Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Udayana included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Udayana

A renowned king of the Candravaṃśa (Lunar dynasty).


Descended from Viṣṇu in the following order: Brahmā-Atri-Candra-Budha-Purūravas-Āyus-Nahuṣa-Yayāti-Pūru-Janamejaya-Prācinvān-Pravīra-Namasyu-Vītabhaya Śuṇḍu-Bahuvidha-Saṃyāti-Rahovādī-Raudrāśva-Matīnāra-Santurodha-Duṣyanta-Bharata-Hasti-Ajamīḍha-Ṛkṣa-Saṃvaraṇa-Kuru-Jahnu-Suratha-Viḍūratha-Sārvabhauma-Jayatsena-Ravyaya-Bhāvuka-Cakroddhata-Devātithi-Ṛkṣa-Bhīma-Pratīpa-Śantanu-Vyāsa-Pāṇḍu-Arjuna-Abhimanyu-Parīkṣit Janamejaya-Śatānīka-Sahasrānīka-Udayana.


There was a city called Kauśāmbī situated in the middle of the famous kingdom known as Vatsa in North India. The palace of king Śatānīka, born of the family of Arjuna, was in Kauśāmbī. Viṣṇumatī was the queen of Śatānīka. She had been childless. One day while Śatānīka was hunting in the forest, he met with the hermit Śāṇḍilya, by whose blessings Viṣṇumatī conceived and gave birth to a son. That son was Sahasrānīka. When he came of age, Śatānīka left the country with his son and went to the heaven to help the gods in their battle with the Asuras, and he died there. Sahasrānīka became a mighty emperor. Once he got an invitation from Indra to go to heaven and help the gods to fight the Asuras. After having defeated the Asuras, one day, he was walking with Indra in the Nandana Park, when he saw the gods playing with their wives in the park. Immediately the unmarried king became thoughtful and Indra read correctly, the reason for the sudden change in the king and said to the king. "Oh King! Don't be worried. A girl becoming you in every aspect, is born in the world. Her name is Mṛgāvatī."

Sahasrānīka was greatly pleased at this and he returned to the earth. In the chariot there were Tilottamā and the charioteer, with the king. The king who was deeply immersed in thinking about Mṛgāvatī, did not attend to the conversation of Tilottamā, who getting angry cursed him thus:—"May you be separated for fourteen years from the person whose thought has prevented you from attending to what I have been telling you."

The king married Mṛgāvatī. She became pregnant. One day she told the king about her desire to dip in a pond of blood. The king got a pond ready, filled with the juice of Lākṣā (a kind of wax, the boiled water of which will look like blood) and such other things. Mṛgāvatī began to dip and splash in the pond of blood. When she was dipping under the juice, taking her to be a large piece of flesh, an eagle took her from the pond and flew away. The king was overwhelmed with grief and fell down. Then the charioteer came down from heaven and informed the king of the curse of Tilottamā, and then he returned.

The eagle left Mṛgāvatī in the mount of the Rising Sun and flew away. She cried aloud. A huge snake neared her to swallow her. Then a divine person appeared there and saved her from the snake and vanished. Then a hermit-boy came there and asked the lonely woman, clad in only one garment, about her story and took her to the hermitage of the hermit Jamadagni who blessed her. After some days she gave birth to a son. At that time an unknown voice was heard saying "This boy would become the most renowned king Udayana and his son would become the supreme Lord of the Vidyādharas." Because he was born in the Udayādri (the mount of the Rising Sun) he got the name Udayana. The boy Udayana grew up in the hermitage.

Udayana to his father.

The hermit Jamadagani who knew the past, present and the future performed all the rituals, necessary for a boy of Kṣatriya caste (kingly race) such as Caula, Upanayana etc. and gave him education in every branch of knowledge. Because of her love and regard for her son, Mṛgāvatī put on his arm a bangle with the name Sahasrānīka inscribed in it, which she had been wearing so long. One day, while Udayana was walking through the forest, he saw a snake-charmer catching a snake. He felt sorry for the snake. So he gave the bangle to the snake-charmer and set the snake free. When the snake charmer was gone, the snake told Udayana its story. That serpent was Vasunemi, the elder brother of Vāsuki. Out of gratitude the serpent gave Udayana the famous Lute Ghoṣavatī and betels and taught him the art of making garlands and marks on the forehead which would never fade.

