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 ...

Foreword to volume 9

WHEN Mr Penzer honoured me with an invitation to write a Foreword to the ninth volume of this admirable work, I felt that it would be foolish presumption on my part to attempt to add to the learned and fascinating studies on different aspects of the Ocean of Story that have been contributed to the previous volumes by scholars of eminence and authority. But it may not perhaps be unwelcome to the Western or Eastern reader of the Ocean to consider for a while the influence which must have been exercised by this unique and marvellous collection of stories on the culture and ideas of the people for whom they were primarily strung together. It may also be worth while to examine the evidence afforded by it of life and society in India at a most interesting and elusive period of its history, a century before the establishment of a Muslim Kingdom at Delhi.

It is a well-known, but none the less remarkable, fact that for the Hindu there is no code or compendium either for religious dogma or for moral conduct. There is nothing of final authority to guide him like the Ten Commandments, the Gospels or the Qur’ān. The Vedas contain little in the way of definite and concrete rules of belief and conduct, and, at the best, the teaching of the Vedas could have been familiar only to a microscopic minority of the population of India. The term “Śāstras” is a generic expression which may be said to embrace the entire non-secular literature of Sanskrit; individual works included in the term Śāstras have possessed authority only at different times, in different parts of India and among different sections of the population. We must also remember that until recently only an insignificant proportion of the people were able to read or write even the spoken vernaculars, and that in the climate of the country the preservation of manuscripts is an arduous task. In these peculiar circumstances, the ethical and spiritual culture of the masses could be maintained only by the spoken word, and what better vehicle was there for the necessary teaching than tales embodying in a concrete form both religious principles and rules of conduct? The adoption of the story as a medium of religious and moral instruction had the further advantage that the characters and incidents could be varied according to the rank or culture of the audience which represented people in all stages of civilisation, from the aboriginal tribes to the courtly and warlike Kṣatriya and the priestly Brāhman of pure descent. These “stories with a moral” were woven into the history of mythical and epic gods and heroes, and thus obtained wide currency. They could not in any sense be described as the composition or the property of any one author or writer. They were altered or adapted to suit the reciter or the listeners and the particular occasion. Infinite variations of a story would therefore be current simultaneously, but the framework and the moral would remain much the same in all versions. Even thirty years ago the Kathak (literally “story-teller”) was a familiar figure in the villages of northern and eastern India. His services would be requisitioned for one evening, or for a fortnight, or even for a whole season, either through the piety and generosity of a wealthy patron (often a lady), or by subscriptions raised among the residents of a village or circle of hamlets. A popular Kathak’s clientele extended to all districts where the same language was spoken. He was commissioned to relate sometimes the whole of the Rāmāyaṇa or the Mahābhārata or a Purāṇa, or sometimes only a striking episode appropriate to the season or the occasion. In reciting the history of the hero, the Kathak never hesitated to bring in extraneous or subsidiary stories by way of illustration or for purposes of diversion. For, though his main object was to instruct, he could not hope to do so without amusing or interesting his audience. The speaker sat on a slightly raised platform, while the audience, composed of men, women and children, of all castes and conditions, circled round him, in an open thatched hall, or under an awning, or in the dry season under a spreading banyan-tree. This mixed audience was no doubt responsible for the fact that, although the stories were treated in the frank natural manner of the East, there was seldom any indecency or obscenity in them.

The printing-press and the spread of primary education are affecting the demand for the services of the Kathak, but we can well imagine how extensive his influence was in mediæval India. It will also be recognised that the art of the Kathak must have been largely responsible for the maintenance of a literary standard in the vernacular, and for the gradual development of a vigorous literature in languages such as Hindi, Bengali and Guzerati. In the earlier centuries of the Christian era the epics and the stories were mostly enshrined in Sanskrit, but the Kathak had to relate them to his audience in the spoken language. It is not difficult therefore to realise that powerful influences were at work for the preservation, in a written form of the vernacular, of works which were previously accessible in a language understood only by a very small minority of the people. Perhaps some explanation may be found in these circumstances of the tradition embodied in Somadeva’s recension of the Kathā - sarit-sāgara that Guṇāḍhya had originally written out his collection of the stories in the Paiśāchī dialect.

