(Last Updated on : 23/05/2011)
Brihat katha Manjari gives a true account that around 400 AD, the Gupta king Vikramaditya (Chandragupta II) had "unburdened the sacred earth of the barbarians". The original was divided into eighteen Lambhakas and it is a reasonable guess that the term applies to the victories of the hero, each section dealing with his achievement. The work begins with the Kathapitha, which gives as an introduction to the tale the legend of Gunadhya.
In Book ii, the adventures of Udayana are described, which are carried in chapter iii to his winning of Padmavati. In iv the birth of the hero, Naravahanadatta takes place who would be the emperor of the Vidyadharas. The next book, Chaturdarika is episodically presented. The Vidyadhara king comes to visit the future ruler and relates how he himself has reached the wonderful city of the Vidyadharas and won the four beauteous maidens wherefrom the title of the book has been derived. He continues with the legend of Suryaprabha. A remarkable tale of how that hero rose from royal rank to becoming emperor of the Vidyadharas after a struggle against his foe srutavarman. He was finally induced to be content with a minor kingdom due to the personal intervention of Shiva. The tale has proper blending of mythology that involves Vedic and epic beliefs, Buddhist legends but Kshemendra has condensed it excessively.
The spirit of the book is an account of Kalingadatta, father of Kalingasena, who gives his daughter a royal ancestry. Udayana is sought in marriage by her and he would be wedded her, but Yaugandharaya resists the match by giving a silly excuse. It was Kalingasena's character as hetaira which motivated the objections. Udayana is induced to abandon the project but determines to allow her daughter to wed Naravahanadatta and the book carries the readers to a formal marriage.
Book VIII is short and is styled Vela after the name of the character and ends with the vital statement that Madanamansuka has been abducted by the Vidyadhara Manasa Vega. The prince is deserted but before that he rejoins his beloved and would be the hero of four episodic books. In the first he is carried off in sleep and ends by supporting another Vidyadhara maiden, Lalitalochana. He spends time with her on mount Malaya, but is saddened by longing for Madanamansuka. Lalitalochana disappears. A hermit, Pichangajata, comforts him by telling him the tale of Mrgakikadatta, a prince of -Ayodhya. He had married Sasankavati, daughter of his enemy Karmasena of Ujjain, who gives the book its title. Another episode follows where Gomukha tells the tale of the emperor Muktaphalaketu and his beloved Padmavati who gives the book its title.
After long interval action is resumed in Book xiii, Pancha wins five more brides, Vidyadhara maidens are determined to support him. The book laid stress on attaining Madanamansuka. With the help of princess Prabhavati, a Vidyadhara, the prince penetrates to her place of confinement, using a woman's form lent by Prabhavati. In Book xiv he marries Ratnaprabha, whose name the book bears. In Book xv he marries Alarhkaravati, and is on a voyage to a White Island where he worships Narayana with an elaborate prayer written in the most finished Kavya style.
The next book gives the prince another wife, Saktiyasas. In Book xvii the lost thread is recovered. Naravahanadatta must receive from the sage Vamadeva on mount Malaya the seven jewels that symbolises sovereignty. He reaches the north by passing under a great tunnel and by his offer of his own head induces Kalaratri who guards the exit point to permit his passage.
The break between the end of Vela in Book eight and the continuation in Parka in book nine is deplorable. However the harshness is concealed by making the intervening books recognize the dilemma of the prince and the endeavour to console him. Kshemendra loyally followed his incoherence.