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 ...

[M] (main story line continued) NOW, one day, when Naravāhanadatta was in the hall of audience on the Black Mountain, his commander-in-chief came before him, and said:

“Last night, my sovereign, when I was on the top of my house, looking after my troops, I saw a woman being carried off through the air by a heavenly being, crying out:

‘Alas! My husband!’

And it seemed as if the moon, which is powerful at that season, had taken her and carried her off, finding that she robbed it of all its beauty.

I exclaimed:

‘Ah, villain! Where will you go, thus carrying off the wife of another? In the kingdom of King Naravāhanadatta the protector, which is the territory of the Vidyādharas, extending over sixty thousand yojanas, even animals do not work wickedness, much less other creatures.’

When I had said this, I hastened with my attendants and arrested that swiftfooted[1] one, and brought him down from the air with the lady: and when we looked at him, after bringing him down, we found that it was your brother-in-law, the Vidyādhara Ityaka, the brother of your principal queen, born to Madanavega by Queen Kaliṅgasenā.

We said to him:

‘Who is this lady, and where are you taking her?’

And then he answered:

‘This is Suratamañjarī, the daughter of the Vidyādhara chief, Mataṅgadeva, by Cūtamañjarī. Her mother promised her to me long ago; and then her father bestowed her on another, a mere man. So, if I have to-day recovered my own wife, and carried her off, what harm have I done?’

When Ityaka had said so much, he was silent.

“Then I said to Suratamañjarī:

‘Lady, by whom were you married, and how did this person get possession of you?’

Then she said:

‘There is in Ujjayinī a fortunate king named Pālaka, he has a son, a prince named[2] Avantivardhana; by him I was married; and this night, when I was asleep on the top of the palace, and my husband was asleep also, I was carried off by this villain.’

When she said this I kept both of them here, the lady and Ityaka, the latter in fetters; it now remains for your Majesty to decide what is to be done.”

When the emperor heard this from his commander-in-chief, Hariśikha, he went in some perplexity to Gopālaka and told him the story.

Gopālaka said:

“My dear nephew, I do not know about this; I know so much that the lady was lately married to Pālaka’s son; so let the prince be summoned from Ujjayinī, together with the minister, Bharataroha; then we shall get at the truth.”

When the emperor received this advice from his uncle, he sent the Vidyādhara Dhūmaśikha to Pālaka, his younger uncle, and summoned from Ujjayinī that prince, his son and the minister. When they arrived, and bowed before the emperor, he and Gopālaka received them with love and courtesy, and questioned them about the matter under consideration.

Then, in the presence of Avantivardhana, who looked like the moon robbed of the night,[3] of Suratamañjarī, her father, and of Ityaka, of Vāyupatha and his peers, and the hermit Kaśyapa, and the men-at-arms, Bharataroha began to speak as follows:


168. Story of King Pālaka and his Son Avantivardhana

Once on a time all the citizens of Ujjayinī met together and said to Pālaka, the king of that city:

“To-morrow the festival called the giving of water will take place in this city, and if your Majesty has not heard the true account of the origin of this festival, please listen to it now.


168 a. King Caṇḍamahāsena and the Asura’s Daughter

[also see Note on the “external soul” motif (section B)]

Long ago your father, Caṇḍamahāsena, propitiated the goddess Caṇḍī with asceticism, in order to obtain a splendid sword and a wife.

She gave him her own sword, and about a wife said to him:

“Thou shalt soon slay, my son, the Asura called Aṅgāraka, and obtain his beautiful daughter Aṅgāravatī for a wife.”

When the king had been favoured with this revelation from the goddess, he remained thinking on the Asura’s daughter. Now, at this time, everybody that was appointed head police officer in Ujjayinī was at once carried off by some creature at night and devoured. And this went on night after night. Then Caṇḍamahāsena, roaming leisurely about the city at night, to investigate the matter for himself, found an adulterer. He cut off with his sword his oiled and curled head, and no sooner was his neck severed than a certain Rākṣasa came and laid hold of him.

The king exclaimed,

“This is the gentleman that comes and eats the heads of the police at night,” and laying hold of that Rākṣasa by the hair he prepared to slay him.

Then the Rākṣasa said:

“King, do not slay me under a false impression! There is another creature in this neighbourhood that eats the heads of the police.”

The king said: “Tell me! Who is it?”

