Chapter 106 — Chudala Weds Sikhidhwaja

Vasishta resumed:—

After several days passed this way, Chudala, in her disguise as the pretended brahmin boy Kumbha, spoke to her husband.

“Hear me, O lotus-eyed prince,” she said, “to what I tell you in good earnest, because I am obliged to become a woman every night and continue to be so for ever more. I wish to fulfill the part of my womanhood by joining myself to a husband by legal marriage for all that time. I want to taste the pleasure of conjugal union with my dear friend, who is of his own accord so very friendly to me without any endeavor on my part. So I hope you will place no difficulty in my way.”

5 “I choose you sage, as my husband, of all others in the three worlds. Therefore be pleased to accept me for your wife every night. The delightful pleasure of conjugal union has come down to us ever since the commencement of creation. Therefore our obedience to the ordinance of nature can cause no guilt on our part. I desire that we may do as we like without desiring or disliking anything, and that we be far from expecting the consequence of what we like or dislike.”

Sikhidhwaja answered, “Friend, I see neither good nor evil in accepting your proposal. You are at liberty to do as you like. Being indifferent my mind to everything in the world, I see everything in the same and in an equal light. So I let you have your choice as you may like.”

10 Kumbha replied, “If so, then I say that this day is very favorable for celebrating the wedding ceremony. It is the full moon of Sravana and an all lucky constellation according to my best calculation. 11 On this day of the full moon, our marriage may take place both during the day as well as at night in the gandharva form (by mutual consent). 12 It will be celebrated either on the summit of Mahendra Mountain or on the delightful tableland there about, or in the cave of some mineral mine, and in the light of the shining gems and mineral ores in the mountain.”

13 “Rows of stately trees all around will shed their flowers at the nuptial ceremony. The twining vines on them will represent the dance of dancing girls by their twisting and shaking. 14 Let the bright luminary of the night, accompanied by his consort retinue of shining stars, witness our marriage from the high sky with their wide open and glaring eyes.”

15 “Rise, O king, for your wedding. Let us both hasten to select the forest flowers and prepare the sandal paste and collect the scattered gems with which to decorate our wedding seats.”

16 Saying so, they both rose together and picked the flowers and collected the gems. 17 Then in a short time, they went to the shining land and heaped it with flowers of various kinds. 18 They had their wedding clothing and necklaces ready on the spot, and the god of love helped with supplying everything required on the occasion. 19 Having thus prepared the items of their wedding ceremony and stored them in a golden cave of the mountain, they both went to sacred stream of the heavenly Ganges Mandakini for making their holy ablutions therein.

20 Here Kumbha served as the priest, pouring the holy water profusely on the lofty head and elevated shoulders of the king, just as the elephantine clouds of Indra pour rainwater in plentiful showers on the towering tops and height of hills. 21 Similarly, the king acted the part of the ministering prince, washing the body of his beloved princess now in the form of Kumbha. Thus the two friends anointed and wiped clean the bodies of their former and future consorts. 22 Bathed and purified, they adored the gods, the munis and the spirits of their ancestors for the sake of their honor and without any desire of getting any good or gain from them, for they well knew that there was nothing to benefit themselves from their service to the gods, deified spirits and divine sages.

23 They took their frugal food as their nature and the course of the world required, seasoned with the nectarine juice of their good and refined intelligence. 24 They wore the whitish bark of kalpa trees as their clean wedding clothes and ate its fruit as their wedding cakes. Then they went to the altar for their wedding ceremony. 25 At this time the sun descended below his setting mountain, as if to complete their conjugal union in secret. 26 It now became dark and twilight. They discharged their evening service and offered their prayers. Groups of stars appeared in the sky to witness their union in marriage. 27 Then came the dark night as the only friend of the happy pair, spreading the veil of darkness over the face of nature and smiling with the blushing of snow white lotuses and lilies of the valley.

28 Kumbha collected rich stones and placed those shining on the tableland of the mountain, while Brahma lighted his two lamps of the sun and moon together in the heavens. 29 Being then changed to the female form, Kumbha anointed the king with fragrant sandalwood paste, agallochum, camphor powder and pulverized musk. 30 She adorned his body with strings, bracelets and wristlets of flowers, and dressed it in a robe of thin kalpa tree bark. 31 His body was also decorated head to foot with the filaments of kalpa plant, clusters of parijata flowers, and many other flowers and gems. 32 She appeared in her bridle garb and maiden-like figure, with her big and swollen breasts and all her youthful grace and allurements.

33 She thought that as she was now attired and appeared as a marriage bride, she must now offer herself to a husband worthy to her. 34 “Here I am as a lovely bride,” she thought to herself, “and there is my husband in my presence. I must ask him to accept my hand. This is not the time to withdraw the hand.” 35 So saying, she approached her husband sitting apart from her in the wood. She appeared like Rati, the goddess of love, advancing towards her loving Kama.

