Candrangada’s story has another myth nested within it of a curious gender transformation. The Puranic mythmakers did not portray a supreme god or goddess remedying the situation in this case, as they so often did. In fact, neither sages nor the divine mother (Parvati) seemed able to reverse this permanent gender change, which had resulted from cross-dressing.
Prince Candrangada has married to Simantini, a brahmin (daughter of Yaj- navalkya and Maitreyi). Later when Candrangada was riding in a boat with his friends in the river Kailindi, a storm broke out, and the boat capsized. All his friends were drowned. As Candrangada sank to the bottom of the river, the serpent (naga) king Takshaka took him to the underwater world of the serpents (patala). While Candrangada lived there for a long time, his funeral rites were performed. Simantini began living as a widow, and his father’s kingdom was conquered by their enemies. After Candrangada had enjoyed a time of sporting with the naga damsels, Takshaka proposed that Candrangada should marry them. This helped him remember that he had been married to Simantini and had to go back home.
Candrangada was sent back to the earth with many presents from Takshaka. There was a joyous reunion with Simantini, and they began living again as husband and wife. The enemy kings even released Candrangada’s father and gave back his kingdom.
Both Candrangada and Simantini were great devotees of Parvati and observed a specific ritualistic fasting on Mondays called the soma-varavrata (“Monday boon-seeking fast”). Parvati appeared and blessed them. Observing this piety, three impoverished brahmin brothers, Sumedha, Sarasvata, and Samavan, thought they would be able to obtain enough money from Candran- gada and Simantini to gain brides for themselves. After listening to their story, Candrangada and Simantini took Sarasvata and Samavan in a procession around the palace—with Samavan dressed as a woman. But Samavan’s womanhood manifested itself and could not be changed back into manhood. Even the attempts by sages and fervent appeals to Parvati to change him back to a man failed. Parvati suggested the solution, according to the Siva Purana. Samavan was renamed Samavati. So Sarasvata and Samavati lived as husband and wife. There was no report that the former brothers were married by priestly rites.