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Vasavadatta (Sanskrit: वासवदत्ता, Vāsavadattā) is a classical Sanskrit romantic tale (akhyayika) written in an ornate style by Subandhu, whose time period isn't precisely known. He is generally taken to have written the work in the second quarter of the seventh century.


A Sanskrit Romance


Translated by Louis H. Gray, Ph.D.


[2] Victorious is divine Sarasvatī,
Who aideth bards of keen and nimble wit
To see the world, as ‘twere a jujube-fruit,
Lying within the hollow of their hands.

Victorious, too, is Hari, resting now,
The while he smileth on the shepherd lads
Whose upraised arms bend ‘neath the awful weight
Of their vast burden; yet cry unto him:
‘Ah, weary art thou, let the mountain be;
We will sustain it, Kṛṣṇa, lord of all’!

[3] May he whose waist is girded keep you safe,
Yea, he whose serried furrows brightly shine;
E’en while the zone he hath too tightly drawn
Doth work distraction by its beauteousness.

[4] Victorious is the god whose crescent gleams
Like to a silvern pearl by Umā set
Upon his brow, when from his blazing eye
She gathereth the black collyrium.

How blessèd are those souls beneficent
Who work the weal of others, for to them
The moon that openeth the lotus-buds
Doth give a twofold meed of radiance!

[5] The wise say sooth: ‘More loathsome than a snake
Is he whose soul is filled with wickedness’:
The serpent ‘hateth the ichneumon tribe’
But leaves his brethren safe; while knavish folk
With venomed tongues ‘destroy their nearest kin’.

[6] In evil only are the wicked wise;
Like as the owl is blind, save in the dark.
There is but one eclipse — foul calumny;
Only the clouds that hide the moon are black.

[7] And when with sooty and polluting touch
The man of evil fain would smirch the good,
He doth increase the radiance of the just;
E’en as the ashes in the grinder’s hand
Do but enhance the lustrous mirror’s sheen.

Yet ‘drought doth rule’ o’er all, the “cranes sport not”,
Nor doth the ‘“heron seek the azure vault”;,
For lo, the lake hath left this mortal world;
All ‘joy is fled’;, and “strange kings now bear rule”.
Wasting the earth with ‘“fratricidal”’ strife,
For Vikramāditya hath passed away.

[8] The words of goodly bards rejoice thine ears,
E’en when thou knowest not their wondrous skill;
For in a jasmine wreath thine eyes delight,
Though to thy senses come no perfumes sweet.

The noble gain true knowledge of themselves
By observation of their fellow men;
As on the mirror’s polished surface falls
The vision of the soul’s own magnitude.

[9] Through great Sarasvatī this book was writ
By Sujana’s one brother, whom mankind
Doth call Subandhu, skilled full dextrously
To interweave in every word a pun.

[10] There was a king named Cintāmaṇi, whose like had never existed, whose nail-jewelled feet were unscarred, though rubbed by the edge of a touchstone which was the series of the beautiful crest-gems of the circle of all the princes of the earth.

[11] He caused astonishment by ‘gifts of gold, food, raiment, and estates’ as Nṛsiṃha caused astonishment by ‘rending the body of Hiraṇyakaśipu; he gave joy to the ‘divinities by his goods’ as Kṛṣṇa gave joy to ‘Vasudēva’; [12] he ‘conquered with ease’ the circle of the earth as Nārāyaṇa ‘upheld’ the circle of the world by his ‘boar’s form’; he produced ‘glorious and blissful’ prosperity as Kaṃsa’s foe produced prosperity for ‘Yaśōdā and Nanda’; he made ‘poetry honoured’ as Ānakadundubhi made ‘Kāvyā afraid; [13] he had his lotus feet embellished by the rays of the crest-jewels of ‘many serpents’ as Sāgaraśāyi had his lotus feet embellished by the rays of the crest-jewel of the ‘cosmic serpent’; he protected ‘unceasingly’ as Varuṇa protected the ‘western regions’; he adorned ‘petitions with gifts’ as Agastya adorned the ‘southern districts’; he was the lord of a hundred ‘armies’ and “habitually levied just taxes” as the ocean is the lord of a hundred ‘rivers’ and is the “habitat of fish”; [14] he was followed by a ‘great army’ and repulsed “obstacles” as Hara is followed by ‘Mahāsēna’ and repulses “Māra”; he was the home of the ‘wise’ and the dwelling-place of the “acts of all men” as Mēru is the home of the ‘gods’ and the dwelling-place of “Viśvakarman”; he ‘rejoiced in generosity at festal times’ and removed sorrow by his “beauty” as the sun ‘loves not the night’ and removes the sorrow of “Chāyā”; he gave ‘unimpeded’ prosperity and afforded delight in “intercourse” as the God of the Flowery Banner gave prosperity to ‘Aniruddha’ and afforded delight to “Rati”.

