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 ...

163. Story of Mṛgāṅkadatta

THEN, as Mṛgāṅkadatta was journeying to Ujjayinī, with Śrutadhi and Vimalabuddhi, to find Śaśāṅkavatī, he reached the Narmadā which lay in his path. The fickle stream, when she beheld him, shook her waves like twining arms, and gleamed white with laughing foam, as if she were dancing and smiling because he had so fortunately been reunited with his ministers. And when he had gone down into the bed of the river to bathe, it happened that a king of the Śavaras, named Māyāvaṭu, came there for the same purpose. When he had bathed, three water-spirits[1] rose up at the same time and seized the Bhilla, whose retinue fled in terror. When Mṛgāṅkadatta saw that, he went into the water with his sword drawn, and killed those water-spirits, and delivered that king of the Bhillas.

When the king of the Bhillas was delivered from the danger of those monsters, he came up out of the water and fell at the feet of the prince, and said to him:

“Who are you, that Providence has brought here to save my life on the present occasion? Of what virtuous father do you adorn the family? And what is that country favoured by fortune to which you are going?”

When he said this, Śrutadhi told him the prince’s whole story from the beginning, and then the Śavara king showed him exceeding respect, and said ta him:

“Then I will be your ally in this undertaking which you have in view, as you were directed by the god, and with me will come my friend Durgapiśāca, the King of Mātaṅgas. So do me the favour, my lord, of coming to my palace, since I am your slave.”

Thus he entreated Mṛgāṅkadatta with various humble speeches, and then took him to his own village. And there he entertained the prince fittingly with all the luxuries he could command, and all the people of the village showed him respect. And the King of Mātaṅgas came and honoured him as the saviour of his friend’s life, and placed his head on the ground to show that he was his slave. Then Mṛgāṅkadatta remained there some days, to please that Māyāvaṭu, the king of the Bhillas.

And one day, while he was staying there, that king of the Śavaras began to gamble with Caṇḍaketu, his own warder. And while he was playing, the clouds began to roar, and the domestic peacocks lifted up their heads and began to dance, and King Māyāvaṭu rose up to look at them.

Then the warder, who was an enthusiastic gambler, said to his sovereign:

“What is the use, my master, of looking at these peacocks which are not skilled in dancing? I have a peacock in my house to which you would not find an equal in the world. I will show it you to-morrow, if you take pleasure in such things.”

When the king heard that, he said to the warder, “You must certainly show it to me,” and then he set about the duties of the day. And Mṛgāṅkadatta, when he heard all that, rose up with his companions and performed his duties, such as bathing and eating.

And when the night came, and thick darkness was diffused over the face of things, the prince went out alone and selfimpelled from the chamber in which his companions were sleeping, in search of adventures, with his body smeared with musk, wearing dark blue garments and with his sword in his hand.[2] And as he was roaming about, a certain man, who was coming along the road and did not see him on account of the darkness, jostled against him, and struck his shoulder against his. Then he rushed at him angrily and challenged him to fight.

But the person challenged, being a man not easily abashed, made an appropriate reply:

“Why are you perplexed by want of reflection? If you reflect, you will see that you ought to blame the moon for not lighting up this night, or the Governor of the world for not appointing that it should rule with full sway here,[3] since in such darkness causeless quarrels take place.”

Mṛgāṅkadatta was pleased with this clever answer, and he said to him:

“You are right. Who are you?”

The man answered: “I am a thief.”

Whereupon the prince said falsely:

“Give me your hand, you are of the same profession as myself.”

And the prince made an alliance with him, and went along with him out of curiosity, and at last reached an old well covered with grass. And there the man entered a tunnel, and Mṛgāṅkadatta went along it with him and reached the harem of that King Māyāvaṭu. And when he got there he recognised the man by the light of the lamp, and lo! it was the warder Caṇḍaketu, and not a robber. But the warder, who was the secret paramour of the king’s wife, did not recognise the prince, because he had other garments on than those he usually wore,[4] and kept in a corner where there was not much light.

But the moment the warder arrived, the king’s wife, who was named Mañjumatī, and was desperately in love with him, rose up and threw her arms round his neck.

And she made him sit down on a sofa, and said to him:

“Who is this man that you have brought here to-day?”

Then he said to her:

“Make your mind easy; it is a friend of mine.”

But Mañjumatī said excitedly:

“How can I, ill-starred woman that I am, feel at ease, now that this king has been saved by Mṛgāṅkadatta, after entering the very jaws of death?”

When the warder heard her say that he answered:

“Do not grieve, my dear! I will soon kill the king, and Mṛgāṅkadatta too.”

When he said this she answered, as fate would have it:

“Why do you boast? When the king was seized[5] that day by monsters in the water of Narmadā, Mṛgāṅkadatta alone was ready to rescue him; why did you not kill him then? The fact is, you fled in fear. So be silent, lest someone hears this speech of yours, and then you would certainly meet with calamity at the hands of Mṛgāṅkadatta, who is a brave man.”

When she said this, her paramour, the warder, lost his temper with her. He said:

“Wretched woman! you are certainly in love with Mṛgāṅkadatta, so receive now from me the just recompense of that taunt.”

And he rose up to kill her, dagger in hand. Then a maid, who was her confidante, ran and laid hold of the dagger with her hand and held it. In the meanwhile Mañjumatī escaped into another room. And the warder dragged the dagger out of the maid’s hand, cutting her fingers in the process, and returned home by the way which he came, somewhat confused, with Mṛgāṅkadatta, who was much astonished.

