Kathāmṛta - 59 - Alaṅkāravatī-lambaka - The Story of Anaṅgaprabhā - The Story of Lakṣadatta and Labdhadatta

This article is part 59 of 60 in the series Kathāmṛta

He followed her instructions and performed intense tapas to propriate Vindhyavāsinī. She appeared before him and said, “O brāhmaṇa! All four of you were my gaṇas; Pañcamūla, Caturvaktra, Mahodaramukha, and Vikaṭavadana; once when you were wandering on the banks of Gaṅgā you were attracted towards Cāpalekhā, who was the daughter of a muni; she protested saying, ‘I’m a kanyā; go away!’ the other three heeded her warning; but you persisted; she screamed, ‘Father! Father!!’ her father Kapilajaṭa who was nearby was furious and cursed you all, ‘Fie upon you sinners; you all become humans at this very instant; go and marry Anaṅgaprabhā; the three of you will be relieved from this curse once she returns to the realm of vidyādharas; but you you would marry her after that and will find yourself in lot of trouble and finally you’ll be relieved from this curse only after propriating Vindhyavāsinī through intense tapas!’ As per his words you all were born as Pañcapaṭṭika and others; the three were relieved from their curse before; now it is your turn; take this sacred Agni discard your mortal body and burn the papa you have incurred in your previous eight lives.” he followed her advice and was elevated to being one of the gaṇas of Vindhyavāsinī. Meanwhile Anaṅgaprabhā became the favourite of Harivara; he would not leave her even for a single instance; he delegated all the royal duties to his minister Sumantra; once a dance master named Labdhavara arrived from the middle kingdom and demonstrated his expertise in dance and music. Impressed by that, the king appointed him to tutor the women of the royal palace. Anaṅgaprabhā surpassed everyone in her learning; due to the continuous association and similar taste, she became infatuated with Labdhavara. When they were alone in the dance school she took all her ornaments disguised herself as a man and ran away with him. They reached a place called Viyogapura and lived there happily. Harivara wanted to kill himself, but he was stopped by his minister Sumantra, ‘O king! She first left the vidyādhara and came with you; would such a woman stay put in one place? She might have gone with Labdhavara; it seems they both were together in the dance school today morning; such women are like the Sandhyā who is red/infatuated only for a moment!’ This helped the king to turn a new leaf and he lived happily with the other wives. On the other hand Labdhavara got entangled with a gambler named Sudarśana and lost all his money; Anaṅgaprabhā deserted her husband and became Sudarśana’s possession; Labdhavara disgusted renounced the world and reached the banks of the river Gaṅgā and started intense austerities in abid to discard his mortal body. After sometime, Sudarśana’s possessions were looted by thieves, he went to his friend who was a merchant by name Hiraṇyagupta to borrow some money; he saw Anaṅgaprabhā and was at once infatuated, he said, ‘I’ll give you money tomorrow; you have dinner and stay here tonight!’ Sudarśana gauged the situation and said he isn’t hungry. The merchant said, ‘If you aren’t hungry it’s okay; let her have dinner; she has come here for the first time’ By then, Anaṅgaprabhā too had lost her heart to him. So she went inside and partook of food and stayed on. She eventually even started sporting with him! Sudarśana on the other hand, who was waiting outside for her to return, got exasperated and questioned the servants: ‘Has she still not finished her meal?’. The servants sternly replied ‘She already finished her food and went home long ago! Why are you still waiting for her? Leave now!’. Sudarśana said adamantly ‘She has not come out. I know she is still inside. I am not leaving without her!’. A tussle ensued and the servants soon kicked him out. Sudarśana wondered helplessly ‘What just happened? Did my friend deceive me! Oh it serves me right. He did unto me what I had done unto another! Why should I get angry at him? If at all I should be upset, it should be at my own conduct!’. Then he lost interest in all worldly matters and became a recluse and went away to Badarīkāśrama. Anaṅgaprabhā, like a beetle which moves from flower to flower, cast off her current love interest in favour of another, and thus became the lady of the merchant Hiraṇyagupta.

Once Hiraṇyagupta took her along on his overseas business travels. In the high seas, the ship was caught in a severe storm and eventually capsized. Somehow the merchant and his wife managed to save their lives. Anaṅgaprabhā then clasped the hand of the navigator Sāgaravīra who helped save her life - for once a person’s conduct slips, there’s no depth to which one doesn’t slide. Hiraṇyagupta meanwhile thought that his wife was consumed by the sea, lamented for his fate, composed himself and went back again to his city. While she was with Sāgaravīra, she next met a handsome kṣatriya youth called Vijayavarman and soon fell for him as well. Then one day, she saw from her rooftop the king of the land, Sāgaravarma, travelling by that route atop his elephant. Needless to say, she got enamoured with him. She cleverly addressed the mahout thus: ‘Dear sir! I have never ridden an elephant before. I humbly wish to experience that joy at least once in my life. Can you please help me?’ When the mahout turned to the king, the latter nodded and replied ‘Get the elephant close to her house!’. When the mahout did as commanded, she suddenly jumped to the king’s lap, and embraced him tightly as if she was scared for her life! The trick worked and the king was overjoyed. He took her back to his palace and listened to her saga and it was not long before he made Anaṅgaprabhā his chief queen. The brave Vijayavarman tried to claim her back, but was slain by the king’s guards in a fight.

