Kathāmṛta - 116 - Viṣamaśīla-lambaka - The Story of Vikramāditya

This article is part 116 of 133 in the series Kathāmṛta


चन्द्राननार्धदेहाय चन्द्रांशुसितभूतये।

चन्द्रार्कनलनेत्राय चन्द्रार्धशिरसे नमः॥

करेण कुञ्चिताग्रेण लीलयोन्नमितेन यः।

भाति सिद्धीरिव ददत् स पायाद्वो गजाननः ॥


Salutations to Śiva, who has the moon-faced Pārvatī occupying half his body that is smeared with ash resembling the cool rays of the moon and he, who possesses the Sun, the Moon and the Fire as his eyes.

May the Gajamukha, who has his trunk lifted up gracefully, with its tip curved downwards suggesting his blessing of siddhis, protect us.

Naravāhanadatta continued narrating his tale to the sages on the Asitagiri –

I was lamenting for my beloved. Vegavatī escorted me and put me in the hands of Vidyā. I almost decided that I should give up life and started roaming around. As I was going here and there, I happened to encounter the sage Kaṇva. He led me to his āśrama, filled me with courage and said – “You are born in the candra-vaṃśa and are overcome with delusion? Don’t you trust the words of the devas? People who have gotten separated have been reunited, even when faced with impossible challenges. Let me narrate a story of Vikramāditya –


The Story of Viṣamaśīla or Vikramāditya

There lies a city called Ujjayinī in the province of Avantī. A king called Mahendrāditya ruled the place. His wife was called Saumyadarśanā and his minister was Sumati. With the blessings of Śiva, he begot a son called Vikramāditya, who was also named Vikramaśīla. He was one amongst the Śiva-gaṇas, who had taken birth to eliminate the mlecchas. Sumati had a son called Mahāmati and the guardian named Vajrāyudha begot a son called Bhadrāyudha. The purohita had a son called Śrīdhara. The king coronated his son Vikramāditya and went to Kāśī with his wife and minister.

Once, when Vikramāditya was in the royal palace, a messenger named Anaṅgadūta came there and said – “Deva! Vikramaśakti had won over the regions of Aṅga, Vaṅga and Kāśmīra and has eliminated the mlecchas. He is going to be here in a couple of days!” The king replied – “Anaṅgadeva!  Tell me what places you visited and describe their specialities!”

Anaṅgadeva replied -

The Story of Anaṅgadeva

Deva! When I went to the commander-in-chief, Vikramaśakti, a messenger from Siṃhala came there to meet me. He told me that the king of Siṃhala wished to see me and escorted me to their country. He was very hospitable and said – “I have a daughter named Madanalekhā, an extraordinary beauty. I have decided to get her married to your king. They are going to be a very good couple. Convey this to your king. I will send my daughter soon!”

Accompanied by Dhavalasena, the messenger of the king of Siṃhala, I set sail on the ocean. Along the way, right in the middle of the ocean, we saw a sand dune. Upon it were two beautiful women, playing with a golden fawn bedecked with fine jewels. Just as we wondered, ‘How amazing! Are we hallucinating, or is it a dream, or is this magic?’, a strong gust of wind arose and capsized our ship. Even as everyone aboard except us fell prey to swarming crocodiles, the two women lifted us up and took us into a cave. There, we saw a divine forest! There was no ocean or fawn anymore. Nor did we see the two women who had saved us! As we walked further, we came across a huge pond. Then we spotted a beautiful woman who seemed to personify the very splendour of the whole forest. She had come along with her attendants for ablutions. Just as she took bath, a Śiva-liṅga rose up from the waters of the pond. She devoutly offered her prayers to Śiva and sang melodious strains in the southern form. As soon as her worship concluded, the liṅga sank back into the depths of the pond. The lady turned around and started walking. Out of curiosity, when I asked her attendants as to who she was, none of them answered me. Then I said ‘O beautiful lady! Pray, do not walk away without revealing your name - I beseech you by the oath upon the feet of king Vikramāditya!’. Listening to these words, she stepped down from the vessel she had just boarded. Then she came up to me and asked, “Does the great king Vikramāditya fare well? Never mind, for I need not ask. Anaṅgadeva! I know everything. By the power of my magic, it was I who summoned you here. Vikramāditya is worthy of worship for me. He had rescued me from great danger. Now, come to my house and I will explain everything to you there!”. Then she took us home and treated us with great respect.


2. After we partook of a sumptuous repast, she said ‘Anaṅgadeva! Let me tell you everything. Listen!’, and narrated her story.

