Svapnavasavadattam

Source of Svapnavāsavadattam

The source of Svapnavasavadattam is certainly Kathasaritsagar authored by Somadeva. It is here that we come across the story of Vasavadatta and the `Kathamukha' of the Kathasaritsagar starts with the story of Udayana. Kathasaritsagar is divided into eighteen sections, each of which is called Larhbaka. Udayana, who was a de­scendant of the Pandavas, grew up to be a fearless hero who was well versed in ancient lore, and he was highly proficient in playing the lute. Udayana's father retired to the life of vahaprastha and entrusted the kingdom to Udayana. Udayana left the day to day work to one of his faithful ministers, Yaugandharayana, and started spending his time in luring wild-elephants by playing on his lute. Having heard about Vasavadatta, the princess of Avanti, he wished to make her his queen and waited for a favourable opportunity to arrive his way.

Vasavadatta's father was Mahasena who was a very powerful monarch and had two sons, Gopalaca and Palaca. Mahasena wanted to conquer Kausambi1 and seeing that Udayana could not be subdued by direct means, he made a huge artificial elephant, filled it with war­riors and put it in the elephant forest in the Vindhyas. In this intrigue Mahasena succeeded; when Udayana approached the fake elephant with his lute, all the warriors came out of it and surrounded him.

There was a skirmish, Udayana was seized from behind, bound with creepers, and sent to Ujjayini. Mahasena treated Udayana re-


1. Kausambi, capital of king Udayana, is where the chief scene of the play is laid. It was a city that was famous in ancient times, being mentioned in the Ramayana of Valmiki. Known for its grandeur, it is today an insignificant village on the river Yamuna, near Allahabad.

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