Then Mṛgāṅkadatta, who could not be recognised in the darkness, said to the warder:

“You have reached your own house, so I will leave you.”

But the warder said to the prince:

“Sleep here to-night, without going farther, for you are very tired.”

Then the prince consented, as he wished to learn something of his goings on; and the warder called one of his servants and said to him:

“Take this man to the room where the peacock is, and let him rest there, and give him a bed.”

The servant said, “I will do as you command,” and took the prince to the room and placed a light in it, and gave him a bed. He then departed, fastening the outer door with a chain, and Mṛgāṅkadatta saw the peacock there in a cage.

He said to himself, “This is the very peacock that the warder was speaking of,” and out of curiosity he opened its cage. And the peacock came out and, after looking intently at Mṛgāṅkadatta, it fell down and rolled at his feet again and again. And as it was rolling, the prince saw a string tied round its neck and at once untied it, thinking that it gave the bird pain. The peacock, the moment that the thread was loosened from its neck, became before his eyes his minister Bhīmaparākrama.[6]

Then Mṛgāṅkadatta embraced the affectionate minister, who bowed before him, and in his astonishment said to him:

“Tell me, friend, what is the meaning of this?”

Then Bhīmaparākrama said to him in his delight:

“Listen, Prince, I will tell you my story from the beginning.

“When I was separated from you by the curse of the Nāga I wandered about in the wood until I reached a Śālmali tree.[7] And I saw an image representing Gaṇeśa carved in the tree, which I worshipped, and then I sat down at the foot of the tree, being tired, and I said to myself:

‘All this mischief has been brought about by me, by telling my master that time the incident of the Vetāla which took place at night. So I will abandon here this my sinful body.’

In this frame of mind I remained there, fasting, in front of the god. And after some days an old traveller came that way and sat in the shade of that tree. And the good man, seeing me, questioned me with much persistence, saying:

‘Why do you remain in this solitary place, my son, with such a downcast face?’

Then I told him my story, exactly as it took place, and the old traveller kindly said to me, to encourage me:

‘Why, being a man, are you killing yourself like a woman? Moreover, even women do not lose their courage in calamity; hear the following tale in proof of it.


163c. Kamalākara and Haṃsāvalī

In the city of Kośalā there was a king named Vimalākara, and he had a son named Kamalākara, who was made by the Creator admirable in respect of the qualities of courage, beauty and generosity, as if to outdo Skanda, Kandarpa and the wishing-tree of heaven. Then one day a bard, whom he had known before, came and recited a certain stanza in the presence of that prince, who deserved to be praised by bards in all the regions of the world.

“Where can the row of swans[8] obtain satisfaction, until it reaches the lotus-bed,[9] round which sings a host of many noisy birds[10] delighted at obtaining the lotus-flower?”[11]

When the bard, named Manorathasiddhi, had frequently recited this stanza, Prince Kamalākara questioned him, and he said to him:

“Prince, as I was roaming about, I reached the city of King Meghamālin, named Vidiśā, the pleasure-ground of the Goddess of Prosperity. There I was staying in the house of a professor of singing, named Dardura, and one day he happened to say to me:

‘To-morrow the daughter of the king, named Haṃsāvalī, will exhibit in his presence her skill in dancing, which she has lately been taught.’

“When I heard that, I was filled with curiosity, and managed to enter the king’s palace with him the following day, and went into the dancing-hall. There I saw the slender-waisted Princess Haṃsāvalī dancing before her father, to the music of a great tabor, looking like a creeper of the tree of love agitated by the wind of youth, shaking her ornaments like flowers, curving her hand like a shoot.

Then I thought:

‘There is no one fitted to be the husband of this fawn-eyed one except the Prince Kamalākara; so, if she, being such, is not joined to him, why has the God of Love taken the trouble of stringing his bow of flowers thus fruitlessly? So I will adopt some expedient in this matter.’

Thus minded I went, after I had seen the spectacle, to the door of the king’s court, and I put up a notice with this inscription on it:

‘If there is any painter here who is a match for me, let him paint a picture.’

When no one else dared to tear it down, the king, coming to hear of it, appointed me to paint his daughter’s bower. Then I painted you and your servants, Prince Kamalākara, on the wall of the bower of that Haṃsāvalī.

“I thought to myself:

‘If I declare the matter openly, she will know that I am scheming, so I will let the princess know it by means of an artifice.’

So I persuaded a handsome fellow, who was an intimate friend of mine, to come near the palace and pretend to be mad, and I arranged with him beforehand how he was to behave. Now he was seen a long way off by the princes, as he was roaming about singing and dancing, and they had him brought into their presence to make game of him. Then Haṃsāvalī saw him, and had him brought by way of a joke into her bower, and when he saw the picture of you, which I had painted there, he began to praise you, saying:

‘I am fortunate in beholding this Kamalākara, who is, like Viṣṇu, an endless store of virtues, with his hand marked with the lotus and conch, the object of the favour of the Goddess of Fortune.’

“When the princess heard him singing such songs, as he danced, she said to me:

‘What does this fellow mean? Who is it that you have painted here?’

When she asked me this persistently, I said:

‘This mad fellow must have previously seen this prince, whom I have painted here out of regard for his beauty.’

