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Vishnu appears before Dhruva - A painting by Raja Ravi Varma

Dhruva, ध्रुव, in Hindu scriptures, was an ardent young devotee of Vishnu, a prince blessed to eternal existence and glory as the Pole Star (Dhruva Nakshatra in Sanskrit) by Lord Vishnu. The story of Dhruva's life is often told to Hindu children as an example for perseverance, devotion, steadfastness and fearlessness. The original sources are Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana, Canto 4.

The Rigveda mentions the word Dhruva (meaning both "pole star" and "fixed") dozens of times, and the pole star has not been explicitly mentioned anywhere at all in the Vedas. Grihya-Sutra, Mahābhārata, Surya Siddhanta, etc., however, mention Dhruva as the pole star. Pāṇini mentions Dhruva as "a fixed point from which departure takes place".

Frustration & Resolve of five-year old Dhruva

Dhruva was born a son of the King Uttānapāda (the son of Svayambhuva Manu) and his wife Suniti (or Sunrita, the daughter of Dharma). The king also had another son Uttama, born to his second queen Suruchi, who was the preferred object of his affection. Once, when Dhruva was but a child of five years of age, the two princes playfully raced towards their father's lap. But, the headstrong Suruchi chided Dhruva and insulted him for trying to woo the attention of his father, when he did not deserve it because "he was not born to her." She further mocked at his plight, by asking him to redeem himself by seeking Vishnu's blessings.

Suniti consoled the distraught child, by asking him to take Suruchi's words seriously and to observe penance in meditation of the Lord. She bid him farewell as he set out on a lonely journey to the forest. Dhruva was determined to seek for himself his rightful place, and noticing this resolve, the divine sage Narada appeared before him and tried to desist him from assuming a severe austerity upon himself at such a tender age. But, Dhruva's fierce determination knew no bounds, and the astonished sage guided him towards his goal by teaching him the rituals and mantras. The one mantra which Narada taught and which was effectively used by Dhruva was OM NAMO BHAGAVTE VĀSUDEVĀYA. Vishnu Purana also mentions this mantra.

Unique World-shaking penance

w:Dhruvaw:Saptarishiw:Shaniw:Bṛhaspatiw:Budhaw:Shukraw:Chandraw:Vivasvanw:Garbhodaksayi VishnuClick! Dhruva, Saptarishi, Shani, Bṛhaspati, Budha, Shukra, Chandra, Vivasvan, Garbhodaksayi Vishnu
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Having been advised, Dhruva started his penance, and went without food and water for six months, his mind fixed on the Lord. The austerity of his penance shook the heavens and the Lord appeared before him, but the child would not open his eyes because he was still merged in his inner vision of Vishnu's form described to him by Narada. Lord Vishnu had to adopt a strategy of causing that inner vision to disappear. Immediately Dhruva opened his eyes, and, seeing outside what he had been seeing all along in his mental vision, prostrated himself before the Lord. But he could not utter a single word. The Lord touched his right cheek by his divine conch and that sparked off his speech. Out poured forth a beautiful poem of praise of the Lord in 12 powerful verses, which together are called Dhruva-stuti.

Vishnu Purana gives a slightly different account here. When Vishnu was pleased with Dhruva's tapasya and asked him to ask for a varadāna (grant of wishes), Dhruva said that he (being an uneducated child) did not know how to sing the praise of Lord Vishnu, and therefore asked the varadāna of a knowledge of stuti (hymn in the praise of Vishnu). Other persons would have asked for worldly or heavenly pleasures, or for moksha at most, but Dhruva had no personal desire. Renunciation of all desires is regarded to be essential for eternal peace in Hinduism: this is the meaning of Dhruva-pada (spiritual pole star). That was the reason why the saptarshis decided to give the most revered seat of the Pole Star to this six year old child.

The Dhruva-stuti as mentioned in the Vishnu Purana is an extended version of Vedic Purusha-sukta and is quite different from the Dhruva-stuti of Bhagavata Purana.

Having spent a long time in the Lord's remembrance he even forgot the objective of his penance, and only asked for a life in memory of the Lord. Pleased by his penance and by his stuti, Vishnu granted his wish and further decreed that the lad would attain Dhruvapada - the state where he would become a celestial body which would not even be touched by the Maha Pralaya, or the final cataclysm. Dhruva was a god of Hindus

King Dhruva

Dhruva returned to his kingdom, to be warmly received by his family, and attained the crown at the tender age of six. He ruled for many decades in a fair and just manner.

Dhruvaloka location

All the planetary systems [in material world] take shelter of {Vishnu and thus, also His transcendental abode, Vishnuloka} Dhruvaloka. The totality of these planetary systems are Sisumara, another expansion of the external body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Dhruvaloka, the [transcendental] abode of Lord Visnu within this [material] universe, is situated 1,300,000 yojanas from the seven stars. In the planetary system of Dhruvaloka are the planets of the fire-god, Indra, Prajapati, Kasyapa and Dharma, all of whom are very respectful to the great devotee Dhruva, who lives in Dhruvaloka.

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