One night sleep eluded him, he was thinking, “I’ve been deeply interested in her, I’ve neglected others, where are my other wives? Where are my ministers?” he heard a female voice, “Alas! Such difficulty!” he turned towards the direction of the voice where he saw only the face of the woman through the window, resulting in a delusion that it might be the moon. As he kept staring bewildered, she extended her hand and signalled through her fingers, “Come to me!” Having seen Gandharvadattā asleep he went without fear. As he approached her she said, “Alas Madanamañcukā, you are ruined!” As soon as he heard that he asked, “Who are you? Where did you see Madanamañcukā? Why did you come here?” She took him somewhere nearby and said, “I’m Prabhāvatī, the daughter of the vidyādhara chief named Piṅgalagāndhāra; I’d been to Āṣāḍhapura to visit my friend Vegavatī; she was not there; she had gone away to perform tapas; from her mother I came to know that Madanamañcukā was your beloved and went to her place to see her; she has forsaken food and water, has become thin and is in distress; by the powers I’ve, I came to know about your whereabouts and came here, only to see you with some other woman, that led to my exclamation which you heard.” he requested her, “Take me to Madanamañcukā.” she held him and flew. When they got down somewhere to drink water he tried to act more friendly towards her, she snubbed him saying, “While my friend is to be pacified it’s unbecoming of you to act like this with me!” He was both surprised and happy. “Destiny is indeed a connoisseur; springs up newer and newer surprises every time.” he thought. When they reached Āṣāḍhapura and saw Madanamañcukā, her heart grew in happiness as though the torrential rains filled a dry lake. She narrated her story starting from the friendship between Vegavatī and Prabhāvatī, the affection shown by Pṛthivīdevī, the villainy of Mānasavega, and how finally she escaped only due to the grace of Bhairava. After some time when Prabhāvatī was out of the city some of the attendants who saw him complained to Mānasavega that some outsider had entered. When he stormed the place with his troops, his mother Pṛthivīdevī came forward and said “O Mānasavega! Know that he’s none other than Naravāhanadatta. He is but with his own wife. He is a descendent of the lunar dynasty too. We must treat him with respect!”. Mānasavega cried “I see him as my sworn enemy!”. His mother replied: “Listen child! In the vidyādhara world, we have never seen unrighteousness come to pass. Have him face the assembly of dharma. If he is found guilty there, then by all means let him be punished. Only if you adhere to this will your actions be considered worthy, not otherwise!”. Mānasavega agreed to this and tried to have Naravāhanadatta arrested before presenting him to the assembly. The latter couldn’t take this lying down. He snapped a festoon-pole and began to give the guards a sound thrashing. He then grabbed a sword from the hand of a guard he had felled and swiftly despatched many warriors to their death. Mānasavega had no choice but to resort to his secret knowledge of sorcery, using which he managed to bind both husband and wife and had brought them to the assembly of dharma. With king Vāyupatha perched on the throne, Mānasavega complained “This mortal has violated my sister and is now defiling the inner chambers of our palace. He is fit to be put to death!”. When Naravāhanadatta was asked to answer to the charges, he replied gravely:
“सा सभा यत्र सभ्योऽस्ति स सभ्यो धर्ममाह यः |
स धर्मो यत्र सत्यं स्यात् तत्सत्यं यत्र नच्छलम् ||
An assembly is one where there are speakers.
A speaker is one who speaks righteously.
Righteousness is one which has truth for its core.
Truth is that where there is no deception.
