Kathasaritsagara (the Ocean of Story)

by Somadeva | 1924 | 1,023,469 words | ISBN-13: 9789350501351

This is the English translation of the Kathasaritsagara written by Somadeva around 1070. The principle story line revolves around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the Vidhyādharas (‘celestial beings’). The work is one of the adoptations of the now lost Bṛhatkathā, a great Indian epic tale said to have been composed by ...

Chapter LXII

[M] (Main story line continued) THE next morning Naravāhanadatta got up, and went into the presence of the King of Vatsa, his loving father. There he found Siṃhavarman, the brother of the Queen Padmāvatī and the son of the King of Magadha, who had come there from his own house. The day passed in expressions of welcome and friendly conversation, and after Naravāhanadatta had had dinner he returned home. There the wise Gomukha told this story at night, in order to console him who was longing for the society of Śaktiyaśas:


121. Story of the War between the Crows and the Owls [1]

There was in a certain place a great and shady banyan-tree, which seemed, with the voices of its birds, to summon travellers to repose. There a king of the crows, named Meghavarṇa, had established his home, and he had an enemy named Avamarda, king of the owls. The king of the owls surprised the king of the crows there at night, and after inflicting a defeat on him, and killing many crows, departed.

The next morning the king of the crows, after the usual compliments, said to his ministers, Uḍḍīvin, Āḍīvin, Saṇḍīvin, Praḍīvin,[2] and Cirajīvin:

“That powerful enemy, who has thus defeated us, may get together a hundred thousand soldiers, and make another descent on us. So let some preventive measure be devised for this case.”

When Uḍḍīvin heard this, he said:

“King, with a powerful enemy one must either retire to another country or adopt conciliation.”

When Āḍīvin heard this, he said:

“The danger is not immediate; let us consider the intentions of the adversary and our own power, and do the best we can.”

Then Saṇḍīvin said:

“King, death is preferable to submission to the foe, or retiring to another country. We must go and fight with that feeble enemy[3]; a brave and enterprising king, who possesses allies, conquers his foes.”

Then Praḍīvin said:

“He is too powerful to be conquered in battle, but we must make a truce with him, and kill him when we get an opportunity.”

Then Cirajīvin said:

“What truce? Who will be ambassador? There is war between the crows and the owls from time immemorial; who will go to them? This must be accomplished by policy. Policy is said to be the very foundation of empires.”

When the king of the crows heard that, he said to Cirajīvin:

“You are old; tell me if you know, what was originally the cause of the war between the crows and the owls? You shall state your policy afterwards.”

When Cirajīvin heard this, he answered:

“It is all due to an inconsiderate utterance. Have you never heard the story of the donkey?


121a. The Ass in the Panther’s Skin [4]

A certain washerman had a thin donkey; so, in order to make it fat, he used to cover it with the skin of a panther and let it loose to feed in his neighbour’s corn. While it was eating the corn, people were afraid to drive it away, thinking that it was a panther. One day a cultivator, who had a bow in his hand, saw it. He thought it was a panther, and through fear bending down, and making himself humpbacked, he proceeded to creep away, with his body covered with a rug. When the donkey saw him going away in this style, he thought he was another donkey, and being primed with corn, he uttered aloud his own asinine bray. Then the cultivator came to the conclusion that it was a donkey, and returning, killed with an arrow the foolish animal, which had made an enemy with its own voice.


121. Story of the War between the Crows and the Owls

“In the same way our feud with the owls is due to an inconsiderate utterance.


121b. How the Crow dissuaded the Birds from choosing the Owl King [5]

For once upon a time the birds were without a king. They all assembled together, and bringing an umbrella and a chowrie, were proceeding to anoint the owl king of the birds. In the meanwhile a crow, flying in the air above, saw it, and said:

“You fools, are there not other birds, cuckoos and so on, that you must make this cruel-eyed, unpleasant-looking, wicked bird king? Out on the inauspicious owl! You must elect an heroic king whose name will ensure prosperity. Listen now, I will tell you a tale.


121bb. The Elephants and the Hares [6]

There is a great lake abounding in water, called Candrasaras, and on its bank there lived a king of the hares, named Śilīmukha. Now, once on a time, a leader of a herd of elephants, named Caturdanta, came there to drink water, because all the other reservoirs of water were dried up in the drought that prevailed. Then many of the hares, who were the subjects of that king, were trampled to death by Caturdanta’s herd, while entering the lake.

When that monarch of the herd had departed, the hare-king Śilīmukha, being grieved, said to a hare named Vijaya in the presence of the others:

“Now that that lord of elephants has tasted the water of this lake, he will come here again and again, and utterly destroy us all, so think of some expedient in this case. Go to him, and see if you have any artifice which will suit the purpose or not. For you know business and expedients, and are an ingenious orator. And in all cases in which you have been engaged the result has been fortunate.”

