Shravan Kumar belonged to the time when King
Dashratha ruled Ayodhya. He was born of poor
and blind parents, but they had brought him up remarkably well. He was strong healthy and honest, and
he had a good character. He bore sincere love and
respect for his parents. He was also a great devotee
of God. Everyday he worked hard to make his parents
as comfortable and happy. In his leisure time he
prayed to God and attended to his poor, blind and
One day his parents told him that they had be-
come quite aged. They, therefore, wanted him to take
them to the various places of pilgrimage : this could
make them fully satisfied and give them abundant
peace of mind. It is a typical Hindu belief that a
pilgrimage to the various shrines and holy places under-
taken in old age, purifies the soul and takes one nearer
to one's Maker ere the icy hand of Death touches one. To a Hindu mind nothing is more precious, than
becoming one with the great Maker of this Universe.
In those days means of transport were scarce and
costly, and Shravan Kumar could not afford to hire-
them. He, therefore, decided to place his parents in
two baskets and carry the baskets on his shoulder to
the places of pilgrimage. He took a strong bamboo-
stick, at its two ends he tied the two baskets with
strong ropes, and placed his father in one of the baskets
and his mother in the other. Carrying on his shoulder
this bamboo stick with a basket at either end, Shravan
started on the pilgrimage.
After having visited a few places of pilgrimage, he
found himself on the banks of the sacred river
Sharayu. Pleased with the beautiful scenery around.
he decided to take a little rest there, with his parents.
Shravan then placed the baskets in the shade of a tree.
And after describing the beauties of the scene to his
blind parents, he told them that he wanted to take a
dip in the river Sharayu- The bath was sure to re-
fresh him. His parents asked Sharavan to take his
bath leisurely: they also asked him to fetch them
pitcher of water from the river, for they were feeling
Shravan went to the river and had his dip. Now
he had to fetch drinking water for his parents, and
so he dipped a pitcher into the water. As the pitcher
was getting filled, there was that peculiar bubbling
sound caused by the air escaping from within.
At that precise time. King Dashratha of Ayodhya.
who was on a hunting expedition, happened to be
near the spot. Hearing the bubbling sound, the King
thought that it was caused by a deer drinking water
in the river. Dashratha stood silent for a while and
only with the bubbling sound to guide him carefully
took aim and shot his arrow. Indeed the arrow hit
the target with precision, but the King was astonished
to hear the pain-stricken screams of a human being
instead of the painful cry of a dying deer. Shravan
had become the target of the King's arrow. Injured
fatally, he lay screaming in a pool of blood.
The King came to the spot and saw the ghastly
mistake he had committed. He repented for his hasty
action, but it was too late. He then placed Shravan's
head on his lap, and tried to elicit some information
about himself. Shravan Kumar told him that he would
be dying in a few minutes, but he felt sorry for his
blind parents, who were resting in the shade of the tree, waiting for him to quench their thirst. He.
Therefore, requested the King to attend to his old,
blind parents. Soon Shravan breathed his last.
Now the King; had to perform the duties of
Shravan. He lifted the pitcher and brought it to
Shravan's parents and raised it up to the lips of the
blind old man. The King did not utter a single word
for fear of revealing the stark reality. But the
parents would not take water till they heard the
familiar voice of their beloved son. So they asked:
"0 dear son. why do you not speak today? Are you
angry with us because you have to toil so much to
At last King Dashratha had to tell them all that
had happened. The parents were unable to bear the
grief as their beloved son was no more. They told
Dashratha that they could not live in this world with-
out their son. They cursed the King that he, too would meet his death caused by the sorrow of separation from his son just as what had happened to them.
Shortly afterwards both the parents passed away.
Many years passed, and Dashratha had four sons.
The eldest son was Rama. In due course. Dashratha
began preparing to crown Rama as the King of
Ayodhya so that he could retire to the jungles and
live there a peaceful life praying to God. Now
Dashratha had given two boons in the past to his
wife Kaikeyi. Rama's step-mother. She insisted that
the King grant her the boons before crowning Rama.
The King hesitated, but had to concede in the end. She
demanded that Rama be sent to the forest for
fourteen years and her son Bharat be crowned as
the king of Ayodhya. The shock of the thought of
fourteen years' separation from his son, Rama was so
great that Dashratha instantly collapsed and died.
And thus the curse of Shravun Kumar's parents
Each wrong is avenged, and each labour rewarded
in the grand scheme of things. The story of Shravan
bears this out, even as it underlines another great
truth, that none, not even the king who rules over
the land can escape the consequences of his action. Of
course there is the question of time, but what is time
when things are viewed in terms of the Infinite ?