It is safe to assume that during the centuries after Somadeva, the stories embodied in the Ocean, including the Pañcatantra and Vetāla tales, became familiar to practically all sections of the Hindu population of India, and exerted a potent influence on their ideas and culture. Mr Penzer has shown in his Terminal Essay—pp. 118 and 119—how in the earlier collections of the stories the characters belonged to a non-aristocratic sphere of society, such as merchants, artisans and cultivators, and the presiding deity was Kuvera, the God of Wealth. Somadeva and his coadjutors thought it desirable to replace Kuvera by Śiva (the chief deity worshipped in Kashmir in their time), and they also attempted to invest the chief characters with a social eminence which did not belong to them in the original recensions. But the new editors did not succeed in altering the general tone and atmosphere of the tales, and we have therefore available in Somadeva’s Ocean, so skilfully and faithfully translated by Tawney, a living picture of life of the common people in India in the tenth and eleventh centuries of the Christian era.

It is not my purpose to dwell at length on the moral and religious beliefs of the people as illustrated in these tales, for this work has already been accomplished in the excellent notes and appendices with which Mr Penzer has enriched these volumes. It is evident, as might have been anticipated by students of this period of Indian history, that the prevailing beliefs were a curious medley of the purer forms of Hindu mythology, of the later and sometimes debased Buddhistic doctrines and of tantric practices of comparatively recent development. The conflict between the Hindu and the Buddhist ideals of life is very clearly brought out in the tale of the Buddhist merchant Vitastadatta of Taxila and his Hindu son Ratnadatta (III, 2-5). We see incidentally how Buddhism had been the more popular religion with “low-caste men,” and it is pleasant to note the spirit of toleration underlying the declaration of the philosophic Buddhist—“Religion is not confined to one form.” While in the course of the work we are treated to learned and highly technical discussions on the doctrine of “Māyā,” we have also many allusions to the more common practice of the worship of Durgā. The very frequent references to the famous temple of Durgā in the town of Bindhachal (Vindhyāchala, or literally Vindhya mountain), close to Mirzapur, are probably accounted for by the proximity of the regions peopled by forest tribes such as Bhillas, Śavaras, or Pulindas, who are described in many parts of the Ocean. These references also indicate that one of the main routes between the Gangetic Valley and the Deccan must have been in those days, as it is now, from Mirzapur by a ford over the Narmadā above Jabalpur, and through the forest districts, to Pratiṣṭhāna on the Godāvarī. It is interesting to find that the temple of the Mahākāla Śiva at Ujjayinī described in Kālidāsa’s Meghadüta was equally famous in the days of Somadeva, and, like the Durgā temple at Bindhachal, still attracts votaries from all parts of the country. Belief in magic ceremonial is illustrated in many of the stories; in the tale of Kamalākara and

Haṃsāvalī we have gruesome details of the rites connected with human sacrifice (VI, 52). The synthesis of the philosophic tenets of Hinduism and Buddhism and the animistic rites and practices of the forest tribes, had produced a mixture which was not calculated to impart either social or political stability to Hindu India in the coming struggle with Islam. A careful reader of the Ocean of Story cannot fail to be struck by the spirit of gentle satire which underlies most of the stories, but unfortunately the criticism was not sufficiently trenchant for the purposes of reform and purification.

