Kathāmṛta - 110 - Mahābhiṣeka-laṃbaka - The Story of Naravāhanadatta and Mandaradeva

This article is part 110 of 119 in the series Kathāmṛta

निशासु ताण्डवोद्दण्डशुण्डासीत्कारशीकरैः |
ज्योतींषि पुष्णन्निव वस्तमो मुष्णातु विघ्नजित् ||
May Vighneśvara remove the darkness of ignorance that envelopes you. He dances at night and lifts his trunk straight upwards. He sprinkles cool water through his trunk, giving the impression that he has added stars to the sky.

When Naravāhanadatta was in the Govindakūṭa, a vidyādhara named Amṛtaprabha came there. He said, “I have come from the sage Vāmadeva, who resides in the Malaya mountains. The sage asks you to come there alone for some work.”

Accordingly, the two left for the Malaya mountains. They met sage Vāmadeva and bowed down to him. The sage said – “Ārya! You are an avatāra of Kāmadeva; the divine has made you the lord of the vidyādharas; you can, thus, own the gems that lie in my cave. Once you procure them, you can win over Mandaradeva. I called for you for this very purpose.” As per the sage’s instruction, Naravāhanadatta went into the cave and first procured the gajendra-ratna. Following this, he also mastered khaḍga, candrikā, kāminī and vidhvaṃsinī-vidyās. He now had seven mahāratnas in all, including saras and candana.

Well equipped with vidyās and assisted by his allies, he attacked Mandaradeva. He crossed over the Mānasa-sarovara and arrived at Mt. Kailāsa. However, he was not allowed to cross the Kailāsa, the abode of Śiva; if he did so, he would lose all the vidyās he had procured. Ṛṣabhacakravartī had faced this kind of trouble in the past. He thus had to pass through the triśīrṣa cave; he sent a messenger to Deva-māyā, the guardian of the cave but the guardian got ready to fight. Naravāhanadatta defeated him in a moment’s time, but did not kill him; the guardian, thus surrendered to the emperor and revealed everything about the cave. The following day, Naravāhanadatta entered the cave with his retinue.  He warded off the darkness using candrikā-ratna and poison of the snakes using candana-ratna. He defeated diggajas – directional elephants using hasti-ratna and guhyakas with the help of khaḍga-ratna. He successfully came out through the northern door. He pleased Kālarātrī using stotras and went ahead.

A ghastly battle ensued between Naravāhanadatta and Mandaradeva. As he was about to kill Mandaradeva, the latter’s sister came to Naravāhanadatta and said – “O king! I fell in love with you when I spotted you in the tapovana [grove for meditation]. I have married you, emotionally. Therefore, he is your brother-in-law. Please do not kill him!” Naravāhanadatta let him free and said – “Ārya! You should not feel ashamed for this! The courageous treat victory and defeat with equanimity!” However, as he felt embarrassed and left his kingdom. He went to the place where his father was performing tapas and joined him. Naravāhanadatta crowned Amitagati as the king in the place of Mandaradeva.

As he was about to set out to win the Meru region, Nārada came there. He said – “What is this, O lord! You are known to be well versed in dharma, but have taken up the impossible task! Even the Sun and the Moon cannot cross over Mt. Meru. Himālaya is the abode of the vidyādharas and you have conquered the region. What do you want from Meru, the deva-bhūmi? Let go of your prejudice; go and meet Akampana, Mandāradeva's father; that will be auspicious for you!" So saying, he went away. In deference to his wishes, Naravāhanadatta went to Akampana's āśrama. Offering him great hospitality, Akampana said, "O noble sir! An incorporeal voice had predicted that my daughter Mandāradevī would become the wife of the Emperor; therefore you must accept her hand in marriage!" She said, "I have four friends who are called Kanakavatī, Kālavatī, Śrutā, and Ambaprabhā. The five of us had seen His Highness, the noble one, in the tapovana and we were all smitten by him at once. We decided that all five of us would get married to him and should any one desire to solely win his hand, the other four would kill her. As a result, I cannot marry him alone." Therefore, Naravāhanadatta married all five maidens. After some time, Akampana said, "O Mahārāja! Now, proceed to Ṛṣabhādri and get coronated; this is what all previous emperors have done!" Accordingly, he took his wives and ministers and went there in a vimāna [airplane]. A question arose: which of his wives should sit with him on the throne as he is crowned [and get the status of the main queen]? Indeed, Naravāhanadatta had fallen in love with and chosen to marry Madanamañcukā; but she was a mere human, the daughter of Madanavega and Kaliṅgasenā—thus the vidyādharas pondered. Then an incorporeal voice was heard. It said, "O vidyādharas! She is not a mortal; she is Ratidevī; she is not born in a womb; the devatās used their power of māyā and placed her in that womb, switching her with another." Thus, the question was answered. Naravāhanadatta sent Vāyupatha to Kauśāmbi to invite and escort Vatsarāja, Vāsavadattā, Padmāvatī, Gopālaka, and all other relatives and friends. No sooner than they arrived, Naravāhanadatta and his numerous wives bowed down to them and took their blessings. Vāsavadattā and Padmāvatī were delighted to meet their new daughters-in-law; they spoke to those young ladies, asked their names, and enquired about their families. Naravāhanadatta's coronation took place with great pomp and celebration amidst the vidyādhara kings. Using his vidyā-bala [strength of his learning], Naravāhanadatta took various forms that day and spent time with all his wives at once, bringing them delight. After the celebration, Vatsarāja called for his son and told him, "Child! Which creature indeed lives that would reject such divine enjoyments! But my motherland and my subjects are drawing my heart away from here. Therefore, we shall return to Kauśāmbi. You continue to enjoy these divine comforts! Whenever you so wish, call for us; what other major task do we have left in this birth but to admire your moon-like face and rejoice!" Upon hearing these words, Naravāhanadatta had tears welling up in his eyes; he felt choked and was left speechless. He offered them various clothes, ornaments, piles of gold and jewels, and then bowed down to them.

Vāsavadattā was overcome with sorrow; time and again she looked back at her son's face as she proceeded towards Kauśāmbi. Naravāhanadatta and his ministers accompanied them for some distance. With tears flowing profusely, it appeared as if darkness had set in; finally they returned to Ṛṣabhagiri. Vāyupatha and Devamāya went along with them to Kauśāmbi and ensured that the elders reached safely. Along with Madanamañcukā, Naravāhanadatta happily ruled over the kingdom of the vidyādharas.

Here ends Mahābhiṣeka-laṃbaka

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 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. 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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