THE DIFFERENCE IN DEVOTION AND KNOWLEDGE

                                                 OF THE THREE FAMOUS CHILDREN – PART 1

We all know of the devotion and knowledge of the three famous children in the scriptures – Dhruva, prahlad and Nachiketa.  In this article with two parts, I would like to share with you the brief story of the three children and my view on this topic.

The story of Dhruva comes in fourth skanda, chapter eight of Srimad Bhagavata.  Child Dhruva belonged to a Kshatriya family.  His father was a king and his grandfather was Suyambhuva manu.  His mother was Sunithi and he was always insulted by his stepmother Suruchi.  On one particular day Dhruva’s father too kept silent when she insulted him, and this caused more pain in Dhruva and he ran to his mother Sunithi.  She advised him to have unswerving devotion on Lord Vishnu.  Taking her words seriously he left to the forest to meditate on Lord Vishnu.  He met sage Narada in the forest and the sage was surprised by the determination of the young child who was only five years of age.  By the advice of the sage, the young child Dhruva meditated on Lord Vishnu, saw the form of Lord Vishnu, and received the boon to be the Dhruva nakshatra, the pole star after his life time.

The story of Prahlad comes in the seventh skanda of Srimad Bhagavata.  Child Prahlad was also five years of age and he belonged to an Asura family.  He was the son of a famous asura, Hiranyakashipu.  Devotion to Lord Vishnu was inherent in that child and from a very young age he was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu.  His devotion to Lord Vishnu was unaccepted by his father because his father considered Lord Vishnu as his enemy.  His father inflicted tortures on this young child, but nothing affected Prahlad because all the time his mind was strongly attached to Lord Vishnu.  Prahlad had great faith in the Lord and to make Prahlad’s words true, Lord Vishnu appeared as Narashimha in the place (a pillar) where Prahlad believed that Lord would be there in that pillar too.  Lord Narashimha killed Hiranyakashipu and blessed Prahlad who had no other worldly desires than the refugee in the Lord’s feet.

The story of Nachiketa comes in the Kathopanishad.  The entire Upanishad is the teaching of Brahma vidya by Lord Yama, the guru of Nachiketa, to the young child.  Nachiketa belonged to a Brahmin family.  His father Vajasravasa, once performed a Yagna where the owner of the sacrifice had to give all he owed to others as offering.  But his father gave only the used and old things to others.  Even the cows he gave to Brahmins were very old.  Therefore to balance the mistake of his father Nachiketa asked his father, “To whom do you offer me?”  This irritated his father and he said, “To death I give you”.  To make his father’s words true, even though later he was dissuaded by his father, he went to the abode of Lord Yama.  There the attendants of the Lord made Nachiketa to wait outside the palace for three days without food or water.  With determination the young child waited outside for the Lord.  When Lord Yama arrived he was surprised by the determination of the young child and he offered him three boons because he waited for three days.  As the first boon Nachiketa asked, my father should be free from worry and anxiety for missing me and he should accept me without hesitation when I go back to him.  As the second boon he asked, a person coming to heaven must have a long stay in heaven.  Lord Yama immediately gave the two boons.  The Lord was surprised by the third boon Nachiketa asked because it was regarding Brahma vidya.  Nachiketa asked, “Some say that it exists and some say that it does not exist after death.  I want to know the truth from you, the lord of death”.  To test the child whether he was qualified for Brahma vidya, Lord Yama offered him worldly boons, which Nachiketa rejected and he was so adamant for Brahma vidya.  In the end, the lord as guru taught Brahma vidya to Nachiketa and Nachiketa became the knower of Brahman.

These are the very inspiring stories of the three small children who had remarkable power of determination, devotion and knowledge.  In the second part of the article I will share with you the difference in devotion and knowledge of these three children.