Vairagya Shathakam – Sri Bharthrihari Virachitham
Chapter -2 – Life of Sri Bharthrihari
There was a highly learned twice-born Govinda, well known for his Dharmic rites, had thorough knowledge in all the scriptures and Vedic texts, the inquisitiveness to learn more and more drove him to follow the Bhramacharyashram meticulously, and visited several preceptors and scholars, finally there was no preceptors to teach him, but his hunger to learn the scriptures and Veda did not stop, he had the feeling that he has not yet completed the quest for learning, hence he conducted an extensive journey through the Aryavartha. Once, he ended up in the dense forest, could not see the trace of human, there he met a Bhramarakshas who was a twice-born, was too happy to meet the Govinda, after several days in the woods. They had a conversation and exchanged their views and opinions on scriptures and Sanskrit, and talked about each other’s life.
The Bhramarakshass explained his life story; he was a highly intelligent twice-born, has vast knowledge in all the scriptures and texts, but he was not willing to teach them to others. He met a Bhramin and got cursed for his arrogance, to become Bhramarakshassa, also came to know that if he shares the knowledge he has learned with others, he would immediately get rid of the curse, therefore he was waiting for a learned person to share his knowledge and get rid of the curse. The twice-born Govinda became too happy to meet the Bhramarakshass, shortly Govinda learned all the knowledge from the Bhramarakshass. The forest they have lived was not fit for human habitation, there were no fruits or fiber roots, or pure water available, Govinda felt extremely disappointed to continue there. Bhramrakshass understood the difficulties of Govinda to live there, he offered an herbal medicine to apply on his body, that could remove the thirst and hunger for several years, with a condition that if the twice-born set foot on the water, the herbal medicine will stop working, and all those tiredness due to the non-consumption of water and meal for the years would come back immediately. Thus, Govinda was strictly forbidden to set foot on the water, in this way, he started learning all those sacred knowledge from Bhramarakshass who throw the notes written on the leaves to Bhramin, if any doubts the Bhramin would clear them on the spot, within a short period of time, the Bhramin learned all the knowledge from the Bhramarakshass, prostrated before his preceptor and bade-farewell. The Bhramarakshass got rid of the curse and happily returned to his home.
Govinda wandered many places and finally arrived in the glorious city of Ujjain, the King ruled the city had no son; they had a beautiful daughter, were taken care of affectionately. Govinda arrived on the river bank; saw there were a few attractive women in their finest garments arrived to have a bath in the river. Govinda was not interested in material living; he did not pay attention to them. The beautiful woman who was the leader of the group did not take her eyes off from the handsome, youthful Govinda, fallen in love with him instantly. She understood his humility, intelligence, and virtues that forced her to crave for him, she keenly followed him. This woman was born in the wealthiest Shudra clan was stunningly beautiful with attractive physical features, and virtuous. In a moment she forgot the purpose she had arrived and looked at the twice-born with an earnest desire. While she was watching, Govinda slowly got into the water, he was trying to cross the river, hardly moved three or four steps further, he fell unconscious in the water. It was the herbal medicine that was protected hi from the thirst and hunger for several years stopped working, he became unconscious of continuous starvation and immense exhaustion, his body and mind could not take it anymore, as it was predicted by the Bhramarakshass, all the hunger and thirst took a toll on his body and mind.
The woman who was watching the movements of Govinda for a long time, came rushing with her female companions, she carried Govinda along with the bundle of those written leaves to her home. She took great care of him, brought good physicians to consult him, and within two or three days Govinda regained his consciousness, he felt extremely happy to know that he was saved by that woman, spoke to her kindly “Oh! The jewel among woman, there is no Dharma precious than the protection of Prana, you have saved my Prana, and therefore I owe to you all my life. Oh! Devi, how should I repay my debt? Kindly tell me how to pay off my debts to you, if I did not pay off my debts I would become selfish and ungrateful, you need not worry about anything, kindly ask for whatever you want.” The woman was extremely pleased listening to the kind words of Govinda, she came closer to him with folded hands began to speak “Oh! Swami, Oh! Mahathma, you are praising me unnecessarily and portraying yourself as a debtor before me. I did not do anything great as you have praised me, it was my Dharma to protect you, in fact, humans are born to do Paropakara, which is the supreme Dharma. You are highly praising for a too little help I have given, I feel I have made my life fruitful by providing help to you, therefore I do not need anything in return, kindly do not put me in grief. I have nothing to ask other than give me an opportunity to serve your feet all my life, as your sincere wife to you. I want to make my life fruitful by serving your feet, if you permit me to do so, I would be the most fortunate woman in this world.”