And the Rākṣasa continued:

“There is in this neighbourhood an Asura of the name of Aṅgāraka, whose home is in Pātāla. He it is that eats your police officers at the dead of night, O smiter of your foes. Moreover, Prince, he carries off by force the daughters of kings from every quarter, and makes them attend on his daughter, Aṅgāravatī. If you see him roaming about in the forest slay him, and attain your object in that way.”

When the Rākṣasa had said this, the king let him go, and returned to his palace. And one day he went out to hunt. And in the place where he was hunting he saw a monstrous boar, with eyes red with fury, looking like a piece of the Mountain of Antimony[4] fallen from heaven.

The king said to himself:

“Such a creature cannot be a real boar. I wonder whether it is the Asura Aṅgāraka, who has the power of disguising himself”;

so he smote the boar with shafts. But the boar recked not of his shafts, and, overturning his chariot, entered a wide opening in the earth.

But the heroic king entered after him, and did not see that boar, but saw in front of him a splendid castle. And he sat down on the bank of a lake, and saw there a maiden, with a hundred others attending on her, looking like an incarnation of Rati.

She came up to him and asked him the reason of his coming there, and having conceived an affection for him said to him, with tearful eyes:

“Alas! What a place have you entered.[5] That boar that you saw was really a Daitya, Aṅgāraka by name, of adamantine frame and vast strength. At present he has abandoned the form of a boar and is sleeping, as he is tired, but when the time for taking food comes he will wake up, and do you a mischief. And I, fair sir, am his daughter, Aṅgāravatī by name; and, fearing that some misfortune may befall you, I feel as if my life were in my throat.”

When she said this to the king, he, remembering the boon that the goddess Caṇḍī had given him, felt that he had now a good hope of accomplishing his object, and answered her:

“If you have any love for me, do this which I tell you: when your father awakes, go and weep at his side, and when he asks you the reason say, fair one:

‘Father, if anyone were to kill you in your reckless daring, what would become of me?’

If you do this, you will ensure the happiness of both of us.”

When the king said this to her she went, bewildered with love, and sat down and wept at the side of her father, who had woke up; and when he asked her the cause of her weeping she told him how she was afraid that someone would slay him.[6]

Then the Daitya said to her:

“Why, who can slay me, who am of adamantine frame? The only vulnerable and vital point I have is in my left hand,[7] and that the bow protects.”

This speech of his was heard by the king, who was at the time concealed near.

Then the Daitya bathed, and proceeded to worship Śiva. At that moment the king appeared with his bow strung, and challenged to mortal combat the Daitya, who was observing religious silence. The Daitya lifted up his left hand, his right hand being engaged, and made a sign to the king to wait a little. That very moment the king smote him in that hand, which was his vital point, with a well-aimed arrow, and the Daitya fell on the earth.

And just before he expired he said:

“If that man who has thus slain me, when thirsty, does not every year offer water to my manes, his five ministers shall perish.”

The Daitya being thus slain, the king took his daughter, Aṅgāravatī, and returned to his city of Ujjayinī.


168. Story of King Pālaka and his Son Avantivardhana

“And after that king, your father, had married that queen, he used every year to have an offering of water made to the manes of Aṅgāraka; and all here celebrate the feast called the giving of water; and to-day it has come round. So do, King, what your father did before you.”

When King Pālaka heard this speech of his subjects, he proceeded to set going in that city the festival of the giving of water. When the festival had begun, and the people had their attention occupied by it, and were engaged in shouting, suddenly an infuriated elephant, that had broken its fastenings, rushed in among them. That elephant, having got the better of its driving-hook, and shaken off its driver, roamed about in the city, and killed very many men in a short time. Though the elephant-keepers ran forward, accompanied by professional elephant-drivers, and the citizens also, no man among them was able to control that elephant. At last, in the course of its wanderings, the elephant reached the quarter of the Caṇḍālas, and there came out from it a Caṇḍāla maiden. She illuminated the ground with the beauty of the lotus that seemed to cling to her feet, delighted because she surpassed with the loveliness of her face the moon its enemy.[8] She looked like the night that gives rest to the eyes of the world, because its attention is diverted from other objects, and so it remains motionless at that time.[9]

That maiden struck that mighty elephant, that came towards her, with her hand, on its trunk; and smote it with those sidelong looks askance of hers. The elephant was fascinated with the touch of her hand and penetrated with her glance, and remained with head bent down, gazing at her, and never moved a step.[10] Then that fair lady made a swing with her upper garment, which she fastened to its tusks, and climbed and got into it, and amused herself with swinging.

