Harischandra was the
king Ayodhya. He was famous for his truthful nature. Vasishta was his preceptor and he was
proud of Harischandra. At a meeting of the court in heaven, one day Indra asked, "Who
is truthful on the earth?" Vasishta replied.
"Harischandra is truthful. He remains so under all trying circumstances and will
not utter a lie." Everyone agreed with Vasishta. Vishwamitra stood up. He nursed
ill-will against Vasishta. He said, "Devendra, what vasishta says is not true. Out of
his partiality for his disciple, he says that Harischandra is always truthful. We cannot
believe it. Who is there that will not utter a lie when he is in very
Vasishta did not agree with him. He said, "Harischandra will never utter a lie
whatever be 'the hardships."
There was controversy.
Vishwamitra declared "Lock, I shall make Harischandra utter lies. It I do
notsucceed, I shall make over all the merit of my tapas to him."
The assembly was over. Vasishta returned to his hermitage. He knew that Vishwamitra
would examine Harischandra in various ways and that Harischandra would be subjected to
severe tests in this course. But Vasishta did not say a word about it to Harischandra.
What is the greatness of a man if he is cautioned and then put to test? He did not bother
about it because he knew that a man of truth would always remain truthful.
Vishwamitra got ready to testHarischandra. His hatred of Vasishta was the only reason
for his entering into this controversy. He used all his learning to succeed in his plan.
He tookfrom Harischandra his kingdom by practising duplicity and cunning. Harischandra was
made a debtor; his queen Chandramati and son Lohitashwa had to go to Kashi along with him.
Even there he was pestered to repay the loan. He sold himself and his wife to pay back
the loan. But he did not utter a lie. He was reduced to the position of a servant of the
man who watched over the cemetery at Kashi and did the job for him. Even then he did not
utter a lie. Vishwamitra manipulated things in such a way that Harischandra was expected
to behead his wife. Even then Harischandra did not give up truth. Vishwamitra did not
succeed in his vow to make Harischandra utter a single lie even in the worst
circumstances. He accepted his defeat and made over the merit of his tapas to Harischandra
and went to forest to perform tapas. Vasishta was proved right.