King Udayana of Vatsa belonged to the fantastic Lunar race and was a descendant of the Pandavas. His Minister, Yougandha-Narayana, helped him marry Vasava-datta, Ujjain’s charming Princess. Udayana was always a pleasure-loving man who was very fond of music and chasing. Now that he had a beautiful wife, he began to neglect the affairs of the State altogether. Yougandharayana, the Minister and Rumanvantha, the Commander-in-chief, bore the entire burden of the State.
Once, the Lunar Kings had ruled the entire Bharat, with Hasthinapur (now Delhi) as their capital. But by Udayana’s time, what all was left of the Empire was the tiny Vatsa Land. And if the King continued to waste his time in pleasures, this too would be lost; that was what Yougandha-Narayana feared. One night the Minister invited Ruman- vantha to dine with him, and they fell to discussing politics.
Yougandha-Narayana had already thought of a plan for the betterment of the State. The central part of the plan was to get King Udayana to marry the Princess of Magadha for a second wife. Without this alliance, Udayana could not extend his territory. For Magadha was a neighbouring country, Pradyota, its King, was a traditional enemy of Udayana. Once he became an ally through the marriage of his daughter to Udayana, Yougandha-Narayana could proceed with the plans for expanding Udayana’s Empire.
Yougandha-Narayana had sent messengers to King Pradyota, proposing a marriage between the King of Vatsa and the Princess of Magadha. But King Pradyota turned down the offer, saying, “I hear that your King is very fond of his Queen, Vasava-datta. I cannot give my daughter in marriage to him.”
That was true enough. King Udayana would not care to marry another wife so long as Vasava-Datta was by his side. Yougandha-Narayana was sure that his plans would not bear fruit unless the King and the Queen were separated.
Now Yougandha-Narayana told Rumanvantha that he proposed to create evidence of Vasava-datta’s death and make the King marry Princess Padmavati. Vasavadatta would be in hiding till the marriage took place.
Rumanvantha was shocked to hear this plan.
“Why,” he said, “the King may lose his reason, or even his life, if he hears that Vasava-datta is dead! Moreover,” he added, “we must obtain Vasava-datta’s permission first. If you ask me, Gopal, her brother, also should be taken into confidence.”
Yougandha-Narayana assured the Commander-in-Chief that he would put the plan into operation so that no one would come to any grief. He sent for Gopal, told him everything, and obtained permission to go ahead with the plan.
Then the Minister went to King Udayana and said, “My Lord, let us go on an excursion to Lavanaka on the border. It is a lovely place with marvellous hunting grounds. I hear that the King of Magadha is menacing our people on the border. The matter has to be looked into.”
So King Udayana started for Lavanaka along with his Queen Vasava-Datta, her brother Gopal, Yougandharayana the Minister, Vasanthaka the Court Fool, besides the usual retinue.
One day, when the King was hunting very far from his camp, the Minister told Queen Vasava-datta what he proposed to do. The Queen could not bear the thought of her lord undergoing the sorrow of her supposed death, nor could she take his separation herself, even though it was only for a while. Yet she gave her consent because of her great respect for the Minister and the hope that she would assist her lord in extending his Empire.
The Minister asked Vasava-datta to dress herself up like a Brahman lady. He made himself up like a very old Brahman while Vasanthaka put on the disguise of a one-eyed Brahman bachelor. Then the three crossed the border and went towards Magadha.
After their departure, Ruman-vantha set fire to the residence of the Queen. When the fire attracted everyone, and a huge crowd gathered there, the place was completely burnt down.
It was then announced that both Vasava-Datta and Vasanthaka died in the fire.
The King returned from hunting, heard the frightful news and fell into a swoon. When he regained consciousness later, he wanted to lose himself in grief for his dead Queen. But, seeing that Gopal contained his grief for his sister very well, he had to do the same.
In the meantime, the Minister, the Queen and Vasanthaka, who were all in disguise, reached the Royal Gardens. They met Princess Padmavati there.
“My Lady, “the Minister said to the Princess, “these are my son and daughter. Her name is Avanthika. Her husband, who was given all sorts of vices, has left her and gone away. I request you to keep my daughter and son with you while I go and search for my son-in-law.”
Padmavati took pity on Vasava-Datta, seeing how handsome and, at the same time, how pitiful she was. She promised to look after her. Yougandha-Narayana went away.
Accompanied by Vasanthaka, Vasava-data followed the Princess to her royal residence. Her heart was full of grief because of her separation from her lord. But, in the palace, she saw a painting of Sita, wife of Rama, and thought, “What is my grief compared to hers?”
Yougandha-Narayana waited for a few days and then sent word to the King of Magadha: “Since the sad demise of our Queen, our King Udayana is plunged in sorrow. I request you to give your daughter, Princess Padmavati, to him in marriage and assuage his sorrow.”
This time the King of Magadha made no objections. He was proud to have Udayana as his son-in-law. The wedding was arranged to take place after a week. This news made Padmavati as happy as it made Vasava-Datta miserable.
“Madam,” Vasanthaka said, “this is no time for grief. This marriage is gaining us a great ally. As for the King, his love for you will never alter.”
King Udayana arrived for the wedding in time. The marriage ritual traditionally took place, sanctified by fire. Yougandha-Narayana made the King of Magadha swear eternal friendship with the King of Vatsa.
While the entire palace was full of joy and jubilation, poor Vasava-Datta retired to an obscure corner.
At the end of the celebrations, King Udayana. Went to Lavanaka with his new bride. Vasava-Datta was among those who accompanied the bride.
Though Udayana married Princess Padmavati, he was neither in love with her nor could he forget Vasava-datta. Vasava-Datta noticed this and, to make him fall in love with Padmavati, she decorated her and did her hair exactly as she used to do for herself. She then sent Padmavati to Udayana’s chamber and went away to her brother Gopal’s lodge. There the brother and sister embraced and shed tears.
When Padmavati stepped into his chamber, King Udayana noticed how decorated she was.
“Who got you up like this?” he asked her.
Padmavati was surprised at the question. She told him about the old Brahman’s daughter, Avanthika.
“The old man left his daughter with me. She is very clever at such things. It was she who decorated me,” she said.
“Where is she now?” Udayana asked anxiously.
Padmavati sent her maids to bring Avanthika, but they returned, saying that she had gone to Gopal’s lodge.
“Then, go to the lodge and tell her that I want her at once,” Padmavati said to her maids.
When Udayana heard that Avanthika had gone to Gopal’s lodge, his suspicion turned into certainty. He at once went to Gopal’s club and found Vasava-datta’s there, to his immense joy.
Yougandha-Narayana offered his apologies to the King.
“Your Highness must pardon me for this deception,” he said. “I did everything to obtain the alliance of Magadha and to extend your Empire.”
“On the contrary,” said King Udayana, “I must thank you for looking after the State and protecting it from danger while I was occupied otherwise. I am grateful to you for all you have done. “
After finding Vasava-datta again, Udayana discovered how noble Padmavati was in her love for himself and her regard for Vasava-datta. He lived happily with both of his wives.