OR, THE ADVENTURES OF TEN PRINCES
FREELY TRANSLATED FROM THE SANSCRIT OF THE DASAKUMARACHARITAM
BY P. W. JACOB
STRAHAN & CO. 56 LUDGATE HILL, LONDON
The Sanscrit work entitled "Dasakumaracharitam, or the Adventures of Ten Princes," though printed more than twenty-five years ago, has not, as far as I can ascertain, been translated into any European language. Many parts of it are written in such a turgid "Oriental" style, that a close translation would be quite unsuitable to the English reader. Such passages have therefore been much condensed; others, which are hardly decent—or, as in the speech of the parasite in the last story, tedious and uninteresting, have been omitted; but in general the original has been pretty closely adhered to, and nothing has been added to it.
The exact date of the composition of the "Dasakumaracharitam" is not known. It is supposed to have been written about the end of the eleventh century, and was left unfinished by the author; but as the story of the last narrator is almost finished, not much could have been wanting to complete the work, and the reader may easily imagine what the conclusion would have been.
Some of the incidents correspond with those of the "Arabian Nights," but the stories on the whole are quite different from anything found there, and give a lively picture of Hindoo manners and morals. Unscrupulous deception, ready invention, extreme credulity and superstition, and disregard of human life, are strongly illustrated.
The belief in the power of penance, which was supposed to confer on the person practising it not merely personal sanctity, but even great supernatural powers, was very generally entertained among the Hindoos, and is often alluded to here; as is also transmigration, or the birth of the soul after death in a new body, human or brute. Sufferings or misfortunes are attributed to sins committed in a former existence, and in more than one story two persons are supposed to recollect having many years before lived together as husband and wife.
Much use also is made of the agency of supernatural beings; for besides numerous gods, the Hindoos believe, or at least believed, in the existence of innumerable beings, in some degree immortal, but liable to be killed even by men, swarming in the air, generally invisible, but sometimes assuming a human or a more terrible form; occasionally beneficent, but more commonly injurious to human beings.
At the time when the original work was written, India appears to have been divided into a large number of small kingdoms or principalities, the rulers of which are here termed "Raja," a word almost adopted into our language, but which. I have rendered by the equivalent and more familiar term "King."
The numerous uncouth names, which cannot well be shortened or translated, will, it is feared, cause some annoyance to the reader. As many as possible have been omitted, and of those which occur a list is given in the Appendix, together with a few terms which seemed to require explanation. This will save the reader the trouble of, referring, when a name recurs, to the place where it is first mentioned in order to find out to whom it belongs.
The Appendix also contains a few pages of a very close literal translation, which will enable the reader to form some idea of the nature and style of the original, and to see how far it has been departed from in the preceding pages.
P. W. J.
GUILDFORD, December, 1872.
PRONUNCIATION OF PROPER NAMES.
The vowel a, is always to be pronounced as in father.
The vowel a, as in America, or as u in dull, i in bird, &c.
The vowel e, always as a in cake.
The vowel i, as e in cede, or ee in reed.
The vowel i, as in pin.
The vowel u, as in flute.
The vowel u, as in bull.
Pati is therefore pronounced putty, &c.
ADVENTURES OF SOMADATTA.
ADVENTURES OF PUSHPODBHAVA.
MARRIAGE OF AVANTISUNDARI.
FURTHER ADVENTURES OF RAJAVAHANA.
ADVENTURES OF APAHARAVARMA.
ADVENTURES OF UPAHARAVARMA.
ADVENTURES OF ARTHAPALA.
ADVENTURES OF PRAMATI.
ADVENTURES OF MITRAGUPTA.
ADVENTURES OF MANTRAGUPTA.
ADVENTURES OF VISRUTA.
PROPER NAMES OCCURRING IN THE TALES.
There was formerly, in the most fertile part of India, a city called Pushpapuri, the capital of Magadha, magnificent as a mine of jewels, abounding in every kind of wealth, surpassing all other cities in splendour and prosperity.
The sovereign of this city and country was Rajahansa, whose armies were formidable with countless elephants and horses, whose glory was unsullied as the moon in a cloudless sky, or the plumage of the swan, and whose fame was sung even by celestial minstrels. Though a terror to his enemies, he was beloved by all his subjects, and especially by the learned and pious brahmans, who were continually employed in prayers and sacrifices to the gods, for the welfare of the king and his people.
The queen Vasumati was worthy of such a husband. She was of high birth and of a sweet temper, and so great was her beauty that it seemed as if the god of love had formed her for his own special delight, by uniting in her single person everything that is most beautiful in the world.
Among the king's counsellors were three appointed to the highest offices of state, men of great probity and intelligence, who had been long in his father's service and enjoyed his entire confidence. Their names were, Dharmapala, Padmodbhava, and Sitavarma.
The first of these had three sons, Sumantra, Sumittra, and Kamapala; the second, two, Susruta and Ratnodbhava; and the last had also two, Sumati and Satyavarma.
Of these sons the last-mentioned renounced worldly cares and employments, devoted himself to religious meditation, and leaving home as a pilgrim, travelled into many countries in order to visit the holy places which they contained.
Kamapala was of an opposite character; he thought only of present pleasure, frequented the company of gamblers and harlots, and roamed about the world seeking amusement and dissipation.
Ratnodbhava became a merchant, and in the way of traffic made many long journeys by land and sea. The other sons, after their fathers' death, succeeded to their offices, according to the custom of the country. When Rajahansa had reigned some years, war broke out between him and the king of the adjoining country of Malwa, the haughty and ambitious Manasara, whom he marched to encounter with a numerous army, making the earth tremble with the tread of his elephants, and disturbing even the dwellers in the sky with the clang of kettledrums louder than the roar of the stormy ocean.
Both armies were animated by equal rage, and terrible was the battle; the ground where they met was first turned to dust by the wheels of the chariots and the trampling of men and beasts, and then into mud through the streams of blood which flowed from the slain and wounded.
At last Rajahansa was victorious, the enemy was completely defeated, their king taken prisoner, and all Malwa lay open to the conqueror. He, however, having no wish to enlarge his dominions, released his prisoner on very easy terms, and returning to Pushpapuri, thought only of governing his own kingdom in peace, not expecting after such generous treatment any further trouble from his ambitious neighbour.
Though prosperous and happy in every other respect, the King of Magadha had one great cause of sorrow and anxiety—he had no son to succeed him. Therefore, at this time he made many prayers and offerings to Narayana the Creator of the World, who, having been thus propitiated, signified to the queen in a dream that she would bear a son; and not long afterwards her husband was gratified by the news of her pregnancy.
When the proper time arrived the king celebrated the ceremony called Simanta with great magnificence, and invited several of the neighbouring kings to be present on the occasion; among them was the King of Mithila, with his queen, a great friend of Vasumati—to congratulate whom she had accompanied her husband.
One day after this, when the king was sitting in council with his ministers, he was informed that a certain venerable Yati was desirous to see him. On his admission the king perceived that he was one of his secret emissaries; dismissing, therefore, the rest of the counsellors, he withdrew to a private apartment, followed by one or two of his most confidential ministers and the supposed Yati. He, bowing down to the ground, said in answer to the king's inquiry, "In order the better to perform your Majesty's commands, I have adopted this safe disguise, and have resided for some time in the capital of Malwa, from whence I now bring very important news. The haughty Manasara, brooding over his defeat, unmindful of your generous forbearance, and only anxious to wipe off his disgrace, has been for a long time endeavouring to propitiate with very severe penance the mighty Siva, whose temple is at Mahakala, and he has so far succeeded that the god has given him a magic club, very destructive of life and conducive to victory."
"Through this weapon, and the favour of Siva, he now thinks himself a match for you. He has for some time been strengthening his army, and will probably very soon invade this country. Your Majesty having received this information, will decide what ought to be done."
On hearing this report the ministers consulted together and said to the king, "This enemy is coming against us favoured by the gods, and you cannot hope to resist him; we therefore advise that you should avoid fighting, and retire with your family and treasure to a strong fortress."
Although they urged this advice with many reasons, it was not acceptable to the king, who determined to march at the head of his army against the invaders. When, however, the enemy had actually entered the country, the ministers succeeded in persuading their master to send away the queen and her attendants, and a part of the treasure, to a strong fortress in the forest of Vindhya, guarded by veteran soldiers.
