Chapter 77 — The Story of Chudala and Sikhidhwaja

Vasishta related:—

Rama, keep your view fixed to one object, like Bhagiratha. Pursue your calling with a calm and quiet understanding, as was done by that steady minded king in the accomplishment of his purpose! Give up your thoughts of this and that and confine the flying bird of your mind within your bosom. Remain in full possession of yourself following the example of the resolute King Sikhidhwaja of old.

Rama asked, “Who was this Sikhidhwaja, sage? How did he maintain the firmness of his purpose? Please explain this to me fully in order to enlighten my understanding.”

Vasishta replied:—

In a former Age of Bronze (dwapara yuga) there lived a loving pair of consorts who are again to be born in a future period, in the same manner and at the same place.

5 Rama replied, “Tell me, O great preacher! How can the past be the same as now? How can these again be the same in the future?”

Vasishta replied:—

Such is the irreversible law of destiny and course of nature that the creation of the world must continue in the same manner by the unchanging will of the creator Brahma and others. As those which had been plentiful before come to be at plentiful again, so the past appears at present and also in future. Many other things come to being that had not been before, and many others become extinct in course of time. Some reappear in their former forms and some only resemble them. Others change their forms, and many more disappear altogether. These and many other things are seen in the course of the world. The character who is the subject of this story bears an exact resemblance to the past king of the same name.

10 But let me also tell you that there is yet to be born another king as valiant as the one that had been in the former Dwapara Yuga of the past seventh Manvantara period. 11 It will be after the four yugas of the fourth creation, past and gone, that he will be born again of the Kuru family in the vicinity of the Vindhyan Hills in the continent of Asia.

12 There lived a king named Sikhidhwaja in the country of Malava who was handsome and endowed with firmness and magnanimity in his nature and had the virtues of patience and self control in his character. 13 He was brave but silent and ever inclined to good acts with all his great virtues. He was engaged in the performance of the religious sacrifices and also defeating competitors on the field of archery. 14 He did many public acts and supported the poor people of the land. He was of a graceful appearance and self-satisfied in his countenance. He loved all men with his great learning in the scriptures. 15 He was handsome, quiet and fortunate, equally brave and virtuous. He was a preacher of morality and bestowed all benefits to his suitors. 16 He enjoyed all luxuries in the company of good people and listened to the lessons of the Sruti scriptures. He knew all knowledge without any boasting on his part, and he hated to touch women.

17 His father departed for the next world, leaving him a lad of sixteen years, yet at that tender age he was able to govern his kingdom and defeated his adversaries on all sides. 18 He conquered all other regions of the country using the resources of his empire. He remained free from all fear by ruling his subjects with justice and keeping them in peace. 19 He brightened all by his intelligence and the wisdom of his ministers, until with the course of years he came to his youth in the colorful spring of the year.

20 It was spring and he saw blooming flowers glistening brightly under bright moonbeams. He saw budding blossoms hanging down the trees in the inner apartments. 21 The doorways of the covered shelters were overhung with intertwined branches decorated with small flowers scattering their fragrant pollen like white camphor powder. Rows of guluncha flowers blew their scents all around. 22 There was the loud hum of bees buzzing with their mates upon flowery bushes. Gentle warm breezes blew the sweet scent upward amidst the cooling showers of moonbeams. 23 He saw banks decorated with kadali shrubs glistening with their shining blossoms under the dark shade of plantain leaves.

All this excited his yearning after a dear one who was seated in his heart. 24 Giddy with the intoxication of the honey draughts of fragrant flowers, his mind was fixed on a beloved. He did not depart from his thoughts, just as spring is unwilling to quit the flowery garden.

