According to Vishnu Purana, Narayaneeyam and Bhagavata Purana
Vedic Rishi Parasara, the presumed author of Rg Veda and Dharma Sastra and a disciple of Kapila learned Vishnu Purana from Pulastya and passed it on to Maitreya. He comes in the lineage of Vasistha. Parasara married Satyavati (daughter of Apsaras Adrika) with great beauty and fish odor. She was plying a ferryboat business for a living and Parasara happened to be a passenger; he lost no time in proposing to her. She insisted to the Rishi that he could marry her if he got rid of her fishy smell, which he did; since then she assumed the name of Gandhavati (the sweet-smelling lady). She gave birth to the 28th Veda-Vyasa known as Krishna Dvaipayana, so named because he was born in Dvipa (Island) in the Yamuna River. Pulastya, the mind-born son of Bramah, a great Rishi and the Guru of Parasara, gave him many boons for his patience and uprightness. One boon was that he would be the author of a synopsis of all Puranas. (A version states that Parasara did not really marry Satyavathi. He had congress with her and a boy was born soon after union and grew up to a man immediately after birth. Krishna Dvaipayana was the black boy born on the island [as his name implies] in the Yamuna river.)
Dhruva means Firm, Fixed, Constant, Immovable like a pillar, mountain, Vow. Dhruva is the Pole Star used by seafarers, because of its fixed position in the heavens; it is an icon of constancy expected of a bride. Dhruva is named after the Pole Star, a pivot of the planets, compared to Vishnu in heavens. The heavenly bodies are tethered to the Pole Star by ropes, according to Vishnu Purana.
Manu Svayambhuva bore three girls and two sons, Priyavarta and Uttanapada; the latter had two sons, Uttama by his favorite younger queen Suruchi and Dhruva by older Suniti. One day the father was sitting on his throne. Uttama climbed up and sat on the lap of Uttanapada in the presence of Suruchi. Dhruva came by and wanted to be seated on his father's lap just like Uttama. Suruchi stopped him from fulfilling his desires by saying, "You are not a son of mine. Don't desire for something that you cannot hope for, because you were not born in my womb. That station on the lap of the King is for the exclusive use of Uttama and not you. The claim on the throne is only for my glorious son Uttama. If you desire the throne, perform penance and seek the Lord to have me as your mother. Why do you entertain such regal ambition which you are not entitled to? Don't you ever forget that you are no son of mine but merely that of Suniti." Other sources say that Suniti jerked Dhruva around and prevented him from climbing up to his father's lap. The king made no attempt to treat his sons equally. The uxorious king did not even condemn the hostile act and words of his younger wife. It is alleged Suruchi had no devotion to or fear of the Lord and she believed in her own charm, beauty and self-confidence. The king's love for his younger wife extended to Uttama and detestation of his older wife to her son, Dhruva. He was never a devotee of the Lord; Lord's Maya took hold of the king and blinded him. Such people become victim to circumstances beyond their control. They lose their sense of judgment, proportion and fairness; their choice between good and bad is beyond their comprehension.
Having heard an earful of venomous words from his stepmother Suruchi, Dhruva felt like a serpent beaten by a stick and went to his mother with a long face and downcast eyes. He was only five years of age. Noticing his sullen looks, Suniti took Dhruva on her laps and lovingly asked him whether anybody offended him. Dhruva narrated the story as it happened, which brought tears to her eyes and distress to her heart. But she immediately steeled herself, put on a brave face and told her son, "Yes, Suruchi, your stepmother is correct. You are eating the fruits of your karma, which dictated that you suffer the insults from Suruchi. Don't be disheartened, my son; no one can expunge the karma of his past life without the help of Vishnu. Karma of past lives carries Vasanas which cling to the soul which cannot be eliminated by mere good acts. Surrendering to the Lord will remove the Vasanas. Your great grandfather, Brahma attained a high position on account of Vishnu. Your grandfather Manu also attained eminence and beatitude by taking refuge at the feet of Vishnu. The throne, the regal umbrella, the elephants, horses belong to those with deserved merit and virtue. Keep this in your mind and be happy. The only way you can expunge your karma is to take refuge at the feet of Vishnu."