Presently the two armies met, the battle raged furiously, and Manasara, eagerly seeking out his former conqueror, at last encountered his chariot. Wielding the magic club, with one blow he slew the charioteer and caused the king to fall down senseless.
The horses being freed from control, suddenly turned round, dashed off at full speed from the field, and never stopped till, utterly exhausted, they had dragged the chariot with the still insensible king very near to the fortress to which the queen had retreated.
Meanwhile, some of the fugitives from the battle, having reached the fortress, told the queen what had happened, and she, overwhelmed by grief at the death of her husband, determined not to survive him. Perceiving her purpose, the old brahmans and faithful counsellors, who had accompanied her, endeavoured, to dissuade her, saying, "O glorious lady, we have no certain information of the king's death: moreover, learned astrologers have declared that the child to be born of you is destined to become a mighty sovereign, therefore do not act rashly or end so precious a life while the least hope remains."
Apparently influenced by these reasons, eloquently urged, the queen remained silent, and seemed to renounce her purpose, but at midnight, unable to sleep, and oppressed by intolerable grief, she rose up, and evading her sleeping attendants and the guards outside, went into the forest, and there, after many passionate lamentations and prayers that she might rejoin her beloved husband, she formed a rope by twisting a part of her dress, and was preparing to hang herself with it from the branch of a tree, very near to the place where the chariot was standing concealed by the thick foliage.
Just then the king, revived by the cool night wind, recovered consciousness, and hearing his wife's voice, softly called her by name. She, hardly believing her senses for joy, cried out loudly for help, and soon brought to her assistance some of the attendants, who carried him gently into the fort, where his wounds were dressed and found not to be dangerous.
After a short time, more of those who had escaped joined the king; and when he was sufficiently recovered, the charming Vasumati, instructed by the ministers, said to him, "All your dominions are lost except this fortress; but such is the power of fate; prosperity, like a bubble on the water, or a flash of lightning, appears and disappears in a moment. Former kings, Ramachandra and others, at least as great as yourself, were deprived of their kingdoms, and suffered for a long time the hardships of adversity; yet, through patience and perseverance and the will of fate, they were at last restored to all their former splendour. Do you therefore imitate them, and, laying aside all anxiety, devote yourself to prayer and meditation."
To this advice the king gave ear, and went to consult a very celebrated rishi, Vamadeva, intending, under his directions, to engage in such penance as might lead to the accomplishment of his wishes.
Having been well received by the holy man, he said to him: "O father, having heard of your great piety and wisdom, I have come hither for guidance and help in a great calamity. Manasara, King of Malwa, has overcome me, and now holds the kingdom which ought to be mine. I will shrink from no penance which you shall advise, if by such means I may obtain the favour of the gods, and be restored to my former power."
Vamadeva, well acquainted with all past, present, and future events, thus answered him: "O friend, there is no need of penance in your case; only wait patiently; a son will certainly be born to you who will crush all your enemies and restore your fortunes." Then a voice was heard in the air, saying, "This is true."
The king, fully believing the prophecy of the muni, thus miraculously confirmed, returned to the forest, resolved to await patiently the fulfilment of the promise; and shortly afterwards the queen brought forth a son possessing all good marks, to whom his father gave the name of Rajavahana.
About the same time also sons were born to his four ministers. They were named severally Pramati, Mitragupta, Mantragupta, and Visruta, and were brought up together with the young prince.
Some time after the birth of these children, a certain muni brought a very beautiful boy to the king, and said: "Having gone lately into the forest to collect kusa-grass and fuel, I met a woman, evidently in great distress. When I questioned her, she wiped away her tears, and told me, with a voice broken by sobs, that she was a servant of Praharavarma, King of Mithila—that he, with his family, had gone to Pushpapuri, to be present at the Simanta festival of the queen, and had stayed there some time after the departure of the other guests; that at that time the King of Malwa, furnished with a magic weapon, had invaded the country; that in the battle which ensued, Praharavarma had assisted his friend with the few soldiers who accompanied him, and had been taken prisoner, but had been liberated by the conqueror; that on his return he had been attacked in the forest by Bheels, and had repulsed them with difficulty. 'I and my daughter,' she continued, 'who had charge of the king's twin children, were separated from the rest in the confusion, and lost our way in the forest. There we suddenly came upon a tiger. In my fright, I stumbled and fell, and dropped the child, which I was carrying, on the carcase of a cow with which the tiger had been engaged. At that moment an arrow struck and killed the tiger. I fainted away, and when I recovered, I found myself quite alone; my daughter had disappeared, and the child, as I suppose, was carried off by the Bheels, who shot the beast. After a time I was found by a compassionate cowherd, who took care of me till my wounds were healed; and I am now wandering about in the hope of finding the boy, and of hearing some tidings of my daughter and the other child.' After giving me this account, she went on her way again, and I, distressed that the son of your majesty's friend should be in such hands, determined to set out in search of him.
"After some days I came to a small temple of Durga, where a party of Bheels were about to make the child an offering to the goddess, in the hope of obtaining success through her favour; and they were then deliberating in what manner they should kill him, whether by hanging him on the branch of a tree and cutting him to pieces with swords, or by partly burying him in the ground and shooting at him with arrows, or by worrying him with young dogs.
"Then I went up to them very humbly, and said: 'O Kiratas, I am an old brahman; having lost my way in the forest, I laid down my child whom I was carrying, while I went away for a moment to try to find an opening out of the dense thicket; when I came back he was gone. I have been searching for him ever since; have you seen him?' 'Is this your child?' said they. 'O yes!' I exclaimed. 'Take him, then,' they replied; 'we respect a brahman.' Thus I got possession of the boy, and, blessing them for their kindness, took him away as quickly as possible, and have now brought him here, thinking he will be best under your majesty's protection."
The king, though grieved at the calamity of his friend, rejoiced that the child was saved from such a death; and giving him the name of Upaharavarma, had him brought up as his own son.
Not long after this, Rajahansa went to bathe at a holy place, and in returning, as he passed by a group of Chandalas, he observed a woman carrying a very beautiful boy. Being struck by the appearance of the child, he said "Where did you get this beautiful boy, who is like a king's son? Surely he is not your own child! pray tell me."
She answered: "When the Bheels attacked and plundered the King of Mithila near our village, this child was picked up and brought to me by my husband, and I have taken care of him ever since."
The king being convinced that this was the other child of his friend, the King of Mithila, by fair words and gifts induced the woman to give him up, and took him to the queen, giving him the name of Apaharavarma, and begging her to bring him up with her own son.
Soon afterwards, a disciple of Vamadeva brought a beautiful boy to the king, and said "As I was returning from a pilgrimage to Ramatirtha, I saw an old woman carrying this child, and asked her how she came to be wandering there. In answer to my questions, she told me her story, saying, 'I was the servant of a rich man, named Kalagupta, living in the island of Kalayavana, and I waited on his daughter Suvritta. One day a young merchant, named Ratnodbhava, son of a minister of the King of Magadha, arrived in the island, and having become acquainted with my master, he married his beautiful daughter.
"'After some time, he was desirous of visiting his family, and being unwilling to leave behind his young wife, who was then not far from childbirth, he took her with him, and me as her nurse.
"'We embarked on board a ship, and had at first a favourable voyage; but when approaching the land, we were overtaken by a storm, and a great wave broke over the ship, which went down almost immediately. I found myself in the water near my young mistress, and managed to support her till we got hold of a plank, by means of which we at last reached the shore. Whether my master was saved or not I do not know, but I fear that he perished with the rest of those on board, whom we never saw again.
"'The coast where we landed appeared to be uninhabited, and the poor lady, being unable to walk far, after much suffering of mind and body, gave birth to this child under a tree in the forest. I have just left her, in the hope of finding some village where I may obtain assistance; and by her wish I have brought the child with me, since she is incapable of taking care of it.'
"The woman had hardly finished speaking when a wild elephant, breaking through the bushes, came suddenly upon us, and she was so frightened that she let the child fall, and ran away.
"I hid myself behind a tree, and saw the elephant take up the child with his trunk, as if about to put it into its mouth. At that moment he was attacked by a lion, and let the child fall. When the two beasts had moved from the spot, I came from my hiding-place just in time to see the child taken up by a monkey, who ran up a high tree. Presently the beast let the child drop, and as it fell on a leafy branch, I took it up uninjured by the fall, or the other rough treatment which it had received.