When dispatched with these words, the hare was pleased, and went slowly on his way. And following up the track of the herd, he overtook that elephant-king and saw him, and being determined somehow or other to have an interview with the mighty beast, the wise hare climbed up to the top of a rock, and said to the elephant:

“I am the ambassador of the moon, and this is what the god says to you by my mouth:

‘I dwell in a cool lake named Candrasaras; there dwell hares whose king I am, and I love them well, and thence I am known to men as the cool-rayed and the hare-marked[7]; now thou hast defiled that lake and slain those hares of mine. If thou doest that again, thou shalt receive thy due recompense from me.’”

When the king of the elephants heard this speech of the crafty hare’s, he said in his terror:

“I will never do so again: I must show respect to the awful moon-god.”

The hare said:

“So come, my friend, I pray, and we will show him to you.”

After saying this, the hare led the king of elephants to the lake, and showed him the reflection of the moon in the water. When the lord of the herd saw that, he bowed before it timidly at a distance, oppressed with awe, and never came there again. And Śilīmukha, the king of the hares, was present, and witnessed the whole transaction, and after honouring that hare, who went as an ambassador, he lived there in security.[8]


121b. How the Crow dissuaded the Birds from choosing the Owl King

When the crow had told this story, he went on to say to the birds:

“This is the right sort of king, whose name alone ensures none of his subjects being injured. So why does this base owl, who cannot see in the day, deserve a throne? And a base creature is never to be trusted. Hear this tale in proof of it.


121bbb. The Bird, the Hare, and the Cat [9]

Once on a time I lived in a certain tree, and below me in the same tree a bird, named Kapiñjala, had made a nest and lived. One day he went away somewhere, and he did not return for many days. In the meanwhile a hare came and took possession of his nest. After some days Kapiñjala returned, and an altercation arose between him and the hare, as both laid claim to the nest, exclaiming: “It is mine, not yours.” Then they both set out in search of a qualified arbitrator. And I, out of curiosity, followed them unobserved, to see what would turn up. After they had gone a little way they saw on the bank of a lake a cat, who pretended to have taken a vow of abstinence from injury to all creatures, with his eyes half closed in meditation.

They said to one another:

“Why should we not ask this holy cat here to declare what is just?”

Then they approached the cat and said:

“Reverend sir, hear our cause, for you are a holy ascetic.”

When the cat heard that, he said to them in a low voice:

“I am weak from self-mortification, so I cannot hear at a distance, pray come near me. For a case wrongly decided brings temporal and eternal death.”

With these words the cat encouraged them to come just in front of him, and then the base creature killed at one spring both the hare and Kapiñjala.


121b. How the Crow dissuaded the Birds from choosing the Owl King

“So you see, one cannot confide in villains whose actions are base. Accordingly you must not make this owl king, for he is a great villain.”

When the crow said this to the birds, they admitted the force of it, and gave up the idea of anointing the owl king, and dispersed in all directions. And the owl said to the crow: “Remember, from this day forth you and I are enemies. Now I take my leave of you.” And he went away in a rage. But the crow, though he thought that he had spoken what was right, was for a moment despondent. Who is not grieved when he has involved himself in a dangerous quarrel by a mere speech?


121. Story of the War between the Crows and the Owls

“So you see that our feud with the owls arose from an inconsiderate utterance.”

Having said this to the king, Cirajīvin continued:

“The owls are numerous and strong, and you cannot conquer them. Numbers prevail in this world. Hear an instance.


121c. The Brāhman, the Goat and the Rogues [10]

A Brāhman had bought a goat, and was returning from a village with it on his shoulder, when he was seen on the way by many rogues, who wished to deprive him of the goat.

And one of them came up to him, and pretending to be in a great state of excitement, said:

“Brāhman, how come you to have this dog on your shoulder? Put it down.”

When the Brāhman heard that, he paid no attention to it, but went on his way. Then two more came up and said the very same thing to him. Then he began to doubt, and went along examining the goat carefully, when three other rascals came up to him and said:

“How comes it that you carry a dog and a sacrificial thread at the same time? Surely you must be a hunter, not a Brāhman, and this is the dog with the help of which you kill game.”

When the Brāhman heard that, he said:

“Surely some demon has smitten my sight and bewildered me. Can all these men be under the influence of an optical delusion?”

Thereupon the Brāhman flung down the goat, and after bathing, returned home, and the rogues took the goat and made a satisfactory meal off it.


121. Story of the War between the Crows and the Owls

After Cirajīvin had told this tale, he said to the king of the crows:

“So you see, King, numerous and powerful foes are hard to conquer. So you had better adopt, in this war with powerful foes, the following expedient, which I suggest. Pluck out some of my feathers,[11] and leave me under this tree, and go to that hill there, until I return, having accomplished my object.”

The King of the crows agreed, and plucked out some of his feathers, as if in anger, and placed him under the tree, and went off to the mountain with his followers; and Cirajīvin remained lying flat under the tree which was his home.

