Kathasaritsagara (the Ocean of Story)

by Somadeva | 1924 | 1,023,469 words | ISBN-13: 9789350501351

This is the English translation of the Kathasaritsagara written by Somadeva around 1070. The principle story line revolves around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the Vidhyādharas (‘celestial beings’). The work is one of the adoptations of the now lost Bṛhatkathā, a great Indian epic tale said to have been composed by ...

163. Story of Mṛgāṅkadatta

THEN Mṛgāṅkadatta, accompanied by his friends, crossed the Vindhya range, and, with his army ready for battle, reached the frontier of Ujjayinī. When the brave King Karmasena heard that, he also made ready for the fight, and with his army moved out from the city to meet him. And when those two armies came to close quarters, and could see one another, a battle took place between them that gladdened heroes. The battlefield seemed like the dwelling-place of Hiraṇyakaśipu, as it was full of timid demons dispersed in terror by the roar of the Man-lion[1]; the continued dense shower of arrows flying through the air, and cutting one another, descended on brave warriors, like locusts on the tender herb. Dense clouds of pearls gleamed as they sprang from the frontal globes of elephants struck with swords, resembling the necklace of the Fortune of that battle broken in her agitation. That place of combat appeared like the mouth of Death; and the sharp points of spears, that seized on men, horses and elephants, were like his fangs. The heads of strong-armed warriors, cut off with crescent-headed arrows, flew up to heaven, as if leaping up[2] to kiss the heavenly nymphs; and at every moment trunks of brave heroes danced, as if in delight at the battle of their noble leader being gloriously illuminated; and so for five days that hero-destroying battle went on, with flowing rivers of blood, rich in mountains of heads.

And in the evening of the fifth day the Brāhman Śrutadhi came secretly to Mṛgāṅkadatta when he was closeted with his ministers, and said to him:

“While you were engaged in fighting, I went away from the camp, in the disguise of a mendicant, and entered Ujjayinī, the gates of which were almost deserted: and now listen; I will tell you truly what I observed, being myself all the while, though near at hand, unseen in virtue of my knowledge. As soon as King Karmasena went out to battle, Śaśāṅkavatī, with the permission of her mother, also left the palace, and repaired to a temple of Gaurī in that city to propitiate the goddess, in order to ensure her father’s success in combat.

And while she was there, she said in secret to a devoted confidante:

‘My friend, it is for my sake that my father has become involved in this war. And if he is conquered he will give me to that prince; for kings disregard love for offspring altogether when the interests of their kingdoms are at stake. And I do not know whether that prince is a suitable match for me in respect of personal appearance or not. I would sooner meet my death than marry an ugly husband. I think a good-looking husband, even though poor, is to be preferred to an ugly one, though he be emperor over the whole earth. So you must go to the army and see what he is like, and then return. For, my fortunate friend, Caturikā[3] is your name, and Prudence is your nature.’

“When the princess had given this order to her confidante, that girl managed to come to our camp, and after seeing you, Prince, went and said to that princess:

‘My friend, I can say nothing but this: even Vāsuki[4] himself has not got a tongue able to describe the beauty of that prince. So far, however, I can give you an idea of it: as there is no woman in the world equal to you in good looks, so there is no man equal to him. But alas! that is but a feeble description of him; I believe in these three worlds there is no Siddha, or Gandharva, or god like him.’

By this speech of her confidante’s Śaśāṅkavatī’s heart was fixed on you, and at the same moment it was nailed to you by the God of Love with his arrows. And from that time forth she has remained desiring the welfare of you and also of her father, becoming gradually attenuated by penance and grief of separation from you.

“So go secretly this very night and carry off that princess from that sanctuary of Gaurī, which is now unfrequented, and bring her here without being observed. Let her be conveyed to the palace of Māyāvaṭu; and then these kings, after securing your rear against the fury of the foe, shall come there with me. Let this fighting be put an end to. Do not allow any further slaughter of soldiers. And ensure the personal safety of yourself and the king your father-in-law. For war, that involves a great waste of human life, is an inexpedient expedient, and sages affirm it to be the worst of all political measures.”