"After searching for the woman some time in vain, I took the child to my master, the great muni Vamadeva, and I have now brought it to you by his command."
The king, astonished at the preservation of the child under such adverse circumstances, and hoping that Ratnodbhava might have escaped from the shipwreck, sent for Susruta to take charge of his brother's child, to whom he gave the name of Pushpodbhava.
Some days after this the queen went up to her husband with a child in her arms, and told him, when he expressed his surprise "Last night I was suddenly awakened from sleep and saw a beautiful lady standing before me, holding this child. She said to me: 'O queen, I am a Yaksha, daughter of Manibhadra, and wife of Kamapala, the son of your husband's late minister, Dharmapala; by command of Kuvera, I have brought this my child to you, that he may enter the service of your son, who is destined to become a mighty monarch.'
"I was too much astonished to ask her any question, and she, having laid down the child near me, disappeared."
The king, greatly surprised, especially that Kamapala should have married a Yaksha, sent for the child's uncle, Sumittra, and committed the boy to his care, giving him the name of Arthapala.
Not long after this another disciple of Vamadeva brought a very beautiful child to the king, and said: "My lord, I have lately been on a pilgrimage to several holy places, and on my way back, happening to be on the bank of the river Kavari, I saw a woman carrying this child, and evidently in great distress. On being questioned by me, she wiped away her tears, and with difficulty told me her story, saying, 'O brahman, Satyavarma, the youngest son of Sitavarma, a minister of the King of Magadha, after travelling about a long time, visiting all holy places as a pilgrim, came to this country, and here married a Brahman's daughter, named Kali. Having no children by her, he took as his second wife her sister Gauri, and by her he had one son, this child.
"'Then the first wife, envious of her sister, determined to destroy the child; and having, with some false pretence, enticed me, when I was carrying the child, to the bank of the river, she pushed us in. I contrived to hold my charge with one hand, and to swim with the other till I met with an uprooted tree carried down by the rapid current. To this I clung, and after floating a long distance, was able at last to land at this place; but in getting away from the tree I disturbed a black serpent which had taken refuge there, and having been bitten by it, I now feel that I am dying.' As she spoke, the poison began to take greater effect, and she fell on the ground.
"After trying in vain the power of charms, I went to look for some herb which might serve as an antidote; but when I returned the poor creature was dead.
"I was much perplexed at this occurrence, especially as she had not told me the name of the village from which she came, nor could I conjecture how far off it might be, so that I was unable to take the child to its father.
"Therefore, after collecting wood and burning the body, I have brought the child to you, thinking that he will be best taken care of under your protection."
The king, astonished that so many children should have been brought in such a wonderful manner, and distressed at not knowing where to find Satyavarma, gave the child the name of Somadatta, and committed him to the care of his uncle, Sumati, who received him with great affection.
These nine boys, thus wonderfully collected together, became the associates and play-fellows of the young prince, and were educated together with him.
When they were all nearly seventeen, their education was regarded as complete, for they had not only been taught the vedas and the commentaries on them, several languages, grammar, logic, philosophy, &c., but were well acquainted with poetry, plays, and all sorts of tales and stories; were accomplished in drawing and music, skilled in games, sleight of hand and various tricks, and practised in the use of weapons. They were also bold riders and drivers of horses and elephants; and even clever thieves, able to steal without detection; so that Rajahansa was exceedingly delighted at seeing his son surrounded by a band of such brave, active, clever companions and faithful followers. One day about this time Vamadeva came to visit the king, by whom he was received with great respect and reverence. Seeing the prince perfect in beauty, strength, and accomplishments, and surrounded by such companions, he said to Rajahansa: "Your wish for a son has indeed been fully gratified, since you have one who is all that you could desire. It is now time for him to go out into the world and prepare himself for the career of conquest to which he is destined.".
The king listened respectfully to the advice of the muni, and determined to be guided by it; having therefore given his son good advice, he sent him forth at a propitious hour, to travel about in search of adventure, accompanied by his nine friends.
After travelling for some days, they entered the forest of Vindhya, and when halting there for the night they saw a rough-looking man, having all the appearance of a Bheel, but wearing the sacred cord which is the characteristic of a brahman.
The prince, surprised at such an incongruity, asked him who he was, how he came to be living in such a wild place, and how, with all the appearance of a forester, he was wearing the brahminical cord.
The man, seeming to be aware that his questioner was a person of importance, answered respectfully, "O prince, there are in this forest certain nominal brahmans, who, having abandoned the study of the vedas, religious obligations, and family duties, are devoted to all sorts of sinful practices, and act as leaders of robber bands, associating with their followers and living as they live.
"I, Matanga by name, am the son of one of these, and was brought up to be a robber like them. Since I have been grown up I have often assisted in plundering expeditions, when they would fall suddenly on some defenceless village, and carry away not only all the property on which they could lay their hands, but several of the richest of the inhabitants, whom they would keep prisoners till a ransom had been paid, or till, compelled by torture, they confessed where their money was concealed.
"On one of these occasions, when my companions were ill-treating a brahman, I was seized by a sudden feeling of compassion and remonstrated with them. Finding words of no avail, I stood before him, and was killed by my own men while fighting on his behalf.
"After death I went down to the regions below, and was taken before Yama, the judge of the dead, sitting on a great throne inlaid with jewels.
"When the god saw me prostrate before him he called one of his attendants and said: 'The time for this man's death is not arrived, and moreover, he was killed in defending a brahman; therefore, after showing him the tortures of the wicked, let him return to his former body, in which he will in future lead a holy life.'
"By him I was shown some sinners tied to red-hot iron bars, some thrown into great tubs of boiling oil, some beaten with clubs, some cut to pieces with swords; after which my spirit re-entered the body, and I awoke to consciousness, lying alone, grievously wounded, in the forest.
"In this state I was found by some of my relations, who carried me home and took care of me till my wounds were healed.
"Shortly after this I met with the brahman whom I had rescued, and he, grateful for the service which I had rendered him, read to me some religious books, and taught me the due performance of religious rites, especially the proper way of worshipping Siva.
"When he considered me sufficiently instructed, he quitted me, giving me his blessing, and receiving many thanks from me for his kindness.
"Since then I have separated myself from all my former associates, and have lived a life of penance and meditation in this forest, endeavouring to atone for my past sins, and especially seeking, to propitiate the mighty deity who has the half-moon for his crest; and now, having told you my history, I have something to communicate which concerns you alone, and beg you to withdraw with me to hear it in private."
The two then went aside from the rest of the party, and the stranger said, "O prince, last night, during sleep, Siva appeared to me and addressed me thus: 'Matanga, I am pleased with your devotions; they shall now have their reward. North of this place, on the bank of the river which flows through the Dandaka forest, there is a remarkable rock, glittering with crystal and marked with the footsteps of Gauri. Go thither; in the side of the rock you will see a yawning chasm, enter it and search till you find a copper plate with letters engraved on it; follow the directions therein contained, and you will become King of Patala. That you may know this not to be a mere dream, a king's son will come to this place to-morrow, and he will be your companion in the journey.'
"I have in consequence anxiously awaited your coming, and now entreat you to go with me to the place pointed out in the vision."
The curiosity of the prince was much excited by Matanga's story, and he readily promised to be his companion; fearing, however, that his friends would be opposed to his purpose, he did not on his return tell them anything of what he had heard, and at midnight, when they were all fast asleep, he slipped away without disturbing them, and went to join Matanga, who was waiting for him at a place which had been agreed on, and the two walked on till they came to the rock indicated by Siva in the vision.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party, uneasy at the disappearance of the prince, sought for him all over the forest, and not finding him, determined to disperse, and continue the search in different countries; and having arranged where to meet again, took leave of each other, and set out separately in different directions.
Matanga, entirely believing the vision, and rendered still more confident by the companionship of the prince, fearlessly entered the cavern, found the copper plate and read the words engraved on it. Following the directions therein contained, they went on in darkness, groping their way through long passages, till at last they saw light before them and arrived at the subterranean country of Patala.
After walking some distance further, they came to a small lake, surrounded by trees, with a city in view.
Here they stopped, and Matanga begging the prince to watch and guard against interruption, collected a quantity of wood and lighted a large fire, into which he threw himself with many charms and incantations, and presently came forth with a new body full of youth, beauty, and vigour, to the great astonishment of his companion.