She continued to address her son as follows. "The high favors that Suruchi and Uttama enjoy are on account of the merits accumulated in their past lives. Suruchi's past piety guaranteed that she begot Uttama to inherit the throne. The reason your father the king did not support you is because you had the misfortune of having had me as your mother. He is ashamed to call me his wife. You became my son on account of your lesser merit. It is such that my merit is inferior to Suruchi's. A wise man would be happy with his lot in life. If Suruchi's words hurt you, work harder to accumulate religious merit that confers boons. Be happy, likeable, pious, kindly, fair, and helpful to all living things. Prosperity trickles down to the deserving like the waters that come down to the low point." Dhruva, it appears, inherited his mother's piousness.
Dhruva replied to his mother, "Mother, Thank you for your kind advice, though your words do not heal my heart broken by Suruchi's harsh words. I will do all you said to increase my merit, which will be respected and adored in this world. It is true I am no son of Suruchi, the love of my father, and yet being you son, I will make it happen that you will behold me and my glory with pride and joy. It is agreeable to me that Uttama, my half-brother takes the throne given to him by my father and stepmother. I do not seek honor, position and wealth which are not commensurate with my deeds. I will acquire merit on my own worth and actions, whose fruits will exceed what my own father enjoys now." (Uttanapada neglected his older wife in favor of his younger wife Suniti. The latter's sweet words and his love for her completely blinded him. Some sources say that he did not even give Suruchi her living expenses and that she lived in the forest. She was said to have surrendered to Guruvayurappan, another name of Narayana. Some say that the king drove his wife away to the forest as soon as Dhruva was born.)
Having said that, Dhruva, aged five, left his mother, smarting under the harsh words of his stepmother and lack of support from his father, went into the forest and met seven Munis seated on black antelope skins. He told the Munis that he was dissatisfied with the world. The Munis including Narada were taken aback at his attitude. They thought that a prince at a tender age has no reason to be despondent. They could not reconcile to the notion that a five-year old prince can leave his royal parents and comforts to live with the Munis in the forest. They enquired of Dhruva, "You don't seem to have any affliction or disease. Why are you abandoning the life of a child and prince? What is the cause of your malcontent?"
Dhruva at length described the incident at the palace, the harsh words of his stepmother, the explanation by his mother for his treatment at the hands of Suruchi and his mother's advice. The sages listened to him carefully, asked him to state his purpose in coming there and express his desire. He declared to the sages, "I am not interested in wealth or kingdom. I want to attain a goal which has never been attained by anybody else before. I want to reach the pinnacle of dignity that no one has ever reached. Tell me the ways and means of obtaining this objective. Having heard such a statement from a child, Narada Muni put his purifying hand on Dhruva's head. Other sages discouraged him from taking a difficult path at this tender age. Dhruva insisted on taking guidance from the Munis.
The Mantra has 12 petals or syllables, OmnamobhagavatevAsudevAya.
DvAdasAksa = DvAdasa pattraka = (10+2)12 petals = OmnamobhagavatevAsudevAya = 12- syllable mantra.
om1-na2-mo3-bha4-ga5-va6-te7-vA8-su9-de10-vA11-ya12 = Om, glory to Bhagavan Vasudeva, whose essence is divine wisdom, whose rupa (form) is incomprehensible and who manifests as Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva.
