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 again went and took the Vetāla from the śiṃśapā tree, and carried him along on his shoulder. And as he was going along, the Vetāla again said to the king:

“Listen, King, I will tell you a story of violent attachment.


163g (21). Anaṅgamañjarī, her Husband Maṇivarman and the Brāhman Kamalākara[1]

There is a city called Viśālā, which is like a second city of Indra, made by the Creator on earth, for the sake of virtuous people who have fallen from heaven. In it there lived a fortunate king, named Padmanābha, who was a source to good men, and excelled King Bali.[2] In the reign of that king there lived in that city a great merchant, named Arthadatta, who surpassed in opulence the God of Wealth. And to him there was born a daughter named Anaṅgamañjarī, who was exhibited on earth by the Creator as a likeness of a heavenly nymph. And that merchant gave her to the son of a distinguished merchant dwelling in Tāmraliptī, and named Maṇivarman. But as he was very fond of his daughter Anaṅgamañjarī, because she was his only child, he would not let her leave his house, but kept her there with her husband. But Anaṅgamañjarī’s husband Maṇivarman was as distasteful to her as a biting bitter medicine to a sick man. But that lovely one was dearer than life to her husband, as wealth hardly won and long hoarded is to a miser.

Now once on a time that Maṇivarman, longing to see his parents, went to his home in Tāmraliptī to visit them. After some days had passed, the hot season descended upon the land, impeding the journey of men absent from home with the sharp shafts of the sun’s rays. The winds blew laden with the fragrance of the jasmine and trumpet-flower, and seemed like the hot[3] sighs of the cardinal points on account of the departure of spring. Lines of dust raised by the wind flew up to heaven, like messengers sent by the heated earth to hasten the approach of the clouds. The days passed slowly, like travellers exhausted by the severe heat, and longing for the shade of the trees. The nights, pale-gleaming with moonbeams, became exceedingly[4] reduced owing to the loss of the spring with all its happy meetings.

One day in that season, that merchant’s daughter Anaṅgamañjarī was sitting with her intimate friend in a lofty window of her house, white with sandalwood ointment,[5] and elegantly dressed in a thin garment of silk. While there, she saw a young Brāhman, named Kamalākara, the son of the king’s chaplain, passing by, and he looked like the God of Love, risen from his ashes, going to find Rati. And when Kamalākara saw that lovely one overhead, like the orb of the moon,[6] he was full of joy, and became like a cluster of kumuda flowers. The sight of those two young persons became to one another, by the mighty command of Kāma, a priceless[7] fascination of the mind. And the two were overcome by passion, which rooted up their modesty, and carried away by a storm of love-frenzy, which flung their minds to a distance. And Kamalākara’s companion, as soon as he saw that his friend was love-smitten, dragged him off, though with difficulty, to his own house.

As for Anaṅgamañjarī, she inquired what his name was, and, having no will of her own, slowly entered the house with that confidante of hers. There she was grievously afflicted with the fever of love, and thinking on her beloved, she rolled on the bed, and neither saw nor heard anything. After two or three days had passed, being ashamed and afraid, unable to bear the misery of separation, thin and pale, and despairing of union with her beloved, which seemed a thing impossible, she determined on suicide. So one night, when her attendants were asleep, she went out, drawn, as it were, by the moon, which sent its rays through the window like fingers, and made for a tank at the foot of a tree in her own garden.

There she approached an image of the goddess Caṇḍī, her family deity, that had been set up with much magnificence by her father, and she bowed before the goddess, and praised her, and said:

“Though I have not obtained Kamalākara for a husband in this life, let him be my husband in a future birth!”

When the impassioned woman had uttered these words in front of the goddess, she made a noose with her upper garment, and fastened it to an aśoka tree.

In the meanwhile it happened that her confidante, who was sleeping in the same room, woke up, and not seeing her there, went to the garden to look for her. And seeing her there engaged in fastening a noose round her neck, she cried out, “Stop! stop!” and running up, she cut that noose which she had made. Anaṅgamañjarī, when she saw that her confidante had come and cut the noose, fell on the ground in a state of great affliction.

Her confidante comforted her, and asked her the cause of her grief, and she at once told her, and went on to say to her:

“So you see, friend Mālatikā, as I am under the authority of my parents and so on, and have little chance of being united to my beloved, death is my highest happiness.”

