Chapter 105 — Kumbha’s Story of Being Cursed by Durvasa, Nightly Changing into a Female

Sikhidhwaja said, “If such is the case, sage, that destiny overrules all events, why should you be sorry for anything that has happened to you? You know you are a son of a god and you know the knowable.”

Kumbha replied:—

Hear, O prince, the wonderful accident that has occurred to me. I will relate to you all that has happened to me in this body. The heart becomes light when its grief is shared with a friend, just as the thickened gloom of clouds dissipate after they discharge their waters in rain. The troubled mind is restored to its serenity by its communication with a sincere friend, just as the muddy waters of a jar are cleared by filtering with kata seeds.

5 After I left here, by handing over the stalk of flowers to you, I traversed though the regions of air until I reached the heavenly abode of the god. There I met my father and accompanied him to the court of the great Indra, where having sat a while, I got up with my father and then departed from him at his abode. Leaving the seat of the gods in order to come down on earth, I entered the region of air. I kept my pace with the fleet steeds of the chariot of the sun in the airy paths of the skies. Thus sailing together with the sun, I reached the point of my separation from him and there took my path through the midway sky, as if I were sailing in the sea.

I saw there, in a track before me, a path stretching amidst the watery clouds of air, and marked the angry sage Durvasa gliding swiftly by it. 10 He was wrapped in the covering of clouds and encircled with girdles of flashing lightning. The sandal taints on his body were washed off by showering rains and he seemed like a maiden making her way in haste to meet her lover at the appointed place. 11 Like a devotee he hastened to discharge his fond devotions on the beach of the River Ganges, flowing under the shade of the boughs of the rows of trees on the shore.

12 I saluted the sage from my aerial seat, and said, “You, wrapped as you are in your blue vest of the cloud, seem to advance in haste, like an amorous woman going to meet her lover.”

13 Hearing this, the reverend sage was angered and pronounced his curse upon me saying, “Be you transformed to the amorous woman you think me to be. 14 Go your way and bear my curse, that every night you shall become a woman with protuberant breasts and long braids of hairs on your head, filled with all feminine grace and dalliance.” 15 I was thunderstruck and deeply dejected at this curse. I found the old muni had already disappeared from before me, then I turned my course this way from the upper sky, being quite sick in my heart.

16 Thus I have related to you everything about my being changed to a lady at the approach of night. My constant thoughts are how I shall manage myself under my womanhood. 17 How shall I divulge to my father the shame of becoming a swollen breasted maid at night? How can I reconcile myself to my terrible fate throughout the course of my life? O how wonderful is the decree of fate that we are fated to bear in this world in the course of time!

18 Now I am unlucky to become a prey for young men and the subject of fighting among them, like a piece of flesh among hungry vultures. 19 O what fun have I become to the ludicrous children of the gods in heaven! Ah, how shameful have I been before the sages who must be quite ashamed of me. How shall I remain anywhere and before anybody in my female form at night?

20 Vasishta said:—

After saying this much, Chudala became as mute as a silent muni. She remained as quiet as if she were in a swoon. 21 Then the pretended Kumbha, seeming to recover his senses and his patience also, spoke out to himself, “Ah! why do I wail like the ignorant when my soul suffers no change by this?”

22 Sikhidhwaja spoke:—

Sage, why do you sorrow for the body? You are the son of a god. Whatever may happen to the body, it can never affect the intangible soul. 23 Whatever pain or pleasure befalls us in this life, it all affects the changing body and can never touch the unchanging soul.

24 If you are acquainted with the Vedas and fortified against all events, you should not allow yourself to be so much moved by these accidents. You are not like others who are constantly subject to all the casualties of life. 25 To be sorry in sorrow is very sorrowful in the wise. Therefore you who have spoken these precepts before should not now be overwhelmed in sorrow. Remain as unmoved as you are wont to be unshaken all along.

26 Vasishta related:—

In this did the two hearty friends continue to grieve with one another, consoling each other by turns under the cooling shade of the grove where they sat together. 27 At last the bright sun, who is the light of the world, set down in darkness like lamp without oil. Kumbha was despondent at the prospect of her female form.

28 The full blown lotuses closed their leaves like the closing eyelids of the busy dwellers of the world. Footpaths became as deserted by their passengers as the hearts of loving wives are lonely in the absence of their husbands who are devoted to travelling and staying in distant countries. 29 The upper sky borrowed the appearance of the lower earth by spreading the curtain of darkness over groups of its twinkling stars, like the outstretched nets of fishermen enfolding fish. 30 The black dome of the sky was smiling above with its retinue of shining stars, just like the blue beds of lakes rejoiced with their chains of blooming lilies below. The land resounded with the noise of black bees and beetles and the cries of reddish geese on the water.

31 The two friends rose and offered their evening prayers at the rising of the moon, chanted their hymns and muttered their mantras, and took their shelter under the forest retreat. 32 Afterwards Kumbha, changed as he was to a female form, and sitting before Sikhidhwaja, spoke his faltering speech to him in the following manner.

33 “Sage, I seem to fall down, cry out and melt away in my tears to see myself even now changed to my feminine figure in your presence. 34 See sage, how quickly the hairs on my head lengthen into curling locks, and how they sparkle with strings of pearls fastened to them, like the brilliant clusters of stars in the azure sky. 35 Look here at two snowy balls bulging out of my bosom, like two white lotus buds rising on the surface of waters in the spring season.”

36 “Look how my long robe is stretched down to the heels and how it covers my whole body, like that of a female. 37 Look at these shining ornaments and wreathes of flowers decorating my body, like the blooming blossoms of spring ornamenting the forest tree. 38 Lo! the moon-bright vest covering the crown of my head and the necklaces hanging about my body. 39 Look at my features, how they are converted to their feminine attractiveness, and see how my whole body is graced all over with feminine loveliness.”

40 “O! how very great is my sorrow at my sudden change into a woman. Tell me friend, what am I to do and where to go with this my female form? 41 I perceive also the change in my inner parts and in my thighs and posterior.” Kumbha said this much to her friend, then remained quite mute and silent.

42 The king also, seeing him thus, remained in mute gaze and silence. Then after a while, he opened his mouth and spoke as follows, 43 “Of course it is very sorrowful and pitiable to see you transformed this way into a female. But you, sage who knows the truth, also know that there is no contending with fate. 44 Whatever is destined must come to pass. Wise men must not be startled or feel sorry because all events affect only the body and cannot affect the inner soul.”

45 Kumbha replied, “So it is, and I must bear my feminine form with an unfeminine soul. 46 I will no more sorrow for what is never to be averted, but must endure with patience what I cannot reject.”

Relying on this principle, they alleviated their sorrow for what was impossible to avoid. 47 They passed their nights in peace and slept in the same bed without touching one another.

Kumbha rose in the morning in his masculine form again, without any trace of his female features, feminine beauty or grace. 48 Kumbha was Kumbha again by being divested of his female form. Thus he passed as bisexual and having two forms being of the brahmin boy Kumbha by day and of Chudala the princess by night. 49 In his male form, Kumbha continued as a friend to the king in the daytime. In the female form of Chudala, he lived as a virgin maid with him at night. 50 Thus did Chudala cling to her husband like a necklace hangs upon a person’s neck and breast.

They continued to wander in each other’s company to different countries and over distant hills to satisfy their curiosity.