The name of Raja Bhartrihari (or Bhartri) is widely known in India, as the name of the king who has renounced his throne, to become an ascetic. The dramatic story of his renunciation traditionally was one of the favorite themes of the ballads sung by the wondering minstrels and performed by the folk theaters all over India.
Prior to his renunciation, he was the king of the Malva Kingdom with its capital in Avantikā (modern Ujjain). He had younger brother Vikramaditya (Chandragupta second), who uled after he renounced his trone since 1076 till 1126? However, there were two kings known as Vikramāditya in the Indian history, which were separated from each other by the period of one thousand years, one was legendary king Vikramāditya, by whom the Vikram Samwat (the calendar established from the time of his reign) was stared, and other known as Chandragupta second.
In accordance with some legends circulating amongst Nathas, Raja Bhartrihari was also the brother of the queen Menaavanti, who was the mother of another legendary personage of the Natha tradition Raja Gopichand. It is said that Raja Bhartrihari had many wifes, but his most favorite and famous wife was Rani (queen) Pingala.
The king was excessively educated person who wrote few books in Sanskrit, which counted as the master pieces of the Indian literature. The three most famous of them called Vairagya śataka, Nīti śataka and Shringara śataka and when united into one volume called Śatakatraya, some researches believing that the work on grammar Vākyapadīya is one more of his books. There are also few compositions in old Indian dialects, which are ascribed to his authorship.
Raja Bhartrihari and the Natha Tradition
Although the Nātha Yogis unanimously claim that Raja Bhartrihari was personally initiated by the Guru Goraksh Nath and has became his disciple, there exist some points of uncertainty about this matter. Out of twelve sub-sects of the Natha Sampradya, one is associated with the name of Bhartri, known as Bhartṛhari Bāirāg, or Vairāgya panth. Bāirag stands for distort form of Vairāgya, what means renunciation or detachment, so it means 'renunciation of Bhartṛhari'. The existence of the sub-sect with the Bhartrihari name does not prove that he lived at the same time with the GGN, because of the existence of another panth of the Natha sect known as Kaplani or Kapal Deo ke. The members of this pant call themselves descendants of the Rishi Kapila or Kapila muni, who is famous as founder of the Sankya philosophy, and lived before the accepted historical time of GGN. Therefore, it is not necessary that Bhartṛhari Bāirāg was created by chronological order, and the king could live also prior of the time of the great Guru.
Some researchers believing that there were more than one Bhartrihari, which were separated from each other by period of few hundred years, of them one was grammarian, the author of Vākyapadīya, and other was a poet, the author of śatakas. Some even insist on existence of as much as tree different Bhartriharis, one of which was the brother of king Vikramaditya, the second author of Vākyapadīya, and third was the yogi disciple of Goraksh Nath.
It is said, traces its original from Raja of Ujjain Bhartrihari by name, who was historical personality and was disciple of Guru Goraksh nath. He was a king who abandoned his throne to became a wondering yogi. He was highly educated person of his time, and known also as author at least of tree books: first called Vairāgya śataka, or hundred verses on renunciation; second is Śṛngāra śataka or hundred verses on beauty of love; and third is Nīti śataka or hundred verses on art of politics. All three of them counted as classics of Indian literature. There exist three different stories about how and why he renounced his throne and became wondering yogi under influence of Guru Goraksh Nath (in one legend without it). He is known also as one of Nath siddhas, under name Siddh Vicar nath. Since time of Buddha, his story about renunciation second by importance in Indian history.
Two Bhartrihari? In accordance with Chinese Buddhist monk, I-tsing, by name, written in his book about travel into India, that some king by the same name, renounced his throne and became Buddhist monk and afterwards returned to family life as much as seven times. Historians place appearance of Raja Bhartrihary quite recently in history, about 10-11 century, so it is possible that he not founder of this panth but it was later renamed in his name?
Out of books of Bhartrihari, one which is called Vairagya śataka, dedicated entirely to renunciation and asceticsm, but it is quite abstract, and contains no terms or names directly related to the Natha tradition and Goraksh Nath. It is strange enough that although he became the meber of the Nath sampradaya, none of his book has mentioned the name of Goraksh nath, neither it has terms related to the practices of the Nath sect.
