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.