Then the elephant, seeing that she felt the heat, went into the shade of a tree; and the citizens who were present, seeing this great wonder, exclaimed:

“Ah! This is some glorious heavenly maiden who charms even animals by her power, which is as transcendent as her beauty.”

And in the meanwhile Prince Avantivardhana, hearing of it, came out to see the wonderful sight, and beheld that maiden. As he gazed, the deer of his heart ran into that net of the hunter, Love, and was entangled by it. She too, when she saw him, her heart being charmed by his beauty, came down from that swing, which she had put up on the elephant’s tusks, and took her upper garment. Then a driver mounted the elephant, and she went home, looking at the prince with an expression of shame and affection.

And Avantivardhana, for his part, the disturbance caused by the elephant having come to an end, went home to his palace with his bosom empty, his heart having been stolen from it by her.

And when he got home, he was tortured by no longer seeing that lovely maiden, and forgetting the feast of the giving of water, which had begun, he said to his companions:

“Do you know whose daughter that maiden is, and what her name is?”

When his friends heard that, they said to him:

“There is a certain Mātaṅga,[11] in the quarter of the Caṇḍālas, named Utpalahasta, and she is his daughter, Suratamañjarī by name. Her lovely form can give pleasure to the good[12] only by being looked at, like that of a pictured beauty, but cannot be touched without pollution.”

When the prince heard that from his friends, he said to them:

“I do not think she can be the daughter of a Mātaṅga, she is certainly some heavenly maiden; for a Caṇḍāla maiden would never possess such a beautiful form. Lovely as she is, if she does not become my wife, what is the profit of my life?”

So the prince continued to say, and his ministers could not check him, but he was exceedingly afflicted with the fire of separation from her.

Then Queen Avantivatī and King Pālaka, his parents, having heard that, were for a long time quite bewildered.

The queen said:

“How comes it that our son, though born in a royal family, has fallen in love with a girl of the lowest[13] caste?”

Then King Pālaka said:

“Since the heart of our son is thus inclined, it is clear that she is really a girl of another caste, who, for some reason or other, has fallen among the Mātaṅgas. The minds of the good tell them by inclination or aversion what to do and what to avoid. In illustration of this, Queen, listen to the following tale, if you have not already heard it.


168 b. The Young Caṇḍāla who married the Daughter of King Prasenajit[14]

Long ago King Prasenajit, in a city named Supratiṣṭhita, had a very beautiful daughter named Kuraṅgī. One day she went out in the garden, and an elephant, that had broken from its fastenings, charged her, and flung her up on his tusks, litter and all. Her attendants dispersed, shrieking, but a young Caṇḍāla snatched up a sword and ran towards the elephant. The brave fellow cut off the trunk of that great elephant with a sword-stroke, and killed it, and so delivered the princess. Then her retinue came together again, and she returned to her palace with her heart captivated by the great courage and striking good looks of the young Caṇḍāla.

And she remained in a state of despondency at being separated from him, saying to herself:

“Either I must have that man who delivered me from the elephant for a husband, or I must die.”

The young Caṇḍāla, for his part, went home slowly, and having his mind captivated by the princess was tortured by thinking on her.

He said to himself:

“What a vast gulf is fixed between me, a man of the lowest caste, and that princess! How can a crow and a female swan ever unite? The idea is so ridiculous that I cannot mention it or consider it, so, in this difficulty, death is my only resource.”

After the young man had gone through these reflections he went at night to the cemetery, and bathed, and made a pyre, and lighting the flame thus prayed to it:

“O thou purifying fire, Soul of the Universe, may that princess be my wife hereafter in a future birth, in virtue of this offering up of myself as a sacrifice to thee!”

When he had said this, he prepared to fling himself into the fire, but the God of Fire, pleased with him, appeared in visible shape before him, and said to him:

“Do not act rashly, for she shall be thy wife, for thou art not a Caṇḍāla by birth, and what thou art I will tell thee. Listen.