[15] Though a ‘demigod’, he was a “god”, for he was a “benevolent” ‘receptacle of wisdom’; though a ‘Dhṛtarāṣṭra’, he was a “friend of Bhīma”, for he was a ‘ruler of a kingdom’ “who loved virtue”; though ‘come to earth’, he took refuge in the “courts of the gods”, for he was ‘filled with patience’ and took refuge in “good government” [16] though a ‘great reed’ by nature, he was “smooth” within, for his was the nature of ‘Arjuna’, “upright” within; [17] though born of a ‘buffalo’, he was “begotten by a bull”, for he was born of a ‘queen’ and was a “producer of government”; though no ‘central gem of a necklace’, he was the “midmost jewel of a throat-band”, for he was a ‘fearless’, “mighty leader”.

While he ruled the earth, ‘quibblings and fallacies’ were practised only in arguments (for there was no need of ‘habitually checking deceit’); [18] there was ‘infidelity’ only among materialists (for there was no ‘poverty’); there was employment of a ‘spur’ only in executing commands (for there was no employment of ‘petty enemies’); there was ‘picking’ [19] only on lutes (for there was no ‘back-biting’); there was association with ‘threshing-floors’ only in the case of rice (for there was no association with ‘evil men’); there was capture of ‘snakes’ only among serpent-charmers (for there was no need to capture ‘liars’); ‘imposts’ were cut only in the receipt of taxes (for there was no amputation of ‘hands’); ‘roots’ were plucked out only in the case of “wormwood-trees” (for “ascetics” did not pluck out their ‘eyes’); [20] only lotuses opposed the ‘moon’ (for there was no opposition to ‘Brāhmans’; ‘‘ruler of the world’’ was applied only to the elephant of the north (but not to any man save the ‘king’); there were ‘fire-tests and balance-tests’ only in the case of different sorts of gold (for there were no ‘ordeals by fire or balance’); only jewels were ‘pierced by needles’ (for there was no ‘disturbance by suggestive movements’); only in child-bearing was there rending with ‘griping pains’ (for there was no rending by ‘impalement’); [21] ‘Duḥśāsana was known’ only in the Bhārata (for there was no ‘glimpse of evil instruction’); the ‘sun’s rays opened leaves’ only in the case of lotuses (for there was no ‘sawing asunder’).

Though the Great Boar was intent on upholding the ‘earth’, yet he (Cintāmaṇi) clove ‘mountains’. Rāghava entered the forest with ‘Sītā’ leaving his native land (but Cintāmaṇi entered the forest having his ‘native land’). Bharata had affection for Rāma, yet made ‘Rāma depart’ from his kingdom (but Cintāmaṇi made ‘peace’ in his kingdom). [22] When Nala was united to Damayantī it was a ‘marriage of one already wedded’ (but Cintāmaṇi ‘regained his territory’). Pṛthu ‘levelled the earth by banishing the mountains’ (but Cintāmaṇi (covered the earth by sending forth his offspring’). There was, therefore, no reason to mention former kings.

He, moreover, was another sort of monarch and had humbled all the princes on earth. Thus he was a mountain with a visible exaltation of ‘peak’, which never ceased to delight the “Gandharvas who roamed along its slopes”; for he never ceased, with his visible exaltation of ‘majesty’, to delight the “steeds that bore his army”. [23] He was a ‘Himālaya’, though not shaken by “snow” nor suited to the birth of “Umā”, for he was ‘indeed a lotus’ unshaken by “pride” and unsuited for the birth of “deceit”. He was a “snowy” ‘bullock’-banner set upon a “hill”, for he was “indeed exalted in speech” and set as a banner of ‘justice’.

He was a ‘wind’, ‘bending all the forest down’, ‘a friend of the fire’, ‘eager for the clouds’, and ‘bearing along the flowers’; for he was ‘ever patient’, ‘straightening every crooked way’, ‘foremost of ascetics’, ‘not avid of sensual pleasures’, and the ‘joy of the wise’. [24] He was a mine of gems ‘with no serpents’, exceeding deep its ‘boundaries’, ‘no otter a terror to it’, ever a very refuge for ‘fishes’, ‘filled with water’, ‘bearing ships’, whereto (belonged) the ‘mountain and the crocodile’, ‘the mighty lord of rivers’, the ‘ocean’; [25] for he was ‘no knave’, exceeding deep his ‘decorum’, ‘no light of his dismaying any’, ever a refuge like the ‘moon’, ‘delightsome’, ‘rich in children’, ‘his serenity unshaken’, ‘great, proud’, and ‘with a signet ring’. [26] As the moon causes joy in the ‘night season’, is the friend of ‘white lotuses’, has his mansion filled with all the ‘digits’, and is ‘unsurpassed by the constellations’; he caused joy in the ‘festivals’, was the friend of ‘pleasure groves on earth’, had his mansion filled with all the ‘arts’, and ‘subdued the excessive might of his foes’. As Sumēru caused the ‘sun to rise’, gave a ‘golden glory’, and had ‘wealth surpassing the (other) mountains’; he caused the ‘prosperity of his friends’, possessed ‘every beauty’, and had ‘good fortune impregnable and abundant’.

[27] Even had Arjuna been ever with them, the ranks of his foes would not have been equal to the ‘combats in the Mahābhārata’, for they were not equal to ‘bearing great burdens’. Though ‘Bhīṣma’, he was “unkind to Śāntanu”, for he was ‘terrible’ and had a “ceaseless desire for glory”; though ‘wandering on the mountains’, “he dwelt not on the hills”, for he was ‘accompanied by his attendants’ and “needed not the admiration of his family”.

