There was a descendent of Dhruva named Prachinabarahi, who thought the path to heaven lay in performing sacrifices. Many animals lost their lives that way. The sage Narada wanted to turn him away from this path and towards God, so he told him the story of Puranjana.

Long, long ago there was a king named Puranjana, who had a friend whose name no one knew. Puranjana wanted to find a city well enough to settle in, so after much searching, he just found the place at the foothills of the Himalayas. The city was magnificent. It had nine gates, stately palaces, beautiful gardens and crystal lakes. It had everything he wanted, and he was very happy to find such a wonderful place. As he wandered around the garden, he saw a bewitchingly beautiful young woman. She was attended by ten women, each of whom commanded eleven soldiers, as also a serpent with five heads. Puranjana immediately fell in love with her and married her.

The couple spent their days in great happiness in the city of nine gates. Puranjana fulfilled every command of his wife. When she was sad, he was sad. When she was happy, he was happy. His mind always dwelt on her. This beautiful damsel was his all in all. In time, they had many sons and daughters.

One day Puranajana went hunting in a magnificient chariot drawn by ten horses, and out of sport he killed a large number of animals. When he returned it was very late, and his wife was very hurt and angry. She wouldn’t even speak to him. Only after speaking many sweet words could Puranjana console her.

No happiness lasts forever. While Puranajana was thus immersed in worldly pleasures and deluded by attachment, Chandavega, a Gandharva king, attacked the city with 360 of his followers and their 360 wives. Gradually they began to destroy the city. After many years of fighting, Puranjana’s capable commander of the city became exhausted and grew weak. At that time a foreign king named Bhaya arrived, along with his troops, and conquered the city. Puranjana was taken prisoner, led away, and then killed by the same animals he had previously killed in sacrifices and who had been reborn.

Due to his excessive attachment to women, he was soon reborn as a woman, the daughter of the king of Vidarbha. This woman was married to Malayadhvaja, the king of the Pandya territory. Her past life as King Puranjana was completely forgotten.

In the course of many years Malayadhvaja and his wife had many children and grandchildren. Then the king decided to divide the kingdom among his sons and retire to Kulachala (Tirupati) and spend his time in worship of the Lord. His wife, the princess of Vidarbha, also renounced everything and left with her husband to serve him.

After practicing meditation and austerities, King Malayadhvaja passed away in a state of meditation. In those days, it was the custom for the Queen to immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. The wood was gathered and the pyre made ready. Just as the wife was about to get into the pyre, a bramhin came there and addressed the Queen, saying: “Well, who are you? And who is this person you are grieving for? Do you not recognise me? I was your friend with whom you used to travel. Forgetting me, you went off in pursuit of sensual pleasures.

After hearing the story of King Puranjana, King Prachinabarhi understood that it had a deep meaning, and he asked Narada to explain it to him. Narada said: “Puranjana is the jiva, the human being, and his great friend, the bramhin is the Ishvara, the Lord. The woman who controlled Puranjana is buddhi, the intellect. Puranajana’s city had nine gates, and so do our bodies: two eyes, to ears, two nostrils, a mouth and two openings for answering the call of nature. With the help of the buddhi, the jiva enjoys the sense objects. Prana, the vital energy with its five functions, is the five headed snake, The 360 Gandharvas and Gandharvis are the days and nights of the year; Chandavega, the Gandharva King, is time, the destroyer of all; Bhaya, the foreign king, is death.

“The human self and the supreme Self are great friends. The supreme Self dwells beyond the reach of our physical eyes, so we cannot see him. But when someone is in dire trouble, he comes running to guide that person. The human self runs here and there in search of enjoyment. He reaps the fruits of his pact actions, becoming sometimes happy, sometimes miserable. ‘I and mine’ is the demon that binds him to the world and to his work. Thus, one birth leads to another. And birth is nothing but a dream of sorrow. In a bad dream, we suffer terribly. But when the dream breaks and we wake up, we are freed from our suffering and we gain deliverance. If we can wake up from our sleep of delusion, then our misery will come to an end.

‘Oh king! Give up your attachment. Give up violence. Stop killing in sacrifices, for that will never bring you good. Do your work only after dedicating it to God. That learning is true learning which is done to honour and love God. Sri Hari is the only rock on which man can build his home. The path of God is the best. God is the closest and the innermost friend of a person. He who knows this is truly learned.