“There is in this city a distinguished Brāhman of the name of Kapilaśarman; in his fire-chamber I dwell in visible bodily shape. One day his maiden daughter came near me, and, smitten with her beauty, I made her my wife, inducing her to forgo her objections by promising her immunity from disgrace. And thou, my son, wert immediately born to her by virtue of my power, and she thereupon, out of shame, flung thee away in the open street; there thou wast found by some Caṇḍālas and reared on goat’s milk.[15] So thou art my son, born to me by a Brāhman lady. Therefore thou canst not be deemed impure, as thou art my son; and thou shalt obtain that Princess Kuraṅgī for a wife.”

When the God of Fire had said this he disappeared, and the Mātaṅga’s adopted child was delighted, and conceived hope, and so went home. Then King Prasenajit, having been urged by the god in a dream, investigated the case, and finding out the truth gave his daughter to the son of the God of Fire.


168. Story of King Pālaka and his Son Avantivardhana

“Thus, Queen, there are always to be found heavenly beings in disguise upon the earth, and you may be assured Suratamañjarī is not a woman of the lowest caste, but a celestial nymph. For such a pearl as she is must belong to some other race than that of the Mātaṅgas, and without doubt she was the beloved of my son in a former birth; and this is proved by his falling in love with her at first sight.”

When King Pālaka said this in our presence I proceeded to relate the following story about a man of the fisher caste:


168c. The Young Fisherman who married a Princess

Long ago there lived in Rājagṛha a king named Malayasiṃha, and he had a daughter named Māyāvatī, of matchless beauty. One day a young man of the fisher caste, named Suprahāra, who was in the bloom of youth and good looks, saw her as she was amusing herself in a spring garden. The moment he saw her he was overpowered by love; for Destiny never considers whether a union is possible or impossible. So he went home, and abandoning his occupation of catching fish he took to his bed, and refused to eat, thinking only on the princess.

And when persistently questioned, he told his wish to his mother, named Rakṣitikā, and she said to her son:

“My son, abandon your despondency, and take food; I will certainly compass this your end for you by my ingenuity.”

When she said this to him, he was consoled, and cherished hopes, and took food; and his mother went to the palace of the princess with fish from the lake.[16] There that fisher-wife was announced by the maids, and went in, on the pretext of paying her respects, and gave the princess that present of fish. And in this way she came regularly, day after day, and made the princess a present, and so gained her good will, and made her desirous of speaking.

And the pleased princess said to the fisher-wife:

“Tell me what you wish me to do; I will do it, though it be ever so difficult.”

Then the fisher-wife begged that her boldness might be pardoned, and said in secret to the princess:

“Royal lady, my son has seen you in a garden, and is tortured by the thought that he cannot be near you; and I can only manage to prevent his committing suicide by holding out hopes to him; so, if you feel any pity for me, restore my son to life by toucing him.”

When the princess was thus entreated by the fisher-wife, hesitating between shame and a desire to oblige, after reflection, she said to her:

“Bring your son to my palace secretly at night.”

When the fisher-wife heard this, she went in high spirits to her son. And when night came she deliberately adorned her son as well as she could, and brought him to the private apartments of the princess. There the princess took Suprahāra, who had pined for her so long, by the hand, and affectionately welcomed him, and made him lie down on a sofa, and comforted him, whose limbs were withered by the fire of separation, by shampooing him with her hand, the touch of which was cool as sandalwood.[17] And the fisher-boy was thereby, as it were, bedewed with nectar, and thinking that, after long waiting, he had attained his desire he took his rest, and was suddenly seized by sleep. And when he was asleep the princess escaped, and slept in another room, having thus pleased the fisher-boy, and having avoided being disgraced through him.

Then that son of the fisher-folk woke up, owing to the cessation of the touch of her hand, and not seeing his beloved, who had thus come within his grasp, and again vanished—like a pot of treasure in the case of a very poor man, who is despondent for its loss—he was reft of all hope, and his breath at once left his body. When the princess found that out, she came there, and blamed herself, and made up her mind to ascend the funeral pyre with him next morning.

Then her father, King Malayasiṃha, heard of it, and came there, and, finding that she could not be turned from her resolve, he rinsed his mouth, and spake this speech:

“If I am really devoted to the three-eyed god of gods, tell me, ye guardians of the world, what it is my duty to do.”

When the king said this, a heavenly voice answered him:

“Thy daughter was in a former life the wife of this son of the fisher-folk.