When Śrutadhi had said this to Mṛgāṅkadatta, that prince and his ministers mounted their horses and set out secretly at night. And the prince arrived at the city of Ujjayinī, in which only women and children and sleepy men were left, and entered it easily, as the gates were kept by only a few drowsy guards.[5] And then he proceeded to that famous sanctuary of Gaurī, which was easily discovered by the description which Śrutadhi had given of it. It was situated in a great garden called Puṣpakaraṇḍa, and was just then illuminated by the rays of the moon, which at that time adorned the face of the East.[6]

In the meanwhile Śaśāṅkavatī, who remained sleepless, though her companions, worn out by attendance and other fatigues, were sleeping around her, was saying to herself:

“Alas! for my sake brave kings and princes and heroes are being slain every day in battle in both these armies. Moreover, that prince, who has appealed to the ordeal of battle for my sake, was long ago designated as my husband by the goddess Durgā in a dream; and the God of Love has with unfailing aim cut out my heart with a continual shower[7] of arrows, and taken it and presented it to him. But, ill-starred girl that I am, my father will not give me to that prince, on account of the previous enmity between them, and his own pride: so much I gathered from his letter. So what is the use of a sure revelation by a goddess in a dream, when Fate is adverse? The fact is, I see no chance of obtaining my beloved in any way. So why should I not abandon my hopeless life, before I hear of some misfortune happening to my father or to my lover in battle?”[8]

With these words she rose up, and in her grief went in front of Gaurī and made a noose with her outer garment, fastening it to an aśoka tree.

In the meanwhile Mṛgāṅkadatta, with his companions, entered that garden and fastened his horse to a tree in front of the temple and sanctuary of Gaurī.

Then Mṛgāṅkadatta’s minister Vimalabuddhi, seeing the princess near, said of his own accord to the prince:

“Look, Prince, here is some lovely girl trying to hang herself; now, who can she be?”

When the prince heard that, he looked at her and said:

“Aha! who can this girl be? Is she the goddess Rati? Or is she happiness incarnate in bodily form? Or is she the beauty of the moon, having taken shape,[9] or the command of Kāma living and walking? Or is she a nymph of heaven? No, that cannot be. For what can make heavenly nymphs hang themselves? So let us remain here for a time concealed by trees, until we find out for certain, somehow or other, who she is.”

When he had said this, he and his ministers remained there in concealment; and in the meanwhile the despondent Śaśāṅkavatī offered this prayer to the goddess:

“O adorable Gaurī, that deliverest the afflicted from their pain, grant that, though, owing to my sins in a former state of existence, Prince Mṛgāṅkadatta has not become my husband in this birth, he may become such in a future life.”

When the princess had said this, she bowed before the goddess, and fastened the noose round her neck, with eyes moist with tears.

At that moment her companions woke up, and, distressed at not seeing her, began to look for her, and quickly came where she was. And they said:

“Alas, friend, what is this that you have undertaken? Out on your rashness!”

With these words they removed the noose from her neck.

So, while the girl was standing there ashamed and despondent, a voice came from the inner shrine of Gaurī’s temple:

“Do not despond, my daughter Śaśāṅkavatī; that word, fair one, that I spake to thee in a dream, cannot prove false. Here is that husband of thine in a former life, Mṛgāṅkadatta, come to thy side: go and enjoy with him the whole earth.”

When Śaśāṅkavatī heard this sudden utterance, she slowly looked aside a little confused, and at that moment Vikramakeśarin, the minister of Mṛgāṅkadatta, came up to her, and pointing out the prince with his finger, said to her:

“Princess, Bhavānī has told you the truth, for here is the prince, your future husband, come to you, drawn by the cords of love.”

When the princess heard that, she cast a sidelong glance, and beheld that noble lover of hers,[10] standing in the midst of his companions, looking like the moon having descended from heaven begirt by the planets, like the standard by which beauty is tested in others, raining nectar into the eyes.

Then she remained motionless as a pillar, and every hair stood erect with joy on all her limbs, so that they appeared to be covered with the feathers at the end of Kāma’s arrows raining upon her.

And at that moment Mṛgāṅkadatta came up to her, and, in order to dispel her shame, he addressed to her, with a voice raining the honey of love, the following speech appropriate to the occasion[11]:

“Fair one, you have made me leave my own country and kingdom and relations, and brought me from a distance, enslaving me and binding me with the chain of your virtues. So now I have gained this fruit of my dwelling in the forest, and of my sleeping on the ground, and of my living on wild fruits, and enduring the fierce heat of the sun, and of my emaciation with asceticism, that I have beheld this form of yours which rains nectar into my eyes. And if you love me enough to care to please me, bestow also, gazelle-eyed one, that feast of the eyes upon the ladies of our city. Let the war cease; let the welfare of both armies be ensured; let my birth be made a success, and let my father’s blessing be gained for me at the same time.”