Similar observations apply to the picture of the political organisation of India in the tenth and eleventh centuries that is presented by these tales. Somadeva and his associates delineate for us a country divided into a large number of small states each ruled by a personal monarch, with dynastic ambitions and a desire for territorial aggrandisement. The King is usually guided by an intelligent and devoted minister, often a Brāhman. We have also a reference to a system where the Crown Prince had a court composed of young men in training for the posts of ministers. But there is little evidence of any complex political or administrative organisation at the centres of government. We are led to presume that the system of regional administration by means of a trained bureaucracy, which had been inaugurated by rulers such as Aśoka, continued to survive and function, and was a familiar feature which the editors of the stories did not consider it worthy to stress. It is difficult on any other hypothesis to account for the easy revival of the ancient bureaucracy by early Muslim rulers like Alauddin. There is no trace in the stories of the Ocean of any “state” or civic patriotism among the masses of the population. On the other hand there is much dynastic intrigue in the ruling families; territorial expansion was frequently sought by means of matrimonial alliances, which naturally led to counter-alliances. The picture thus sketched furnishes abundant explanation for the jealousies and weaknesses which characterised the defence of these kingdoms when the Muslim invaders arrived in the twelfth and succeeding centuries. A point to be noted in passing is that although we have many references to kingdoms so far apart as Ujjayinī, Pāṭaliputra and Kashmir, and although there is mention of Takṣaśilā in the north, Lāṭa (Guzerat) on the west, Chola and Kaliṅga in the south, and Kāmarūpa in the east, there is no allusion to any state in modern Rajputana. Not the least interesting passages in the stories are concerned with the “non-Aryan” kingdoms in the Vindhya country, peopled by the older tribes such as Bhillas, Śavaras and Pulindas, and the efforts made by the Aryan chiefs to secure their friendship and support. In these fragmentary references to the political organisation of the country the frequent demoralisation of the rulers is also vividly described. (Compare the story of King Bhīmabhaṭa in VI, 162.) No doubt there were popular risings in consequence and the replacement of one ruler by another. But we cannot expect many stories describing such incidents in a collection specifically dedicated to a royal personage.

The social fabric of India in the tenth and eleventh centuries was composed of the four chief castes, but it is remarkable that even at that comparatively late epoch, although we have mention of many different vocations and professions, there is no allusion to any subcastes within the limits of which intermarriage was restricted. Indeed, leaving out the rather doubtful cases of gāndharva marriage in the stories of the Ocean, we find frequent instances, without provoking any comment or criticism from the authors, of marriages with women of an inferior caste. In the story of the Golden City (II, 171), the king, who is presumably a Kṣatriya, is willing to marry the Princess Kanakarekhā to a Brāhman or a Kṣatriya, and the first aspirant to her hand is a Brāhman. In a later story, Aśokadatta, the son of “a great Brāhman,” marries the daughter of a Kṣatriya king (II, 204). Other instances will be found in III, 134, IV, 140, and VI, 73. In the story of Anaṅgarati (IV, 144), four suitors belonging respectively to the four castes seek the hand of the princess, and, in spite of a decided preference for the Kṣatriya and the Brāhman on account of their caste, the Vaiśya and the Śūdra were not summarily ruled out. On the other hand, there is no instance in the Ocean of a man actually marrying a woman of a superior caste. In modern times efforts are being made to break down provincial or regional caste-barriers, and until recently instances were very rare of intermarriage between people of different provinces. In the Ocean, however, there is no indication of any such barriers, and no surprise is caused when we hear of a Pāṭaliputra man bringing a wife from Pauṇḍravardhana.

It is also noteworthy that caste did not determine the occupation or profession of a man. We come across Brāh-mans employed in the secular departments of the State; a Brāhman youth becomes a professional wrestler (II, 200), and another becomes a bandit (VI, 166), apparently without losing caste. In the story of Vīravara, we have a Brāhman becoming a soldier of fortune (VI, 173). In the story of Phalabhūti, the Brāhman Somadatta adopts the occupation of a husbandman (II, 95).

A subject of speculation among students of Indian social history is the extent to which the custom of the seclusion of women existed in the pre-Muslim period. There can be little question that at all periods of Indian history the women of the richer classes led a more sheltered life than is the case with the modern Western woman. In the Purāṇas, as well as in the secular literature, there are frequent references to the “antaḥpura,” or the inner apartments of a palace, or a rich man’s dwelling-house, which are usually occupied by the womenfolk of the family. The stories in the Ocean, however, prove that in no part of the country in the eleventh century was there anything corresponding to the “parda” system of northern India in recent days. We have in the story of Arthalobha (III, 286) an indication of the fact that it was not unusual for a woman to participate in mercantile business of some importance. At the same time it would appear that a polygamous chief or ruler occasionally endeavoured to introduce stricter seclusion for his wives. We have a reference to such attempts in the incident described at III, 169.