And then I told her your name, and described to her your good qualities. Then the young tree of passion grew up in the heart of Haṃsāvalī, which was irrigated by the overflowing streams of gushing love for you. Then the king, her father, came and saw what was going on, and in wrath had the pretended madman, who was dancing, and myself, both turned out of doors. After that she pined away day by day with longing, and was reduced to such a state that, like a streak of the moon during the wane, she had only her beauty left. And on the pretence of illness she went to a temple of Viṣṇu that dispels calamity, and so managed to live a solitary life by the permission of her father. And being unable to sleep, owing to thinking on you, she could not endure the cruel moonlight, and remained there ignorant of the changes of day and night. Then she saw me one day from a window,[12] as I was entering there, and she summoned me, and honoured me respectfully with dresses and ornaments.

And then I went out and saw this stanza, which I have repeated to you, written on the border of a garment that she had given me: hear it again:

‘Where can the row of swans obtain satisfaction, until it reaches the lotus-bed, round which sings a host of many noisy birds delighted at obtaining the lotus-flower?’

And when I read it, I knew for certain how she felt towards you, and I came here to inform you, and recited the stanza in your presence, and here is the garment on which she wrote the stanza.”

When Kamalākara heard the speech of the bard, and saw the stanza, he joyed exceedingly, thinking of Haṃsāvalī, who had entered his heart, he knew not whether by eye or ear.

Now it happened that, while he was thinking with eager longing about the best means of obtaining this princess, his father summoned him and said to him:

“My son, unenterprising kings perish like snakes arrested by a charm, and how can kings rise up again when they have once perished? But you have been addicted to pleasures, and up to the present time you have not been visited by any longing for conquest; so arouse yourself, and fling off sloth: advance and conquer that enemy of mine the King of Aṅga, who has left his own country on an enterprise against me, and I will remain at home.”

When the brave Kamalākara heard this, he agreed to undertake the enterprise, being desirous of marching towards the country of his beloved. Then he set out with the forces which his father assigned him, making the earth and the hearts of his enemies tremble. And he reached in a few marches the army of the King of Aṅga, and when that prince turned round to make a counter-attack he fought with him. And the brave hero drank up his army, as Agastya[13] did the water of the sea, and, being victorious, captured the king alive. And he sent that enemy in chains to his father, committing him to the care of the principal warder, in accordance with a letter which he sent him.

But he commissioned the warder to give the following message by word of mouth to the king:

“I now leave this place, my father, to conquer other enemies.”

So he went on conquering other enemies, and with his army augmented by their forces he at last arrived in the vicinity of the city of Vidiśā.

And encamping there he sent an ambassador to Meghamālin, the father of Haṃsāvalī, to ask for her in marriage. When that king learned from the ambassador that he had come, not as an enemy, but for the sake of his daughter, he paid a friendly visit to him in person.

The prince welcomed him; and Meghamālin, after he had complimented the prince, said to him:

“Why did you take the trouble of coming in person about a business which might have been negotiated by an ambassador? For I desire this marriage: hear the reason. Seeing that this Haṃsāvalī was even in her childhood devoted to the worship of Viṣṇu, and that she had a frame delicate as a śirīṣa, I became anxious about her, and kept saying to myself:

‘Who will be a fitting husband for this girl?’

And as I could not think of a suitable husband for her, I was deprived of my sleep by my anxiety about the matter, and contracted a violent fever. And in order to allay it I worshipped and petitioned Viṣṇu, and one night, when I was only able to sleep a little on account of pain, Viṣṇu said to me in a dream:

‘Let that Haṃsāvalī, on account of whom you have contracted this fever, touch you with her hand, my son; then your fever will be allayed. For her hand is so holy from worshipping me, that whenever she touches anyone with it, his fever, even though incurable, will certainly pass away. And you need have no more anxiety about her marriage, since Prince Kamalākara is destined to be her husband. But she will endure some misery for a short time.’

When I had been thus instructed by Viṣṇu in a dream, I woke up at the end of the night. Then my fever was removed by the touch of Haṃsāvalī’s hand. And so the union of you two is appointed by the god. Accordingly I bestow on you Haṃsāvalī.”

When he had said this, he had an auspicious moment fixed for the marriage, and returned to his capital.

There he told all that he had done, and when Haṃsāvalī had heard it, she said in secret to her confidante, named Kanakamañjarī:

“Go and see with your own eyes whether that prince, to whom I am to be given, is the same as he who, when painted here by the artist, captivated my heart. For it is just possible that my father may wish, out of fear, to bestow me as a gift on some prince of the same name that has come here with an army.”

With these words she sent off Kanakamañjarī, acting in accordance with her own will only.

And the confidante, having assumed the complete disguise of an ascetic, with rosary of Akṣa beads, deer-skin and matted hair, went to the camp of that prince, and entered introduced by his attendants, and beheld him looking like the god that presides over the weapon with which the God of Love conquers the world. And her heart was fascinated by his beauty, and she remained a moment looking as if she were in profound meditation.

And full of longing she said to herself:

“If I am not united with this charming prince, I shall have been born in vain. So I will take the necessary steps to ensure that, whatever comes of it.”

Then she went up to him and gave him her blessing, and bestowed on him a jewel, and he received the gem politely and sat down. Then she said to him:

“This is an excellent jewel, of which I have often seen the properties tested. By holding it in your hand you can render ineffectual the best weapon of your enemy. And I give it you out of regard for your excellence, for it is not of so much use to me, Prince, as it is to you.”

When she said this the prince began to speak to her, but she forbade him, on the ground that she had vowed an exclusive devotion to the life of a beggar, and departed thence.