Dhruva performed austere penance as prescribed my Narada and other Munis. With Vishnu sitting in his heart (as in everybody's heart), his mind and whole being was immersed in Hari worship. Vishnu's presence in his mind weighed down the earth so much, it could not bear the weight of the ascetic. When the young ascetic stood on his left foot, left side of the hemisphere sank from under his foot; the same fate the earth experienced on the right hemisphere when he switched standing on his right foot. When he marked the earth with his toe, the whole earth shook, roiling the mountains, rivers, oceans and gods. His breath-holding exercises (PrAnayAma) did a trick on all air-breathing creatures. Strangely they also stopped breathing when he held his breath, which frightened them. The gods panicked and went to anyone who could help: Yama, Indra, Kushmandas (the demi-gods or demons associated with Siva). They decided to distract Dhruva from his weighty meditation, Pranayama and penance; one Kushmanda (it also means a pumpkin) morphed into likeness of Suniti, Dhruva's mother, stood in front of Dhruva weeping and beseeching him, " O Dhruva my son, stop doing this penance; it is sapping your strength. I gave birth to you with much hope. Please don't leave me at the mercy of your stepmother. You are my refuge. You are only five years of age and this tender age is not suitable for such severe penance. You as a child should be enjoying in play activities; then you should engage in studies as an youngster; later you should enjoy married life as an adult; lastly you could perform penance. Each period in a man's life offers its rights, rituals and obligations. If you don't stop it forthwith, I will end my life right in front of you."
Dhruva, immersed in deep meditation on Vishnu, did not hear any of the lachrymose pleas from the impersonating Pumpkin of Kushmanda. The apparition disappeared as if answering a plea for help from some other source.
Then appeared a frightful mob consisting of Raksasas with terrible weapons, fiends making horrible sounds, fire-emitting jackals howling in the night, goblins bent on eating him piece by piece, boisterous monsters with faces of lions, camels, and crocodiles. All this to frighten a child in meditation. The child deep in meditation with Vishnu seated in his heart did not see or hear any of these spectacles.
The gods, goblins, and goofs, frustrated at their futile acts, went straight to Hari for help. They pleaded with Vishnu to end his penance by saying, O Lord, You are the origin of the world; You are the beginning, the middle and the end; You are the God of gods; You are infinite, supreme, and eternal. The boy is literally taking our breath away from us; he is rapidly accumulating superhuman powers; we are afraid of him and his powers. What does he want for himself? Does he want the throne of Indra, the rulership of solar and lunar orbs, or ownership of all wealth on earth and the oceans?
Vishnu replied, "The youngster has neither the desire to take the place of Indra, nor to own the orbs or the wealth of all three worlds. I will grant his desires, whatever they may be. Go home and relax. I will put and to his penance."
Hari, who is the universe Himself, went to Dhruva assuming the form with four hands. Bhagavata Purana says that he flew down to Madhuvana on the back of Garuda. When Dhruva opened his eyes he saw the Lord in his cosmic form with a thousand heads, as he had the same experiential vision in his heart just before the Lord's arrival. He wanted to imbibe him with eyes, kiss him with his lips and hug him with his arms. He fell at his lotus feet like a stick.
Being pleased with his devotion, Hari addressed him, " Here I am, O son of Uttanapada. I am pleased with your devotion and your nature. You have completely ignored and rejected all external possessions. I am ready to bestow boons upon you."
Vishnu Purana states Dhruva heard the words of God of gods, Vishnu with four hands, whom he has seen in his internal vision while in deep meditation. He opened his eyes and saw Vishnu wearing a diadem with four hands holding the conch, the discus, the mace, the bow, and the scimitar. He stood up and bowed his head in respect. His hair stood on end; his heart sank with awe and wonder. He thought for a moment as to how he could thank the God of gods for his visitation, and what words to say to invite and eulogize him. "The very presence of the God of gods before me was a reward by itself," he thought. His mind was a whirlpool of activity. Many thoughts rushed by. "How could I ever suitably address Vishnu whose abode is a mystery to Brahma (my great grandfather) and other gods." As such thoughts were flying by with his bowed head and raised and opposed hands at the forehead, Govinda gently touched his face (cheek) with the tip of his conch. (Touching the cheek with his Panchajanya, the conch, is allowing grace to proceed from the Lord to the child and as it were, uploading all sastras into the memory bank of the child. By this maneuver, the Lord removed all his spiritual ignorance.) That precipitated a flurry of words from his soul, "I worship You who is the Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Mind, Intellect, Ahankara, Prakrti, and the pure soul which reigns supreme over nature. I salute You, devoid of all qualities (Nirguna). You are above elements, senses, sense objects, matter and spirit. I have taken refuge with the Highest of your form. You are the Male with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet, who roams the universe floating ten inches above any contact. You are the Origin of Virat, Swarat, Samrat, and Adhipurusha.