Ratnaprabhā, after successfully insisting that her apartments “must not be closed against the entrance of her husband’s friends,” made the following remarks, which are as true to-day as they were in the eleventh century:

“I consider that the strict seclusion of women is a mere social custom, or rather folly produced by jealousy. It is of no use whatever. Women of good family are guarded by their own virtue as their only chamberlain. But even God Himself can scarcely guard the unchaste. Who can restrain a furious river and a passionate woman?”

Polygamy was legally permissible to all Hindus in Somadeva’s time as it is now, but in spite of the fact that the hero of the Ocean frequently indulges in the pastime of taking to himself a new wife, the practice of polygamy appears to have been confined in the main to chiefs and ruling princes. In the tale of Guṇaśarman (IV, 99), we have the very pertinent economic explanation of monogamy among the common people in spite of the legal sanction for polygamy.

The wise Brāhman Agnidatta says:

“Wives generally have many rivals when the husband is fortunate; a poor man would find it difficult to support one, much more to support many.”

In the story of Akṣakṣapaṇaka we have an instance of a man belonging to the middle classes who was persuaded by his relations to take a second wife after his first wife had deserted him (VI, 152). We do not come across any other tale in the Ocean illustrating a polygamous marriage by a person who did not belong to a semi-divine or princely category. It is hard to believe that if polygamy had been a common practice, the authors of the tales would not have utilised the theme for the obviously amusing situations that were bound to arise.

Mr Penzer has dealt with the custom of sail in an illuminating appendix, and it is not necessary for me to refer to it here. But it is worthy of note that the remarriage of widows does not receive disapproval or condemnation in any tale in the Ocean; in the story of the Eleven Slayer (V, 184), although the exceptional and extraordinary circumstances bring ridicule on the woman, she incurs no religious penalty or social ostracism for her repeated marriages. Another question frequently asked in modern India is whether the custom of child-marriage was prevalent in older days.

We have an echo of the oft-quoted text enjoining the marriage of immature girls in the statement of the harassed King Paropakārin to his “grown-up” daughter:

“If a daughter reaches puberty unmarried, her relations go to hell and she is an outcast and her bridegroom is called the husband of an outcast”

(VI, 173). But this very story, where the princess has already been reared to womanhood and there are many suitors for her hand, proves that the pious text was not un-often honoured in the breach. The general tenor of most of the tales in the Ocean indicates that, though child-marriage may not have been unknown and some social theorists were advocating it, young men and young women seldom married before they were “grown up.” The custom of child-marriage, like that of the strict seclusion of women, seems to have been a later development.

The profession of courtesans that existed in all the court-cities of the country has been described by Mr Penzer in an elaborate and exhaustive manner in the Appendix on Sacred Prostitution (Vol. I). Another unpleasant feature of the social organisation of the pre-Muslim epoch appears to have been the wide prevalence of wine-drinking. In the Parrot’s Story (VI, 186), we find a young merchant “drowsy with wine,” while all the people of the house also sink into a drunken sleep. To those who are familiar with the abstemious habits of the Hindu merchant castes of the present time this story would cause natural surprise. What is still more shocking is the laxness that prevailed in this respect even among women. Somadeva relates several stories, without any hint of disapproval, of princesses of noble birth indulging in drinking bouts. (See III, 107, III, 174, and VII, 10.) In his Terminal Essay Mr Penzer has put forward the hypothesis that the Kashmirian editors of the Ocean gave a much higher social rank to the original characters of the stories. But this does not improve matters from our point of view. There can be little doubt that, so far as wine-drinking is concerned, the position has been very much better in recent times among the middle classes in India: among the women of all classes. the habit is almost unknown. It is a matter of speculation whether this change was effected through the influence of the Hindu reformers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, or as the result of Muslim rule.