Hardly was this change effected, when they saw coming towards them from the city a procession, headed by a beautiful young lady splendidly dressed, and adorned with very costly jewels. Approaching Matanga, she made a low obeisance, and, without speaking, put a very precious gem into his hand. Being questioned by him, she answered, with tears in her eyes and in a soft musical voice, "O excellent brahman, I am the daughter of a chief of Asuras, and my name is Kalindi; my father, the ruler of this subterranean world, was slain by Vishnu whom he had offended, and as he had no son, I was left his heir and successor, and suffered great distress and perplexity.
"Some time ago I consulted a very holy Siddha, who had compassion on me, and told me, 'After a time, a certain mortal, having a heavenly body, will come down here from the upper world; he will become your husband, and reign prosperously with you over all Patala'.
"Trusting to this prophecy, I have waited impatiently, longing for your coming as a Chataka longs for rain, and am now come, with the consent of my ministers and people, to offer you my hand and kingdom."
Matanga, delighted at such a speedy fulfilment of the promise given in the vision, gladly accepted her offer, and with the approbation of his companion, was soon afterwards married to her amid great festivity.
Rajavahana was treated with great respect and kindness by Matanga and his bride; but after seeing all the wonders of the place, his curiosity was satisfied, and he was desirous of returning to the upper world.
At his departure, a magic jewel was given him by Kalindi, which had the power of keeping off from the possessor of it hunger, thirst, fatigue, and other discomforts; and Matanga accompanied him for a part of the way. Walking through darkness as before, the prince at last reached the mouth of the cavern and came forth into the open air.
Having missed all his companions, he was uncertain where to direct his steps, and wandered on till he came to a large park, outside a city, where a great concourse of people was assembled, and he there sat down to rest.
As he sat watching the various groups, he saw a young man enter the park, accompanied by a lady and followed by a numerous retinue, and they both got into one of the swings placed there for the amusement of the festal crowd.
Presently the eye of the new-comer rested on the prince; with signs of great joy he jumped down, exclaiming, "O what happiness! That is my lord Rajavahana," and, running to him, bowed down to his feet, saying "Great is my good fortune in meeting you again." Rajavahana, affected by equal pleasure, warmly embraced him, saying, "O my dear friend Somadatta, how happy I am to see you once more!"
Then they sat down together under a shady tree, and the prince inquired: "What have you been doing all this time? Where have you been? Who is this lady? And how did you get all these attendants?" Somadatta, thus questioned, began the recital of what he had done and seen.
* * * * *
ADVENTURES OF SOMADATTA.
My lord, having great anxiety on your account, I wandered about in various countries. One day, when stooping to drink from a cool, clear stream, near a forest, I saw something bright under the water, and having taken it up, found it to be a ruby of very great value.
Exhausted by fatigue and the scorching heat of the sun, I went into a small temple to rest, and saw there a brahman with a number of children, all looking wretched and half-starved. He seemed to regard me as a possible benefactor, and when questioned, readily told me his story; how his wife had died, leaving him with the care of all these children, and how, having no means of subsistence, he had wandered about in the hope of obtaining some employment; but had got nothing better than the charge of this small temple, where the offerings were not sufficient to support him and his family.
I asked him—"What is that camp which I see at some distance?"
He answered—"The Lord of Lata, Mattakala by name, hearing again and again of the great beauty of Vamalochana, daughter of Viraketu, sovereign of this country, asked her in marriage, and was refused. Being determined to obtain her, he raised an army and besieged Patali, the capital city. Viraketu finding himself unable to resist the enemy, purchased peace by giving up his daughter, and Mattakala, thinking that the marriage can be celebrated with greater magnificence in his own country, has deferred it till his return. He is now on his way home with a small part of his army, the rest having been dismissed; and he is staying at present near this forest to enjoy the pleasures of the chase. The princess is not with her intended husband, but under the care of Manapala, one of her father's officers, who is said to be very indignant at the surrender of the lady; you may see his camp at no great distance from the other."
While thanking the poor man for his information, a thought came into my mind—here is a very poor and deserving man, I will give him the jewel which I have found; and I did so.
He received the gift with profuse thanks, and set out immediately to try to dispose of it; while I lay down there to sleep.
After a time I was awakened by a great clamour, and saw the brahman coming towards me with his hands tied behind him, driven along, with blows of a whip and much abuse, by a party of soldiers.
On seeing me, he called out, "There is the thief; that is the man who gave me the jewel."
Upon this the soldiers let him go, and, seizing me, refused to listen to my remonstrances, or to my account of the manner in which I had found the ruby. They dragged me along with them, and having put fetters on my feet, thrust me into a dungeon, saying, "There are your companions," pointing at the same time to some other prisoners confined in that place.
When I recovered my senses—for I was half stunned by the violence with which I had been pushed in—I said to my fellow-prisoners, "Who are you, and what did the soldiers mean by calling you my companions? for you are quite strangers to me."
Those prisoners then told me the story of the King of Lata, which I had already heard from the brahman, and further said, "We were sent by Manapala to assassinate that king, and broke into the place where we supposed him to be. Not finding him, we were unwilling to come away empty-handed; we therefore carried off everything of value within our reach and made our escape to the forest. The next morning there was an active pursuit, our hiding-place was discovered, we were all captured, and the stolen property taken from us, with the exception of one ruby of great value, which had disappeared. The king is exceedingly angry that this cannot be found; our assertion that we have lost it is disbelieved, and we are threatened with torture to-morrow, unless we say where it is hidden."
Having heard the robbers' story, I was convinced that the ruby in question was the one which I had found and given to the brahman, and I now understood why these men were supposed to be my accomplices.
I told them who I was, how I had found the jewel, and had been unjustly arrested on account of it, and exhorted them to take courage and join me in an attempt to escape that night. To this they agreed, and at midnight we managed to overpower the jailors and knock off our fetters; and having armed ourselves with weapons which we found in the prison, we cut our way through the guards, and reached Manapala's camp in safety. The next day, men sent by the King of Lata came to Manapala, and said—"Some robbers, who were caught after breaking into the king's dwelling, have made their escape, and are known to have come here; give them up immediately, or it will be the worse for you."
Manapala, who only wanted an excuse for a quarrel, having heard this insulting message, his eyes red with anger, answered,—"Who is the King of Lata, that I should bow down to him? What have I to do with that low fellow? Begone!"
When the men returned to their master and told him the reception they had met with, he was in a furious rage, and, disregarding the smallness of the force which was with him, marched out at once to attack Manapala, who was quite prepared to meet him.
When I entered the camp, after my escape, Manapala, who received from his servants an exaggerated account of my coolness, dexterity, and courage, had treated me with great honour, and now I offered my services in the approaching fight. They were gladly accepted, and I was furnished with an excellent chariot and horses guided by a skilful charioteer, a strong coat of mail, a bow and two quivers full of arrows, as well as with other weapons.
Thus equipped, I went forth to meet the enemy, and seeking out the leader, soon found myself near him. First confusing him with arrows poured upon him in rapid succession, I brought my chariot close to his, and suddenly springing into it, cut off his head at a blow.
Seeing the king fall, his soldiers were discouraged, and fled; the camp was taken, much booty gained, and the princess led back, to her father. He having received an account of the victory, and of my share in it, through a messenger sent from Manapala, came forth to meet us when we entered the city, and received me with great honour. After a time, as I continued daily to increase in favour with him, he bestowed on me the hand of his daughter, and declared me his successor.
Being thus arrived at the height of prosperity and happiness, I had but one cause of sorrow—my absence from you. I am on my way to Mahakala, to worship Siva there. I have stopped at this place, hoping, at a festival so much frequented, I might at least hear some tidings of you, and now the god has favoured his worshipper, and through this happy meeting all my wishes are fulfilled.
Rajavahana, who delighted in valour, having heard Somadatta's story, while expressing his sorrow for his undeserved imprisonment, congratulated him on the happy result of it, and told him his own adventures.
He had scarcely finished the relation of them when a third person came up, and the prince, warmly greeting him, exclaimed, "O, Somadatta, here is Pushpodbhava." Then there were mutual embracings and rejoicings, after which they all three sat down again, and Rajavahana said: "Somadatta has told me his adventures, but I know nothing of the rest of my friends. What did you do when you missed me that morning in the forest?" Then Pushpodbhava respectfully spoke as follows:—
* * * * *
ADVENTURES OF PUSHPODBHAVA.
