Importance of Sons
It is indeed ironical that in Hindu religion sons are given special importance in a family. Every parents is after a son. Many people keep fast, go to special temples, do special Poojaa, Archanaa and Yagya to get him. While many people kill their daughters in womb, in their infancy or in childhood when they know that it is a daughter not a son. Many times these girls commit suicide when they are grown up and find their parents worried about them. I do not know the real and justified reason for this, but here I present a few stories or incidents from our scriptures in favor of having a son. I am never in favor of killing any child, whether a girl or a boy, in womb or in the world. I myself was astonished to read these stories I cite them here, that is it indeed true? But they are there. Later I intend to write something against this as my doubts or questions.
(1) Story of Jaratkaaru
The first story of "must have a son" is from Mahaabhaarat, Aadi Parv, ch 13-16 of a Rishi named Jaratkaaru. He was a great ascetic and his son stopped the King Janamejaya's Sarp Yagya (snake sacrifice). He was a great Brahmchaaree. He ate sparingly and was a great ascetic. He was one of the Yaayaavar. Once he went to see the world for pilgrimage. He lived on air and renounced the sleep.
One day he happened to see some people hanging upside down in a large hole. He asked them - "Who are you hanging
down thus and your rope is eaten by a rat continuously?" They said - "We are Rishi of rigid vows. We have no child that is why we are sinking inside the Earth. We had a son named Jaratkaaru who has also become a Yogee. He does not think about his children. That is why with the fear of the end of our race, we are hanging here. Who are you who is asking our
welfare like a friend?" Jaratkaaru said - "I am Jaratkaaru and you are my ancestors. Tell me how can I serve you?" They said - "Try for a son so that our family line can extend. This will be good for both of us. Penance does not acquire so much merit as becoming a father."
Jaratkaaru said - "I will not marry for myself, nor I will earn money for myself, but I will do all this for your sake only. If I will get a girl of my name and whose friends will give her to me as a gift in charity, then I will marry to such a girl. But then who will give his daughter to a poor man like me? That is why I will accept any girl given me in alms. As promised I will do the same and I will raise a child for your sake. So I will take the wife to attain the end, and I will raise a child from her so that you may attain to eternal regions."
That is what he did. Vaasuki Naag's sister's name was Jaratkaaru, so he married her on the condition that after confirming that she was pregnant he would go away. Since Vaasuki Naag needed a son from his sister to stop the Sarp Yagya to save his race, he agreed on the condition. When Jaratkaaru had confirmed that his wife was pregnant he left her. She had a son named Aasteek, and Aasteek became the means to stop the Sarp Yagya. Thus this son served two purposes - to stop the Naag race to annihilate and to extend his own family line.
(2) Story of Paandu
The second story is also from Mahaabhaarat, Aadi Parv, ch 120. When King Paandu was entertaining himself in the forest, he bagged a curse of Kindam Rishi that whenever he would be with his wife he would die. Now he could not have any child
Once on a New Moon day some ascetics were standing to go to Brahmaa's place. Seeing
them Paandu asked them - "Where are you going?" The sages said -
"There is a great gathering today at Brahmaa Jee's place, so we are going
to see him today." Paandu also rose up with the desire to go to Heaven and
when he came to that point with his two wives to follow those sages, those sages
said to him - "When we are going Northward, we have seen some place which
are inaccessible to ordinary mortals, even to Devtaa, Gandharv and Apsaraa. Even the winged creatures cannot cross that. The rain falls there so
heavily that it cannot be utilized for habitation. The only thing that can go there
is air, Siddh and great Rishi. How will these princesses go there? Unaccustomed to
pain will not they fall from pain? Therefore do not come with us."
- "I have heard that there is no place in the Heaven for a man who is childless.
I am very sad because I have not been able to pay my debt to my ancestors. Men are
born on this Prithvi with four debts - to ancestors (Pitri Rin), to Devtaa (Dev Rin),
to Rishi (Rishi Rin) and to other men. They must be discharged. Learned people say
that all the Rin must be paid before leaving this world, because who has not paid
these Rin cannot go to any blissful region. The ancestors are satisfied only by producing
children; Devtaa by Yagya; Rishi by study, meditation and asceticism; and other men
by leading an inoffensive life. I have just gratified Rishi, Devtaa and other men;
but I still have to pay my debt to my ancestors....."
(3) Story of Rishi Mandpaal
This story appears in Mahaabhaarat, Aadi Parv, ch 231. Once there was a Rishi named Mandpaal. He was a great observer of Brahmcharya, rigid vows and Tap. When the time came he left for the regions of Pitri. But after reaching there
he failed to obtain the fruits of his acts. He went to the King of the Dead and asked
the reason of this - "Why these regions are unattainable to me when I have done
so much Tap for them? Have I not done that Tap which should have given me these regions? I will
do whatever I need to do to attain these regions." The celestials answered -
"Listen, O Braahman, to those acts because of which men are born as debtors. It is
for religious rites, studies according to the ordinance and progeny, that men are born debtors.
These debts are discharged by doing sacrifices, asceticism and offspring. You are an
ascetic, you have performed sacrifices, but you don't have any offspring. These regions are
shut for you for the want for offspring. Have children an you will enjoy many Lok of
happiness. Ved say that who rescues one from Hell is called Put." Hearing those celestials Mandpaal got a large number of children in a shortest period of
Thus all these three people, one king and two Rishi, had to have sons to obtain blessed regions after their death. There are many other examples of kings in our scriptures who did lots of Tapasyaa to get their progeny; and not even kings, even the great Rishi wanted the progeny. In our next writing we will see if we don't have a son, then what will happen?