The twice-born was stunned to listen to her amiable words, various emotions rushed to his mind. He understood she is from the lowly clan of Shudra, a twice-born cannot marry a Shudra, but she has served him selflessly for the past few days, she took great care of him, brought back his life, so she deserved to be treated fairly. Govinda immersed in various thoughts, a twice-born cannot marry a Shudra and choose the Shudra woman as the first wife. He has to formally marry a woman from Bhramin clan, then Kshatriya, and Vaishya, after that he is permitted to marry a Shudra woman. Govinda decided not to put her in utter disappointment, the woman who has brought his Prana from the danger is deserved to be treated well. Thus, Govinda married a woman from the twice-born; secondly, he approached the King of Ujjain with his desire to marry his one and only daughter. The King was highly impressed at the intelligence and handsomeness of Govinda and readily agreed to offer his daughter as wedded wife, thus he was married to the princess who was heir to the throne of Ujjain. Later, he married to a Vaishya woman and fourthly he married the Shudra woman formally as a wedded wife.
Govinda built a fortress for his four wives and lived happily with them. He sincerely followed the Grihasthashrama Dharma, in the meantime the King of Ujjain became too old to take up the kingly duties, so he crowned Govinda as the King of Ujjain. Govind performed all the stately duties and responsibilities as a King of Ujjain, people were extremely happy in his regime, shortly the aged King attained Paramagathi. Thus, several years have passed; his four wives gave birth to one child each. The Brahmin woman gave birth to Vararuchi, Kshatriya woman gave birth to Vikramadhithya, Vaishya woman gave birth to Bhatti, and the Shudra woman gave birth to Bharthrihari. These four children were experts in all the art forms, Sarva Shastra, and religious texts. Govinda had a special attachment to his son Bharthrihari, he was the elder one among the children and son of that Shudra woman who sincerely loved all her life. Bharthrihari was a brilliant child, intelligent, attractive, and virtuous as well, he became famous for his contribution to the preservation of the Vedic texts which was disappearing at the beginning of the Kali era. Several intellectuals and scholars appreciated his sincere effort in reviving the sacred texts, he had composed Vyakaran Grantha which was highly admired by the scholars of that period. In the meantime, his father Govinda crowned elder son Bharthrihari as the King of Ujjain and retired to woods to conduct penance. The reason for Govinda crowned Bharthrihari as the King not because of his intelligence in all subjects and art forms; it was his great fondness to his Shudra wife, who made everything possible in his life. Soon after, Govinda abandoned all the desires and bondage, attained the Mokshasamrajya.
Bharthrihari who has the thorough knowledge of Rajyaneethi, preservation, and utilization of wealth for the welfare of the Kingdom and its subjects ruled the kingdom wisely, the Praja's were extremely happy. Bharthrihari married had a few women, but Anangasena whom he loved the most, was the Queen of Ujjain. Thus, several years have passed; there was a twice-born in Ujjain who was an ardent devotee of Devi Durga was penniless and suffering from poverty. Devi Durga was pleased with the devotion of the twice-born and offered a mango as a boon that would keep the Bhramin free from aging and illnesses. The twice-born was yearning to have some wealth to remove the sufferings of the poverty in the family, he was disappointed to receive the mango as a boon, though it would do no good to remove the distress of poverty in the family, if it was given to the King at least he would live a happy long life without aging and illnesses, that would do good to the Kingdom and its people as well. Hence the twice-born decided to present the Mango before the King and detailed it. King Bharthrihari received the Bhramin with great respect, was happy to receive the Mango, and in return offered immense wealth that is capable to remove his poverty forever. King Bharthrihari was immersed in various thoughts, whether he should consume it or give to his dearest wife Anangasena. Alas! He offered the Mango to his dearest wife Anangasena who gave this mango to her secret lover in the palace, shortly he gave it his lover, later she offered it to her servant, in this way, the mango passed through several hands.
Once, the King Bharthrihari was traveling on the majestic pathway of the royal palace, saw a woman carrying a basket full of cow dung and a mango on top of it. It caught the attention of the King, he returned to the palace and called for the twice-born from whom he had received the mango. He explained the matter to him, the twice-born asked the King to who did he give it; he confessed that he has given to his dearest wife. Further, the Queen was questioned scrupulously and came to know that it was given to her secret lover, King Bharthrihari could not control his grief for loving a woman who was not at all trustworthy, decided not to trust family, children or wealth, or fame, that has no permanence and learned that the attachment to it could bring grief only. He pacified the Bhramin and bade farewell, asked his men to bring the Mango, and instructed his wife Anangasena to live like the way she wanted. He called for his brother Vikramadhithya and handed the Kingship and the mango, decided not to intervene in any of the personal or stately matters, attained Vairagya, and discarded the worldly matters and bondage and returned to woods. He undertook penance for some time, soon attained Mukthi.
Bharthrihari after attaining Virakthi in the material life, wrote many poetries/verses, those were from his real life, the hundreds of verses he wrote of Neethi Shathakam/politics and ethics-related to the period of his ruling as the King of Ujjain, another hundred verses of Shrungara Shathakam/mainly the Grihasthashram life of him, and the final hundred verses of Vairagya Shathakam/after realizing the real nature of love, life, family, wealth, etc. persuaded him to achieve Virakthi. He described his own life events in the three of the famous verses of Neethi Shathakam, Shrungara Shathakam, and Vairagya Shathakam, has attained great appreciation among the learned.
Note – Father of Bharthrihari was the well known Govindhapadha who was the preceptor of Sri Adi Shankaracharya.