There are in the Ocean references to the datura as a stupefying intoxicant (I, 160, and V, 145), but it is difficult to say whether it was in common use except for criminal purposes. It is worthy of note that there is no allusion in any of the tales to the consumption of opium either as a medicine or as an intoxicant. Nor do we find any mention of gañja, char as or bhāṅg (different forms of hemp drugs). The proximity of Kashmir to the natural habitat of some of these drugs ought to have familiarised the editors with them had they been in vogue in the tenth or eleventh centuries. Gambling appears to have been a widespread vice in the time of Somadeva. It is true that sometimes it may have been indulged in as a mere amusement or recreation (see the story at V, 86). But we have a graphic description of a gambling den in the story of Candrasvāmin (VII, 72), and there are tales in the Ocean devoted to the same theme. Certain classes in India do not seem to have changed their habits in this respect since the date of the Vedas and the Mahābhārata (II, 231w).

A more pleasant diversion, the subsequent disappearance of which one notes with regret, was dancing among respectable ladies. It is difficult to trace how in later days dancing in public became confined to women of the “dancing-girl” class. Was it merely an accompaniment of the introduction of the custom of strict seclusion of women, or was it the result of contact with the puritanic ideals of Islam? In the Ocean we find many instances of ladies of position giving fine exhibitions of the dancing art. We have the spectacle of the Princess Haṃsāvalī dancing before her father (and apparently many others present at the Court) “to the music of a great tabor, looking like a creeper of the tree of love agitated by the wind of youth, shaking her ornaments like flowers, curving her hand like a shoot” (VI, 41). The “dancing teacher” for the ladies of the Court was apparently a regular institution (IV, 156). In the story of King Kanakavarṣa (IV, 208), his ambassador sent to the Court of King Devaśakti to secure the hand of Princess Madanasundarī has the good fortune of witnessing “the elegance in the dance” of the princess. There is no reason to presume that the art was known only in the Courts and was not practised by respectable women in a humbler sphere of life.

Music was an equally popular art, both among men and women. There were professors of singing as of dancing (VI, 41). It is unnecessary for me here to quote further instances, for they will be found throughout the tales.

Painting was also one of the fine arts held in high esteem. Picture galleries were a regular feature in royal palaces (IV, 205), and portrait painters moved from one Court to another, being often entrusted with delicate missions. The art of fresco-painting, of which such excellent examples survive at Ajanta and Bagh, was also in request. The father of the Princess Haṃsāvalī employs an artist to paint his daughter’s bower, and the artist thereupon paints the Prince Kamalākara and his servants on the wall of the bower (VI, 41). The kindred arts of sculpture and architecture must have flourished at the same time, for they were needed not only for the palaces of which we have such glowing descriptions in various stories, but also for the temples and the figures in them, to which there is constant reference. There are also indications in various passages in the Ocean that gardening was a highly patronised art.

Among professions of a different type to which allusion is made in the Ocean are those of the astrologer and the fortuneteller. It was recognised that there were many pretenders in these professions, and much fun is made of the dupes of false astrologers in the story of the Brāhman Hariśarman (III, 70). A story of similar purport in regard to fortune-tellers will be found at II, 90.

References to the economic condition of the people are unfortunately meagre in the Ocean. We find Brāhmans and others subsisting on royal grants of land, but no details are available of the conditions of tenure of such grants or of other land. Slavery was a recognised institution. We have in the story of Dharmadatta (III, 7) a case of a female slave in the house of a Brāhman married to “an excellent hired servant in the house of a certain merchant.” In this instance at any rate the bonds of slavery were not rigorous, for the woman and her (free) husband were permitted to set up a separate house of their own. It would have been interesting to know whether she was only a life slave, or stupefying intoxicant (I, 160, and Y, 145), but it is difficult to say whether it was in common use except for criminal purposes. It is worthy of note that there is no allusion in any of the tales to the consumption of opium either as a medicine or as an intoxicant. Nor do we find any mention of gañja, char as or bhāṅg (different forms of hemp drugs). The proximity of Kashmir to the natural habitat of some of these drugs ought to have familiarised the editors with them had they been in vogue in the tenth or eleventh centuries. Gambling appears to have been a widespread vice in the time of Somadeva. It is true that sometimes it may have been indulged in as a mere amusement or recreation (see the story at V, 86). But we have a graphic description of a gambling den in the story of Candrasvāmin (VII, 72), and there are tales in the Ocean devoted to the same theme. Certain classes in India do not seem to have changed their habits in this respect since the date of the Vedas and the Mahābhārata (II, 231n).