My lord, your friends being convinced that you had gone on some expedition with the brahman, and knowing nothing of the direction which you had taken, were greatly perplexed. At last we agreed to separate, each going a different way, and I, like the rest, set out by myself. One day, being unable to bear the heat of the noonday sun, I sat down in the shade of a tree at the bottom of a mountain. Happening to look up, I saw a man falling from the rock above, and he came to the ground very near me.
On going up to him, I found that he was still alive, and having revived him by throwing cold water over him, and by other means, I found that he had no bone broken, and did not appear to have received any serious injury.
When he was sufficiently recovered, I asked him who he was and how he came to fall from the precipice. With tears in his eyes, and a feeble voice, he said: "My name is Ratnodbhava; I am the son of a minister of the King of Magadha; travelling about as a merchant, I came, many years ago, to the island of Kalayavana. There I married a merchant's daughter, and going with her by sea to visit my relations, was overtaken by a violent storm, during which the ship sank, and I was the only person saved.
"After reaching the shore, I wandered about for some time in a strange country, and, unable to bear my misery, was about to put an end to my life, when I was stopped by a Siddha, who assured me that after sixteen years I should find my wife. Trusting to this promise, I have endured life through all these years; but the appointed time having passed without any sign of the fulfilment of the prophecy, I could hold out no longer, and threw myself from the top of this precipice."
At that moment the voice of a woman in distress was heard not far off, and saying to him whom I recognised as my father, "Take courage, I have good news for you; only wait a moment," I ran off in the direction of the place whence the voice had proceeded, and soon came in sight of a large fire and two women near it, the one trying to throw herself into the flames, the other struggling to prevent her. Going to the help of the latter, I soon got the lady away, and brought her and her companion to the place where my father was lying. I then said to the old woman, "Pray tell me what all this means? How came you to be in such a place, and why did the lady wish to destroy herself?"
With a voice broken by sobs, she answered me: "This lady, whose name is Suvritta, is the daughter of a merchant in the island of Kalayavana, and the wife of Ratnodbhava. While crossing the sea with her husband, there was a great storm, the ship sank, and this lady and I, her nurse, were the only persons saved. A few days afterwards she gave birth to a son in the forest; but through my ill-fortune the child was lost, having been seized by a wild elephant. Afterwards we two wandered about in great misery, and she would have put an end to her life had we not met with a holy man, who comforted her with the assurance that after sixteen years she would be reunited with her husband and son. Relying on this prophecy, she consented to wait, and we have spent all these years living near his hermitage; but the sixteen years were ended some time ago, and having lost all hope, she was about to end her wretched life by throwing herself into a fire which she had made, when you so opportunely came to my assistance."
Hearing this story, my father was unable to speak from astonishment. I made him known to my mother, and myself to both of them, to their very great joy; and my mother seemed as if she would never weary of kissing and embracing me.
After a time, when we were all more composed, my father began to inquire about the king and his own relations, for during all these years he had heard nothing of them. I told him everything—how the king had been defeated, and had been living in the forest; your birth, and the wonderful preservation of myself and my companions; how we had all set out together; how we had lost you, and how I was now searching for you.
As soon as my father was able to walk, I placed him and my mother under the care of a certain muni, not very far off, and set out again on my travels. Just at this time I had heard that under the ruins of an ancient city, overgrown by trees, a great treasure was supposed to be concealed; and as I possessed a magic ointment which, when applied to the eyes, enabled me to see through the ground, I determined to try to dig it up. I therefore got together some strong young men with the promise of good pay, went to the place, and succeeded in finding a large quantity of gold and silver coin. While I was thus engaged, a caravan of merchants came to that neighbourhood, and halted there for a day or two. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I purchased of them sacks for holding the coin, and some strong oxen to carry them. I then dismissed my men, well satisfied with their share, and joined the caravan, where I soon made friends with the leader, the son of a merchant at Oujein, to which place he was then going.
On our arrival at the city, he introduced me to his father, Bandhupala, by whose means I obtained permission from the King of Malwa to reside there. When I had taken a house, safely deposited the money, and established my parents in it, I was anxious to set out again in search of you.
Bandhupala, seeing this, said to me: "You have already spent much time in searching for your friend, and may spend much more in the same manner to no purpose, if you have no clue to guide you. Now I am skilled in augury and the language of birds; it is probable that I may obtain some indications for you; wait, therefore, patiently for the present. Meanwhile, my house is always open to you."
To this I agreed, and having great pleasure in his society, was much with him, and soon had other attractions there, for I fell in love with his beautiful daughter, Balachandrika.
Though I had not declared my passion, I was convinced, from her looks and from many things which I observed, that she was equally in love with me, and therefore anxiously sought an opportunity of speaking to her in private.
One day, Bandhupala, wishing to obtain information about you by listening to the voices of birds, went with me into a park near the city, and while he waited under the trees, hearing the birds, I walked on, and had the good fortune to see my beloved alone, in another part of the park.
Although she was evidently pleased at seeing me, and did not reject my suit, I observed that she was distressed and dispirited, and inquired the cause.
She told me, "Some time ago the old king abdicated in favour of his son Darpasara, who is now gone on a pilgrimage to the Himalaya Mountains, having first appointed as joint regents the two sons of his father's sister, Charmavarma and Daruvarma.
"The former of these two alone has the management of affairs; for the latter, given up to evil deeds, makes use of his power only for the indulgence of his licentious passions.
"He has seen me during my attendance on the Princess Avantisundari, has endeavoured to seduce me, and I am in constant fear of his violence, for he hesitates at nothing in the indulgence of his wicked desires."
She told me this reluctantly, and with much agitation; but I comforted her with the assurance of my love, and the promise of finding some means to free her from his annoyance.
After some reflection, I said to her, "This is the plan which I propose. Your friends must give out in public that a certain Siddha has declared—'Balachandrika is guarded by a demon, who will allow no man to have intercourse with her without his consent. Whoever, therefore, wishes to marry her, must first pass one night in company with her and one female friend, and if he comes out uninjured, or is able to overcome the demon, he may then safely marry her.'
"If Daruvarma, on hearing this, shall be alarmed, and abstain from further annoyance, so much the better; if, on the other hand, he persists in his wicked purpose, do you appear to consent, and say, 'If you think you can overcome the demon, I am willing to meet you, but it must be openly, in your own house; and then, whatever happens, no blame can fall on my family.'
"To this proposal he will be sure to agree, and you may go to his house without fear, for I will accompany you, disguised as a woman, and will manage to kill that wretch, without danger to you or myself, after which there will be no obstacle to our marriage; for, when I ask your father, he will certainly consent, seeing the great love between us, for he has shown great regard for me, and knows my property and connections. But you must tell him now what has been arranged between us, that he may be induced to spread abroad the report about the demon, and to consent to your going to Daruvarma's house."
Balachandrika was delighted with my plan, and promised to do her best to carry it out. She had full confidence in my courage and skill, and felt sure that I should succeed in what I had undertaken. Then, reluctantly leaving me, and looking back again and again, she walked slowly home.
After quitting her I returned to her father, who was well satisfied with the result of his observations, and told me that he had ascertained that after thirty days I should meet you; and we walked together to his house, talking over the matter.
After a few days, Balachandrika informed me that Daruvarma, undeterred by the report which was now spread about the city, that she was haunted by a demon, had continued his importunities, and that she had consented to go to his house that evening.
Meanwhile I had secretly made my preparations, and concealed in a lonely place everything required for my disguise. At the proper time, when it was quite dark, I went there, changed my dress, met the lady, and accompanied her to the house of the prince, who received us with great respect; and not having the slightest suspicion of my being other than what I seemed to be, sent away all his attendants, and conducted us to a room in a small detached building. There he seated her on a beautiful soft couch, inlaid with jewels, and expressing his great delight at seeing her, brought forth and offered to us both very handsome presents of dresses, ornaments, perfumes, &c. After some conversation—as if no longer able to restrain himself—he sat down beside her, and, regardless of my presence, threw his arms round her, and kissed her again and again.
This was more than I could bear; suddenly seizing him by the throat, I threw him on the ground, and despatched him with blows of hand, foot, and knee, before he could call out or give an alarm.
Then we both screamed out loudly, and I rushed forth, as if in a great fright, calling out, "Help! help! the horrible demon is killing the prince!"
