Physical Beauty

A certain Mahârâja had an only son, who grew strong and wellbuilt. When he was about 22 years of age, the father talked to him of marriage. The prince wanted the father to allow him to choose his bride among his subjects. The Mahârâja gladly agreed. One day, while the prince was going on horseback along a bridge, he saw a damsel proceeding to the river below for her bath, and immediately he fell frantically in love with that embodiment of beauty. She was the daughter of a vais'ya, a rich merchant of the city. The girl was highly religious, well-versed in all the holy scriptures and very much averse towards worldly entanglements like marriage. When the courtiers from the palace sooght out the vais'ya and asked him to consent to the marriage of his daughter with the prince, they were surprised to find that the father was reluctant to agree. He considered that being a vais'ya, he should have only a vais'ya son-in-law. The daughter complicated affairs, by saying that she would not marry at all. The palace threatened dire punishment for both father and daughter.

At last, the daughter hit upon a plan to escape punishment. She told her father to tell the palace officers that she would like to meet the prince face to face eight days later and if the prince still wanted to marry her, she was willing to do so. Then, she swallowed strong purgatives every day and collected the excreta each day in a separate vessel. On the eighth day, she was taken in a royal palanquin to see the prince. She took with her the eight vessels well covered up and insisted that they too be placed in the Audience Hall, where she was to meet the prince. None knew what they contained. The prince was shocked to find before him a living skeleton of a girl, ghastly, with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes. He asked her: "Where is all that beauty gone?" She pointed to the eight vessels of excreta. The prince, it need [not] be said, declined the marriage and the girl was happy she had taught him a lesson on the evanescence of physical charm.