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How a lost young boy became an eternal lodestar for humanity

The tale of Dhruva illustrates the profound lesson of surrendering one’s worries and troubles to the divine. Dhruva’s story, recounted in the Canto 4, Chapter 8-12 of Srimad Bhagavatam and Vishnu Purana, delves into the remarkable journey of a young boy who, despite numerous challenges, emerges as a beacon of devotion, a Para Bhakta. 

Dhruva’s lineage traces back to Swayambhu Manu, who holds the distinction of being the first human. King Uttanapada, Manu’s son, was Dhruva’s father. He had two wives: Suniti and Suruchi. Suniti, hailing from a tribal background, was Dhruva’s mother, while Suruchi, the daughter of an opulent king, was the mother of Uttama, Dhruva’s younger brother.

Uttanapada’s heart favoured Suruchi for her beauty and opulence, even though Suniti was always kind-hearted and gentle. Suruchi coveted the throne for her son, and viewed Dhruva as a hindrance to her son’s ascension as the royal heir to the throne because he was older than Uttama. Fuelled by her envy, she orchestrated their banishment from the palace, leaving Suniti and Dhruva to live outside the palace, while enjoying the royal pleasures herself. 

Here, Dhruva found refuge in the stories of Sriman Narayana narrated by his mother. Still, his little yearning heart often led him to the palace. One day, when the boys were children, both five years old, Uttanapada set Uttama on his lap and was caressing him and playing fondly with him. Dhruva saw this and came innocently to try and climb onto his father’s lap, as well, yearning for his father’s love and affection. But Uttanapada pushed him away roughly. Queen Suruchi laughed viciously. She said, “It’s a pity you were born from another woman. You will never climb onto your father’s lap, or for that matter, onto his throne. If you want your father’s love, pray to Narayana that, in your next birth, you are born as my son. That is the only way your father will ever love you.”

Her words pierced Dhruva’s heart like a sword. But being spurned by his father hurt a thousand times more. His little chest heaved, tears flowed down his face, and he hissed like a serpent beaten with a stick. All the while, his father never said a word. Dhruva ran from there to his mother, the gentle Suniti. He fell sobbing into her lap and could not speak. Some young women of the harem told Suniti what Suruchi said to Dhruva, and how the king said not a word in protest but pushed Dhruva off his lap. Tears flowed down Suniti’s face. Being a Narayana Bhakta herself, she did not deny Surushi’s words. Indeed, she confirmed, only Narayana can help him earn fatherly affection. A steely resolve to find fatherly affection surged in Dhruva. He left for the forest to call upon Narayana. 

Amidst the embrace of a forest as ancient as time itself, Dhruva embarked on a journey into the wilderness, leaving behind the comforts of his home. His cries, echoing like a prayer on the wind, found an unlikely audience. Sage Narada, a devotee steeped in celestial wisdom, heard the plea of the young 5-year-old seeker and followed the melody of his voice.

Narada’s arrival became a threshold, a test of Dhruva’s resolve. He urged Dhruva to return to the fold of his family, to bask in the innocence of childhood. Yet, Dhruva’s fervour surpassed such counsel. He stood steadfast in his quest for the divine. 

Hearing the child’s sweet voice, seeing his resolve and recognising his ardour, Narada was moved to tears. Perhaps, he saw before him an image of himself, when he had been Dhruva’s age. The Muni said, “Dhruva, your mother has already shown you the right way. Lord Vishnu is your only refuge. So, if you absolutely must, go to the Madhuvana on the banks of the Yamuna. Narayana is always there. Bathe thrice a day, at each sandhya, in the holy waters. Then sit in a comfortable yogasana, set your mind on the form of the Lord, and worship him with this mantra.” 

Narada described Lord Vishnu’s form in great detail and asked him to meditate on his Swaroopa. He then initiated him in the sacred mantra by which he could summon Mahavishnu to him. “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya”. “This is the Lord’s mantra, my child. Worship him with it, and he will give you whatever your heart wants.”

Dhruva prostrated himself at Narada’s feet. Narada blessed Dhruva and watched the child stride away on his little legs.

With this key to unlock the door to divinity, Dhruva walked to Madhuban and sat under a Kadamba tree on the banks of Yamuna, the holy river. 

Under the gentle canopy of this sacred haven, Dhruva’s meditation commenced—a voyage into the heart of devotion. Dhruva reached the Madhuvana and began his tapasya, just as Narada had taught him. He bathed in the midnight blue waters of the sacred river and sat on a bed of kusa grass in the svastikasana. He controlled his breath in pranayama, and began to meditate on the Lord’s Form, as Narada had described it to him, and chanted, in his mind, the mantra the Muni had taught him. Dhyana came naturally, effortlessly, to Dhruva. Quickly, he became absorbed – the kind of absorption that the greatest Rishis find after many lifetimes of Sadhana.

The mantra Narada bestowed upon him became a thread connecting him to the universe, each syllable a gentle caress against his wounded heart. The wilderness became his sanctuary, the stars his silent audience, as he delved deeper into meditation. Time became a mere whisper as Dhruva’s dedication intensified, transcending the boundaries of his young self.

The first month, Dhruva ate the fruits, Kapittha and Badara, that he found in the forest. He ate once in three days. The second month he ate only grass and dry leaves, every sixth day. The third month, only water passed his lips every ninth day. The fourth month, he neither drank nor ate anything; only the breath he drew sustained him. Soon, he breathed only once every twelve days.

Months passed like whispers in the wind, as Dhruva’s heart danced in the rhythm of devotion. His existence became a meditation, his every heartbeat a prayer echoing the mantra “OM NAMO BHAGAVATE VASUDEVAYA.” Gradually, his connection to the world waned, his consciousness narrowing to a single focus—Narayana.