Then the king of the owls, Avamarda, came there at night with his followers, and he did not see a single crow on the tree. At that moment Cirajīvin uttered a feeble caw below, and the king of the owls, hearing it, came down and saw him lying there. In his astonishment he asked him who he was, and why he was in that state.

And Cirajīvin answered, pretending that his voice was weak from pain:

“I am Cirajīvin, the minister of that king of the crows. And he wished to make an attack on you in accordance with the advice of his ministers.

Then I rebuked those other ministers, and said to him:

‘If you ask me for advice, and if I am valued by you, in that case you will not make war with the powerful king of the owls. But you will endeavour to propitiate him, if you have any regard for policy.’

When the foolish king of the crows heard that, he exclaimed:

‘This fellow is a partisan of my enemies,’

and in his wrath he and his followers pecked me, and reduced me to this state. And he flung me down under the tree, and went off somewhere or other with his followers.”

When Cirajīvin had said this, he sighed, and turned his face to the ground. And then the king of the owls asked his ministers what they ought to do with Cirajīvin. When his minister Dīptanayana heard this, he said[12]:

“Good people spare even a thief, though ordinarily he ought not to be spared, if they find that he is a benefactor.


121d. The Old Merchant and his Young Wife [13]

For once on a time there was a certain merchant in a certain town, who, though old, managed to marry by the help of his wealth a young girl of the merchant caste. And she was always averse to him on account of his old age, as the bee turns away from the forest tree when the time of flowers is past.[14] And one night a thief got into his house, while the husband and wife were in bed; and, when the wife saw him, she was afraid, and turned round and embraced her husband. The merchant thought that a wonderful piece of good fortune, and while looking in all directions for the explanation, he saw the thief in a corner.

The merchant said:

“You have done me a benefit, so I will not have you killed by my servants.”

And so he spared his life and sent him away.


121. Story of the War between the Crows and the Owls

“So we ought to spare the life of this Cirajīvin, as he is our benefactor.”

When the minister Dīptanayana had said this, he remained silent. Then the king of the owls said to another minister, named Vakranāsa:

“What ought we to do? Give me proper advice.”

Then Vakranāsa said:

“He should be spared, for he knows the secrets of our foes. This quarrel between the enemies’ king and his minister is for our advantage. Listen, and I will tell you a story which will illustrate it.


121e. The Brāhman, the Thief and the Rākṣasa [15]

A certain excellent Brāhman received two cows as a donation. A thief happened to see them, and began plotting how to carry them off. At that very time a Rākṣasa was longing to eat that Brāhman. It happened that the thief and the Rākṣasa, as they were going to his house at night to accomplish their objects, met, and telling one another their errands, went together. When the thief and the Rākṣasa entered the Brāhman’s dwelling, they began to wrangle.

The thief said:

“I will carry off the oxen first, for if you lay hold of the Brāhman first, and he wakes up, how can I get the yoke of oxen?”

The Rākṣasa said:

“By no means! I will first carry off the Brāhman, otherwise he will wake up with the noise of the feet of the oxen, and my labour will all be in vain.”

While this was going on, the Brāhman woke up. Then he took his sword, and began to recite a charm for destroying Rākṣasas, and the thief and the Rākṣasa both fled.


121. Story of the War between the Crows and the Owls

“So the quarrel between those two, Cirajīvin and the king of the crows, will be tp our advantage, as the quarrel between the thief and the Rākṣasa was to the advantage of the Brāhman.”

When Vakranāsa said this, the king of the owls asked his minister Prākārakarṇa for his opinion, and he answered him:

“This Cirajīvin should be treated with compassion, as he is in distress, and has applied to us for protection: in old time Śivi offered his flesh for the sake of one who sought his protection.”[16]

When the king of the owls heard this from Prākārakarṇa, he asked the advice of his minister Krūralocana, and he gave him the same answer.

Then the king of the owls asked a minister named Raktākṣa, and he, being a discreet minister, said to him:

“King, these ministers have done their best to ruin you by impolitic advice. Those who know policy place no confidence in the acts of an hereditary enemy.[17] It is only a fool that, though he sees the fault, is satisfied with insincere flattery.


121f. The Carpenter and his Wife [18]

For once on a time there was a carpenter, who had a wife whom he loved dearly; and the carpenter heard from his neighbours that she was in love with another man; so, wishing to test the fidelity of his wife, he said to her one day:

“My dear, I am, by command of the king, going a long journey to-day, in order to do a job, so give me barley-meal and other things as provision for the journey.”

She obeyed and gave him provisions, and he went out of the house; and then secretly came back into it, and with a pupil of his, hid himself under the bed. As for the wife, she summoned her paramour. And while she was sitting with him on the bed, the wicked woman happened to touch her husband with her foot, and found out that he was there. And a moment after, her paramour, being puzzled, asked her which she loved the best, himself or her husband.

When she heard this, the artful and treacherous woman said to that lover of hers:

“I love my husband best; for his sake I would surrender my life. As for this unfaithfulness of mine, it is natural to women; they would even eat dirt, if they had no noses.”