Hearing this, and seeing my apparent agitation, the attendants and guards hastened in great confusion to the room, where they found the prince dead, and the lady so agitated that she was unable to give an account of what had happened; the demon had of course disappeared.
Some police were in attendance, suspicious of fraud, but even they did not imagine two women to be capable of such an act of violence, and the general opinion was that the story of the demon was founded on truth, and that the prince well deserved the fate he had met with. Balachandrika was therefore suffered to leave: I had already escaped in the first alarm and confusion, had changed my dress, and reached home in safety.
No further inquiry was made, and no suspicion fell on me; I duly married my beloved, and as no harm happened to me, the demon was supposed to have been propitiated.
The day indicated by my wife's father having arrived, I came here, fully expecting to see you, and now my happiness is complete.
When Rajavahana had heard this story, he again related his own adventures; after which he took leave of Somadatta, saying, "Come to me as soon as possible, when you have paid your devotions at Mahakala, and have taken your wife and her attendants home;" and he then accompanied Pushpodbhava into the city of Avanti.
There he was hospitably received in the house of his friend, who introduced him by his real name to Bandhupala, but gave out in the city that he was a young brahman, worthy of all honour for his learning and ability; and the prince remained for some time in that city, treated with great respect and consideration by all who became acquainted with him.
* * * * *
MARRIAGE OF AVANTISUNDARI.
During the stay of Rajavahana at Avanti, the season of spring arrived, when the great festival of Kama is celebrated. The trees, breaking into flower, were filled with the song of birds and the hum of bees, and their branches were waved by the soft south wind, blowing, loaded with perfume, from the sandal groves of Malaya. The lakes and pools were thickly covered with lotus blossoms, among which innumerable water-birds were sporting, and the feelings of all were influenced by the charms of the season, and prepared for the worship of the god of love.
On the day of the festival, the parks and gardens were crowded with people, some engaged in various sports, some walking about or sitting under the trees, looking at the players.
Among them was the Princess Avantisundari, who was sitting on a sandy spot, under a large tree, attended by her women, especially by her dear friend Balachandrika, and making offerings to the god of various perfumes and flowers.
The prince also walked in the park with his friend Pushpodbhava; and wishing to see the princess, of whose grace and beauty he had already heard, contrived to approach; and being encouraged by Balachandrika with a gesture of the hand, came and stood very near her.
Then, indeed, having an opportunity of observing her, he was struck by her exceeding beauty. She seemed to him as if formed by the god of love with everything most beautiful in the world; and, as he gazed, he felt more and more entranced, till almost unconsciously he was deeply in love.
She, indeed, seeing him beautiful as Kama himself, was almost equally affected, and, pervaded by strong feeling, trembled like the branch of a creeping plant agitated by a gentle wind.
Then he thought, "Never have I seen anything so lovely. She must have been formed by some singular accident, for there is no one like her in the world."
She, indeed, ashamed to look openly at him, and half concealing herself among her attendants, looked at him stealthily from time to time, and while he had all his thoughts fixed on her, was saying to herself, "Who can he be? Where does he come from? Happy the maidens whose eyes are delighted with such beauty! happy the mother who has such a son! What can I do? how can I find out who he is?"
Meanwhile Balachandrika, quick in discrimination, perceived the impression they had made on each other; and not thinking it desirable to declare his name and rank before the other attendants, or in such a public place, introduced him to the princess, saying, "This is a very learned and clever young brahman, a friend of my husband, worthy of your notice. Allow me to recommend him to your favourable consideration."
The princess, delighted at heart, but concealing her feelings, motioned to the prince to sit down near her, and gave him betel, flowers, perfumes, &c., through one of her attendants.
Then Rajavahana, more deeply in love even than the princess, thought to himself, "There surely must be some reason for this very sudden attraction which I feel towards her. She must have been my beloved wife in a former existence. Perhaps a curse was laid upon us; and now that is removed. If so, the recognition ought to be mutual; at all events I will try what I can do to produce the same feeling in her which exists in my mind."
While he was considering how this might be accomplished, a swan approached the princess, as if expecting to be fed or caressed; and in sport, she desired Balachandrika to catch it.
Inspired by this circumstance with a happy thought, Rajavahana said to the princess, "Will you allow me to tell you a short story? There was formerly a king called Samba. When walking one day together with his beloved wife at the side of a small lake in the pleasure-grounds, he saw a swan asleep, just under the bank. Having caught it, he tied its legs together, put it down again on the ground, and saying to his wife, 'This bird sits as quiet as a muni; let him go where he likes,' amused himself with laughing at its awkward attempts to walk. Then the swan suddenly spoke: 'O king, though in the form of a swan, I am a devout brahman; and since you have thus, without cause, ill-treated me while sitting quiet here, engaged in meditation, I lay my curse upon you, and you shall endure the pain of separation from your beloved wife.'
"Hearing this, the king, alarmed and distressed, bowed respectfully to the ground, and said, 'O mighty sage, forgive an act done through ignorance.'
"Then that holy person, having his anger appeased, answered, 'My words cannot be made of no effect. I will, however, so far modify the curse that it will not take place during your present existence; but in a future birth, when you are united to the same lady in another body, you must endure the misery of separation from her for two months, though you will afterwards enjoy very great happiness with her; and I will also confer on you both the power of recognising each other in your next existence,'—I beg of you therefore not to tie this bird which you were wishing to catch."
The princess, hearing this story, was quite ready to believe it; and from her own feelings was convinced that it really referred to a previous existence of herself, now brought to her recollection; and that the love which she felt springing up in her heart was directed towards one who had formerly been her husband. With a sweet smile, she answered: "Doubtless Samba tied the bird in that way on purpose to obtain the power of recognition in another birth; and it was very cleverly managed by him."
From that moment they seemed perfectly to understand each other, and sat without speaking, their hearts full of happiness.
Presently the mother of the princess—the queen of the ex-king Manasara, who had also come with her attendants into the park, joined her daughter; and Balachandrika having seen her approaching, made a sign to the prince, upon which he and his friend slipped on one side, and hid themselves behind some leafy bushes.
After the queen had stayed a short time talking to her daughter and looking at the games, she set out to return, and the princess accompanied her.
Before going, she turned round, as if addressing the swan, but intending the speech for the prince, who was anxiously watching her from his hiding-place, "Though you came near me so lovingly just now, I may not stay longer with you: I must leave you and follow my mother: do not forget me or imagine that I neglect you, for I am still fond of you."
With these words she walked slowly away, looking with longing eyes in the direction of her lover.
On their return to the palace, the princess heard from Balachandrika a full account of Rajavahana and his adventures, through which she was even more in love than before; and having no opportunity of seeing him again, became listless and indifferent to her usual occupations, lost her appetite, wasted away, and at last lay on her bed, burning with fever.
In vain did her devoted attendants use all their efforts to diminish the heat by means of cold water, fanning, and other remedies; and she, seeing their distress, said to her faithful Balachandrika: "Ah, dear friend, all you can do is to no purpose; they call Kama the god with five arrows; but surely this is a wrong name, for I feel as if pierced by him with hundreds of arrows. They call the wind from Malaya cooling; but to me it only increases the fever, as if blowing up the fire which consumes me: my own necklace, the contact of which was formerly agreeable, now feels as if smeared with the poison of serpents. Give up your exertions; the prince is the only physician who can cure me; and how can he come to me here?"
Then Balachandrika thought to herself: "Something must be done, and that without delay, or this violent passion of love will surely cause her death. I will at least see the prince, and try if it is possible to bring about a meeting."
Having thus resolved, she begged the princess to write a few lines to her lover; and committing her to the care of the other attendants, she went to the house of her husband. There she found Rajavahana almost in the same state as the princess, burning with fever, throwing himself about restlessly on his couch, and bemoaning his hard fate to his friend.
On seeing Balachandrika, he started up, saying, "Oh, how welcome is the sight of you! I am sure you must be the bearer of good news. Sit down here and tell me about my darling."
She answered: "The princess is suffering like yourself, longing to see you; and has now sent me with this letter."
Eagerly opening it, he read—
"Beloved—Having seen your beauty, delicate as a flower, faultless, unrivalled in the world, my heart is full of longing. Do you likewise make your heart soft."
