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 ...

171. Story of King Vikramāditya

WHEN Anaṅgadeva had told this to King Vikramāditya in his hall of audience, he continued as follows:

“Then, after I had taken food, that lady, sitting in the midst of her attendants, said to me:

‘Listen, Anaṅgadeva, I will now tell you all.


171a. Madanamañjarī and the Kāpālika1

I am Madanamañjarī, the daughter of Dundubhi, the King of the Yakṣas, and the wife of Maṇibhadra, the brother of Kuvera. I used always to roam about happily with my husband on the banks of rivers, on hills, and in charming groves.

And one day I went with my beloved to a garden in Ujjayinī called Makaranda to amuse myself. There it happened that in the dawn a low hypocritical scoundrel of a kāpālika[1] saw me, when I had just woke up from a sleep brought on by the fatigue of roaming about. That rascal, being overcome with love, went into a cemetery, and proceeded to try to procure me for his wife by means of a spell and a bumt-offering. But I, by my power, found out what he was about, and informed my husband; and he told his elder brother, Kuvera.

And Kuvera went and complained to Brahmā, and the holy Brahmā, after meditating, said to him:

“It is true that kāpālika intends to rob your brother of his wife, for such is the power of those spells for mastering Yakṣas, which he possesses. But when she feels herself being drawn along by the spell, she must invoke the protection of King Vikrāmaditya; he will save her from him.”

Then Kuvera came and told this answer of Brahmā’s to my husband, and my husband told it to me, whose mind was troubled by that wicked spell.

And in the meanwhile that hypocritical kāpālika, offering a burnt-offering in the cemetery, began to draw me to him by means of a spell, duly muttered in a circle. And I, being drawn by that spell, reached in an agony of terror that awful cemetery, full of bones and skulls, haunted by demons. And then I saw there that wicked kāpālika: he had made an offering to the fire, and he had in a circle[2] a corpse lying on its back, which he had been worshipping. And that kāpālika, when he saw that I had arrived, was beside himself with pride, and with difficulty tore himself away to rinse his mouth in a river, which happened to be near.

At that moment I called to mind what Brahmā had said, and I thought:

“Why should I not call to the king for aid? He may be roaming about in the darkness somewhere near.”

When I had said this to myself, I called aloud for his help in the following words:

“Deliver me, noble King Vikramāditya! See, protecting talisman of the world, this kāpālika is bent on outraging by force, in your realm, me, a chaste woman, the Yakṣī Madanamañjarī by name, the daughter of Dundubhi, and the wife of Maṇibhadra, the younger brother of Kuvera.”

No sooner had I finished this plaintive appeal than I saw that king coming toward me, sword in hand; he seemed to be all resplendent with brightness of valour, and he said to me:

“My good lady, do not fear; be at ease. I will deliver you from that kāpālika, fair one. For who is able to work such unrighteousness in my realm?”

When he had said this, he summoned a Vetāla, named Agniśikha.

And he, when summoned, came—tall, with flaming eyes, with upstanding hair—and said to the king:

“Tell me what I am to do.”

Then the king said:

“Kill and eat this wicked kāpālika, who is trying to carry off his neighbour’s wife.”

Then that Vetāla, Agniśikha, entered the corpse that was in the circle of adoration, and rose up and rushed forward, stretching out his arms and mouth. And when the kāpālika, who had come back from rinsing his mouth, was preparing to fly, he seized him from behind by the legs; and he whirled him round in the air, and then dashed him down with great force on the earth, and so at one blow crushed his body and his aspirations.

When the demons saw the kāpālika slain they were all eager for flesh, and a fierce Vetāla, named Yamaśikha, came there.

As soon as he came he seized the body of the kāpālika; then the first Vetāla, Agniśikha, said to him:

“Hear, villain! I have killed this kāpālika by the order of King Vikramāditya; pray what have you to do with him?”

When Yamaśikha heard that, he said to him:

“Then tell me, what kind of power has that king?”

Then Agniśikha said:

“If you do not know the nature of his power, listen, I will tell you.


171aa. The Cunning Gambler Dāgineya and the Vetāla Agniśikha who submitted himself to King Vikramāditya

There once lived in this city a very resolute gambler of the name of Dāgineya. Once on a time some gamblers, by fraudulent play, won from him all he possessed, and then bound him in order to obtain from him the borrowed money which he had lost in addition. And as he had nothing, they beat him with sticks and other instruments of torture,[3] but he made himself like a stone, and seemed as rigid as a corpse. Then all those wicked gamblers took him and threw him into a large dark well, fearing that, if he lived, he might take vengeance on them.

But that gambler Dāgineya, when flung down into that very deep well, saw in front of him two great and terrible men. But they, when they saw him fall down terrified, said to him kindly: “Who are you, and how have you managed to fall into this deep well? Tell us!”

Then the gambler recovered his spirits, and told them his story, and said to them:

“Do you also tell me who you are, and whence you come.”

