In Indian Mythology we come across many personalities who have carved a special place for them with their unique presence and strength. Some of them are:
AMBAREESHA - Purity of mind and unswerving faith in the efficacy of the spiritual path are exemplified in the life of Ambareesha, a great devotee. Durvaasa, though full of learning, had to face travails because of lack of self-control. Ambareesha, by his piety, saved Durvaasa from the wrath of Sudarshana Chakra, the weapon of Lord Vishnu. The name of Ambareesha is associated with the Ekaadashi vow - i.e., fortnightly observance of fast coupled with meditation on the Supreme.
BALI - Grandson of Prahalad, devotee of Vishnu. Though a king of Rakshasas, he ruled with righteousness and the welfare of the subjects at heart. Having agreed to give in charity three paces of land to Vishnu, who came in the form of a young 'Vatu' (bachelor-boy) to beg for charity, Bali kept his promise by offering his head on which Vishnu could put his third step. Hindus believe that Bali is immortal.
BHAGIRATHA - The great hero who brought down the Ganga from the heaven to the earth. Bhagiratha has become another name for a will of steel that never accepts defeat.
BHISHMA - One of the most honored figures of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. He gave up marriage and throne for his father's sake. To the people of India he is the symbol of mature wisdom.
DHRUVA - He was a little boy of five years when he was insulted by his stepmother and ignored by his father. He went to the forest in search of God and with determination and devotion he succeeded. He ruled the country in the name of God and in the interest of the subjects. Even to this day the Pole Star reminds Indians of this great devotee of God.
DRAUPADI - The wife of the great Pandavas renowned alike for her loveliness and her granite will. Volcanic, she reduced her enemies to the ashes. But her story is a saga of suffering. This fiery princess bent on vengeance could be compassionate and generous, too.
EKALAVYA - A student's distinction lies in his devout pursuit of knowledge, and not merely in his heritage. This manifests in a splendid manner in Ekalavya's life. He worshipped an idol of his 'Guru', learnt his lessons in archery in the Master's absence, and mastered the art. When his master desired the thumb of Ekalavya's right hand as a fee, which might cripple him, Ekalavya smilingly sacrificed it. A boy who had grown up in the forest thus developed into a great personality - a fine example for others to emulate.
HARISCHANDRA - With his vow to remain truthful at all times, Harischandra successfully faced the rigorous challenge posed by Vishwamitra. Though a king he sacrificed everything he had at the attar of truth, including his Kingdom, and even his life and son. He took so lowly a job as that of the guard at burning ground; even in the case of his own son he demanded the prescribed fee for cremation, which his wife had no means of paying. On an order from the king, Harischandra even prepared to behead his own wife. Harischandra's character is indelibly etched in the mind of Hindus.
KARNA - A great hero of the 'Mahabharata', Karna lived such a life that he became another name for generosity and loyalty. It was his misfortune to be shunned as a person of low caste. To him loyalty was more important than the emperor's throne. He sacrificed his life for his master.
MAHARSHI VALMIKI - The Adikavi, the Poet of Poets, of India, who gave the world the immortal epic, the 'Ramayana'. By profession a highway robber, he came under the spell of Maharshi Narada and became a 'Brahmarshi'. He not only sang the matchless greatness of Sri Rama, but also gave shelter to his wife Sita Devi, and taught the epic to Sri Rama's sons.
NACHIKETA - He was a brave lad. He sought knowledge at a very tender age. He persuaded Yama the God of Death to teach him. His father lost his temper one-day and told Nachiketa, 'I have gifted you to the Lord of Death.' This curse turned out to be a boon. He met the Lord of Death and by his humility won him over and learnt the secrets of spiritual life from him. He is a true sage and a beacon-light for others 'in he path of knowledge.
PRAHALAD - A lad who faced the anger of his mighty father for the sake of his faith in God. Poison, sword and fire could not frighten him. And the Lord Himself responded to the devotion of the five-year old boy and came to the earth.
SAVITHRI - She chose a noble young man for her husband. She knew he had only a year to live, but yet she married him. Even the God of Death bowed to her love and devotion, and restored her husband to life.
VASISHTA - Vasishta was a great ascetic. He was the preceptor of great men like Sri Rama and Harischandra. He had conquered anger and desire. He was a great saint who humbled insolent men. As a preceptor he imparted knowledge and became a guide to thousands of aspirants.
VEDA VYASA - The 'Mahabharata' remains a marvel in the literature of the world. Veda Vyasa was the sage who gave the world this Storehouse of realism, wisdom and compassion. And he was the guide to whom seven generations of the high and the humble looked up in hours of sorrow and darkness.
VIBHEESHANA - Devotee of Sri Rama and younger brother of the valiant Ravana, king of Lanka. He had great affection and respect for his elder brother. But when Ravana set him-self on an evil course, Vibheeshana boldly protested and tendered proper advice. When no alternative was left, he went away from Lanka, surrendered himself to e virtuous Sri Rama and helped him in the battle against Ravana. Vibheeshana thus lived a life of unswerving piety and righteousness.
YUDDHISTIRA - The eldest of the Pandava brothers, the heroes of the great epic, the Mahabharata. Yuddhistira lived for justice, and patiently suffered humiliation and exile. 'A man should live virtuously because virtue is good, not because it pays to be virtuous' - so he believed and acted. And he said to the King of the Gods, 'I cannot enter a Heaven in which there is no place for a faithful dog.