Having read this, he said: "Your coming here is refreshing to me as water to a withered plant; you are the wife of my very dear friend, Pushpodbhava, and I know how attached you are to my darling, therefore I can speak freely to you. Tell her that when she left the grove that day she carried off my heart with her, and that I long to see her even more than she longs for me; tell her only not to despond; the entrance to her apartments is indeed difficult, but I will contrive to see her by some means or other. Come back soon, and, having thought over the matter, I will tell you what is to be done." With this message, Balachandrika went to rejoice her friend; and the prince, though much comforted, could not remain quiet, but walked to the park, to have the pleasure of seeing at least the place where he had first met his charmer. There he stayed a long time together with his friend, looking at her footsteps in the sand, the withered flowers which she had gathered and thrown down, the place where she had sat, and the shrubs from which he had watched her, and listening to the murmur of the wind among the leaves, the hum of the bees and the song of the birds. Presently, they saw approaching them a brahman, splendidly dressed, followed by a servant. He, coming up to the prince, saluted him; and the prince, returning the salute, asked who he was. He answered "My name is Vidyeswara. I am a famous conjurer, and travel about exhibiting my skill for the amusement of kings and nobles. I have now come to Oujein, to show off my skill before the king." Then, with a knowing smile, he added, "But what makes you look so pale?"
Pushpodbhava, thinking to himself this is just the man to help us, answered, "There is something in your appearance which induces me to look on you as a friend, and you know how sometimes intimate friendship arises from a very short acquaintance; I will therefore tell you why my friend is thus sad. Not long ago, he, the son of a king, met the Princess Avantisundari on this very spot, and they fell in love with each other. From the impossibility of meeting, both are suffering, and the prince is brought into this condition which you see."
Vidyeswara, in reply, looking at the prince, said, with a smile, "To such as you, with me for an ally, nothing is impossible. I will, through my skill, contrive that you shall marry the princess in the presence of her father and his court; but you must follow my directions exactly, and she must be informed of her part in the affair through some trusty female friend."
Then, having given the necessary directions, the conjurer went his way. Rajavahana also returned to the house, and when he had given Balachandrika, who came again in the evening, the directions received from the conjurer, and a loving message of encouragement for the princess, he anxiously awaited the morrow, unable to sleep from the thought of the expected happiness, and fluctuating between alternate hopes and fears. In the morning, Vidyeswara, having collected a large troop of followers, went to the palace and announced himself to the doorkeeper, saying, "Tell the king the great conjurer is arrived." Manasara, who had heard of his great skill, and was desirous of seeing it, ordered him to be immediately admitted, and, after the usual salutations, the performance began.
First, while the band was playing, peacocks' tails were waving, and singers imitating the plaintive notes of birds, to excite the feelings and distract the attention of the hearers, the conjurer turned round violently several times, with his eyes half-closed, and caused great hooded serpents to appear and vultures to come down from the sky to seize them.
After this, he represented the scene of Vishnu killing Hiranyakasipu, chief of the Asuras, to the great astonishment of the spectators; then, turning to the king, he said, "It is desirable that the performance should end with something auspicious; I propose, therefore, to represent a royal marriage, and one of my people will act as your daughter, another as a prince, endowed with all good qualities. But first I must apply to your eyes this ointment, which will give you preternatural clearness of vision." To all this the king consented.
Meanwhile, the princess had contrived to slip out unobserved, and stood among the conjurer's people. Rajavahana also stood ready, and the performance began. Thus, under the disguise of a piece of acting, the conjurer, being a brahman, was able to complete the marriage with all proper rites and ceremonies without any suspicion on the part of the king that it was his own daughter whom he saw before him; and the others, also unsuspecting, only admired the skill of the conjurer in making the actress so like the lady whom she represented. When the performance was ended, the conjurer, having been liberally rewarded by the king, dismissed his hired attendants and departed.
In the confusion and excitement caused by the conjurer's performance, Rajavahana and the princess slipped unnoticed into her apartments, where he was safe, for the present at least, her attendants being all devoted to her, and careful to keep the secret.
He was thus able to enjoy the society of his bride without interruption; to give her a full account of his life and adventures, and to teach her many things of which she was ignorant; so that she became more and more attached to him, and admired his knowledge and eloquence as much as she had before admired his beauty.
* * * * *
FURTHER ADVENTURES OF RAJAVAHANA.
Thus the princess, listening with delight and astonishment to the sweet and eloquent words of her husband, and he never tired of contemplating her beauty and enjoying her caresses, lived for some time in the greatest happiness, without care or anxiety for the future.
One night, when both were sleeping, the prince had a remarkable dream. He seemed to see an old swan, whose legs were tied together with lotus fibre, approach the bedside; at that moment he awoke with a feeling of pressure on his feet, and found himself bound with a slender silver chain, bright as the rays of the moon. The princess awoke at the same time, and seeing her husband thus fettered, screamed out loudly in her fright. The attendants in the adjoining apartments, hearing the scream, thought something dreadful must have happened. They rushed into the room, added their cries to hers, and forgetting all their former precautions, left the doors open, so that the guards outside, hearing the clamour, entered and saw the prince.
When about to seize him, they were awed by his dignity, and contented themselves with giving information to the regent, Chandavarma, who, on receiving it, came immediately to the place.
Looking at the prince with eyes burning with the fire of anger, he began to recollect him, and said, "So! this is that conceited brahman who has been deceiving the people; making them believe that he is wonderfully clever; the friend of that fellow the husband of the wicked Balachandrika, the cause of my brother's death. How is it possible that the princess should have fallen in love with such a paltry wretch, overlooking a man like me? She is a disgrace to her family, and shall soon see her husband impaled on a stake."
Then, with his forehead disfigured by a fearful frown, he continued to abuse the prince; and having tied his hands behind him, dragged him from the room.
Rajavahana, naturally brave, and encouraged by belief in that former existence the remembrance of which had so wonderfully arisen in his mind, bore all the insults with firmness, and saying to the princess, "Remember that speech of the swan, have patience for two months, and all will be well," submitted quietly to the imprisonment.
When the ex-king and queen were informed of what had happened, they were greatly distressed on their daughter's account, and exerted themselves to save the life of their son-in-law; but the regent, in whom all authority was vested, resisted their entreaties; and only on condition of their resigning some of the few privileges which still remained to them did he consent to defer the execution till he had communicated with Darpasara, and learned his pleasure on the subject. He confiscated the property of Pushpodbhava, and threw him and his family into prison; and being about to march against the King of Anga, and unwilling to leave the prince behind, lest he should be liberated by the old king, he caused a wooden cage to be made, in which his prisoner was shut up and carried with the army.
Treated thus like some wild beast, roughly shaken and neglected, Rajavahana would have suffered greatly had he not been protected by the magic jewel given to him in Patala, and which he had contrived to conceal in his hair.
Chandavarma had some time before this asked in marriage Ambalika, the daughter of Sinhavarma, King of Anga, and, indignant at a refusal, was now marching against him, to take vengeance for the insult, and get possession of the princess. Advancing therefore with a large army, he prepared to besiege Champa, the capital city.
Sinhavarma, being of a very impatient and impetuous disposition, would not wait for the arrival of the allies who had been summoned to his assistance, and were then on the march; but throwing open the gates, went forth to meet the enemy.
A terrible battle ensued, in which both kings performed prodigies of valour. At last Sinhavarma was taken prisoner, and his army so completely defeated, that the conqueror entered and took possession of the city without opposition.
Chandavarma, having now the princess in his power, determined to make her his wife at once: he therefore treated her father with more consideration than he would otherwise have done, though he put him in confinement, and caused it to be proclaimed throughout the city that the wedding would be celebrated with much splendour the next morning.
Just then a messenger arrived from Kailasa, bringing a letter from Darpasara, in which he had written, "O fool! should there be any pity for the violator of the harem? If the old king, my father, now in his dotage, was foolish enough to favour the criminal for the sake of his worthless daughter, you had no need of his permission, and ought not to have been influenced by him. Let that vile seducer be immediately put to death by torture, and his paramour be shut up in prison till I come."
Chandavarma, who had intended to march against the allies advancing for the assistance of his captive, on receiving these commands, gave orders to his attendants, saying, "To-morrow morning take that vile wretch from his cage, and set him at the palace gate. Have ready, also, a fierce elephant, suitably equipped, which I shall mount immediately after the wedding, to overtake my army in march against the enemy; and as I set out, I will make the elephant trample the life out of that criminal."
Accordingly, the next morning, the prince was brought by the guards to the gate of the palace, and the elephant placed near him.
