Raja Harishchandra, a King who never lied in his entire life time. A King who was a great ruler and always kept his promises. He was known for his truthiness among people. He was considered as son of King Trishanku. He lost his everything like his kingdom, wife, and children etc to keep his promises. He was from Gahadavala dynasty.
There are a lot of incidents which from his life which taught us how to keep your feet on the path of truth. According to one story, one day King Harishchandra went out for hunting in the forest. While hunting he heard the cries of a woman. He rushed toward the direction of her voice to help her. He realized that the voice is coming from the ashram of Vishwamitra.
Vishwamitra got disturbed in his meditation due to arrival of King Harishchandra and his wife, as a result he became angry. King harishchandra tried to cool his anger and promised to donate his kingdom to Vishwamitra. Vishwamitra accepted his kingdom as donation but also demanded dakshina to state the act of donation successful. King Harishchandra had donated his whole kingdom to vishvamitra, and he had nothing to give him anything as dakshina. He requested Vishwamitra to wait for one month for dakshina.
King Harishchandra was true to his word; he immediately left his kingdom and moved to Kashi along with his wife (Shaivya) and son (Rohitashwa). The time passes but he could not earn anything in Kashi. The period of one month promised by King to Vishwamitra was about to end. Shaibya requested him to sell her as a slave to get the money and offer it to sage vishvamitra as dakshina.
After so much of struggle Harishchandra sold his wife to a Brahmin. When he As was about to leave from the Brahmin’s house his son began to cry. King Harishchandra requested the Brahmin to buy his son also. The Brahmin agreed to his request. But the money king got was not enough to pay the dakshina. So Harishchandra sold himself as a slave to a person who works in a cremation ground named as chandala. He paid Vishwamitra his dakshina, and started working in the cremation ground for years.
Shaivya started working as a servant in the Brahmin’s house. One day, when his was playing in garden he plucked flowers for the Brahmin, suddenly a snake came and bit him. Snake was deadly result his suddent death. Shaivya took her son’s body to the cremation ground for his cremation. There she met her husband Harishchandra. Harishchandra filled with grief to see his only son’s dead body. To perform the cremation, he asked Shaivya for tax money but she did not have money.
Haishchandra was bound to his duty, so he could not cremate the body without tax. Shaivya was a pativrata and she respect her husband a lot. She never wanted her husband to give up his duty. At that time she said to her husband that, “The only property I have is this old sari which I am wearing. Kindly accept half of it as the tax and perform cremation.” King Harishchandra agreed to take the sari for performing cremation. Then they decided to give up their lives along with their son in his cremation fire.
Time when Shaivya tore her sari, Lord Vishnu appeared with all of the other gods. The chandala, who was actually incarnation of Lord Yama, showed his real form to everyone. He brought Rohitashwa back to life and gave them to his parents. King Harishchandra and his family passed the test take by Lord Vishnu with the help of other Gods. They had indicated great goodness and righteousness. All the gods blessed them with good future. Indra, who was king of Heaven asked King Harischandra to come to heaven with him. But he refused saying that he could not go to heaven with Indra, when his people were suffering without him in the world. He requested Lord Indra to take all his people to heaven.
Indra refused said that it was not possible because after death people go to heaven or hell depending on their deeds of their life. King Harishchandra then thought for a moment and said that he would donate all his good deeds to his people so that they could go to heaven. In return he would bear all the consequences of the sins of his people. The gods were very pleased after seeing Harischandra’s love for his subjects. They decided to take all the people of Ayodhya to heaven. After this Vishwamitra brought new people to Ayodhya and announce Rohitshwa the king.
By this incident from the life of Harishchandra inspires us to always keep promises no matter what the situation is. When due to his meditation of Vishvamitra destroyed, he was ready to have consequences. He never tried to run or hide from the situation or consequences. When he gave his kingdom to Vishvamitra as donation and vishmitramitra demanded dakshina from him, he agreed without any argument and respected his words.
Harishchandra can betray Vishvamitra by never coming back but he did not did this, instead of doing this he tried to earn money. As a result he sold his wife and son to a Brahmin because they both devoted their lives to Harishchandra. Then he sold himself as well to a Chandala and gave money to Vishmitra as dakshina.
When his wife came with his dead son’s body, he refused to do cremation without tax. We can see here how dedicated and bound he was toward his duty; he never did any difference or gave priority to his relation. He always did what is right for the sake of his Dharma and duty. When he realized that his wife and son will leave this world, the thought came in his mind that he will also leave the world with them.
Time when Indra insisted him to come to heaven, besides accepting his offer he requested indra to take his people with him as well. This shows he was a dedicated king who think about his people first and from himself after everybody. He always wanted fortune for his people. Rather going to heaven for his deeds he decided to give his virtue to his people and was ready to suffer all the consequences of sins of his people. Which taught us that it is very easy to share someone happiness but it is very difficult to share someone’s sorrows and if you can do this you are a great human being.
All the sufferings done by Raja Harischandra was mentione by sage vishwamitra himself to demonstrate a good example of king’s truthfulness to the entire world. The name ‘Harishchandra’ is translated as truthfulness and honesty. It was this story which was told by Lord Krishna to Yudhishtira, and help him to get over his adversities. It is also believed that this story helped Gandhiji to see the path of truth.
This story of Raja Harischandra notice enduring interest, and still today light up lives of many. His name is written in the Vedas and his character developed through the Puranas. After which it finally entered into showers of poetry, and is still effect the life of many people throughout the world. The story will surely powerful and remains for as much time as the path of truth continues.