When Mṛgāṅkadatta had said this to Śaśāṅkavatī, she slowly answered, with eyes fixed on the ground:

“I indeed have been purchased with your virtues and made your slave, so do, my husband, what you think will be for our good.”

When Mṛgāṅkadatta had been refreshed by this nectar-like speech of hers, and saw that his point was gained, he praised the goddess Gaurī and bowed before her, and then he made the princess get up behind him on his horse, and his ten[12] ministers mounted and took her ladies-in-waiting up behind them; and then the prince, with his sword drawn, set out from that city at night, accompanied by them, sword in hand. And though the city-guards saw those eleven heroes, they did not dare to stop them, for they looked as formidable as so many angry Rudras. And leaving Ujjayinī, they went with Śaśāṅkavatī to the palace of Māyāvaṭu, in accordance with the advice of Śrutadhi.

While the guards were exclaiming in their distraction, “Who are these, and whither are they gone?” it gradually became known in Ujjayinī that the princess had been carried off. And the queen-consort hurriedly dispatched the governor of the city to the camp, to tell King Karmasena what had taken place.

But in the meanwhile the head of the scouts came to King Karmasena in the camp there at night, and said to him:

“King, Mṛgāṅkadatta and his ministers left the army secretly in the early part of this night, and went on horseback to Ujjayinī, to carry off Śaśāṅkavatī, who is in the temple of Gaurī. So much I have discovered for certain: your Highness knows what step it is now desirable to take.”

When King Karmasena heard this, he sent for his general, and communicated to him privately the information he had received, and said to him:

“Choose five hundred swift horses, and set picked men on them, and go with them secretly to Ujjayinī, and wherever you find that villain Mṛgāṅkadatta, kill him, or make him prisoner: know that I will follow you quickly, leaving my army behind me.”

When the general received this order from the king, he said, “So be it,” and set out by night for Ujjayinī with the prescribed force. And on the way he met the governor of the town, from whom he heard that the princess had been carried off by some daring men in another direction. Then he returned with the governor of the town, and told King Karmasena what had taken place. When the king heard it, he thought it impossible, and remained quiet during the night, without making an attack. And in the camp of Mṛgāṅkadatta, Māyāvaṭu and the other kings passed the night under arms, by the advice of Śrutadhi.

And next morning the sagacious King Karmasena found out the real state of the case, and sent off an ambassador to the kings in the camp of Mṛgāṅkadatta; and he instructed the ambassador to give this message by word of mouth:

“Mṛgāṅkadatta has carried off my daughter by a stratagem: never mind that; for what other man would be as suitable a match for her? So now let him come to my palace, and do you come too, in order that I may celebrate my daughter’s marriage with appropriate ceremonies.”[13]

And the kings and Śrutadhi approved of this proposal,[14] and said to the ambassador:

“Then let your master retire to his own city, and we will ourselves go and bring the prince there.”

When the ambassador heard that proposal, he went and reported it to his master; and Karmasena agreed to it, and left for Ujjayinī with his army. When the kings saw that, they went, with Māyāvaṭu at their head, and accompanied by Śrutadhi, to Mṛgāṅkadatta.

And in the meanwhile Mṛgāṅkadatta, with Śaśāṅkavatī, had reached the palace of Māyāvaṭu in the city of Kāñcanapura. There the queens of Māyāvaṭu welcomed him, and his companions, and his beloved, with becoming hospitality, and he rested there with them, having successfully accomplished his object. And the next day the kings came there with Śrutadhi: the heroic king of the Kirātas, Śaktirakṣita, with his army, and the mighty King Māyāvaṭu, leader of the Śavaras, and the hero Durgapiśāca, lord of the host of the Mataṅgas; and all of them, when they beheld Mṛgāṅkadatta united to Śaśāṅkavatī, like the white water-lily to the night, rejoiced and congratulated him. And after they had shown him the honour he deserved, they told him the message of Karmasena, and how he had gone to his own palace.

Then Mṛgāṅkadatta, having established there his camp, that was like a moving city, sat down with them all to take counsel. And he said to the kings and to his ministers:

“Tell me, shall I go to Ujjayinī to be married or not?”

And they with one accord gave the following answer:

“That king is a villain; so how can a visit to his palace turn out well?[15] Moreover, there is no need of it, as his daughter has arrived here.”

