This story is clearly presented as a moral. It talks about what happens when a king forgets his duty in lust for a woman and what happens if, in a sudden spurt of anger, the protector forgets his duty. And note that curious statement – they were not spared even if they have took refuge of the shrine of Chakradhara. Sourced from Ranjan Pandit’s translation.
There in a certain park of the city, tradition relates, was a pool of limpid and sweet water which was the residence of the Naga named Susravas. Once upon a time a Brahman named Visakha, wearied by a long trek, approached, at midday, desirous of shade, the edge of that sheet of water. Under a shady tree, when his weariness was becalmed by the sylvan breezes by slow degrees, the Brahman, after ablution, prepared to eat his porridge. Just as he was about to take it in his hand, he heard the tinkling sound of anklets to which the swans sporting on the fringe of the pool had already hearkened. Emerging from a bower of creepers in front of him, he then saw two maidens with lovely eyes wearing blue shawls. To the ear-ornaments of rubies their alluring, bright and elongated eyes with the thin line of collyrium bore the semblance of the stem of the red lotus. The comers of their captivating eyes, unsteady like the edges of a gleaming white banner in the gentle movement of the zephyr, heightened the beauty of their shoulders. Watching these two moon-faced maidens as they were slowly approaching, he ceased from commencing to eat and, time and again, through bashfulness, he was confused. He beheld the lotus-eyed maidens eating the pods of Kacchaguccha, in front of him, when to a certain extent he could again move his eyes.
“Heigh-ho ! is this the food for such lovely persons” — thought the Brahman to himself and, melting with compassion, he politely invited them and fed them with porridge. And he fetched, contained in cups made from leaves for a drink for them, the clean and cool water of the pool. When after ablution the two had become clean and consented to take their seats, he, while fanning them with a palm leaf, addressed them.
“Your humble servant, having obtained through some good acts of a former life the sight of you, is tempted through curiosity, which is commonly found in a Brahman, to enquire. What noble family have the fortunate ladies graced by their birth and where did they get so weary that such tasteless food had to be eaten?”
One of the ladies replied to him, “Know that we are the daughters of Susravas; where dainty food is not available why should such food not be eaten? I am Iravati; father has arranged to give me in marriage to the lord of the Vidyadharas. This is my younger sister Chandralekha.”
Thereupon the Brahman said, “Why then is there such indigence in your case?”
They both replied, “Father knows the reaison of this; you may ask him. Here on the twelfth of the dark half of Jyesjha he will come for the pilgrimage of Takshaka; you will no doubt recognise him by his plaited locks which stream with water. You will also see us both at that time standing by the side of him”; so saying the two Naga maidens, in a moment, vanished from view.
In due course at that place commenced the great festival of the pilgrimage, teeming with dancers and strolling players and a concourse of sight-seers. The Brahman, too, drawn by curiosity while strolling near the theatres, soon came up with the Naga whom he recognised by the sign indicated by the maidens. To the Brahman, who was first presented by the maidens who were standing by, the leader of the Nagas offered his greetings.
Thereafter in the course of conversation, when asked at some stage about the cause of his adversity, the Naga, heaving a sigh, said to the Brahman. “For those who are proud, O Brahman ! and can discriminate between what is meet and unmeet it is right that they should not give publicity to sufferings which, of necessity, have to be endured. On hearing of the woes of others a good natured man, when unable to oblige, is pained at heart. He makes much of his own way of life, with his words of sympathy he conveys sadness to the heart, he openly cavils at one’s capacity, while he, meagre of intellect, eulogizes his ownself; he recommends a recourse to questionable methods and describes the misfortune as a permanent one; a common person on hearing of adversity aggravates the painful agony. Thus it is that so long as there is life, the discriminate digest their joys and sorrows in their own minds until eventually they are consumed by the funeral fire. Who could from their exterior notice the misfortune of those, who by nature are profound, were it not revealed by their callow children or the servants!”
“Thus, since this matter has already been disclosed owing to the tender age of these two girls, O kind friend! to conceal it from you will surely not be proper on my part. You, however, who are straightforward by nature, O fortunate one ! may make an effort to a certain extent to help our cause if possible. Yonder ascetic with the shaven head and one tuft of hair, whom you see under the tree practising austerities, by that keeper of the crops we have been put to our shifts. So long as the spell-mongers have not eaten of the new grain the Nagas cannot eat. This fellow does not eat it and because of that regulation we are perishing. While he guards the fields we are nowise able to enjoy the bumper crop, though we see it like the departed spirits the waters of the rivers. Please act so that this Naisthika may fall from his vow; on our part we, too, know how adequately to requite those who oblige us.”