Then she laid aside the dress of a female ascetic, and assumed a downcast expression of face and went into the presence of Haṃsāvalī, and, when questioned by her, made the following false statement:

“I must, out of love for you, reveal the king’s secret, although it is a matter which ought to be concealed. When I went from here to the camp of the prince, dressed as a female ascetic, a man came up to me of his own accord and said in a low voice:

‘Reverend madam, do you know the rites for exorcising demons?’

When I heard that I said to him, looking upon him as the warder:

‘I know them very well. This is a trifling matter for me.’

Then I was immediately introduced into the presence of that Prince Kamalākara. And I saw him croucing, possessed by a demon, having horns on his head,[14] and his attendants were trying to restrain him; besides, he had herbs and a talismanic jewel on him. I performed certain pretended ceremonies to avert evil, and went out immediately, saying:

‘Tomorrow I will come and take away his affliction.’

Accordingly, being exceedingly grieved with the sight of such an unexpected calamity, I have come here to tell you; it is for you to decide what you will do next.”

When the unsuspecting Haṃsāvalī heard this trumped-up tale of her maid’s, terrible as a thunderstroke, she was distracted, and said to her:

“Out on the spite of Destiny! she brings trouble on her handiwork, even when full of excellencies[15]; indeed the spot on the moon is a disgrace to him who created it. As for this prince, I chose him as my husband; but I cannot see him, so it is best for me to die, or to retire into some forest. So tell me what I had better do in this matter.”

When the guileless lady said this, the treacherous Kanakamañjarī answered:

“Have some maid of yours, dressed in your clothes, married to him, and we will escape to some place of refuge; for the people of the palace will be all in a state of excitement at that time.”

When the princess heard that, she said to her wicked confidante:

“Then do you put on my clothes and marry that prince; who else is as faithful to me as you?”

The wicked Kanakamañjarī answered:

“Cheer up; I will manage to effect this by a stratagem, happen to me what may. But when the time comes, you must do as I direct you.”

When she had consoled her with these words she went and told an intimate friend of hers, named Aśokakarī, her secret object. And with her she waited during three days on the desponding Haṃsāvalī, who agreed with them on the measures to be taken.

And when the wedding day came, the bridegroom, Kamalākara, arrived at night, with a train of elephants, horses and footmen. While all the people of the palace were occupied with festal rejoicing, Kanakamañjarī, keeping by an artifice the other maids out of the way, quickly took Haṃsāvalī into her chamber, ostensibly for the purpose of decking her, and put the princess’s dress on herself, and clothed her in the dress of Aśokakarī, and put her own dress on her accomplice Aśokakarī; and, when night came, said to Haṃsāvalī:

“If you go out only the distance of a cos from the western gate of this city, you will find an old hollow Sālmali tree. Go and hide inside it, and await my arrival. And after the business is accomplished I will certainly come there to you.”

When Haṃsāvalī heard these words of her treacherous friend she agreed, and went out from the female apartments at night clad in her garments, and she passed out unperceived by the western gate of the city, which was crowded with the bridegroom’s attendants, and reached the foot of that Sālmali tree. But when she saw that the hollow of it was black with thick darkness she was afraid to go into it, so she climbed up a banyan-tree near it. There she remained hidden by the leaves, watching for the arrival of her treacherous friend, for she did not see through her villainy, being herself of a guileless nature.[16]

In the palace meanwhile, the auspicious moment having arrived, the king brought Kanakamañjarī, who was dressed as Haṃsāvalī, and placed her on the sacrificial platform, and Kamalākara married that fair-hued maid; and on account of its being night nobody detected her. And the moment the marriage was over, the prince set out for his own camp at full speed by that same western gate of the city, in order to gain the benefit of propitious constellations, and he took with him the supposed Haṃsavalī, together with Aśokakarī, who was personating Kanakamañjarī. And as he went along he came near that Sālmali tree, in the banyan-tree near which was concealed Haṃsāvalī, who had been so cruelly deceived. And when he arrived there, the supposed Haṃsāvalī, who was on the back of the elephant, which the king had mounted, embraced him, as if she were terrified.

And he asked her eagerly the reason of that terror; whereupon she artfully replied, with gushing tears:

“My husband, I remember that, last night, in a dream, a woman like a Rākṣasī rushed out from this tree and seized me to eat me. Then a certain Brāhman ran forward and delivered me, and after he had consoled me he said:

‘My daughter, you should have this tree burnt, and if this woman should come out of it she must be thrown back into it. So all will turn out well.’

When the Brāhman had said this he disappeared, and I woke up. Now that I have seen this tree I remember it. That is why I am frightened.”

When she said this, Kamalākara immediately ordered his servants to bum the tree, and the woman too. So they burned the tree; and the pretended Haṃsāvalī thought that her mistress was burned in it, as she did not come out of it. Then she was satisfied, and Kamalākara returned with her to the camp, thinking that he had got the real Haṃsāvalī. And the next morning he returned rapidly from that place to his city of Kośalā, and he was anointed king by his father, who was pleased at his success. And after his father had gone to the forest, he ruled the earth, having for his wife Kanakamañjarī, the pretended Haṃsāvalī. But the bard Manorathasiddhi kept at a distance from the palace, because he feared for his own safety in case she were to find out who he was.

