A fewer no. may recall the great Cholas, Bhoja and Harsha.
However, there's one name that, despite all its glory, one doesn't expect to be mentioned: Udayana
Udayana, the Vatsaraja
Udayana, the descendant of the great Pandavas
Udayana, the master of Ghosavati the lute
Udayana, the conqueror of wild elephants
Next, we see his life as the theme for two of Bhasa's plays viz. SvapnAvAsavadatta and Pratijna -YaugandharAyana
( Where the elders of villages know the Udayankatha )
Udayana is mentioned in Sudraka's Mrchhkatika ( 5th cent AD) too.
Brihatkatha by GunAdhya in 6th cent AD
Ratnavali and Priyadarsika by Harsha in 7th cent AD
This continues at least upto BrihatkathaManjari by Kshemendra in 11th cent AD
This shows how amazingly long the legend of Udayana survived.
Who exactly was this Udayana ?
What explains the enduring charm of his story ?
Well, the best way to find is to briefly recount the main elements of this age old story.
So, don't mind if you find the story to be somewhat different from the one you know. The main purpose here is to provide a simple outline of main events.
Mrgavati, the queen of Vatsa, pregnant with our hero, has a strange pregnancy longing or दोहद for a bath in a blood filled tank.
One day while hunting, Udayana sees a snake being dragged by Sabra (mountain tribe). Moved by the plight of the snake, he gets it freed by giving his armlet to the Sabra.
The snake also gives him a magic charm for making unfading garlands and tilak.
However, danger is lurking around as Chanda Pradyota , the king of Avanti, hatches a plan to take Udayana a captive.
Udayana starts teaching her and soon they fall in love with each other.
Note: The description of VAsavadattA episode here is based largely on kashmirian BrhatkathA
The background to the events here is that Aruni, the king of Panchala has captured most of the territories of Vatsa.
As part of the plan, the royal camp is taken to LAvAnaka, a village on the border of Kaushambi and Magadha.
The marriage is sealed when Udayana visits an Ashrama where VAsavadatta disguised as Avantika is present along with PadmAvati.
Lost kingdom recoverd.
Two wives who respect and admire each other and live in perfect harmony.
Udayana is back in a good place again.
Various other names such as LalitA, Vasudatti, ViracitA and Bandhumati are mentioned by different sources.
S N Dasgupta calls him ' a Hindu Don Juan'.
Dr keith describes him as the dashing hero "whose love adventures were famed for their number and variety."
soon after his marriage with PadmAvati, Udayana comes into possession of throne of his ancestor Yuddhisthara. His ministers tell him that to be worthy of seating on that throne, he must first accomplish 'Digvijya'.
The BKM account of his digvijaya stops here but KSS goes on to say that he brought the whole of India under his control.
what's more likely is that a more limited 'digvijay' was attained with a few victories over some kings.
However, there is no doubt that Vatsa's power increased under Udayana's rule.
The death of his father in law makes him realise the transitory nature of life.
It's the hope of victory inherent in his struggles that endeared him to so many generations of India.
which made me read about Udayana again & helped me to sum up his character. DhanyawAdah.
thread based on "The story of King Udayana" by Niti Adaval
( publisher: Chowkhamba Sanskrit series)