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 ...

Conclusion of King Trivikramasena and the Mendicant

(pp. 122-125)

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

The only motif contained here, apart from the employment of black magic, is that generally known as “Pretended Ignorance.”

We had an example of it in No. 8a, where the cunning witch, Siddhikarī (Vol. I, p. 157), is pursued by a certain Ḍomba, with his drum, with the intention of robbing her. In time the intended thief catches her up, and she explains that she is about to hang herself, and asks the Ḍomba to fasten the noose for her to a tree. This he does; whereupon she pretends to be ignorant of the way of putting the noose round her neck. He stands on his drum to show her how to do it, when she kicks it away, and so he hangs.

The motif in these two stories has travelled far and wide, and is found in numerous collections both in the East and the West. Perhaps the best-known tale in which it occurs is “Hansel and Grethel,”[1] where, after the children are about to be devoured by the witch, Grethel is told to climb in the oven to see if it is warm enough to bake the bread. Suspecting her evil designs, Grethel pretends she does not know how to do it.

“Silly goose!” says the old woman,

“the door is big enough; just look, I can get in myself,”

and she creeps up and thrusts her head into the oven. Then Grethel gives her a push that drives her far into it, and shuts the iron door and fastens the bolt.

For numerous variants see Saintyves, Les Contes de Perrault, pp. 276-281 and 371-374; and Cosquin, Études Folkloriques, pp. 351-356.

Footnotes and references:


See Grimm, No. 15, Bolte, op. cit., p. 115 et seq.

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