A more pleasant diversion, the subsequent disappearance of which one notes with regret, was dancing among respectable ladies. It is difficult to trace how in later days dancing in public became confined to women of the “dancing-girl” class. Was it merely an accompaniment of the introduction of the custom of strict seclusion of women, or was it the result of contact with the puritanic ideals of Islam? In the Ocean we find many instances of ladies of position giving fine exhibitions of the dancing art. We have the spectacle of the Princess Haṃsāvalī dancing before her father (and apparently many others present at the Court) “to the music of a great tabor, looking like a creeper of the tree of love agitated by the wind of youth, shaking her ornaments like flowers, curving her hand like a shoot” (VI, 41). The “dancing teacher” for the ladies of the Court was apparently a regular institution (IV, 156). In the story of King Kanakavarṣa (IV, 208), his ambassador sent to the Court of King Devaśakti to secure the hand of Princess Madanasundarī has the good fortune of witnessing “the elegance in the dance” of the princess. There is no reason to presume that the art was known only in the Courts and was not practised by respectable women in a humbler sphere of life.

Music was an equally popular art, both among men and women. There were professors of singing as of dancing (VI, 41). It is unnecessary for me here to quote further instances, for they will be found throughout the tales.

Painting was also one of the fine arts held in high esteem. Picture galleries were a regular feature in royal palaces (IV, 205), and portrait painters moved from one Court to another, being often entrusted with delicate missions. The art of fresco-painting, of which such excellent examples survive at Ajanta and Bagh, was also in request. The father of the Princess Haṃsāvalī employs an artist to paint his daughter’s bower, and the artist thereupon paints the Prince Kamalākara and his servants on the wall of the bower (VI, 41). The kindred arts of sculpture and architecture must have flourished at the same time, for they were needed not only for the palaces of which we have such glowing descriptions in various stories, but also for the temples and the figures in them, to which there is constant reference. There are also indications in various passages in the Ocean that gardening was a highly patronised art.

Among professions of a different type to which allusion is made in the Ocean are those of the astrologer and the fortuneteller. It was recognised that there were many pretenders in these professions, and much fun is made of the dupes of false astrologers in the story of the Brāhman Hariśarman (III, 70). A story of similar purport in regard to fortune-tellers will be found at II, 90.

References to the economic condition of the people are unfortunately meagre in the Ocean. We find Brāhmans and others subsisting on royal grants of land, but no details are available of the conditions of tenure of such grants or of other land. Slavery was a recognised institution. We have in the story of Dharmadatta (III, 7) a case of a female slave in the house of a Brāhman married to “an excellent hired servant in the house of a certain merchant.” In this instance at any rate the bonds of slavery were not rigorous, for the woman and her (free) husband were permitted to set up a separate house of their own. It would.have been interesting to know whether she was only a life slave, or whether the offspring of the union would have become slaves.