When those men who were in the pit heard that, they said:

“Good sir, we were Brāhman demons[4] dwelling in the cemetery belonging to this city, and we possessed two maidens in this very city; one was the daughter of the principal minister, the other of the chief merchant. And no conjurer on the earth, however powerful his spells, was able to deliver those maidens from us.

“Then King Vikramāditya, who had an affection for their fathers, heard of it, and came to the place where those maidens were with a friend of their fathers’. The moment we saw the king, we left the maidens and tried to escape, but we were not able to do so, though we tried our utmost. We saw the whole horizon on fire with his splendour. Then that king, seeing us, bound us by his power. And seeing us unhappy, as we were afraid of being put to death, he gave us this order: ‘Ye wicked ones, dwell for a year in a dark pit, and then ye shall be set at liberty. But when freed, ye must never again commit such a crime; if ye do, I will punish you with destruction.’ After King Viṣamaśila had given us this order, he had us flung into this dark pit; but out of mercy he did not destroy us.

“And in eight more days the year will be completed, and with it the period during which we were to dwell in this cave, and we shall then be released from it. Now, friend, if you engage to supply us with some food during those days, we will lift you out of this pit, and set you down outside it; but if you do not, when lifted out, supply us with food according to your engagement, we will certainly, when we come out, devour you.”

When the Brāhman demons made this proposal to the gambler, he consented to it, and they put him out of the pit. When he got out of it, he went to the cemetery at night to deal in human flesh, as he saw no other chance of getting what he wanted.

And I, happening to be there at that time, saw that gambler, who was crying out:

“I have human flesh for sale; buy it, somebody!”

Then I said: “I will take it off your hands: what price do you want for it?”

And he answered: “Give me your shape and power.”

Then I said again to him: “My fine fellow, what will you do with them?”

The gambler then told me his whole story, and said to me:

“By means of your shape and power I will get hold of those enemies of mine, the gamblers, together with the keeper of the gambling-house, and will give them to the Brāhman demons to eat.”

When I heard that, I was pleased with the resolute spirit of that gambler, and gave him my shape and my power for a specified period of seven days. And by means of them he drew those men that had injured him into his power, one after another, and flung them into the pit, and fed the Brāhman demons on them during seven days.

Then I took back from him my shape and power, and that gambler Dāgineya, beside himself with fear, said to me:

“I have not given those Brāhman demons any food this day, which is the eighth, so they will now come out and devour me. Tell me what I must do in this case, for you are my friend.”

When he said this, I, having got to like him, from being thrown with him, said to him:

“If this is the case, since you have made those two demons devour the gamblers, I for your sake will in turn eat the demons. So show them to me, my friend.”

When I made the gambler this offer, he at once jumped at it, and took me to the pit where the demons were.

I, suspecting nothing, bent my head down to look into the pit, and, while I was thus engaged, the gambler put his hand on the back of my neck and pushed me into it. When I fell into it, the demons took me for someone sent for them to eat, and laid hold of me, and I had a wrestling-match with them. When they found that they could not overcome the might of my arms, they desisted from the struggle, and asked me who I was.

Then I told them my own story from the point where my fortunes became involved with those of Dāgineya,[5] and they made friends with me, and said to me:

“Alas! What a trick that evil-minded gambler has played you, and us two, and those other gamblers! But what confidence can be placed in gamblers who profess exclusively the science of cheating; whose minds are proof against friendship, pity and gratitude for a benefit received? Recklessness and disregard of all ties are ingrained in the nature of gamblers: hear in illustration of this the story of Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla.


171aaa. The Bold Gambler Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla

Long ago there lived in this very city of Ujjayinī a ruffianly gambler, who was rightly named Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla.[6] He lost perpetually, and the others, who won in the game, used to give him every day a hundred cowries.[7] With those he bought wheat-flour from the market, and in the evening made cakes by kneading them somewhere or other in a pot with water, and then he went and cooked them in the flame of a funeral pyre in the cemetery, and ate them in front of Mahākāla, smearing them with the grease from the lamp burning before him: and he always slept at night on the ground in the court of the same god’s temple, pillowing his head on his arm.

Now, one night he saw the images of all the Mothers,[8] and of the Yakṣas and other divine beings in the temple of Mahākāla trembling from the proximity of spells, and this thought arose in his bosom:

“Why should I not employ an artful device here to obtain wealth? If it succeeds, well and good; if it does not succeed, wherein am I the worse?”

When he had gone through these reflections, he challenged those deities to play, saying to them:

“Come now, I will have a game with you, and I will act as keeper of the gaming-table, and will fling the dice; and mind, you must always pay up what you lose.”

When he said this to the deities, they remained silent; so Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla staked some spotted cowries, and flung the dice. For this is the universally accepted rule among gamblers, that, if a gambler does not object to the dice being thrown, he agrees to play.[9]

Then, having won much gold, he said to the deities: “Pay me the money I have won, as you agreed to do.”

But though the gambler said this to the deities over and over again, they made no answer.

