The Story of King Indradatta
There lived a king named Indradatta in the country of Cedi. He had a grand temple constructed in a tīrtha-kṣetra called Pāpaśodhana and often visited the place. Many pilgrims visited the place to take a dip in the tīrtha. Once, during his visit to the place, he spotted a lady belonging to a merchant’s family. He fell in love with her and visited her residence. Her husband was not in town. She said ‘Mahārāja! You are supposed to protect everyone. It is not right for you to eye a married woman. If you use force upon me, you will acquire great pāpa. I will give up my life as I cannot stand the blemish on my character!’ Still, he went forward. She died with her heart shattered. He was ashamed looking at this and passed away in repentance.
Therefore, please don’t lend your heart to adharma and to my death. If you let me stay here, I will. If not, I’ll go elsewhere. He replied ‘Princess! Don’t worry. I will not insist. Live happily with your husband!’ He returned to his palace.
Madanavega who was watching this in his invisible form appeared before her and said ‘My beloved! You have done the right thing. If you had erred, I wouldn’t have tolerated it and it wouldn’t have been good for you too.’ With these words, he stayed back with her.
Kaliṅgasenā experienced divine pleasure on earth and turned pregnant with time. Madanavega who learnt this told her – ‘If humans turn pregnant or if we give birth to children through humans, it is our custom to leave them behind and go away. Recall how Menakā abandoned Śakuntalā who grew later under the care of Kaṇva. You were an apsara in your previous birth and turned into a human because of Indra’s curse. Still, I will go back to my place. Protect the child! I will come to you when you seek me!’ Saying so, he went away.
In the meanwhile, Śiva reminded Rati who had performed a great penance to have her husband, Manmatha’s body restored, ‘That husband of yours who was turned to ashes by my wrath has taken birth as Naravāhanadatta, you shall also be born in a mortal body and you’ll reunite with your husband.’ and instructed Brahmā – ‘Kaliṅgasenā shall give birth to a male child but Rati’s penance should bear fruit now. Therefore, remove the male child and instead place Rati.’ And thus it happened. As soon as the child was born, Brahmā who was waiting replaced it with Rati without anyone knowing it.
When Vatsarāja heard that Kaliṅgasenā had given birth to a daughter, he—under the influence of Śiva—told Vāsavadattā in the presence of Yaugandharāyaṇa, “This Kaliṅgasenā is a divine damsel who has fallen to the earth owing to a curse; as a result, the daughter born to her will also possess divine beauty. She must be the wife of my son Naravāhanadatta!” But Vāsavadattā looked down upon that baby as a child of an unchaste woman. Yaugandharāyaṇa said, “Deva! After Manmatha was burnt to ashes, Śiva apparently promised Rati that she would be born on earth and unite with her husband in human form. Much earlier, an incorporeal voice declared your son to be an incarnation of Manmatha. I believe that it is Rati who is born as this baby now. Earlier today, the midwife came to me in secret and confided that the foetus that was previously in the uterus was quite different from what later appeared. The deities seem to have stolen the real child of Kaliṅgasenā and substituted it with Rati. I shall narrate a story relating to a yakṣa, listen!" So saying, he narrated this tale—
The Story of Virūpākṣa
Kubera had a servant named Virūpākṣa. He was the pradhāna-adhyakṣa (chief guardian) for a treasure of a hundred thousand. He had appointed a certain yakṣa to guard the treasure that was stored outside the city of Mathurā. Once a certain pāśupata-brāhmaṇa of that city came in search of the treasure. As he examined that spot, the candle made of human fat that he held in his hand fell down. This indicated the presence of a treasure and so he returned to the spot with his friends and began exhuming the treasure. The yakṣa-sentinel promptly reported the matter to Virūpākṣa, who ordered him to kill them all. The yakṣa executed his order. When Kubera learnt of it, he said, “People in poverty can resort to any means; should you restrict them or have them executed straightaway! For this crime of killing a brāhmaṇa, I curse you to be born as a mortal on earth!” At once, Virūpākṣa was born in the house of a brāhmaṇa in an agrahāra. Virūpākṣa’s wife requested Kubera that she too should be sent to the mortal world and subsequently took on a human form. She was found lying outside the door of the servant-maid who served that brāhmaṇa (to whom Virūpākṣa was born). She brought that baby girl to the brāhmaṇa (who decided to raise her). The children grew up together with great mutual affection. When they came of age, they were married and although they had no recollection of their past life, they lived in great joy as if a long separation had come to an end. In due course, he died and his wife performed saha-gamana. Owing to the strength of her tapas, his pāpa was washed away and he regained his former position. Therefore, on account of various causes, divine beings take birth here, on earth!—thus he said.
