Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Story of Raja Bhartrihari

Story of Raja Bhartrihari

Once when Raja Bhartrihari was on his throne, a great Tapasvin or Rishi came to his court. Bhartrihari at once got up from his seat, and prostrating himself before the Tapasvin began to serve him in various ways. The sage being extremely pleased with the Raja's demeanour, gave him a fruit that could bestow upon the eater immortality and peace.

Now Raja Bhartrihari had a very beautiful queen of whom he was very enamoured and whom he very dearly loved. He thought that the only person who deserved this fruit was his young queen and none else, and so he took this God-sent gift to her and offered her the same. This young queen, though for all practical purposes the beloved of the Raja, had a paramour in the person of the charioteer who used to take her for drives now and then. She therefore took this fruit to him and gave him the same. Again this charioteer had a prostitute whom also he loved, and, accordingly, he gave the fruit to her.

Now, this prostitute thought that the only person who best deserved this fruit was Raja Bhartrihari himself, and so she took this fruit in her hands went to the Raja's palace and offered it to him. Raja Bhartrihari was simply mystified. He was unable to solve the problem as to how it could be possible for this prostitute to get the fruit that was the rightful possession of his queen.

After deep thought and great deliberation, he was able to solve the problem by himself. Just before this incident, Bhartrihari's brother who came to know of the queen's love for the king's charioteer had told Bhartrihari that the queen was an unchaste lady and that it was a great shame on the fair name of the royal family to keep a woman as queen in the palace when she secretly loved the king's charioteer. But the young queen rose equal to the occasion and brought forth evidences to disprove the validity of the charge against her and was able to prevail upon the king to exile his brother from the kingdom. After due investigation into the whole matter, with all the dexterity that he could command, Bhartrihari came to the conclusion that, after all, the charge brought against his queen by his brother was true and that he had been fooled by a woman to take the extreme step of exiling his own brother who loved him so dearly and who held as high the fair name of the royal family by zealously guarding it from insinuation and blot.

True Vairagya immediately dawned upon the king. He now thought that there was none in the world who was really dear to another, no, not even one's own wife or brother or friend. He became convinced that in fact these are one's real enemies. He felt extreme disgust for the world and its pleasures and at once left his kingdom, wife and children and retired into the forests to lead a life of a Sannyasin. He did profound meditation for many years and finally attained knowledge of Self. He wrote a book generally known as 'Bhartrihari's Vairagya Satakam, or the Hundred Verses of Renunciation' a perusal of which will produce immediate disgust for things mundane and induce one to renounce everything and lead the life of a recluse.

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