Namaste! Today, it is all about the truthful Harishchandra. Have you heard about him? So, let’s go!
Kuvalashva’s descendant was Satyavrata. He was a righteous and kind king and took good care of his people. As he grew old, he passed on his throne to his son, Harishchandra. As Satyavrata lived a righteous life, he deserved ascension to heaven, but he wished to do so in his mortal body. He requested his Guru, Vashishta, to perform the rites, but he declined, saying that ascending to heaven in one’s mortal body is impossible. Satyavrata approached Vashishta’s son, Shakti, to help him. Shakti refused as he didn’t want to go against his father’s wishes. Satyavrata attempted to lure Shakti with wealth and fame, but the act angered Shakti. He cursed Satyavrata to turn into Trishanku, with horrible form and illnesses.
Upon his wanderings, Trishanku met the king turned ascetic, Kaushika. He narrated his story to Kaushika and asked for his help. Kaushika agreed and started the rituals for Trishanku’s departure. Soon, Trishanku started his ascension to heaven. Once he reached heaven, the Devas kicked him out, as no one in their mortal body can reach heaven. Kaushika was angry and stopped Trishanku’s descent from heaven halfway and constructed another heaven around him. The Devas requested Kaushika to stop this as it will be disastrous if Trishanku overtakes Indra. Kaushika agreed and said that the new heaven shall be called Trishanku’s heaven and the king shall reside in the heaven from now on. To ensure that Trishaku does not supersede Indra, Kaushika suspended him upside down in his heaven.
Thus concludes the story of Trishanku, who is suspended in his heaven.
Harishchandra was an honest, noble, and just king. Once, he was on a hunting expedition. He heard the cries of a woman asking for help. He rushed in the direction of the sound and found Sage Kaushika meditating there. The sound was produced by Lord Ganesha, to test the strength of Sage Kaushika’s penance. Seeing Harishchandra there, Ganesha entered his body and abused Sage Kaushika. Sage Kaushika was very angry. He lost all the power gained from the penance. Harishchandra regained his senses and apologized to the Sage, and promised to fulfill every desire of his. Sage Kaushika said, ‘Give me all that you have, your Kingdom, your wealth, and your subjects.’ Harishchandra gave him everything, but Sage Kaushika demanded more. He promised to give him more money after a month. Harishchandra, his wife Taramati, and his son Rohitashva left the palace and started living a simple life. Harishchandra’s subjects followed him too, but Sage Kaushika intervened and forbade them from following him. He beat the Queen with a stick to make them leave sooner. Seeing this, the five guardian deities questioned the Sage. Kaushika got enraged and cursed them to be born on earth as humans.
A month passed after Harishchandra and his family left their kingdom. They arrived in the holy city of Kashi and saw Sage Kaushika present there. The Sage demanded his donation, but Harishchandra said that there was still some time left.
Seeing Harishchandra’s condition, his wife, Taramati, requested him to sell her as a slave to get the money. Harishchandra refused, but Taramati pointed out that there was no other way, and he agreed. He sold her to a Brahmin as a slave, but Harishchandra’s son, Rohitashva, refused to leave his mother. Rohitashva was also sold to the Brahmin, Harishchandra took the money and gave it to Kaushika, but the money was not enough for him. Harishchandra sold himself to a Chandala (a person who works in a cremation ground) and paid the Sage. He started working in the cremation ground from then.
One day, when Rohitashva was plucking flowers for the Brahmin, a snake bit him, and he died. The devastated Taramati took her son’s body to the cremation ground to get it cremated. She met Harishchandra there, he was devastated to see his only son dead. He asked for some money to cremate his son’s body as it was customary to do so. Taramati didn’t have any money, so she tore half of her sari and gave it to Harishchandra as payment. Harishchandra and Taramati decided to give up their lives on their son’s cremation pyre.
Suddenly, Lord Vishnu himself appeared before them with all the other gods. The Chandala, who was Yama, the God of Death, revived Rohitashva. Vishnu explained that this was all a test to demonstrate their virtues and righteousness. Indra offered Harishchandra and his wife a position in Swarga, but Harishchandra wanted all of his subjects to go with him as they would suffer without him. Indra explained that it was not possible because it is decided whether someone goes to heaven or hell based on their deeds. Harishchandra decided to donate all his virtues to his subjects so that they could enter heaven. Seeing his love for his subjects, they were all granted a place in heaven. Meanwhile, in Ayodhya, Sage Kaushika brought new people to Ayodhya and made Rohitashva King.
That’s it for today! Stay tuned for the next parts!