“For, long ago, there lived in a village called Nāgasthala a virtuous Brāhman, of the name of Baladhara, the son of Mahīdhara. When his father had gone to heaven, he was robbed of his wealth by his relations, and being disgusted with the world he went, with his wife, to the bank of the Ganges. While he was remaining there without food, in order to abandon the body, he saw some fishermen eating fish, and his hunger made him long for it in his heart. So he died with his mind polluted by that desire, but his wife kept her aspirations pure, and, continuing firm in penance, followed him in death.[18]

“That very Brāhman, owing to that pollution of his desires, has been born in the fisher caste. But his wife, who remained firm in her asceticism, has been born as thy daughter, O King. So let this blameless daughter of thine, by the gift of half her life,[19] raise up this dead youth, who was her husband in a former life. For, owing to the might of asceticism, this youth, who was thus purified by the splendour of that holy bathing-place, shall become thy son-in-law, and a king.”

When the king had been thus addressed by the divine voice he gave his daughter in marriage to that youth Suprahāra, who recovered his life by the gift of half hers. And Suprahāra became a king by means of the land, elephants, horses and jewels which his father-in-law gave him, and, having obtained his daughter as a wife, lived the life of a successful man.


168. Story of King Pālaka and his Son Avantivardhana

“In this way a connection in a former birth usually produces affection in embodied beings; moreover, in illustration of this truth, listen to the following story about a thief:


168 d. The Merchant’s Daughter who fell in love with a Thief[20]

In Ayodhyā there lived of old time a king named Vīrabāhu, who always protected his subjects as if they were his own children.

And one day the citizens of his capital came to him and said:

“King, some thieves plunder this city every night, and, though we keep awake for the purpose, we cannot detect them!”

When the king heard that, he placed scouts in the city at night to keep watch. But they did not catch the thieves, and the mischief did not abate. Accordingly the king went out himself at night to investigate the matter.

And as he was wandering about in every direction, alone, sword in hand, he saw a man going along on the top of the rampart; he seemed to tread lightly out of fear; his eyes rolled rapidly like those of a crow; and he looked round like a lion, frequently turning his neck. He was rendered visible by the steel gleams that flashed from his naked sword, which seemed like binding ropes sent forth to steal those jewels which men call stars.[21]

And the king said to himself:

“I am quite certain that this man is a thief; no doubt he sallies out alone and plunders this my city.”

Having come to this conclusion, the wily monarch went up to the thief; and the thief said to him with some trepidation:

“Who are you, sir?”

Then the king said to him:

“I am a desperate robber, whose many vices make him hard to keep[22]; tell me in turn who you are.”

The thief answered:

“I am a robber who goes out to plunder alone; and I have great wealth; so come to my house; I will satisfy your longing for riches.”

When the thief made him this promise the king said, “So be it,” and went with him to his dwelling, which was in an underground excavation. It was inhabited by beautiful women, it gleamed with many jewels, it was full of ever-new delights, and seemed like the city of the snakes.[23]

Then the thief went into the inner chamber of his dwelling, and the king remained in the outer room; and while he was there, a female servant, compassionating him, came and said to him:

“What kind of place have you entered? Leave it at once, for this man is a treacherous assassin, and as he goes on his expeditions alone, will be sure to murder you, to prevent his secrets being divulged.”[24]

When the king heard that he went out at once, and quickly returned to his palace; and summoning his commander-in-chief returned with his troops. And he came and surrounded the thief’s dwelling, and made the bravest men enter it, and so brought the thief back a prisoner, and carried off all his wealth.

When the night came to an end the king ordered his execution; and he was led off to the place of execution through the middle of the market. And as he was being led through that part of the town a merchant’s daughter saw him, and fell in love with him at first sight.

And she immediately said to her father:

“Know that if this man, who is being led off to execution preceded by the drum of death, does not become my husband, I shall die myself.”

Then her father, seeing that she could not be dissuaded from her resolution, went and tried to induce the king to spare that thief’s life by offering ten millions of coins. But the king, instead of sparing the thief’s life, ordered him to be immediately impaled,[25] and was very angry with the merchant. Then the merchant’s daughter, whose name was Vāmadattā, took the corpse of that robber, and out of love for him entered the fire with it.