The believe that Bhartrihari was the member of the Nātha sect was widely prevalent in the Medieval India, he was mentioned in the songs of Kabir and Guru Nanak as the Natha yogi and as the disciple of Goraksh Nath. Many folk plays and ballads insist that he was the disiple of Goraksh nath. Although there is no direct mention of his connection with Goraksh Nath, in his composition called Vairagya śatakam, there can be found indirect references to practices and life style similar to the life style of the Natha Yogis. There exist many places and temples in India, connected with his name, one of most famous of which situated in Ujjain, many of them are related to the Natha sect, and taken care by the Natha yogis.
After Raja Bhartrihari has entered into the Nath Sampradaya and became the diciple of Goraksh Nath, he became known as Siddh Vicar-Nath, he mentioned under this name in the book Goraksha Siddhanta Samgraha. He is considered to be founder of Bhartrihari-Verag panth, one of the twelve panths presently existing in Nāth Sampradaya.
The most important historical figure found to be connected with his name is his brother Vicram. There however two Vicrams in the Indian history, and one of them lived one thousand earth before than other. The brother of which of them Bhartrihari was?
Other name connected with him is queen Menavanti, who accordance with some stories was his sister, and mostly known as mother of other legendary personage- Raja Gopicanda. If we accept this as true than it conforms that Gorkshnath and Bhartrihari were living at the same time.
Another question is the author trilogy of books called Vairagya Shataka, Niti Shataka and Shringara Shataka, Raja Bhartrihari by name, was the same person as Raja Bhartrihari who became disciple of Guru Goraksh Nath under name Siddh Vichar Nath or they were different persons?
There exist many versions of the Bhartriharis's life story, which circulate in different formats (as songs, theatric plays and books) all over India. However all of them based on the two principle variants of the story describing the reasons of Bhartrihari’s renunciation; first of them directly connecting it with the influence of the Guru Goraksh nath, while other two variations although basically same, differ from each other by sometimes mentioning and sometimes omitting any relations existed between both personalities. The first version, which circulates amongst Nathas and in the form of folk-ballads sung by wondering minstrels, can be divided into two parts: one when Goraksh Nath has meet Bhartrihari in jungle, and second when he meet him after Bhartrihari's wife Pingala has died, and the king was mourning about her.
The First Version (Natha) Part one
Goraksh Nath was performing his sadhana on the top of Toraṇmal mountain. At the same time Raja Bartrihari went in the same area of jungle for hunting. There he has killed male deer near the place where the yogi was sitting, and Goraksh Nath saw happened. The male deer killed by the king was accompanied by the female deer, and when Raja wanted to carry off his hunt and tight it to his horse, she was sorrowfully watching this from some distance.
The yogi rebuked Raja for done by him and told him that he has no right to kill the deer because he was unable to make him alive. On listening this, annoyed raja has stared argumentation with the yogi, and as its conclusion Goraksh Nath has made the deer alive again, and he run away to the jungle.
Raja Bhartrihari has became impressed by such development of events, and expressed his desire to renounce the world, and asked the yogi to make him his disciple. Goraks Nath has answered that before it he should go to the palace and ask from his wife permission to do it. On this both separated and went to their places, Goraksh Nath returned to the top of mountain and Raja Bhartrihari went to his capital.
In accordance with first of them , he was Raja of Malwa Kingdom with its capital in Ujain. He was wise and mighty king, who ruled over wide areas and have all authority. It is said that he had as mush as one thousand wives. One whom he loved most of all was queen Piṇgalā by name. Once king listened as she told to one of her attendant woman that she loving the king so mach that she would not survive his death even for moment. He decided to examine how strong her love is, and once when he gone for hunting in jungle, he sand a messenger to the palace with announcement that he was killed by tiger. Messenger brought with him closes of king dropped in blood of recently killed antelope, which he showed to queen to prove that his words were true. After getting this news, queen immediately swallowed poison and died. When later king returned to palace, he greatly regretted about mistake he has done, and he felt himself completely responsible for what has happened. He became so much overwhelmed with grief that he was unable to do anything, and all time was sitting at cremation ground and mourning death of queen. On seeing his grief many of his people, also became filled with sorrow and joined him in his mouring.