[28] And, furthermore, he ‘wavered not from the path of a warrior’, as Triśaṅku ‘wavered in the path of the constellations’; though he was ‘Śiva’, “he drank no poison”, for he was a ‘giver of weal’ and “not depressed”; though he was a ‘fire’, he was not a “flame”, for he was a ‘purifier’ and free from “evil habits”; though he was a ‘burner’, he was not a “consumer”, for he had a ‘longing for hermitages’ and was no “destroyer”; [29] he was no Yama ‘snatching life away suddenly’, for he did not ‘deprive of life without reason’; he was no Rāhu increasing his ‘radiance by swallowing the sun’s disc’, for he did not increase his ‘greed by seizing the kingdom of a friend’; he was no Nala crushed by ‘Kali’, for he was not crushed by ‘strife’; he was no Cakri exhilarated by the death of ‘Śṛgāla’, for he was not exhilarated by the death of a ‘craven’; he was attended by ‘glory and generosity’ as the cowherd Nanda was attended by ‘Yaśōdā’; he ‘planned peace and war’ as Jarāsanda’s ‘body was disrupted union; he possessed ‘generosity and luxury’ as Bhārgava ‘ever wandered in the clouds’; [30] he was attended by ‘good friends’ and commanded “good counsel” as Daśaratha was attended by ‘Sumitrā’ and commanded “Sumantra”; he was ‘devoted to worthy objects of generosity’ and protected the “earth” as Dilīpa was ‘beloved by Sudakṣiṇā’ and protected the “cow”; his glory was exalted by his ‘virtuous life’ as Rāma’s glory was exalted by the ‘birth of Kuśa and Lava’.

He had a son named Kandarpakētu. He was the ‘joy of the hermits’ as the coral-tree ‘stands in Indra’s garden’; [31] he ‘produced weal’ as Himālaya was the ‘birthplace of Śiva’; he was ‘marked by his luxurious pleasures’ as Mandara is ‘scarred by the body of the serpent’; his ‘crores were enjoyed by great kings’ as Kāilāsa’s ‘summit is enjoyed by the Great Lord’; he gave pleasure to many ‘women’ as the spring gives pleasure in many ‘gardens’; [32] he made the ‘earth’ resound as Mandara, lifted on high in the churning of the ocean of milk, made the ‘water’ resound; he ‘took delight in love’ as the God of Passion’s Bond (rejoices Rati); he was shaken by (meditation) as the collected ashes of Śiva are shaken at ‘twilight’; [33] he had a (pure heart) and “clung to Viṣṇu’s feet” as an autumn cloud has a (lurid centre) and “depends from the sky”; he was accustomed to (all passion and merriment) as Arjuna was accustomed to be (courageous in battle); [34] he was adorned with a (garland of the circle of the earth) as Kaṃsa was adorned with a (blue lotus garland); he gave joy to the ‘humble’ and “delighted the wise” as Tārkṣya gave joy to ‘Vinatā’ and had “Sumukha for a son”; he (clasped) a beautiful form to his “breast” as Viṣṇu (changed) his beautiful form into a “boar”; he had (time and justice) put into his own power as Śāntanava had (Death) put into his own power; [35] he governed (full happily) as the host of Kāuravas was led by ‘Suśarman’.

Though ‘Subāhu’, he was a joy to “Rāma”, for he had ‘beautiful arms’ and gave joy to “women”; though he had ‘two eyes’, he was “Śiva”, for he was a “great monarch” who ‘gazed on all alike’; though ‘made of pearls’, his “waist had no central jewel”, for he was ‘free from disease’ and “virile”; as a cloud [36] ‘terrifies flamingoes with showers of exceeding purity’, he ‘slew kings terrified by the edge of his flashing sword’; though a light upon a ‘pole’, his “wick was not consumed”, for he was the light of his ‘race’ and his “estate was unimpaired”.

The noble, resembling oceans with beauteous ‘mountains’, with ‘waters’ increased exceedingly, and with ‘contented creatures’, attained their highest growth through him who was, as it were, the moon when its “house has all its digits, removes the distress of night, opens the white lotuses”, [37] is a friend to “white lotus groves”, and “adorns a quarter of the sky”; for the noble, with ‘radiant limbs’, with ‘life’ increased exceedingly, and with ‘amiable qualities’, [38] attained their highest growth through him who was the “home of the aggregation of all virtues, delighted in Śiva’s way, destroyed his enemies”, was a friend of “pleasure groves on earth”, and had his “hopes fulfilled”.

And the hearts of women rejoiced at the sight of him who was like the God of the Dolphin Banner, causing ‘Aniruddha’ delight, ‘dear to Rati’, and ‘armed with an arrow of flowers’; for he caused ‘unimpeded’ delight, was a ‘friend of wantonness’, and ‘surpassed the Flower-God’. For him who was as the spring with the ‘attendant southern breeze’, with ‘sweet koel-notes’ pleasing the ear, expanding the ‘buds’, making the ‘forests bend’, [39] ‘delightsome with fragrant flowers’, with ‘lotuses’ easy for all to gather, possessing an abundance of ‘white thorn-apple trees’ spread abroad, but passing over the ‘wormwood’, damsels felt attachment, being like creepers of the forest with a thousand “buds”, crowded with “bees”, charming with “sprigs”, and with “sportive birds”; since he had a ‘continual income for the attendant nobles’, possessed a ‘sweet koel-voice’ pleasing the ear, expanded ‘love’, gave a ‘charming colour to women’, ‘delighted in learned sages’, possessed ‘good fortune’ easy for all to gather, spread abroad an abundance of ‘gold’, and surpassed his ‘foes’, while the damsels [40] were filled with a thousand “anxieties”, were sought by “lovers”, were charming because of their “coral necklaces”, and were at the “wanton age”.