168. Story of King Pālaka and his Son Avantivardhana

“So you see, creatures are completely dependent upon connections in previous births, and this being the case, who can avoid a destiny that is fated to him, and who can prevent such a destiny’s befalling anybody? Therefore, King, it is clear that this Suratamañjarī is some excellent being that was the wife of your son, Avantivardhana, in a previous birth, and is therefore destined to be his wife again; otherwise how could such a high-born prince have formed such an attachment for her, a woman of the Mātaṅga caste? So let this Mātaṅga, her father Utpalahasta, be asked to give the prince his daughter; and let us see what he says.”

When I had said this to King Pālaka, he at once sent messengers to Utpalahasta to ask for his daughter.

And the Mātaṅga, when entreated by these messengers to give her in marriage, answered them:

“I approve of this alliance, but I must give my daughter Suratamañjarī to the man who makes eighteen thousand of the Brāhmans that dwell in this city eat in my house.”

When the messengers heard this speech of the Mātaṅga’s, that contained a solemn promise, they went back and reported it faithfully to King Pālaka.

Thinking that there was some reason for this,[26] the king called together all the Brāhmans in the city of Ujjayinī, and telling them the whole story said to them:

“So you must eat here, in the house of the Mātaṅga Utpalahasta, eighteen thousand of you; I will not have it otherwise.”

When the Brāhmans had been thus commanded by the king, being at the same time afraid of toucing the food of a Caṇḍāla, and therefore at a loss what to do, they went to the shrine of Mahākāla and performed self-torture.

Then the god Śiva, who was present there in the form of Mahākāla, commanded those Brāhmans in a dream, saying:

“Eat food here in the house of the Mātaṅga Utpalahasta, for he is a Vidyādhara; neither he nor his family are Caṇḍālas.”

Then those Brāhmans rose up and went to the king, and told him the dream, and went on to say:

“So let this Utpalahasta cook pure food for us in some place outside the quarter of the Caṇḍālas, and then we will eat it at his hands.”

When the king heard this, he had another house made for Utpalahasta, and, being highly delighted, he had food cooked for him there by pure cooks; and then eighteen thousand Brāhmans ate there, while Utpalahasta stood in front of them, bathed, and clothed in a pure garment.

And after they had eaten, Utpalahasta came to King Pālaka, in the presence of his subjects, and bowing before him said to him:

“There was an influential prince of the Vidyādharas, named Gaurīmuṇḍa; I was a dependent of his, named Mataṅgadeva; and when, King, that daughter of mine, Suratamañjarī, had been born, Gaurīmuṇḍa secretly said to me:

‘The gods assert that this son of the King of Vatsa, who is called Naravāhanadatta, is to be our emperor: so go quickly, and kill that foe of ours by means of your magic power, before he has attained the dignity of emperor.’

“When the wicked Gaurīmuṇḍa had sent me on this errand, I went to execute it, and while going along through the air I saw Śiva in front of me.

The god, displeased, made an angry roar, and immediately pronounced on me this curse:

‘How is it, villain, that thou dost plot evil against a noble-minded man? So go, wicked one, and fall with this same body of thine into the midst of the Caṇḍālas in Ujjayinī, together with thy wife and daughter. And when someone shall make eighteen thousand of the Brāhmans that dwell in that city eat in thy house, by way of a gift to purchase thy daughter, then thy curse shall come to an end, and thou must marry thy daughter to the man who bestows on thee the gift.’

“When Śiva had said this he disappeared, and I, that very Mataṅgadeva, assuming the name of Utpalahasta, fell among the men of the lowest caste; but I do not mix with them. However, my curse is at an end, owing to the favour of your son, so I give him my daughter, Suratamañjarī. And now I will go to my own dwelling-place among the Vidyādharas, in order to pay my respects to the Emperor Naravāhanadatta.”

When Mataṅgadeva had said this, he solemnly gave the prince his daughter, and, flying up into the air with his wife, repaired, King, to thy feet.

And King Pālaka, having thus ascertained the truth, celebrated with great delight the marriage of Suratamañjarī and his son. And his son, Avantivardhana, having obtained that Vidyādharī for a wife, felt himself fortunate in having gained more than he had ever hoped for.

Now, one day, that prince went to sleep on the top of the palace with her, and at the end of the night he woke up, and suddenly discovered that his beloved was nowhere to be seen. He looked for her, but could not find her anywhere, and then he lamented, and was so much afflicted that his father, the king, came, and was exceedingly discomposed.

We all, being assembled there at that time, said:

“This city is well guarded, no stranger could enter it during the night; no doubt she must have been carried off by some evilly disposed wanderer of the air.”

