11. Story of Mitragupta
Mitragupta reached the capital of Sumha called Dāmalipta while searching for Rājavāhana. In the royal garden Kandukāvatī, the daughter of the king Tuṅgadhanva was playing with a ball. From her 7th year till her wedding, she had to celebrate kandukotsava (game of ball) of every kṛttikā day. That was the order of devī Vindhyavāsinī who bestowed upon the king the boon of children. Likewise she had the choice to marry anyone; but her brother had to be loyal to her husband. She saw Mitragupta and was smitten. Their wedding happened. Her brother Bhīmadhanva who got to know about this wedding, wasn’t keen on being loyal to Mitragupta, tied him and threw him into the ocean. He could find a log which helped him float and reach the ship of yavanas. The master of the ship Rāmeṣu thought that he could be used as a slave and arranged for his rescue. In the meantime, they were swarmed by warships. The yavanas were defeated. Mitragupta convinced his master to free him, fought valiantly to defeat the enemies and also captured the chief of the opponents. That was indeed Bhīmadhanva! He tied him using the fetters which had been used to tie him. The ship was swept away by a hurricane which deposited it on an island. There they climbed the hill which they encountered, found a lake and drank the water. A brahma-rākṣasa appeared and threatened to eat him if he was not able to answer some questions. The question-answer session was as follows–
किं क्रूरं स्त्रीहृदयं किं गृहिणः प्रियहिताय दारगुणाः ।
कः कामः सङ्कल्पः किम् दुष्करसाधनं प्रज्ञा ॥
[What’s wicked? A woman’s heart. What works for the welfare of a householder? Good qualities of his wife. What is love? Imagination. What helps in accomplishing difficult things? Wisdom]
To substantiate this, he narrated the stories of Dhūminī, Gominī, Nimbavatī Nitambavatī–
The Story of Dhūminī
In Trigarta there lived brothers named Dhanaka, Dhānyaka, and Dhanyaka. A terrible famine ensued and they ate everything available, crops, pulses, cattle, attendants, kids and even the wives of the first and second brother. When they were on the verge of eating the wife of Dhanyaka, he took her to the forest one night. When she felt hungry, he gave his own flesh. Someone was lying there whose limbs, ears and nose were cut. He tended to his wounds, ook care of him, and also provided him food and water. One day when Dhanyaka had gone in search of food, his wife Dhūminī lusted for the cripple; with no other choice he had to satisfy her. When Dhanyaka returned she feigned headache and asked him to fetch water. When he went to the well, she followed him and pushed him in, and ran away carrying the cripple. Everyone who saw her thought the cripple was her husband and thought that she was such a noble woman, a pativratā, who had been taking care of him. The king of Avantī gave her money. Meanwhile her husband was rescued by some passers-by and he had to roam around begging for alms in the streets of Avantī. Seeing him she complained that he was the one who crippled her ‘husband’.
Dhanyaka was found guilty and was given the death sentence. When the executioners were marching him to the execution grounds, he begged them, ‘Gentlemen, I plead with you! Pray ask that handicapped man just once, if it was indeed I who cut off his limbs. If he says it was, then by all means behead me!’ Mercifully, they agreed and checked with the limbless man. The latter retold how Dhanyaka had in fact saved him from a certain death and had nursed him back to health by offering him food and medicines. He also revealed to them the vileness of his wife Dhūminī. When the king came to know of all this, he was enraged. He ordered that Dhanyaka be freed and Dhūminī be mutilated for her crimes. He then bestowed several gifts and favours upon Dhanyaka.
The Story of Gominī
In the city of Kāñcī lived Śaktikumāra, a man of untold riches. He wanted to find the right bride for himself. So, he donned the garb of an astrologer and began his quest for the perfect wife. Carrying a handful of paddy in his bag, Śaktikumāra went around asking if any maiden could turn it into a filling meal for him. None came forward. He eventually reached a town on the southern bank of river Kāverī, where he met a beautiful maiden named Gominī who agreed to his terms. With great care, she pounded the paddy he had brought. She separated the husk and sold it as fuel for a goldsmith’s hearth. With the money thus earned she bought firewood, pots and pans. After cooking the rice, she emptied the gruel into another vessel. Then by pouring cold water over the flaming coals, she turned them into charcoal and sold even that. From that money she bought ghee, curds, tamarind, oil and gooseberries. She used the gruel from earlier to prepare a curry with curd and vegetables. Then she gave Śaktikumāra a cup of oil and ground gooseberries for his bath. Once he returned, she offered him a wooden plank to comfortably sit on. Next, from the banana tree in her house’s yard she cut off a leaf to serve the food upon. She served him two ladles of rice with ghee and curry. Śaktikumāra relished the food and felt his tiredness go away. Gominī then served him the remaining rice, vegetables and curds. When he asked for some water, she gave him a bowlful of fragrant water, which he drank to his heart’s content. Fully satiated, Śaktikumāra felt sleepy. Gominī prepared his bed, and he soon slept soundly. When he woke up, he realised that he had found the perfect bride in Gominī. He lost no time in marrying her and soon headed back to Kāñcī with her. The test however was not yet over. Upon reaching Kāñcī, in the days that followed, Śaktikumāra pretended to be infatuated with a courtesan. Despite this, Gominī’s love for him did not diminish. Nor did her enthusiasm in marital life and household work waver. Everyone in the family doted upon her to no end. Śaktikumāra realised that he was indeed blessed to have Gominī for his wife. He soon handed over the reins of his entire household to her and enjoyed lasting marital bliss.
The current article is a translation of Prof. A R Krishnasastri’s Kannada classic Kathāmṛta. 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