VASAVADATTA AND UDAYANA

Princess @pixels

Long ago in ancient India, there lived a king named King Pradyota, who ruled the city of Ujjaini (in Madhya Pradesh). He always tried to show off his strength, appearance, ability and worth, which made him think to be the greatest and no other king could be like him.

          One Day when he was walking in his garden with his minister, he asked him. “Minister, is there any other king greater than me?”. Minister hesitated for a moment but he had to be truthful to his king so he said “Yes, Your Majesty, there is one such King. King Udayana of Kaushambi {near Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh}”. King Pradyota had heard King Udayana’s name and his greatness, hence he was not surprised when his minister mentioned this name.

          Next Day, when the court room was filled with ministers, King Pradyota ordered his ministers to capture King Udayana and bring him as a prisoner. Hearing this, minister replied. “Your Majesty, that would not be possible”. King Pradyota was utterly surprised at his minister’s response. He asked angrily “Why is that? Our army is not strong enough to defeat him in battle.” Minister replied, “Your Majesty, King Udayana knows the art of charming elephants. If we go for a battle, he will charm our elephants by reciting spells, play on his Veena (musical instruments) and drive our elephants away”. On hearing this, King was sad but he did not give up. He kept on thinking how to defeat King Udayana.

         That evening King Pradyota was sitting all alone in his room, when the Minister came to see him. King looked at him with worried eyes. Minister said, “Your Majesty, I know you want King Udayana captured, I have come with a plan.” The King heard him and smiled with a nod.

         The Kingdoms of King Pradyota and King Udayana were separated by a dense forest. One day a man who lived in that dense forest saw a big white beautiful elephant. Immediately he thought of informing King Udayana, hoping that King will reward him with gold coins. The forest dweller immediately went to see King Udayana. He described the elephant in such a way that King immediately got up from his thrown and asked the exact location of the elephant in forest. He could hardly wait to see and own it.

          King Udayana mounted on his elephant with guards around him. His troops entered deep into the forest. At the sight of the majestic elephant King Udayana rode on his horse and galloped faster leaving his guards behind. On the other hand, King Pradyota’s spies were alert at every move of King Udayana’s troops. When King Udayana reached near the elephant, he started playing his Veena, but he noticed that his mantras were not effective on the elephant. He went near the animal to see it. Suddenly a small door opened from the stomach of the elephant and King Pradyota’s men jumped out of it. King Udayana was attacked by them. He tried to fight but could not succeed and he was captured by King Pradyota’s men. Meanwhile King Udayana’s minister came to know of this, he asked the soldiers to make a barrier at the border of Ujjain. He was determined to save his King.

         King Udayana was taken and kept in prison. He was told that King Pradyota would come and meet him but even after three days he did not meet King Udayana. Prison guards informed him their king was enjoying his victory over him. On hearing this King Udayana was furious and said to the prison guard “You call this a victory. !! Your king has bought disgrace to all the Kshatriyas. Your King is coward”. The Guard was taken aback by King Udayana’s voice tone. He ran to King Pradyota and reported the matter. King Pradyota was surprised at King Udayana’s fearless nature and rushed to meet him in the prison.

King Pradyota asked King Udayana “My guards say that you have called me a coward, is that true”. “Yes, it is” said King Udayana “Do you call this a victory? If you wanted my kingdom you could have fought a battle. You are shame to all the Kshatriyas. If you ask me what I see in you, I do not see a King, I see a coward, who was scared of losing a battle, so he played a foul play to satisfy his own ego.” King Pradyota went silent. Maybe somewhere in his heart he knew that his act was not of a bravery, but again his pride came in between. He did not want to let go of King Udayana without getting something rare and powerful. So, he said, “King Udayana I will let you go, but at one condition”.

“What is that?”. “You must teach me the secret of charming elephants”.