While Anaṅgamañjarī was saying these words she was exceedingly tortured with the fire of Love’s arrows, and being overpowered with despair, she fainted away.

Her friend Mālatikā exclaimed:

“Alas, the command of Kāma is hard to resist, since it has reduced to this state this friend of mine, who was always laughing at other misguided women who showed a want of self-restraint.[8]

Lamenting in these words, she slowly brought Anaṅgamañjarī round with cold water, fanning, and so on; and, in order to allay her heat, she made her a bed of lotus leaves, and placed on her heart a necklace cool as snow.

Then Anaṅgamañjarī, with her eyes gushing with tears, said to her friend:

“Friend, the necklace and the other applications do not allay my internal heat. But do you by your cleverness accomplish something which will really allay it. Unite me to my beloved, if you wish to preserve my life.”

When she said this, Mālatikā lovingly answered her:

“My friend, the night is now almost at an end, but to-morrow I will make an arrangement with your beloved, and bring him to this very place. So in the meanwhile control yourself, and enter your house.”

When she said this, Anaṅgamañjarī was pleased, and drawing the necklace from her neck, she gave it to her as a present.

And she said to her:

“Now go to your house, and early to-morrow go thence to the house of my beloved; and may you prosper!”

Having dismissed her confidante in these words, she entered her own apartments.

And early next morning her friend Mālatikā went, without being seen by anyone, to the house of Kamalākara, and searching about in the garden, she saw him at the foot of a tree. He was rolling about, burning with the fire of love, on a bed of lotus leaves moistened with sandalwood juice,[9] and a confidential friend of his was trying to give him relief by fanning him with a plantain leaf. She said to herself:

“Is it possible that he has been reduced to this stage of love’s malady by separation from her?”

So she remained there in concealment, to find out the truth about it.

In the meanwhile that friend of Kamalākara’s said to him:

“Cast your eye, my friend, for a moment round this delightful garden, and cheer up your heart. Do not give way to despondency.”

When the young Brāhman heard this, he answered his friend:

“My friend, my heart has been taken from me by Anaṅgamañjarī, the merchant’s daughter, and my breast left empty; so how can I cheer up my heart? Moreover, Love, finding me robbed of my heart, has made me a quiver for his arrows; so enable me to get hold of that girl, who stole it.”

When the young Brāhman said that, Mālatikā’s doubts were removed, and she was delighted, and showed herself, and went up to him, and said:

“Happy man, Anaṅgamañjarī has sent me to you, and I hereby give you her message, the meaning of which is clear: ‘What sort of conduct is this for a virtuous man, to enter a fair one’s bosom by force, and after stealing away her heart, to go off without showing himself?’ It is strange too that though you have stolen the lady’s heart, she now wishes to surrender to you herself and her life. For day and night she furnaces forth hot sighs, which appear like smoke rising from the fire of love in her burning heart. And her teardrops, black as collyrium, fall frequently, looking like bees attracted by the fragrance of her lotus-like face. So if you like, I will say what will be for the good of both of you.”

When Mālatikā said this, Kamalākara answered her:

“My good lady, this speech of yours, though it comforts me by showing that my beloved loves me, terrifies me, as it tells that the fair one is in a state of unhappiness. So you are our only refuge in this matter; do as you think best.”

When Kamalākara said this, Mālatikā answered:

“I will to-night bring Anaṅgamañjarī secretly into the garden belonging to her house, and you must take care to be outside. Then I will manage by some device of mine to let you in, and so you will be able to see one another in accordance with your wishes.”

When Mālatikā had by these words delighted the young Brāhman, she went away, having accomplished her object, and delighted Anaṅgamañjarī also.

Then the sun, in love with the twilight, departed somewhere or other, together with the day, and the heaven adorned itself, placing the moon on its western quarter like a patch on the forehead.

And the pure white kumuda cluster laughed joyously with the cheerful faces of its opened flowers, as if to say:

“Fortune has left the lotus cluster and come to me.”

Thereupon the lover Kamalākara also adorned himself, and, full of impatience, slowly approached the outside of the door that led into the garden of Anaṅgamañjarī’s house. Then Mālatikā managed to bring into that garden Anaṅgamañjarī, who had with difficulty got through the day. And she made her sit in the middle of it, in a bower of mango-trees, and went out and brought in Kamalākara also. And when he entered he beheld Anaṅgamañjarī in the midst of dense-foliaged trees, as gladly as the traveller beholds the shade.

