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

THEN, once on a time, in the course of conversation, one of Vikramāditya’s queens, called Kaliṅgasenā, said to her rival queens:

“What the king did for the sake of Malayavatī was not wonderful, for this King Viṣamaśīla has ever been famous on the earth for such like acts. Was not I swooped down on by him and married by force, after he had seen a carved likeness of me and been overcome by love? On this account the kārpaṭika[1] Devasena told me a story: that story I will proceed to tell you. Listen.

“I was very much vexed, and exclaimed:

‘How can the king be said to have married me lawfully?’

Then the kārpaṭika said to me:

‘Do not be angry, Queen, for the king married you in eager haste out of a violent passion for you. Hear the whole story from the beginning.


171d. Kaliṅgasenā’s Marriage to King Vikramāditya

Once on a time, when I was serving your husband as a kārpaṭika, I saw a great boar far away in the wood. Its mouth was formidable with tusks, its colour was black as a tamāla tree, it looked like an incarnation of the black fortnight devouring the digits of the moon. And I came, Queen, and informed the king of it, describing to him as I have done to you. And the king went out to hunt, attracted by his love for the sport. And when he reached the wood, and was dealing death among the tigers and deer, he saw in the distance that boar of which I had informed him. And when he saw that wonderful boar, he came to the conclusion that some being had assumed that form with an object, and he ascended his horse called Ratnākara, the progeny of Ucchaiḥśravas.

For every day at noon, the sun waits a brief space in the sky, and then his charioteer, the dawn, lets the horses loose, that they may bathe and feed: and one day Ucchaiḥśravas, having been unyoked from the chariot of the sun, approached a mare of the king’s, that he saw in the forest, and begot that horse.[2]

So the king mounted that swift horse, and quickly pursued that boar, that fled to a very remote[3] part of the forest. Then that boar escaped somewhere from his view, being swifter even than that horse that had Ucchaiḥśravas for a sire.

Then the king, not having caught him, and seeing that I alone had followed him, while he had left the rest of his suite far behind, asked me this question:

“Do you know how much ground we have traversed to get to this place?”

When I heard that, Queen, I made the king this answer:

“My lord, we have come three hundred yojanas.”

Then the king, being astonished, said:

“Then how have you managed to come so far on foot?”

When he asked me this question I answered:

“King, I have an ointment for the feet; hear the way in which I acquired it.

“Long ago, on account of the loss of my wife, I went forth to make a pilgrimage to all the holy bathing-places, and in the course of my journey I came one evening to a temple with a garden. And I went in there to pass the night, and I saw inside a woman, and I remained there hospitably welcomed by her.

And during the course of the night she elevated one lip to heaven, resting the other on the earth, and with expanded jaws said to me:

‘Have you seen before anywhere such a mouth as this?’

Then I fearlessly drew my dagger with a frown, and said to her:

‘Have you seen such a man as this?’

Then she assumed a gentle appearance without any horrible distortion of shape, and said to me:

‘I am a Yakṣī, Vandhyā by name, and I am pleased with your courage; so now tell me what I can do to gratify you.’

“When the Yakṣiṇī said this, I answered her:

‘If you are really pleased with me, then enable me to go round to all the holy waters without any suffering.’

When the Yakṣī heard this, she gave me an ointment for my feet[4]; by means of it I travelled to all the holy bathing-places, and I have been able to run behind you now so far as this place. And by its aid I come to this wood here every day, and eat fruits, and then return to Ujjayinī and attend upon you.”

When I had told that tale to the king, I saw by his pleased face that he thought in his heart that I was a follower well suited to him. I again said to him:

“King, I will bring you here some very sweet fruits, if you will be pleased to eat them.”

The king said to me:

“I will not eat; I do not require anything; but do you eat something, as you are exhausted.”

Then I got hold of a gourd and ate it, and no sooner had I eaten it than it turned me into a python.

But King Viṣamaśīla, when he saw me suddenly turn into a python, was astonished and despondent. So, being there alone, he called to mind the Vetāla Bhūtaketu, whom he had long ago made his servant, by delivering him with a look from a disease of the eyes.

That Vetāla came, as soon as the king called him to mind, and bowing before him said:

“Why did you call me to mind, great king? Give me your orders.”

