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 ...

163g. King Trivikramasena and the Mendicant

THEN King Trivikramasena went back to the śiṃśapā tree, and again took the Vetāla from it, and set out with him on his shoulder; and as he was returning from the tree, the Vetāla once more said to him:

“Listen, King, I will tell you a noble story.


163g (16). The Sacrifice of Jīmūtavāhana[1]

There is in this earth a great mountain named Himavat, where all jewels are found, which is the origin of both Gaurī and Gaṅgā, the two goddesses dear to Śiva. Even heroes cannot reach its top[2]; it towers proudly above all other mountains; and as such its praises are sung in strains of sooth in the three worlds. On the ridge of that Himavat there is that city rightly named the Golden City, which gleams like a mass of the sun’s rays deposited by him on earth.

Of old there lived in that splendid city a fortunate lord of the Vidyādharas, named Jīmūtaketu, who dwelt there like Indra on Meru. In his palace garden there was a wishing-tree, which was an heirloom in his family, which was well known as the Granter of Desires, and not named so without reason. The king supplicated that divine tree, and obtained by its favour a son, who remembered his former birth, and was the incarnation of a portion of a Bodhisattva. He was a hero in munificence, of great courage, compassionate to all creatures, attentive to the instructions of his spiritual adviser, and his name was Jīmūtavāhana. And when he grew up to manhood, his father, the king, made him crown prince, being impelled thereto by his excellent qualities, and the advice of the ministers.

And when Jīmūtavāhana was made crown prince, the ministers of his father, desiring his welfare, came to him and said:

“Prince, you must continually worship this wishing-tree invincible by all creatures,[3] which grants all our desires. For, as long as we have this, not even Indra could injure us, much less any other enemy.”

When Jīmūtavāhana heard this, he inly reflected:

“Alas! our predecessors, though they possessed such a divine tree, never obtained from it any fruit worthy of it; some of them asked it for wealth and did nothing more; so the mean creatures made themselves and this noble tree contemptible. Well, I will make it inserve a design which I have in my mind.”

After the noble prince had formed this resolution he went to his father, and gained his good will by paying him all kinds of attentions, and said to him in private, as he was sitting at ease:

“Father, you know that in this sea of mundane existence, all that we behold is unsubstantial, fleeting as the twinkling of the wave. Especially are the twilight, the dawn, and fortune shortlived, disappearing as soon as revealed; where and when have they been seen to abide? Charity to one’s neighbour is the only thing that is permanent in this cycle of change; it produces holiness and fame that bear witness for hundreds of Yugas. So with what object, father, do we keep for ourselves such an unfailing wishing-tree, as all these phenomenal conditions are but momentary? Where, I ask, are those, our predecessors, who kept it so strenuously, exclaiming: ‘It is mine, it is mine’? Where is it now to them? For which of them does it exist, and which of them exists for it? So, if you permit, father, I will employ this wishing-tree, that grants all desires, for attaining the matchless fruit of charity to one’s neighbour.”

His father gave him leave, saying:

“So be it!”

And Jīmūtavāhana went and said to the wishing-tree:

“O god, thou didst fulfil all the cherished wishes of our predecessors, so fulfil this one solitary wish of mine! Enable me to behold this whole earth free from poverty; depart, and good luck attend thee; thou art bestowed by me on the world that desires wealth.”

When Jīmūtavāhana had said this, with joined hands, a voice came forth from the tree:

“Since thou hast relinquished me, I depart.”

And in a moment the wishing-tree flew up to heaven, and rained wealth on the earth, so plenteously that there was not one poor man left on it. Then the glory of that Jīmūtavāhana spread through the three worlds, on account of that ardent compassion of his for all creatures.

That made all his relations impatient with envy; and thinking that he and his father would be easy to conquer, as they were deprived of the calamity-averting tree which they had bestowed on the world, they put their heads together and formed a design, and then girded on their harness for war, to deprive Jīmūtavāhana and his father of their realm.

