Kathāmṛta - 45 - Ratnaprabhā-lambaka - The Story of Ratnaprabhā - The Stories of Sattvaśīlā and Vikramatuṅga - The wedding of Naravāhanadatta and Ratnaprabhā

This article is part 45 of 119 in the series Kathāmṛta

केलिकेशग्रहव्यग्रगौरीकरनखावृतम्|

शिवायानेकचन्द्राढ्यमिव शार्वं शिरोऽस्तु वः||

[May that head of Śiva which looks as though it bears many moons, as the hairs are being pulled by the (moon-like) nails of Gaurī playfully, bring you fortune.]

करं दानाम्भसार्द्रं यः कुञ्चिताग्रं प्रसारयन्|

ददत्सिद्धिमिवाभाति स पायाद्वो गजाननः||

[Let the elephant-faced deity who is stretching his trunk - drenched in ichor - as though bestowing success/fruition, protect you.]

Once when Naravāhanadatta was taking a stroll in his garden, an excited Tapantaka came to him and said – ‘O Prince! There is a divine lady who has come down from the skies along with her friend. She is under the Aśoka tree nearby and asked me to bring you to her!’ Naravāhanadatta, along with his ministers, visited the lady who looked like a deity of the garden. When his minister Gomukha asked her background, she narrated the following – ‘There exists a city called Kāñcanaśṛṅga in the Himālayas. Its king, the ruler of vidyādharas, Hemaprabha dearly loved one wife among his many, called Alaṅkāraprabhā just like Candra loved Rohiṇī. With her, the king performed arcanā to Śiva every morning, came down to earth to gift a hundred thousand gold coins to all poor brāhmaṇas, took care of his administrative responsibilities and only then had his meal. He did not have children for many years. Alaṅkāraprabhā saw him in distress and asked him the reason for his state. He said ‘Devi! I possess all the riches that I wish to have. My only worry is about the lack of children. Therefore, I am in immense pain, just like Sattvaśīlā.’ The curious queen asked – ‘Who is Sattvaśīlā? What is his story?’ The king then narrated –

The Story of Sattvaśīlā

There lived a king by name Brāhmaṇavara in Citrakūṭa. He had a war assistant by name Sattvaśīla. He was given a salary of a hundred gold coins every month. As Sattvaśīla had no children, he donated all his earnings to the deserving. Thus, any amount of salary did not suffice for him. ‘The Divine has not blessed me with children. Therefore, I wish to perform large amounts of dāna, but do not possess sufficient wealth! It is better to be born as a barren tree or a stone in this world rather than a poor man afflicted with munificence’ – he thought. Once, out of divine providence, he found a large treasure in a garden. With the newly acquired wealth, he led a comfortable life, enjoyed material pleasures and offered large amounts as dāna to his colleagues, friends and brāhmaṇas. His relatives informed the king that Sattvaśīla had found a treasure. The king called for him. He stood before the king in the rājāṅgaṇa and dug the earth using the līlā-vajra[1] he held in his hand. He discovered a copper jar full of treasure. He buried it again and went to the king. The king ordered him to give the treasure. Sattvaśīla replied, ‘O king! Which one do you want? The first treasure or the one which I found recently?’ The king said, ‘Give me the recent one.’ Sattvaśīla dug up the treasure which he had found in the rājāṅgaṇa and gave it to the king. Thus the king kept this newly found treasure for himself and let Sattvaśīla benefit from the treasure he had first found. Thanks to this, he was able to lead a life of luxury and performed tremendous dāna. However, he could not overcome the distress of not having children.

Alaṅkāraprabhā upon hearing this story, replied ‘It is true that fate helps those who are filled with sattva. Thanks to your sattva, my desire has been fulfilled!’. She narrated the following story as an instance for such fulfilment –