Then the king said:

“Good sir, this my kārpaṭika has been suddenly turned into a python by eating a gourd; restore him to his former condition.”

But the Vetāla said:

“King, I have not the power to do this. Powers are strictly limited. Can water quench the flame of lightning?”

Then the king said:

“Then let us go to this village, my friend. We may eventually hear of some remedy from the Bhillas there.”

When the king had come to this conclusion, he went to that village with the Vetāla. There the bandits surrounded him, seeing that he wore ornaments. But when they began to rain arrows upon him, the Vetāla, by the order of the king, devoured five hundred of them. The rest fled and told their chief what had occurred, and he, whose name was Ekākikeśarin, came there in wrath, with his host. But one of his servants recognized the monarch, and the chief, hearing from him who it was, came and clung to Vikramāditya’s feet, and announced himself.

Then the king welcomed kindly the submissive chief, and asked after his health, and said to him:

“My kārpaṭika has become a python by eating the fruit of a gourd in the forest; so devise some plan for releasing him from his transformation.”

When that chief heard that speech of the king’s, he said to him:

“King, let this follower of yours show him to my son here.”

Then that son of his came with the Vetāla, and made me a man as before by means of a sternutatory made of the extract of a plant. And then we went joyfully into the presence of the king; and when I bent at the feet of the king, the king informed the delighted chief who I was.

Then the Bhilla chief, Ekākikeśarin, after obtaining the king’s consent, conducted him and us to his palace. And we beheld that dwelling of his, crowded with Śavaras, having its high walls covered with the tusks of elephants, adorned with tiger-skins; in which the women had for garments the tails of peacocks, for necklaces strings of guñjā fruit, and for perfume the ichor that flows from the forehead of elephants. There the wife of the chief, having her garments perfumed with musk, adorned with pearls and such like ornaments, herself waited on the king.

Then the king, having bathed and taken a meal, observed that the chief’s sons were old, while he was a young man, and put this question to him:

“Chief, explain, I pray you, this that puzzles me. How comes it that you are a young man, whereas these children of yours are old?”

When the king had said this to the Śavara chief, he answered him:

“This, King, is a strange story. Listen, if you feel any curiosity about it.


171d (1). The Grateful Monkey[5]

I was long ago a Brāhman named Candrasvāmin, and I lived in the city of Māyāpurī. One day I went by order of my father to the forest to fetch wood. There a monkey stood barring my way, but without hurting me, looking at me with an eye of grief, pointing out to me another path.

I said to myself:

“This monkey does not bite me, so I had better go along the path which he points out, and see what his object is.”

Thereupon I set out with him along that path, and the monkey kept going along in front of me, and turning round to look at me. And after he had gone some distance, he climbed up a jambu tree, and I looked at the upper part of the tree —which was covered with a dense network of creepers—and I saw a female monkey there with her body fettered by a mass of creepers twisted round her, and I understood that it was on this account that the monkey had brought me there. Then I climbed up the tree, and cut with my axe the creepers[6] that had twisted round and entangled her, and set that female monkey at liberty.

And when I got down from the tree, the male and female monkey came down also and embraced my feet. And the male monkey left that female clinging to my feet for a moment and went and fetched a heavenly fruit, and gave it to me. I took it and returned home after I had got my fuel, and there I and my wife ate that splendid fruit together, and as soon as we had eaten it, we ceased to be liable to old age and disease.[7]

Then there arose in that country of ours the scourge of famine. And afflicted by that calamity the people of that land fled in all directions. And I happened in course of time to reach this country with my wife. And at that time there was a king of the Śavaras named Kāñcanadaṃṣṭra. I entered his service with my sword. And as Kāñcanadaṃṣṭra saw that I came to the front in several engagements, he appointed me general. And as I had won the affections of that master of mine by my exclusive devotion to him, when he died, having no son, he bestowed on me his kingdom. And twenty-seven hundred years have passed over my head, since I have been in this place, and yet, owing to eating that fruit, I do not suffer from old age.


