The Vishnu Purana

by Horace Hayman Wilson | 1840 | 287,946 words | ISBN-10: 8171102127

The English translation of the Vishnu Purana. This is a primary sacred text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism. It is one of the eighteen greater Puranas, a branch of sacred Vedic literature which was first committed to writing during the first millennium of the common era. Like most of the other Puranas, this is a complete narrative from the cr...

Chapter XI - Legend of Dhruva, the son of Uttanapada

Legend of Dhruva, the son of Uttānapāda: he is unkindly treated by his father's second wife: applies to his mother: her advice: he resolves to engage in religious exercises: sees the seven Ṛṣis, who recommend him to propitiate Viṣṇu.

Parāśara continued:—

I mentioned to you, that the Manu Svāyambhuva had two heroic and pious sons, Priyavrata and Uttānapāda. Of these two, the latter had a son whom he dearly loved, Uttama, by his favourite wife Suruci. By his queen, named Sunīti, to whom he was less attached, he also had a son, called Dhruva[1]. Observing his brother Uttama on the lap of his father, as he was seated upon his throne, Dhruva was desirous of ascending to the same place; but as Suruci was present, the Rāja did not gratify the desire of his son, respectfully wishing to be taken on his father's knee. Beholding the child of her rival thus anxious to be placed on his father's lap, and her own son already seated there, Suruci thus addressed the boy: “Why, child, do you vainly indulge in such presumptuous hopes? You are born from a different mother, and are no son of mine, that you should aspire inconsiderately to a station fit for the excellent Uttama alone. It is true you are the son of the Rāja, but I have not given you birth. This regal throne, the seat of the king of kings, is suited to my son only; why should you aspire to its occupation? why idly cerish such lofty ambition, as if you were my son? do you forget that you are but the offspring of Sunīti.”

The boy, having heard the speech of his step-mother, quitted his father, and repaired in a passion to the apartment of his own mother; who, beholding him vexed, took him upon her lap, and, gently smiling, asked him what was the cause of his anger, who had displeased him, and if any one, forgetting the respect due to his father, had behaved ill to him. Dhruva, in reply, repeated to her all that the arrogant Suruci had said to him in the presence of the king. Deeply distressed by the narrative of the boy, the humble Sunīti, her eyes dimmed with tears, sighed, and said, “Suruci has rightly spoken; thine, child, is an unhappy fate: those who are born to fortune are not liable to the insults of their rivals. Yet be not afflicted, my child, for who shall efface what thou hast formerly done, or shall assign to thee what thou hast left undone. The regal throne, the umbrella of royalty, horses and elephants, are his whose virtues have deserved them: remember this, my son, and be consoled. That the king favours Suruci is the reward of her merits in a former existence. The name of wife alone belongs to such as I, who have not equal merit. Her son is the progeny of accumulated piety, and is born as Uttama: mine has been born as Dhruva, of inferior moral worth. Therefore, my son, it is not proper for you to grieve; a wise man will be contented with that degree which appertains to him: but if you continue to feel hurt at the words of Suruci, endeavour to augment that religious merit which bestows all good; be amiable, be pious, be friendly, be assiduous in benevolence to all living creatures; for prosperity descends upon modest worth as water flows towards low ground.”

Dhruva answered; “Mother, the words that you have addressed to me for my consolation find no place in a heart that contumely has broken. I will exert myself to obtain such elevated rank, that it shall be revered by the whole world. Though I be not born of Suruci, the beloved of the king, you shall behold my glory, who am your son. Let Uttama my brother, her child, possess the throne given to him by my father; I wish for no other honours than such as my own actions shall acquire, such as even my father has not enjoyed.”

Having thus spoken, Dhruva went forth from his mother's dwelling: he quitted the city, and entered an adjoining thicket, where he beheld seven Munis sitting upon hides of the black antelope, which they had taken from off their persons, and spread over the holy kusa grass. Saluting them reverentially, and bowing humbly before then, the prince said, “Behold in me, venerable men, the son of Uttānapāda, born of Sunīti. Dissatisfied with the world, I appear before you.” The Ṛṣis replied; “The son of a king, and but four or five years of age, there can be no reason, child, why you should be dissatisfied with life; you cannot be in want of any thing whilst the king your father reigns; we cannot imagine that you suffer the pain of separation from the object of your affections; nor do we observe in your person any sign of disease. What is the cause of your discontent? Tell us, if it is known to yourself.”

Dhruva then repeated to the Ṛṣis what Suruci had spoken to him; and when they had heard his story, they said to one another, “How surprising is the vehemence of the Kṣetriya nature, that resentment is cerished even by a child, and he cannot efface from his mind the harsh speeches of a step-mother. Son of a Kṣetriya, tell us, if it be agreeable to thee, what thou hast proposed, through dissatisfaction with the world, to accomplish. If thou wishest our aid in what thou hast to do, declare it freely, for we perceive that thou art desirous to speak.”

Dhruva said; “Excellent sages, I wish not for riches, neither do I want dominion: I aspire to such a station as no one before me has attained. Tell me what I must do to effect this object; how I may reach an elevation superior to all other dignities.” The Ṛṣis severally thus replied.—Marīci said; “The best of stations is not within the reach of men who fail to propitiate Govinda. Do thou, prince, worship the undecaying (Achyuta).” Atri said; “He with whom the first of spirits, Janārddana, is pleased, obtains imperishable dignity. I declare unto you the truth.” Aṅgiras said; “If you desire an exalted station, worship that Govinda in whom, immutable and undecaying, all that is, exists.” Pulastya said; “He who adores the divine Hari, the supreme soul, supreme glory, who is the supreme Brahma, obtains what is difficult of attainment, eternal liberation.” “When that Janārddana,” observed Kratu, “who in sacrifices is the soul of sacrifice, and who in abstract contemplation is supreme spirit, is pleased, there is nothing man may not acquire.” Pulaha said; “Indra, having worshipped” the lord of the world, obtained the dignity of king of the celestials. Do thou adore, pious youth, that Viṣṇu, the lord of sacrifice." “Any thing, child, that the mind covets,” exclaimed Vaśiṣṭha, “may be obtained by propitiating Viṣṇu, even though it he the station that is the most excellent in the three worlds.”

Dhruva replied to them; “You have told me, humbly bending before you, what deity is to be propitiated: now inform me what prayer is to he meditated by me, that will offer him gratification. May the great Ṛṣis, looking upon me with favour, instruct me how I am to propitiate the god.” The Ṛṣis answered; “Prince, thou deservest to hear how the adoration of Viṣṇu has been performed by those who have been devoted to his service. The mind must first be made to forsake all external impressions, and a man must then fix it steadily on that being in whom the world is. By him whose thoughts are thus concentrated on one only object, and wholly filled by it; whose spirit is firmly under control; the prayer that we shall repeat to thee is to be inaudibly recited: ‘Om! glory to Vāsudeva, whose essence is divine wisdom; whose form is inscrutable, or is manifest as Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva[2].’ This prayer, which was formerly uttered by your grandsire, the Manu Svāyambhuva, and propitiated by which, Viṣṇu conferred upon him the prosperity he desired, and which was unequalled in the three worlds, is to be recited by thee. Do thou constantly repeat this prayer, for the gratification of Govinda.”

Footnotes and references:


The Matsya, Brāhma, and Vāyu Purāṇas speak of but one wife of Uttānapāda, and call her Sunritā: they say also that she had four sons, Apaspati (or Vasu), Ayushmanta, Kīrttimat, and Dhruva. The Bhāgavata, Padma, and Nāradīya have the same account as that of the text.


The instructions of the Ṛṣis amount to the performance of the Yoga. External impressions are first to be obviated by particular positions, modes of breathing, &c.: the mind must then be fixed on the object of meditation; this is Dhārana: next comes the meditation, or Dhyāna; and then the Japa, or inaudible repetition of a Mantra, or short prayer; as in the text. The subject of the Yoga is more fully detailed in a subsequent book.

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