Harishchandra’s Strict Adherence To Truth

Chandramati extended full cooperation in every way to her husband Harishchandra, who gave away his entire kingdom to Sage Viswamitra in charity and became a pauper without having even a single paisa with him. When Sage Viswamitra asked Harishchandra to give him money offerings (dakshina) after getting his kingdom in charity, Harishchandra prayed to him to give him some time to pay the money offerings.

Leaving his kingdom, Harishchandra went to Kasi along with his wife and son Lohitasva to earn money to pay the offering to the sage. Finding no other way to pay the offering, he sold his wife and son to a Brahmin.

Being a queen, Chandramati had never done any household work, but she was asked to do menial work of washing the dishes and cleaning the house by the Brahmin. Harishchandra himself took up the job of a caretaker of a cremation ground. The owner of the cremation ground assigned him the work of collecting tax from those who came to the cremation ground to cremate dead bodies.

One day, the Brahmin sent Lohitasva along with other children to the forest to collect grass (darbha), to be used in worship. There, he was bitten by a snake and died. The other children brought his dead body to Chandramati. Since she had to finish the household work before taking the dead body of her son to the cremation ground, it was night when she reached the cremation ground with her son’s dead body.

When the caretaker of the cremation ground, who was none other than her husband, Harishchandra, asked her to pay the tax for cremating her son’s body, she told him that she had no money to pay the tax. Seeing her wedding necklace (mangalsutra) around her neck, Harishchandra said, “How do you say you have no money? I see the wedding necklace you are wearing”.

On hearing this, she thought to herself, “Only my husband can see my wedding necklace, no one else”. She asked him, “Aren’t you my husband, Harishchandra”?

Harishchandra replied in the affirmative; he was grief-stricken on coming to know about the death of their only son. However, he told her that he could allow her to cremate the dead body of their son only when she paid the tax.

Since she had no money to give, she took out her wedding necklace to give it to him. At that very moment, Lord Siva manifested there. He praised Harishchandra for his strict adherence to truth and told him that all this was a divine play to show to the people of the world that there were still some highly exalted persons in the world who followed truth scrupulously. He also brought their dead son, Lohitasva, back to life.

Meanwhile, Viswamitra also came there. He returned the kingdom of Harishchandra to him and told him that he had done all this to test his commitment to truth. Thus, Harishchandra demonstrated the divine quality of truth. Truth is God.