The same story furnishes a description of “a grievous famine.” Owing to it the allowance of food which the couple received every day “began to come to them in small quantities. Then their bodies became attenuated by hunger, and they began to despond in mind, when once on a time at mealtime there arrived a weary Brāhman guest. To him they gave all their own food (cooked rice brought from the houses of their respective masters), as much as they had, though they were in danger of their lives.” The famine must have been grievous indeed to compel a Brāhman to eat cooked rice from the hands of low-caste slaves. After the Brāhman has eaten and departed, the husband dies of starvation, and the wife “lays down the load of her own calamity” by burning herself with her husband’s corpse. The miseries and privations suffered during famines, together with the familiar phenomenon of migration of whole families with their cattle from famine-stricken tracts, are vividly portrayed in several other passages in the Ocean (II, 196, and VI, 27). In the story of Candrasvāmin (IV, 220) even “the King began to play the bandit, leaving the right path and taking wealth from his subjects unlawfully.” There is unfortunately no description in any story of special measures of protection or prevention such as watercourses, embankments, or grain stores which must have been familiar to the people.

The amusing story of Devadāsa (II, 86) is based on the habit of hoarding gold—a propensity which has not yet died out in the country. There are no stories about money-lenders —a theme which might have easily provided some humorous situations.

Trade and commerce were honourable professions, and the stories abound in references to merchants who not only traded between different parts of the country, but ventured across the seas. In the story of the Golden City, we find Śaktideva accompanying seafaring merchants from the seaport of Viṭaṅkapura to the islands in the midst of the ocean (II, 191). The merchant Hiraṇyagupta (IV, 160), after getting together wares, goes off to an island named Suvarṇabhūmi to trade, and afterwards travels “some days over the sea” in a ship (see also IV, 190-191, V, 198, and VII, 15). Realistic descriptions of countries beyond the seas are not likely to be found in the work of editors living in land-locked Kashmir, but it is clear that in the epoch of Somadeva there was no social or religious ban on sea-voyages, even of considerable duration. The circumstances that led to the subsequent prejudice against sea-voyages would be an appropriate subject for research by the student of Indian social history.

Curiously enough, one is disappointed at the absence in a work edited in Kashmir of clear references to the regions north and west of India. In the legendary account in II, 93, 94, of Udayana’s conquests there are vague allusions to the defeat of Mlecchas, Turuṣkas, Pārasīkas and Hūṇas, but this appears to be a mere echo of the account of the conquests of Raghu in Kālidāsa. In another story (III, 185) four young merchants travel “to the northern region, abounding in barbarians,” where they are sold to a Tājika (Persian?), who sends them as a present to a Turuṣka (Turk). After a miraculous escape, three of the travellers prefer to leave a quarter of the world infested with barbarians and return to the Deccan, while the fourth finally reaches the banks of the Vitastā (the Jhelum). It must be confessed that even this passage is not very illuminating.

We also look in vain in the stories for any enlightening evidence about the favourite crops and vegetables. Among edible fruits, mango, citron, āmalaka and jambu are mentioned, as also triphalā, which Tawney interprets to mean three varieties of myrobolan. Fish appears to have been popular, at least with certain classes, for we have many references to fishermen and fishing. The flesh of deer and other wild animals was consumed, but there is no evidence 1 of any animals reared for food. In the allegorical tale of Arthavarman and Bhogavarman (IV, 196), even the abstemious and dyspeptic Arthavarman has a meal consisting of “barley-meal, with half a pala of ghee, and a little rice and a small quantity of meat-curry,” while Bhogavarman, who believes in good living, soon after a meal at a friend’s house where he has “excellent food” with wine returns home and “again enjoys all kinds of viands and wines at his own house in the evening.”

It is hoped that the examples given above will illustrate how the stories in the Ocean give us very interesting glimpses into the social and economic life of the later centuries in the “Hindu period” of the history of India. In this respect they ought to prove valuable to the historical student who has at present only very limited material at his disposal.

As a pupil of Charles Tawney at Calcutta, it is gratifying to me to be associated in a humble manner with a work which will remain for ever a testimony to his erudition, industry and scholarly method. Precision of thought and expression, thoroughness and breadth of mind were the striking attributes of Tawney’s character. Kindliness of temper and a genial sense of humour endeared him to his pupils.

It may be permitted to me to congratulate Mr Penzer on the completion of his work as editor. Alike in conception and in execution, it has been a great task. The magnificent results must be a source of pride both to Mr Penzer and his publisher.

Atul C. Chatterjee.

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