Then Mṛgāṅkadatta said to the Brāhman Śrutadhi:

“Why do you remain silent, Brāhman, like one taking no interest in the proceedings? Tell me, do you approve of this step or not?”

Then Śrutadhi said:

“If you will listen, I will tell you what I think: my opinion is that you ought to go to the palace of Karmasena. For he sent you this message because he saw no other way out of the difficulty[16]; otherwise, how would a powerful prince like that, when his daughter had been carried off, give up fighting, and go home? Moreover, what could he do to you when you arrived at his court, since you would take your army with you? On the contrary, if you go there, he will be well disposed to you, and he will again be one of your chief allies out of love for his daughter. The reason he makes this proposal, which is a perfectly legitimate one, is that he does not wish his daughter to be married in an irregular manner. So I think it advisable that you should go to Ujjayinī.”

When Śrutadhi said this, all who were present approved his speech, and said: “Bravo! Bravo!”

Then Mṛgāṅkadatta said to them:

“I admit the truth of all this; but I do not like to marry without my father and mother. So let someone be sent off from this place to summon my father and mother; and when I have learnt their wish, I will do what is proper.”

When the-hero had said this, he took the advice of his friends, and then and there sent off his minister Bhīmaparākrama to his parents.

And in the meanwhile his father, King Amaradatta, in the city of Ayodhyā, found out in course of time from his subjects that the charge which Vinītamati brought against the prince, and which caused his banishment from his native land, was wholly groundless. Then, in his wrath, he put to death that wicked minister and his family, and fell into a pitiable state, being terribly afflicted on account of the banishment of his son. And he left his capital, and remained in a sanctuary of Śiva, outside the city, called Nandigrāma; and there he and his wives gave themselves up to severe asceticism.

After he had remained there some time, Bhīmaparākrama, whose approach was announced by scouts, arrived, thanks to the speed of his swift horse, at the city of Ayodhyā. He beheld that city plunged in despair, on account of the absence of the prince, as if it were once more going through the painful agitation caused by the exile of Rāma. Thence he went to Nandigrāma, surrounded by citizens who asked him for news of the prince, and hearing from their mouths what had happened to the king. There he beheld King Amaradatta, with his body emaciated by asceticism, surrounded by his queens, eager for news of his beloved son.

Bhīmaparākrama went up to him and fell at his feet, and the king embraced him, and asked for news of his son; and thereupon Bhīmaparākrama said to him with tears:

“Your son Mṛgāṅkadatta has won by his valour the Princess Śaśāṅkavatī, the daughter of King Karmasena. But, as he is devoted to his parents, it does not seem at all becoming to him to marry her, unless the king and the queen can be present at the ceremony. So your son, placing his head upon the ground, has sent me to request you to come to him. And he awaits your Highness’s arrival, in Kāñcanapura, in the palace of King Māyāvaṭu, the monarch of the Śavaras. Now hear the story of our adventures.”

And thereupon Bhīmaparākrama began with the banishment of his master, and related all his various and wonderful adventures, involving the long story of the misfortunes of their forest sojourn and their separation, with the war, and winding up with the prince’s reconciliation with Karmasena.

When King Amaradatta heard that, he made up his mind that it was well with his son, and in his joy he announced that he would set out that moment. He mounted an elephant, and accompanied by his queen, his subject kings and his ministers, and followed by a force of elephants and cavalry, he started full of eagerness to join his son. And, travelling uninterruptedly, the king reached in a few days his son’s camp, that was pitched in the territory of the monarch of the Śavaras.

And when Mṛgāṅkadatta, who had long been yearning for his father, heard of his approach, he went out to meet him with all the kings. And he saw him from a distance, and dismounted from his horse, and fell at the feet of his father, who was seated on an elephant, and at the feet of his mother. And when embraced by his father, he filled with his body his clasping arms, with satisfaction his heart, and his eyes with tears. His mother too folded him in a long embrace, and looking at him again and again was for some time unable to let him go, as if fearing a second separation. And Mṛgāṅkadatta introduced to his father Amaradatta the kings his friends, and they bowed before him and the queen. And that couple, the king and the queen, received lovingly those friends who had stood by their only son in his difficulties.

Then Amaradatta entered the palace of Māyāvaṭu and saw Śaśāṅkavatī, his future daughter-in-law, who bowed at his feet. And after accepting a present, he departed with the queen and that daughter-in-law, and took up his quarters in his own camp. And there he took food with his son and all the kings, and spent that day agreeably with song, music and dancing. And he thought that all his objects in life had been gained, thanks to his son Mṛgāṅkadatta, the future emperor, who had attained so much glory.

