By Swami Harshananda
Pratardana as per Kausitaki Brāhmanopanisad
Pratardana, the king of Kāśī, was the son of Divodāsa and Mādhavī. His story appears first in the Kausitaki Brāhmanopanisad of the Ṛgveda. By the dint of his prowess and heroism, he goes to the world of Indra who asks him to choose any boon. Pratardana refuses to ask for it. Indra who is identified here with Supreme Brahman teaches him about his own greatness and asks him to meditate on himself i. e., Indra as prāṇa and prajñātman. The entire section is known as Pratardanavidyā or Prānavidyā.
Pratardana as per Mahābhārata
The story of Mahābhārata states that the king Pratardana whose race had almost been exterminated by the Haihaya king Vitahavya and his sons, went in pursuit of the fleeing Vitahavya. The latter was given shelter by the sage Bhṛgu who protected him. Hence Pratardana had to return to his kingdom without destroying his enemy. However, by the grace of the sage Bhrgu, Vitahavya became a brāhmaṇa of highly sāttvik nature and Pratardana gave up his enmity.
- Kausitaki Brāhmanopanisad 3.1-8
- Prāṇa means life-force.
- Prajñātman means the Intelligent Self.
- Mahābhārata, Anuśāsanaparva 30
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore