Manu [Who was rescued by Lord Vishnu in his Matsya Avatar] had many children. One of them was Uttanapada. Uttanapada had two wives – the elder wife was Sunithi and the younger was Surichi.
Surichi was extremely beautiful, but was very haughty and dominating. Uttanapada loved Surichi more because she was very beautiful. Uttanapada was often partial to Surichi and this made Surichi even more arrogant.
Dhruva was Sunithi's son whereas Uttama was Surichi's son. Dhruva was the elder son and in those days it was customary to crown the elder son as the king. However Surichi wanted her son to be the king and not Dhruva. She used her cunning and soon made sure that her son was closer to the king than Dhruva.
One time when Dhruva was seven years old, Uttama was playing on the king's lap. Dhruva looking at this ran forward and tried to get up the throne to sit on his father's lap. However Surichi saw this and became very angry. She dragged Dhruva away from the father's lap and shouted at him, 'Do you really think, you can sit on this lap Dhruva? You don't deserve to sit there...You will never be close to the king and you will never be the king...If you want to sit on the King's lap, go pray to Narayana that you may be born as my son in your next birth...Then you can sit there...' She said pointing at the king.
King Uttanapada was disturbed by what Surichi had done, but he loved his wife so much that he did not dare open his mouth against her. Looking that his father was silent at his treatment, Dhruva burst out crying and ran to his mother...
Numbed by grief, he ran all the way to his mother's room. Looking at the disheveled face of the normally cheerful Dhruva, Sunithi was alarmed. She gathered him in his lap. 'What is the matter child?' She asked him as she wiped the tears from his eyes.
Slowly, with broken sobs, Dhruva told Sunithi the whole story. Sunithi was angry that the king had kept quiet when Surichi had done pushed her son, but she knew that she could not do anything to help her son.
She hugged the weeping child in her arms and held him. Slowly the child's tears subsided. Then Dhruva asked his mother in a very small voice, 'Mother am I not my father's son? Can't I sit on my father's lap?'
Sunithi wanted to burst out crying when she heard this, but she controlled herself. She cleared her throat and said quietly, 'Dhruva, the king...loves Surichi more than he has ever loved me...You are older than Uttama...You should have been the king....but because the king loves Surichi more, he has decided to make Uttama as the king....I am sorry son...' She said wiping a tear from her eyes, 'All this is happening to you.... because you are my son....'
Dhruva listened to his mother and did not say anything. He lovingly wiped his mother's tears. 'Mother I do not want to be Queen Surichi's son. I want to be only your son...' He said with fierce pride. 'Mother who is Lord Narayana?'
Sunithi frowned as she heard the child asking an unconnected question. She looked at her child not saying anything, when the child said, 'Queen Surichi said, if I pray to Lord Narayana, I may be born as her son...Who is Lord Narayana?'
Queen Sunithi said tears welling up her eyes, 'Lord Narayana is the ultimate God in the universe. Everything in world exists because of Narayana. He can do anything and everything. He protects all of us...'
Dhruva looked at wonder as his mother explained about Lord Narayana,a strange love filling him.'Mother if Lord Narayana is that powerful then he is the one who can solve all our problems..I will pray to him..I will meditate to him and I will come with his blessings...'
Queen Surichi's looked at the determined face of the child and said quietly, 'It is not easy to see Narayana, you can see him only if you are devoted to him totally and meditate to him and him alone...'
Dhruva nodded. 'I will do it mother...I will make you proud...' He said getting up.
Queen Sunithi came forward and kissed her son once more, 'You already have made me proud...'
With his mother's blessing's Dhruva set out to the forest to meditate on Lord Vishnu. On his way, Dhruva met Sage Narada.
Sage Narada was traveling the world, when he saw a young child going inside the forest with great determination. Puzzled he went down to see the child.'Where are you going, child?'
Dhruva bowed to Sage Narada, 'Sir! I am going to the forest to meditate on Lord Narayana and see him....'
Sage Narada had never before seen such a determination in such a young child. Looking at the child he realized that the child was very serious about doing what he had said. The child needed guidance... 'Why do you wish to see Lord Vishnu?'
