The Tale of Nilanjana: A Celestial Avatar on Earth

Undaunted in his efforts, Vikraman went up the tree again, brought down the hanging body to the ground, and carried it on his shoulders to the funeral grounds. The Vedalam (ghost) inside the body addressed Vikraman, saying, "King! Some who try hard give up their objective at the last minute and waste all the past effort. I will be telling such a story of wasted efforts of a Gandharva woman. Listen to the story attentively."

In the kingdom of Vaishali, there lived a skilled sculptor known as Kaladharan. His stone statues were so lifelike and realistic that they appeared divine. One night, on a full moon day, he was sleeping on the terrace when a beautiful young woman appeared in his dream.

She asked, "Would you fulfill my desire? Carve my form out of a stone. I would very much appreciate it."

Entranced by her beauty, Kaladharan eagerly responded, "Certainly, I will carve your lifelike representation in stone and present it to you on the next full-moon day."

As the dream ended, the memory of the shapely woman lingered in his mind. Determined to complete the task, Kaladharan worked tirelessly day and night, carving the block of stone at the outskirts of the city, surrounded by mountains and near a waterfall, to be ready by the next full-moon day.

The woman in the dream was Nilanjana, a celestial being from Gandharva Loka. Every full moon day, she and her companions made rounds on the earth. She appeared in the dream of the earthling Kaladharan on one of those moonlit nights and asked him to carve her life-size statue. With her companions, she left as usual for the earth on a full moon day. She took her companions to Trisangam of Vaishali Rajyam and showed them the statue and narrated the story behind it.

Admiring the statue, a confidante said, "If this statue has life, another Nilanjana will appear on earth." Another one addressed Nila, "Nila! Give it life." Another one said, "Give your mind and intellect to this statue." Nilanjana answered them, "If I give my life to the statue, what will come of me?"

Another companion: "Not so. We sport extraordinary powers. You will give, for a limited time, your life, mind, and intellect to the statue. Concurrently, your life, mind, and intellect will remain with you. You will shine as the original in Gandharva Loka and an Avatar on earth."

Nilanjana said, "This is a perverse play." The companions advised her, "For some time, you accomplish many things with your mind and later destroy the worldly Avatar Nilanjana." Nilanjana liked that suggestion and, by her power, shared her life, mind, and intellect with the statue.

The statue acquired life and became the worldly Nilanjana. As if she woke up from sleep, she went to the city, walking all night and thinking of showing off her capabilities. She reached a forest at dawn. There, a tiger jumped on her, and in the next moment, an arrow flew into the tiger. Nilanjana, looking for her savior, turned around and saw at a distance a young man on a horse carrying arrows coming towards her. As he neared her, he asked her, "What are you doing in this forest?"

At first sight enamored by the youth, Nilanjana said, "I am on my way to the town looking for a job, only to be intercepted by this tiger. Thank you for saving my life. If I only had a sword, I would have killed this tiger."

The youth, with surprise in his voice, said, "Woman! Can you wield a sword?" She said, "My name is Nilanjana. I know the use of all weapon systems. I will meet the king of Vaishali and ask him to recruit me into the armed services."

The youth said, "My name is Prabakaran. It is apparent you are an intellectual. They will not admit a woman into the armed forces. Therefore, you should impersonate a man and wear men’s clothes. I am also headed to the city to join the military. Avanthi Rajya king has invaded the country. Therefore, our king is actively recruiting soldiers. Go with me. I will take you there."

Both of them met with the chief of the army and joined the army. When the king and the general were discussing the conduct of war, Nilanjana entered the room and advised the king, "Maharaja! The enemies are numerically superior, and it is impossible to defeat them. If we create confusion in the enemy’s camp, we can defeat them. I have a plan with me." She presented it and explained it to the king.

The king was astonished at her presentation. The king made a division of the army and made her the general. She took her men up the hill, stationed them on the mountains on either side of the battlefield. As the fighting resumed the next day, snakes and scorpions descended upon the enemies from nowhere.

From another mountain, a barrage of torches descended on the enemies. This resulted in confusion among the enemy soldiers. The enemy soldiers, not knowing what to do, withdrew and ran away. The king invited the responsible person to the palace to shower him with accolades. When the king was alone, Nilanjana removed her disguise.

She said to the king, "King! I apologize that I wore men’s clothes to join the army." Unexpectedly, the childless king was happy and surprised, adopted Nilanjana as his daughter, made her the princess, and married her to Prapārakar, as per her wish.

Because of her acumen, the Avatar of Nilanjana became the princess and was ecstatic. In the Gandharva Loka, Nilanjana spoke of her Avatar very proudly. The Gandharva Loka women thought that Nilanjana’s play was over. The Nilanjana of the celestial world came to earth to turn Avatar back to a statue, after explaining the story. The real Nilanjana said to her Avatar that she was ready to take her life. But the Avatar refused to comply with her request.