And by his staff-like arm on the field of battle [41] the bow was gained, by the bow the arrows, by the arrows his foeman’s head, by this the world, by this a leader such as had never been before, by the leader fame, by fame the seven seas, by the seas the renown of the kings of the Kṛta and other ages, and by that constancy, and by this something marvellous every instant. And the periphery of the bosoms of the lovely wives of his foes, who had been consumed by the fire of his majesty, was deserted by their pearl necklaces, as if terrified by the blows of their hands.

[42] And his sword, as if coloured with lac from the feet of the Goddess of Victory which had been moistened with the blood of slain infantry, elephants, and horses, shone over a sea of conflict whose shores were covered with quantities of pearls fallen from must elephants’ frontal lobes which were shattered by sharp arrows, with flying ‘birds’, with hundreds of ‘rivers and white and blue lotuses’ whose manifold charms were spread through the ‘beautiful’ waters, with ‘dancing waters’, and terrible because of the fierce pride of the ‘cārubhaṭa’-fish which were eager to consort with the [43] ‘surasundarīs’; since it shone on a sea of conflict whose shores were covered with quantities of pearls fallen from must elephants’ frontal lobes which were shattered by sharp arrows, with flying ‘darts’, with hundreds of ‘fleshless, white-umbrellaed armies’ whose manifold charms were spread through the ‘red’ waters, with ‘convulsing corpses’, and terrible because of the fierce pride of ‘warriors’ eager to consort with the ‘Apsarasas’.

[44] Then, once upon a time, when the night was finished; when the Lotus-Lord of shell-like beauty was sinking with his spouse, the Night, into the western sea; while he was white, as it were, with the curds which constitute a morsel of food for (Buddhist) ascetics at their mealtime, and was like a mass of Yamunā’s foam by night, and resembled a fragment of stone for the polishing of Mēnakā’s nails, and had the shade of the soma-plant in the centre of his body, and resembled the silvern earring of a head laid softly down on the pillow of the western mount, and seemed to be the goblet of Lady Night containing a remnant of wine; [45] when the bees had their feet caught in the pollen of the white lotuses which had been converted into cold paste by the dew; when by their soft chatter the mainas revealed women at their rendezvous; when the huts of the ascetics awoke intent on study; when the streets resounded with poetic tales chanted by mendicants in the vibhāsa mode; [46] when the lamps seemed unable, because of their exceeding thinness, to bear the blackness of night which they had entirely swallowed up, and which they vomited, as it were, under the guise of lampblack, and were exhausted by having stretched their necks a hundred times as if to see the tremulous delights of amorous union, [47] and had been witnesses of manifold ways of wanton sport, seeming to protect the darkness lurking beneath them as if it were a refugee; when they had become ‘dull’ because their “oil” had been consumed as knaves become ‘slack’ because their “affections” have been consumed; when they had reached the end of their ‘wicks’ as the exceedingly aged reach the end of their ‘lives’; when they had only their ‘bowls’ left as noble lords reduced in their estate have only their ‘bodies’ left; [48] when they were ‘put in the middle of the house’ as demons ‘wander abroad at the end and middle of night’; when they had ‘moths’ flying about them as the ‘sun’ descends on the summit of the western mount; when the gifts of flowers in the boudoirs, that had been noisy with the humming of swarms of bees delighting in the abundance of unceasing drops of honey had withered; [49] when the downy Nepal jasmines had fallen from the tresses; when fair women seemed to be pouring forth teardrops for grief at separation from their lovers and, with bud-like feet tinkling with anklets, delayed, as it were, the departure of their best beloved; when the mist of perspiration had been dried by the wind of the wings of a swarm of bees enamoured of the perfume of the wreaths of half-opened Malabar jasmine in thick tresses dishevelled by weariness of intense passion in the waning night; [50] when damsels were tuneful with the jingle of the bracelets on their tremulous, slender arms while they illumined their apartments by the light of the rays of their milk-white teeth, revealed through their sobbing at the pain caused by the loosening of the hair which adhered to the fresh nail-marks; [51] while their attendants, wearied with importunities for another glimpse, saw lovers constantly; while (the damsels themselves) felt bashful just for an instant at the endearing words of the house-parrots who had remembered a hundred shameless speeches uttered in the night; [52] when they (the damsels) had the beauty, as it were, of an autumnal day with ‘clouds not adorned by sky’, for their ‘bosoms were adorned by the marks of nails’; when they seemed nigh unto death and had their faces set toward the ‘city of the Lord of Life’, for their faces were set toward their ‘lovers’ persons’; when they resembled a row of trees in a forest in the spring-tide abounding in ‘sap’, for they abounded in ‘anxiety’; when they were embraced by their lovers; when there blew a wind that rocked the filaments of the flowers and removed their pollen from the hair [53] of damsels wearing delightsomely tinkling jewels, whilst it had an abundance of expanded white lotuses, and caused pleasure, and rejoiced in union, and rained down a fire of chaff, as it were, on lonely girls lightly deserted by their lovers, and surrendered them wholly to the burning arrows of love, and carried far [54] the plaint of the Brahminy duck; then (Kandarpakētu) saw in a dream a damsel about eighteen years of age with her hips girt round with the bond of a girdle which was the gate of the city of delight of her thighs; which was the golden rampart of the great treasure-house of the city of joy; which was a trench for the line of the tendril of down; which was a halo for the disc of the moon of her hips; which had a golden inscription consisting of a line of down that proclaimed victory over the triple world; which was the line of the moat of the prison of the hearts of all men; [55] and was as the bar of the chamber of a flock of birds which were the glances of the world.