Then he flew into a passion and said to them:

“If you remain silent, I will adopt with you the same course as is usually adopted with a gambler who will not pay the money he has lost, but makes himself as stiff as a stone. I will simply saw through your limbs with a saw as sharp as the points of Yama’s teeth, for I have no respect for anything.”

When he had said this, he ran towards them, saw in hand; and the deities immediately paid him the gold he had won. Next morning he lost it all at play, and in the evening he came back again, and extorted more money from the Mothers in the same way by making them play with him.

He went on doing this every day, and those deities, the Mothers, were in very low spirits about it; then the goddess Chamuṇḍā said to them:

“Whoever, when invited to gamble, says, ‘I sit out of this game,’ cannot be forced to play; this is the universal convention among gamblers, ye Mother deities. So when he invites you, say this to him, and so baffle him.”

When Chamuṇḍā had said this to the Mothers, they laid her advice up in their minds. And when the gambler came at night and invited them to play with him, all the goddesses said with one accord: “We sit out of this game.”

When Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla had been thus repulsed by those goddesses, he invited their sovereign Mahākāla himself to play. But that god, thinking that the fellow had taken this opportunity of trying to force him to gamble, said: “I sit out of this game.”

Even gods, you see, like feeble persons, are afraid of a thoroughly self-indulgent, ruffianly scoundrel, flushed with impunity.

Then that Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla, being depressed at finding his gambler’s artifice baffled by a knowledge of the etiquette of play, was disgusted, and said to himself:

“Alas! I am baffled by these deities through their learning the conventions of gamblers; so I must now flee for refuge to this very sovereign of gods.”

Having formed this resolution in his heart, Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla embraced the feet of Mahākāla, and praising him, addressed to him the following petition:

“I adore thee that sittest naked[10] with thy head resting on thy knee; thy moon, thy bull, and thy elephant-skin having been won at play by Devī. When the gods give all powers at thy mere desire, and when thou art free from longings, having for thy only possessions the matted lock, the ashes and the skull, how canst thou suddenly have become avaricious with regard to hapless me, in that thou desirest to disappoint me for so small a gain? Of a truth the wishing-tree no longer gratifies the hope of the poor, as thou dost not support me, lord Bhairava, though thou supportest the world. So, as I have fled to thee as a suppliant, holy Sthāṇu, with my mind pierced with grievous woe, thou oughtest even to pardon presumption in me. Thou hast three eyes, I have three dice,[11] so I am like thee in one respect; thou hast ashes on thy body, so have I; thou eatest from a skull, so do I: show me mercy. When I have conversed with you gods, how can I afterwards bear to converse with gamblers? So deliver me from my calamity.”

With this and similar utterances the gambler praised that Bhairava, until at last the god was pleased, and manifesting himself, said to him:

“Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla, I am pleased with thee; do not be despondent. Remain here with me: I will provide thee with enjoyments.”

In accordance with this command of the god’s that gambler remained there, enjoying all kinds of luxuries provided by the favour of the deity.

Now, one night the god saw certain Apsarases, that had come to bathe in that holy pool of Mahākāla, and he gave this command to Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla:

“While all these nymphs of heaven are engaged in bathing, quickly snatch up the clothes, which they have laid on the bank, and bring them here; and do not give them back their garments until they surrender to you this young nymph, named Kalāvatī.”[12]

When Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla had received this command from Bhairava, he went and carried off the garments of those heavenly beauties, while they were bathing; and they said to him:

“Give us back our garments, please; do not leave us naked.”

But he answered them, confident in the power which Śiva gave:

“If you will give me the young nymph Kalāvatī, I will give you back these garments, but not otherwise.”

When they heard that, seeing that he was a stubborn fellow to deal with, and remembering that Indra had pronounced a curse of this kind upon Kalāvatī, they agreed to his demand. And on his giving back the garments, they bestowed on him, in due form, Kalāvatī, the daughter of Alambuṣā.

Then the Apsarases departed, and Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla remained there with that Kalāvatī in a house built by the wish of Śiva. And Kalāvatī went in the day to heaven to attend upon the king of the gods, but at night she always returned[13] to her husband. And one day she said to him in the ardour of her affection:

“My dear, the curse of Śiva, which enabled me to obtain you for a husband, has really proved a blessing.”

Thereupon her husband, Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla, asked her the cause of the curse, and the nymph Kalāvatī thus answered him:

“One day, when I had seen the gods in a garden, I praised the enjoyments of mortals, depreciating the pleasures of the dwellers in heaven, as giving joys that consist only in seeing.[14]

When the king of the gods heard that, he cursed me, saying:

‘Thou shalt go and be married by a mortal, and enjoy those human pleasures.’

In this way has come about our union that is mutually agreeable. And to-morrow I shall return to heaven after a long absence: do not be unhappy about it, for Rambhā is going to dance a new piece before Viṣṇu, and I must remain there, my beloved, until the exhibition is at an end.”

