stepmother, Suruchi, shooed him away. Hurt, Dhruvah, asked his mother why he should be treated this way. Suniti smiled sadly, “It is my misfortune. Because you are my son, the misfortune is extended towards you too. But we should not wish ill on others. Since that eventually comes back to us. Take refuge in Lord Vishnu. Pray to the Divine and he will get you rid of your unhappiness.” Dhruvah listened to his mother intently. He decided that he will go and seek the Divine, if that was the solution to his sorrows and desires. Nilanjana tells us about Dhruvah, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
In many parts of India, the pole star is often referred to as Dhruvah-tara (the star that reminds us of Dhruvah). This is the story that tells us how the star is called Dhruvah-tara.
King Uttanapadah had two wives – Suniti and Suruchi. The king was fonder of Suruchi and her son, Uttamah. Suniti was not the king’s favourite and often ignored as was her son Dhruvah.
Hurt, Dhruvah, asked his mother why he should be treated this way. Suniti smiled sadly, “It is my misfortune. Because you are my son, the misfortune is extended towards you too. But we should not wish ill on others. Since that eventually comes back to us. Take refuge in Lord Vishnu. Pray to the Divine and he will get you rid of your unhappiness.”
Dhruvah listened to his mother intently. He decided that he will go and seek the Divine, if that was the solution to his sorrows and desires. He left his hometown and wandered around, desperate to find a way to seek the Divine.
Sage Narada, with his yogic powers, got to know of Dhruvah. The five-year- old had undertaken a task that most adults would not be keen to pursue. Quickly, he approached Dhruvah and blessed him. “You are just five years old. This is the time for you to play with your toys. I know that you’ve felt hurt by what your stepmother had said. But in this world, good and bad, praise and blame are all a result of one’s karma (actions). If God’s grace is there, then no unhappiness will ever touch you. And if there is no grace, then nothing will bear fruit. One has to learn to be content with what the Divine doles out to you.”
Dhruvah was paying a lot of attention as Narada kept on speaking, “Your mother had asked you to seek the Divine, but the path is not easy. Lots of rishis (sages) have performed penance for years and have not been able to get a glimpse of the divine. It needs concentration, sacrifice, patience, detachment, janma (birth) after janma of penance. Don’t be an obstinate child; you can come back to this path when you are older. Now is the time to concentrate on other things. It is believed that man’s punya (good deeds) decrease when he enjoys life and paapa (sins) decrease when he undergoes sorrow. Hence if he can manage to stay detached from both, he can get released from this cycle of birth and death. When you see someone more fortunate than you, you should not be jealous, but show him affection. If you meet somebody more unfortunate, you should not ridicule them, but be sorry. If you meet your equal, then you should be happy.”
Dhruvah smiled, “I am so fortunate to meet you, to know the secret of pain and pleasure. But I request you to have pity on me and my ignorance. Please guide me to the Divine. You are the son of Brahma and you roam all over the universe to do good to mankind. Please have compassion on me.”
Sage Narada was impressed with the dedication of the little one. He said, “Set your mind on the Divine, on Narayana. He will hear you. Go to the banks of Yamuna, for the Lord is always present there. Bathe in the holy river three times a day, do pranayama (controlled breathing technique) and set your mind on the Lord. The mantra (incantation) – Aum Namo Bhagvate Vasudevaya – when constantly repeated, will grant you the presence of the Divine.
Narada described the form of Narayana, lying on Ananta (infinite) and initiated little Dhruvah to invoke the Divine.
Dhruvah began his penance as guided by Sage Narada. He chose a spot on the banks of the river, Yamuna and began chanting the mantra. In the first month, he lived on fruits available in the forest. In the second, he sustained himself by eating grass and dry leaves. In the third month, it was only water. In the fourth month, it was only the air that he was breathing. It is said that the devas (divine beings) found his penance quite unsettling. They released wild animals and serpents on the child. They could not scare him. Then they tried evil spirits. Dhruvah’s resolve was too strong for them too. Finally, they approached Narayana for a solution.
Narayana decided to meet Dhruvah on the banks of River Yamuna. Dhurvah felt the divine presence. But all his desires had already extinguished. He was overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord. Slowly, he opened his eyes to catch a glimpse of the Lord. He wanted to speak, but could not utter a word. One glimpse of the Divine made him complete – he felt all his desires had already been fulfilled.
The Divine, in the form of Narayana, was happy with his young devotee. He smiled as he spoke, “I know why you took this arduous task upon yourself. Whatever you wished for is granted. Once you go back, your father will crown you the king. You will always be connected with me. You will rule the world for thirty thousand years and ultimately you will reach me. You will also be assigned an eternal place in the celestial space. You will be the pole star.”
Narayana disappeared from Dhruvah’s sight. Dhruvah was, however, left with the beautiful memory. He was happy that he had met the Divine but, as an afterthought, he wondered why he did not ask for moksha (liberation).
Meanwhile, Sage Narada, had gone to meet Dhruvah’s father who was penitent about the way he treated his son. Sage Narada informed the King about the well-being of his son and Uttanpadah was too happy to welcome Dhruvah back to his kingdom.
In course of time, Dhruvah was crowned the King. After a glorious and righteous thirty thousand years, Dhruvah anointed his son as the king and proceeded to Badarikashrama to perform tapas (penance) and give up his mortal frame.
A glowing chariot arrived to welcome Dhruvah to his permanent abode as the pole star.
Footnote: Srimad Bhagavatam is often called the Bhagavad Purana. Authored by Ved Vyasa, the stories are about the various avatars (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, also known as Narayana.
Photos from the internet.
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