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HARISCHANDRA

The First Test

Harischandra who had aloving wife, an affectionate son, a clever minister and devoted subjects was unaware of the oaths and counter-oaths taken by the sages Vasishta and Vishwamitra in Indra's celestial court. On returning to earth Vishwamitra carefully considered for some time Harischandra's polity, his ways and means. He seriously pondered how best he could tempt him into the path of false- hood. Why not mulct all his wealth, ruin him and force him into a situation in which he would be compelled to tell lies?

One day the king was busy in the midst of fun and frolic. Some followers of the sage Vishwamitra, approached him and described to him the details of a religious sacrifice called Bahu Suvarna Yaga.' They persuaded him that he was the most qualified person to observe the sacrifice. The king agreed. He promised to conduct the sacrifice with the co-operation of the sages. A special feature of the observance was that a king should be limit less in his bounty in giving away gifts after the sacrifice. A king should never deny and gift to anybody however cruelly exacting the demands might be. Harischandra was aware of this stipulation. He completed the yaga with great eclat. The poor and the needy were fully satisfied. But Vishwamitra resented the success of Harischandra. He continued his schemes and intrigues.

He came to the king. The king welcomed and honored him with his customary courtesy and hospitality. He asked the sage what he could do for him. The sage said without any qualms of conscience, I have come to collect my gifts on the occasion of the sacrifice." Harischandra readily deferred. The sage spelt out his demands. A man should stand up on the back of an elephant and toss a coin reaching a certain height. The king, Vishwamitra demanded, should amass and pile up money and jewels so as to measure up to the said limit and gift it away to him. The king granted the demand unhesitatingly and begged the sage to accept it. Vishwamitra was bewildered. He had failed in attempt to demoralize the king and bamboozle him into promise. He left all the gifts with the king and went away saying that I would send for them whenever he needed them. He went back to 1hermitage, crestfallen. Harischandra had, emerged triumphant in the initial test.

Vishwamitra was awfully worried. He wondered how he would fulfil the oath he had taken in Devendra court. What a shame it would be he failed! What was worse, this Harischandra's fame was spreading and wide. What was he to do next? He thought of another plan. Some

men have money-power. Some have soul- power. Some others draw sustenance from their position and prestige. Vishwamitra decided to wean away the king to his hermitage and try the power and spell of his status on him. I shall see how he can afford to stick to truth,' he said to himself. He used his magical powers and created a number of wild animals. He let them loose in the kingdom and they plagued the people.

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Vishwamithra offered to part with half of the religious merit gathered
by him, if Harischandra's total honesty was established
About Harischandra
Introduction
"The Child Shall Be Sacrificed"
Rohitashwa
The Scales From The Eyes Fell
The Feud In Heaven
hand.gif (968 bytes) The First Test
Back To The Sage's Hermitage
The Magic Damsels
"Give Me Your Kingdom"
"Where Is My Fees?"
Nakshatraka
Wife And Son For Sale
The Watchman Of The Cremation Ground
The Son's Dead Body In The Mother's Arms
The Reunion Of The Family - How ?
Death Penalty For Chandramati
"This Is My Wish And You May Strike The Blow"
The Ever Truthful Harischandra
A Secred Story
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