Malati is the daughter of a minister from Ujjayani, and Madhava, of a minister from Vidharbha. Madhava comes to Ujjayani to study and falls in love with Malati. However, the king of Ujjayani wants Malati to marry his friend, Nandana, and how can her father refuse the king.
Kamandaki is classmate to both Malati and Madhav and she moves their story along. She is keen of sense, she knows and loves every ritual of spring, she understands matchmaking, she can sense a person's desires, and where someone might find her/his nest.
One day, disraught on hearing that Malati is about to marry Nandana, Madhav goes by the temple, immersed in the thought of suicide. He suddenly hears screaming, and sees Malati being dragged by the hair, for a ritual sacrifice by Kapalakundala, a sorceress, and her Guru. Madhava kills the Guru, Kapalakundala runs away, swearing revenge, a quiet Malati returns home.
Around this time, Madhava's friend, Makaranda, saves Madayantika, sister of Nandana, from the jaws of a tiger. Inflamed by the moment, the two become lovers. Kamandaki has four young people drowned in love, to hone her keen sense of plotting with.
She has Malati and Madhav elope on the day of Malati's wedding, and in Malati's stead, Makaranda, dressed as Malati, goes as the bride. The unsuspecting Nandana performs the marriage rites with 'her'. Then, at his house, his sister goes alone into the room to spend time with her new sister in law.. and so, Makaranda and Madayantika, also elope.
Kamandaki, goes on to become an ascetic, not, I hope, in disappointment with the rituals of spring.