As his devotion echoed through the universe, the cosmos stirred. Dhruva’s unwavering faith rippled through existence itself, stirring the very essence of creation. The universe, a willing participant, bowed to his unrelenting spirit.

His  tapasya dismayed the Devas in their heaven. It kindled the  spirit fire through their subtle realms. They sought to disturb the child. They sent tigers, serpents and evil spirits to frighten Dhruva. But he was so absorbed in the Lord’s mantra that he did not notice these beasts and ghouls. Then came the fifth month of Dhruva’s tapasya, and the child stopped breathing. Now, only the mantra, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, held his life in his body. 

Dhruva withdrew his senses from their objects and his mind into his soul, his Atman. Standing on one leg, still as a post, in Dharana, he meditated on the Brahman. The Earth tilted to one side, like a ferry carrying an elephant, when five-year-old Dhruva pressed down on it with his big toe to find balance. The three worlds began to quake with Dhruva’s tapasya. When Dhruva stopped breathing, all the Gods and all their creatures could not breathe anymore. The Devas came rushing to Lord Vishnu. Indra cried, “Lord, none of us, no living creature, can breathe because Dhruva holds his breath. Have mercy, Hari, make the child stop his dhyana.”

Lord Vishnu said with a smile, “Dhruva has merged his soul in mine, in the Brahmam. That is why none of you can breathe. But I will go to him now. I must bless him, he is my Para Bhakta.”

As galaxies held their breath and constellations bowed in reverence, divinity itself descended—Lord Vishnu, seated upon the wings of Garuda. Dhruva, seeker of the divine, was to meet his coveted deity, a fragile mortal standing before the ethereal.

When Maha Vishnu arrived at the banks of the Yamuna, Dhruva suddenly found his heart empty of the image of the Lord he was absorbed in.  He found himself waking from samadhi, his trance. He opened his eyes and saw the Blue God before him. The splendour of Maha Vishnu dazzled his senses. The child prostrated himself before Bhagwan;  like a stick falling off a wall; so thin had he become! 

Then he looked up, his eyes full of absolute love, as if he would drink the Lord down into his little body with his gaze. He held out his arms, as if he embraced the Lord. There was such a radiant smile on Dhruva’s face, and his eyes streamed tears of joy. He rose and stood staring rapturously at the Lord. Maha Vishnu saw his lips move, but no word came from them.

Narayana knew what Dhruva wanted. He wanted to praise his God, but being a child, he hadn’t the words. Gently, Sri Vishnu touched Dhruva’s cheek with the Panchajanya, his conch that is an embodiment of the Vedas. At once, the child had the gift of immaculate speech. With a touch bearing the weight of cosmic blessings, Dhruva birthed a cascade of verses. A hymn of devotion, a melody of gratitude, gushed forth from Dhruva’s mouth, birthing the famed Dhruva Stuti.

In Sri Vishnu’s presence, Dhruva’s desires distilled into a single prayer—a desire to live eternally in the sweet remembrance of the divine. As the skies above listened, Lord Vishnu, in his benevolence, imparted wisdom. He welcomed Dhruva to the lap of learning, bestowing divine knowledge, fatherly love and a sense of belonging upon him.

With sagely understanding, Mahavishnu illuminated the path ahead. Dhruva’s life was to be intertwined with the realm of mortals. 

Before melting out of Dhruva’s sight, Bhagwan said, “Dhruva, I am Yagna. When you are a king, you will worship me with a thousand great yagnas, to bless the earth. And when you come to me at the end of your life, you will not return to samsara, to this world of births and deaths. Why, Dhruva, then you shall have my kingdom to rule!”

Thus tasked with ruling a kingdom to ensure the happiness of his subjects and their freedom from suffering, Dhruva accepted his mortal responsibility with grace. Sri Vishnu promised him an eternal purpose, a life as a star, a celestial beacon, in the form of the Pole Star, even after Dhruva’s earthly sojourn concluded.

Meanwhile, Uttanapada, Dhruva’s earthly father of this life, grieved  the loss of his young son. Narada appeared before him to inform him about Dhruva’s unparalleled penance. When Dhruva returned home at Sri Hari’s behest, his father welcomed him  with open arms. He went on to rule for 36000 years. Then, he rose to the sky as Dhruv Tara, also called the North Star.

The liberation of the little boy Dhruva within 6 months of commencing his Sadhana on Sri Hari caused a ripple of dissatisfaction among the scores of other saints and Rishis meditating upon Prabhu’s divine form to attain liberation. They had meditated for years, and were yet to even catch a glimpse of the supreme divinity. This young five-year-old had achieved liberation in six months and returned to rule a kingdom. The apparent unfairness started eating into their hearts and minds.

Once again, Narada muni appeared to remedy their wrongful perception. As per Mahavishnu’s instructions, Narada takes all the saints on a boat ride along the river that flowed in the jungle. During the crossing, they see an enormous white mountain. Struck by the beauty of the mysterious mountain, they implore Devarshi Narada to tell them more about it. That’s when Narada revealed that it is a mountain made of human bones, of different people over different lifetimes. All of them were previous incarnations of Dhruva across various lifetimes where he spent his life in the Sadhana of Sri Hari. The saints finally understood that the fruits of pure-hearted sadhana accrued over several lifetimes finally leads to liberation. 

And so, the tale of Dhruva unfolds—a story of devotion, resilience, and a cosmic embrace. His triumph over adversity, his unwavering faith, have made him a lodestar for generations to come, lighting the way for seekers in search of solace amidst life’s storms.

🌼Hari Anant, Hari Kripa Ananta!🌼

🌼🐚Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya 🐚🌼

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