(Last Updated on : 17/05/2011)
Harishchandra was a king of the Solar Dynasty who descended to the throne after his father Trishanku. Harishchandra was known for his piousness and honesty. Having conquered the emperors of India, he had celebrated a royal sacrifice which remained unparallel for years to come. It could only be matched by the sacrifice of Yudhisthira in the fourteenth century BC. Legend describes that Harishchandra gifted all five times more than what they required. Amongst all the Hindu kings, only Marutta and Harishchandra were considered as worthy rivals of Lord Indra
. The king had erected a town by the name Harishchandrapura or Saubhapura. With time the king grew covetous and impudent. He began dishonouring the Brahmans, sages and even great seers. Sage Vishwamitra
on learning the uncouth acts of the king resolved to mend his ways. One day during hunting King Harishchandra passed through the hermitage of sage Vishwamitra where he saw few girls being tied up by the sage for tearing his flower plants. He immediately unfastened them out of sympathy but this annoyed the sage. To make amendments the king agreed to present him a gift of his choice. Vishwamitra asked for his kingdom as a gift which the king immediately presented to him. It was customary to gift a Brahman with some dakshina but having given his kingdom; the king was not left with anything.
Finally the king sold himself to a doma (funeral assistant) of Varanasi
to pay the fee. He also sold off his queen and his only son to a Brahman. After they departed they faced with many hardships. This helped the king to learn the lessons of life. One day in the funeral ghat of Kasi Harishchandra met his ex-queen Saivya who came to cremate their only son Rohitasva. Their son was bitten by a snake while collecting flowers. During this moment Vishwamitra appeared and revived their son by a nostrum.
Appreciating the king's virtue and honesty, the sage returned his kingdom. The king along with his princess and son returned back to Oudh and ruled gloriously for many years. His memory is still cherished by many Hindus.