And in the meanwhile the wise King Karmasena, after deliberating, sent off an ambassador to Mṛgāṅkadatta with the following message, which was contained in a letter, and also intended to be delivered by word of mouth:

“I know that you will not come to Ujjayinī, so I will send to you my own son Suṣeṇa; he will bestow on you with due ceremonies his sister Śaśāṅkavatī: so you ought not, blameless one, to marry her in an irregular manner, if you value my friendship.”

And when the prince had heard this message delivered in the royal hall of audience, his father the king himself gave this answer to the ambassador:

“Who but King Karmasena would send such a gracious message? That excellent monarch is truly well disposed to us, so let him send here his son Suṣeṇa; we will so order matters as that his daughter’s marriage shall give him satisfaction.”

When the king had given this answer, and dismissed the messenger with due honours, he said to his son, and Śrutadhi, and the kings:

“We had better go now to Ayodhyā; that is the place where the marriage can be performed with most éclat; and there we can entertain Suṣeṇa with becoming magnificence. And let King Māyāvaṭu wait here for Suṣeṇa; when that prince arrives he can come on after us to Ayodhyā with him. But we will go on in front to make the necessary preparations for the marriage.”

And all present approved this speech of the king’s.

Then, the next day, the king with the queen and his soldiers, and Mṛgāṅkadatta with the kings and his ministers, started off with Śaśāṅkavatī, exulting in their success, leaving Māyāvaṭu to wait there for Suṣeṇa. Their army moved on like a deep and terrible sea, agitated with hundreds of waves in the form of troops of bounding horses, filling all the horizon with a flood of countless marching footmen, rendering all other sounds inaudible with the confused din that arose from it. And gradually advancing, father and son reached the palace of Śaktirakṣita, the king of the Kirātas, that lay in their course.

There they and their attendants were courteously and generously welcomed, with heaps of valuable jewels, gold, and splendid garments. And they stayed there one day with their army, taking food and resting, and then they set out and reached in course of time their city of Ayodhyā. It seemed like a lake in windy weather as they entered it; for the ladies of the city who had climbed up to the windows of the palaces, as they moved to and fro, seemed like swaying, full-blown lotuses, sending forth shoots of beauty; and their rolling eyes, eager to behold the prince, who after a long absence had returned, bringing a bride with him, were like dancing blue lilies: it was crowded with assembling kingly swans, and tossing with wavy banners. And father and son looked grand as they sat on thrones being blessed by the Brāhmans, praised by heralds, and hymned by bards.

And when the people there saw the great beauty of Śaśāṅkavatī, they exclaimed, in their astonishment:

“If they were to behold this daughter of Karmasena, the Ocean would cease to boast of the beauty of his daughter Lakṣmī, and the Himālaya would no longer pride himself on Gaurī.”

And then, when the festival came on, the quarters, re-echoing the sound of the auspicious drums of rejoicing, as it were, gave notice to the kings. And the whole city was full of exultation, and the vermilion colours that covered it throughout seemed like its red glow of affection overflowing in external form.

The next day the astrologers fixed an auspicious date for the prince’s marriage, and his father, King Amaradatta, began to make preparations for it. And the city was filled so full of various jewels, coming from all quarters, that it put to shame the city of Kuvera.

And soon a servant of King Māyāvaṭu came to the sovereign in high spirits, introduced by the warder, and said to him:

“King, Prince Suṣeṇa and King Māyāvaṭu have arrived, and they are both waiting on the frontier of this realm of Ayodhyā.”

When King Amaradatta heard that, he sent his own general with a body of soldiers to meet Suṣeṇa. And Mṛgāṅkadatta, out of regard for his friend, also went out with the general from Ayodhyā to meet the prince. And both of those princes dismounted, while yet a great distance apart, and met together, embracing one another and asking after one another’s health. And out of love they entered the city in the same chariot, giving a great feast to the eyes of the ladies of the city.

And there Suṣeṇa had an interview with the king, and was received by him with much respect, and then he went to the private apartments of his sister Śaśāṅkavatī.

There she rose up weeping and embraced him, and he sat down and said to the princess, who was overwhelmed with shame:

“My father directs me to tell you that you have done nothing unbecoming, for he has just come to learn that Prince Mṛgāṅkadatta was appointed your husband by the goddess Gaurī in a dream, and it is the highest duty of women to follow the steps of their husbands.”