I have been held in bondage through sorcery. My accuser sits peacefully on a throne. How, then, can our debate take place on an equal footing?”. Agreeing to this, Vāyupatha had Mānasavega sit on the floor and had Naravāhanadatta unbound. Naravāhanadatta then continued to speak: “I only got back my wife Madana-mañcukā whom Mānasavega had abducted. How then does it tantamount to defiling the inner chambers of the palace? If his sister Vegavatī tricked me into marrying her by visiting me in the guise of Madana-mañcukā, how is it my fault?”. Listening to this, Vāyupatha said “What this righteous man has said is correct. Mānasavega! Don’t resort to unrighteousness!”. However, Mānasavega, maddened with rage, didn’t agree. Vāyupatha was angered. The hall was filled with commotion. Naravāhanadatta roared: “O Mānasavega! If you agree to fight me fair without resorting to sorcery, I will kill you with one blow!”. The entire assembly of vidyādharas was split down the middle and eager to fight. Right then, one of the pillars of the hall shattered with a loud boom and from there emerged a terrible looking Bhairava. He stood with this dark form spanning heaven and earth, causing darkness to descend all around, sending forth flames from his eyes like bolts of lightning. He thundered like an apocalyptic cloud at Mānasavega: “You lowly creature! How dare you insult the future vidyādhara emperor!”. Mānasavega lowered his head. Bhairava then lifted Naravāhanadatta in his arms, flew to mount Ṛṣyamūka and leaving him there, he vanished. The commotion in the hall gave way to an eerie calm. Mānasavega, filled with mixed feelings of joy and sadness, with Madana-mañcukā ahead of him, went to Āṣāḍhapura.
3. When Naravāhanadatta was wandering around on Ṛṣyamūka, Prabhāvatī visited him and felt sad that he had suffered so much when she was away. Even as she was there, her friend Dhanavatī came and gave her daughter Ajināvatī in marriage to Naravāhanadatta and brought the couple to Kauśāṃbī. Seeing him back home, Vatsarāja, Vāsavadattā and Yaugandharāyaṇa were elated. Several gandharva leaders including Caṇḍasiṃha, Amitagati (Prabhāvatī's father), Piṅgalagāndhāra, Vāyupatha, Hemaprabha, Vajraprabha, Sāgaradatta and Citrāṅgada arrived there. After having received the best kind of hospitality from Vatsa-rāja, Piṅgalagāndhāra said to Naravāhanadatta – “It has been divinely ordained that you should be our emperor. Still, please pay attention to what I tell you now. The vidyādharas have two regions in the Himalaya mountains – Uttaravedi and Dakṣiṇavedi. Uttaravedi is ruled by Mandaradeva and the Dakṣiṇavedi is ruled by Gaurimuṇḍa. Among the two, Dakṣiṇavedi is evil natured and is hard to be conquered. You will need to master different vidyās at the earliest and win over him”. With these words, they escorted Naravāhanadatta along with his ministers and wives to the Siddhakṣetra-parvata and protected him there. There, he performed an intense tapas. Five vidyādhara women who spotted him there, came to him and pleaded with him to marry them together. They also said that if he were to marry only one or a few among them, leaving the others behind, they would end their lives by entering fire. In the meantime, portents were sensed. Mānasavega and Gaurimuṇḍa came to attack him along with their vidyādhara army. A fierce battle ensued between the two parties. With his magical skills, Gaurimuṇḍa caused the enemy faction to faint and captivated Naravāhanadatta in the Agniparvata. Mānasavega abducted Gomukha and other ministers and threw them in different directions. Mānasavega and Gaurimuṇḍa were happy thinking that they had won and went their way.
Naravāhanadatta who had fallen on the Agniparvata was picked up by a divine being and dropped off on the banks of the river Ganga. He said that he was a messenger of Śiva and the mountain which was in front of them was Kailāsa. Naravāhanadatta then started a tapas dedicated to Śiva. The lord was impressed and declared – “You will be the emperor of the vidyādharas. You will master more vidyās than everyone else. With my blessings, you will be unassailable – by your enemies can never conquer you. You will win over your enemies. All their vidyās will vanish as they appear before you. Pārvatī will also bless you with Gaurī-vidyā.” Next moment, padma-vimāna created by Brahmā appeared there. All vidyās appeared in their divine forms and said – “Please command us!”. Naravāhanadatta saluted Pārvatī and Parameśvara, climbed on to the vimāna and landed in Vakrapura, where Amitagati lived.
4. There, the servant of an emperor named Paurarucideva came to serve him. Vidyādharas such as Piṅgalagāndhāra and wives such as Dhanavatī came to serve him. Naravāhanadatta turned to Dhanavatī and asked – “Where are my ministers?” Dhanavatī had protected the ministers with her vidyā, when they were thrown in different directions by Mānasavega. They appeared there, and saluted Naravāhanadatta. He asked them – “Where were you all these days? How did you spend time?”
Gomukha started recounting his tale first –
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 G S, Arjun Bharadwaj, Srishan Thirumalai, and Hari Ravikumar.