Kaliṅgasenā gave the name Madanamañcukā to her daughter. One day, upon hearing about the beauty of the child, Vāsavadattā had her brought into her presence. All the people around her hailed the child as Rati incarnate. Then, the queen called for Naravāhanadatta and showed him the girl. He too was delighted. From that moment onwards, the children grew up together and would refuse to remain apart from one another. Everyone was convinced that their match was made in heaven and divinely ordained. When Kaliṅgasenā learnt of this, she was overjoyed. She began showering love and affection on Naravāhanadatta, already deeming him to be her son-in-law. Vatsarāja had a grand palace built for his son and anointed him the yuva-rāja. He then appointed the sons of his ministers as officers to the crown-prince Naravāhanadatta (and they would later become ministers when he became king). Thus Yaugandharāyaṇa’s son Marubhūti would become the minister, Rumaṇvān’s son Hariśikha would become the commander in chief, Vasantaka’s son Tapantaka would become Naravāhanadatta’s playmate, Ityaka’s son Gomukha would become the chamberlain, Piṅgalikā’s sons Vaiśvānara and Śāntisoma would become purohitas. The crown-prince was taken around the city on the royal elephant. Kaliṅgasenā remembered Somaprabhā and make her appear. She inquired about the well-being of Kaliṅgasenā and told her, ‘Your task in this world is almost complete; you’ll be free from the curse!’ She consoled her thus and she constructed a pleasure garden for her daughter which had no parallel in the three worlds. Whoever saw that was astonished! Kaliṅgasenā entertained her guests Vatsarāja, Vāsavadattā, Naravāhanadatta and others in the same garden. The next day when the king visited the temple, he saw women resplendent with divine jewels and clothes and asked them who they were. They replied that they were personifications of the vidyās waiting to become one with Naravāhanadatta. The king, amazed, went to the palace where Vāsavadattā was playing the vīṇā. Naravāhanadatta as soon as he entered and politely said, ‘O mother! Didn’t you play a false note?’ The king asked him, ‘You play it, let us all hear!’ The prince played it in such a way that even the gandharvas would be wonder-struck. Thus all the arts and knowledge sources had become one with him. Madana-mañcukā being an expert danseuse, he would sing and play various instruments to complement her dance. He became an expert in handling elephants, horses, chariots, weapons, drawing, painting and so on, defeating scholars who came to their kingdom from various foreign lands.
Once the prince went to the Nāgavana along with his friends. A merchant’s wife who was also visiting the place saw Gomukha and instantly fell in love with him. Repulsed, she was so enraged that she tried to poison his drink. Gomukha learnt this through her friend and denounced her as evil and narrated the story of Śatrughna and his wicked wife — In a village there was a man named Śatrughna whose wife was unchaste. He once saw his wife with her paramour in the evening when he came home and enraged, he slew him with his sword. Then with the help of a traveller who came to stay that night he managed to bring the corpse near a well and was about to throw it in. that unchaste wife of his quietly followed him and pushed him into the well. What wicked crimes wouldn’t an unchaste wife commit? — After this Naravāhanadatta and his friends offered their prayers and came back.
