There are differing versions and episodes of the overall Panji story. In one version, The main story of Panji tells of the romance between Prince Panji and Princess Kirana; and Panji's search for his long lost bride.
The kakawin Smaradhana originally was the work of the poet Mpu Dharmaja in early 12th century. However, it was later incorporated as a prelude to the Panji tales. This story tells about the disappearance of Kamajaya and his wife, Kamaratih from svargaloka who were burnt by the fire of Shiva. The spirits of Kamajaya and Kamaratih fell upon the earth and were incarnated several times as mortal human beings. The main characters of Panji cyle are Prince Panji and Princess Kirana, the notable incarnations of Kamajaya and Kamaratih on earth. The following are several episodes of the compilation of Panji stories:
The tale of Chandra Kirana (sometimes called the tales of Dewi Anggraeni) is a tragic love story, the prequel to the main Panji story. The story begins with the arranged marriage of Prince Panji Asmoro Bangun to Princess Chandra Kirana from the twin neighboring kingdoms of Kediri and Janggala. The dynastic marriage was meant as a means of a peace agreement to reunite the two warring factions of the once great kingdom under one dynasty again. During his youth, the prince of Jenggala loved to travel the country, visit ashrams and hermitages and learn from various wise Brahmins and rishis across the kingdom. During his stay in one of the remote hermitages, the prince fell in love with a beautiful commoner girl, Dewi Anggraeni. The prince married Anggraeni and took her home to the palace in the capital city of Jenggala. The marriage of a prince with the commoner girl caused an uproar in the royal courts of both Jenggala and Kediri. The angered Kediri envoys pushed the royalty of Jenggala to keep their promise of the arranged dynastic marriage, and they threatened to wage war if the marriage to Dewi Anggraeni was not anulled. However, the love-struck Prince did not want to fulfill his royal duty and refused to marry Kirana. To avoid war, the elders of royal house plotted the assassination of Dewi Anggraeni.
Panji and Anggraeni were separated and tricked by being told to meet each other in different places. Actually Anggraeni was led by the royal troops deep into a forest to be murdered. After she learned that their action was meant to avoid war and bloodshed between two kingdoms, the poor girl willingly sacrificed herself and gave up her life. After Panji learned about the death of Anggraeni, the prince went amok, fell unconscious and finally lost his mind. The insane prince suffered from amnesia and wracked havoc across both kingdoms, attacking villages authorities, lords, and bandits alike. Meanwhile, in Kediri Princess Kirana has learned about fate of her future husband, and has decided to go out from the palace to find and help him. Princess Kirana, disguised as a man, is later involved in a battle with Panji and finally manages to cure the Prince from insanity. Surprisingly Princess Kirana looks exactly like the late Anggraeni, as actually they both were incarnated from the same spirit, that of Kamaratih, the goddess of love. Panji and Kirana are then united in marriage and live happily ever after.
The episode of Panji Semirang tells another version of the story. The story begins with the disappearance of Candra Kirana from the palace. After Candra Kirana disappears, a princess who claims to be Candra Kirana, though different in appearance, attempts to console Prince Panji, and alleges that she was carried off by Durga, and will regain her original appearance as soon as they are married. Panji orders preparations for the wedding to resume, not knowing that the consoler is in reality a demon-princess who wants Panji for herself.
Meanwhile, the true Candra Kirana, alone in the forest, is advised by the gods that she must return to the palace disguised as a man to be reunited with Panji. She does so, and upon entering the city, discovers the wedding plans to the false Candra Kirana, delivers a letter to Panji revealing the true situation, and vanishes. Upon discovering this, Panji rushes to search for his love while his courtiers kill the demonic impostor.
Panji in his search undergoes many adventures, staying in forests with hermits, working as a servant in different palaces, always hoping to find traces of his lost bride. Candra Kirana, meanwhile, continues in her male disguise, undergoes her own set of adventures, and ends up as the king of Bali. In the climax of the story, Panji and Candra Kirana unknowingly oppose each other on the battlefield. There, as witnesses are ordered to leave, she confides to her opponent that she is the bride of Panji, and that the disguise was assumed because of a command of the gods that she could win back her prince only in a face-to-face combat where his blood is made to flow. Still not aware that she is fighting her prince, they continue the fight with swords and arrows, but she is unable to harm him until she resorts to her hairpin. As Panji is wounded, he reveals his identity, and they are happily reunited. (to be continued)