No collection of moral stories will be complete without the mention of Satya Harishcandra. His story is well known and praised by everyone. Truth is the most fundamental moral to be learnt by everyone and it is alone enough to reach God. The following is a small incident showing the satya vaak paripaalanam of Harishchandra:
When travelling in the forest, with his family and Nakshatraka to the great kaashi kshetram, Harishchandra sees un-controllable Daavaagni (forest fire) sorrounding them. They donot understand the reason for it and Nakshatraka worries a lot, not knowing any way of getting out of the fire. Harishchandra worries for a different reason. He was not worried for loosing his life, but if he dies in the agni, then he will not be able to return the debt to Vishwaamitra maharshi and thus will not be able to keep up his word.
Seeing this, Agnideva (sent by Vishwaamitra) tells them a way to cross the fire safely. He says anyone who says that his name is not his own name, can safely walk through him. Immediately Nakshatraka, to attract them to say a lie, says I name is not Nakshatraka and walks into the fires. Nothing happens to him and he walks back suggesting Harishchandra and his family to try out the same. Obviously Harishchandra will not say a lie, but gets worried since he will be not be able to repay Vishwaamitra maharshi. Seeing the worry of her husband, Chandramati devi does a stotram to agni saying that if she were a pativrata, then the agni must stop. Immediately the huge daavaagni vanishes and they cross the forest safely.
The whole episode of Vishwaamitra maharshi testing Harishchandra starts with a conversion at Indra Sabha: A discussion will be raised to zero-in on a vratam which anyone whether rich or poor, whether king or servant, kid or elder, male or female can follow, exists or not. Vasishta maharshi suggests that satya vratam (speaking truth always) is there and tells that Harishchandra is a firm follower of it. Vasishta and Vishwaamitra both challenge each other, Vasishta saying "In the impossible event of Harishchandra uttering a lie I will leave sandhyaavandanaadi aahnikas, japa, tapas, remove yagnyopavita, become Bhrasta, have wine and behave in a way co-rishis will hate me, throw me out of there community and eventually goto naraka!". Vishwaanitra says "If Harishchandra stands my tests I will give half of my till now earned entire tapashshakti, make him rule the earth for many years and for 14 manvantaras will make him occupy the ardha-simhaasanam of Indra". Harishchandra in the end qualifies the tests of Vishwaamitra, enjoys all these bhogas and in the end with Lord Shiva's anugraham gets Moksham.
Morals in the Story:
- Let even death may came, one must never leave the path of truth.
- Though a person has to face temporary difficulties for following the path of truth, in the end always truth only wins.
- The power of pativrata is enormous. It seems the power of Agni or howmuch ever tapashshakti cannot equal that of a pativrata. This is evident by the power of Chandramati devi.
निन्दन्तु नीतिनिपुणाः यदि वा स्तुवन्तु
लक्ष्मीः समाविशतु गच्छतु वा यथेष्टम्।
अद्यैव वा मरणमस्तु युगान्तरे वा
न्याय्यात्पथः प्रविचलन्ति पदं न धीराः॥
— भर्तृहरेः नीतिशतकम्
nindantu nītinipuṇāḥ yadi vā stuvantu
lakṣmīḥ āgacchatu gacchatu vā yatheṣṭam|
adyaiva maraṇamastu yugāantare vā
nyāyyātpathaḥ pravicalanti padaṁ na dhīrāḥ||
— bhartṛhareḥ nītiśatakam
“May those proficient in law praise or decry;
May the Goddess of Wealth come or go as she pleases;
Let Death come today or at the end of the yuga;
The resolute will not deviate from the path of righteousness!”