Dhruva told him his whole story. Narada was moved when he heard the story. He looked at the child, 'Son, I believe that you will do what you have set out to do....Here, repeat these mantras after me...' Sage Narada taught Dhruva some mantras and the words 'Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudeva...' Chant these mantras with devotion, child, the Lord will appear....' Dhruva joyously thanked the Sage and sat under a tree and started his penance.
In the first month of his penance, Dhruva used to eat the fruits he used to get. However from the second month onwards he slowly gave that up. By the fifth month of his penance Dhruva had given up food and water. The power of his penance was so strong that a fierce light came from him. When finally Dhruva gave up even air in the sixth month, the three worlds shook with the power of his penance.
Indra, the Lord of the three worlds, saw the young child performing the rigorous penance and just could not understand why the child was doing it...Indra was beginning to get frightened by the power of the child. Perhaps the child wants my throne, why else would he be performing such a penance...
Indra took up the form of Queen Sunithi and went to Dhruva and talked to him about giving up his penance. But Dhruva was adamant. He continued with his meditation. Indra sent monsters to attack the child. However nothing happened to the child. The Sapta Rishis [Seven Holy Sages] fearing more attacks from Indra, formed a protective circle around the child.
Finally the earth and the heavens were able to take it any more...Dhruva's penance was literally burning it up...The Gods all went to Lord Vishnu and asked him to meet the child.
Finally Lord Vishnu came to earth to meet the child. 'Open your eyes Dhruva!' The Dark Lord said gently.
Thrilled on hearing the voice of the Dark Lord, Dhruva opened his eyes to see the most beautiful sight of his life. The dark Lord was standing before him with all his ornaments and was looking radiant. The child was so happy that he could not get words out of his mouth. He just fell at the feet of the Lord, not knowing what to say.
'Your penance dragged me here child....Anything you ask for is yours...Anything...'Lord Vishnu said with a gentle smile.
Finally Dhruva opened his mouth to speak. 'I...I do...not wish anything....I wanted something....But after seeing you....I don't need anything...now...' The child said softly.
Lord Vishnu gave Dhruva a dazzling smile as he embraced the child. 'I am yet to see something close to your devotion child...Go back home...Be a good ruler and after your rule has ended, you will get a position, from where no one can ever throw you...ever..'
Finally Dhruva remembered why he had been meditating. But he shook his head, 'My Lord! I am not interested in those things...I just want to be with you...' Dhruva said desperately...
Lord Vishnu smiled, 'Go home child... everything you wish for will happen...'
Unable to understand the Lord's meaning, Dhruva looked at the Lord as the Lord explained. Sage Narada after meeting Dhruva had gone to meet King Uttanapada. The King was feeling miserable at having treated a young child so rudely. The King was now angry with Queen Suruchi for her acts. The Queen was also lying unhappily at what she had done...She should have treated Dhruva as her own son, but instead she had sent a child away to the forest...She could not forgive herself...
Sage Narada told the king that Dhruva was a special child and that he would come back only with the blessings of the Lord. Sage Narada also asked King Uttanapada to treat Queen Sunithi well...So now King Uttanapada with both his queens and his other son Uttama and waiting for Dhruva to come back.
After hearing the Lord's explanations, Dhruva then went back home, where the whole kingdom received him happily. With the blessings of both the queens, Dhruva was made the crown prince of the kingdom. Uttama also loved his brother and Dhruva also looked after his brother very well.
In fact Dhruva loved his brother so much, that once he almost destroyed all the yakshas [Kubera's men] because they had hurt Uttama. However that is another story!
King Uttanapada made Dhruva as a king and left to the forests to meditate on the Lord. Dhruva was a very good king and the people of the kingdom rejoiced.
Dhruva ruled the kingdom for very long time- thirty six thousand years – infact! After his rule, Dhruva crossed over the three worlds and went to Vaikunta – the home of the Dark Lord Vishnu, where he became the bright star – Dhruva – the Pole Star, protected by the stars of the Seven Sages, with his mother Queen Sunithi near his orb. Thus by sheer devotion, Dhruva finally attained a place, from where he could never be pushed away!