171d. Kaliṅgasenā’s Marriage to King Vikramāditya

When Ekākikeśarin, the King of the Bhillas, had told in these words his own history, he went on to ask a favour of the astonished monarch, saying:

“By the fruit given by the monkey I gained a long life, and by that long life I have again obtained a perfect fruit—namely, the sight of your august self. So I entreat, King, that the condescension towards me which you have shown by coming to my house, may be developed into gracious approval. I have, King, a daughter of matchless beauty, born to me by a Kṣatriyā wife, and her name is Madanasundarī. That pearl of maidens ought not to fall to the lot of anyone but your Highness. Therefore I bestow her on you; marry her with due ceremonies. And I, sovereign, will follow you as your slave with twenty thousand archers.”

When the Bhilla chief addressed this petition to the king, he granted it. And in an auspicious hour he married the daughter of that chief, who gave him a hundred camels laden with pearls and musk. And after the king had remained there seven days, he set out thence with Madanasundarī and the army of the Bhillas.

In the meanwhile, after the king had been carried away by his horse, our army remained despondent in the forest, where the hunting took place; but the warder Bhadrāyudha said to them:

“Away with despondency! Even though our king has been away for a long time, he is of divine power, and no serious misfortune will happen to him. Do you not remember how he went to Pātāla and married there the daughter of a Nāga, whose name was Surūpā, and came back here alone; and how the hero went to the world of the Gan-dharvas, and returned here with Tārāvalī, the daughter of the king of the Gandharvas?”

With these words Bhadrāyudha consoled them all; and they remained at the entrance of the forest waiting for the king.

And while that Madanasundarī was advancing leisurely by an open path, accompanied by the Śavara hosts, the king entered that forest on horseback, with myself and the Vetāla, in order to get a sight of the boar he had before seen; and when he entered it, the boar rushed out in front of him, and the moment the king saw it, he killed it with five arrows. When it was slain, the Vetāla rushed to it and tore its belly open, and suddenly there issued from it a man of pleasing appearance.

The king, astonished, asked him who he was, and then there came there a wild elephant, resembling a moving mountain. When the king saw that wild elephant charging down on him, he smote it in a vital place and slew it with a single arrow. The Vetāla tore open its belly also, and there issued from it a man of heavenly appearance, and a woman beautiful in all her limbs.

And when the king was about to question the man who issued from the boar, he said to him:

“Listen, King, I am going to tell you my history.

“We two, King, are two sons of gods[8]; this one’s name is Bhadra, and I am Śubha. As we were roaming about we observed the hermit Kaṇva engaged in meditation. We assumed in sport the forms of an elephant and a boar, and having done so, we terrified the great sage in our reckless folly, and he pronounced on us this curse: ‘Become in this forest an elephant and boar such as you are now; but when you shall be killed by King Vikramāditya, you shall be released from the curse.’ So we became an elephant and a boar by the curse of the hermit, and we have to-day been set free by you. As for this woman, let her tell her own story. But touch this boar on the neck and this elephant on the back, and they will become for you celestial sword and shield.”

When he had said this he disappeared with his companion, and the boar and elephant, touched by the hand of the king, became for him a sword and a shield.

Then the woman, being questioned about her history, spoke as follows:

“I am the wife of a great merchant in Ujjayinī named Dhanadatta. One night, as I was sleeping on the top of a palace, this elephant came and swallowed me and brought me here; however, this man was not inside the elephant, but when its belly was torn open he came out of it with me.”

When the woman said this in grief, the king said to her:

“Be of good courage! I will take you to your husband’s house. Go and journey along in security with my harem.”

When he had said this, he made the Vetāla take her and hand her over to the Queen Madanasundarī, who was travelling by a different path.

Then, the Vetāla having returned, we suddenly saw there in the wood two princesses, with a numerous and splendid retinue. And the king sent me and summoned their chamberlains, and they, when asked whence the two maidens came, told the following story:


171d (2). The Two Princesses

There is a dvīpa named Kaṭāha, the home of all felicities. In it there is a king rightly named Guṇasāgara.[9] He had born to him by his principal queen a daughter named Guṇavatī, who by her beauty produced astonishment even in the Creator who made her. And holy seers announced that she should have for a husband the lord of the seven dvīpas.

Whereupon her father, the king, deliberated with his counsellors, and came to this conclusion:

“King Vikramāditya is a suitable husband for my daughter; so I will send her to marry him.”