(She was) adorned with a waist which seemed full of sorrow through failure to see her moon-like face that was hidden by the burden of her swelling breasts; which appeared to be filled with weariness from the oppression of the urns of her bosom and the circlets of her heavy hips; which had apparently conceived a deep resentment for her massy buttocks; [56] which seemed filled with exhaustion from the restraining hand of the Creator who had compressed it exceedingly; and which had become extremely slender, as if on account of its anxious thought: ‘Suppose mine own breasts should fall on me like projections from a height’?

(She was) beautified by breasts with golden jewels filled with gems of passion; with nipples for seals; apparently nailed with iron under the guise of nipples through fear of falling because of their vast circumference; [57] accumulations of loveliness, as it were, remaining after the consecration of all her members; the lotuses, so to say, of the pool of the heart; possessed of the beauty of a pillow for the cheek of Love; the fruit of the tendril of the line of down; caskets full of the dust of the lure that increases the pride of passion; heavy with the fall of the hearts of all mankind; the fruits of the mighty tree of existence; the product of the great tree of youth; two Brahminy ducks, charming with necklaces of pearl for lotus-filaments; [58] fruits of the tree of Prayāga, which seemed to stand at the juncture of the line of down with her necklace of pearl; the solitary dwelling of the God of Love when overcome by weariness from the conquest of the triple world.

(She was) beauteous with a bud-like lower lip which had the glow of eventide in close proximity to her moon-like face; which had what seemed to be a minium seal as a guard for the jewels of her teeth; [59] which was coloured, as it were, by the flushing redness of her heart; which was, so to say, a fresh bud of the coral-tree from Passion’s sea. (She was) adorned by a pair of eyes which were longer than a very tender screw-pine blossom; with languidly tremulous glances; giving rise to a suspicion that they were the windows of wanton Love abiding in the inner chamber of her heart; causing beatitude by their very passion; [60] with redness in their corners as if for anger at her ears, which hindered their further extension; seeming to whiten all the world; making the sky seem filled with a forest of expanded lotuses; pouring forth, so to say, thousands of oceans of milk; seeming to surpass the loveliness of a garland of downy Nepal jasmine and blue lotus.

(She was) beautified by a nose which was the column of the balance for the jewels of her teeth; [61] the bridge betwixt the oceans of her eyes; a wall, as it were, between two elephants mad with youthful passion. (She was) adorned with delicate brows which were clusters of bees about her blue-lotus eyes; portals of her face that formed the abode of Love; the shores of Passion’s sea; wantoning in youthful dancing. She possessed, as it were, the loveliness of the sky in the rainy season [62] with ‘clouds’ swelling with beauty, for her ‘breasts’ swelled with beauty.

Like one who has gained the cry of Victory she stood on the tip of a trembling ‘balance’, for she had trembling ‘anklets’; she was like Suyōdhana’s valour while his eyes rested on ‘Karṇa’, for her eyes extended to her ‘ears’; she seemed to have the sportiveness of the Dwarfs in exhibiting his ‘destruction of Bali’, for she revealed her ‘furrowed folds’; she was like the station of the sun in Scorpio ‘after traversing Virgo and Libra’, for she ‘transcended comparison with other damsels’; [63] she rejoiced in ‘unblemished beauty’ as Uṣā rejoiced at the sight of ‘Aniruddha’; she had the ‘beauty of lovely eyes’ as Śacī ‘delighted in gazing on Indra’s pleasure groves’; she had, as it were, the sportful dancing of Śiva with his ‘quivering serpent’, for she had beautiful ‘eyes and ears’; she had lofty dark ‘nipples’ as a forest has lofty dark ‘bread-fruit trees’; [64] she was adorned with a ‘beautiful throat and with armlets’ as the army of monkeys was adorned by ‘Sugrīva and Aṅgada’.

She seemed to be made of planets: of the ‘Sun’, for she had a ‘shining’ ornament; of the ‘Moon’, for she had a ‘beautiful’ round face; of ‘Mars’, for she had a ‘rosy’ bud-like lower lip; of ‘Mercury’, for she had a ‘lovely’ appearance; of ‘Jupiter’, for she had ‘heavy’ round hips; of ‘Venus’, for she had ‘wide-open’ lotus eyes; of ‘Saturn’, for she had ‘slow-moving’ steps; of ‘Rāhu’, for she had ‘dark’ heavy hair.