Then Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla, whom love had made like a spoiled child, said to her:

“I will go there and look at that dance unperceived, take me there.”

When Kalāvatī heard that, she said:

“How is it fitting for me to do this? The king of the gods might be angry, if he found it out.”

Though she said this to him, he continued to press her; then, out of love, she agreed to take him there.

So the next morning Kalāvatī, by her power, concealed Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla in a lotus, which she placed as an ornament in her ear, and took him to the palace of Indra. When Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla saw that palace, the doors of which were adorned by the elephant of the gods, which was set off by the garden of Nandana, he thought himself a god, and was highly delighted. And in the Court of Indra, frequented by gods, he beheld the strange and delightful spectacle of Rambhā’s dance, accompanied by the singing of all the nymphs of heaven. And he heard all the musical instruments played by Nārada and the other minstrels; for what is hard to obtain in this world, if the supreme god[15] is favourable to one?

Then, at the end of the exhibition, a mime, in the shape of a divine goat, rose up, and began to dance with heavenly[16] movements.

And Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla, when he saw him, recognized him, and said to himself:

“Why, I see this goat in Ujjayinī, figuring as a mere animal, and here he is dancing as a mime before Indra. Of a truth this must be some strange incomprehensible heavenly delusion.”

While Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla was going through these reflections in his mind, the dance of the goat-mime came to an end, and then Indra returned to his own place. And then Kalāvatī, in high spirits, also took back Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla to his own home, concealed in the lotus ornament of her ear.

And the next day Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla beheld in Ujjayinī that goat-formed mime of the gods, who had returned there, and he insolently said to him:

“Come, dance before me, as you dance before Indra. If you do not, I shall be angry with you; show off your dancing powers, you mime.”

When the goat heard this he was astonished, and remained silent, saying to himself:

“How can this mere mortal know so much about me?”

But when, in spite of persistent entreaties, the goat refused to dance, Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla beat him on the head with sticks. Then the goat went with bleeding head to Indra, and told him all that had taken place. And Indra, by his supernatural powers of contemplation, discovered the whole secret, how Kalāvatī had brought Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla to heaven when Rambhā was dancing, and how that profane fellow had there seen the goat dancing.

Then Indra summoned Kalāvatī, and pronounced on her the following curse:

“Since, out of love, thou didst secretly bring here the man who has reduced the goat to this state to make him dance, depart and become an image on a pillar[17] in the temple built by King Narasiṃha in the city of Nāgapura.”

When Indra had said this, Alambuṣā, the mother of Kalāvatī, tried to appease him, and at last he was with difficulty appeased, and he thus fixed an end to the curse:

“When that temple, which it has taken many years to complete, shall perish and be levelled with the ground, then shall her curse come to an end.”

So Kalāvatī came weeping and told to Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla the curse Indra had pronounced, together with the end he had appointed to it, and how he himself was to blame, and then, after giving him her ornaments, she entered into an image on the front of a pillar in the temple in Nāgapura.

Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla for his part, smitten with the poison of separation from her, could neither hear nor see, but rolled swooning on the ground.

And when that gambler came to his senses he uttered this lament:

“Alas! fool that I was. I revealed the secret, though I knew better all the time—for how can people like myself, who are by nature thoughtless, show self-restraint? So now this intolerable separation has fallen to my lot.”

However, in a moment he said to himself:

“This is no time for me to despond; why should I not recover firmness and strive to put an end to her curse?”

After going through these reflections, the cunning fellow thought carefully over the matter, and assuming the dress of a mendicant devotee, went with rosary, antelope-skin, and matted hair, to Nāgapura. There he secretly buried, in a forest outside the city, four pitchers containing his wife’s ornaments—one towards each of the cardinal points; and one full of sets of the five precious things[18] he deliberately buried within the city, in the earth of the market-place, in front of the god himself.

When he had done this, he built a hut on the bank of the river, and remained there, affecting a hypocritical asceticism,[19] pretending to be meditating and muttering. And by bathing three times in the day, and eating only the food given him as alms, after washing it with water on a stone, he acquired the character of a very holy man.

In course of time his fame reached the ears of the king, and the king often invited him, but he never went near him; so the king came to see him, and remained a long time in conversation with him. And in the evening, when the king was preparing to depart, a female jackal suddenly uttered a yell at a distance.

When the cunning gambler, who was passing himself off as an ascetic, heard that, he laughed. And when the king asked him the meaning of the laugh,[20] he said: “Oh! never mind.”

But when the king went on persistently questioning him, the deceitful fellow said:

“In the forest to the east of this city, under a ratan, there is a pitcher full of jewelled ornaments; so take it.”

This, King, is what that female jackal told me, for I understand the language of animals.”

Then the king was full of curiosity: so the ascetic took him to the spot, and dug up the earth, and took out that pitcher, and gave it to him. Then the king, having obtained the ornaments, began to have faith in the ascetic, and considered that he not only possessed supernatural knowledge, but was a truthful and unselfish devotee. So he conducted him to his cell, and prostrated himself at his feet again and again, and returned to his palace at night with his ministers, praising his virtues.