But when Haṃsāvalī, who remained that night in the banyan-tree, heard and saw all that, she perceived that she had been tricked. And she said to herself, as soon as Kamalākara had departed:

“Alas! my wicked confidante has robbed me of my lover by treachery. Alas! she even desires to have me burned in order to ensure her own peace of mind. But to whom is reliance upon treacherous people not a source of calamity? So I will throw my unlucky self into the glowing ashes of the Sālmali tree, that was burnt for me, and so pay my debt to the tree.”

After these reflections she descended from the tree, determined to destroy herself, but as fate would have it, she returned to her sober reason, and thought thus within herself:

“Why should I destroy myself without reason? If I live, I shall soon be revenged on that betrayer of her friend. For when my father was seized with that fever, Viṣṇu appeared to him in a dream, and after saying that he was to be healed by the touch of my hand, said this to him:

‘Haṃsāvalī shall obtain Kamalākara, who will be a suitable husband for her, but she shall endure calamity for a short time.’

So I will go somewhere and wait a little.”

When she had formed this resolution, she set out for an uninhabited forest.

And after she had gone a long distance, and was weary, and her steps began to falter, the night disappeared, as if out of pity, in order to let her see her way. And the heaven being, as it were, moved with compassion at beholding her, let fall a flood of tears in the form of drops of dew. And the sun, the friend of the virtuous, rose up so as to comfort her, by revealing to her both hopes and the face of the country, and stretched out the fingers of his rays to wipe away her tears. Then the princess, being a little consoled, went on slowly by bypaths, avoiding the sight of men; and wounded by the spikes of kuśa grass, she at last reached with difficulty a certain forest, full of birds which seemed to be singing: “Come here! come here!” She entered the wood, fatigued, and was, as it were, courteously fanned by the trees with their creepers waving in the wind. So she, full of longing for her beloved, beheld that wood in all the pomp of spring, where the cuckoos cooed sweetly on fragrant mango-trees in full blossom.

And in her despondency she said to herself:

“Although this breeze from the Malaya mountain, red with the pollen of flowers, scorches me like a fire, and these showers of flowers falling from the trees, while the bees hum, strike me like showers of the arrows of love, still I will remain here worshipping with these flowers the husband of Ramā,[17] and by so doing purge away my sin.”

Having formed this resolution, she remained bathing in tanks and living on fruit, devoted to the worship of Viṣṇu, in order to gain Kamalākara.

In the meanwhile it happened that Kamalākara was seized with a chronic quartan fever. Then the wicked Kanakamañjarī, who personated Haṃsāvalī, was terrified, and thought thus in her heart:

“I have always one fear in my heart, lest Aśokakarī should reveal my secret, and now a second has come on the top of it. For the father of Haṃsāvalī said to my husband, in the presence of a large number of persons, that the touch of his daughter’s hand removed fever; and as soon as in his present attack he shall call that to mind, I shall be exposed, as not having that power, and Tuined. So I will perform on his behalf with all due rites an incantation for obtaining control over an imp of the fever-demon, who has the power of removing fever, and who was mentioned to me long ago by a certain witch. And I will by a stratagem kill this Aśokakarī, in front of the imp, in order that the offering to him may be made with human flesh, and so he may be enlisted in my service and bring about the desired result. So the king’s fever will be cured and Aśokakarī removed at the same time, and both my fears will be ended; I do not see any chance of a prosperous issue in any other way.”

Having formed this resolution, she told Aśokakarī all the harmless points of her plan, taking care to omit the necessity of slaying a human being. Then Aśokakarī consented, and brought the necessary utensils, and Kanakamañjarī by an artifice dismissed her attendants, and, accompanied by Aśokakarī only, went out from the women’s apartments secretly at night by a postern-door, and, sword in hand,[18] made for a deserted temple of Śiva, in which there was one liṅga. There she killed with the sword a goat, and anointed the liṅga with its blood, and made an offering to it of its flesh, and threw the animal’s entrails round it by way of a garland, and honoured it by placing on its summit the goat’s lotus-like heart, and fumigated it with the smoke of its eyes, and lastly presented to it the animal’s head by way of oblation. Then she smeared the front of the sacrificial platform with blood and sandalwood, and painted on it with yellow paint a lotus having eight leaves, and on its pericarp she traced with crushed mango a representation of the demon of fever, with three feet and three mouths, and with a handful of ashes by way of weapon; and she represented on the leaves the fever’s attendant imps in proper form, and summoned them with a spell which she knew. [also see notes on tantra and black magic]

And then she wished to make an offering to them, preparatory to bathing, with human flesh, as I said before, so she said to Aśokakarī:

“Now, my friend, prostrate yourself flat on the earth before the god, for thus you will obtain prosperous fortune.”

Then she consented, and flung herself flat on the earth, and the wicked Kanakamañjarī gave her a cut with the sword. As it happened, the sword only wounded her slightly on the shoulder, and she rose up terrified and ran away; and seeing Kanakamañjarī pursuing her, she exclaimed again and again: “Help! help!” And thereupon some guards, who happened to be near, ran to her assistance. When they saw Kanakamañjarī pursuing her, sword in hand, with a ferocious expression of countenance, they thought she was a Rākṣasī, and slashed her with their swords till she was almost dead. But when they heard from the lips of Aśokakarī the real state of the case, they took both the women to the king’s court, with the governor of the town at their head. When King Kamalākara heard their story, he had that wicked wife and her confidante brought into his presence. And when they were brought, what with fear and the severe pain of her wounds, Kanakamañjarī died on the spot.