When Jīmūtavāhana saw that, he said to his father:

“Father, what other has might, when thou hast taken up arms? But what generous man desires to possess a realm, if he must do so by slaying his relations for the sake of this wicked perishable body? So of what use is sovereignty to us? We will depart to some other place, and practise virtue that brings happiness in both worlds. Let these miserable relations that covet our kingdom, joy their fill!”

When Jīmūtavāhana said this, his father, Jīmūtaketu, answered him:

“My son, I desire a realm for your sake only; if you, being penetrated with compassion, give it up, of what value is it to me, who am old?”

When Jīmūtavāhana’s father agreed to his proposal, he went with him and his mother to the Malaya mountain, abandoning his kingdom. There he made him a retreat in the valley of a brook, the stream of which was hidden by sandalwood-trees, and spent his time in waiting on his parents. And there he made a friend of the name of Mitrāvasu, the son of Viśvāvasu, the King of the Siddhas, who dwelt on that mountain.

Now, one day, as Jīmūtavāhana was roaming about, he went into a temple of the goddess Gaurī, that was situated in a garden, in order to worship in the presence of the image. And there he saw a beautiful maiden, accompanied by her attendants, playing on the lyre, intent on pleasing the daughter of the mountain.[4] And the deer were listening to the sweet sound of the lyre in the musical performance, standing motionless, as if abashed at beholding the beauty of her eyes.[5] She had a black pupil in her white eye, and it seemed as if it strove to penetrate to the root of her ear.[6] She was thin and elegant in her waist, which appeared as if the Creator had compressed it in his grasp when making her, and deeply impressed on it the marks of his fingers in the form of wrinkles.[7] The moment Jīmūtavāhana saw that beauty, it seemed as if she entered by his eyes and stole away his heart. And when the maiden saw him, adorning the garden, producing longing and disturbance of soul, looking as if he were the God of Spring retired to the forest through disgust at the burning up of the body of the God of Love, she was overpowered with affection, and so bewildered that her lyre, as if it had been a friend, became distracted and mute.

Then Jīmūtavāhana said to an attendant of hers:

“What is your friend’s auspicious name, and what family does she adorn?”

When the attendant heard that, she said:

“She is the sister of Mitrāvasu, and the daughter of Viśvāvasu, the King of the Siddhas, and her name is Malayavatī.”

When she had said this to Jīmūtavāhana, the discreet woman asked the son of the hermit, who had come with him, his name and descent, and then she made this brief remark to Malayavatī, smiling as she spoke:

“My friend, why do you not welcome this prince of the Vidyādharas who has come here? For he is a guest worthy of being honoured by the whole world.”

When she said this, that daughter of the King of the Siddhas was silent, and her face was cast down through shame.

Then her attendant said to Jīmūtavāhana:

“The princess is bashful, permit me to show you the proper courtesy in her place.”

So she alone gave him a garland with the arghya. Jīmūtavāhana, as soon as the garland was given to him, being full of love, took it, and threw it round the neck of Malayavatī. And she, looking at him with loving, sidelong looks, placed, as it were, a garland of blue lotuses on him.

Thus they went through a sort of silent ceremony of mutual election, and then a maid came and said to that Siddha maiden:

“Princess, your mother desires your presence; come at once.”

When the princess heard that, she withdrew regretfully and reluctantly from the face of her beloved her gaze, that seemed to be fastened to it with the arrows of love, and managed, not without a struggle, to return to her house. And Jīmūtavāhana, with his mind fixed on her, returned to his hermitage.

And when Malayavatī had seen her mother, she went at once and flung herself down on her bed, sick of separation from her beloved. Then her eyes were clouded, as it were, by the smoke of the fire of love that burnt in her bosom, she shed floods of tears, and her body was tortured with heat; and though her attendants anointed her with sandalwood unguent,[8] and fanned her with the leaves of lotuses, she could not obtain any relief on the bed, in the lap of her attendant or on the ground. Then the day retired somewhere with the glowing evening, and the moon ascending kissed the laughing forehead of the east, and though urged on by love she was too bashful to send a female messenger to her chosen one, or to adopt any of the measures that lovers usually take; but she seemed loth to live. And she was contracted in her heart, and she passed that night, which the moon made disagreeable to her, like a lotus which closes at night, and bewilderment hung round her, like a cloud of bees.