Accordingly, the king made his daughter embark in a ship on the sea, with her retinue and wealth, and sent her off. But it so happened that when the ship came near Suvarṇadvīpa it was swallowed, with the princess and the people on board, by a large fish. But that monstrous fish was carried by the current of the sea, as if by the course of Destiny, and thrown up on a coast near that dvīpa, and there stranded. And the people of the neighbourhood, the moment they saw it, ran with many weapons in their hands, and killed that marvellous fish, and cut open its belly.[10] And then there came out of it that great ship full of people. And when the king of that dvīpa heard of it, he came there greatly wondering. And that king, whose name was Candraśekhara, and who was the brother-in-law of King Guṇasāgara, heard the whole story from the people in the ship. Then the king, finding that Guṇavatī was the daughter of his sister, took her into his palace, and out of joy celebrated a feast. And the next day that king put on board a ship in a lucky moment his daughter Candravatī, whom he had long intended to give to King Vikramāditya, with that Guṇavati, and sent her off with much magnificence as a gift to that sovereign.

These two princesses, having crossed the sea, by advancing gradually, have at length arrived here; and we are their attendants. And when we reached this place, a very large boar and a very large elephant rushed upon us.

Then, King, we uttered this cry:

“These maidens have come to offer themselves for wives to King Vikramāditya: so preserve them for him, ye Guardians of the World, as is meet.”

When ‘the boar and the elephant heard this, they said to us with articulate speech:

“Be of good courage! The mere mention of that king’s name ensures your safety. And you shall see him arrive here in a moment.”

When the boar and the elephant, who were, no doubt, some heavenly beings or others, had said this, they went away.


171d. Kaliṅgasenā’s Marriage to King Vikramāditya

“This is our story,” said the chamberlain, and then, Queen, I said to them:

“And this is the king you seek.”

Then they fell at the king’s feet, rejoicing, and made over to him those two princesses Guṇavatī and Candravatī.

And the king gave orders to the Vetāla and had those two fair ones also taken to his queen, saying:

“Let all three travel with Madanasundarī.”

The Vetāla returned immediately, and then, Queen, the king went with him and myself by an out-of-the-way path. And as we were going along in the forest, the sun set; and just at that time we heard there the sound of a drum.

The king asked:

“Whence comes this sound of a drum?”

The Vetāla answered him:

“King, there is a temple here. It is a marvel of heavenly skill, having been built by Viśvakarman; and this beating of the drum is to announce the commencement of the evening spectacle.”

When the Vetāla had said this, he and the king and I went there out of curiosity, and after we had tied up the horse we entered. And we saw worshipped there a great liṅga of tārkṣyaratna,[11] and in front of it a spectacle with blazing lights. And there danced there for a long time three nymphs of celestial beauty, in four kinds of measures, accompanied with music and singing. And at the end of the spectacle we beheld a wonder, for the dancing nymphs disappeared in the figures carved on the pillars of the temple; and in the same way the singers and players went into the figures of men painted on the walls.

When the king saw this he was astonished; but the Vetāla said to him:

“Such is this heavenly enchantment produced by Viśvakarman, lasting for ever, for this will always take place at both twilights.”

When he had said this, we wandered about in the temple, and saw in one place a female figure, on a pillar, of extraordinary beauty. When the king saw her, he was bewildered by her beauty, and remained for a moment absent-minded and motionless, so that he himself was like a figure cut on a pillar.

And he exclaimed:

“If I do not see a living woman like this figure, of what profit to me is my kingdom or my life?”

When the Vetāla heard this, he said:

“Your wish is not hard to gratify, for the King of Kaliṅga has a daughter named Kaliṅgasenā, and a sculptor of Vardhamāna seeing her, and being desirous of representing her beauty, carved this figure in imitation of her.[12] So return to Ujjayinī, King, and ask that King of Kaliṅga for his daughter, or carry her off by force.”

This speech of the Vetāla’s the king laid up in his heart.

Then we spent that night there. And the next morning we set out, and we saw two handsome men under an aśoka tree, and then they rose up and bowed before the king.

Then the king said to them:

“Who are you, and why are you in the forest?”

One of them answered:

“Listen, King, I will tell you the whole story.