Virat, Swarat, Samrat, and Adhipurusha.
Virat = Virāṭṭu = விராட்டு = The Supreme Being, as the embodiment of the whole Universe.
Swarat = svarāṭ = ஸ்வராட் = Brahmā.
Samrat = Samrāt = ஸம்ராட் = Overlord; emperor.
Adipurusha = First man. Title of Viṣṇu
All parts of the earth are dependent on you. You are the universe that was, that is and that shall be. This universe resides in you who assumes the universal Form. you are the Origin of sacrifice and Sacrifice itself. You are the Vedas and the meters. Horses and cows with teeth on lower jaws came from thee; so also the sheep, the goat and the deer. The Brahmanas, the Ksatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Sudras came from your mouth, arms, thighs and feet respectively. Your eyes gave birth to the sun; your ears, the wind; your mind, the moon; your central vein, the vital airs; your mouth, the fire; your navel, the sky; your head, the heaven; your feet, the earth. The huge Nyogradha tree (Indian fig) sprouts from the tiny seed, the whole universe unfolds from its germ in you. As the plantain leaves expand from its central stem, the whole universe expands from the stem (Axis Mundi) that you are. you are the origin of intellect and dualities of pleasure and pain and yet you transcend them all. I salute you, the One without a second and yet you are the origin of many. You assume all forms and pervade them all. You are the Universal Soul; all find oneness in you; you are one with all things. You are all the beings and know all their desires. My desire that you know is already fulfilled by your presence and by my seeing you."
Vishnu spoke to Dhruva as follows. "You have attained the object of your devotion by seeing me in person, which brings my good graces. Ask me what you want and devoted men always have their wishes fulfilled by me.
Dhruva: O My Lord, How is it possible that you, who lives in my heart, not know what I cherish in my heart? I have in my heart a desire which is very difficult to fulfill, though nothing in this universe is impossible for you. It is because of you that Indra is the god of the three worlds. My stepmother Suniti, told me that the throne was not mine because I was not born of her. I ask of you to find me an exalted place in the universe that is above all others and will remain so for eternity.
Vishnu: Part Vishnu, part Bhagavata Purna. You shall obtain what you desire. I was favorably disposed to you in your previous life. You were a Brahman in the past life devoted to me and your parents and your duty. You made friends with a wayward elegant handsome prince an you wanted to become one like him. In due course of time, you were born again in this world and at this time as the son of Uttanapada in the great enviable lineage of Brahma and Svyambhuva Manu. Since you did not much care for this exalted royal position, you became a devotee of mine, propitiated and worshipped me as the Supreme. Heaven is nothing for the one whose mind is fixed on me. I will award a place to you far above the three worlds, in which you will be the main anchor and sustainer of the stars and planets. You will be like the central pole and all the stars, planets, lunar houses will be like the oxen tied to the pole going round and round threshing and trampling the corn. You will be the king of your father's kingdom for thirty-six thousand years after he retires. Your half-brother will lose his life during a hunting trip and his mother will succumb to the forest fire while she goes searching him. After enjoying your life on earth you come to My Abode (Ursa major) far above the dominion of Sapta Rishis; once you are in My Abode, which is the Highest, Loftiest and the Most Supreme, there is no return to the mortal world.
Still Dhruva was dissatisfied, though he was promised the Abode of the Lord. He was able to achieve in six months what other sages could not dream of it. He regretted for having thought of his brother and step-mother as his enemies.
Vishnu Purana states the following. Your station is above the moon, the sun, the Mars, Mercury (the son of Soma), Venus, Saturn (son of Surya), all other constellations and the Mandala (domain) of the seven Rishis and other aerial-car traveling celestials. Four ages (4.32 Million Years = One Maha Yuga = four Yugas, BG08 ) are the lifetime of some celestial beings; some live for the duration of the of a Manu (308,571,429 years); you (Dhruva) will live for the duration of a Kalpa (4.32 billion years).