Finally Anaṅgaprabhā settled down for good with King Sāgaravarman. She bore him a son called Samudravarman. When the prince came of age, the king declared him the heir-apparent and had him marry a beautiful girl called Kamalavatī, the daughter of king Samaravarman. Prince Samudravarman soon became renowned for his valour and subdued many kings in battle. The king decided that the time was right and handed over the reins of his kingdom to the prince. Samudravarman was then crowned as the king. Sāgaravarman then moved to Prayaga with this queen to undertake austerities.

In Prayaga, Sāgaravarman undertook severe penances and was eventually visited by lord Śiva one night in his dreams. The lord said ‘My dear man! You and Anaṅgaprabhā will turn into vidyādharas tomorrow and return to your rightful realm!’. Anaṅgaprabhā too had the same dream. She recollected her previous birth and told her husband about it. At that moment, her father Samaradeva came down from the skies. Both Anaṅgaprabhā and her husband paid him their respects. He said ‘Dear daughter! You have experienced in one life, the strife and tribulations of eight births; here, now take these powers!’. Then turning to Sāgaravarman, he said ‘My boy, you are in fact Madanaprabha. My daughter should have married you as a vidyādharī, long ago. At that time, however, she refused to do so and finally wedded you in the mortal world!’. Right then, even Sāgaravarman got back the memories of his previous birth. The next instant, all of them took to the skies and flew to Vīrapura, where they lived happily ever after.

Listening to this amazing story narrated by Gomukha, Naravāhanadatta and Alaṅkāravatī were very happy.

3. On yet another day, Marubhūti who saw Naravāhanadatta seated with Alaṅkāravatī said – ‘Deva! Look at the poor kārpāṭika. He covers his body with a patch of skin, has long unkempt hair, has his body covered in dust and looks very weak. Day and night, without caring for cold or heat, he waits at the siṃhadvāra. Why aren’t you compassionate about him yet? A penny that is donated at the right time is more valuable than crores of money. What is the use of donating bountifully at the wrong time? Therefore, show sympathy towards him before he gives up his life!”

Gomukha, who heard his words said – “Marubhūti has spoken quite appropriately. However, the king is not at fault here. Though the king wishes to provide for him, he cannot do so until the receiver has gotten rid of his pāpa. Once he overcomes his pāpa, Īśvara will certainly provide for him, even if he does not wish to receive anything. All this is dependent on the karma acquired by a person. Let me narrate the story of Lakṣadatta and seeker of alms named Labdhadatta in this connection”

The Story of Lakṣadatta and Labdhadatta

There lived a king called Lakṣadatta in a city by name Lakṣapura. He was very generous. He never gave anything less than a lakh to anyone who sought anything from him. He would donate five lakhs to anyone who had a conversation with him. If the king was pleased with anyone, it was as good as the person’s poverty coming to an end. A certain seeker of alms named Labdhadatta always waited at the door of his palace. The king had not given him anything for quite a long time.

Once, when the king set out on hunting, the seeker followed him too. While the other men killed animals with their arrows, the seeker went ahead of them all on foot and killed animals using his staff. Looking at this, the king thought – Aha! He is so brave! He just appreciated him in his mind but did not give him any reward. They returned from their hunting expedition and the seeker took his position at the siṃhadvāra once again.

The current article is a translation of Prof. A R Krishnasastri’s Kannada classic Kathāmṛta along with additional segments added from the original Kathā-sarit-sāgara (of Soma-deva). Bṛhat-kathā-mañjarī (of Kṣemendra) and Bṛhat-kathā-śloka-saṃgraha (of Budha-svāmin) have also been referred to. The translation has been rendered by Raghavendra GS, Arjun Bharadwaj, Srishan Thirumalai, and Hari Ravikumar.

The original Kannada version of Kathāmṛta is available for free online reading. So are the other works of Prof. Krishna Shastri

Author(s)

About:

Prof. A R Krishna Sastri was a journalist, scholar, polyglot, and a pioneer of the modern Kannada renaissance, who founded the literary journal Prabuddha Karnāṭaka. His Vacana-bhārata and Kathāmṛta are classics of Kannada literature while his Saṃskṛta-nāṭaka and Bankimacandra are of unrivalled scholarship.

Prekshaa Publications

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