That Brahman, having said ‘amen’ to the Naga, became keen to endeavour and began day and night to think of some way to overreach the guardian of the crops. Secretly, while the ascetic was seated inside a hut which was away in the fields, he then placed new grain within the vessel in which food was being cooked. No sooner had he commenced to eat it than the lord of the Nagas, having poured hail and torrents of rain, carried away in a trice the rich and glorious harvest.
The Naga who had passed out of destitution led, the following day, into his own region the Brahman who had obliged him and who had approached the pool. He was treated there hospitably by the two maidens by command of their father and was regaled with luxuries, day after day, which are available to the immortals. In time having taken leave of everyone, he was ready to go to his own land, when the Naga having promised to grant a boon, he prayed for the hand of Candralekha. Albeit he was unworthy for the alliance the Naga, yielding to the dictates of gratitude, honoured him with the gift of the maiden and with wealth.
In this manner having acquired wealth by favour of the Naga Chief, the Brahman whiled away a long time in the city of Narapura in all manner of daily entertainments. Although she was the daughter of the lord of the Nagas, the lady of superfine comeliness treated this husband as the deity and by her noble character, good behaviour, and like qualities made him happy.
While she was, on one occasion, standing on the terrace of her residence a stray horse began to feed on com left outside to dry in the sun in the courtyard. To drive the horse away the servants were called, but no one happening to be at the time in the house she, whose anklets tinkled sweetly, then descended in person. With one hand she held the edge of the vesture of the head which in her hurry had slipped; she ran and with her hand like a lotus flower, she then slapped him. He left the food and moved on; but thereafter there appeared, by the touch of the Naga lady, on the body of the horse the golden imprint of her palm.
About this time king Nara, having heard from his spies of the Brahman’s wife with the lovely eyes, had already experienced the sprouting of love. When the maddened elephant of his heart was about to bolt, to restrain him by force there existed no fear of a scandal for a hook. In the insurgence of the rising flames of the king’s passion the story of the horse, on the other-hand, bore the similitude of the violent gale. He was made to transgress the bounds of discretion by the golden imprint of the palm with the beautiful tapering fingers.
Freeing himself from the fetters of decorum, he now began to harass the lovely lady by endeavouring to seduce her through emissaries who related his inmost longing. When all his methods failed to win her, in his infatuation he begged for her from her husband, the Brahman. In those who are blind with lust how can there be shame ! Then getting repeated rebuffs from him also, the soldiers were ordered by the king to carry her away by force.
While they were raiding the house in front, the Brahman escaped by another passage and seeking asylum he, accompanied by his wife, entered the residence of the Naga. When the couple approached him and the facts were reported to him the lord of the Nagas, blind with rage, sallied forth from the pool. Having caused a blinding darkness originating from the fearful clouds which thundered, he burnt down the king together with the city by a terrific shower of boulders. Carrying the marrow, blood and fat oozing from the bodies of the burnt human beings, the Vitasta bore the semblance of the printed plumage of the peacock. Thousands of human beings, who had entered through terror the shrine of Cakradhara for refuge, were consumed in a trice. The fat of Madhu and Kaitabha had formerly reached only up to the thighs of Cakradhara, but by that of the burnt up human beings on this occasion all his limbs were sprayed. The sister of Susravas, the Naga lady from a cave of the Ramanya mountain, then came to his assistance bringing with her heaps of boulders. At the distance of little more than one Yojana when she heard that her brother had achieved his end, she dropped a shower of boulders on the villages. Five Yojanas of rural land was thus laid waste and known as Ramanyatavi; it is even to this day full of heavy boulders and holes.
After doing this hideous slaughter of humanity, next morning the Naga was full of remorse and being depressed by the denunciation of the people, he abandoned that locality and departed. Gleaming like the ocean of milk a lake was constructed by him on a distant mountain, which on their way to the pilgrimage of Amaranatha, is visited by the people to this very day. Through the favour of his father-in-law the Brahman had attained the status of a Naga; one other called the ‘lake of the son-in-law’ in the locality has also become celebrated.
Under the guise of protecting the subjects such types of destroyers arise, of a sudden, now and then who unhesitatingly cause devastation. To this very day, on seeing the debris of that city and the lake which survives as a dry depression near Cakradhara, this legend is recalled by the people.
Passionate lust may be merely a trifling fault in kings in the opinion of persons of narrow vision, nevertheless what befell this one, as a consequence of it, has not been the lot of anyone anywhere. In the case of the virtuous woman, the gods or a Brahman— as the result of the anger of anyone of them— one has heard in diverse legends of an upheaval even of the three worlds.