Once a boy called Dhruva went on an incredible quest to gain his own kingdom. No child had ever tried such a thing. Fearless, Dhruva eventually found real treasure beyond his imagination.
Prince Dhruva was son of the powerful King Uttanapada who ruled over lands that stretched to every corner of the world. The king had two wives; the elder one was Suniti, Dhruva’s mother and the younger one, Suruchi who had a son named Uttama.
One day in the king’s court, Dhruva, who was only five years old, watched his stepbrother Uttama playing in the king’s lap. Eager to join in, he reached for the throne. But to his surprise, Dhruva found himself pushed roughly away by his stepmother Suruchi.
“Get away Dhruva, you cannot sit in the king’s lap. You are not allowed. You should have been born as my son for that. Go pray to Lord Narayan that next time you gain that privilege,” the queen lashed out.
Suruchi watched stonily and triumphantly as Dhruva stumbled out of the court. She had a burning desire for her son to inherit the crown and kingdom and would do anything to ensure Uttama was most beloved to the king.
Dhruva ran to his mother’s chamber and fell into her arms sobbing.
“What is the matter Dhruva?” said Queen Suniti, as she wiped his tears away.
Dhruva told her the whole story. Trembling with anguish, he said, “I want a special and elevated position that no one can ever pull me down from.”
The queen smiled. “Well, your stepmother was right about one thing. Lord Narayana is the father of all fathers. He can fulfil all your wishes. Did you know that your great-grandfather, Lord Brahma, also worshipped Lord Narayan and was then inspired to create this whole universe?”
“That’s amazing, mother. I want to find Lord Narayan. Where is he, where?”
Suniti told Dhruva that sages and noble kings went to the forest to do yoga and meditation to worship Lord Narayan. After hundreds of years, if the Lord was pleased he would appear to them.
“I will go to the forest and do the same!” said Dhruva.
And that was it; Dhruva had made up his mind. All at once, he left the palace to go deep into the forest. Wandering around, he called out to Lord Narayana. But no one came. At nightfall, he heard sweet music drift from above and saw a mystical sage called Narada approach him.
“Young boy, don’t be so upset at your stepmother’s words. Go home and play with your friends. Come back to the forest when you are older,” he said.
But Dhruva refused to go home. Narada was so impressed with Dhruva’s resolve that he taught the boy a sacred mantra, Om Namo Bhagvate Vasudevaya, and gave instructions on the best way to find Lord Narayan.
Following the advice, Dhruva went to the banks of the Yamuna River and sat down to start his tapasya*. He concentrated his mind on the beautiful form of Lord Narayan, chanted the special mantra and gradually gave up all bodily comforts.
In the first month Dhruva ate only fruit, in the second month he ate only dry grass and in the third month he drank only water. By the fifth month, Dhruva could see Lord Narayan in his heart. He became so absorbed in love that he even stopped breathing. The whole universe trembled as he held his breath. No one could understand what was going on. The demigods in the heavens could not believe that a five-year-old boy had choked the universe’s breathing with his sincere practice and sheer determination.
By the sixth month, Lord Narayan was overcome with affection and eager to see Dhruva. He came in the night and filled the forest with a glowing brightness. He was enchanting; tall and handsome, wearing precious jewels that sparkled like stars. His eyes shone with kindness and his smile was filled with love and appreciation. In one hand he held a glistening white conch shell which he placed on Dhruva’s head. This divine touch filled Dhruva with the sweetest happiness he had ever known. All his worldly sorrows and wishes vanished and his heart surged with inspired prayers.
“My Lord, I foolishly worshipped you for a kingdom and power. It was like wishing for pieces of broken glass. But now I realise you are my greatest treasure. I seek nothing else but you,” said Dhruva.
Lord Narayan replied, “My dear Dhruva, I am so happy with you. I want to fulfil all your wishes. Behold the glowing Pole Star in the sky; it shines highest and brightest than all other stars. It is one of my spiritual planets and I give it to you. You will first enjoy an illustrious life as ruler over Earth and afterwards you will become king of the Pole Star kingdom forever. In this way, you will live eternally with me.”
Lord Narayan disappeared and Dhruva returned to his family. He grew up to be a great and glorious king, ruling over his father’s empire for 36,000 years. Towards the end of his life, Dhruva went back to the forest to mediate on Lord Narayan. At his death, he was taken by two divine messengers in a magical aeroplane to the sparkling Pole Star where he took up his eternal post as king of the brightest star in the constellation.
*Tapasya is Sanskrit for penance/spiritual sacrifice.