Going by these figures, Dhruva's life of one Kalpa is 0.0139% of the life of his Great grandfather Brahma. His grandfather Manu lives only for 0.0001% of life of his father, Brahma.
Brahma's day precedes a night of equal duration. There are two thousand Yugas or periods in Brahma's one day and one night, which last (4.32 billion years X 2) 8.64 billion earth-years. His one-day (4.32 billion years) consists of one thousand cycles of all four yugas and there are fourteen manvantaras in one Brahma's day and night. Each manvantara has its own Manu, Indra, and Rishis. Manvantara means period of Manu and there are 14 Manus in a Brahma’s day, 5040 Manus in one year and 504,000 Manus in one Brahma's lifetime of 100 Brahma years. Brahma and the attending Manus and Rishis come and go, but Maha Vishnu remains forever.
Vishnu: Your mother, Suniti, will be near you in the orb of the bright star for the same duration as you. Those who praise you in the morning and evening will gain merit.
Thoughts of Dhruva. I desired for something that is perishable in that I wanted to be the highest station in the universe, which one day will fall. My motive to penance arose from my frustration that I would not be king.
In the meantime, King Uttanapada very much regretted for having abandoned his son by listening to the egregious advice of his younger wife, Suruchi. NArada Muni, having heard about the grief of the king went to his palace to comfort him. He told the king that Dhruva performed severe penance and progressively reduced his food intake every month for five months. Dhruva's food consisted of Kapittha (wood apple), Badara (jujube) fruit, grass, leaves and water in measured quantities and at regular intervals according prescriptive injunctions. King's worry about his son's safety came very late and yet Narada Muni reassured him that the Lord is protecting him and his glory will spread far and wide. Five months of partial fasting stands for five Kosas or sheaths of the body: Annamaya Kosa, Pranamaya Kosa, Vijnanamaya Kosa, Manonmaya Kosa, and Anadamaya Kosa. For more details go to BG02. It took five months for Dhruva to purify his body sheaths.
Before Dhruva could claim the highest station (Sthana) in the universe, Lord gave him the anugraha (benefits, favor) to rule this earth and enjoy its pleasures for 30,000 years.
After this episode, prompted by Narada Muni, the king, Suruchi and Uttama and Suniti welcomed Dhruva back to the kingdom with pomp and pageantry. His mother kissed him on his head and soaked him with tears of joy. Suruchi and Uttama hugged him lovingly. Dhruva along with his father and Uttama mounted a female elephant at the outskirts of the city and made his way to the city of Barhismati. The city was adorned appropriately for the occasion. People thronged on either side of the parade route and sprinkled it with rice, fruits, flowers and sandal water. He came to the most luxurious palace and lived there. After his installation as the king, Uttanapada left the palace for the forest to perform Tapas.
Bhagavata Purana continues.
Dhruva took Bhrami, daughter of Sisumara, as his bride and the royal couple bore tow sons, Kalpa and Vatsara. Dhruva's other wife Ila (the daughter of wind-god, Vayu) gave birth to a son Utkala and a daughter.
Dhruva's half-brother Uttama went on a hunting trip on the Himalayas and sustained loss of life at the hands of stronger Yaksa (a supernatural being and attendant of Kubera, the richest man in heavens with three legs and only eight teeth). Uttama's mother Suruchi followed him to her death.
