Kathāmṛta - 40 - Madanamañcukā-lambaka - The Story of Uṣā - Kaliṅgasenā's travel to Kauśāmbi

This article is part 40 of 42 in the series Kathāmṛta

5. The next day when Somaprabhā came back Kaliṅgasenā during her interaction with her said, ‘It is certain that my wedding with Prasenajit would happen; my mother has told me; you say that he is an old man; My heart is now partial to Vatsarāja since I’ve heard that he is young and handsome; so you take me with you to first show me Prasenajit and then to Vatsarāja; let us ignore my parents’ words!’ Somaprabhā replied, ‘Let us go by the vimāna-yantra; you should leave with all your paraphernalia as I know for sure you won’t return once you have seen Vatsarāja; you wouldn’t care about your parents; you would forget me too; I won’t be able to meet you regularly once you are married!’ A weeping Kaliṅgasenā said, ‘If that is the the case then bring Vatsarāja here instead; I wouldn’t be able to survive there without you even for a second; didn’t Citralekhā bring Aniruddha the same way using tact? You’d know this story but still listen while I will narrate it once more –

The story of Uṣā

Uṣā was the daughter of Bāṇāsura. She pleased Gaurī who gave a boon to her, ‘You’ll marry the prince who’d appear in your dreams!’ She likewise dreamt of a divine prince one day and confided it to her friend Citralekhā. She was an expert in yoga; she said, ‘the boon of Devī would never go futile; but without knowing the name, lineage, but nothing about him – name, lineage, appearance – is known! How can he be found? I’ll draw the whole world with all its inhabitants, the devas, the rākṣasas and the manuṣyas; if you can find your beloved let me know; I’ll bring him to you.’ saying so she drew everything in the world. Uṣā pointed her fingers towards Aniruddha, the prince of Dvāraka. Citralekhā said, ‘O my dear friend! Blessed you are; he is the grandson of bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa; his residence is sixty thousand yojanas from here!’ Uṣā begged, ‘O my friend! I should see him today itself; or I’d burn in the fire of separation!’ Hearing this Citralekhā used her yogic prowess to reach Dvāraka, woke up Aniruddha, told him about Uṣā’s feelings and brought him in a flash. Uṣā spent time with him happily. Her father heard the news and was enraged. But Aniruddha with his own valour and the army of his grandfather defeated him. Then he went to Dvāraka with his beloved and the couple lived happily like the primordial couple, Pārvatī and Parameśvara. Thus did Citralekhā bring Uṣā her beloved, in a single day. You are more powerful than her. Pray bring Vatsarāja to me without any further delay!”. Somaprabhā said “Citralekhā was a goddess and thus she could carry him off. How could I come to even touch another man, which I would have to, if I were to bring him here? So instead I shall carry you there!”. Kaliṅgasenā decked herself with choicest clothes and favourite ornaments and gathered her retinue to accompany her. Somaprabhā took them all in a flying chariot first to Śrāvastī and showed from afar, king Prasenajit who was returning from a hunt just then. Despite seeing him from a distance, Kaliṅgasenā said “Who in her right sense will marry this old man, dear Somaprabhā! Come! Let’s now go to the abode of Vatseśvara!”. The very next moment, through Somaprabhā’s magical abilities, they landed in Kauśāmbi. Upon seeing Vatsarāja strolling in the garden from afar, Kaliṅgasenā became infatuated like a Cakorī bird who saw her moon. She said wistfully “Friend! Let us go to Vatsarāja right now; I cannot bear to be without him even for a single moment!”. However, Somaprabhā perceived a bad omen and stopped her saying “You must not be seen by anyone. Pray stay in the grove. The signs don’t bode well. Have patience. I shall arrange for your meeting with him in the morning. I need to be back at my home now” and flew home, leaving Kaliṅgasenā there. Soon, Vatsarāja too went back to his palace. Not heeding to Somaprabhā’s words, unable to resist the yearning in her heart, Kaliṅgasenā sent word through her mahout to Vatsarāja, indicating how she felt about him. This was music to Vatsarāja’s ears. Elated, he summoned Yaugandharāyaṇa and put his thoughts to him: “Kaliṅgadatta’s daughter, the famous beauty Kaliṅgasenā has travelled all the way here with a desire in heart to marry me. I too wish to marry her as soon as practically possible. How quickly do you think this can be achieved?” The wise Yaugandharāyaṇa thought “Kaliṅgasenā’s beauty has no match in the three worlds. Even the gods are not immune to her loveliness. If Vatsarāja weds her, he will abandon everything. Eventually it will be the end of Vāsavadattā, and of Naravāhanadatta. Even Padmāvatī won’t be able to live. The queens’ fathers Caṇḍamahāsena and Pradyota and their queens will also perish. Thus this will only lead to all round destruction! However I cannot directly turn the king down. His craze will only grow if I try to dissuade him”. So he mulled over and remarked “My king! You are indeed fortunate that princess Kaliṅgasenā has herself come to you! Through her, even her father, king Kaliṅgadatta will come under your sway! However, we must consult the astrologers and proceed in the prescribed manner so that the marriage will take place in an auspicious lagna. We must do this especially since she is the doting daughter of a king who commands a large territory. We should offer her our best quarters befitting her stature and have our best servants wait upon her!” Vatsarāja agreed wholeheartedly. Everything was arranged perfectly.