When he had said this to the girl she dismissed her shame, looking at her heart with downcast face, as if to tell it that its desire was gained.

Then Suṣeṇa brought and gave to Śaśāṅkavatī in the presence of the king her own accumulated wealth: two thousand bhāras[17] of gold, five camels heavily laden with jewelled ornaments, and another treasure of gold.

And he said:

“This is her own private property, but, as for what her father has sent, I will give it her in due course at the marriage altar.”

Then they all ate and drank, and spent the day there in the king’s presence in great comfort, with Mṛgāṅkadatta and his suite.

The next day dawned, the day fixed as auspicious, and Mṛgāṅkadatta performed his own daily ceremony, of bathing and so on; in which the king himself displayed the The Royal utmost interest, in his joy at the occasion. And Wedding then Śaśāṅkavatī, though her beauty was sufficient bridal ornament, was solemnly adorned by the ladies, only out of regard for the good old custom, not because anything of the kind was needed. Then the bride and bridegroom left the room in which the previous ceremony took place, and in which Suṣeṇa presided, and ascended the altar-platform, where a fire was burning. And on it the prince received the hand of the princess, which was resplendent with the hues of a lotus that she held, as Viṣṇu the hand of Lakṣmī. And when they circumambulated the fire, the face of Śaśāṅkavatī was red and tearful from heat and smoke, though anger was far from her. And the handfuls of parched grain, thrown into the fire, appeared like the laughs of the God of Love, pleased with the success of his scheme. And when the first handful was thrown, Suṣeṇa gave the five thousand horses, and a hundred elephants, and two hundred bhāras of gold, and twenty camels laden with loads of splendid raiment, valuable gems and pearl-ornaments. And at each subsequent sprinkling of grain Śaśāṅkavatī’s brother gave her a portion of the wealth gained by the conquest of the earth, double that given at the preceding.[18]

Then Mṛgāṅkadatta, the auspicious ceremony having been performed, entered his own palace with his newly married bride, Śaśāṅkavatī, while the sound of festal drums rose up in the air. And the king, his father, gratified his ministers and the citizens of his capital with presents of elephants, horses, garments, ornaments, meat and drink, suited to the worth of the recipient, beginning with the circle of dependent monarchs, and ending with the parrots and pet mainas. And the king displayed on this occasion such exceedingly lavish generosity that even the trees had garments and gems fastened to them, and presented the appearance of earthly wishing-trees.

Then the king and Mṛgāṅkadatta feasted with the kings and Śaśāṅkavatī and Suṣeṇa, and spent the rest of the day in a wine-party. Then, after the inhabitants of the palace had eaten and drunk well, and enjoyed music and dancing, the sun, having accomplished his journey, and having drunk up the moisture of the earth, entered the cavern of the western mountain. And the glory of the day, seeing that he had departed somewhere or other with the evening that was all ablaze with a warm glow, ran after him in a fit of jealous anger, and the birds flying to and fro seemed like her agitated zone.[19] And then in due course appeared advancing the wanton nymph Night, beautiful with her waving black robe of darkness, and showing a face in which stars rolled for eyeballs, and the God of Love waxed mighty. And the moon, own brother to the curved corner of an angry, long-eyed beauty’s eye, arose, and, glowing with fresh rosy colour, made itself the driving-hook of the elephant of the eastern mountain. And the eastern quarter, that was clear and bright with the departure of the darkness, bore a laughing face, to which the moon, like a new shoot of the twining plant of love, formed an extemporised ear-ornament.

And at night Mṛgāṅkadatta, after performing his evening devotions, retired to his luxuriously appointed bedchamber with his bride Śaśāṅkavatī. And during it, that fair one’s moonlike countenance, dispelling the darkness and lighting up the pictured panels of the room, seemed to render unnecessary the lamps hanging there, that were made of precious stones.[20]

And the next morning Mṛgāṅkadatta was aroused by the soft sweet strains of the following song:

“The night has passed; leave your bed, Prince, for the breezes of morning are blowing, fanning the perfumed locks of the gazelle-eyed fair ones. And the dewdrops collected on the points of the blades of durvā grass sparkle brilliantly, looking like pearls fallen from the necklace of the night quickly following the moon. And observe, Prince, the bees that long sported in the cups of the white water-lilies, opening when touched by the beams of the moon, and drank the honey, and were joyous at having obtained an entrance, now that the water-lilies are closed and their glory is departing, are seeking some other retreat; for to whom are black souls faithful in calamity? And the God of Love, seeing that the lip of the night has been adorned by the finger of the sun, has stripped it of the moon, which served it for a beauty-patch, and has gradually dissipated the darkness, which was a black powder to set it off.”