When the carpenter heard this hypocritical speech of the adulteress, he came out from under the bed, and said to his pupil:

“You have seen, you are my witness to this; though my wife has betaken herself to this lover, she is still devoted to me; so I will carry her on my head.”

When the silly fellow had said this, he immediately took them both up, as they sat on the bed, upon his head, with the help of his pupil, and carried them about.


121. Story of the War between the Crows and the Owls

“So an undiscerning blockhead, though he sees a crime committed before his eyes, is satisfied with hypocritical flattery, and makes himself ridiculous. So you must not spare Cirajīvin, who is a follower of your enemy, for, if not carefully watched, he might slay your Majesty in a moment, like a disease.”

When the king of the owls heard Raktākṣa say this, he answered:

“It was in trying to benefit us that the worthy creature was reduced to this state. So how can we do otherwise than spare his life? Besides, what harm can he do us unaided?”[19]

So the king of the owls rejected the advice of Raktākṣa, and comforted that crow Cirajīvin.

Then Cirajīvin said to the king of the owls:

“What is the use to me of life now that I am in this state? So have logs of wood brought me, in order that I may enter the fire. And I will ask the fire, as a boon, that I may be born again as an owl, in order that I may wreak my vengeance upon this king of the crows.”

When he said this, Raktākṣa laughed and said to him:

“By the favour of our master you will be well enough off: what need is there of fire? Moreover, you will never become an owl, as long as you have the nature of a crow. Every creature is such as he is made by the Creator.


121g. The Mouse that was turned into a Maiden [20]

For once on a time a hermit found a young mouse, which had escaped from the claws of a kite, and pitying it, made it by the might of his asceticism into a young maiden. And he brought her up in his hermitage; and, when he saw that she had grown up, wishing to give her to a powerful husband, he summoned the sun.

And he said to the sun:

“Marry this maiden, whom I wish to give in marriage to some mighty one.”

Then the sun answered:

“The cloud is more powerful than I; he obscures me in a moment.”

When the hermit heard that, he dismissed the sun, and summoned the cloud, and made the same proposal to him.

He replied:

“The wind is more powerful than I; he drives me into any quarter of the heaven he pleases.”

When the hermit got this answer, he summoned the wind, and made the same proposal to him.

And the wind replied:

“The mountains are stronger than I, for I cannot move them.”

When the great hermit heard this, he summoned the Himālaya, and made the same proposal to him.

That mountain answered him:

“The mice are stronger than I am, for they dig holes in me.”

Having thus got these answers in succession from those wise divinities, the great Ṛṣi summoned a forest mouse, and said to him:

“Marry this maiden.”

Thereupon the mouse said:

“Show me how she is to be got into my hole.”

Then the hermit said:

“It is better that she should return to her condition as a mouse.”

So he made her a mouse again, and gave her to that male mouse.


121. Story of the War between the Crows and the Owls

“So a creature returns to what it was, at the end of a long peregrination; accordingly you, Cirajīvin, will never become an owl.”

When Raktākṣa said this to Cirajīvin, the latter reflected:

“This king has not acted on the advice of this minister, who is skilled in policy. All these others are fools, so my object is gained.”

While he was thus reflecting, the king of the owls took Cirajīvin with him to his own fortress, confiding in his own strength, disregarding the advice of Raktākṣa. And Cirajīvin, being about his person, and fed with pieces of meat and other delicacies by him, soon acquired as splendid a plumage as a peacock.[21]

One day Cirajīvin said to the king of the owls:

“King, I will go and encourage that king of the crows and bring him back to his dwelling, in order that you may attack him this night and slay him, and that I may make[22] some return for this favour of yours. But do you all fortify your door with grass and other things, and remain in the cave where your nests are, that they may not attack you by day.”

When, by saying this, Cirajīvin had made the owls retire into their cave, and barricade the door and the approaches to the cave with grass and leaves, he went back to his own king. And with him he returned, carrying a brand from a pyre, all ablaze, in his beak, and every one of the crows that followed him had a piece of wood hanging down from his beak. And the moment he arrived, he set on fire the door of the cave, which had been barricaded with dry grass and other stuff, and through which were those owls—creatures that are blind by day.

And every crow, in the same way, threw down at the same time his piece of wood, and so kindled a fire and burnt the owls, king and all.[23]

And the king of the crows, having destroyed his enemies with the help of Cirajīvin, was highly delighted, and returned with his tribe of crows to his own banyan-tree.

Then Cirajīvin told the story of how he lived among his enemies to King Meghavarṇa, the king of the crows, and said to him:

“Your enemy, King, had one good minister named Raktākṣa; it is because he was infatuated by confidence, and did not act on that minister’s advice, that I was allowed to remain uninjured. Because the villain did not act on his advice, thinking it was groundless, I was able to gain the confidence of the impolitic fool, and to deceive him. It was by a feigned semblance of submission that the snake entrapped and killed the frogs.