Then the king, in great despondency, said to Aśokakarī, who was wounded:

“What is the meaning of this? Tell me without fear.”

Then Aśokakarī related from the very beginning the history of the daring treachery accomplished by Kanakamañjarī. Then King Kamalākara, having found out the truth, thus bewailed his lot on that occasion:

“Alas! I have been deceived by this supposed Haṃsāvalī with my own hand, fool that I was! Well! this wicked woman has met the just reward of her actions, in that, after becoming the wife of a king, she has been thus put to death. But how came I to permit cruel Destiny to deceive me with mere outward appearances, like a child, and so to rob me by taking away my jewel and giving me glass instead? Moreover, I did not remember that touch of the hand of Haṃsāvalī, of which Viṣṇu spoke to her father, which has given evidence of its power to remove fever.”

While Kamalākara was thus lamenting, he suddenly recollected the words of Viṣṇu, and said to himself:

“Her father, Meghamālin, told me that Viṣṇu said she should obtain a husband, but that she should suffer some little affliction, and that word of the god, made known to men, will not have been spoken in vain. So it is quite possible that she may have gone somewhere else, and be still alive, for who knows the mysterious ways of a woman’s heart, any more than those of Destiny? So in this matter the bard Manorathasiddhi must once more be my refuge.”

Thus reflecting, the king sent for that excellent bard, and said to him:

“How is it, my good friend, that you are never seen in the palace?”

But how can those obtain their wishes who are deceived by rogues? When the bard heard that, he said:

“My excuse is that this Aśokakarī was well-nigh slain, out of fear that she would reveal the secret. But you must not be despondent about Haṃsāvalī, for Viṣṇu revealed that she would suffer calamity for a short time. And he certainly protects her, because she is ever intent on worshipping him; for virtue prevails: has it not been seen in the present instance? So I will go, King, to obtain tidings of her.”

When the bard said this to the king, he answered him:

“I myself will go in search of her with you. For otherwise my mind cannot be at rest even for a moment.”

When the king had said this, he resolved on the course to be taken, and next day he entrusted his kingdom to the care of his minister Prajñāḍhya. And though the minister did all he could to dissuade him, the king left the town unobserved with Manorathasiddhi. And he went round to many holy places, hermitages and forests in search of her, disregarding physical suffering, for weighty is the command of love. And it happened that he and Manorathasiddhi at last reached the wood where Haṃsāvalī was performing austerities. There he saw her at the foot of a red Aśoka tree, thin and pale, but yet charming, like the last digit of the gleaming moon. And he said to the bard:

“Who is this silent and motionless, engaged in meditation? Can she be a goddess, for her beauty is more than human?”

When the bard heard that, he looked and said:

“You are fortunate, my sovereign, in finding Haṃsāvalī; for it is she herself that is standing there.”

When Haṃsāvalī heard that, she looked at them, and recognising that bard, she cried out with renewed grief:

“Alas, my father, I am ruined! alas, my husband, Kamalākara! alas, Manorathasiddhi! alas, Destiny, source[19] of untoward events!”

Thus lamenting she fell on the ground in a faint, and when Kamalākara heard and saw her, he too fell on the earth overpowered with grief. Then they were both brought round by Manorathasiddhi; and when they had recognised one another for certain, they were much delighted, and, having crossed the ocean of separation, they experienced indescribable joy, and they told one another in due course all their adventures. Then Kamalākara returned with Haṃsāvalī and that bard to the city of Kośalā. There he received in marriage her hand that had the power of removing disease, after summoning her father, the famous Meghamālin. Then Kamalākara shone exceedingly bright, being united with Haṃsāvalī, both whose wings were pure.[20] And having attained his object in life, he lived happily with her whose endurance had borne fruit, ruling the earth, inseparable from Manorathasiddhi.


163. Story of Mṛgāṅkadatta

“‘So you see those who do not lose heart, even in calamity, obtain all they desire, and on the same principle you should abstain from suicide, for, if you live, you will be reunited to that lord.’

With these words the old traveller closed his tale, and after dissuading me from death, departed whither he would.”

After Bhīmaparākrama had told all this to Mṛgāṅkadatta at night in the house of Caṇḍaketu, he went on to say:

“So, having received useful admonition, I left that forest and went to the city of Ujjayinī, for which I knew you were making, to find you. When I did not find you there, I entered the house of a certain woman to lodge, as I was worn out, and gave her money for food. She gave me a bed, and being tired I slept for some time, but then I woke up, and out of curiosity I remained quiet, and watched her, and while I was watching, the woman took a handful of barley, and sowed it all about inside the house, her lip trembling all the time with muttering spells. Those grains of barley immediately sprang up, and produced ears, and ripened, and she cut them down, and parched them, and ground them, and made them into barley-meal. And she sprinkled the barley-meal with water, and put it in a brass pot, and, after arranging her house as it was before, she went out quickly to bathe.[21]

“Then, as I saw that she was a witch, I took the liberty of rising up quickly; and taking that meal out of the brass pot, I transferred it to the meal-bin, and took as much barley-meal out of the meal-bin, and placed it in the brass vessel, taking care not to mix the two kinds. Then I went back again to bed, and the woman came in, and roused me up, and gave me that meal from the brass pot to eat, and she ate some herself, taking what she ate from the meal-bin, and so she ate the charmed meal, not knowing that I had exchanged the two kinds. The moment she had eaten that barley-meal she became a she-goat; then I took her and sold her by way of revenge to a butcher.[22]