Once to ascertain his conviction regarding the nuances of polity he asked his friends who would become his ministers in future to guide him in the ways a king should conduct himself. They consulted amongst themselves and provided a masterclass in polity. In summary they said that the king should conquer himself, wield the daṇḍa appropriately, be discerning when it comes to his associates, only then he would gain the love of his subjects and be the embodiment of prosperity. They gave two examples — A king named Śūrasena heavily relied on his servants and thus became a puppet in the hands of his cunning ministers who formed a coalition. Anyone who is loyal to the king would be shunned by them and anyone who would be loyal to them were rewarded. The king finally realised the situation and set them against each other through bedha, thus the clique fell apart and the king was able to rule successfully. — Another king called Harisimha was not powerful but was adept in the science of polity. With utmost care he appointed only wise ministers, fortified his kingdom, and held surplus in his treasury. He conducted himself in such a way that all his subjects loved him and even when he was attacked by the emperor he was not defeated. — Thus discernment and self control are the prime qualities which would help a king in all his endeavours. Naravāhanadatta was pleased.
Like this, the prince grew strength to strength along with the ministers, one day he went to visit Madana-mañcukā. Kaliṅgasenā welcomed them and said to Gomukha, “Today while we were waiting for Naravāhanadatta’s arrival on the terrace; A divine man appeared who was wearing a crown and was adorned with a sword and said, ‘I’m Mānasavega, a vidyādhara; you are Surabhidattā of divine origin but you were cursed; this makes your daughter too of a divine origin; give her to me in marriage; this match is indeed appropriate!’ I laughed at him and replied, ‘It has been decided by the deities that she would be the wife of Naravāhanadatta; he’ll become the king of all vidyādharas’, He went away taking the aerial route!” Gomukha replied, ‘These vidyādharas are our opponents; being independent wouldn’t they detest the fact that someone would rule over them? But it seems that Śiva has ordered his gaṇas to protect the crown prince as has been confirmed by Nārada himself. I’ve heard this from my father!’ Kaliṅgasenā, frightened, said, ‘Then someone might deceive Madana-mañcukā; isn’t it better if the prince married her as soon as possible?’ He replied, ‘You should take up this matter with Vatsarāja then!’ The next day, Kaliṅgasenā met Vatsarāja and brought up matter with him. Vatsarāja summoned his minister and queens for counsel. Finally he suggested that Naravāhanadatta should marry Madana-mañcukā in the gāndharva way. Yaugandharāyaṇa said, “Lord! This is not appropriate. Even Kaliṅgasenā will not agree to this. She and her daughter are divine women. My friend - the brahma-rākṣasa - also has affirmed this.” While they were thus discussing, Śiva’s voice boomed in the heavens, “Know that Naravāhanadatta is Manmatha, who was reduced to ashes from the fire of my third eye, reborn. Likewise, Rati has been reborn as Madana-mañcukā with the sole aim of marrying him. Through my grace, Naravāhanadatta, along with Madana-mañcukā, will reign over the vidyādharas!” Upon hearing this, Vatsarāja was elated. He happily proceeded to arrange for his son’s marriage. Astrologers were summoned and the date and time of the wedding was fixed. The royal astrologers did however foretell “The couple will have to suffer separation from each other for a little time!”.
On the day of the wedding, Kaliṅgasenā decked her daughter with the divine apparels and ornaments gifted by her father. Divine damsels sent by Śiva sang at the wedding. The cāraṇas played the musical instruments. Naravāhanadatta married Madana-mañcukā with agni as the witness. While they slowly walked the ritual steps hand in hand around the sacred agni, they resembled the Sun and the Moon going around Mount Meru. The reverberation of divine percussion instruments seemed to rend the skies. Many kings and monarchs attended the wedding and showered the couple with gifts of gold and precious stones. This rain of untold riches made Kauśāmbi shine like ratnākara - the ocean whose belly is the treasure trove of precious stones. The entire city swayed to the songs of the cāraṇas and the movements of the dancers. Truth be told, the whole of Kauśāmbi appeared to be dancing with joy. The royal wedding celebration continued unabated for many days and thus, Naravāhanadatta’s dreams came true. Everyone was truly content and happy.
End of Madana-mañcukā Lambaka
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.