“That I will, only if receive due salutation from you”. King Pradyota was angry to hear this. He said “Do you really think I will pay homage to you.” King Udayana said calmly, “Why are you displeased at my demand King? Is it not customary for a pupil to pay homage to his teacher?” King Pradyota was even more angry to hear his calm tone. He said “I won’t pay you homage and if you don’t teach me, I will have you killed”

“Do so by all means, King. You are Lord of my body but my mind is not your slave.” Said King Udayana in soft tone. King Pradyota was furious and left the prison in rage.

 That day in court King Pradyota was very upset. He could not concentrate in the daily court proceedings. He told his minister that he would not attend the court. He was visibly upset. His minister thought of consulting King’s audience in his private chamber. On his way, he saw Princess Vasavadatta, King Pradyota’s beautiful daughter. Her sight made him think of a plan and he ran towards King Pradyota. On seeing his minister coming towards him he said, “What if Princess Vasavadatta learnt the secret of charming elephants from King Udayana”. His minister readily agreed to it. At the same time King felt a strange possessiveness towards his daughter, because he was not just a King, he was also a father. He looked at his minister and said “I must ensure that they do not see each other”, Minister understood that the father in King, did not want that his enemy should lay his eyes on his beautiful daughter.

King Pradyota marched towards King Udayana in Prison and asked him “Will you teach the charm of attracting elephants to one of my relatives?”. King Udayana readily agreed to it, but he noticed that King Pradyota had something else to say so he asked “King, why I do not see satisfaction in your eyes, even though I have agreed to your condition. If there is something else, please ask me without hesitation”

We have a woman. She is hunch backed. Shall I send her to you? Will you teach her”

“As long as my pupil will pay me homage, I will teach her even if she is hunch backed or crippled”

King Pradyota looked satisfied with his answer. He nodded his head in agreement and walked out of the prison. Next, he went to his daughter’s chamber. She was surprised to see her father in her chamber during the time of addressing the court. She asked “Father, how come you are here to see me at this hour. Is everything alright?”

King Pradyota replied “My dearest daughter, I need a help from you, so I have come to you with a request”.

Princess smiled at her father and said “Father, you are not only my father, but also our King, hence do not request. Your wish is my command. Please command me father what I can do for you”.

“There is a man who knows the art of charming elephants. I want you to learn from him but…”,

“But what, Father”;

“But my dear, this man is a leper?”

Princess’s face that was glowing with pride that her mighty father had chosen her and not any other person from his kingdom for the responsible job, was now displeased at this strange demand from her father.

She said “Oh Father, from a leper”.

“I know what you are thinking and you are right. I understand it will be difficult for you. But can sit behind a curtain. Then you will not have to see his face.”

Princess was not very happy to hear it but as a dutiful daughter she agreed to it. King Pradyota left for his chamber feeling happy, but little did he know that destiny has its own plan and no one can change that. Not even a mighty king like him.

Next day all the arrangements were made. King Udayana and Princess Vasavadatta sat down separated by a curtain. King Udayana thought that there was a hunch back on the other side, and Princess Vasavadatta knew that curtain was blessing to her eyes for hiding the leper, the one that was teaching her the art of charming elephants.

Lessons started. For few days everything went normal. Princess Vasavadatta tried to learn the lessons with all her heart. One day when Udayana was teaching her a verse and asked her to repeat it after him, she could not as it was expected from her. So, King Udayana asked her to repeat it again after him. She tried and got it wrong again. It went on few more times. King Udayana got angry on his pupil. When she could not do it correctly, King Udayana shouted,” No, that is wrong. Don’t you understand the ways of the verse, you dunce hunch back!! Do you have a thick and ugly lips exactly like your back?”. Princess Vasavadatta was annoyed and felt insulted. She immediately replied, “How dare you call me a hunch back. Why don’t you look at yourself, you leper?”. King Udayana was furious and also surprised at such language and guts. No one had ever spoken to him in this way. He kept his Veena aside and ran towards the curtain and lifted it. His eyes were red with anger and body trembled. But as he lifted the curtain, he stood there awestruck at the sight of mesmerizing beauty, sitting on her seat with legs coiled. Her posture looked like that of a serpent. Her hair softly covered her temples that gave her an irresistible beauty. King Udayana could not speak for some time. After getting hold for himself he asked “Who are you?”.

