|In Indian Mythology we come across characters
and personalities who have carved a niche for them with their unique presence
and strength. Some of them are:
AMBAREESHA - Purity of mind and unswerving faith in the efficacy of the spiritual
path are exemplified in the life of Ambareesha, a great devotee. Durvaasa, though
full of learning, had to face travails because of lack of self-control. Ambareesha,
by his piety, saved Durvaasa from the wrath of Sudarshana Chakra, the weapon
of Lord Vishnu. The name of Ambareesha is associated with the Ekaadashi vow -
i.e., fortnightly observance of fast coupled with meditation on the Supreme.
BALI - Grandson of Prahalad, devotee of Vishnu. Though a king of Rakshasas, he
ruled with righteousness and the welfare of the subjects at heart. Having agreed
to give in charity three paces of land to Vishnu, who came in the form of a young
'Vatu' (bachelor-boy) to beg for charity, Bali kept his promise by offering his
head on which Vishnu could put his third step. Hindus believe that Bali is immortal.
BHAGIRATHA - The great hero who brought down the Ganga from the heaven to the
earth. Bhagiratha has become another name for a will of steel that never accepts
BHISHMA - One of the most honored figures of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata.
He gave up marriage and throne for his father's sake. To the people of India
he is the symbol of mature wisdom.
DHRUVA - He was a little boy of five years when he was insulted by his stepmother
and ignored by his father. He went to the forest in search of God and with determination
and devotion he succeeded. He ruled the country in the name of God and in the
interest of the subjects. Even to this day the Pole Star reminds Indians of this
great devotee of God.
DRAUPADI - The wife of the great Pandavas renowned alike for her loveliness and
her granite will. Volcanic, she reduced her enemies to the ashes. But her story
is a saga of suffering. This fiery princess bent on vengeance could be compassionate
and generous, too.
EKALAVYA - A student's distinction lies in his devout pursuit of knowledge, and
not merely in his heritage. This manifests in a splendid manner in Ekalavya's
life. He worshipped an idol of his 'Guru', learnt his lessons in archery in the
Master's absence, and mastered the art. When his master desired the thumb of
Ekalavya's right hand as a fee, which might cripple him, Ekalavya smilingly sacrificed
it. A boy who had grown up in the forest thus developed into a great personality
- a fine example for others to emulate.
HARISCHANDRA - With his vow to remain truthful at all times, Harischandra successfully
faced the rigorous challenge posed by Vishwamitra. Though a king he sacrificed
everything he had at the attar of truth, including his Kingdom, and even his
life and son. He took so lowly a job as that of the guard at burning ground;
even in the case of his own son he demanded the prescribed fee for cremation,
which his wife had no means of paying. On an order from the king, Harischandra
even prepared to behead his own wife. Harischandra's character is indelibly etched
in the mind of Hindus.
KARNA - A great hero of the 'Mahabharata', Karna lived such a life that he became
another name for generosity and loyalty. It was his misfortune to be shunned
as a person of low caste. To him loyalty was more important than the emperor's
throne. He sacrificed his life for his master.
MAHARSHI VALMIKI - The Adikavi, the Poet of Poets, of India, who gave the world
the immortal epic, the 'Ramayana'. By profession a highway robber, he came under
the spell of Maharshi Narada and became a 'Brahmarshi'. He not only sang the
matchless greatness of Sri Rama, but also gave shelter to his wife Sita Devi,
and taught the epic to Sri Rama's sons.