121h. The Snake and the Frogs [24]

A certain old snake, being unable to catch frogs easily on the bank of a lake, which was frequented by men, remained there motionless. And when he was there, the frogs asked him, keeping at a safe distance:

“Tell us, worthy sir, why do you no longer eat frogs as of old?”

When the snake was asked this question by the frogs, he answered:

“While I was pursuing a frog, I one day bit a Brāhman’s son in the finger by mistake, and he died. And his father by a curse made me a bearer of frogs. So how can I eat you now? On the contrary I will carry you on my back.”

When the king of the frogs heard that, he was desirous of being carried, and putting aside fear, he came out of the water, and joyfully mounted on the back of the snake. Then the snake, having gained his goodwill by carrying him about with his ministers, represented himself as exhausted, and said cunningly:

“I cannot go a step farther without food, so give me something to eat. How can a servant exist without subsistence?”

When the frog-king, who was fond of being carried about, heard this, he said to him:

“Eat a few of my followers then.”

So the snake ate all the frogs in succession as he pleased, and the king of the frogs put up with it, being blinded with pride at being carried about by the snake.


121. Story of the War between the Crows and the Owls

“Thus a fool is deceived by a wise man who worms himself into his confidence. And in the same way I ingratiated myself with your enemies and brought about their ruin. So a king must be skilled in policy and self-restrained. A fool is plundered by his servants and slain by his foes at will. And this Goddess of Prosperity, O King, is ever treacherous as gambling, fickle as a wave, intoxicating as wine. But she remains as persistently constant to a king, who is self-contained, well advised, free from vice, and knows differences of character, as if she were tied with a rope. So you must now remain attentive to the words of the wise, and, glad at the slaughter of your enemies, rule a realm free from opponents.”

When the minister Cirajīvin said this to the crow-king Meghavarṇa, the latter loaded him with honours, and ruled as he recommended.[25]


[M] (Main story line continued) When Gomukha had said this, he went on to say to the son of the King of Vatsa:

“So you see, King, that even animals are able to rule prosperously by means of discretion, but the indiscreet are always ruined and become the laughing-stock of the public. For instance—


122. Story of the Foolish Servant

A certain rich man had a foolish servant. He, while shampooing him, in his extreme folly, gave him a slap on his body (for he fancied, in his conceit, that he thoroughly understood the business, while he really knew nothing about it), and so broke his skin. Then he was dismissed by that master and sank into utter despair.


[M] (Main story line continued)

“The fact is, a man who, while ignorant, thinks himself wise, and rushes impetuously at any business, is ruined. Hear another story in proof of it.


123. Story of the Two Brothers who divided all that they had [26]

In Mālava there were two Brāhman brothers, and the wealth they inherited from their father was left jointly between them. And while dividing that wealth, they quarrelled about one having too little and the other having too much, and they made a teacher learned in the Vedas arbitrator, and he said to them:

“You must divide every single thing into two halves, in order that you may not quarrel about the inequality of the division.”

When the two fools heard this, they divided every single thing into two equal parts, house, beds, et cetera; in fact all their wealth, even the cattle. They had only one female slave; her also they cut in two. When the king heard of that, he punished them with the confiscation of all their property.


[M] (Main story line continued)

“So fools, following the advice of other fools, lose this world and the next. Accordingly a wise man should not serve fools; he should serve wise men. Discontent also does harm; for listen to this tale.


124. Story of the Mendicants who became emaciated from Discontent

There were some wandering mendicants, who became fat by being satisfied with what they got by way of alms. Some friends saw this and began to remark to one another:

“Well! these mendicants are fat enough, though they do live on what they get by begging.”

Then one of them said:

“I will show you a strange sight. I will make these men thin, though they eat the same things as before.”

When he had said this, he proceeded to invite the mendicants for one day to his house, and gave them to eat the best possible food, containing all the six flavours.[27] And those foolish men, remembering the taste of it, no longer felt any appetite for the food they got as alms; so they became thin. So that man who had entertained them, when he saw these mendicants near, pointed them out to his friends, and said:

“Formerly these men were sleek and fat, because they were satisfied with the food which they got as alms; now they have become thin, owing to disgust, being dissatisfied with their alms. Therefore a wise man, who desires happiness, should establish his mind in contentment; for dissatisfaction produces in both worlds intolerable and unceasing grief.”

When he had given his friends this lesson, they abandoned discontent, the source of crime. To whom is not association with the good improving?


[M] (Main story line continued)

“Now, King, hear of the fool and the gold.


125. Story of the Fool who saw Gold in the Water [28]

A certain young man went to a tank to drink water. There the fool saw in the water the reflection of a golden-crested bird, that was sitting on a tree.[29] This reflection was of a golden hue, and, thinking it was real gold, he entered the tank to get it, but he could not lay hold of it, as it kept appearing and disappearing in the moving water. But as often as he ascended the bank, he again saw it in the water, and again and again he entered the tank to lay hold of it, and still he got nothing. Then his father saw him and questioned him, and drove away the bird, and then, when he no longer saw the reflection in the water, explained to him the whole thing, and took the foolish fellow home.