In the same way, when the king again came to him, the ascetic pretended to understand the cry of an animal, and in this way made over to the king the other three pitchers, buried towards the other three cardinal points. Then the king and the citizens and the king’s wives became exclusively devoted to the ascetic, and were, so to speak, quite absorbed in him.

Now, one day, the king took that wicked ascetic to the temple for a moment; so he contrived to hear in the marketplace the cry of a crow.

Then he said to the king:

“Did you hear what the crow said?

‘In this very market-place there is a pitcher full of valuable jewels buried in front of the god: why do you not take it up also?’

This was the meaning of his cry; so come and take possession of it.”

When the deceitful ascetic had said this, he conducted him there, and took up out of the earth the pitcher full of valuable jewels, and gave it to the king. Then the king, in his excessive satisfaction, entered the temple holding that pretended seer by the hand.

There the mendicant brushed against that image on the pillar which his beloved Kalāvatī had entered, and saw her. And Kalāvatī, wearing the form of the image on the pillar, was afflicted when she saw her husband, and began to weep then and there.

When the king and his attendants saw this, they were amazed and cast down, and said to that pretended seer:

“Reverend sir, what is the meaning of this?”

Then the cunning rascal, pretending to be despondent and bewildered, said to the king:

“Come to your palace; there I will tell you this secret, though it is almost too terrible to be revealed.”

When he had said this, he led the king to the palace, and said to him:

“Since you built this temple on an unlucky spot and in an inauspicious moment, on the third day from now a misfortune will befall you. It was for this reason that the image on the pillar wept when she saw you. So, if you care for your body’s weal, my sovereign, take this into consideration, and this very day quickly level this temple with the earth; and build another temple somewhere else, on a lucky spot, and in an auspicious moment. Let the evil omen be averted, and ensure the prosperity of yourself and your kingdom.”

When he had said this to the king, he, in his terror, gave command to his subjects, and in one day levelled that temple with the earth, and he began to build another temple in another place. So true is it that rogues with their tricks gain the confidence of princes, and impose upon them.

Accordingly, the gambler Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla, having gained his object, abandoned the disguise of a mendicant, and fled, and went to Ujjayinī. And Kalāvatī, finding it out, went to meet him on the road, freed from her curse and happy, and she comforted him, and then went to heaven to visit Indra. And Indra was astonished, but when he heard from her mouth the artifice of her husband the gambler, he laughed and was highly delighted.

Then Bṛhaspati, who was at his side, said to Indra:

“Gamblers are always like this, abounding in every kind of trickery. For instance, in a previous kalpa there was in a certain city a gambler, of the name of Kuṭṭanīkapaṭa, accomplished in dishonest play. When he went to the other world, Indra said to him:

‘Gambler, you will have to live a kalpa in hell on account of your crimes, but, owing to your charity, you are to be Indra for one day, for once on a time you gave a gold coin to a knower of the Supreme Soul. So say whether you will take out first your period in hell or your period as Indra.’

When the gambler heard that, he said:

‘I will take out first my period as Indra.’

“Then Yama[21] sent the gambler to heaven, and the gods deposed Indra for a day, and crowned him sovereign in his stead.

He, having obtained sovereign sway, summoned to heaven the gamblers, his friends, and his female favourites, and in virtue of his regal authority gave this order to the gods:

‘Carry us all in a moment to all the holy bathing-places,[22] those in heaven, and those on earth, and those in the seven dvīpas; and enter this very day into all the kings on the earth and bestow without ceasing great gifts for our benefit.’

“When he gave this order to the gods, they did everything as he had desired, and by means of those holy observances his sins were washed[23] away, and he obtained the rank of Indra permanently. And by his favour his friends and his female favourites, that he had summoned to heaven, had their sins destroyed, and obtained immortality. The next day Citragupta informed Yama that the gambler had, by his discretion, obtained the rank of Indra permanently.

Then Yama, hearing of his meritorious actions, was astonished, and said:

‘Oho! this gambler has cheated us.’”

When Bṛhaspati had told this story, he said, “Such, O wielder of the thunderbolt, are gamblers,” and then held his peace. And then Indra sent Kalāvatī to summon Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla to heaven. There the king of the gods, pleased with his cleverness and resolution, honoured him, and gave him Kalāvatī to wife, and made him an attendant on himself. Then the brave Ṭhiṇṭhākarāla lived happily, like a god, in heaven, with Kalāvatī, by the favour of Śiva.


171aa. The Cunning Gambler Dāgineya and the Vetāla Agniśikha who submitted himself to King Vikramāditya

“So you see, such is the style in which gamblers exhibit their treachery and audacity; accordingly, Agniśikha the Vampire, what is there to be surprised at in your having been treacherously thrown into this well by Dāgineya the gambler? So come out of this pit, friend, and we will come out also.”