And even while we were saying that, your servant, the Vidyādhara Dhūmaśikha, descended from the sky. He brought here this Prince Avantivardhana, and King Pālaka also was asked to part with me, in order that I might state the facts of the case. Here too is Suratamañjarī with her father, and the facts concerning her are such as I have said: your Majesty is the best judge of what ought to be done now.


[M] (main story line continued) When Bharataroha, the minister of Pālaka, had told this tale, he stopped speaking; and the assessors put this question to Mataṅgadeva in the presence of Naravāhanadatta:

“Tell us, to whom did you give this daughter of yours, Suratamañjarī?”

He answered: “I gave her to Avantivardhana.”

Then they put this question to Ityaka: “Now do you tell us why you carried her off.”

He answered: “Her mother promised her to me originally.”

The assessors said to Ityaka:

“While the father is alive, what authority has the mother? Moreover, where is your witness to prove the fact of the mother having promised her to you? So she is, with regard to you, the wife of another, villain!”

When Ityaka was thus put to silence by the assessors, the Emperor Naravāhanadatta, being angry with him, ordered his immediate execution, on the ground of his misconduct.

But the good hermits, with Kaśyapa at their head, came and entreated him, saying:

“Forgive now this one fault of his: for he is the son of Madanavega, and therefore your brother-in-law.”

So the king was at last induced to spare his life, and let him off with a severe reprimand.

And he reunited that son of his maternal uncle, Avantivardhana, to his wife, and sent them off with their ministers to their own city, in the care of Vāyupatha.

Footnotes and references:


For supād, No. 1182 reads pumān and No. 2166 sumān.


Two of the India Office MSS. have sunāmāvantivardhanaḥ in śl. 13. In the third there is a lacuna.


In Sanskrit the moon is masculine and the night feminine.


So Tawney translates Añjanādri, but I can find no trace of such a mountain. Dr Barnett thinks it is probably a fuller form of the name Añjana —“antimony”—which is given to the imaginary elephant of the regent of the West, Varuṇa. See Amara-kośa, I, i, 2, 5. There are several mountains of the name mentioned in the Purāṇase.g. two in Jambū-dvipa and one in Gomeda-dvipa. But they are on the earth, and cannot fall out of the sky, which is a feat suitable for a Diggaja, or elephant of the sky quarters (see Mahābhārata xiii, 132), who stands normally in the middle of one of the quarters of space in the sky.—n.m.p.


Cf. the well-known story of Medea. See J. R. Bacon, Voyage of the Argonauts, pp. 135-136.—n.m.p.


For the group of stories to which this incident belongs see Grimm No. 91, Bolte and Polívka, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 297 et seq. Cf. Cosquin, Contes Populaires de Lorraine, vol. i, pp. 1-27. See also Dawkins, Modern Greek in Asia Minor, p. 274.—n.m.p.


I find a curious legend given by Thurston, op. cit., vol. vi, p. 4, telling the origin of the Palli or Vanniyan caste of Southern India. It appears that two giants, Vātāpi and Māhi by name, worshipped Brahmā with such devotion that they obtained from him immunity from death from every cause save fire, which element they had carelessly omitted to include in their enumeration. After enveloping the world in complete darkness and stillness, by swallowing the sun and wind, they struck terror into the minds of all living creatures. In answer to fervent prayers, Brahmā, remembering the omission of the giants, told his suppliants to perform a fire sacrifice. Armed horsemen sprang from the flames and destroyed the giants. Their leader became ruler of the country, and his five sons were the ancestors of the Vanniyan caste.—n.m.p.


The moon hates the kamala and loves the kumuda.


I read stimitasthiteḥ, which I find in MS. No. 21 66, and in the Sanskrit College MS.


Cf. Vol. III, p. 172,172n2. The story in the Gesta Romanorum, to which reference is there made, bears a close resemblance to the present story; but in the present case it appears as if beauty had more to do with fascinating the elephant than modesty. See further Vol. IX, “Addenda et Corrigenda.”—n.m.p.


The Petersburg lexicographers explain this as a Caṇḍāla, a man of the lowest rank, a kind of Kirāta.——See Thurston, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 15. —n.m.p.


The word “good” is used in a sense approximating to that in which it is used by Theognis and the patricians in Coriolanus (i, 1, 16).