When he was sitting there, and whine hey Pingala, hey Pingala, hey Pingala, Goraksh Nath came near, dropped his earthen pot and started crying even more loudly then king: ” hey my earthy pot, hey my earthy pot.” When king filled with sorrow, noticed him and asked about the reasons of his grief, Goraksh Nath told him that he was mouring about his bagging bowl.
After yogi has told him about reasons of his sorrow, King became greatly ashamed to know, that all about what yogi was so loudly weeping, was his earthen pot he got broken. He told him: 'Don’t cry for your earthen pot, and make me more sad, I will give you hundred new pots, better than yours, but please stop crying.'
However, yogi didn’t stopped and answered with abundant tears dropping from his eyes, no I don’t want your pots, I want only my old one, which I loved so much.
What a nonsense you are talking about, king has told, isn’t it is impossible to return what was once was destroyed? On this Goraksh Nath stopped crying told him: 'O wise king! If you knowing this, then why you are crying here for your Queen, which also gone forever? Does your crying will return her? You have so many more queens, then why you cry abot this one?'
King answered that it is impossible to compare love for queen with love for earthen pot. On what Goraksh Nath has told, that there isn’t much difference between both, be it earthen pot or body of man, because both are made from the earth, and what cam from earth one day must to return to it, this is law of nature. Wath was created But after all would you be able to recognize your queen which seems so much spetial for you, if I would restore her by my yogic powers? He continued,
Yes or course king has told. After these, Goraksh Nath created by his yogic power one hundred of queens, each of which was appearing as exactly copy of queen Pingala. Now chose which of them is yours, he told to ashamed king. After king was unable to chose, he renounced his kingdhoom and became disciple of uru Goraksh nath.
While the first tale always connecting Goraksh Nath directly with the renunciation of the Raja Bhartrihari, the second variant of the legend exist in two modifications, one where Goraksh Nath mentioned as its personage and second when he is totally removed from the scene. First variation usually following the part one presented above, and second stand on its own. Main subject line of both is the same, but both modified to their situations and as result dissimilar in some details. Here I presented that account where name of Goraksh nath was totally removed from the context.
Bhartṛhari was the king of Mālvā, situated in area called Rājapūtānā, in Middle India (modern Madhya Pradesh), whose capital city was Ujjiyanī, or Āvantī (modern city Ujjain). He had a younger brother Vikram by name, who later became famous as the noble king Vikramāditya, and who won lot of victories in battles, and started calendar on his name, which still used in India (in astrology)?. Being older from two brothers, Bhartṛhari was crowned as a king.
Bhartṛhari already had few wives, but being still unsatisfied, he marred one more, Pingala by name. She was young and beautiful, and soon king became extremely attached to her. He was fulfilling all her desires, without much thinking, and soon actually became puppet in her hands. She was not so much beautiful from inside, as was her outer appearance; actually, she was a very cunning and self-willed woman. More ever, her character was far from perfection, and after some time she established adulterous relations with one of king’s officers.
Her misbehavior created lot of troubles for all people in the palace and became danger for t he welfare of the state, but the king being blind in his love, was unable to see the real state of things. He saw situation in the light as she was presenting it to him, and who ever was complaining about her misdeeds, was indiscriminately punished by him. Using her deceiving tricks, she actually established her tyranny in the premises of the palace and became very influential in the matters connected with the administration of the Kingdom. Her catastrophic dictatorship was going to become at one day disaster for the country, and when younger brother of the king Vikram, alarmed by the situation, objected on such state of things, it became reason of conflict between two brothers. Bhartṛhari expelled his younger brother out of the premises of palace and suspended him from all his state responsibilities.
One day some Brahman came to the palace (or ascetic, or Goraksh Nath), and presented to the king a fruit, which he said, has power to bring immortality to those who will eat it. Because the King loved his queen Pingala more than his own life, he given it to her without any hesitations. Because she was in love with king’s officer, she offered this fruit to him. The officer in his turn was in love with some prostitute, to whom he passed it on. The prostitute thought that most deserving person to get immortality was the king, so she brought it back to the palace and offered it to the king. When Raja Bhartṛhari saw the same fruit, which was given by him to the Pingala in the morning, in the hands of prostitute, he being much puzzled by it, asked her, from where she got it. When she told him, who give it to her, the story came into light, and all accusations previously made about the queen came out to be true. The blindness of king came to the end, and he came to know now about her non-loyalty and impiety.
