Learning from Acharya

Srimad Bhagavatam tells the story of Dhruva, who went to

the forest to undertake penance. Narada appeared before

him and asked him if he could withstand a severe penance.

Dhruva, who was only five years old, said he could do

penance, no matter how diicult it was. Dhruva said to

Narada: “You traverse the three worlds. I want to go to a

world better than any of these which none can reach. Show

me the way to such a place.” Narada then taught him the

Dvadasakshara mantra.

There are thousands of mantras, but the Purushasuktam

says three are the most important of these — Shadakshara,

which is Vishnu mantra; Ashtakshara, which is Narayana

mantra; and Dvadasakshara, which is Vasudeva mantra.

Narada taught Dhruva the Vasudeva mantra. In the

Srirangam temple, Vasudeva mantra is the main mantra. To

show the greatness of this mantra, Sri Vaishnavas honour it

with the prefix ‘Thiru.’ The very meaning of the word

mantra is that which saves, and Dhruva’s story shows how

the Vasudeva mantra helped him, said P.T. Seshadri in a


After Dhruva had done penance for some months, Lord

Narayana appeared before him. Till then Dhruva had been

focusing on the Lord as Antaryami. Dhruva now opened

his eyes, saw the Lord and prostrated before Him. The

Dvadasakshara mantra means a mantra of 12 aksharas. This

was the mantra that Narada had taught Dhruva and Dhruva

sang the Lord’s praises in 12 slokas. The Lord promised

that once Dhruva’s time on this earth was over, he would

be a star around which other stars would revolve. Dharma

devatas would circle around him.

Dhruva’s story shows the importance of taking guidance

from an Acharya, as Dhruva did from Sage Narada.