I am Princess Vasavadatta, daughter of King Pradyota”

“Forgive me, I called you a hunch back. Your father, King Pradyota made me to believe so.” King Udayana said with his eye still stuck on Princess. She lowered her eyes and said softly, “He said you were a leper. Please accept my apologies.”

King Udayana, with his eye still on Princess introduced himself. “I am King Udayana”. Princess looked up at his handsome face, lowered her eyes and with slight smile ran away into her chamber.

Both Prince Udayana and Vasavadatta could not stop thinking about each other. And then the evitable happened. They fell in love with each other and started meeting secretly without King Pradyota knowledge. One Day King Pradyota came into her chamber and asked, “Dear, have you mastered the art of charming elephants.”

“Let me know dear you need any help”

“Thank you, Father.” King Pradyota went away.

Next day Princess found King Udayana in a pensive mood. “What is the matter? Why do you look so sad?”. She asked. King Udayana said “How long will I remain as a captive. Your father will kill me if he learns of our love.”

“Can I be of any help to you”. Princess asked.

King Udayana said, “Your father will do anything for you. Please ask him to arrange an elephant for you. Tell him you need it to test your knowledge”. Princess ran to her father and made the request. King Pradyota immediately arranged an elephant for her. When Princess told this to King Udayana he said “I have another request to make. Please ask him to open the city gates at night”.

“O King, my Father might not agree to this.” She said.

“I have a plan, tell your father that the leper wants to pick up a luminous herb that can be detected at night. It is needed to charm the elephants.”

“I will try my best to convince father”.

Princess again rushed to her father, she said “Father, that leper have made a strange request. I want you to hear me patiently after that I will tell him whatever you decide.”

“Dear one, tell me freely. What does he want”? King asked

“He wants to find a rare luminous herb that can be at night, so he has asked to open the city gates at night.”

King Pradyota understood that King Udayana was trying to escape but he did not say anything to his daughter and agreed to this strange request. As soon as his daughter left, he asked his spies to be alert and keep an eye on King Udayana.

That night when the entire kingdom was asleep, King Udayana mounted on the elephant and went deep into the forest. He noticed that he was being watched by the King’s spies. For next three nights King Udayana pretended to look for herbs. The spies thought that he was genuinely looking for an herb and they went off the guard. On the fourth night, when King Pradyota was amusing himself in palace garden, King Udayana took this as the best opportunity to run away along with Princess Vasavadatta. They mounted on the elephant and set off. On their way King Udayana gave Princess two bags of gold and silver coins. Princess kept them with her not knowing their purpose. On the other hand, when one of the maid servants went into Princess chambers, she found it empty. The servants searched for everywhere but could not find her. The matter was immediately taken to the King Pradyota. On hearing this he ordered “Guards, find King Udayana and Princess Vasavadatta and bring them to me – Dead or Alive.” The city gates were open and guards set off like a thunder.

At dawn King Udayana and Princess Vasavadatta noticed that King Pradyota’s men had found them. As they approached near, King Udayana took the bag of silver coins and threw the silver coins towards the horsemen. This distracted some of the horsemen and they began collecting silver coins. But remaining horsemen who took their duty towards their King more seriously continued to chase them. King Udayana took bag of gold coins and threw gold coins at them. On seeing real gold coins, they stopped chasing them and was busy collecting all the gold coins. Before they could finish King Udayana and Princess Vasavadatta had reached border of Ujjain where his minister, who was in touch with him all these days, received them. Once King Udayana’s elephant crossed the border of Ujjain, the tired and the exhausted soldiers of King Pradyota were attacked and defeated by King Udayana’s soldiers

Once the battle was over King Udayana and Princess Vasavadatta reached Kaushambi where they were given warm welcome and Princess Vasavadatta was married to King Udayana and they lived happily ever after.

Leave a Reply