In a moment, previously so beautiful picture of his life became broken, like a mirror in small pieces. She to whom he loved with his whole heart, and who was sole meaning of his existence, his beloved Rani Pingala, became disclosed now, in all her immorality and wickedness. Life lost all its color for him since that moment, and he filled bitter disappointment in it. All in what he believed was broken into small pieces of glass, laid now scattered under his feet. From heights of paradise, he felt directly into fire of hell, and there was now any escape from this nightmare, because he was unable neither live without Pingala, nor it was possible any more to live with her.
This situation created such a big dilemma and disappointment in his mind, that at once he decided to renounce the throne and become a Yogi, in attempt to find new meaning of existence. It is said that he later composed this verse about happened:
yāṁ cintayāmi satataṁ mayi sā viraktā
sāpyanyamicchati janaṁ sa jano'nyasaktaḥ |
asmatkṛte ca pariśuṣyati kācidanyā
dhik tāṁ ca taṁ ca madanaṁ ca imāṁ ca māṁ ca |
Nītiśatakam || 2||
She, thoughts about whom making me mad, not loving me, but desiring another man. That man is in love with other (women), who in her turn wishing other (myself). Shame to that women (to Queen) and to him! To Cupid (to all love and attachments)! To her (prostitute) and to me! Nīti śataka || 2||
Selected verses from Vairagya śatakam:
bhikṣāśanaṁ tadapi nīrasamekavāraṁ
śayyā ca bhūḥ parijano nijadehamātram |
vastraṁ viśīrṇa śatakhaṇḍamayī ca kanthā
hā hā tathāpi viṣayā na parityajanti || 15||
For eating I have tasteless food once a day, after begging of alms; the earth for a bed, and my own body as a servant; for dress, a blanket made from hundreds of rags; and yet alas! Sensual desires do not leave me!
There exist two stories circulating amongst the Natha Yogis, which can be found as connected with this verse:
1. After becoming yogi Raja Bhartrihari was wondering around as a mendicant. Food he was obtaining was very simple and for the King who spent all his life in luxury it was very disgusting. Once he came to some city and came near to sweets shop. There he saw as jalebis (kind of traditional Indian sweet food) were prepared. Strong desire to have some of delicious food came to mind of the yogi. He asked shopper to give some of it to him, but he was answered that it was not proper for yogi to ask about such costly food. If he want to get it he should do some job as repay. Being overwhelmed by the desire he agree to do some service to shopkeeper and was told to wash utensils in the shop. After hard work he was given some jalebis he desired. After he obtained desired he came to lonely place intending to eat them, but there he felt strong remorse for done by him.
He told to himself, “I has left my Kingly life to became free from all attachments and now I have found myself in such pitiable conditions? What a shame! Than he starting throwing away jalebis one by one, and cursing himself while doing this.
2. In another story he was walking by the way in his wonderings. It was evening time and darkness slowly was approaching. Suddenly he saw on the road something that was shining as a diamond. He passed by and continued walking, but then the struggle of thoughts has started in his mind. “If it was diamond than it must be very costly and I could have many things I may desire.” “But for yogi stones and gold are the same things, and I left the kingdom, why to bother next thought came.” “But it is a good chance why to live it, it my by Gods gift for you, enjoy it, seducing voice inside his mind was insisting.” Overpowered by desire and curiosity he returned back and plucked up the thing. What appeared as a diamond to him turned out to be the piece of wasted food thrown by some one from mouth after chewing. Of course, Raja Bhartrihari regretted about what he has done.
puṇye grāme vane vā mahati sitapaṭacchannapāliṁ kapāliṁ
hyādāya nyāyagarbhadvijahutahutabhugdhūmadhūmropakaṇṭhe |
dvāraṁ dvāraṁ praviṣṭo varamudaradarīpūraṇāya kṣudhārto
mānī prāṇaiḥ sanātho na punaranudinaṁ tulyakulyeṣu dīnaḥ || 23||
Wandering in holy places or extensive forests, whose outskirts are grey with smoke of fires tended by priests expert in rituals; a begging bowl in hand covered with a white cloth; entering from door to door to appease the distressing hunger by filling the stomach and sustaining the energy, is preferred by a self-respecting person to being a beggar among his compeers every day.