True to his brotherly love, Dhruva becam very angry and invaded the City of Alaka to avenge the death of his half-brother. Alaka was a city of Yaksas and ghosts, the latter being the attendants of Siva. The sound of the conch-shell of Dhruva rattled the the wives of the Yaksas. The warriors of the demigods attacked Dhruva with all they had. Dhruva sent three arrows all at once to each of his assailants. They sent in return six shafts each to Dhruva. Yaksas, one hundred and thirty thousand strong, attacked Dhruva with assorted weapons and arrows with rainbow-colored feathers. Dhruva disappeared in a torrential rain of arrows; the grieving Siddhas witnessing the war from heavens uttered a cry in unison at the disappearance of Dhruva. As the Yaksas declared their victory over Dhruva, out of the blue, Dhruva's chariot emerged like a sun from behind the clouds. He plucked the strings of the bow and the vibrations sent terror in the hearts of the enemies. The raining arrows from his bow disappeared in the bodies of the titanic Raksasas, who were cut into pieces and body parts strewn all over the battlefield. Then the unexpected happened. It rained on him, around him and everywhere--not watery rain, but a rain of pus, phlegm, ordure, urine, fat and headless bodies from the sky. The Yaksas wrought this reeking trick on Dhruva. The sages were worried and sent a prayer to Vishnu, asking Him to come the the rescue of Dhruva. Dhruva washed his hands, sipped some water and sent a shower of arrows to the Yaksas from the bow designed by the divine Sage Narayana. The Yaksas sent arrows back which came like angry hooded serpents attacking Garuda. Dhruva attacked the Yaksas, tore their limbs, body, and head and sent them to Satyaloka, the abode of Brahma, who witnessing the endless arrival of the Yaksa souls felt compassionate. Manu came down to Dhruva accompanied by sages.
Manu confronted Dhruva, his grandson and told him that he should be ashamed of killing the demigods, accumulating sin on account of killing innocent Yaksas, and bringing disrepute to his race.
Manu: For the fault of one Yaksa who killed your brother, you killed many of them. This is not becoming of you, a Viveki (wise man). It is not the Yaksa who killed your brother, but the Will of God. He (Uttana) died on account of his Karma. Though you are a devotee of Lord Vishnu and expected to control your passions, you went ahead and killed the Yaksas as if they were animals. In the past, you regarded all creatures as your own self; you did the exact opposite now. Vishnu likes devotees with patience towards elders, compassion towards the unfortunate, friendliness towards the equals and evenhandedness towards all beings and yet you broke your faith with God. After a lengthy scolding and advice, Manu left Dhruva.
Kubera, whose minion killed his half-brother, came down to Dhruva and thanked him for stopping the killing of the Yaksas upon objection from Manu.
Kubera: It was not the Yaksa who killed Uttana and it was not you who killed the Yaksas in retaliation; it is the Time-Spirit that wrought the hands of death.
Kubera conferred a boon on Dhruva that the Lord would be in his remembrance at all times. He thought about the impermanence of his kingdom, his wife, his progeny, his friends, his army, his wealth, the gynaeceum, the playgrounds, the hunting grounds, the sea-girt world. He ruled his kingdom for thirty-six thousand years in the most compassionate manner, let his son Utkala ascend the throne, and left for Visala forest near the modern Bhadrinath. Dhruva was aware of the ephemeral nature of the world. He took dips in Ganga, performed Pranayama and meditation and lost consciousness while in deep Samadhi. Dipping in Ganga is to wash off all the impurities of the five sheaths of his body. All his Indriyas (senses and sense organs) became pure. There came a dissociation between his sense organs and their objects. This universe bears the form of the Lord and therefore he worshipped the universe as Vishnu. When he was in Samadhi, the memory of the universe, his body, ego, and the I-ness receded into oblivion and the Vishnu's form took its place. Two attendants of Vishnu, Sunanda and Nanda, came in brightly lit aerial car. They eulogized him and his devotion to Vishnu from the tender age of five and invited him to board the car for the abode of Vishnu, which was not even attained by his forefathers. He paid his obeisance and bid farewell to all the Gurus and Mahans. As he was preparing to board the car, Death came in time; tabors, kettledrums and the like played on their own accord; Gandharvas showering flowers sent him on his way to Vishnu's abode (Vaikunta). Suddenly a thought came to his mind: his mother. What about her? Shouldn't he take her with him? Knowing his mind, the two deities showed him the second aerial car with his mother aboard. Gods showered flowers at every stage in his journey, shouting praises and applauding him. He went by one planet after another on his travel. He went past the three worlds (the earth, the intermediate zone, and the celestial sphere), and the realm of the seven Seers. He reached the abode of Vishnu way above all worlds. It shines on its own effulgence, which the three worlds reflect. Only they who perform service to others, are of calm, collected, tranquil and fair-minded disposition and regard other devotees of Vishnu as his brother can go to the eternal abode of Immortal Vishnu.