36 She went to him and said, “I am Madanika by name and your loving wife. Therefore I bow down at your feet with the regard due to a husband.” 37 So saying, the beautiful lady bent down her head with female bashfulness and made her obeisance to her lord with the pendant locks on her head. 38 Then she said to him, “O my lord, adorn me with ornaments then light the marriage fire to affirm your acceptance of my hand. 39 You appear exceedingly fair to my eyes. You make me quite fond of you. You seem to surpass the god of love in your beauty, even when he wedded his Rati at first in his youthful bloom. 40 O prince, these flower wreathes on your body look like the bright beams in the body of the moon. To me, those strings of flowers hanging on your chest look like the stream of Ganges gliding on the breast of Sumeru Mountain. 41 With the flowing braided hairs on your head, you look like Mandara Mountain with clusters of vines hanging down from its top. Your head appears like a golden lotus with its hanging hairs resembling the filaments of the flower and covered with strings of blackening bees. 42 The shining ornaments and flowery decorations of your body add a light and gracefulness of Mount Meru, with its mineral ores on one side and its floral beauty on the other.”

43 After her flattering speech was over, the new bride and bridegroom and future husband and wife sat contented together, unmindful and forgetful of their past conjugal relation. 44 The brave princess, now Madanika by name, and the noble prince Sikhidhwaja the saint both sat together on a golden seat, which added fresh luster to the beauty and decoration of their bodies. 45 They were bedecked with their headdresses, garlands of flowers and ornaments of gems and pearls, and were furnished with flowers and ointments and clad in fine cloths all over their bodies. 46 The young lady Madanika blazed like Rati with her maddening beauty. She appeared like the goddess Gauri, the excellent model of beauty, at her wedding festivity.

47 The noble lord having adorned his noble lady with his own hands, spoke to her. “O deer-eyed lady, you are as graceful as the goddess Lakshmi of grace and prosperity. 48 I pray that all prosperity attend on you as it does with Sachi, the queen of heaven, in the company of her lord Indra, and as it existed between Hara and Gauri, and between Hari and his consort Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune. 49 You look like a clear lake of lotuses, your breasts blooming like lotus buds and your black-blue eyes resembling blue lotuses. The sweet fragrance of your lotus-like body invites buzzing bees fluttering all about you. 50 You also appear like the tender shoot of the kalpa plant of Kama, your red palms resembling its reddish leaves and your swollen breasts like its blooming buds, and every part of your body is as delicate as its delicious fruits. 51 With your cooling body and your moonlike face and its smiles like moonbeams, you are as beautiful as the full moon and equally delightful to sight. 52 Rise therefore my beautiful lady and ascend on the matrimonial altar and there perform the wedding ceremony standing on the slab of stone marked with creeping plants and their fruits.”

53 Vasishta said:—

The altar was studded with strings of pearls, bunches of flowers suspended on all sides. It had four large coconuts hung over the four sides of its square. 54 Pots filled with holy water from the Ganges were set about it, and the sacred matrimonial fire was lighted amidst it, fed with sandalwood and other fragrances. 55 They walked around the flaming fire clockwise, then sat on seats of leaves with their faces turned towards the east. 56 After sitting on the altar, the matrimonial couple lighted the nuptial fire and made offerings of sesame seeds and fried rice upon its flames.

57 Having lifted the wife with his own hands, the husband and wife appeared like Shiva and Parvati in the forest. The married pair turned again about the sacred fire, and offered to each other their own selves and loves as their marriage dowries. 58 They showed their shining faces to one another as their nuptial presents, and completed the ceremony by going round the fire and scattering the fried rice upon it. 59 The husband and wife now parted other hands from their hold of the palms of one another. Their smiling faces appeared like the lunar disc on the new moon.

60 After this, when the moon had already run her course of the first watch of the night, they went to sleep on a flowery bedstead which they had newly prepared. 61 The moon cast her beams to fall aslant on the bedstead, as when attendant women cast their glances askance on the bridal bed. 62 She next spread her bright beams all about the couple’s leafy covered shelter, as if to listen to the pleasant conversation of the new married couple. 63 The pair, having sat awhile in the light of mineral lamps, retired to their sleeping bed which they had prepared in a secluded spot.

64 It was a bedding of flowers covered with heaps of flowers of various kinds. 65 There were heaps of lotuses of golden color, as also mandara and other sorts of flowers, to drive away fatigue by their fragrance. 66 The flat of the flowery bed of the bridal pair resembled the plane of the broad and bright moon, and a level surface covered by cooling ice. 67 It also resembled the wide sea whose waters are permeated by the bright moon and whose surface supplies a bed to Ananta, the sleeping serpent of the infinite god Vishnu.

68 The loving pair then lay themselves down and rolled upon their snow white bed of flowers, as when Mandara Mountain rolled about and churned the Milky Ocean. 69 They passed their bridal night caressing each other and conversing on topics of love. The entire night glided before them as if only a few moments.