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


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.


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



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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