While he stood there, calmly awaiting death, which now seemed inevitable, he suddenly felt his feet free, and a beautiful lady appeared before him.
She humbly bowing down said: "Let my lord pardon his servant for the injury which she has unconsciously caused. I am an Apsaras, born from the rays of the moon. One day, as I was flying through the air, wearing a white dress, a swan, mistaking me for a lotus flower, attacked me. While struggling to keep off the bird, the string of my necklace broke, and the pearls fell on the grey head of a very holy rishi, bathing, in the clear water of a Himalayan lake.
"In his anger, he cursed me, saying: 'O wicked one, for this offence you are condemned to be changed into a piece of unconscious metal.'
"When, however, I entreated forgiveness, he was so far appeased, that he modified the curse, and granted that I should still retain consciousness, and remain as a fetter on your feet for two months only.
"The change took place immediately, and I fell to the ground, turned into a silver chain.
"About this time, Virasekhara, a Vidyadhara, partly of human descent, had become acquainted with Darpasara, then performing penance on the great mountain; and thinking he might get assistance from him in a feud in which he was involved, had made an alliance with him, and engaged to marry his sister, the Princess Avantisundari.
"Being desirous of visiting his intended bride, he flew through the air to Avanti. On his way he saw the silver fetter, descended to the ground, picked it up, and continued his flight.
"Having made himself invisible, he entered without difficulty the apartment of the princess, and was astonished and enraged on finding her lying in your arms. His first impulse was to kill you; but some irresistible influence restrained him, so that he contented himself with putting the silver fetter on your feet, and departed without otherwise disturbing you.
"You have, in consequence, suffered all this misery. Now my transformation is ended, and you are so far free; tell me what I can do for you in atonement for the suffering which I have caused?"
The prince, not thinking of himself, said only, "Go at once to her who is dearer to me than life, and comfort her with news of me."
At that moment a great clamour was heard, and some persons, rushing from the interior of the palace, called out, loudly, "Help! help! Chandavarma is murdered! killed by an assassin, who stabbed him as he was about to take the hand of the princess; and that man is now moving about the palace, cutting down all who attempt to seize him."
Rajavahana, when he heard this, without losing a moment, and before the guards had perceived his feet to be unfettered, with a sudden spring leapt on the elephant intended for his destruction; and having thrust off the driver, urged the beast at a rapid pace, pushing aside the crowd right and left as he went.
Having got into the courtyard, he shouted with a loud voice, "Who is the brave man that has done this great deed, hardly to be accomplished by a mere mortal? Let him come forth and join me; we two united are a match for a whole army."
The slayer of Chandavarma hearing this, came out of the palace, and quickly mounting the elephant, who held down his trunk to receive him, placed himself behind the prince.
Great was their mutual astonishment and joy when they recognised each other, the prince exclaiming, "Is it possible? Is it really you, my dear friend Apaharavarma, who have done this deed?" and the other saying, "Do I indeed see my Lord Rajavahana?" Having thus recognised and embraced each other, they turned the elephant round, and passing through the crowd in the courtyard, went into the main street, now thronged by soldiers. Through these they forced their way, employing with good effect the weapons placed on the elephant for the use of Chandavarma.
Before, however, they had gone far, they heard the noise of battle at a distance, and saw the soldiers in front of them scattered in all directions.
Soon they saw coming towards them a very well-dressed, handsome man, riding on a swift elephant. On reaching them, he made obeisance to the prince, saying, "I am sure this is my Lord Rajavahana;" and then turning to Apaharavarma, said, "I have followed your directions exactly, and hastened on the advancing allies. We have just now encountered and utterly defeated the enemy, so that there is no fear of any further resistance."
Then Apaharavarma introduced the stranger to the prince, saying, "This is my dear friend Dhanamittra, well worthy of your respect and consideration; for he is as brave and clever as he is handsome. With your permission, he will liberate the King of Anga, and re-establish the former authorities; meanwhile, we will go on to a quiet place, and wait there for him and the princes who have come so opportunely to our assistance."
Rajavahana agreed to this. They went a little further, and dismounted at a pleasant cool bank, shaded by a large banian tree, and close to the Ganges.
When they had been for some time seated there, Dhanamittra returned, accompanied by Upaharavarma, Pramati, Mitragupta, Mantragupta, Visruta, Praharavarma King of Mithila, Kamapala lord of Benares, and Sinhavarma King of Anga.
The prince, astonished and delighted at such an unexpected meeting, warmly embraced his young friends, and very respectfully saluted, as a son, the elder men introduced by them. Many questions were asked on both sides. After some conversation, Rajavahana told them his own adventures, and those of Somadatta and Pushpodbhava, and then begged his friends to relate theirs.
Apaharavarma spoke first.
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ADVENTURES OF APAHARAVARMA.
My Lord, when you had gone away with the brahman, and we were unable to find you, I wandered about searching for you like the rest of your friends.
One day I heard by chance of a very famous muni, living in a forest on the banks of the Ganges, not far from Champa, who was said to have supernatural knowledge of past and future events.
Hoping to obtain some information about you, I determined to seek him out, and accordingly came here for that purpose. Having found the way to his dwelling, I saw there a miserable-looking man, very unlike the holy devotee whom I had pictured to myself. Sitting down, however, beside this person, I said, "I have come a long way to consult the celebrated rishi Marichi, having heard that he is possessed of very wonderful knowledge. Can you tell me where to find him?"
Deeply sighing, he answered: "There was, not long ago, such a person in this place; but he is changed—he is no longer what he was."
"How can that be?" I asked.
"One day," he replied, "while that muni was engaged in prayer and meditation, he was interrupted by the sudden arrival of a famous actress and dancer, called Kamamanjari, who, with dishevelled hair and eyes full of tears, threw herself at his feet.
"Before he had time to ask the meaning of this, a confused crowd of her companions came up, headed by an old woman, the mother of Kamamanjari, apparently in great agitation and distress.
"When they were all a little quieted, he asked the girl the meaning of her tears, and for what purpose she had come to him.
"She answered, apparently with great respect and bashfulness, 'O reverend sir, I have heard of your great wisdom, and your kindness to those who are willing to give up the pleasures of this world for the sake of the next. I am tired of the disgraceful life I am leading, and wish to renounce it.' Upon this, her mother, with her loose grey hairs touching the ground, interrupted her, and said, 'Worthy sir, this daughter of mine would make it appear that I am to blame, but indeed I have done my duty, and have carefully prepared her for that profession for which, by birth, she was intended. From earliest childhood I have bestowed the greatest care upon her, doing everything in my power to promote her health and beauty. As soon as she was old enough, I had her carefully instructed in the arts of dancing, acting, playing on musical instruments, singing, painting, preparing perfumes and flowers, in writing and conversation, and even to some extent in grammar, logic, and philosophy. She was taught to play various games with skill and dexterity, and how to dress well, and show herself off to the greatest advantage in public; I hired persons to go about praising her skill and beauty, and to applaud her when she performed in public, and I did many other things to promote her success, and to secure for her liberal remuneration; yet, after all the time, trouble, and money which I have spent upon her, just when I was beginning to reap the fruit of my labours, the ungrateful girl has fallen in love with a stranger, a young brahman, without property, and wishes to marry him and give up her profession, notwithstanding all my entreaties, and representations of the poverty and distress to which all her family will be reduced if she persists in her purpose; and because I oppose this marriage, she declares that she will renounce the world, and become a devotee.'
"The muni compassionately said to the girl: 'You will never be able to endure the hardships of such a life as you propose to lead—a life so different from that to which you have been accustomed. Heaven may be attained by all who duly perform the duties of their station; take my advice then, give up all thoughts of an undertaking which you will never accomplish, comply with your mother's wishes, return with her, and be content with that way of life in which you have been brought up.'
"With many tears, she replied: 'If you will not receive me I will put an end to my wretched life.'
"Finding her so determined, the muni, after some reflection, said to the mother and her companions: 'Go away for the present; come back after a few days; I will give her good advice, and you will no doubt find her tired of living here, and quite ready to return.'
"Thereupon they all went away, and she was left alone with the muni. At first she kept at a distance from him, taking care not to interrupt him in his meditations, but waiting on him unobtrusively, rendering him many little services, watering his favourite trees, and gathering sacred grass, and flowers for offerings to the gods. Then, as he became more accustomed to her, she would amuse him with songs and dances, and at last began to sit near him and talk of the pleasures of love.