The Story of King Vikramatuṅga

Long ago there lived a king named Vikramatuṅga in the city of Pāṭaliputra who never turned his back either in charity or in war. One day he went to the forest for a hunt and there he saw a brāhmaṇa performing a bilva-homa (by offering Bael fruits, i.e. golden apples, Aegle marmelos). After finishing the hunt, he went up to the brāhmaṇa, offered his salutations, asked his name, and desired to know the benefit of the homa that he was performing. The brāhmaṇa blessed the king and said, “My name is Nāgaśarman. By the performance of this homa, if Yajñeśvara (Agni) is pleased, golden bilva fruits will come out of the homa-kuṇḍa. Agni will appear in a bodily form and grant me a boon. I have been performing this homa for a long time. But my puṇya is so meagre that the deity of fire has not yet been propitiated." The king said, "If that's the case, please give me a bilva fruit. I shall immediately satisfy Agni." The brāhmaṇa said, "I have been strictly following this vrata with fierce discipline and yet he has not been pleased. How will you, who lives without rules and is impure, ever hope to propitiate Agni?" The king said, "Please don't say that! Do thou give me a bilva fruit, and in just a moment I shall show you something amazing!" Out of curiosity, the brāhmaṇa gave him a bilva fruit and the king performed the homa after having resolved with a determined mind, When I offer this fruit and perform the homa, if Agni doesn't appear before me, I shall offer my severed head into the homa! At once, Agni arose from the homa-kuṇḍa with golden bilva fruits in his hand and said, "What boon do you desire?" The king offered his salutations to the deity of fire and said, "I don't desire any boon. It will suffice if you grant the wishes of this brāhmaṇa." When Agni heard those words of the king, he was mighty pleased and said, "This brāhmaṇa shall become extremely rich. And your treasury too shall be forever filled!" Seeing this, the brāhmaṇa said, "Agnideva! You appeared immediately when this king, bereft of austerities and of unrestrained conduct, propitiated you! But when I underwent strict discipline and adhered to sacred vows, you were not sufficiently pleased. Why is that?" Agni said, "My good sir, had I not appeared before him, he would have offered his severed head in the fire of the homa. Do you know that? Success quickly comes to people of intense sattva; but for a person of dull sattva like yourself, siddhi comes slowly." Having spoken these words, Agni disappeared. The brāhmaṇa and the king returned to their respective homes. One day, a brāhmaṇa boy named Dattaśarmā came to the king and claimed that with the help of a certain powder he could convert copper into gold. The king wished to see the demonstration and had some copper brought to him. When the copper was melted, the brāhmaṇa threw some powder on it. But even as the powder was being sprinkled, a yakṣa carried it off. (Since the yakṣa was invisible, nobody saw him do this. The king alone saw him, for he had received a boon from Agni.) Thus, the powder never came in contact with the copper and so it didn’t turn into gold. Thrice he sprinkled the powder on the copper and each time, it didn’t turn into gold. The king then took the powder from the brāhmaṇa and threw it upon the copper himself. The yakṣa didn't intercept it this time and went away with a smile. As a result, the copper turned into gold. The king then explained the reason behind it. Following that, the king learnt the technique from the brāhmaṇa and filled his treasury with gold, which he used for munificent offerings and various dānas. — Thus, the Supreme fulfills the desires of men with intense sattva, either fearing them or being pleased by them. And is there any person who has greater intensity of sattva, fortitude, and propensity for philanthropy compared to you? .Śiva would definitely give you a son; don’t worry — she said.

The next day he started a penance along with his wife, to please Śiva while keeping a fast till he could propiate him. After three days, Śiva appeared to him in his dream and said, ‘O king! You’ll beget a son who would sanctify your lineage and a daughter who would become the wife of an emperor.’ Similarly Gaurī appeared in the dream of the queen and assured her of the same. As told by the primordial couple, they begot a son called Vajraprabha and a daughter called Ratnaprabhā. I’m that daughter Ratnaprabhā. Yesterday night Gaurī devī appeared in my dream and said, ‘O my dear daughter! Tomorrow will be a great day for you;proceed to Kauśāmbī and meet Naravāhanadatta. Your father will then invite him and give your hand to him by marriage.’ I have followed her instructions and have thus arrived here.— she said. By then Hemaprabha also arrived with his son and met Naravāhanadatta; Vatsarāja too arrived with his ministers. Hemaprabha narrated everything to them, with his yogic powers brought a vimāna into existence and used it to transport everyone to his capital. There the wedding of Naravāhanadatta and Ratnaprabhā happened with great fanfare. The guests stayed there for a few more days and then returned to Kauśāmbī.

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.

Footnotes

[1]handheld stick in the shape of the vajrāyudha. Cf. Līlāśuka

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

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective...

Yaugandharam

इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...

Vanitakavitotsavah

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Vaiphalyaphalam

इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।

Nipunapraghunakam

इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।

Bharavatarastavah

अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...

Bharatilochana

ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...