171d (3). The Merchant Dhanadatta who lost his Wife

I am the son of a merchant in Ujjayinī, and my name is Dhanadatta. Once on a time I went to sleep on the top of my palace.

In the morning I woke up and looked about me, and lo! my wife was not in the palace, nor in the garden attached to it, nor anywhere about it. I said to myself:

“She has not lost her heart to another man; of that I am convinced by the fact that the garland which she gave me, telling me that as long as she remained chaste it would certainly not fade, is still as fresh as ever.[13] So I cannot think where she has gone—whether she has been carried off by a demon or some other evil being, or what has happened to her.”

With these thoughts in my mind I remained looking for her, crying out, lamenting and weeping; consumed by the fire of separation from her; taking no food. Then my relations succeeded at last in consoling me to a certain extent, and I took food, and I made my abode in a temple, and remained there plunged in grief, feasting Brāhmans.

Once when I was quite broken down, this Brāhman came to me there, and I refreshed him with a bath and food, and after he had eaten, I asked him whence he came, and he said:

“I am from a village near Vārāṇasī.”

My servants told him my cause of woe, and he said:

“Why have you, like an unenterprising man, allowed your spirits to sink? The energetic man obtains even that which it is hard to attain; so rise up, my friend, and let us look for your wife. I will help you.”

I said:

“How are we to look for her, when we do not even know in what direction she has gone?”

When I said this, he answered me kindly:

“Do not say this. Did not Keśaṭa long ago recover his wife, when it seemed hopeless he should ever be reunited with her? Hear his story in proof of it.


171d (4). The Two Brāhmans Keśata and Kandarpa

There lived in the city of Pāṭaliputra a wealthy young Brāhman, the son of a Brāhman; his name was Keśaṭa, and he was in beauty like a second God of Love. He wished to obtain a wife like himself, and so he went forth secretly[14] from his parents’ house, and wandered through various lands on the pretext of visiting holy bathing-places. And in the course of his wanderings he came once on a time to a bank of the Narmadā, and he saw a numerous procession of bridegroom’s friends coming that way.

And a distinguished old Brāhman, belonging to that company, when he saw Keśaṭa in the distance, left his companions, and coming up to him accosted him, and respectfully said to him in private:

“I have a certain favour to ask of you, and it is one which you can easily do for me, but the benefit conferred on me will be a very great one; so, if you will do it, I will proceed to say what it is.”

When Keśaṭa heard this, he said:

“Noble sir, if what you say is possible, I must certainly do it: let the benefit be conferred on you.”

When the Brāhman heard that, he said:

“Listen, my good young man. I have a son, who is the prince of ugly, as you are of good-looking, men. He has projecting teeth, a flat nose, a black colour, squinting eyes, a big belly, crooked feet, and ears like winnowing-baskets. Though he is such, I, out of my love for him, described him as handsome, and asked a Brāhman, named Ratnadatta, to give him his daughter, named Rūpavatī, and he has agreed to do it. The girl is as beautiful as her name expresses, and to-day they are to be married. For this reason we have come. But I know that, when that purposed connection of mine sees my son, he will refuse to give him his daughter, and this attempt will be fruitless. And while thinking how I could find some way out of the difficulty, I have met you here, courteous sir; so quickly perform for me my desire, as you have pledged your word to do. Come with us and marry that maiden, and hand her over to my son to-day, for you are as good-looking as the bride.”

When Keśaṭa heard this, he said: “Agreed!”

And so the old Brāhman took Keśaṭa with him, and they crossed the Narmadā in boats and landed on the opposite bank. And so he reached the city, and rested outside it with his followers, and at that time the sun also, the traveller of the sky, went to his rest on the mountain of setting. Then the darkness began to diffuse itself abroad, and Keśaṭa, having gone to rinse his mouth, saw a terrible Rākṣasa rise up near the water.

And the Rākṣasa said:

“Where will you go from me,[15] Keśaṭa? I am about to devour you.”

Thereupon Keśaṭa said to the Rākṣasa:

“Do not devour me now; I will certainly come back to you presently, when I have done the Brāhman the service I promised.”

