Read the previous part here…
“O king! When people are learned, clever and full of wisdom, they spend their days learning and relishing the knowledge of the Shāstras”, said the Baitāl. “Only fools spend time sleeping and in waste. We have a long journey ahead, and so let me speak something of wisdom, rather than remain silent and waste this time….”
“Oh mighty king, let me tell you a story…”
The first story
The prince, his love, and his father’s minister
अस्ति वाराणसी नाम पुरारिवसतिः पुरी ।
स्थलीव कैलासगिरेर् या पुण्यजनसेविता ॥ १२,८.५९ ॥
भूरिवारिभृता शश्वदुपकण्ठनिवेशिनी ।
हारयष्टिर् इवाभाति यस्याः स्वर्गतरङ्गिणी ॥ १२,८.६० ॥
तस्यां प्रतापमुकुटो नाम राजाभवत् पुरा ॥ १२,८.६१ ॥
तस्याभूद् वज्रमुकुटस् तनयो रूपशौर्ययोः ।
कुर्वाणो दर्पदलनं स्मरस्यारिजनस्य च ॥ १२,८.६२ ॥
राजपुत्रस्य तस्यात्र मन्त्रिपुत्रो महामतिः ।
आसीद् बुद्धिशरीराख्यः शरीराभ्यधिकः सखा ॥ १२,८.६३ ॥
There is an ancient city named Vārāṇasī, where the ever-powerful Śiva resides. In fact, it is so holy that it resembles the plateau of Mount Kailāsa, and noble people visit this city all the year round. The perennial holy Ganga flows nearby, and appears as a beautiful pearl necklace resting on the neck of Vārāṇasī…In that city, long time ago, lived a king named Pratāpamukuṭa (the one who wears bravery as a crown), a fearless king who had destroyed his enemies with his courage, much like a fire destroys the forest.
Pratāpamukuṭa had a son named Vajramukuṭa (the one who wears a crown of diamonds), who equalled Manmatha – the deva of love- in beauty and destroyed the arrogance of his enemies by his bravery. And that prince had a friend named Buddhiśarīra ( the one who is an embodiment of knowledge) – the son of a minister of the king. Vajramukuṭa valued Buddhiśarīra more than his life, so deep was their friendship.
तेन सख्या सह क्रीडन् स कदाचिन् नृपात्मजः ।
जगाम दूरम् अध्वानं मृगयाति प्रसङ्गतः ॥ १२,८.६४ ॥
शौर्यश्रीचामराणीव सिंहानां मस्तकानि सः ।
छिन्दच् छरैः सटालानि विवेशैकं महावनम् ॥ १२,८.६५ ॥
तत्रास्थाने स्मरस्येव पठत् कोकिलबन्दिनि ।
दत्तोपकारे तरुभिर् मञ्जरीचलचामरैः ॥ १२,८.६६ ॥
सो ऽन्वितो मन्त्रिपुत्रेण तेनापश्यत् सरोवरम् ।
विचित्रकमलोत्पत्तिधामाम्बुधिम् इवापरम् ॥ १२,८.६७ ॥
तस्मिंस् तदैव सरसि स्नानार्थं काचिद् आगता ।
तेन दिव्याकृतिः कन्या ददृशे सपरिच्छदा ॥ १२,८.६८ ॥
पूरयन्तीव लावण्यनिर्झरेण सरोवरम् ।
दृष्टिपातैः सृजन्तीव तत्रोत्पलवनं नवम् ॥ १२,८.६९ ॥
प्रत्यादिशन्तीव मुखेनाम्बुजानि जितेन्दुना ।
सा जहार मनस् तस्य राजपुत्रस्य तत्क्षणम् ॥ १२,८.७० ॥
सो ऽप्य् अहार्षीत् तथा तस्या युवा दृष्ट्वा विलोचने ।
यथा नैक्षत सा कन्या लज्जां स्वाम् अप्य् अलंकृतिम् ॥ १२,८.७१ ॥
Once the prince and his friend were out hunting, and they ventured deep into the forest. The woods seemed to be love personified, with singing cuckoos as poets, fanned by the huge trees that moved their bosoms to the music. Vajramukuṭa spotted a large lake in the distance, and he and Buddhiśarīra raced towards it. They drank from it, washed their hands and feet, and then stopped to admire the beauty of the large body of water, that seemed to be both the birthplace and the final resting place of the most beautiful lotuses that ever existed.
And it is there that he spotted her. She was there with her attendants, wearing fine clothes, looking coyly at the waters, as if intending to fill it with her mesmerizing beauty. The lotuses seemed to be shying away from her in shame, wondering what wrong they had done to not deserve such looks, and the prince failed to stop his heart that seemed to leap out of his chest, and go across to her, awestruck…
The prince too had taken possession of her heart, that she lost the moment she laid her eyes on him. She disregarded her own modesty, and looked at his eyes, searching for answers to the questions that she had not even asked him…
यूनि पश्यति तस्मिन् सा केयं स्याद् इति सानुगे ।
संज्ञां स्वदेशाद्याख्यातुं विलासच्छद्मनाकरोत् ॥ १२,८.७२ ॥
करोति स्मौत्पलं कर्णे गृहीत्वा पुष्पशेखरात् ।
चिरं च दन्तरचनां चकारादाय च व्यधात् ॥ १२,८.७३ ॥
पद्मं शिरसि साकूतं हृदये चादधे करम् ।
राजपुत्रश् च तस्यास् तां संज्ञां न ज्ञातवांस् तदा ॥ १२,८.७४ ॥
मन्त्रिपुत्रस् तु बुबुधे स सखा तस्य बुद्धिमान् ।
क्षणाच् च सा ययौ कन्या नीयमानानुगैस् ततः ॥ १२,८.७५ ॥
प्राप्य च स्वगृहं तस्थौ पर्यङ्गे ऽङ्गं निधाय सा ।
चित्तं तु निजसंज्ञार्थम् आस्थात् तस्मिन् नृपात्मजे ॥ १२,८.७६ ॥
सो ऽपि राजसुतो भ्रष्टविद्यो विद्याधरो यथा ।
गत्वा स्वनगरीं कृच्छ्रां प्रापावस्थां तया विना ॥ १२,८.७७ ॥
As their eyes stayed on each other, the prince wondered who she was…and she, under the pretence of playfulness, made a few signs to tell him more about her. She first took a lotus from her garland and put it in her ear, and then started to slowly twist it into a dantapatra, or tooth-leaf. She then took another lotus and placed it on her head, and then on her chest.
The prince did not understand what she had told him, but the intelligent Buddhiśarīra had interpreted them well.
She soon departed, led away by her attendants, but she left her heart there, beside the lake, for when she reached home, she lay down on her bed, her mind lost in thoughts of the prince, and stayed there for hours, until her eyes closed, to dream about him.
The prince too, was finally made to return to his palace, feeling like a Vidyādhara who had lost his knowledge, pained and miserable.
One day, the minister’s son came to the prince’s chambers, and…
to be continued…