bhikṣāhāramadainyamapratisukhaṁ bhīticchidaṁ sarvato
durmātsaryamadābhimānamathanaṁ duḥkhaughavidhvaṁsanam |
sarvatrānvahamaprayatnasulabhaṁ sādhupriyaṁ pāvanaṁ
śambhoḥ satramavāryamakṣayanidhiṁ śaṁsanti yogīśvarāḥ || 30||
Food obtained by begging alms is not humiliating, gives joy that is not dependent on fulfilling others' needs, and is totally devoid of fear. It destroys envy, arrogance, pride, impatience, and the stream of miseries. It is easily available everywhere, without great effort, and regarded as sacred by holy persons. It is like Shiva's feeding house, ever accessible and inexhaustible. Thus do the perfected yogis describe it.
rātriḥ saiva punaḥ sa eva divaso matvā mudhā jantavo
dhāvantyudyaminastathaiva nibhṛtaprārabdhatattatkriyāḥ |
vyāpāraiḥ punaruktabhūta viṣayairitthaṁvidhenāmunā
saṁsāreṇa kadarthitā vayamaho mohānna lajjāmahe || 44||
Watching the night following the day, creatures still vainly persist in running busily with various actions motivated by desires. Such repetitious actions, alas! born of desires bring us no shame, keeping us deluded in the revolving cycles of births and deaths.
vayamiha parituṣṭā valkalaistvaṁ dukūlaiḥ
sama iva paritoṣo nirviśeṣo viśeṣaḥ |
sa tu bhavatu daridro yasya tṛṣṇā viśālā
manasi ca parituṣṭe ko'rthavānko daridraḥ || 53||
We are content to wear tree-barks for clothes, and you with rich dresses; but the contentment is alike, and the difference is not significant. He whose desires are numerous is indeed poor. If contentment is in the mind, then who is rich or poor?
pareṣāṁ cetāṁsi pratidivasamārādhya bahudhā
prasādaṁ kiṁ netuṁ viśasi hṛdaya kleśakalitam |
prasanne tvayyantaḥ svayamuditacintāmaṇigaṇo
viviktaḥ saṅkalpaḥ kimabhilaṣitaṁ puṣyati na te || 61||
Winning the favors of others is hard; why then does your heart seek to appease the minds of others? With inward tranquility and abstaining from social intercourse, wise thought will arise in you spontaneously; and should you wish for anything what will you not acquire?
kiṁ vedaiḥ smṛtibhiḥ purāṇapaṭhanaiḥ śāstrairmahāvistaraiḥ
svargagrāmakuṭīnivāsaphaladaiḥ karmakriyāvibhūmaiḥ |
svātmānandapadapraveśakalanaṁ śeṣairvaṇigvṛttibhiḥ || 71||
What use in study of Vedas, Smritis, Puranas, the sophisticated Shastras, and the elaborated rituals for obtaining residence in cottage of paradise village? The only way causing liberation from the burden of filling sorrows of inevitable all consuming fire of time, is the entering into beatitude of own Self (soul). Rest is attempts of deal!
yāvatsvasthamidaṁ śarīramarujaṁ yāvajjarā dūrato
yāvaccendriyaśaktirapratihatā yāvatkṣayo nāyuṣaḥ |
ātmaśreyasi tāvadeva viduṣā kāryaḥ prayatno mahān
sandīpte bhavane tu kūpakhananaṁ pratyudyamaḥ kīdṛśaḥ || 75||
As long as this body is healthy and free of infirmity, as long as senility is distant, as long as the faculties have not lost their vigor, as long as life is not enfeebled, till then should the wise ones make great efforts to reach the supreme goal of life. For what is the use of digging a well when the house is on fire?
maheśvare vā jagatāmadhīśvare
janārdane vā jagadantarātmani |
na vastubhedapratipattirasti me
tathāpi bhaktistaruṇenduśekhare || 84||
Between the great Lord of the universe, Shiva, and the innermost Self of the universe, Vishnu, there is no difference for me. However, my devotion is to Shiva, holding the crescent moon on His head.
