A long time ago there was a king by
name Rathadhwaja. In his family, worship of Lakshmi had a long tradition.
The king gave up the worship of Lakshmi due to in difference. Consequently
he lost the grace of Lakshmi. The enemies invaded with an army. Rathadhwaja
was defeated in war and lost the kingdom. He had two sons Kushadhwaja and
Dharmadhwaja. They felt sorry for their father's mistake. They observed
rigorous penance, meditating for Lakshmi. When she appeared theyprayed:
"Bless us so that we get back ourkingdom. Grant us a favor by being born
as our daughter." Lakshmi granted the boons. They bravely fought, won the
kingdom again and were living happily.
Malavati was the name of Kushadhwaja's
wife. Goddess Lakshmi, in fulfillment of the boon granted by her, Entered
the womb of Malavati in subtle form and was born as a daughter. It is said
that even at the time of birth she was Reciting Vedic verses clearly. Therefore,
the parents named her 'Vedavati'. Kushadhwaja looked after her and brought
her up with great affection. Vedavati grew up to be a beautiful, virtuous
girl. She came of age. Both gods and demons came forward to wed her. She
did not accept anybody. She went away to Pushkara, a place of pilgrimage
and under ' took a rigorous penance praying for Vishnu's becoming her husband.
The penance dragged on for a long time. One day a voice from heaven was
heard: "Vedavati, you have to be born again. In your next birth, Vishnu
will also be- born and he will become your husband." Even then, Vedavati
continued her penance without losing heart.
Ravana was in an aeroplane and in course
of travel came there. Thinking that a guest had come to the hermitage,
Vedavati was hospitable to him. Then Ravana asked her about her life. Vedavati
said: "I am the daughter of king Kushadhwaja. My name is Vedavati. I have
undertaken a penancewith a view to getting Sriman Narayana himself to become
my husband." On hearing this Ravana laughed derisively and said: "You,
beautiful woman, should you, a young
woman, observe penance? You talk about Narayana! Who is he? Has he as much
wealth as I have? So strong? I am Ravana, king of Lanka. Marry me and be
happy." Replied Vadavati: "Ravana, don't talk so. Narayana means the king
of the universe, Vishnu. Should you abuse him? A big fool you are." Realizing
that she was not amenable to persuasion, Ravana caught her head and dragged
her by hair. Enraged Vedavati immediately sheared her hair with her hand.
Due to the influence of penance her hand itself cut her hair like a sword.
She turned to Ravana and said: "You scoundrel, are you compelling me? By
your touch my body became tainted. Be looking on, now itself I will give
up my body. I will take birth as the daughter of another righteous person
and will myself be the cause for your death." Immediately she jumped into
a burning fire in the hermitage and gave up her life. Ravana returned to