Story of Harishchandra, his son Lohita and Varuna Deva
How can I obtain a putra? asked Harischchandra.
Go to the banks of the Goutami Ganga (or Godaavari) advised the vipras (bhakths of Bhagavan). Make prarthana to the Varuna Deva there. We are sure that Varuna Deva will grant you a putra.
Harishchandra pleased Varuna with his prarthana and asked for a putra.
You will have a putra, said Varuna Deva. But there is a nibhandanam for it. You will have to subsequently organize a yajnam in my gauravam and you will have to make tyaga of your putra at this yajna. Tell me if this nibhandhanam is sweekaaryam to you.
Yes indeed, replied Harischchandra.
In Kaalakramenam, Harishchandra had a putra who's naamam was Rohita or Lohita.
Varuna came ot Harishchandra and asked, What about the yajna in my gauravam?
Please let my putra grow his teeth, replied Harishchandra. Pashus are made tyagam at yajnas. And no one becomes an pashus until he actually has teeth.
Varuna waited till the teeth grew and returned When Rohita was seven varusham of age. What about the yajna in my gauravam? he asked.
These are only milk teeth, replied harishchandra. These do not characteristics of a pashu. Please wait until his proper teeth have grown.
Varuna returned back when the proper teeth grew and asked, What about the yajna in my gauravam?
He is the son of a kshatriya replied Harishchandra. But his shikshanam in the art of yudham has not even made praarambham. He cannot be called a kshatriya until he knows how to make yudham. Till that day he is an apoorna manushyam. Do you really want such an apoorna manushyam as a tyagam?
After some years had passed, Rohita became skilled in the art of yudham and was appointed as the yuvaraja to the raajyam. He was then sixteen years of age.
Varuna appeared again and asked, What about the yajna in my gauravam?
This time the entire sambhashanam took place in front of the yuvaraja and Rohita intervened before Harishchandra could say anything. Father, he said I have already resolved to perform a yajna in Bhagavan Vishnus gauravam. Please give me anudaanam to complete that first. After that, do what you will.
Rohita went off to the aranyam. Meanwhile, Varuna Deva had enough and he made harishchandra with a painful stomach ailment. News of his father’s vyadhi was taken to Rohita in the aranyam. In the aranyam, Rohita met a rushi named Ajigarata. The rushi was a bada brahmana and, together with his patni and three putras all were starving.
Will you sell one of your three putras to me? asked Rohita. The boy is needed for a yagnam.
I shall not sell my eldest son, said the rushi. My patni will not permit the youngest one to be sold. You can have the one in the middle. His name is Shunahshefa. The moulyam will be one sahasra Go (Cow), one sahasra swarna naanyam, one sahasra pieces of clothing and a lot of aishwaryam.
Rohita paid the price and brought Shunahshefa to gruham and near Harishchandra.
We can’t do this, said Harishchandra. It is the kartavyam of every raja to protect the brahmanas. How can we make tyagam of the putra of a brahmana? It is better to die instead. Go and return Shunahshefa to his pita.
Just then a daivika dwani was heard from the aakaasham. The dwani said, There is no need for anyone to die. Take Shunahshefa to the banks of the Goutami Ganga (or Godaavari) and perform the yajna to Varuna there. Goutami Ganga is such a pavitra nadi that no manushya tyagam are needed if a yajna is performed there.
This is what Harishchandra did and Varuna got trupti. As for Shunahshefa, he became the dattu (adopted) putra of the Maharshi Vishvamitra.
PS: Here it should be noted that a raja did his kartavyam completely by saving his praja. A putra became a pitra vachana paripaalaka. And off course Harishchandra as per his words, completely satisfied the Varuna Deva's words as per the vachana given.
OM NAMO NARAYANAYA