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Home » Tale

A Balinese Folktale: The Marriage of Abhimanyu  

by on Sunday, 12 August 2007No Comment | 1,212 views

Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna and Suprabha, was at page at the court of his uncle Krishna in the place of Dwarawati. Now Abhimanyu was betrothed before his birth to Krishna’s daughter, Ksiti Sundari, and was purposely brought together with her now by Krishna in order that he might fall in love with her. When Krishna went away to practice yoga in the mountains Sundari was left by him in charge of his brother Baladewa.

Now Baladewa had never for given Arjuna for the rape of his sister Subhadra, and was determined to prevent Abhimanyu’s marriage with Sundari; so he secretly arranged a marriage between her and Doryodhana’s son Lakshmanakumara, which was to take place while Krishna was away practicing yoga. Abhimanyu read over Baladewa’s shoulder a letter from Doryodhana, and went by night to Sundari’s room to tell her the bad news. The watchman heard them talking, and gave the alarm; the place was surrounded by Baladewa’s orders but Abhimanyu escaped with the help of Satyaki, Krishana’s nephew, and came exhausted to the graveyard, where he fell into a deep sleep. He was found by the servants of Bhatara Durga, and brought by them to their mistress in the Pura Dalem.

She attacks him furiously, but cannot wound him, because he was defended by Arjuna’s magic power. To prove that he really was the son of Arjuna he was made to name his uncles, the Kuravas, and a final proof of authenticity was ordered by Durga to dance, since Arjuna, the prince of dancers, must surely imparted his art to his son, she was convinced at last, and sent him to bathe in the Taman Purbaya. When he went to put on his cloth after bathing, it was just becoming light he saw a woman’s cloth lying where he had put his own. He had in fact brought away Sundari’s by mistake when he left her so hurriedly, but he thought a trick had been played on him and began to destroy the bathing-place in his rage.

Now this garden was the pleasure garden of Gatotkaca, Arjuna’s nephew, and his minister Bajerodanta was watchman of the garden. Gatotkaca did not recognize his cousin in the madman who is destroying his garden, and began beating him, but at last touched by his beauty and asked his name. When he found Abhimanyu was Arjuna’s son he greeted him and beg forgiveness. At last the story of his love to Sundari was told, and they go together to Dwarawati, leaving the giant Bajerodanta to guard the bathing place. Abhimanyu carried off Sundari, and Gatotkaca remained in her room to guard it. But Bajerodanta had evil thought, and persuaded Duryodhana to postpone the marriage of his son to Sundari, in order that he might get her himself. Disguising himself as Lakshamanakumara, he hastened to Dwarawati and penetrated to Sundari’s bedroom.

He found a man asleep on the bed instead of the princess, but in the darkness he did not recognized his master Gatotkaca was aroused by his outcry, fought the giant, and finally killed him. The followers of Lakshamanakumara, thinking it was master, threatened to destroy the palace. Bajerodanta’s treason was revealed, and Gatotkaca asked forgiveness of Baladewa for the rape of Sundari. But Baladewa would not forgive and made war on Abhimanyu. Krishna roused from his meditation, appeared on the battlefield and found Baladewa transformed into giant. He rebuked his childishness, had the place cleared of Duryodhana’s servants, and celebrated the wedding of Abhimanyu and Sundari.

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