When the Brāhman demon said this to me, I came up out of that pit, and being hungry, I came across a Brāhman traveller that night in the city. So I rushed forward and seized that Brāhman to eat him, but he invoked the protection of King Vikramāditya.

And the moment the king heard his cry, he rushed out like flame, and while still at a distance, checked me by exclaiming: “Ah, villain! do not kill the Brāhman”: and then he proceeded to cut off the head of a figure of a man he had drawn—that did not sever my neck, but made it stream with blood.[24]

Then I left the Brāhman and clung to the king’s feet, and he spared my life.


171a. Madanamañjarī and the Kāpālika

“Such is the power of that god, King Vikramāditya. And it is by his orders that I have slain this hypocritical kāpālika. So he is my proper prey, to be devoured by me as being a Vetāla; let him go, Yamaśikha!”

Though Agniśikha made this appeal to Yamaśikha, the latter proceeded contumaciously to drag with his hand the corpse of that hypocritical kāpālika. Then King Vikramāditya appeared there, and drew the figure of a man on the earth, and then cut off its hand with his sword. That made the hand of Yamaśikha fall severed; so he left the corpse, and fled in fear. And Agniśikha immediately devoured the corpse of that kāpālika. And I witnessed all this, securely protected by the might of the king.[25]


171. Story of King Vikramāditya

In these words did that wife of the Yakṣa, Madanamañjarī by name, describe your power, O King, and then she wont on to say to me:

“Then, Anaṅgadeva, the king said to me in a gentle voice:

‘Yakṣī, being delivered from the kāpālika, go to the house of your husband.’

Then I bowed before him, and returned to this my own home, thinking how I might repay to that king the benefit he had conferred on me. In this way your master gave me life, family and husband; and when you tell him this story of mine, it will agree with his own recollections.

“Moreover, I have to-day found out that the King of Siṃhala has sent to that king his daughter, the greatest beauty in the three worlds, who has of her own accord elected to marry him. And all the kings, being jealous, have gathered themselves together and formed the intention of killing Vikramaśakti and the dependent kings,[26] and of carrying off that maiden. So, do you go, and make their intention known to Vikramaśakti, in order that he may be on his guard and ready to repel their attack. And I will exert myself to enable King Vikramāditya to conquer those enemies and gain the victory.

“For this reason I brought you here by my own deluding power, in order that you might tell all this to King Vikramaśakti and the dependent monarchs; and I will send to your sovereign such a present as shall to a certain small extent be a requital for the benefit that he conferred on me.”

While she was saying this, the two maidens that we had seen in the sea came there with the deer; one had a body white as the moon, the other was dark as a priyaṅgu; so they seemed like Gaṅgā and Yamunā returned from worshipping the ocean, the monarch of rivers.

When they had sat down, I put this question to the Yakṣī:

“Goddess, who are these maidens, and what is the meaning of this golden deer?”

When the Yakṣiṇī heard this, King, she said to me:

“Anaṅgadeva, if you feel any curiosity about the matter, listen, I will tell you.


171b. Ghaṇta and Nighaṇta and the Two Maidens

Long ago there came to impede Prajāpati, in his creation of creatures, two terrible Dānavas, named Ghaṇṭa and Nighaṇṭa, invincible even by gods. And the Creator, being desirous of destroying them, created these two maidens, the splendour of whose measureless beauty seemed capable of maddening the world. And those two mighty Asuras, when they saw these two exceedingly wonderful maidens, tried to carry them off; and fighting with one another, they both of them met their death.[27]

Then Brahmā bestowed these maidens on Kuvera, saying, “You must give these girls to some suitable husband”; and Kuvera made them over to my husband, who is his younger brother; and in the same way my husband passed these fair ones[28] on to me; and I have thought of King Vikramāditya as a husband for them, for, as he is an incarnation of a god, he is a fit person for them to marry.


171. Story of King Vikramāditya

“Such are the facts with regard to these maidens; now hear the history of the deer.


171c. Jayanta and the Golden Deer

Indra had a beloved son named Jayanta. Once on a time, when he, still an infant, was being carried about in the air by the celestial nymphs, he saw some princes in a wood on earth playing with some young deer. Then Jayanta[29] went to heaven, and cried in the presence of his father because he had not got a deer to play with, as a child would naturally do. Accordingly Indra had a deer made for him by Viśvakarman, of gold and jewels, and life was given to the animal by sprinkling it with nectar. Then Jayanta played with it, and was delighted with it, and the young deer was continually roaming about in heaven.

In course of time that son of Rāvaṇa, who was rightly named Indrajit,[30] carried off the young deer from heaven and took it to his own city Laṅkā. And after a further period had elapsed—Rāvaṇa and Indrajit having been slain by the heroes Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, to avenge the carrying off of Sītā, and Vibhīṣaṇa having been set upon the throne of Laṅkā, as King of the Rākṣasas—that wonderful deer of gold and jewels remained in his palace. And once on a time, when I was taken by my husband’s relations to Vibhīṣaṇa’s palace on the occasion of a festival, he gave me the deer as a complimentary present. And that young heaven-born deer is now in my house, and I must bestow it on your master.