pāṇiṁ pātrayatāṁ nisargaśucinā bhaikṣeṇa santuṣyatāṁ
yatra kvāpi niṣīdatāṁ bahutṛṇaṁ viśvaṁ muhuḥ paśyatām ||
adhvā ko'pi śivaprasādasulabhaḥ sampatsyate yoginām || 90||
Using the hands as a bowl, contented with the naturally pure food from alms, resting in any place, constantly viewing the world to be worth no more than a blade of grass, experiencing uninterrupted supreme joy even before the body falls, for such aspirants alone the grace of Shiva makes the path of liberation easy of attainment.
kaupīnaṁ śatakhaṇḍajarjarataraṁ kanthā punastādṛśī
naiścintyaṁ nirapekṣabhaikṣamaśanaṁ nidrā śmaśāne vane |
svātantryeṇa niraṅkuśaṁ viharaṇaṁ svāntaṁ praśāntaṁ sadā
sthairyaṁ yogamahotsave'pi ca yadi trailokyarājyena kim || 91||
Wearing a loin-cloth worn-out and tattered into a hundred rags, with a wrap-around in similar condition, free from anxiety, eating food from alms begged without any expectations, sleeping in a forest or a cremation-ground, roaming freely without hindrance, ever indrawn and calm, and also established in the great joy of Divine union, -------for such a one even sovereignty of the three worlds is beneath comparison.
bhikṣāśī janamadhyasaṅgarahitaḥ svāyattaceṣṭaḥ sadā
hānādānaviraktamārganirataḥ kaścittapasvī sthitaḥ |
nirmāno nirahaṅkṛtiḥ śamasukhābhogaikabaddhaspṛhaḥ || 95||
Living on alms, unattached to the company of people, ever acting with total freedom, devoted to the path of dispassion towards the exchange of wealth, such a one is a true ascetic. Wearing worn-out rags thrown in the streets, using a blanket received by chance for a seat, without pride or selfishness, the ascetic wishes solely for the joy of the controlled mind.
caṇḍālaḥ kimayaṁ dvijātirathavā śūdro'tha kiṁ tāpasaḥ
kiṁ vā tattvavivekapeśalamatiyagīśvaraḥ ko'pi kim |
na kruddhāḥ pathi naiva tuṣṭamanaso yānti svayaṁ yoginaḥ || 96||
”Is this person an outcaste? or a twice-born? or a sudra? or an ascetic? or else some master yogi with the mind filled with philosophical discernment? “When people address the ascetic thus, doubting and debating garrulously, the Yogis themselves walk away, neither angry nor pleased.
pāṇiḥ pātraṁ pavitraṁ bhramaṇaparigataṁ bhaikṣamakṣayyamannaṁ
vistīrṇaṁ vastramāśādaśakamacapalaṁ talpamasvalpamurvī |
yeṣāṁ niḥsaṅgatāṅgīkaraṇa pariṇatasvāntasantoṣiṇaste
dhanyāḥ sannyastadainyavyatikaranikarāḥ karma nirmūlayanti || 99||
The hands serving as a sacred bowl, subsisting on the never-dwindling alms obtained while roaming, the vast expanse of the sky serving as a dress, and the earth for a stable, spacious bed---people with such dispassion are blessed indeed, for they have renounced the poverty of attitude seeking mundane pleasures and thus giving up worldly contacts, and inwardly contented in heart fulfilled by accepting solitude, and thus able to uproot all actions (the roots of future rebirths and deaths).
