Kathāmṛta - 125 - The Story of the Daśa-kumāra-carita

This article is part 125 of 128 in the series Kathāmṛta

Apahāravarmā declared that the bag would fulfil people’s wishes only when everything that has been snatched away was returned to its owners.  He made sure that Kāmamañjarī gave back her belongings to her patrons. Dhanamitra complained to the king that his enchanted bag was stolen by someone and was given to Kāmamañjarī. She, in turn, transferred the blame to Arthapati and the king banished him from the kingdom.

Once, when Apahāravarmā was extremely drunk and attempted a theft, he fought with the guardians of the town and was captured.  Kāntaka, guardian of the prison was in love with the princess named Ambālikā; he therefore joined hands with Apahāravarmā and got him to dig an underground passage to the palace. Apahāravarmā, however, killed Kāntaka and went into the antaḥpura himself. He saw the sleeping Ambālikā there, left his message, put the ring into her finger and came back. Following this, Caṇḍavarmā attacked the city of Campā and captured her and her father. Apahāravarmāa killed Caṇḍavarmā and his aides. In the meanwhile, Marīci gained back the divine sight that he had lost through intense tapas. He said that Rājavāhana could be found there. Accordingly, Apahāravarmā saw him there.

8. Following this, Upahāravarmā narrated his tale: he was looking for Rājavāhana and in the process, returned to his country. He spotted his caretaker in a maṭha outside Mithilā. He came to know about his people from her. Vikaṭavarmā and others, his uncle’s children had put his parents in prison and had captured his kingdom. The caretaker had turned into a bhikshuni. Puṣkarikā, her daughter, was a servant to the Vikaṭavarmā’s queen Kalpasundarī. The queen had contempt for her husband as he was not good looking and was not a good connoisseur. Upahāravarmā used strategy to deepen the queen’s contempt for her husband, with the help of the caretaker and her daughter. He sent her his portrait and gained her love. The queen showed the portrait to her husband and fooled him by saying that a certain wizard can make him as handsome as the person in the portrait. The king agreed to the process and sought the permission of his brothers, ministers, and other heads in the town. The news spread around the town. In the mid-night of the amāvāsyā, homa, and other rituals took place. Upahāravarmā extracted all secrets from the king’s mouth, chopped him off, and offered him into the fire.  He declared to the world that he was the king Vikaṭavarmā.

The next morning, Upahāravarmā told the ministers and chiefs that his nature had changed with his form; he then went ahead to undo the misdeeds performed by Vikaṭavarmā. He got his parents released from the prison. His father became the king and he, the crown prince. Siṃhavarmā was his father’s friend. He travelled to Campā-nagara to help him and saw Rājavāhana there.

Chapter 9 - The Story of Arthapāla 

In the search of Rājahaṃsa, Arthapāla went to Kāśī. As he was performing pradakshina to the temple there, he saw a person who was an ājāṇubāhu – his hands reach up to his knees. He enquired about the person and heard his tale. He got to know that his father Kāmapāla was in danger.

Kāmapāla had married Kāntimatī, the daughter of Caṇḍasiṃha, the king of Kāśī and had been serving him as his minister. After the death of the king, Kāmapāla ensured that erstwhile king’s son, prince Siṃhaghoṣa was crowned the new king and he continued to serve as his minister. Over time, a few mischief mongers at the court poisoned the ears of the newly crowned Siṃhaghoṣa against Kāmapāla. Soon, the king took a strong dislike to Kāmapāla and eventually threw him into prison. Royal decree soon followed that Kāmapāla was to be put to death the next morning, but not before gouging out his eyes! Arthapāla initially considered the option of directly attacking the guards in order to free his father. Then he thought that this might endanger his father even more. Hence he came up with a different plan. Arthapāla secured a poisonous serpent from somewhere and brought it the next day to the execution grounds. As the executioners marched his father in, he threw the snake upon him. In the frenzy which ensued, the snake bit Kāmapāla and the executioner. The latter breathed his last. Kāntimatī managed to secure the king’s permission to take her poisoned husband Kāmapāla home. Arthapāla, who was anxiously waiting there, immediately administered the antidote which countered the poison’s effect and saved his father. King Siṃhaghoṣa soon came to know of this and became furious. He devised several ploys to slay them all, but none which worked. In the meanwhile, Arthapāla had a tunnel dug which led straight to the king’s inner chambers in the palace, from his house. Soon one night, he surreptitiously entered the royal bedroom through the tunnel and had Siṃhaghoṣa’s hands and legs bound and brought him home and threw him at Kāmapāla’s feet. The kingdom now fell into the hands of Kāmapāla and Arthapāla. Arthapāla married Maṇimañjarī, the daughter of Siṃhaghoṣa’s elder brother. Later, when Kāmapāla rushed to the aid of besieged Siṃhavarma, the king of Aṅga, he met Rājavāhana.

Chapter 10 -  The Story of Pramati

Pramati travelled far and wide in search of Rājavāhana. One night, when he was near the Vindhyā-ranges, he fell fast asleep in a forest under a tree. When he opened his eyes, he found himself in bed with a beautiful princess in a palace. When he shrugged off his sleep and became fully awake, he was taken aback to find himself still in the same forest under the same tree. Resolving to not leave the place until he had figured out whether it was a dream or not, Pramati laid down again. A little while later, a woman appeared and identified herself as Tārāvalī, the mother of Arthapāla. She said that on her way to Śrāvastī where the town fest was being held, she had taken and placed him on the bed of the princess Navamālikā, the daughter of Dharmavardhana, the king of Śrāvastī. Then she added that on her way back, she had picked him up and brought him back here.

Deciding to not rest until he had made Navamālikā his, Pramati began his journey to Śrāvastī. Along the way, he passed through a town where he saw cockfights. There, he met and befriended an old brāhmaṇa named Pañcālaśarmā, whom he convinced to accompany him on his mission. Once they reached their destination, the duo covertly found out that princess Navamālikā too had fallen in love with Pramati. Soon, Pramati and the brāhmaṇa hatched a plan. The brāhmaṇa helped Pramati disguise himself as a young woman, and presented him as his motherless daughter whose husband had gone away to Ujjayinī, seeking higher learning. He beseeched king Dharmavardhana to take his precious daughter under his care, until her husband had returned. The kind king assented to this seemingly innocuous request. Pramati thus gained entry into the highly secure inner chambers of the palace, where he spent blissful days with Navamālikā. 

After a few days, one morning, when the women of the palace went to the riverfront for ablutions, he joined them. There, in the pretext of taking bath, he waded into the water, went under the surface and quickly swam away from them unseen. Soon, he rendezvoused with Pañcālaśarmā who had been waiting for him a little farther downstream on the riverside. Next, just as they had planned, Pramati changed into a man’s clothing and prepared to present himself as the son in law of Pañcālaśarmā who had returned from Ujjayinī. Upon reaching the palace and finding out that his daughter had apparently drowned, Pañcālaśarma summoned tears from his eyes and pretended to be simply inconsolable. He vowed to end his life by jumping into fire. He even set up a pyre right in front of the palace. The king found himself caught in a very delicate situation, and was at the end of his wits. Then, upon taking a closer look at the learned and handsome young man standing before him, he felt that he may have found the right husband for his daughter. He then managed to de-escalate the situation and gave the hand of princess Navamālikā in marriage to Pramati. Later, when Pramati had to march his army to Campā-nagara to aid Siṃhavarmā, he met Rājavāhana there.

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-svāmī) have also been referred to. The translation has been rendered by Raghavendra G S, 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. Krishnasastri

 

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.

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