Aroused by these strains at the hour of dawn, Mrigāṅkadatta cast off sleep, and, leaving Śaśāṅkavatī, at once started up from his couch. And he rose and performed the ceremonies of the day, his father having made all the arrangements that devolved on him; and accompanied by his beloved he passed many more days in similar rejoicing.

Then his father Amaradatta first inaugurated the prince’s brother-in-law Suṣeṇa with the holy waters, and placed a turban of honour on his head, and bestowed on him as a mark of respect a suitable territory, and elephants, horses, quantities of gold and garments, and a hundred beautiful women. And then the king complimented the king of the Śavaras and the king of the Kirātas, Māyāvaṭu and Śakti-rakṣita, with their relations and wives, and that King Durgapiśāca, the leader of the host of the Mātaṅgas, and the ministers of Mṛgāṅkadatta with Śrutadhi, by giving them territories, cows, horses, gold and garments. Then King Amaradatta dismissed the king of the Kirātas and the other monarchs, with Suṣeṇa, to their own dominions, and ruled his realm in happiness, at ease because his valour was so well known. Mṛgāṅkadatta, for his part, having conquered his enemies, and attained his ends, remained in happiness with his wife Śaśāṅkavatī, whom he had gained after a long struggle, and with Bhīmaparākrama and his other ministers.

And in course of time old age, slowly creeping on, approached the root of the ear of that King Amaradatta, appearing as if it had taken form in order to say to him:

“You have enjoyed the good things of fortune: your age is fully ripe; surely it is now time to retire from the world.”

Then the king’s mind became averse to enjoyment, and he said to his ministers:

“Listen, I will now tell you the scheme I have in my mind. My life has passed: that grey hue which is the harbinger of death has just now twitched my locks[21]; and when old age once arrives, a vicious clinging to enjoyment on the part of persons like myself, when all the zest is gone, is mere vanity. And though in some people a mad passion of avarice and lust goes on increasing with increasing age, that is without doubt the natural tendency of base souls, and the good do not acquire it. Now I have this son here, Mṛgāṅkadatta, who has gained glory by conquering the sovereign of Avanti and his allied kings,[22] who abounds in good qualities, is beloved by his subjects, and has excellent friends. So I propose to make over to him my mighty kingdom, and to retire to a holy water for mortification of the flesh: conduct in conformity with the laws laid down for the various periods of life, that their enemies cannot blame, becomes men of great soul.”

When the calm and resolute ministers heard this determined speech of the king’s, they, and in due course the queen and the citizens, all approved it, saying: “So let it be!”

Then the king performed the joyful ceremony of the coronation[23] of his son Mṛgāṅkadatta at a moment fixed by the astrologers, on a day selected by the chief Brāhmans assembled together. And on that day the palace of the king was full of people running hither and thither at the order of the warder, and all the officials in it had their hands full, and it reeled with the merriment of famous bards and of lovely women who were dancing there. And while the water of holy places was being poured in copious showers upon the head of Mṛgāṅkadatta and his wife, a second flood seemed to gush from the eyes of his joyful parents. And when that new king, of lionlike might, mounted his lion-seat, it seemed as if his enemies, bowed down by fear of his wrath, crouched on the ground in a fashion other than lionlike.

Then his father, King Amaradatta, prolonged for seven days the great feast, in which the king’s highway was decorated, and the subject-kings honoured according to their worth. And on the eighth day he went out of the city with his wife, and after turning back Mṛgāṅkadatta and the citizens, who followed him with tearful faces, he went with his ministers to Vārāṇasī. There the king remained with his body steeped in Ganges water, worshipping Śiva three times a day, performing penance, like a hermit, by living on roots and fruits; and his wife shared all his devotions and privations.

