Chapter X - Sage Rṣyaśṛṅga’s marriage to S’āntā

The King prodded Sumantra to educate him what he had heard about the manner in which the Sage Rṣyaśṛṅga was brought over to the kingdom.  Sumantra said: “Let me narrate fully.   Please listen along with your counselors.”

“The head priest who was also the Minister briefed the king. “After careful deliberation by our people, we have come to the following strategy.  We come to know that the Sage Rṣyaśṛṅga only moved around in the forest and was always busy with his practices of meditation and scriptural studies.  Thus, he would be considered to be totally ignorant about the opposite sex and other sense objects of pleasure.  We can succeed in bringing him over to the palace by engaging him with objects of allurement.  We should make arrangements to accomplish this.   Let shapely and well-attired courtesans be dispatched to entice him various ways.  They technique would succeed.”

“The King approved the plan.  The priest and the counsellors crafted the details.  The principal court girls were dispatched to the dense forest.  They positioned themselves in the proximity of the hermitage.  They tried to be visible to the utterly self-disciplined Rṣyaśṛṅga, who on the other hand remained totally intent in serving his father.  The son had never been out of the forest nor he had ever viewed any other man or woman either urban or rural!    

“In course of time, the sage Rṣyaśṛṅga came by to the fringe area in the forest.  He noticed the girls.  They were dressed in colorful costumes and were singing in sweet voice.   Approaching the Sage, they asked: “Who are you? Why do you operate all alone in this lonely forest?  Please tell us what makes you roam around in this forest all by yourself.”  The sage felt soft to witness the sweet and comely faces that he had never seen before.  He felt like introducing himself citing his lineage.

“Dear ladies! my father is the Rṣi Vibhāṇḍaka, and I am his own son.  My name is Rṣyaśṛṅga.  I am reputed in this area for my family relationship and for my disciplined activities.  Our hermitage is nearby.  If you don’t mind, I would like to treat you with proper hospitality in our hermitage.”  Hearing the sage, all ladies concurred and proceeded to the hermitage.

“In the hermitage, the sage offered them appropriate hospitality.  He offered them water to wash hands and feet.  He then offered them the forest fruits and roots.  The ladies accepted the offerings but were scared in case the Rṣi would return and notice them.  They gradually became anxious to leave the premises.  While preparing to return they offered sweets to the sage and said: “O’ Dvija[1]! We have these excellent fruits for you.  Please accept them and eat them as soon as you can.”  Hugging him and laughing all over, they offered him modaka[2] and many other delicious sweets.

“The sage tasted the sweets.  He had no idea about such tastes since he operated exclusively in the forest.  He thought the sweets fruits.  The women, though happy to have accomplished the trick, were apprehensive in case the father would show up.  Citing prior commitments, they begged his leave.  They returned back to their station on the fringe of the forest.  

“While the courtesans left, the sage Rṣyaśṛṅga missed them deeply and was restless.  He thought about the ladies over and over.  Next day, he proceeded to the area where he had seen them the previous day.  The ladies giggled in seeing him and spoke: “Please come with us to our abode!  We have many kinds of fruits and roots.  We have special entertainments as well that you would certainly like!”

“The sage agreed and the ladies guided him to the palace.  As he was being escorted, the rains burst out suddenly.  The rains made everyone happy.  Connecting the rains with the arrival of the ascetic, the king was very happy.  He went over and prostrated in front of the sage in deep respect.  He offered him water to wash.  He begged his blessings for any failings on his part.  Then the King took him inside the palace and got his daughter S’āntā married to him following the with proper rituals.  The relaxed King felt enormous joy having given his daughter in marriage to the celebrated sage.  Being honored and served by all, the sage Rṣyaśṛṅga lived happily in the palace with his wedded wife, S’āntā.”  

[1] An invocation to the sage.  Literally a person who has acquired a second life by vowing for a life of studies.

[2] A tasteful Indian sweet made specially on festive occasions