“Then the butcher’s wife came up to me and said angrily: ‘You have deceived this friend of mine—you shall reap the fruit of this.’ When I had been thus threatened by her, I went secretly out of the town, and being weary I lay down under a banyan-tree, and went to sleep. And while I was in that state, that wicked witch, the butcher’s wife, came and fastened a thread on my neck. Then the wicked woman departed, and immediately I woke up, and when I began to examine myself, lo! I had turned into a peacock, though I still retained my intelligence.[23]

“Then I wandered about for some days much distressed, and one day I was caught alive by a certain fowler. He brought me here and gave me to this Caṇḍaketu, the principal warder of the king of the Bhillas, by way of a complimentary present. The warder, for his part, immediately made me over to his wife, and she put me in this house as a pet bird. And to-day, my Prince, you have been guided here by fate, and have loosened the thread round my neck, and so I have recovered my human shape.

So let us leave this place quickly, for this warder always murders next morning[24] the companions of his midnight rambles, for fear his secrets should be disclosed. And to-day he has brought you here, after you have been a witness of his nightly adventures, so fasten, my Prince, on your neck this thread prepared by the witch, and turn yourself into a peacock, and go out by this small window; then I will stretch out my hand and loosen the thread from your neck, which you must put up to me, and I will fasten it on my own neck and go out quickly in the same way. Then you must loosen the thread round my neck, and we shall both recover our former condition. But it is impossible to go out by the door, which is fastened from outside.”

When the sagacious Bhīmaparākrama had said this, Mṛgāṅkadatta agreed to his proposal and so escaped from the house with him; and he returned to his lodging where his other two friends were; there he and his friends all spent the night pleasantly in describing to one another all their adventures.

And in the morning Māyāvaṭu, the Bhilla king, the head of that town, came to Mṛgāṅkadatta, and after asking him whether he had spent the night pleasantly, he said to amuse him: “Come, let us play dice.”

Then Mṛgāṅkadatta’s friend Śrutadhi, observing that the Bhilla had come with his warder, said to him:

“Why should you play dice? Have you forgotten? To-day we are to see the dance of the warder’s peacock, which was talked about yesterday.”

When the Śavara king heard that, he remembered, and out of curiosity sent the warder to fetch the peacock. And the warder remembered the wounds he had inflicted,[25] and thought to himself:

“Why did I in my carelessness forget to put to death that thief, who witnessed my secret nightly expedition, though I placed him in the peacock’s house? So I will go quickly, and do both the businesses.”

And thereupon he went quickly home.

But when he reached his own palace, and looked into the house where the peacock was, he could not find either the thief or the peacock.

Then terrified and despondent he returned, and said to his sovereign:

“My lord, that peacock has been taken away in the night by a thief.”

Then Śrutadhi said, smiling:

“The man who took away your peacock is renowned as a clever thief.”

And when Māyāvaṭu saw them all smiling, and looking at one another, he asked with the utmost eagerness what it all meant. Then Mṛgāṅkadatta told the Śavara king all his adventures with the warder: how he met him in the night, and how the warder entered the queen’s apartment as a paramour, and how he drew his knife in a quarrel; how he himself went to the house of the warder, and how he set Bhīmaparākrama free from his peacock transformation, and how he escaped thence.

Then Māyāvaṭu, after hearing that, and seeing that the maid in the harem had a knife-wound in the hand, and that when that thread was replaced for a moment on the neck of Bhīmaparākrama he again became a peacock, put his warder to death at once as a violator of his harem. But he spared the life of that unchaste queen, on the intercession of Mṛgāṅkadatta, and renouncing her society, banished her to a distance from his court. And Mṛgāṅkadatta, though eager to win Śaśāṅkavatī, remained some more days in the Pulinda’s town, treated with great consideration by him, looking for the arrival of the rest of his friends and his reunion with them.

[Additional note 1: on the magic string]

[Additional note 2: on the magic seed]

Footnotes and references:


Literally, “water-men.” Perhaps they were of the same race as Grendel, the terrible nicor. See also Veckenstedt’s Wendische Märchen, p. 185 et seq. Grimm’s Irische Märchen, p. cv; Kuhn’s Westfälische Märchen, vol. ii, p. 35; Waldau’s Böhmische Märchen, p. 187 et seq., and the 6th, 20th and 58th Jātakas. See also Grohmann’s account of the “Wassermann,” Sagen aus Böhmen, p. 148.


These nocturnal adventures remind us of similar habits of Har ū n-al-Raṣīd, in the Nights. In his extremely entertaining paper, “The Art of Stealing in Hindu Fiction” (Amer. Journ. Phil., vol. xliv, 1923, p. 194 et seq.), Bloomfield has collected several “Harūn” tales.—n.m.p.


The MS. in the Sanskrit College seems to me to read pūrṇosya.


I read ’nyaveśastham, which is the reading of the Sanskrit College MS.


Tawney translates āghrāto ’bhūt, “was smelt,” as if it were ākrāntobhūt, “was seized.” The latter proves to be the reading in D., and must, of course, be the correct one. —n.m.p.


See Note 1 at the end of this chapter.—n.m.p.


The silk-cotton tree.


Or Haṃsāvalī.


Or Kamalākara.


It may also mean a host of Brāhmans, or many birds and bees. It is an elaborate pun.


Another pun! It may mean “by obtaining good fortune in the form of wealth.”