[M] (Main story line continued)

“Thus foolish people, who do not reflect, are deceived by false suppositions, and become the source of laughter to their enemies, and of sorrow to their friends. Now hear another tale of some great fools.


126. Story of the Servants who kept Rain off the Trunks [30]

The camel of a certain merchant gave way under its load on a journey.

He said to his servants:

“I will go and buy another camel to carry half of this camel’s load. And you must remain here, and take particular care that, if it clouds over, the rain does not wet the leather of these trunks, which are full of clothes.”

With these words the merchant left the servants by the side of the camel, and went off; and suddenly a cloud came up and began to discharge rain.

Then the fools said:

“Our master told us to take care that the rain did not touch the leather of the trunks.”

And after they had made this sage reflection, they dragged the clothes out of the trunks and wrapped them round the leather. The consequence was, that the rain spoiled the clothes.

Then the merchant returned, and in a rage said to his servants:

“You rascals! Talk of water! Why, the whole stock of clothes is spoiled by the rain.”

And they answered him:

“You told us to keep the rain off the leather of the trunks. What fault have we committed?”

He answered:

“I told you that, if the leather got wet, the clothes would be spoiled. I told it you in order to save the clothes, not the leather.”

Then he placed the load on another camel, and when he returned home, imposed a fine on his servants amounting to the whole of their wealth.


[M] (Main story line continued)

“Thus fools, with undiscerning hearts, turn things upside down, and ruin their own interests and those of other people, and give such absurd answers. Now hear in a few words the story of the fool and the cakes.


127. Story of the Fool and the Cakes [31]

A certain traveller bought eight cakes for a paṇa; and he ate six of them without being satisfied, but his hunger was satisfied by eating the seventh.

Then the blockhead exclaimed:

“I have been cheated. Why did I not eat this cake, which has allayed the pangs of hunger, first of all? Why did I waste those others; why did I not store them up?”

In these words he bewailed the fact that his hunger was only gradually satisfied, and the people laughed at him for his ignorance.


128. Story of the Servant who looked after the Door [32]

A certain merchant said to his foolish servant:

“Take care of the door of my shop, I am going home for a moment.”

After the merchant had said this, he went away, and the servant took the shop-door on his shoulder and went off to see an actor perform. And as he was returning, his master met him and gave him a scolding.

And he answered:

“I have taken care of this door as you told me.”


[M] (Main story line continued)

“So a fool, who attends only to the words of an order and does not understand the meaning, causes detriment. Now hear the wonderful story of the buffalo and the simpletons.


129. Story of the Simpletons who ate the Buffalo

Some villagers took a buffalo belonging to a certain man, and killed it in an enclosure outside the village, under a banyan-tree, and, dividing it, ate it up. The proprietor of the buffalo went and complained to the king, and he had the villagers, who had eaten the buffalo, brought before him.

And the proprietor of the buffalo said before the king, in their presence:

“These foolish men took my buffalo under a banyan-tree near the tank, and killed it and ate it before my eyes.”

Whereupon an old fool among the villagers said:

“There is no tank or banyan-tree in our village. He says what is not true: where did we kill his buffalo or eat it?”

When the proprietor of the buffalo heard this, he said:

“What! is tlu re not a banyan-tree and a tank on the east side of the village? Moreover, you ate my buffalo on the eighth day of the lunar month.”

When the proprietor of the buffalo said this. the old fool replied:

“There is no east side or eighth day in our village.”

When the king heard this, he laughed, and said, to encourage the fool:

“You are a truthful person, you never said anything false, so tell me the truth: did you eat that buffalo or did you not?”

When the fool heard that, he said:

“I was horn three years after my father died, and he taught me skill in speaking. So I never say what is untrue, my sovereign; it is true that we ate his buffalo, but all the rest that he alleges is false.”

When the king heard this, he and all his courtiers could not restrain their laughter; so the king restored the price of the buffalo to the plaintiff, and fined those villagers.


[M] (Main story line continued) So fools, in the conceit of their folly, while they deny what need not be denied, reveal what it is their interest to suppress, in order to get themselves believed.


130. Story of the Fool who behaved like a Brahmany Drake

A certain foolish man had an angry wife, who said to him:

“To-morrow I shall go to my father’s house; I am invited to a feast. So if you do not bring me a garland of blue lotuses from somewhere or other, you will cease to be my husband, and I shall cease to be your wife.”

Accordingly he went at night to the king’s tank to fetch them.

And when he entered it, the guards saw him, and cried out: “Who are you?” he said: “I am a Brahmany drake.”

But they took him prisoner, and in the morning he was brought before the king, and when questioned, he uttered in his presence the cry of that bird. Then the king himself summoned him and questioned him persistently, and when he told his story, being a merciful monarch, he let the wretched man go unpunished.


131. Story of the Physician who tried to cure a Hunchback

And a certain Brāhman said to a foolish physician:

“Drive in the hump on the back of my son who is deformed.”