The snake-charmer took the bangle to the capital for sale. Seeing the name of the king inscribed on it, the king’s men took him before the king. He told the king everything. The king who had been suffering for the last fourteen years form the pangs of separation, started for the mount of the Rising Sun, without any loss of time. The hermit Jamadagni gave him his wife Mṛgāvatī and son Udayana. They all returned to Kauśāmbī.

The anointment of Udayana.

Sahasrānīka anointed his son Udayana as the heir to his throne, and appointed Yaugandharāyaṇa, Rumanvān and Vasantaka, the sons of three ministers, as ministers of Udayana. At the time of the anointment there was a shower of flowers from the sky and an unknown voice said "With the help of these ministers Udayana would bring the whole of the earth under his control." After a time Sahasrānīka went to the Himālayas with his wife for penance.

Vāsavadattā became Udayana’s wife.

A daughter was born to the king of Ujjayinī. Her name was Vāsavadattā. Her father Caṇḍamahāsena decided to give her in marriage to Udayana the king of Vatsa. How to bring this to pass? Caṇḍamahāsena and Udayana had been enemies. Finally he found out a way. It was to entrust Vāsavadattā to Udayana (who was a great teacher of music) for teaching her music. Ultimately he would fall in love with her and thus Udayana would become his son-in-law. This was the plan.

King Caṇḍamahāsena sent a messenger to Kauśāmbī. The messenger was sent back with a reply that, if his daughter was sent to Kauśāmbī, he would teach her music. Caṇḍamahāsena did not like this. So he decided to take Udayana a prisoner somehow or other. The king had an elephant called Naḍāgiri. He ordered for an artificial elephant to be made equal in size to Naḍāgiri, and placed some soldiers inside the elephant. The artificial elephant with soldiers inside it was taken to the great forest in the Vindhya mountain and placed there. The men of Udayana saw this elephant and reported it to the king. Udayana decided to see the huge elephant which had appeared in the Vindhya. Udayana went to the forest and saw the huge elephant standing at a distance. The king found out a plan to catch it. Playing mild notes on his lute, the king alone neared the elephant. As the night was drawing and as he was immersed in music, he did not understand that it was an artificial elephant. As the king was nearing the elephant it went on retreating, and thus got the king away from his men. Then the soldiers got out of the elephant, surrounded the king and took him a prisoner. Thus Udayana began to live in the palace of Caṇḍamahāsena. His work was to teach Vāsavadattā music.

The news reached Kauśāmbī. Yaugandharāyaṇa entrusted the affairs of the government to Rumaṇvān and started for Ujjayinī with Vasantaka. At Ujjayinī they got Yogeśvara, a Brahmarākṣasa as friend. According to his advice Yaugandharāyaṇa took the guise of a mad old man. Vasantaka adopted the guise of a sick man, suffering from pain in the stomach an uncouth figure to look at. They entered the city. The madness of Yaugandharāyaṇa was an entertainment to the people. The ladies of the court liked him much. Vāsavadattā invited the madman to the harem. Udayana instantly recognized the mad man. Vasantaka also got admittance to the palace. He told Vāsavadattā the story of Lohajaṅgha in an interesting way. (See under Lohajaṅgha) Vāsavadattā began to be drawn more and more towards Udayana. She seemed to have forgotten even about the fact that her father was an enemy of Udayana, who had been thinking seriously of means of escape from the palace. Vāsavadattā agreed to accompany him. Āṣādhaka got Bhadrāvatī, the elephant of Vāsavadattā, ready for the flight. In the night Udayana and his retinue got on the elephant Bhadrāvatī and fled from the palace. Kāñcanamālā the maid of Vāsavadattā also accompanied her mistress. When they had passed the Vindhya mountain the elephant Bhadrāvatī fell dead. When they all were standing around the dead elephant sadly, they heard an ethereal voice saying, "Oh King! I am a Vidyādhara woman called Māyāvatī. I had been an elephant for so long. The son you are going to get, will also be helped by me. Your wife Vāsavadattā also, is a goddess, born as a woman purposely." Next day, all reached the palace of Udayana and the marriage of Udayana and Vāsavadattā took place shortly. Caṇḍamahāsena recognized that marriage.

Udayana’s marriage with Padmāvatī.