And in the meanwhile Jīmūtavāhana, who was tortured at parting with her, though lying on his bed, spent the night as one who had fallen into the hands of Kāma; though his glow of love was of recent birth, a pallid hue began to show itself in him; and though shame made him dumb, he uttered the pain which love produced.

Next morning he returned with excessive longing to that temple of Gaurī where he had seen the daughter of the King of the Siddhas. And while distracted with the fire of passion he was being consoled by the hermit’s son, who had followed him there. Malayavatī also came there; for, as she could not bear separation, she had secretly gone out alone into a solitary place to abandon the body.

And the girl, not seeing her lover, who was separated from her by a tree, thus prayed, with eyes full of tears, to the goddess Gaurī:

“Goddess, though my devotion to thee has not made Jīmūtavāhana my husband in this life, let him be so in my next life!”

As soon as she had said this, she made a noose with her upper garment, and fastened it to the branch of the aśoka tree in front of the temple of Gaurī. And she said:

“Prince Jīmūtavāhana, lord renowned over the whole world, how is it that, though thou art compassionate, thou hast not delivered me?”

When she had said this, she was proceeding to fasten the noose round her throat, but at that very moment a voice spoken by the goddess came from the air:

“Daughter, do not act recklessly, for the Vidyādhara prince, Jīmūtavāhana, the future emperor, shall be thy husband.”

When the goddess said this, Jīmūtavāhana also heard it, and seeing his beloved he went up to her, and his friend accompanied him.

And his friend, the hermit’s son, said to the young lady:

“See, here is that very bridegroom whom the goddess has in reality bestowed upon you.”

And Jīmūtavāhana, uttering many tender loving speeches, removed with his own hand the noose from her neck. Then they seemed to have experienced, as it were, a sudden shower of nectar, and Malayavatī remained with bashful eye, drawing lines upon the ground.

And at that moment, one of her companions, who was looking for her, suddenly came up to her, and said in joyful accents:

“Friend, you are lucky, and you are blessed with good fortune in that you have obtained the very thing which you desired. For, this very day, Prince Mitrāvasu said to the great king your father, in my hearing: ‘Father, that Vidyādhara prince, Jīmūtavāhana, the object of the world’s reverence, the bestower of the wishing-tree, who has come here, should be complimented by us, as he is our guest; and we cannot find any other match as good as him; so let us pay him a compliment by bestowing on him this pearl of maidens, Malayavatī.’ The king approved, saying, ‘So be it,’ and your brother, Mitrāvasu, has now gone to the hermitage of the illustrious prince on this very errand. And I know that your marriage will take place at once, so come back to your palace, and let this illustrious prince also return to his dwelling.”

When the princess’s companion said this to her, she departed slowly from that place, rejoicing and regretful, frequently turning her head.

And Jīmūtavāhana also returned quickly to his hermitage, and heard from Mitrāvasu, who came there, his commission, which fulfilled all his wishes, and welcomed it with joy. And as he remembered his former births, he gave him an account of one in which Mitrāvasu was his friend, and Mitrāvasu’s sister his wife.[9] Then Mitrāvasu was pleased, and informed the parents of Jīmūtavāhana, who were also delighted, and returned, to the joy of his own parents, having executed his mission successfully. And that very day he took Jīmūtavāhana to his own house, and he made preparations for the marriage festival with a magnificence worthy of his magic power, and on that very same auspicious day he celebrated the marriage of his sister to that Vidyādhara prince; and then Jīmūtavāhana, having obtained the desire of his heart, lived with his newly married wife, Malayavatī. And once on a time, as he was roaming about out of curiosity with Mitrāvasu on that Malaya mountain, he reached a wood on the shore of the sea.