When the physician heard that, he said:

“Give me ten paṇas; I will give you ten times as many if I do not succeed in this.”

Having thus made a bet, and having taken the ten paṇas from the Brāhman, the physician only tortured the hunchback with sweating and other remedies. But he was not able to remove the hump; so he paid down the hundred paṇas; for who in this world would be able to make straight a hunchbacked man?


[M] (Main story line continued)

“So the boastful fashion of promising to accomplish impossibilities only makes a man ridiculous. Therefore a discreet person should not walk in these ways of fools.”

When the wise Prince Naravāhanadatta had heard, at night, these tales from his auspicious-mouthed minister, named Gomukha, he was exceedingly pleased with him.

And though he was pining for Śaktiyaśas, yet, owing to the pleasure he derived from the stories that Gomukha told him, he was enabled to get to sleep, when he went to bed, and slept surrounded by his ministers who had grown up with him.

Footnotes and references:


From this point to page 113 the stories correspond to Book III of the Pañcatantra. See Benfey’s edition, vol. ii, p. 213 et seq. He points out that in the Mahābhārata Droṇa's son, one of the few Kauravas that had survived the battle, was lying under a sacred fig-tree, on which crows were sleeping. Then he sees one owl come and kill many of the crows. This suggests to him the idea of attacking the camp of the Pāṇḍavas. In the Arabic text the hostile birds are ravens and owls. So in the Greek and Hebrew translation. John of Capua has stumi, misunderstanding the Hebrew. (Benfey, vol. i, p. 334 et seq.) Rhys Davids states in his Buddhist Birth Stories (p. 292, note) that the story of the lasting feud between the crows and the owls is told at length in Ulūka Jātaka, No. 270 (Cambridge edition, vol. ii, pp. 242, 243).——See also Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, p. 136; pt. ii, p. 101 et seq.—n.m.p.


For Praḍīvin the Petersburg lexicographers would read Prajīvin, as in the Pañcatantra.


More probably: “We must fight with that enemy who acted blamefully towards us,” reading avadya as “blameful.” See Speyer, op. cit., p. 127.—N.M.P.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, p. 346 et seq., and p. 462 et seq. Cf. Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, pp. 136, 137; pt. ii, p. 109; and see Sīhacamma Jātaka, No. 189 (Cambridge edition, vol. ii, pp. 76, 77), and note.— n.m.p.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 347, 348; Liebrecht, Zur Volkskunde, p. 110; Veckenstedt’s Wendische Sagen, p. 424; De Gubernatis, Zoological Mythology, vol. ii, p. 206. See also p. 246 for an apologue in which the owl prevents the crow being made king. See also Rhys Davids’ Buddhist Birth Stories, p. 292, and Brand’s Popular Antiquities, vol. iii, pp. 196, 197. In the Kosiya Jātaka, No. 226 (Cambridge edition, vol. ii, pp. 146, 147), an army of crows attacks an owl.——Cf. Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, p. 137; pt. ii, p. 110. For numerous parallels of the tale of “Der Zaunkönig” in Grimm see Bolte,. op. cit., vol. iii, p. 278 et seq.—n.m.p.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 348, 349; and De Gubernatis, Zoological Mythology, vol. ii, p. 76——See also Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, p. 137; pt. ii, p. 110 et seq.; Clouston, Flowers from a Persian Garden, pp. 240, 241, and 278, 279; Chauvin, op. cit., ix, p. 31; Crooke, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 50; and Naḷapāna Jātaka, No. 20 (Cambridge edition, vol. i, p. 56). Most of the Pañcatantra versions explain first how the chief of the elephants sent “swift runners” in all directions to look for water and how one came to Candrasaras (i.e. Moon lake). See F. Edgerton, Pañcatantra Reconstructed, 1924, vol. i, p. 292.— n.m.p.


Common epithets of the moon. The Hindus find a hare in the moon where we find a “man, his dog, and his bush.” See Vol. I, p. 109, 109n1; Sasa Jātaka (Cambridge edition, vol. iii, p. 34 et seq.); and T. Harley, Moon-Lore, London, 1885, p. 60.—n.m.p.


