Dhruv – The Pole Star
One time long, long ago, a while after the Earth was created, there was a kingdom ruled by King Uttanpad. The king had two wives, Suruchi and Suniti. The two queens each had a son. Queen Suruchi was the second wife of the king and had a son named Uttam. Queen Suniti was the first wife of the king and had the eldest son, Dhruv.
Queen Suruchi was the king’s favorite queen. It is important to know what the name Suruchi means; it means to desire what the senses ask for, which could be a possible reason why the king had a weakness for her. The name Suniti however means that which is correct. While the king loved her and her son Uttam, he ignored his first queen Suniti and her son. Once, Uttam sat in his father’s lap, Dhruv also sat beside his stepbrother. When queen Suruchi saw this, she shouted at him, “You cannot sit there. If you want to sit in the king’s lap you shall have to prove your worthiness and undergo serious penance or be born from me.”
Humiliated Dhruv ran to his mother, Queen Suniti, crying. He was trying to fight back the angry tears that were streaming down his eyes as he told his mother what had happened. She comforted him and told him, “Pray to Sri Vishnu, he will help you if you can pray long and hard enough.” Dhruv couldn’t bear this and went to the forest to please Sri Vishnu, just as his mother had said.
On the way he met Naradji, who tried to stop him. He said to Dhruv, “You are just a small child. How will you bear the winter’s cold and the summer heat? Go back home.” Dhruv replied to Naradji, “O learned sage! Even at the cost of my life and all the harsh conditions of the forest, I will prove myself worthy to sit in the lap of the king, my father, by undergoing great penance and pleasing God.” Penance means to fast, to meditate and to live a very simple life.
Naradji was pleased with Dhruv’s dedication and fearlessness and he showed Dhruv the place and the method to practice penance. Naradji taught Dhruv, the technique of prayer and asked him to chant the mantra: ‘Om namo Bhagvate Vasudevaaya’’
Dhruv reached a place in the forest called Madhuvan. He stood on one leg and started praying to God. Dhruv was so absorbed in his penance that the difficulties of forest life did not affect him at all. For the 1st month he subsisted on fruit and meditated for 3 days at a stretch. For the 2nd month, he meditated for 6 days at a stretch. For the 3rd month, Dhruv meditated for 9 days at a stretch and subsisted on only leaves. For the 4th month, he meditated for 12 days at a stretch and subsisted on only water from the Yamuna River. For the 5th month Dhruv meditated for 15 days at a stretch, and renounced water as well. By the 6th month Dhruv decided that he would stay put in the same position until Sri Vishnu appeared.
One day Sri Vishnu stood in front of Dhruv, he did not open his eyes as he was already seeing Sri Vishnu within his own heart. Sri Vishnu made the form that Dhruv was witnessing within himself, disappear! Dhruv became restless and opened his eyes and behold, Sri Vishnu was standing outside! Pleased with his devotion, Sri Vishnu appeared before Dhruv. “I am pleased with your devotion. Tell me, what do you wish?” Sri Vishnu asked Dhruv. Dhruv asked for that which the God wished to give him. Sri Vishnu’s wish was that Dhruv should return to his kingdom.
In the meantime, King Uttanpad repented the injustice done to Dhruv. He was heartbroken and very worried that his son might be killed and eaten by wild beasts. Naradji consoled him, telling him that Dhruv’s resolve was firm and that he had received Sri Vishnu’s blessings and be protected by him.
When Dhruv finally returned home safely, King Uttanpad went personally to greet him. Queen Suniti was overjoyed at her son’s safe return. As time went on, Dhruv became the king and ruled wisely for many years.
Sri Vishnu knew that Dhruv had started his penance because he had wanted to sit in his father’s lap. Dhruv was transported to the highest point of heaven, where he sits on Sri Vishnu’s lap as the North Pole Star. The Dhruv tara (star) is the brightest star which will guide the misguided to their final divine destination.
Dhruv’s story shows us that at one point or another of our life we all encounter situations that are unfair. Instead of focusing on our misfortunes, sincere meditation on God can help us to overcome the obstacles of our daily lives through God’s grace.