There he saw a great many heaps of bones, and he said to Mitrāvasu:

“What creatures are these whose bones are piled up here?”

Then his brother-in-law, Mitrāvasu, said to that compassionate man:

“Listen, I will tell you the story of this in a few words. Long, long ago, Kadrū, the mother of the snakes, conquered Vinatā, the mother of Garuḍa, in a treacherous wager, and made her a slave. Through enmity caused thereby, the mighty Garuḍa,[10] though he had delivered his mother, began to eat the snakes of the sons of Kadrū. He was thenceforth continually in the habit of entering Pātāla, and some he smote, some he trampled, and some died of fright.

“When Vāsuki, the king of the snakes, saw that, he feared that his race would be annihilated at one fell swoop, so he supplicated Garuḍa, and made a compact with him, saying: ‘King of birds, I will send you one snake every day to this southern sea for your meal. But you must by no means enter Pātāla, for what advantage will you gain by destroying the snakes at one blow?’ When the king of the snakes said this, the mighty Garuḍa saw that the proposal was to his advantage, and agreed to it. And from that time forth the king of birds eats every dáy, on the shore of the sea, a snake sent by Vāsuki. So these are heaps of bones of snakes devoured by Garuḍa, that have gradually accumulated in course of time, and come to look like the peak of a mountain.”

When Jīmūtavāhana, that treasure-house of courage and compassion, had heard, inly grieving, this story from the mouth of Mitrāvasu, he thus answered him:

“One cannot help grieving for King Vāsuki, who, like a coward, offers up every day his subjects to their enemy with his own hand. As he has a thousand faces and a thousand mouths, why could he not say with one mouth to Garuḍa: ‘Eat me first’? And how could he be so cowardly as to ask Garuḍa to destroy his race, and so heartless as to be able to listen continually, unmoved, to the lamentation of the Nāga women?[11] And to think that Garuḍa, though the son of Kaśyapa and a hero, and though sanctified by being the bearer of Kṛṣṇa, should do such an evil deed! Alas the depths of delusion!”

When the noble-hearted one had said this, he formed this wish in his heart:

“May I obtain the one essential object in this world by the sacrifice of the unsubstantial body! May I be so fortunate as to save the life of one friendless terrified Nāga by offering myself to Garuḍa!”

While Jīmūtavāhana was going through these reflections, a doorkeeper came from Mitrāvasu’s father to summon them, and Jīmūtavāhana sent Mitrāvasu home, saying to him:

“Go you on first, I will follow.”

And after he had gone, the compassionate man roamed about alone, intent on effecting the object he had in view; and he heard afar off a piteous sound of weeping. And he went on, and saw near a lofty rocky slab a young man of handsome appearance plunged in grief: an officer of some monarch seemed to have just brought him and left him there, and the young man was trying to induce by loving persuasions[12] an old woman, who was weeping there, to return.

And while Jīmūtavāhana was listening there in secret, melted with pity, eager to know who he could be, the old woman, overwhelmed with the weight of grief, began to look again and again at the young man, and to lament his hard lot in the following words:

“Alas, Śaṅkhacūḍa, you that were obtained by me by means of a hundred pangs! Alas, virtuous one! Alas, son, the only scion of our family, where shall I behold you again? Darling, when this moon of your face is withdrawn, your father will fall into the darkness of grief; and how will he live to old age? How will your body, that would suffer even from the touch of the sun’s rays, be able to endure the agony of being devoured by Garuḍa? How comes it that providence and the king of the snakes were able to find out you, the only son of ill-starred me, though the world of snakes is wide?”

When she thus lamented, the young man, her son, said to her:

“I am afflicted enough, as it is, mother; why do you afflict me more? Return home; this is my last reverence to you, for I know it will soon be time for Garuḍa to arrive here.”

When the old woman heard that, she cast her sorrowful eyes all round the horizon, and cried aloud:

“I am undone; who will deliver my son?”

