KING HARISHCHANDRA OF SOLAR DYNASTY
King Harishchandra was the most loveble son of Trishanku, and the 34th king of the Solar dynasty.
His legend is very popular and often told as a benchmark for an ideal life. He was renowned for his piety and justice. His name in Sanskrit means "having golden splendour". He had two unique qualities - the first being, he kept his word and never went back on what he uttered as a promise; the other being, he never uttered a lie in his life. These twin qualities were tested heavily in his lifetime by various circumstances that led him to penury and separation from his family. But he stood by his principles in the face of all ordeals and persevered to become a symbol of courage.
Though reduced to a state of utter helplessness by the sage Vishwamitra – as the Puranic story goes - Harishchandra never lost his humility, faith or his honour. Later Vishwamitra narrated the origin and the consequence of the feud between Vasishta and himself which were the cause of the sufferings of Harishchandra and his family and thus called it all an illusory drama. It seems the powerful and arrogant clergy in collusion with inimical forces dislodged the noble king and he had to spend some youthful years in exile in the neighbouring Varanasi but he regained his throne with strong public support after defeating the designs of his rivals. His capital lay between Ayodhya and Varanasi, probably on the banks of river Gomti.Many mythical episodes were later coined casting aspertions on his truthfulness by zealous rivals of no significance.
This simple historic fact was later mythologised and the name of venerable sage Vishwamitra was dragged in the story only to vilify him. An attempt was made earlier also by the insurgents with a great military force during the reign of Asitbahu – about eight generations earlier
King Harishchandra stands as a beacon of truth amongst all the illustrious and renowned kings of India. He, as already stated, stood steadfast in his determination to do his duty in the face of severe obstacles, impediments and difficulties that would have deterred any other ordinary mortal.
He was a very just and caring king, loved by all his subjects. There was no want in his kingdom and people lived in comfort and happiness. Ancient records reveal that he had performed a Rajasuya yajña and was acknowledged as an emperor. Harishchandra's character is indelibly etched in the minds of the Indians and his story is of perennial interest. It will last for as long as the value of truth lasts. It illumines our life. It was this story which helped Prince Yudhishtra to get over his adversities. It occurs in the Mahabharata and also in the Puranas, and has been repeatedly immortalized in poetry, cinema and in drama. It took its origin in the early literature, flowed through the Puranas, ran into cascades of poetry, and has continued to enrich the life of our people. He was succeeded by his son Rohita or Rohitashwa.
Harishchandra lived the life of truthfulness and soon became renowned as “Satyavrata” – an observer of truth.