This last sentence seems to be an addition of Somadeva’s. See Edgerton, op. cit., vol. i, p. 301.—n.m.p.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 350-354. For the hypocritical cat compare Phædrus, lib. ii, Fabula iv (recognovit Lucianus Mueller), “Aquila, Feles et Aper”; La Fontaine, vii, 16. See also Liebrecht, ZurVolkskunde, p. 121. The cat’s tactics are much the same as those of the fox in “Reineke Fuchs” (Simrock, Die Deutschen Volksbücher, vol. i, p. 138). See also De Gubernatis, Zoological Mythology, vol. ii, p. 54. This story is No. 125 in the Avadānas. From De Gubernatis, op. cit., vol. ii, pp. 227-228, it appears that kapiñjala means a heath-cock or a cuckoo. Here the word appears to be used as a proper name. There is a very hypocritical cat in Prym and Socin, Syrische Märchen, p. Ix. See especially p. 242 and cf. p. 319.——See also Hertel, op.cit., pt. i, p. 137; pt. ii, pp. 114, 115, and Bloomfield, “False Ascetics and Nuns in Hindu Fiction,” Journ. Amer. Orient. Soc., vol. xliv, 1924, pp. 232-236.—n.m.p.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 355-357 [and Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, p. 137; pt. ii, p. 118]. See also “Till Eulenspiegel,” chap. lxvi, in Simrock’s Die Deutschen Volksbücher, vol. x, p. 452. In the twentieth tale of the English Gesta Romanorum (ed. Herrtage) three “lechis” persuade Averoys that he is a “lepre”; and he becomes one from “drede,” but is cured by a bath of goat’s blood. The sixty-ninth tale in Coelho’s Contos Populares Portuguezes, “Os Dois Mentirosos,” bears a strong resemblance to this. One brother confirms the other’s lies.


Benfey (vol. i, pp. 338, 339) compares this with the story of Zopyrus. He thinks that the Indians learned the story from the Greeks. See also Avadānas, No. 5, vol. i, p. 31.——In most versions he is to be reviled and smeared with blood. See Edgerton, op. cit., vol. i, p. 318.— n.m.p.


Somadeva makes the five ministers tell their stories in a different order than that found in the majority of the Pañcatantra texts. See Edgerton, op. cit., vol. i, p. 322 et seq. The meanings of the ministers’ names are given as follows: Dīptanayana, “Flame-eye”; Vakranāsa, “Crooked-nose”; Prākārakarṇa, “Wall-ear”; Krūralocana, “Cruel-eye”; and Raktākṣa, “Red-eye.”—n.m.p.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, p. 366; and Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, p. 141; pt. ii, pp. 155, 156; and cf. La Fontaine, ix, 15.—n.m.p.


Dr Kern suggests vyatīta-puṣpa-kālatvād [D.... kāle ’tra ]. The Sanskrit College MS. has the reading of Dr Brockhaus’ text.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, p. 368; and Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, p. 137; pt. ii, pp. 121, 122.—n.m.p.


See Chapter VII of this work, Vol. I, p. 84. Hertel’s sub-recension 3 of the Tantrākhyāyika gives the story in full at this point.—n.m.p.


Kṛtāvādyasya is obviously a misprint for kṛtāvadyasya, where āvadya means “blameful.”—n.m.p.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, p. 370 et seq.; and Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, p. 138; pt. ii, p. 124.—n.m.p.


This is one of the rare cases where Somadeva has expanded the speech. See Edgerton, op. cit., vol. i, p. 338.—n.m.p.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, p. 373 [Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, pp. 138, 139; pt. ii, pp. 125, 126]; and also De Gubernatis, Zoological Mythology, vol. ii, p. 65. This bears a strong resemblance to “A Formiga e a Neve,” No. 2 in Coelho’s Contos Populares Portuguezes.


This reminds one of Babrius, Fabula lxxii.


I follow the Sanskrit College MS., which reads bhajāmi, not bhañjāmi.


See Liebrecht’s notes on the Avadānas, translated by Stanislas Julien, on p. 110 of his Zur Volkskunde. He adduces an English popular superstition. “The country people to their sorrow know the Cornish chough, called Pyrrhocorax, to be not only a thief, but an incendiary, and privately to set houses on fire as well as rob them of what they find profitable. It is very apt to catch up lighted sticks, so there are instances of houses being set on fire by its means.” So a parrot sets a house on fire in a story by Arnauld of Carcassès (Liebrecht’s trans. of Dunlop’s History of Fiction, p. 208). Benfey thinks that this idea originally came from Greece (op. cit., vol. i, p. 383). Cf. also Pliny’s account of the incendiaria avis in Kuhn’s Herabkunft des Feuers, p. 31.


See Benfey, op. cit., vol. i, p. 384; and Hertel, op. cit., pt. i, p. 139; pt. ii, pp. 131, 132.—n.m.p.


This is the end of Book III of the Pañcatantra.—n.m.p.


This is No. 17 in the Avadānas. Cf. Grohmann, Sagen aus Böhmen, p. 35.


I.e. sweet, salt, acid, astringent, bitter and pungent.


This is No. 46 in the Avadānas.


Naukaha should be, no doubt, ‘anokaha on Dr Brockhaus’ system.


This is No. 104 in the Avadānas.


This is No. 66 in the Avadānas.


Cf. the thirty-seventh story in Sicilianische Märchen, pt. i, p. 249. Guifa’s mother wished to go to the mass and she said to him: “Guifā, if you go out, draw the door to after you” (ziehe die Thür hinter dir zu). Instead of shutting the door, Guifā took it off its hinges and carried it to his mother in the church. See Dr Köhler’s notes on the story.-For valuable notes and references on “noodle” stories see Bolte, op.cit., vol. i, p. 525.—n.m.p.

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