In the meanwhile Jīmūtavāhana, that portion of a Bodhisattva, having heard and seen that, said to himself, being profoundly touched with pity:

“I see this is an unhappy snake, of the name of Śaṅkhacūḍa, who has now been sent by King Vāsuki, to serve as food for Garuḍa. And this is his aged mother, whose only son he is, and who had followed him here out of love, and is lamenting piteously from grief. So, if I cannot save this wretched Nāga by offering up this exceedingly perishable body, alas! my birth will have been void of fruit.”

When Jīmūtavāhana had gone through these reflections he went joyfully up to the old woman, and said to her:

“Mother, I will deliver your son.”

When the old woman heard that, she was alarmed and terrified, thinking that Garuḍa had come, and she cried out:

“Eat me, Garuḍa; eat me!”

Then Śaṅkhacūḍa said:

“Mother, do not be afraid. This is not Garuḍa. There is a great difference between this being, who cheers one like the moon, and the terrible Garuḍa.”

When Śaṅkhacūḍa said this, Jīmūtavāhana said:

“Mother, I am a Vidyādhara, come to deliver your son; for I will give my body, disguised in clothes, to the hungry Garuḍa; and do you return home, taking your son with you.”

When the old woman heard that, she said:

“By no means, for you are my son in a still higher sense, because you have shown such compassion for us at such a time.”

When Jīmūtavāhana heard that, he replied:

“You two ought not to disappoint my wish in this matter.”

And when he persistently urged this, Śaṅkhacūḍa said to him:

“Of a truth, noble-hearted man, you have displayed your compassionate nature, but I cannot consent to save my body at the cost of yours; for who ought to save a common stone by the sacrifice of a gem? The world is full of people like myself, who feel pity only for themselves, but people like you, who are inclined to feel pity for the whole world, are few in number; besides, excellent man, I shall never find it in my heart to defile the pure race of Śaṅkhapāla, as a spot defiles the disk of the moon.”

When Śaṅkhacūḍa had in these words attempted to dissuade him, he said to his mother:

“Mother, go back, and leave this terrible wilderness. Do you not see here this rock of execution, smeared with the clotted gore of snakes, awful as the luxurious couch of death! But I will go to the shore of the sea, and worship the lord Gokarṇa, and quickly return, before Garuḍa comes here.”

When Śaṅkhacūḍa had said this, he took a respectful leave of his sadly wailing mother, and went to pay his devotions to Gokarṇa.

And Jīmūtavāhana made up his mind that, if Garuḍa arrived in the meantime, he would certainly be able to carry out his proposed self-sacrifice for the sake of another. And while he was thus reflecting, he saw the trees swaying with the wind of the wings of the approaching king of birds, and seeming, as it were, to utter a cry of dissuasion. So he came to the conclusion that the moment of Garuḍa’s arrival was at hand; and, determined to offer up his life for another, he ascended the rock of sacrifice. And the sea, churned by the wind, seemed with the eyes of its bright-flashing jewels to be gazing in astonishment at his extraordinary courage. Then Garuḍa came along, obscuring the heaven, and swooping down, struck the great-hearted hero with his beak, and carried him off from that slab of rock. And he quickly went off with him to a peak of the Malaya mountain, to eat him there; and Jīmūtavāhana’s crest-jewel was torn from his head, ánd drops of blood fell from him, as he was carried through the air.

And while Garuḍa was eating that moon of the Vidyādhara race, he said to himself:

“May my body thus be offered in every birth for the benefit of others, and let me not enjoy heaven or liberation, if they are dissociated from the opportunity of benefiting my neighbour.”

And while he was saying this to himself, a rain of flowers fell from heaven.