The Story of Raja Bhartrihari by Svami Shivananda
Once when Raja Bhartrihari was on his throne, a great Tapasvin or Rishi came to his court. Bhartrihari at once got up from his seat, and prostrating himself before the Tapasvin began to serve him in various ways. The sage being extremely pleased with the Raja’s demeanour, gave him a fruit that could bestow upon the eater immortality and peace. Now Raja Bhartrihari had a very beautiful queen of whom he was very enamoured and whom he very dearly loved. He thought that the only person who deserved this fruit was his young queen and none else, and so he took this God-sent gift to her and offered her the same. This young queen, though for all practical purposes the beloved of the Raja, had a paramour in the person of the charioteer who used to take her for drives now and then. She therefore took this fruit to him and gave him the same. Again this charioteer had a prostitute whom also he loved, and, accordingly, he gave the fruit to her. Now, this prostitute thought that the only person who best deserved this fruit was Raja Bhartrihari himself, and so she took this fruit in her hands went to the Raja’s palace and offered it to him. Raja Bhartrihari was simply mystified. He was unable to solve the problem as to how it could be possible for this prostitute to get the fruit that was the rightful possession of his queen. After deep thought and great deliberation, he was able to solve the problem by himself. Just before this incident, Bhartrihari’s brother who came to know of the queen’s love for the king’s charioteer had told Bhartrihari that the queen was an unchaste lady and that it was a great shame onthe fair name of the royal family to keep a woman as queen in the palace when she secretly loved the king’s charioteer. But the young queen rose equal to the occasion and brought forth evidences to disprove the validity of the charge against her and was able to prevail upon the king to exile his brother from the kingdom. After due investigation into the whole matter, with all the dexterity that he could command, Bhartrihari came to the conclusion that, after all, the charge brought against his queen by his brother was true and that he had been fooled by a woman to take the extreme step of exiling his own brother who loved him so dearly and who held as high the fair name of the royal family by zealously guarding it from insinuation and blot. True Vairagya immediately dawned upon the king. He now thought that there was none in the world who was really dear to another, no, not even one’s own wife or brother or friend. He became convinced that in fact these are one’s real enemies. He felt extreme disgust for the world and its pleasures and at once left his kingdom, wife and children and retired into the forests to lead a life of a Sannyasin. He did profound meditation for many years and finally attained knowledge of Self. He wrote a book generally known as ‘Bhartrihari’s Vairagya Satakam, or the Hundred Verses of Renunciation’ a perusal of which will produce immediate disgust for things mundane and induce one to renounce everything and lead the life of a recluse. (Source: How to get Vairagya by Swami Shivananda Published By
THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY)
One more variation of the same events
Raja Bhartari was the son of Raja Bhoj, king of Dharanagar. He had 71 ranis, of whom one, by name Pingla, was a disciple of Gorakh (47) who gave her a flower saying it would remain ever fresh as long as her husband was alive. One day to test Pingla’s love Bhartari went a-hunting and sent back his blood-stained clothes and horse with the news that he had been killed, but the rani, seeing the flower still fresh knew that the Raja only doubted her love for him and in grief at his mistrust killed herself. When she was carried out to the burning-ground the Raja evinced great grief and Gorakh appeared. Breaking his chipi (48), the saint walked round it, weeping and Bhartari asked him why he grieved. Gorakh answered that he could get the Raja a thousand queens, but never a vessel like the one he had just broken, and he showed him a hundred ranis as fair as Pingla, but each of them said: ‘Hold aloof! Art thou mad? No one knows how often we have been thy mothers or sisters or wives.’ Hearing these words Bhartari’s grief was moderated and he made Gorakh his guru, but did not abandon his kingdom. Still when he returned to his kingdom the loss of Pingla troubled him and his other queens bade him seek distraction in hunting. In great pomp he marched forth, and the dust darkened the sun. On the banks of the Samru he saw a herd of deer, 70 hinds with a single stag. He failed to kill the stag, and one of the hinds besought him to kill one of them instead, since the stag was as dear to them as he was to his queens, but the Raja said he, a Kshatriya, could not kill a hind. So the hind who had spoken bade the stag meet the Raja’s arrow, and as he fell he said: ‘Give my feet to the thief that he may escape with his life; my horns to a Jogi that he may use them as his nad; my skin to an ascetic that he may worship on it; my eyes to a fair woman that she may be called mirga-naini, (49); and eat my flesh thyself.’ And to this day these things are used as the dying stag desired.
On his return the Raja was met by Gorakh who said he had killed one of his disciples. Bhartari retorted that if he had any spiritual powers he could restore the stag to life, and Gorakh, casting a little earth on his body, did so. Bhartari then became a Jogi and with his retainers accompanied Gorakh, but the latter refused to accept him as a disciple unless he brought alms from his ranis, addressing them as his mothers, and practised jog for 12 years. Bhartari did as he was bid, and in answer to his queens’ remonstrances said: “From the point of view of my raj ye are my queens, but from that of jog ye are my mothers, as the guru has bidden me call you so.” Thus he became a perfect jogi and founded the Bhartari Bairag panth of the Jogis.