171. Story of King Vikramāditya

And while the Yakṣiṇī was telling me this string of tales, the sun, the friend of the kamalinī, went to rest. Then I and the ambassador of the King of Siṃhala went to sleep, both of us, after the evening ceremonies, in a palace which the Yakṣiṇī assigned to us.

In the morning we woke up and saw, my sovereign, that the army of Vikramaśakti, your vassal, had arrived. We reflected that that must be a display of the Yakṣiṇī’s power, and quickly went wondering into the presence of Vikramaśakti. And he, as soon as he saw, showed us great honour, and asked after your welfare; and was on the point of asking us what message the King of Siṃhala had sent, when the two heavenly maidens—whose history the Yakṣiṇī has related to us—and the young deer arrived there, escorted by the army of the Yakṣas.

When King Vikramaśakti saw this, he suspected some glamour of malignant demons, and he said to me apprehensively:

“What is the meaning of this?”

Then I told him in due course the commission of the King of Siṃhala, and the circumstances connected with the Yakṣiṇī, the two maidens, and the deer. Moreover, I informed him of the hostile scheme of your Majesty’s enemies, which was to be carried out by all the kings in combination, and which I had heard of from the Yakṣī. Then Vikramaśakti honoured us two ambassadors, and those two heavenly maidens; and being delighted, made his army ready for battle with the assistance of the other vassal kings.

And immediately, King, there was heard in the army the loud beating of drums, and at the same instant there was seen the mighty host of hostile kings, accompanied by the Mlecchas. Then our army and the hostile army, furious at beholding one another, closed with a rush, and the battle began. Thereupon some of the Yakṣas sent by the Yakṣī entered our soldiers, and so smote the army of the enemies, and others smote them in open fight.[31] And there arose a terrible tempest of battle, overspread with a cloud formed of the dust raised by the army, in which sword-blades fell thick as rain, and the shouts of heroes thundered. And the heads of our enemies flying up, as they were cut off, and falling again, made it seem as if the Fortune of our victory were playing at ball. And in a moment those kings that had escaped the slaughter, their troops having been routed, submitted and repaired for protection to the camp of your vassal.

Then, lord of earth, as you had conquered the four cardinal points and the dvīpas, and had destroyed all the Mlecchas, that Yakṣiṇī appeared, accompanied by her husband, and said to King Vikramaśakti and to me:

“You must tell your master that what I have done has been done merely by way of service to him, and you must also request him, as from me, to marry these two god-framed maidens, and to look upon them with favour, and to cherish this deer also, for it is a present from me.”

When the Yakṣī had said this, she bestowed a heap of jewels, and disappeared with her husband and her attendants. The next day, Madanalekhā, the daughter of the King of Siṃhala, came with a great retinue and much magnificence. And then Vikramaśakti went to meet her and, bending low, joyfully conducted her into his camp. And on the second day Vikramaśakti, having accomplished his object, set out with the other kings from that place, in order to come here and behold your Majesty’s feet, bringing with him that princess and the two heavenly maidens, and that deer composed of gold and jewels—a marvel for the eyes of the three worlds. And now, sovereign, that vassal prince has arrived near this city, and has sent us two on in front to inform vour Highness. So let the king out of regard for the lord of Siṃhala and the Yakṣī, go forth to meet those maidens and the deer, and also the subject kings.

When Anaṅgadeva had said this to King Vikramāditya, though the king recollected accomplishing that difficult rescue of the Yakṣiṇī, he did not consider it worth a straw when he heard of the return she had made for it; great-souled men, even when they have done much, think it worth very little. And, being much pleased, he loaded[32] Anaṅgadeva, for the second time, with elephants, horses, villages and jewels, and bestowed similar gifts on the ambassador of the King of Siṃhala.

And after he had spent that day, the king set out from Ujjayinī, with his warriors mounted on elephants and horses, to meet that daughter of the King of Siṃhala, and those two maidens created by Brahmā.

And the following speeches of the military officers, assigning elephants and horses, were heard in the neighbourhood of the city when the kings started, and within the city itself when the sovereign started:

Jayavardhana must take the good elephant Anaṅgagiri, and Raṇabhaṭa the furious elephant Kālamegha, and Siṃhaparākrama Saṅgrāmasiddhi, and the hero Vikramanidhi Ripurākṣasa, and Jayaketu Pavanajava, and Vallabhaśakti Samudrakallola, and Bāhu and Subāhu the two horses Śaravega and Garuḍavega, and Kirtivarman the black Konkan mare Kuvalayamālā, and Samarasiṃha the white mare Gaṅgālaharī of pure Sindh breed.”

When that king, the supreme sovereign of all the dvīpas, had started on his journey, the earth was covered with soldiers, the quarters were full of nothing but the shouts that they raised, even the heaven was obscured with the dust that was diffused by the trampling of his advancing army, and all men’s voices were telling of the wonderful greatness of his might.