In the meanwhile his crest-jewel, dripping with his blood, had fallen in front of his wife Malayavatī. When she saw it, she recognised it with much trepidation as her husband’s crest-jewel, and as she was in the presence of her father-in-law and mother-in-law she showed it them with tears. And they, when they saw their son’s crest-jewel, were at once beside themselves to think what it could mean. Then King Jīmūtaketu and Queen Kanakavatī found out by their supernatural powers of meditation the real state of the case, and proceeded to go quickly with their daughter-in-law to the place where Garuḍa and Jīmūtavāhana were. In the meanwhile Śaṅkhacūḍa returned from worshipping Gokarṇa and saw, to his dismay, that that stone of sacrifice was wet with blood.

Then the worthy fellow exclaimed with tears:

“Alas, I am undone, guilty creature that I am! Undoubtedly that great-hearted one, in the fullness of his compassion, has given himself to Garuḍa in my stead. So I will find out to what place the enemy has carried him off in this moment. If I find him alive, I shall escape sinking in the mire of dishonour.”

While he said this, he went following up the track of the drops of blood, that he saw lying close to one another on the ground.

In the meanwhile Garuḍa, who was engaged in devouring Jīmūtavāhana, saw that he was pleased; so he immediately stopped, and said to himself:

“Strange! This must be some matchless hero; for the great-hearted one rejoices even while I am devouring him, but does not lose his life. And on so much of his body as is not lacerated he has all the hairs erect, as it were a coat of mail; and his look is lovingly fixed on me, as if I were his benefactor. So he cannot be a snake; he must be some saint; I will cease from devouring him, and question him.”

While Garuḍa was thus musing, Jīmūtavāhana said to him:

“King of birds, why do you desist? There is flesh and blood in my body, and you are not satisfied as yet, so go on eating it.”

When the king of birds heard this, he asked him with much astonishment:

“Great-souled one, you are not a snake, so tell me who you are.”

But Jīmūtavāhana answered Garuda:

“In truth I am a Nāga; what is the meaning of this question of yours? Do according to your kind, for who that is not foolish would act[13] contrary to the purpose he had undertaken?”

While he was giving this answer to Garuḍa, Śaṅkhacūḍa came near, and called out to Garuḍa from a distance:

“Do not do a rash and criminal deed, son of Vinatā. What delusion is this that possesses you? He is not a snake; lo! I am the snake designed for you.”

When Śaṅkhacūḍa had said this he came up quickly, and standing between those two, and seeing Garuḍa bewildered, he went on to say:

“Why are you perplexed; do you not see that I have hoods and two tongues; and do you not observe the charming appearance of this Vidyādhara?”

While Śaṅkhacūḍa was saying this, the wife and parents of Jīmūtavāhana came there with speed. And his parents, seeing him mangled, immediately cried out:

“Alas, son! Alas, Jīmūtavāhana! Alas, compassionate one, who have given your life for others! How could you, son of Vinatā, do this thoughtless deed?”

When Garuḍa heard this, he was grieved, and he said:

“What! Have I in my delusion eaten an incarnation of a Bodhisattva? This is that very Jīmūtavāhana who sacrifices his life for others, the renown of whose glory pervades all these three worlds. So, now that he is dead, the time has arrived for my wicked self to enter the fire. Does the fruit of the poison-tree of unrighteousness ever ripen sweet?”

While Garuḍa was distracted with these reflections, Jīmūtavāhana, having beheld his family, fell down in the agony of his wounds, and died.

Then his parents, tortured with sorrow, lamented, and Śaṅkhacūḍa again and again blamed his own negligence. But Jīmūtavāhana’s wife, Malayavatī, looked towards the heavens, and in accents choked with tears thus reproached the goddess Ambikā, who before was pleased with her, and granted her a boon:

“At that time, O goddess Gaurī, thou didst promise me that I should have for husband one destined to be paramount sovereign over all the kings of the Vidyā-dharas, so how comes it that thou hast falsified thy promise to me?”

When she said this, Gaurī became visible, and saying,

“Daughter, my speech was not false,”

she quickly sprinkled Jīmūtavāhana with nectar from her pitcher.[14]

That made the successful hero Jīmūtavāhana at once rise up more splendid than before, with all his limbs free from wounds.