She was a picture, as it were, on the wall of life; [65] the place of assembly, so to say, of the loveliness of the triple world; apparently the perfect elixir for the Great Ascetic in his youth; seemingly the place of Passion’s fancy; the repository, so it would seem, of delight; [66] the flag of conquest over the threefold earth, as it were, of the God of the Dolphin Banner; evidently the manifestation of intellect; the conqueror, it would seem, of Passion; a powder, so to say, to numb the senses; a power, one would think, to bewilder Love; apparently the joyous abode of beauty; the sole sanctuary, as it were, of good fortune; seemingly the place where loveliness had its origin; [67] well nigh a perfect seduction of the mind; almost a blind of the juggler Love; a production of the Creator, so to say, for the enchantment of the triple world.

Then, while he drank her in, as it were, with eyes dilated with joy, sleep, which he had long served, became jealous and deserted him. [68] But when he awoke, he was unable to sustain himself, being drowned, so to speak, in a sea of poison, and as if submerged in the words of his enemies. Thus then, for an instant, he embraced the sky, and with outstretched arms cried to his beloved, as if she were painted in the heavens, graven on his eye, and carven on his heart: ‘O, dearest one, come! come! Where dost thou go’? Then in that very place he passed the day on his bed, with his eyes closed, with all his attendants barred out, with the doors shut, [69] and refusing all enjoyment of food, betel, and the like. Thus, too, he spent the night as well with longings for the coming of the dream.

Then his confidential friend, named Makaranda, somehow gained entrance and thus addressed Kandarpakētu, who was overwhelmed with the wounds of the arrows of Love: ‘My friend, [70] why dost thou take to this unwonted course, which is unbecoming to a man of honour? When they behold this conduct of thine, the good are swayed by perplexity, while the wicked, on the other hand, make it out to be undesirable and indecorous; for the heart of the evil man finds its highest delight centred in bringing to light what is undesirable. Who, pray, can discern the true character of such an one?

‘Thus, even though a ‘Bhīma’, he is “no foe of Baka”, for he is ‘horrible’ and a “foe of them that praise him”; though a ‘fire’, he is a “wind”, for he is a ‘devourer of his own place of refuge’ and a “dog in his mother”; [71] though very ‘pungent’, he is of “fine flavour”, for he is very ‘cruel’ and “utterly insipid”; he does not abandon his ‘bitterness’, though “flattered by clasped hands and prostration at his feet”, even as mustard-oil abandons not its ‘sharpness’, though “caressed with both hands and held to the head”; he is ‘delightful on account of his freedom from faults’ (at first), but afterwards is unpleasant and “cruel” even as the fruit of the palmyra-palm tastes ‘pleasant at first’, but is disagreeable and “sharp” at the last; he, when ‘deserted’, wrinkles his brow even as the dust of the feet, when ‘shaken off’, discolours the head.

‘He ‘confirms his folly’ in proportion as he is “humoured” even as the fruit of the poison-tree ‘strengthens madness’ in proportion as it is “honoured”; [72] he has no lack of ‘enemies’ with his “bad conduct” even as there is no dearth of ‘water’ in “low ground”; he brings distress to the ‘good’ with his “great jealousy” even as a summer day brings distress to the ‘flowers’ with its “swarms of gnats”; he is cunning in binding ‘sins’ together and eager to “destroy the works of all men” even as the darkness is cunning in binding ‘night’ together and eager for “sunset”.

[73] ‘Though ‘Śiva’, he is “Viṣṇu”, for he is a ‘prince’ of “unseemly conduct”; he is ‘deaf’ and “praises not his subjects” even as Indra’s horse ‘cried aloud’ and “exulted in his birth from the ocean”; he agitates the heart of a good man, even though he is ‘disturbed’ and shows “affection”, like as the churning-stick agitates the heart of the cream, even though it is ‘separated’ and shows “butter”; [74] he is noisy with ‘self-praise’ and “garrulous of his wanderings in the worlds” even as an offering to the Yakṣas is noisy with ‘crows’ and “bears evidence of wandering dogs”; his visage is distorted from ‘entire lack of self-control’ and his “generosity” is suppressed even as a must elephant fixes his distorted visage on ‘his female’ and suppresses his “ichor”; he is ‘not alarmed by fear of God’ even as a bull is ‘wearied from union with the cow’.

‘He is ‘miserable through his disgrace of his family’ and is devoted to “evil ways” even as a paramour is ‘distressed by an error in his name’ and is devoted to the “way of the fair”; [75] he causes slowness in ‘softly modulated and excellent’ speech even as the disease of indigestion causes slowness in ‘body’ (and) speech; he is devoted to the ‘breaking of agreements’ and a friend of the “foes of his lord” even as a jackal is devoted to the ‘flesh of a corpse’ and delights in the “night”; [76] ‘the sight of him causes distress to his kindred’ even as a corpse is ‘deprived of the use of its eyes’; he destroys ‘good fortune’ even as the axe cuts the ‘sandal-wood’; he ‘destroys his family’ and cuts down “men gifted with patience” even as the spade ‘cleaves the earth’ and cuts down the “creatures that share in the soil”; [77] he engages in ‘low actions’ even as a dog engaged in ‘venereal acts’ makes good folk ashamed; he, for all his ‘charms of hair and face’, has no pleasure in his “lute, skilful though he is” like as a must elephant ‘delights in the forest’, yet has no pleasure in the “spreading greensward, even though he traverses it.”