Footnotes and references:


Böhtlingk and Roth explain the word khaṇḍakāpālika as “ein Stück von einem Kāpālika, ein Quasi-kāpālika.” A kāpālika is, according to Monier Williams, s.v., a worshipper of Śiva of the left-hand order, characterised by carrying skulls of men as ornaments, and by eating and drinking from them.——These are the same as the Aghori, for which see Vol. II, p.90n3—n.m.p.


For the magic circle see Vol. II, p.98n4, and Vol. III, p. 201 et seq.—n.m.p


For aruntudaiś, MS. No. 1882 has adadanstacca, No. 2166 has adadattaścha and 3003 adadattiiścha. These point, I suppose, to a reading adadattacca; which means, “not paying what he owed.”


Sanskrit, Brahma-Rākṣasa.


They had heard Dāgineya’s story up to this point from his own lips.


This may be loosely translated: “Terror of the gambling saloon.”


I.e. Cypræa moneta, found chiefly off the Maldive Islands, Ceylon, the Malabar coast, Borneo, etc. It was used as a currency both in India and Africa. For a short bibliography on shell-money see Ency. Brit., 11th edit., vol. xxiv, p. 833. In Kashmir the cowrie appears to have been the unit of the monetary system. The number of cowries that went to the rupee was 4096. See further, M. A. Stein, Kalhaṇa’s Rājataraṅgiṇī, vol. ii, pp. 323, 324; Yule’s Hobson-Jobson, under “Cowry,” and especially Briffault, The Mothers, 1927, vol. iii, pp. 275-278—n.m.p.


See Ocean, vol. IV, pp. 69n1, 225n1; and Briffault, op. cit., vol. iii, ch. xxiv.—n.m.p.


See Vol. VII, p. 72.


Two of the India Office MSS. and the Sanskrit College MS. have indu for Indra; the other has inmu. I have adopted indu. In śloka 100 for dadate No. 1882, and the Sanskrit College MS., read dadhate, which means that the god’s possession of wealth and power depends on the will of Śiva. In śl. 89 the Sanskrit College MS. reads ekadā for the unmetrical devatāḥ.


Tryakṣa can probably mean “having three dice,” as well as “having three eyes.”


Cf. Vol. VIII, p. 58, and see also Appendix I, on “Swan-maidens,” in that volume. —n.m.p.


Upāyau is a misprint for upāyayau, as is evident from the MSS.


The three India Office MSS. and the Sanskrit College MS. give dṛṣṭi.


I.e. Śiva in this instance.


For the second divya in śl. 132 b, MSS. Nos. 1882 and 2166 give navya, “new”.


For a large number of references to metamorphoses into stone, see Chauvin, op. cit., vi, p. 58.—n.m.p.


Gold, diamond, sapphire, ruby, and pearl. The Buddhists usually enumerate seven: see Burnouf, Lotus de la Bonne Loi, p. 319.——The list is nearly the same as that of the five jewels. See Vol. VII, p.247n2.—n.m.p.


See section iv, p. 228, of Bloomfield’s “False Ascetics and Nuns in Hindu Fiction,” Journ. Amer. Orient. Soc., vol. xliv, pp. 202-242.—n.m.p.


See Vol. VII, pp. 253-256.—n.m.p.


Cf. Vol. VI, p. 92 et seq., and see p. 99 et seq. of Brown’s article, as mentioned in the note on p. 92.—n.m.p.


See Ocean, Vol. IV, pp.69n1,225n1; and Briffault, op. cit., vol. iii, ch. xxiv.—N.M.P.


No. 1882 reads snapayata tatkṣaṇāt at the end of śl. 194 a. It seems to remove a tautology, but is unmetrical. “Take us and cause us to bathe.” The Sanskrit College MS. has snapayata taṭṣanaṃ.


An interesting use of sympathetic black magic, occurring again a little lower, but in this case with the hand.


I read ālikhya puruṣaṃ bhūmau. This is the reading of the Taylor MS., the other has atikhya. The Sanskrit College MS. has ālikhya puruṣaṃ.


Both the India Office MSS. in which this passage is found give tatsamantaṃ. So Vikramaśakti would himself be a “dependent king.”


Cf. the story of Sunda and Upasunda, Vol. II, pp. 13-14; and Preller, Griechische Mythologie, vol. i, p.81n1.


For ete manorame No. 3003 and the Sanskrit College MS. have varakāraṇaṃ: “in order that I might find a husband for them.” No. 1882 has vāraṇam for kāraṇaṃ.


For Jayanto MSS. Nos. 1882 and 3003 and the Sanskrit College MS. give hevākīi.e. “full of longing.”


I.e. conqueror of Indra.


It is just possible that saṅkhyād ought to be sākṣād.


This expression is very similar to that in Taraṅga 120, śl. 80 b, to which Dr Kern objects.

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