Once competition, and now?

Read the previous part here

“But I will consent to this marriage only on one condition. I am not to be considered as his wife until my husband spends six months on a pilgrimage to the Himalayas and other sacred teerthas on the way.”

“If this condition is not agreed to, let it be known that I will commit suicide immediately!”

Illustration by the renowned Karatholuvu Chandrasekaran Shivashankaran

इत्य् उक्ते समये तेन यूना कन्यावपुर्भृता ।
राज्ञा स बोधितः प्राप निर्वृत्तिं मन्त्रिपुत्रकः ॥ १२,२२.७९ ॥

तथेति प्रतिपद्यैतत् कृत्वोद्वाहं किलाशु तम् ।
एकस्मिन् स्थापयित्वा च वासके ते सुरक्षिते ॥ १२,२२.८० ॥

तां मृगाङ्कवतीम् आद्यां वधूं कूटवधूं च ताम् ।
जगाम तीर्थयात्रायै मूडः कान्ताप्रियेच्छया ॥ १२,२२.८१ ॥

स चोवास मनःस्वामी स्त्रीरूपो ऽत्र तया सह ।
मृगाङ्कवत्येकगृहे समानशयनासनः ॥ १२,२२.८२ ॥

तथा स्थितं कदाचित् तं सा मृगाङ्कवती निशि ।
शय्यागृहे रहो ऽवादीद् बहिःसुप्ते परिच्छदे ॥ १२,२२.८३ ॥

कथां कांचित् त्वम् आख्याहि निद्रा नास्ति हि मे सखि ।
तच् छ्रुत्वाकथयत् सो ऽस्यै स्त्रीरूपस् तां कथां युवा ॥ १२,२२.८४ ॥

And so the king informed the minister’s son of the condition that female Manaḥsvāmin had presented. The man quickly consented, and the marriage was arranged on the same day.

He made Mṛgāṅkavatī and female Manaḥsvāmin reside in the same house, ordered a few guards to be present day and night, and then, like a fool, set out on the teerth yatra to satisfy the condition put forth, and please the object of his desire.

And so Manaḥsvāmin, in his female form, dwelt in the same house and in the same chambers as Mṛgāṅkavatī.

One night, Mṛgāṅkavatī was unable to sleep, and spent a long time tossing and turning on her bed.

She then turned to Manaḥsvāmin and said…

“My dear, I am unable to sleep today. Can you tell me a story?”

Manaḥsvāmin got up, walked to her bed, and lying down next to her, told her this story.

यत्रेलाख्यस्य राजर्षेः सूर्यवंशभुवः पुरा ।
प्राप्तस्य गौरीशापेन स्त्रीत्वं विश्वैकमोहनम् ॥ १२,२२.८५ ॥

अन्योन्यदर्शनप्रीत्या देवोद्यानवनान्तरे ।
अभूद् बुधेन संयोगः समभूच् च पुरूरवाः ॥ १२,२२.८६ ॥

तां कथां कथयित्वा च धूर्तः पुन उवाच सः ।
तद् एवं देवतादेशान् मन्त्रौषधवशेन वा ॥ १२,२२.८७ ॥

पुरुषः स्त्री कदाचित् स्यात् स्त्री वा जातु पुमान् भवेत् ।
भवन्ति चैवं संयोगाः कामजा महताम् अपि ॥ १२,२२.८८ ॥

श्रुत्वैतत् तरुणी मुग्धा विवाहप्रोषितानुका ।
सा मृगाङ्कवती स्माह विश्वस्ता सहवासतः ॥ १२,२२.८९ ॥

श्रुत्वैतां मे कथाम् एतद् अङ्गं सिमिसिमायते ।
हृदयं सीदतीवेदं तद् एतत् सखि किं वद ॥ १२,२२.९० ॥

He spoke of the olden times, of a Suryavanshi Rājarishi named Iḍa. He told her of how Iḍa was once cursed by Devi Gaurī and attained a female form, one that could infatuate the whole world.

Manaḥsvāmin then told her, in explicit detail, of how Buddha (Mercury). the son of Chandra (the Moon) once saw this female form, and how they fell in love, and how they met secretly and united, and how Purūravas was born of their union.

When he was done with the story, he went on to say…

“And so by the grace, or the curse of a Devi, or by mantra or a pill, a man can be turned into a woman, and sometimes a woman into a man, and this is how some great people managed to find love in whatever shape and form they were in…”

When Mṛgāṅkavatī heard this story, her tender heart saddened by her husband leaving her as soon as they were married, she confided in the same ‘girl’ who she considered competition, and said…

“My dear, this story makes my body tremble, and my heart sinks. It feels as if I long something, but I don’t understand or know what it is…what is the meaning of all this?

Manaḥsvāmin smiled and replied…

to be continued…