[78] ‘The shoots of evil vices are born without seed and grow without a stock, and hard they are to uproot; if a particle of iniquity enters into the heart of the wicked, it is a terrible thing. But into the heart of the good it enters not; and if at any time it does enter, [79] it is like quicksilver, unstable for an instant; the virtuous, even as deer, are obedient to the voice of one who knows their pleasure; persons like thee easily capture the heart of a friend as do the wagtails of the autumn-tide; and the wise give no unseemly counsel, while the friendship of the foolish is thrown on the side of profit. [80] And likewise, when milk, fancying that “water is as milk because of its sweetness, coolness, purity, and healing of distress,” enters into friendship (with water), destruction is wrought by water itself, when it reflects that “ruin has come in times gone by through the decoction of me myself, increased by union with that (milk).” This conduct is, therefore, extraordinary; follow the course, my friend, which is customary among the upright; [81] the noble themselves go utterly astray by mistaking their direction.’

When he (Makaranda) had said this, and more to the same effect, Kandarpakētu, dominated by the wounds of many arrows of Love, somehow said slowly: ‘Good friend, my mind is confused by a ‘hundred afflictions’ as Diti was confused by ‘Indra’. This is no time for advice; my limbs seem to be on fire; [82] my faculties are boiling, so to speak; my vitals feel as if bursting; my breath is almost leaving me; my senses are wellnigh eradicated; and my memory is destroyed. Now, therefore, if thou didst share the sorrows and joys of our playing together in the dust, then follow me.’ So speaking he went forth from the city with him, unnoticed by his retinue.

Straightway, after going a distance of several hundred nalvas, a great mountain, called Vindhya, was seen with its thousand peaks bowed down to earth, restrained by Agastya’s word; [83] with its sides thronged with hundreds of savages eager to slaughter hundreds of female yaks who had been delighted by hearing the songs of pairs of Vidyādharas (then) slumbering peacefully in the bowers within its caves; with its rocky sides cooled by breezes bearing the perfume of trickling yellow sandal-wood broken and dragged down by the trunks of the elephants on its ridges; [84] with the monkeys eager to lick their paws wet with the sap of the palmyra-palm fruit which had been broken by its exceedingly long fall; with its borders fragrant with the perfume of the juice of various fruits sipped again and again by pairs of chickores dwelling near its overhanging cascades; [85] seeming to sustain a host of stars clinging to its summit since its peak was speckled by pearls fallen from the temples of must elephants which had been cloven by the edges of the sharp claws of thousands of bold lions.

The shadow of its foot was haunted by ‘bears, gayals, griffins, lions, and lotuses’ as Sugrīva [86] had the shadow of his feet honoured by ‘Ṛkṣa, Gavaya, Sarabha, Kēsari, and Kumuda’: its ‘peace was disturbed by the exhalations of elephants’ as the Lord of Cattle has his ‘ashes disturbed by the hissing of his serpent’; it had a ‘chaplet of beautiful forests’ as Janārdana wears ‘beautiful sylvan garlands’; it had ‘dita-bark and syandana-trees’ as the God of a Thousand Rays has a ‘chariot with seven steeds’; [87] it was ‘full of caverns and infested with jackals’ as Śiva had ‘Kartikēya near him and was attended by Pārvatī’; it was full of ‘jungles and wastes and was covered with white thorn-apples’ as a paramour is filled with ‘petulance and passion for his mistress and is amorous’; it had ‘Arabian jasmine-plants and Arjuna-trees’ as Śrīparvata has the ‘Mallikārjuna’ near it; [88] it had ‘Italian panic and bind-weed’ as Naravāhanadatta was the ‘husband of Priyaṅguśyāmā; it ‘formed a place for emblic myrobalan-trees’ as a child is ‘held by its nurse’; it had a series of forests rosy with the ‘reddish lustre of ruddle as the dawn of day makes the series of forests rosy with the ‘radiance of the mountain-born Aruṇa’; it was impenetrable on account of ‘many creeping plants’ as the dark lunar fortnight is impenetrable on account of its ‘blackness’; it had gifts of a ‘hundred crores’ as Karṇa had the gift of ‘Indra’s bolt’; [89] it was covered with ‘tail feathers moulted by peacocks’ as Bhīṣma was covered with ‘crescent-headed arrows’; it was filled with ‘elephants and was fragrant from the perfume of its jungles’ as the Kāmasūtra was written by ‘Mallanāga and contains the delight and enjoyment of mistresses’; it was a refuge for the race of ‘deer’ as Hiraṇyakaśipu was a refuge for the race of ‘Śambara’.