I read antyajāṃ, which I find in two of the India Office MSS. and the Sanskrit College MS. In No. 3003 there is apparently a lacuna.


Cf. the Sigāla Jātaka, No. 142, Cambridge Edition, vol. i, pp. 304-305. A barber’s son dies of love for a Licchavi maiden. The Buddha then tells the story of a jackal whose love for a lioness cost him his life.


Cf the story of the birth of Servius Tullius, as told by Ovid, Fasti, vi, 627. The following are Ovid’s lines:

“Namque pater Tulli Vulcanus, Ocresia mater,
Præsignis facie Corniculana fuit.
Hanc secum Tanaquil sacris de more peractis
Jussit in ornatum fundere vina focum.
Hic inter cineres obscæni forma virilis
Aut fuit aut visa est, sed fuit ilia magis.
Jussa loco captiva sedet. Conceptus ab ilia
Servius a cælo semina gentis habet.”

There are several other versions of the story, which differ only in details. Cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist., xxxvi, 204 (Bohn’s translation, vol. vi, chap. lxx, p. 384), where we read:

“In the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, it is said, there appeared upon his hearth a resemblance of the male generative organ in the midst of the ashes. The captive Ocrisia, a servant of Queen Tanaquil, who happened to be sitting there, arose from her seat in a state of pregnancy, and became the mother of Servius Tullius, who eventually succeeded to the throne. It is stated, too, that while the child was sleeping in the palace, a flame was seen playing round his head, the consequence of which was, that it was believed that the Lar of the household was his progenitor. It was owing to this circumstance, we are informed, that the Compitalian games in honour of the Lares were instituted.”

Cf. also Dionysios of Halikarnassos: “‘Ρωμαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία”, iv, 2.

For the latest discussion on the legend Professor Halliday refers me to Rose, Primitive Culture in Italy, 1926, p. 80 et seq. The author compares the well-known passage in Scott, Lady of the Lake, iii, 5. His case, however, is weakened considerably by his apparent ignorance of the version in Somadeva.—N.M.P.


All the India Office MSS. and the Sanskrit College MS. read hṛdyān —“delicious fish.”


For a note on sandalwood see Vol. VII, pp. 105-107.—n.m.p.


See Vol. III, pp. 10-11.


See Vol. I, pp. 188,188n2, 189 n. In śl. 143 the India Office MSS. Nos. 2166 and 1882 and the Sanskrit College MS. give pramayāt for prabhayā. I suppose it means “from dying in that holy place.”——Cf. the story of “Die verschenkten Lebensjahre” in Wesselski, Märchen des Mittelalters, Berlin, 1925, pp. 12-15, and also the note on p. 192. I am indebted to Dr A. H. Krappe for the following additional references to the incident of ceding part of one’s life for the benefit of another: Zeitschr. d. Vereins f. Volksk., vol. ii, p. 127; L. Friedländer, Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms, 1888-1890, vol. i, p. 513, vol. iii, p. 529; Hertz, Spielmannsbuch, 1900, p. 364; Frazer, Apollodorus, vol. i, pp. 93, 193; J. Grimm, Kleinere Schriften, vol. i, p. 193; G. Paris, Zeitschr. d. Vereins f. Volksk., vol. xiii, pp. 10, 15, 17, 20-21; Ex Oriente Lux, vol. ii, p. 217; and Bolte and Polívka, op. cit., vol. i, p. 129.—n.m.p.


This is another version of the Vetāla’s fourteenth story, which appears in Vol. VII, pp. 35-39. See also the Appendix of that volumne, pp. 215-221.—n.mp.


I read iva seraṇa: I suppose seraṇa comes from si. Dr Kern would read ahrasva-saṇa (the former word hesitatingly). But iva is required. Preraṇa would make a kind of sense. See Taraṅga 43, śl. 26 a. The śloka is omitted in all the three India Office MSS. and in the Sanskrit College MS.


The Petersburg lexicographers translate durbharaḥ by schwer beladen. I think it means that the supposed thief had many costly vices, which he could not gratify without stealing. Of course it applies to the king in a milder sense.


In the realms below the earth.


I read, after Dr Kern, viśvastaghātakaḥ, “a slayer of those who confide in him.” I also read kvāsi for kvāpi, as the three India Office MSS. give kvāsi.


The three India Office MSS. give tu for tam.


I take sakāraṇam as one word.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: