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 ...

Vetāla 12: King Yaśaḥketu, his Vidyādharī Wife, and his Faithful Minister

(Pp. 13-25)

Click the link to jump directly to the english translation of the thirteenth Vetāla. This page only contains the notes.

In the Hindi version[1] the story is No. 11. It is much more condensed than in Somadeva. The minister has all his adventures entirely alone, and sees the magic tree from the seashore. The rest follows practically as in our text.

The Tamil version[2] (No. 12) begins as in Somadeva. The minister makes friends with the merchant, and goes on board with him. Suddenly a storm arises, and the boat is tossed about at the mercy of the waves. Finally they arrive at a little island, and disembark. They find a temple, and under a tree, opposite the temple, a raised throne, upon which they perceive a beautiful woman reclining. They think she is a goddess and return immediately. On returning, the king sets out for the island, but in company with the minister. The “giant” swallows the damsel, but the king kills him, tears open his entrails, and rescues the girl alive, whereupon she tells her story as in our text, and all ends happily. The question and answer at the end are the same in all versions.

There is little to be said about the story that has not already been noted elsewhere. The subaqueous palace has been discussed in Vol. VI (pp. 279-281), while the “Wishing-tree” and “Taboo” motifs have been referred to in Vol. I (p.144n1) and Vol. II (pp. 252-253) respectively. The woman’s tale about the Rākṣasa and her father’s curse somewhat resembles “The Story of the Twelfth Statuette” in Vikrama’s Adventures. (See Edgerton’s translation, pp. lxxxiv and 117-125.) The versions differ slightly, but the main incidents are the same—the woman had been the wife of a Brāhman, but he did not love her (in some versions she was unfaithful), and cursed her at his death, saying that every night she should be tormented by a Rākṣasa. On asking for mercy he granted release from the curse when some hero should kill the Rākṣasa.

Footnotes and references:


Barker, op. cit. pp. 192-204.


Babington, op. cit., pp. 59-64.

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