He rose up, and prostrated himself before the goddess, and then all prostrated themselves, and the goddess said to him:

“My son, I am pleased with this sacrifice of thy body, so I now anoint thee with this hand of mine emperor over the Vidyādharas, and thou shalt hold the office for a kalpa.”

With these words Gaurī sprinkled Jīmūtavāhana with water from her pitcher and, after she had been worshipped, disappeared. And thereupon a heavenly rain of flowers fell on that spot, and the drums of the gods sounded joyously in the sky.

Then Garuḍa, bending low, said to Jīmūtavāhana:

“Emperor, I am pleased with thee, as thou art an unparalleled hero, since thou, of soul matchlessly generous, hast done this wonderful deed, that excites the astonishment of the three worlds, and is inscribed on the walls of the egg of Brahmā. So give me an order, and receive from me whatever boon thou dost desire.”

When Garuḍa said this, the great-hearted hero said to him:

“Thou must repent, and never again devour the snakes; and let these snakes, whom thou didst devour before, whose bones only remain, return to life.”

Thereupon Garuḍa said:

“So be it; from this day forth I will never eat the snakes again; heaven forfend! As for those that I ate on former occasions, let them return to life.”

Then all the snakes that he had eaten before, whose bones alone remained, rose up unwounded, restored to life by the nectar of his boon. Then the gods, the snakes and the hermit bands assembled there full of joy, and so the Malaya mountain earned the title of the three worlds. And then all the kings of the Vidyādharas heard by the favour of Gaurī the strange story of Jīmūtavāhana; and they immediately came and bowed at his feet, and after he had dismissed Garuḍa, they took him to the Himālayas, accompanied by his rejoicing relations and friends, a noble emperor, whose great inauguration ceremony had been performed by Gaurī with her own hands. There Jīmūtavāhana, in the society of his mother and father, and of Mitrāvasu and Malayavatī, and of Śaṅkhacūḍa, who had gone to his own house, and returned again, long enjoyed the dignity of emperor of the Vidyādharas, rich in jewels, which had been gained by his marvellous and extraordinarily heroic action.


163g. King Trivikramasena and the Mendicant

Having told this noble and interesting tale, the Vetāla proceeded to put another question to King Trivikramasena:

“So tell me, which of those two was superior in fortitude, Śaṅkhacūḍa or Jīmūtavāhana? And the conditions are those which I mentioned before.”

When King Trivikramasena heard this question of the Vetāla’s he broke his silence, through fear of a curse, and said, with calm composure:

“This behaviour was nowise astonishing in Jīmūtavāhana, as he had acquired this virtue in many births, but Śaṅkhacūḍa really deserves praise, for that, after he had escaped death, he ran after his enemy Garuḍa, who had found another self-offered victim[15] and had gone a long distance with him, and importunately offered him his body.”

When that excellent Vetāla had heard this speech of that king’s he left his shoulder and again went to his own place, and the king again pursued him as before.



In the passage on p. 52, describing the beauty of Malayavatī, we have one of the few places where Kṣemendra is more prolix than Somadeva. It is a good example of the difference in purpose of the two authors. Somadeva aims at giving an exact copy of the work before him, and does not indulge in rhetorical elaborations of his own invention whenever opportunity offers. This, on the other hand, is just what Kṣemendra does, and whenever a chance occurs for expatiating on a woman’s beauty or some rather arresting natural or unnatural phenomena, he is unable to let the opportunity slip.

In this instance he takes twelve ślokas to describe Malayavatī’s beauty, beginning at the soles of her feet and ending with the hair of her head. The following translation has been specially made by Dr L. D. Barnett:


Bṛhatkathāmañjarī—Ślokas 792-803

792. Hearing this, being attracted by curiosity, he entered the residence of the Mountain’s Daughter and beheld a lotus-eyed maiden, the quintessence of the world.

793. Bright was the pair of her lotus-feet, coloured like buds of coral, as though it had moisture clinging to it from treading an ocean of passion [i.e. rāga; lit. red colour].