Udayana spent his days with Vāsavadattā in the harem. The ministers Yaugandharāyaṇa, Rumaṇvān, Vasantaka and others thought that the behaviour of the King was detrimental to the well-being of the country. They wanted to remove the King from the palace for a little while and to form an alliance with the powerful King of Magadha. By a marriage alliance all these could be achieved. The King of Magadha had a beautiful daughter called Padmāvatī. The ministers began to work with this end in view.

Once Yaugandharāyaṇa took Udayana to the forest of Lāvāṇaka and stayed there. It was reported to the King of Magadha that the King of Vatsa was drawing near to his kingdom. Fearing an attack from Udayana, the King of Magadha began to think of concluding a treaty with Vatsa. The King of Vatsa used to go for hunting everyday. One day he went to a distant place for hunting, and the minister went to the house of Vāsavadattā and informed her of their plans. Though it was not at all palatable to her, she gave her consent and agreed to help them as it was meant for the wellbeing of the King and the country. Accordingly, Yaugandharāyaṇa took the guise of an old Brahmin, Vāsavadattā that of a young Brahmin lady and Vasantaka that of a Brahmin celibate with only one eye. They went to the kingdom of Magadha. Rumaṇvān set fire to the house of Vāsavadattā and spread the rumour that Vāsavadattā and Vasantaka had been burnt to death. Yaugandharāyaṇa, Vāsavadattā and Vasantaka reached Magadha. They got into the capital and saw Padmāvatī sitting in the garden. The old Brahmin conversed with the princess for a while. She enquired about the young woman who was with him. The old Brahmin replied thus:—"She is my daughter Avantikā. Her husband has left the country. I request you to keep her with you till I find him out and bring him here. She may not like to be separated from her people. So let her brother, the celibate, also be here with her."

Padmāvatī took them with gladness and Yaugandharāyaṇa, bidding farewell, returned to the forest Lāvāṇaka. Avantikā and the Celibate lived in the palace with Padmāvatī. Vāsavadattā who had learned from Udayana the art of making garlands ans marks on the forehead which would not fade, had prepared them for Padmāvatī.

The King of Vatsa returned to the forest Lāvāṇaka and found the house of his wife burnt down to ashes. He fell unconscious when he heard that Vāsavadattā and Vasantaka had been burnt to death.

The spies of the King of Magadha who were in the forest of Lāvāṇaka, reported the rumour about the death of Vāsavadattā and Vasantaka to their King in Magadha, who wished to give his daughter Padmāvatī in marriage to Udayana. The marriage proposal was accepted by Udayana and wearing garlands and marks that would not fade Padmāvatī entered the wedding dais. Udayana married Padmāvatī. Yaugandharāyaṇa made the King of Magadha take an oath that he would go for no more aggression. Udayana and his people reached Kauśāmbī. On the way the King happened to see the mark on the forehead and the garland on the neck of Padmāvatī and asked her who had made them. Padmāvatī told the King the story of Avantikā. Udayana was definite that Avantikā was Vāsavadattā herself. Avantikā was brought before the King. Padmāvatī congratulated Vāsavadattā. Both of them loved each other and lived together as the loving wives of Udayana. (Kathāsaritsāgara, Lāvāṇakalambaka).

Udayana gets a new throne.

Once Udayana was sitting in the court-hall, when a Brahmin came there and made a complaint to the King that some cowherds had broken the legs of his son. The Brahmin said that a boy named Devasena sat on a stone in the forest and instantly he got kingly power. The leg of the Brahmin boy was broken by the friends of Devasena because he did not bow before Devasena.

When he heard the story, the minister Yaugandharāyaṇa said that that place must have some peculiarities. Accordingly the men of the King dug the place. He got a throne of gems. (Kathāsaritsāgara, Lāvāṇakalambaka).

The son of Udayana.

Vāsavadattā became pregnant and gave birth to a child. He was named Naravāhanadatta. Nārada granted him a boon that Naravāhanadatta would become the emperor of the Vidyādharas. (See under Naravāhanadatta).

The princess of Takṣaśilā named Kaliṅgasenā fell in love with Udayana and she came to Kauśāmbī. But no marriage took place. (See under Kaliṅgasenā). Naravāhanadatta, the son of Udayana, married Madanamañcukā who was the incarnation of Rati Devī (the wife of Madana). Udayana entrusted the country to his son and led a life of retirement with his wives. (Kathāsaritsāgara).

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