Because of the guise of its ruddle it seemed to have been employed by Aruṇa to trace the path of the chariot of the sun; [90] it watched, as it were, the journey of Agastya with eyes dilated because the sun and moon had come upon its summit; on account of the old sloughs of snakes it seemed to have a mass of entrails hanging out; as Kumbhakarṇa had a host of monkeys come within his ‘teeth’, it had a host of monkeys come upon its ‘summit’; [91] it had bowers of screw-pines for the rendezvous of the assembled nymphs of Śacī’s Lord who marked their pathway with a series of footprints dyed with red henna.

Though of ‘no family’, it was adorned by a “noble ancestry”, for it did ‘not cling to the ground’ and it was “adorned with beautiful bamboos”; though it was ‘evidently safe’, it yielded the “fruit of death”, for it had ‘hara-nut trees’ and yielded “plantains”; though ‘measured’, it was “measureless”, for it had ‘plateaus’ and was “immeasurable”; [92] though ‘noisy’, it was “silent”, for it had a ‘river’ and was “still”; though a ‘Bhīma’, it was a friend of “Kīcaka”, for it was ‘terrible’ and a friend of “reeds”; though it hid its ‘garments’, it had brilliant “raiment”, for it hid the ‘sky’ and had brilliant “sunbeams”.

[93] It showed, moreover, a ‘malady of many of its components’ as if by a “great abdominal swelling”, for it indicated a ‘change of many metals’ by its “thick bushes”; as a good man shows his ‘greatness’ by “habits of mercy”, it showed its ‘loftiness’ by the “course of the planets on its summits”.

As the Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya philosophies conceal the views of the ‘Digambara Jains’, it concealed the view of the ‘quarters of heaven and of the sky’. It also had its vicinage adorned with pools which were delightful on account of the appearance of the ‘blue lotus’, as the Harivaṃśa is delightful on account of the appearance of ‘Puṣkara’; [94] that were thronged with ‘pairs of fishes and with crabs’ as the Zodiac has ‘Pisces, Gemini, and Cancer’; and that had hosts of ‘birds, elephants, galangal, and young medlar-trees’ as the parts of the day have the host of ‘Śakuni, Nāga, Bhadra, and Vālava’. It also showed manifold ‘metrical’ charms with “kusumavicitrās, vaṃśapatrapatitas, sukumāralalitās, puṣpitāgrās, śikhariṇīs, praharṣiṇīs and latās”, since it showed manifold charms ‘produced’ through its “creepers, lovely on account of their flowers, which had fallen on the bamboo leaves, tender in their grace, tipped with blossoms, crested, and charming.”

[95] As if by a very dear mistress with outstretched wavy arms, it was embraced, furthermore, by the Rēvā, whose waters were perfumed by the abundance of the drops of liquid which had fallen from the fragments of fullblown lotuses shaken by many monstrous tails of bhāḥkūṭa-fish that had been terrified by the notes, indistinct for passion, of geese and herons; whose waters had been drunk up by the circling navels of beauties of Pulinda kings at their evening ablutions; [96] whose banks resounded with the din of flamingoes noisy with passion; whose waters were curdled with drops of the streams of ichor exuded from the temple lobes of must elephants near its banks; with the gardens on its shores witnesses to the triturition of the tremulous sport of pairs of young deities delightfully ensconced on the sand formed by the abundant dust fallen from the forests of screw-pines that grew along its banks; [97] in whose waters dove the nymphs who dwelt in bowers within bits of rose-apple that had fallen near the forests on its banks; whose environs were lauded by pairs of divinities drawn by curiosity at the sound of the sweet, low notes of the many gallinules that nestled in the creepers of chair-bottom cane growing on its shores; [98] whose banks were strident with the screams of multitudes of wild cocks whose nests thronged the bowers of reeds that had sprung up near its shores; whose soft banks were trodden by the water nymphs; whose tremulous waves were rippled by the breezes from the gardens; [99] whose demi-carp were watched by female herons which had entered the numerous bowers of reeds; whose reed-forests were terrible from supporting paddy birds eager for the shoals of small fish; the water near whose bank was coloured by the shoals of exceedingly quick rājilas fleeing from the sight of the uddaṇḍapālas who moved within the circles of its rippling waves; [100] whose shores were dug up by hundreds of barbarians whose greed for getting treasure had been aroused by the sight of the mating of pairs of wagtails.

[101] As if angry, it displayed a ‘distortion of its face’, for it displayed an ‘outlet and waves’; drunk, so to say, it had a ‘tottering gait’, for it had a ‘winding current’; it was the beauty of the dawn, as it were, that gives ‘time’ increase, for it gave its ‘shores’ increase; it was like unto the place of combat of the Bhāratas with ‘quivering corpses’, for it had ‘dancing waters’; it was, one might fancy, the rainy season with ‘peacocks appearing but serpents hidden’, for its ‘pools were hid by expanded lotuses’; [102] it seemed to be one who courts a ‘king’ out of desire for gain, for it courted the ‘mountain’. And also —

Even to-day it seems to call on him
Who from a jar was born, while on its heights
Loud scream the elephants, with temples rent
By tawny lions’ fearsome claws and keen.

Then said Makaranda:

[103] ‘Behold this lion with his sinewy frame,
Now rising high behind and now before;
His curving tail along his archèd back.
His cavernous mouth, and white-tipped fangs agleam;
Yea, and his ears erect, the while he springs
Upon the lordly king of elephants.

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