Chapter 108 — Chudala again Tests Sikhidwaja by Taking a Lover; then Manifests in Her Own Form

Vasishta related:—

The queen retracted the enchantment by which she had presented the god Indra before the king. She was glad to find that he had subdued his desire of enjoyment. He remained with perfect tranquility and equanimity of his mind at the appearance and in the presence of the god Indra, fearless, indifferent and unmoved by the god’s persuasion.

“I will again try to know by some means or other whether this prince is subject to the passions of anger or annoyance or any other feeling, which serve at best but to blindfold the understanding.” With this intention she assumed the form of the chaste Madanika at the approach of night, when the moon had already appeared above that forest land. 5 The wind was blowing gently, bearing the sweet fragrance of flowers. Sikhidhwaja was sitting by the side of a river performing his evening prayers.

She entered her covered shelter formed by twining vines and decorated with flower garlands that made it look like the shelter of a forest goddesses. She slept there on a bed of flowers she had made herself, adorned with flower wreaths on her body. She had her beloved one seated in her heart and laid herself on a pillow.

Sikhidhwaja sought her in the gardens and at last found her sleeping in the covered shelter, with a pretty paramour holding her neck in his arms. Her lover’s hair hung on his neck and shoulders and his beautiful body was daubed with sandalwood paste. He had a wreath of flowers on his head, distorted from his crown which lay loose on the pillow over which it rolled. 10 The flowing tresses of the mistress fell in two fold braids on her shoulder blades of golden color, hanging over her ears and eyebrows and her cheeks and face.

11 He saw the amorous pair with their smiling faces kissing and embracing each another, as when ivy twists around a large tree. 12 They lay with wreathed flowers hanging loosely on their bodies. Both were fascinated with love of one another by the contact of their bodies, which infused their reciprocal passions in the heart for each other. 13 They were both infatuated and ravished by their mutual love, bruising breasts on the other’s bosoms.

14 Seeing this, Sikhidhwaja felt no change in his disposition. He was rather pleased to find them sleeping so very happily in each another’s embrace. 15 “Remain you lovers,” he said, “as you are to your hearts’ content. I will put no obstacle in your way, nor make you afraid of me by my presence in this place.” Saying so, he withdrew from there.

16 Immediately at this time, she also withdrew her charm and assumed herself as the beautiful goddess of love and loving spouse of the prince. 17 She came out and saw the king sitting in a cave of the mountain, in the posture of intense meditation with both eyes open. 18 The lady Madanika advanced towards him with a bashful face, then sat silently by his side with her downcast look and sad appearance, as if abashed and ashamed of her past misconduct.

19 After a moment, as Sikhidhwaja was released from his meditation, he cast his eyes upon her and spoke to her with an exceedingly sweet voice, which spoke the frankness of his mind. 20 “Lady,” he said, “why do you come so soon to me and leave off the enjoyment of your happiness? Happiness is the end and aim of all beings on earth. 21 Go, return to your lover and gratify him with all your passionate embraces. Mutual love, so much desired by all, is hard to be had by any in this world. 22 Think not, lady, that I am at all angry or sorry for this affair as I am always contented in myself, knowing the true One that is only to be known. 23 My companion Kumbha and I are always dispassionate in our temperaments. But you arise as a woman from the curse of Durvasa, so you are always at liberty to do whatever you like without incurring any displeasure from me.”

24 Madanika replied, “So it is, O highly favored one of heaven. You know that women by their nature are eight times more passionate than men and therefore should not be criticized on account of their gratification of their natural passions. 25 I am only a frail woman. I found you absorbed in deep meditation. I could not choose other than to take a partner as you saw in the depth of the forest and in the night.”

26 “The weak sex in general, and maidens in particular, are ever fond of illicit love by their very nature for the gratification of their lust, which they can never have the power to check. 27 A woman becomes graceful in the company of man and no curse, prohibition, men’s menaces or regard of chastity is of any use to stop them from it. 28 I am a woman and a weaker vessel, an ignorant and independent lady. Therefore sage, it becomes you to forgive my unsteadiness, because forgiveness is the most prominent feature of holiness.”

29 Sikhidhwaja replied, “My young lady, know that anger has no seat in my heart, as there grows no plant in the sky. It is only for fear of incurring the disgrace of good people that I must decline to take you as my spouse. 30 But I can associate with you as before in mutual friendship for ever more, without bearing any yearning or grudge in my heart, either for or against one another.”

31 Vasishta replied:—

After Sikhidhwaja had consented to continue in his detachment and disinterested friendship with his only companion in the forest, Chudala was highly pleased to know the nobleness of his mind. She thought to herself, 32 “O, the transcendent tranquility which this lord of mine has gained, whose dispassion has set him above anger and who has attained his living liberation. 33 No delight attracts his heart, nor any excellence ever attracts his soul whose mind is not elated by pleasure or prosperity, or depressed by pain or calamity. 34 I think that all the imaginable perfections have jointly met in his person, as the goddess Lakshmi of prosperity is united with the lord Narayana. 35 It is now the proper time for me to bring to his memory all and everything relating to me by abandoning my form of Kumbha and disclosing myself to him in my form of Chudala.”

36 With this thought, she threw off her form of Madanika and took the appearance of Chudala upon herself. 37 She issued out of the body of Madanika in the form of Chudala and stood openly before him, like a jewel taken out of a chest and exposed to view. 38 The king saw her unblemished and lovely figure, and found his beloved Madanika transformed into his wedded spouse Chudala. 39 He saw his own wife present before him, like a lotus flower blooming in the spring, and like the goddess Lakshmi of prosperity rising out of the earth, or like a brilliant gem displayed openly from its casket.