25 “When shall I swing in the cradles of my pleasure garden, sport in this lake of lotuses, and play with my love-smitten maid with her budding breasts resembling two buds of golden lotuses? 26 When shall I embrace my beloved to my bosom on my bed daubed with the dust of powdered frankincense? When shall we on cradle among lotus stalks, like a pair of bees sucking honey from flowers? 27 When shall I see that maiden lying relaxed in my arms, her slender body like a tender stalk, fair as a string of milk-white kunda flowers, or a plant formed of moonbeams? 28 When will that moonlike beauty be inflamed with her love for me?”

With these and similar thoughts and ravings, King Sikhidhwaja wandered about the garden looking at the variety of flowers. 29 Then he rambled among flower gardens and outskirts of forests, straying from one forest to another by the sides of swirling lakes blooming with full blown lotuses. 30 He entered gardens formed by twining vines and walked over avenues of many garden grounds and forest lands, seeing and hearing the descriptions of woodland sceneries from his friends. 31 His mind was distracted and he took much delight in hearing discourses on erotic subjects. The only idol in his heart was the bright form of his garlanded and painted beloved. 32 He adored the maiden in his heart, her breasts resembling two golden pots on her bosom, and this purpose was soon discovered by the wise ministers of that state.

33 The business of ministers is to dive into matters by their signs and prognosis, so these officers met together to deliberate on his marriage. 34 They proposed the young daughter of the King of Saurastra for his marriage. She was coming to the full age of puberty, so they regarded her as a proper match for him. 35 The young king was married to a worthy image of himself, the fair Princess Chudala, known all over the land.

36 She was joyful in having him like a lotus bud opening with the rising sun. He made the black-eyed maid bloom like the moon opens the bud of the blue lotus. 37 He delighted her with his love as if making the white lotus bloom. Each inflamed the other’s passions by abiding in the other’s heart. 38 She flourished with her youthful enticements and dalliance, like a new grown vine blooming with flowers, and he was happy and careless in her company, leaving the affairs of state to the management of his ministers. 39 He played in the company of his lady love like a swan paling in a bed of lotuses in a large lake. He indulged his frolics in his swinging cradles and pleasure ponds in the inner apartments. 40 They delighted in the gardens and covered arbors of vines and flowering plants. They amused themselves in the woods walking under sandalwood and gulancha vine shades. 41 They played by rows of mandara trees and beside the lines of plantain and kadali plants. They regaled themselves wandering in the harem and by the sides of the woods and lakes on the outskirts of the town. 42 They wandered far in distant forests and deserts, and in jungles of jam and jambira trees, passing by paths bordered by jasmine plants. In short, they took delight in everything in each other’s company.

43 Their attachment to each another was as delightful to the people as the union of the raining sky with the cultivated ground. Both are productive for the general welfare of mankind. 44 Both were skilled in the arts of love and music. They were so united by their love for each other that one was the counterpart of the other. 45 Being seated in each other’s heart, they were like two bodies with one soul. They shared and taught each other his learning of the scriptures and her skill in painting and fine arts. 46 Since childhood, Chudala had been instructed in every branch of learning, and she taught Sikhidhwaja the arts of dancing and playing musical instruments. 47 They learned and became learned in the respective arts and parts of one another, just as when the sun and moon are in conjunction, they partake of each other’s qualities. 48 Each dwelling in the other’s heart, they became one and the same person sharing the same inclinations and pursuits and becoming more and more endeared to one another. 49 They were joined in one person, like the earthly equivalent of the androgynous body of Uma and Shiva. They were united in one soul, just like the different fragrances of flowers are mixed up in the same air. Their clarity of understanding and their knowledge of the scriptures led them both in the one and same way.

50 They were born on earth to perform their roles as if they were the god Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. They were equally frank and sweet in their affections for each other, and as eager to share their learning with others. 51 They followed the course of laws and customs and attended to the people’s affairs. They delighted in the arts and science, and also enjoyed their sweet pleasures. They were like two moons shining brightly. 52 They tasted all the sweet enjoyments of life in the quiet and solitary recesses of their private apartments like a couple of giddy swans playing merrily in the lake of the blue sky.