The Story of Kusumāyudha
A brāhmaṇa named Devasvāmī lived in Caṇḍapura. He had a beautiful daughter named Kamalalocanā. Kamalalocanā was in love with Kusumāyudha, Devasvāmī’s student. As he wanted to give her hand away to someone else in marriage, Kamalalocanā said to Kusumāyudha, “I’ve chosen you as my husband; take me away somewhere!” He agreed, and one night, he sent her a swift carriage with his attendant. She believed him and got into the carriage. The attendant took her to some unknown place. In the morning observing that they were in a different city she asked, “Where is Kusumāyudha? Wouldn’t you take me to him?” He said, “I’ll marry you; why bother about him?” She, being shrewd, said, “I agree; you too are my beloved; marry me immediately!” He left her in the garden and set out to bring the required materials for the wedding…
Kamalalocanā fled that spot and sought refuge in the house of an old garland maker. When the wicked servant returned with the wares with fond hopes of marrying Kamalalocanā, she was nowhere to be seen. He returned and blatantly lied to Kusumāyudha thus: “You are a simple and straightforward man. You don’t understand the scheming ways of women. You see, I waited for her for a long time, but she never turned up. When people started gathering around and began to stare at me, I just came away. Then I saw some people take her in their vehicle and ride away!”. Kusumāyudha just gave up thinking that it was never meant to be. After some time, his father fixed an alliance for him with a maiden who lived in the same town as Kamalalocanā now did. When Kusumāyudha reached this town for his wedding, Kamalalocanā saw him near the garden and begged the garland maker to bring him to her. The garland maker did so and got them both married under his own roof. Kusumāyudha also married the maiden whose alliance was responsible for his finding Kamalalocanā. Then, accompanied by both his wives, he went back to his hometown, punished his vile servant and lived happily ever after. Thus, you see, fortunate people reunite with their loved ones in ways they hadn’t even imagined. So, pray take heart; you too will soon be back with your beloved.”
After listening to this story, with hope rekindled in his heart, Kesaṭa stayed back with Kandarpa and Sumanasā in the house of Yajñasvāmī. After a few days they all departed towards their respective towns. On the way, when they were passing through a forest, they came face to face with a rogue elephant running amok, and they soon got separated. Kesaṭa managed to reach Kāśi and met Kandarpa there. From there, they went together to Pāṭalīputra. There, Kesaṭa told his father Desaṭa about his marriage to Rūpavatī and also recounted the story of Kandarpa. On the other hand, Sumanasā was still wandering in the woods helplessly. When it became dark, she began to weep loudly. The yoginīs who saw her thought, ‘Alas! Isn’t this the wife of our dear Kandarpa?’, and out of compassion took her to Ratnapura. In the morning, Sumanasā heard the townspeople talk: ‘Anaṅgavatī, the wife of Kandarpa, thinks that he will never return. She has lost hope and wants to end her life by entering fire. There she goes with her parents in law’. Sumanasā rushed towards the pyre and told Anaṅgavatī about Kandarpa and stopped her from taking the extreme step. Coming to know of this, Kandarpa’s father was elated, and he took both his daughters-in-law home. Kandarpa left Pāṭalīputra without telling Kesaṭa and went in search of his wife Sumanasā - only to reach the town where Kesaṭa had married Rūpavatī. By this time, Rūpavatī had come to know of the old man’s treachery, and had given up food and water. The old wicked man was worried that if something were to happen to her, it would invite the king’s wrath upon him. So he sent her back to her father’s house, where she was welcomed back with open arms. After listening to her tale of woe, Rūpavatī’s father sent word to Pāṭalīputra to summon Kesaṭa. There, Desaṭa told the messenger tearfully, that his son Kesaṭa, along with Kandarpa, had left in search of their wives without informing anyone where they were going. Upon hearing of this, Rūpavatī lost heart and prepared to end her life by entering fire. Right at that moment, Kandarpa reached the spot and told her of Kesaṭa and took her back to her father’s house. Rūpavatī’s father received Kandarpa with due respect and played a gracious host to him. Kesaṭa roamed several towns and finally reached Ratnapura where both wives of Kandarpa lived. There, Sumanasā saw him, and told her father-in-law about him. They welcomed Kesaṭa warmly to their home, where he told them about Kandarpa, and was treated to great hospitality.
Kandarpa sent a letter to Ratnapura; in the letter, he mentioned that he was at the place where Rūpavatī got married to Kesaṭa; he also added that Rūpavatī was also in the same place. Kandarpa’s father sent Kesaṭa to his wife and welcomed back his son. Thereafter, each lived in his town happily
Having narrated the story of Kesaṭa, the brāhmaṇa said, “Ārya! who can understand the play of the divine? My dead wife is now alive! Therefore, get up and get going!” He enthused him and brought him here. I spotted a big boar and an elephant here; the elephant threw my beloved out and then swallowed him again – it is now gone. I was looking for the elephant and i spotted you.
Vikramāditya called the lady who was recovered from the elephant and offered her to Dhanadatta. The couple was happy and heaped praises of gratitude upon Vikramāditya.
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.
The original Kannada version of Kathāmṛta is available for free online reading. So are the other works of Prof. Krishnasastri