On his way home, Yaugandharāyaṇa pondered “For inauspicious courses, deferment is the best medicine. Long ago, Śacī devi also pushed for time and escaped from the clutches of Nahuṣa. He eventually incurred a curse and Indra became the king of the gods again”. Later he summoned the astrologers and asked them in strict confidence to place, as far in the future as possible, the auspicious moment for marriage.

It was not long before Vāsavadattā became aware of what was happening. She summoned Yaugandharāyaṇa and lamented thus: “Sir! You had sworn an oath to me that I won’t have any co-wife other than Padmāvatī, had you not? Now the king is bent upon marrying princess Kaliṅgasenā. I foresee my husband becoming infatuated with her beauty. Your promise will come untrue and I will end my life!”. The minister comforted her by saying “Devi! Have courage! How can such a thing happen as long as I live? Now, please do not confront the king head-on in this matter. Instead it is best if you conduct yourself as though you support him in this - for it’s best that a doctor is not blunt with a patient in his care. He must speak in a pleasing manner and get his job done. One must never swim against a river in an effort to cross it. Therefore, when you see the king, serve him pretending as though you see no change. You will get the support of her father if you marry Kaliṅgasenā; this will help in your welfare – tell him so. If you do so, he will be pleased with your generosity and his respect and love for you will deepen. He will become calm thinking that Kaliṅgasenā will be his. If desires are subdued, they will only lead to welfare. Please tell this to Padmāvatī-devī as well. The king may tolerate some waste of time, if this happens. In the meantime, I will do whatever I deem suitable for the current circumstances. Just observe my intelligence! Don’t sit idle’ He left her with these words.

Vatsarāja did not visit any of his queens during the day and at night. He spent the night thinking about Kaliṅgasenā.

Next morning, the clever Yaugandharāyaṇa met Vatsarāja who was looking forward to meet him. He said ‘Svāmin! Why shouldn’t we look for a suitable lagna for the wedding today?’ The king replied – ‘That is exactly what I have in my mind as well. My heart does not let me stay away from her even for a moment.’ He asked one of his attendants to call the jyotiṣa for discussion. The jyotiṣa said that there is no convenient lagna for the king in the next six months. Yaugandharāyaṇa who heard that faked anger and said – ‘Fie upon these fools. Let us call the jyotiṣa who was respected by the king. He is not here right now. We can act as per his advice!’ He got the jyotiṣa there. He was of the same opinion as the previous one. Yaugandharāyaṇa then pretended to be worried. He said ‘O Lord! What shall we do?’ As the king too desired to marry on an auspicious lagna, he said – ‘Let us seek Kaliṅgasenā’s opinion in the matter!’ He agreed and visited her with the two jyotiṣas. As soon as he saw her physical charm, he thought – ‘The king will need to let go of all kingdoms if he marries her!’ He told her – ‘They have come here to determine a suitable lagna for your wedding. Tell us your nakṣatra!’ Her attendants told her janma-nakṣatra and the two jyotiṣas said that there was no suitable date in the next six months. Kaliṅgasenā was disappointed by their words. Her chamberlain said – ‘Check if there is a lagna available before that. When they are anyway going to be husband and wife in the future, where is the need to delay? Everyone said – ‘Yes! That is right! He is right!’ Yaugandharāyaṇa said – ‘Alright! If we decide on a lagna that is faulty, will Kaliṅgadatta not feel sad?’ Kaliṅgasenā had no other option than to say –‘Please do whatever all of you deem suitable’. Yaugandharāyaṇa left with the two jyotiṣas. He informed Vatsarāja about the happenings and went home.

To be continued...

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.

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