794. The female swan of beauty was brightly displayed in the pair of her slender legs, which were like a couple of young stalks in the lotus-pool of loveliness.

795. She bore hips which were rods of the plantain-tree for the peacock of dalliance, resembling an arch of lovely ivory in the city of the God of the Flower-bow,

796. which were a pair of sandbanks in the river of beauty, a couple of litters for Rati. Her loins were Kāma’s own city, of which the moat was her girdle.

797. Kāma, when disturbed by the fire of Śiva’s wrath, had plunged into the eddies of the pool of her navel, and was traceable there by the smoky streak of its line of hairs.

798. Because of the buds of rays from her brilliant pearl-necklace her breasts had become like a pair of ruddy geese having sprouts of young lotus-stalks stuck in their mouths.

799. Her arms, graceful as creepers on the sandal-tree of youth, were adorned with snakes consisting of rays from the sapphires of the bracelets on her upper and lower arms.

800. By the beauties of her lips the sylvan line of leaf-buds created, as it were, by Spring, Kāma’s young son, became dusky.

801. The crowd of her ogling glances, coming under the sunshade of her brow high above the clear-cut upright rod of her nose, attained the nature of unboundedly generous givers of lotuses.

802. She bore a line of curls like a row of bees on the lotus of her face. Seeing her, who was like a eulogy on the king Good Fortune presented by Kāma,

803. he became engrossed in her, having his eyes staring with wonder, speedily stirred to trembling by Kāma in his new incarnation.

Footnotes and references:


See the Appendix, pp. 233-240.—n.m.p.


The MS. in the Sanskrit College reads śūrāsandriṣṭapṛṣtas. VOL. VII. 49.


I adopt the reading of the Sanskrit College MS., adhṛśya for adhṛṣya, invincible, instead of adṛśya, invisible.


I.e. Pārvatī or Durgā.


See Vol. I, p. 90, and Baring-Gould’s remarks in his Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, new edition, “The Piper of Hamelin,” p. 417 et seq. For numerous analogues see Chauvin, op. cit., viii, pp. 155-156.—n.m.p.


Here there is an insipid pun about the army of the Pāṇḍavas penetrating by the help of Arjuna the host of Karṇa. There seems to be an allusion to Kṛṣṇa also. For vivikṣatīm the Sanskrit College MS. reads vimathnatīm.


Kṣemendra’s description is much more detailed. See note at the end of the chapter.—n.m.p.


See note, pp. 105-107.—n.m.p.


See Vol. II, p. 141.—n.m.p.


The Sanskrit College MS. has balād for the batī of Brockhaus’ edition. For the “wager” see Vol. II, p. 150.——For a note on the Garuḍa bird, see Vol. I, pp. 103-105. In his review on my first volume, in Journ. Roy. As. Soc., October 1924, Mr R. P. Dewhurst queries the statement that the fabulous bird becomes the eorosh of the Zend (i.e. Avestan) literature, as there is no such word in either of the two Avestan dictionaries. Subsequent correspondence with Mr Dewhurst has shown that the word eorosh (quoted by Burton, Nights, vol. vi, p. 16n1) is probably due to a combination of a misreading and a misprint, and that it should be chanmrosh (also written chamrosh), which is a Pahlavi word occurring in the Bundehesh (50-58) and in the Mainyo i-Khirad (lxii, 37), and means a mythological bird which is said to be the chief of all birds, and to sit on the summit of Mount Alburz.—n.m.p.


The Sanskrit College MS. reads Tārkṣyan nānākranda nityākarṇana nirghṛṇam.


The Sanskrit College MS. has sānunayām.


The Sanskrit College MS. reads vidadhyād. This is the reading which I follow here, in preference to that of Brockhaus.


Cf. Waldau’s Böhmische Märchen, p. 594, and see Bernhard Schmidt’s Griechische Märchen, p. 106.


The MS. in the Sanskrit College reads anyaṃ vṛttātmānaṃ: anyaṃ, at any rate must be right.

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