While he was advancing towards her she saw him, and as the violence of her passion robbed her of shame, she eagerly ran forward and threw her arms round his neck.

She faltered out, “Where are you going? I have caught you,” and immediately her breath was stopped by the weight of excessive joy, and she died. And she fell on the ground, like a creeper broken by the wind. Alas! strange is the course of love, that is terrible in its consequences.

When Kamalākara beheld that misfortune, which was terrible as a thunderstroke, he said, “Alas! what is this?” and fell senseless on the ground. In a moment he recovered consciousness; and then he took his beloved up in his arms and embraced and kissed her, and lamented much. And then he was so violently oppressed by excessive weight of sorrow that his heart burst asunder at once, with a crack. And when Mālatikā was lamenting over their corpses, the night, seeing that both these lovers had met their end, came to an end, as if out of grief. And the next day the relations of both, hearing from the gardeners what had happened, came there distracted with shame, wonder, grief and bewilderment. And they remained for a long time doubtful what to do, with faces downcast from distress: bad women are a grievous affliction, and a source of calamity to their family.

At this moment Maṇivarman, the husband of Anaṅgamañjarī, came, full of longing to see her, from his father’s house in Tāmraliptī. When he reached his father-in-law’s house, and heard what had taken place, he came running to that garden, his eyes blinded with tears. There, beholding his wife lying dead beside another man, the passionate man at once yielded up his breath, that was heated with the fire of grief. Then the people there began to cry out, and to make an uproar, and all the citizens heard what had taken place, and came there in a state of astonishment.

Then the goddess Caṇḍī, who was close at hand, having been called down into that garden long ago by the father of Anaṅgamañjarī, was thus supplicated by her Gaṇas:

“Goddess, this merchant Arthadatta, who has established an image of thee in his garden, has always been devoted to thee, so have mercy upon him in this his affliction.”

When the beloved of Śiva, the refuge of the distressed, heard this prayer of her Gaṇas, she gave command that the three should return to life, free from passion. So they all, by her favour, immediately arose, as if awaking from sleep, free from the passion of love. Then all the people were full of joy, beholding that marvel; and Kamalākara went home, with his face downcast from shame; and Arthadatta, having recovered his daughter[10] Anaṅgamañjarī, who looked thoroughly ashamed of herself, together with her husband, returned to his house in high spirits.


163g. King Trivikramasena and the Mendicant

When the Vetāla had told this story that night on the way, he again put a question to King Trivikramasena. He said:

“King, tell me, which of those three, who were blinded by passion, was the most infatuated? And remember, the curse before-mentioned will take effect if you know and do not say.”

When the king heard this question of the Vetāla’s he answered him:

“It seems to me that Maṇivarman was the most infatuated with passion of the three. For one can understand those two dying, as they were desperately in love with one another, and their amorous condition had been fully developed by lapse of time. But Maṇivarman was terribly infatuated, for when he saw his wife dead of love for another man, and the occasion called for indignation, he was so far from being angry that, in his great love, he died of grief.”

When the king had said this, the mighty Vetāla again left his shoulder, and departed to his own place, and the king again went in pursuit of him.

[Additional note: history of sandalwood in ancient India]

Footnotes and references:


See Appendix, pp. 256-258.—n.m.p.


Tawney seems not to have appreciated the punning comparison to Viṣṇu, his weapons and defeat of Bali, that runs through this sentence. See further Speyer, op. cit., p. 137.—n.m.p.


Uṣmā should probably be uṣṇā.


In the Sanskrit College MS. ati is inserted before durbalatām.


See note at the end of the chapter.—n.m.p.


The moon is the patron of the kumuda; the sun of the kamala, or lotus. Kamalākara means a collection of kamalas.


The Sanskrit College MS. reads achūrṇam—“without powder.”


I take anyāvinītavanitāhāsinī as one word, and read vilapantī instead of vilapantīṃ.


See note at the end of the chapter.—n.m.p.


I insert sutām at the beginning of the line. The su is clear enough in the Sanskrit College MS., but the rest of the word is illegible.

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