For vātāyanoddeśāt the Sanskrit College MS. reads chāyatanoddeśāt [so also the D. text]; perhaps it means “entering to visit the temple.”


Agastya is the reputed author of some Vedic hymns (Ṛg-Veda, i, 165-191). His miraculous birth and various exploits are related in the Mahā-bhārata and Rāmāyaṇa. His drinking up of the ocean is thus related in the Mahābhārata (iii. 103 et seq.):

The Kālakeyas or Kāleyas, a class of Asuras, had fought under Vṛtra against the gods. After the death of their leader they hid themselves in the ocean, where the gods could not reach them, and determined to extirpate the Brāhmans and holy men; for thus, they thought, they would bring about the end of the world. The gods, alarmed by their raids, were advised by Viṣṇu to implore Agastya for help. The Ṛṣi, accordingly, drank up the water of the ocean, and thus laid bare the Kālakeyas, who were then slain by the gods. The ocean continued a void till Bhagīratha led the Gaṅgā to it and thus filled it again with water.

For further details see H. Jacobi, “Agastya,” Ency. Rel. Eth., vol. i, pp. 180, 181.—n.m.p.


See Vol. III, pp. 187n3, 188n.—n.m.p.


As Speyer suggests (op. cit., p. 131), Tawney could not have been happy about the translation here. B.’s text reads: guṇavatyāṃ svasṛṣṭāv apy añho; dhig matsaro vidheḥ! but that of D., transliterated with punctuation, guṇavatyārn svasṛṣṭāv apy alio dhiñ matsaro vidheḥ! Thus Haṃsāvalī cries out: “Oh! what a pity that Destiny feels jealousy towards her creation, even when full of excellencies!”—n.m.p.


Cf. “Die Gänsemagd,” Grimm’s Kinder - und Hausmärclien, No. 89. See also Stokes’ Indian Fairy Tales, No. 1; Bernhard. Schmidt, Griechische Märchen, p. 100; and Gonzenbach, Sicilianische Märchen, Nos. 33 and 34 (see Köhler’s notes).-In the Introduction to Basile’s Pentamerone (Burton, vol. i, p. 5 et seq.), a Moorish slave supplants the Princess Zoza. See also “The Three Citrons,” the ninth diversion of the fifth day, in the same collection (op. cit., vol. ii, p. 553 et seq.), The “supplanted bride” motif was first treated in detail by P. Arfert, Das Motiv von der unterschobenen Braut in der internationalen Erzahlungs-Litteratnr..., 1897, pp. 8-71, and recently by E. Cosquin, Contes Indiens et l’Occident, 1922, pp. 61-85. See also P. Saintyves, Les Contes de Perrault, 1923, pp. 48, 50-52. Bolte and Polivka (op. cit., vol. ii, pp. 273-285) give numerous analogues to the well-known tale of the “Goose Girl,” mentioned above. References to the motif under consideration occur on pp. 284, 285 (see especially the notes).—n.m.p.


I.e. Viṣṇu.


The sword seems to be essential in these rites: compare Book VI of the Æthiopica of Heliodorus, where the witch Cybele raises her son to life, in order that he may prophesy. [See the edition of the “Tudor Translations,” 1895, trans. T. Underdowne, p. 169, or Bohn’s edition, p. 146.] Cf. also the story of “Sundaraka and the Witches,” sub-story 24b of this work, Vol. II, p. 106, 106n4.


Nidhi means “treasury,” not “source,” but Tawney sacrificed the true meaning for the sense. The D. text, however, explains the difficulty by its reading viparītavidhe vidhe—“Alas! she cries, Destiny, operator of wrong decisions!” See Speyer, op. cit., p. 131. —n.m.p.


Here there is a pun, as Kamalākara means “a bed of lotuses,” the word pakṣa meaning “wing” and also “side.” She was of good lineage by her fathers and mother’s side. Manorathasiddhi means “the attainment of desire.”


See Note 2 at the end of the chapter.— n.m.p.


Cf. “The Soldier’s Midnight Watch” in Ralston’s Russian Folk-Tales, p. 274.


In The Golden Ass of Apuleius, Pamphile turns herself into an owl; when Apuleius asks to be turned into an owl, in order to follow her, Fotis turns him by mistake into an ass. See also the Ass of Lucian. The story of Circe will occur to everyone in connection with these transformations. See also Baring-Gould’s Myths of the Middle Ages, pp. 151, 152. Reference to animal metamorphoses in folk-tales are much too numerous to attempt to exhaust in a single note. One of the best-known tales is perhaps Grimm’s “Der Krautesel” (“Donkey Cabbage”). Bolte and Poli'vka (op. cit., vol. iii, pp. 3-9) give a long list of analogues. See also the references given by Chauvin, op. cit., vi, p. 199, and especially P. Saintyves, Les Contes de Perrault, pp. 408-416. In Note 1 at the end of this chapter will be found some account of the use of the magic string in metamorphoses.—n.m.p.


I read prātaḥ for prāyaḥ.


In order to make sense Tawney has supplied “he had inflicted” after the word “wounds.” But he was misled by the B. text. Instead of smṛtvā’udgkātān, read with the D. text, smṛtvodghātāt. Udghāta (now in the abl. sing.) literally means “something that is made to rise up suddenly [in your mind]”—i.e. “a hint,” “suggestion,” or “allusion.” Thus we should translate “By this allusion the warder remembered [the affair] and thought to himself...”—n.m.p.

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