The Story of Madana-mañjarī

I am Madana-mañjarī, the wife of Maṇibhadra, the younger brother of Kubera, and the daughter of Dundubhi, a yakṣa-king. Long ago, my husband and I went to the Makaranda-garden in Ujjayinī for a jaunt. There, a wily sorcerer saw me and began to perform a sacrifice to bring me under his sway. I complained to my husband, who then reported this to his elder brother, who in turn told this to lord Brahmā. The latter said, ‘The sorcerer’s incantations are endowed with the powers of attraction. If Madana-mañjarī is being drawn by them, let her take refuge in king Vikramāditya. He will protect her’. Accordingly, when I raised clamour, the king arrived there wielding his sword and thundered, “Fear not, O lady! How can such an act of unrighteousness ever occur in my kingdom!”. He summoned a betāla called Agni-śikha and commanded him to devour the evil wizard forthwith. The vetāla slew the sorcerer in no time, but just as he was about to make a meal of him, another betāla named Yama-śikha entered the cadaver. An enraged Agni-śikha thundered, ‘I had killed this man on the express orders of King Vikramāditya. Who are you to claim his body thus?’ Yama-śikha in turn asked: ‘So what is the supposed eminence of your king Vikramāditya?’ Agni-śikha then replied thus:-

Long ago, a gambler called Ḍākineya lived here. A few people got the better of him. They snatched away everything he possessed and dumped him in an old, abandoned well. Little did he know that two brahma-rākṣasas lived there. They had been sentenced to a year of detention in that decrepit well by king Vikramāditya, as a punishment for their heinous attempt at apprehending the daughters of both his minister and a wealthy man.

They tormented him, ‘Will you give us something to eat, or should we eat you?’ He said he will get something to give them, ventured out, captured me and took all my handsomeness and capabilities and then he found all the gamblers one by one and gave them to the brahma-rākṣasas. Finally when he threw me into the well I fought with the two brahma-rākṣasas, remained undefeated and finally became friends with them. They cautioned me not to believe gamblers with the following story–

The Story of Ṭhiṇṭhākarāḻa

Ṭhiṇṭhākarāḻa stayed in the temple of Mahākāla, he would gamble with the deities, defeat them, harass them and take away their gold. He propitiated Bhairava and by his grace he was able to marry an apsaras called Kalāvatī, the daughter of Alambusā. With her ascended to svarga and saw the dance of the apsaras Rambhā and chāga-nṛtta. For this violation Kalāvatī was turned into a statue in the temple of Nāgapura; Ṭhiṇṭhākarāḻa went to Nāgapura, gained trust of the king and convinced him that the temple is inauspicious and needs to be demolished; once it was demolished Kalāvatī was liberated. Indra got to know about this swift turn of events and he was amused. Bṛhaspati narrated the story of another gambler named Kuṭṭinīkapaṭa–

The Story of Kuṭṭinīkapaṭa

Kuṭṭinīkapaṭa was destined to stay in Naraka; but due to some small amount of puṇya he was also destined to enjoy the status of Indra for a day. Yama asked him whether he would suffer the consequences of his pāpa first or enjoy the fruits of puṇya, he chose the latter and by the status he got as Indra he went on a yātrā to all the kṣetras and got rid of all the pāpa. A stunned Yama conceded, “Alas! This gambler has outwitted me!”

Finally, Indra sent for Ṭhiṇṭhākarāḻa via Kalāvatī and welcomed him to svarga. He lived happily there. 'So what is the surprise in Ḍākineya fooling you?' he said. I came out and caught a brāhmaṇa to satisfy my hunger, he went to the refuge of Vikramāditya. Vikramāditya immediately appeared, drew a figure and chopped off its head, resulting in my head being chopped off; blood oozed out. I too sought refuge in him and was spared. By orders of such a person, i.e. Vikramāditya, I’ve killed this kāpālika. Still Yamaśikha wasn’t convinced. Then Vikramāditya appeared, drew a figure and chopped its shoulder, Yamaśikha’s shoulder too was chopped off miraculously and he abandoned the body of kāpālika and ran away. Agniśikha ate it. I was watching everything. Then the king sent me back to my husband.

Deva! Madanamañjarī narrated your prowess thus and said, ‘Your lord has saved my kula, my life and my husband; by killing Vikramaśakti other kings are plotting to kidnap the daughter of Simhaleśvara, Tell this to Vikramaśakti. Let him plan his revenge; I’ll also help him in killing these enemies and winning this battle.

I hope to repay King Vikramāditya for all the help he rendered in my time of need, at least a little”, said Madana-mañjarī. We instantly dispatched swift messengers to notify Vikrama-śakti, who lost no time in preparing for battle. In the terrible war that ensued, all the mleccha kings were slain. The yakṣiṇī Madana-mañjarī then sent with Vikramaśakti, the two divine maidens and the golden stag as her gifts for you. Let me quickly tell you about them. Long ago, two rākṣasas named Ghaṇṭa and Nighaṇṭa obstructed Brahmā’s endeavour of life-creation. The creator then brought to life these two divine maidens. The two rākṣasas, smitten by their beauty, fought fiercely over who should claim them, and ended up killing each other. Coming to the golden stag - it was a plaything which Indra had got made for his dear son Jayanta. Later, Indrajit stole it and brought it to Laṅkā. Then, after the killing of Rāvaṇa, it came to the possession of Vibhīṣaṇa. From him, it came to the hands of the yakṣiṇī Madana-mañjarī. Vikrama-śakti is on the way with the divine maidens, the golden stag and the princess of Siṃhala. He sent me ahead to apprise you of all this.

After listening to Anaṅgadeva’s narration, king Vikramāditya was elated. Accompanied by his troops and retinue, he marched from Ujjayinī a little further to receive the victorious Vikrama-śakti early. Upon meeting him, the king greeted his commander-in-chief heartily and welcomed him home.

Later, on an auspicious day, Vikramāditya married Madana-lekhā, the princess of Siṃhala as well as the two divine maidens and lived happily.

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. Krishna Shastri




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.

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


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


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


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


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

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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...


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...


“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...