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34: Narada: Part 5 - Teaching Dhruva

"Father, as you know, Dhruva was born a son of the King Uttaanpaada - the son of Svayambhuva Manu - and his first wife Suniti. But the king also had another son Uttama, born to his second queen Suruchi. Now the king loved Suruchi more, and so naturally Uttama commanded more respect even as a child, and even when he was younger to Dhruva."

"Once, when Dhruva was about five years of age, the two princes playfully raced towards their father's lap. Uttama secured a place on the king's lap, but when Dhruva reached he asked a place too. Uttama's mother Suruchi saw this and insulted Dhruva. The little child got very upset and went weeping to his mother. He asked her if he can ever get a place where no-one will be able to him from. Suniti was as such much distraught, but being helpless, she asked her son to leave that in Shri Vishnu's hands."

"Dhruva took this seriously. He decided that he will observe penance in meditation of the Lord and thus seek for himself his rightful place. The poor little child left for the forest - which is now called Madhuvan (modern day Mathura) - and went and sat on a rock. However, his resolve alone would not have helped as the child he was, he did not know how to observe penance. He just fasted and waited for something to happen - for Vishnu to appear and grant him his wish."

"When I learnt of this, I was so impressed with the little child's resolve, that I decided to intervene and help. I appeared before him and tried to desist him from assuming a severe austerity upon himself at such a tender age. But, Dhruva's fierce determination knew no bounds. I was so astonished, I did not know what to tell the poor little child. Finally, I decided to teach him whatever I knew. He asked me what to concentrate on, and I described Hari's glory to him, in such great detail that Dhruva could almost picture the lord in his mind. Then I taught him some rituals and mantras, and I spoke with him for a long time, and finally asked him to chant "OM NAMO BHAGAVTE VAASUDEVAYA".

"The child took everything to heart, and started chanting. He was the most obedient pupil I have ever had. His pure heart made the mantra one of the most powerful ones. I left the Dhruva to his penance. The boy went without food and water for six months, his mind fixed on the Lord. "

"The austerity of his penance shook the heavens, so powerful and effective was his penance, that Lord Vishnu finally appeared before him. Hari tells me the experience, and I still get goosebumps when I hear it. It seems the child would not open his eyes because he was still merged in his inner vision of Vishnu's form as I had described to him."

"Now what to do? Vishnu was in a fix. He finally had to over-ride Dhruva's inner vision so that Dhruva could open his eyes and see the actual Vishnu. Immediately Dhruva opened his eyes, and, seeing outside what he had been seeing all along in his mental vision, prostrated himself before the Lord.

But he could not utter a single word. The Lord touched his right cheek by his divine conch and that sparked off his speech. Out poured forth a beautiful poem of praise of the Lord in 12 powerful verses, which are now called Dhruva-stuti. What a beautiful poem that is! ... I have spent my entire life chanting Hari naam, but even I cannot think of something so pure and beautiful."

"You know the rest. Dhruva returned to his kingdom, to be warmly received by his family, and attained the crown at the tender age of six. After decades of ruling the country in a fair and just manner, Dhruva left his mortal coils and became the "North Star" (or "Pole Star"), as sanctified by the Lord. Even today the people of Earth call the North Star Dhruva in memory of the child."

Narada stopped. He looked at his father, who seemed deep in thought.

"Yes, yes" Brahma looked back, coming out of a trance. No matter how much life there was on the Earth, a child's innocent heart always fascinated him with the possibilities it held. He smiled.

"What a lovely story!" he said after a while, a little hesitant - trying to broach a topic he was not sure whether he should, " did you not feel like having a child of your own sometime? You seem to do so well with the young lads."

"Oh father", Narada laughed, "one time is enough. You know how Hari, in his birth as Krishna, made me go through the whole experience. The sense of attachment is just too much for me".

"I have heard from Vishnu about this incident. Tell me in detail what exactly happened"

"I will tell you, but first, I will get you something to eat"

- Shreekant
11 March 2009