But Mṛgāṅkadatta, for his part, having obtained that kingdom broad and pure as the sky, which the sun takes as his domain, and having overwhelmed the kings with imposition of numerous tributes, as the sun does the mountains with showers of rays, began to blaze forth with increasing heat of valour. And associated with his lieutenants Māyāvaṭu and Karmasena and the others, and with his own ministers headed by Śrutadhi, he conquered this circle of the earth, with all its continents, as far as the four cardinal points, and ruled it under one umbrella.[24] And while he was king, such calamities as famine and the dread of robbers and of foreign invaders were heard of only in tales; and the world was ever joyous and happy, and enjoyed unparalleled felicity, so that it seemed as if the gentle reign of Rāma the good were renewed. And so the monarch established himself in that city of Ayodhyā with his ministers, and kings came from various quarters to worship the lotus of his foot, and he long enjoyed with his beloved Śaśāṅkavatī pleasures, the joy of which no enemy marred.[25]


[M] (main story line continued) When the hermit Piśaṅgajaṭa had told this story in the wood on the Malaya mountain to Naravāhanadatta, who was separated from his beloved, he went on to say to him:

“So, my son, as Mṛgāṅkadatta in old time gained Śaśāṅkavatī after enduring affliction, you also will regain your Madanamañcukā.”

When Naravāhanadatta had heard this nectarous utterance of the mighty hermit Piśaṅgajaṭa, he conceived in his heart the hope of regaining Madanamañcukā. And with his mind fixed on her, he took leave of that good hermit, and roamed about on the Malaya mountain, looking for Lalitalocanā, the fair one that originally brought him there.

Footnotes and references:


Kṛṣṇa, in the form of a man-lion, destroyed Hiraṇyakaśipu. The word man-lion also refers to brave soldiers. For sashpeshu No. 1882 reads sasyeṣu.


I read, with India Office MS. No. 1882, dividattordhvajhampāni; the two other MSS. agree in the reading jampāni. For bhruvaśālinām I read bhujaśālinām, which I find in the three India Office MSS.


I.e. “Prudence.”


The king of the snakes. See for his thousand mouths and thousand tongues p. 56 of this volume.


  No. 1882 has mattairasaṃvṛtadvārām.


There is an intentional pun in this passage, which may be translated “illuminated by the moon with his rays” or “pointed out by the moon with his fingers.”


For parasparām I read paramparām, following Böhtlingk and Roth. This is the reading of MS. No. 1882.


I read vā raṇe, the conjecture of Dr Kern.


Sakārā is a misprint for Sākārā, which I find in MS. No. 1882.


Dr Kern prefers tejasvinam to tejasvinām.—I have adopted this conjecture, which is supported by two of the India Office MSS.


I read kālochitam, the conjecture of Dr Kern; it is found in the three MSS. lent me by Dr Rost.


Daśibhiḥ is a misprint for daśabhiḥ, the reading of the MSS.


So King Nidung, in the “Wilkina Saga” (chapter cxxxi), asks King Sigmund to come to his palace if he wishes to marry his daughter (Hagen’s Helden-Sagen, vol. i, p. 322).


Dr Kern points out that Śraddhatus is a misprint for Śraddadhus.


Here No. 1882 reads gṛhesku kṛtavairasya gamane.


Thus Tawney paraphrases asādhyena. But if we read aśāṭhyena, with the D. text, the sense is much improved: “... it cannot be with an insidious purpose that he sent you this message; otherwise. . . ” etc. See Speyer, op. cit., p. 141.——N.M.p.


A bhāra = 20 tulās.—— The equations, however, vary. See L. D. Barnett, Antiquities of India, pp. 207, 209.—n.m.p.


For a full description of all the intricate rites of a Hindu marriage ceremony, see Mrs Stevenson, Rites of the Twice-Born, chapter iv.—n.m.p.


The words are, by a misprint, wrongly divided in Brockhaus’ text.


Cf. Heliodorus, III, v, “πλέον ἀπὸ τ ῶν ὀφθαλμῶν σέλας ἠ τῶν δαδων ἀπηύγαζεν”, quoted by Rohde, Der Griechische Roman, p. 152, note.——See Vol. II, p. 169. Mr A. H. Krappe kindly sends me the following additional references: Bartsch, Herzog Ernst, p. cl et seq.; Schröder, Sand Brandon, p. 104; A. N. Rambaud, La Russe épique, pp. 387, 405. —n.m.p.


See M. Bloomfield, “On Recurring Motifs in Hindu Fiction,” Journ. Amer. Orient. Soc., vol. xxx, pp. 57, 58.—n.m.p.


For Sarājakāvarti I read Sarājakāvanti; Mṛgāṅkadatta might be said by an admiring father to have conquered the King of Ujjayinī.


It corresponds to the European ceremony of coronation, though performed with water.


See Vol. II, p. 267.—n.m.p.


This is the conclusion of the story of Mṛgāṅkadatta, which begins in Vol. VI, p. 10.

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