The eight cardinal directions resonated with the sound of Namah Shivay, high in the cold environs of Mount Kailash, the land of the gods, the Devbhumi. No one sang it, no singing was necessary; nature herself sang praises to her lord, the Mahadev, the master of all realms. Near the very top of the mountain, there was a stone platform in front of a cave hewn out of the frozen rock face of the mountain. On that platform sat a very tall and fair yogi. His eyes were half closed, a gentle smile playing on his lips, and the center of his forehead glowed a soft crimson. His handsome face framed with matted locks that coiled about his head like dark serpents, the Mahayogi sat on the Kailash surrounded by his ganas, or followers, and made a benevolent pose with his hands, the Abhaya Mudra. He was pleased.
His ganas, dressed in fearful attires, looked on amusedly at the ascetic who lay prostrated at the feet of Shiva, for that was the name with which the world knew this timeless Yogi who resided on Kailash. Nandi, Shiva’s chief gana, had sought out this ascetic and ushered him in the presence of his lord. He now stood by at a distance, wearing the headdress of a bull, and waited patiently for the man lying at Shiva’s feet to say something. The man was Bhagirath, the Emperor of Bharatvarsh, the land named after the great King Bharat of the Lunar Dynasty. For years he had performed tapa or mortification of the self, to please the gods and make them grant him his wish. Years of worshipping the gods and tormenting his mortal body had made him look less like a King and more like an ascetic.
Bhagirath came from the illustrious Solar line of kings, the Suryavansham. His ancestors before him had carved out a name for themselves and were well-known around the world for their valor and benevolent rule. The present line had started from Ikshvaku and included giants like the valiant Prithu, the handsome Mandhata, the truthful Harishchandra, known all over the world for his righteousness, and Trishanku, who had aspired to reach the heavens in his physical form.
Harishchandra’s tales were folklore; he had been reduced to penury by the gods as a test of his truthfulness, and had been forced to sell off himself, his wife and his son in bondage, but that had not deterred him from the path of truth. The gods had restored his kingdom and all his glory to him after his test, and his undying fame had lived on since then………………………………………………..Excerpts from ‘Gangadhar’ from the book ‘The Battle of Panchavati and Other Stories from Indian Scriptures’.
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