When the Rākṣasa heard this, he made Keśaṭa take an oath to this effect,[16] and then let him go; and he returned to the company of the bridegroom’s friends.

Then the old Brāhman brought Keśaṭa adorned with the ornaments of a bridegroom, and entered that city with all the bridegroom’s party. And then he made him enter the house of Ratnadatta, in which an altar-platform was ready prepared, and which was made to resound with the music of various instruments. And Keśaṭa married there with all due ceremonies that fair-faced Rūpavatī, to whom her father gave great wealth. And the women there rejoiced, seeing that the bride and bridegroom were well matched. And not only Rūpavatī, when she saw that such a bridegroom had arrived, but her friends also, fell in love with him. But Keśaṭa at that time was overpowered with despondency and astonishment.

And at night Rūpavatī, seeing that her husband, as he lay on the bed, was plunged in thought, and kept his head turned away, pretended to be asleep. And in the dead of night Keśaṭa, thinking that she was asleep, went out to that Rākṣasa to keep his promise. And that faithful wife Rūpavatī also gently rose up unobserved and followed her husband, full of curiosity.

And when Keśaṭa arrived where the Rākṣasa was, the latter said to him:

“Bravo! You have kept your promise faithfully, Keśaṭa: you are a man of noble character. You sanctify your city of Pāṭaliputra and your father Deśaṭa by your virtue, so approach, that I may devour you.”

When Rūpavatī heard that, she came up quickly and said:

“Eat me, for if my husband is eaten, what will become of me?”

The Rākṣasa said: “You can live on alms.”

She replied: “Who, noble sir, will give alms to me who am a woman?”

The Rākṣasa said:

“If anyone refuses to give you alms when asked to do so, his head shall split in a hundred pieces.”[17]

Then she said: “This being so, give me my husband by way of alms.”

And as the Rākṣasa would not give him, his head at once split asunder, and he died. Then Rūpavatī returned to her bridal chamber with her husband, who was exceedingly astonished at her virtue, and at that moment the night came to an end.

And the next morning the bridegroom’s friends took food and set out from that city, and reached the bank of the Narmadā with the newly married pair. Then the old Brāhman, who was their leader, put the wife Rūpavatī, with her attendants, on board one boat, and went on board a second himself, and cunningly made Keśaṭa embark on a third, having previously made an agreement with the boatmen; but before he went on board he took from him all the ornaments he had lent him. Then the Brāhman was ferried across with the wife and the bridegroom’s party, but Keśaṭa was kept out in the middle of the stream by the boatmen, and carried to a great distance. Then those boatmen pushed the boat and Keśaṭa into a place where the current ran full and strong, and swam ashore themselves, having been bribed by the old Brāhman.

But Keśaṭa was carried with the boat, by the river which was lashed into waves by the wind, into the sea, and at last a wave flung him up on the coast.

There he recovered strength and spirits, as he was not doomed to die just yet; and he said to himself:

“Well, that Brāhman has made me a fine recompense! But was not the fact that he married his son by means of a substitute in itself sufficient proof that he was a fool and a scoundrel?”

While he remained there, buried in such thoughts, the night came on him, when the companies of air-flying witches begin to roam about. He remained sleepless through it, and in the fourth watch he heard a noise in the sky, and saw a handsome[18] man fall from heaven in front of him.

Keśaṭa was terrified at first, but after some time he saw that he had nothing uncanny about him, so he said to him: “Who are you, sir?”

Then the man said: “First tell me who you are, and then I will tell you who I am.”

Hearing that, Keśaṭa told him his history.

Then the man said:

“My friend, you are exactly in the same predicament as myself, so I will now tell you my history. Listen.

“There is on the bank of the River Veṇā a city named Ratnapura; I am a Brāhman householder in that city, the son of a rich man, and my name is Kandarpa. One evening I went down to the River Veṇā to draw water, and I slipped and fell into it, and was carried away by the current. The current carried me a long way during that night, and when the morning came, as I was not doomed to die yet, it brought me to the foot of a tree that grew on the bank. I climbed up the bank by the. help of the tree, and when I had recovered breath I saw in front of me a great empty temple dedicated to the Mothers.

I entered it, and when I saw before me the Mothers flashing, as it were, with brightness and power, my fear was allayed, and I bowed before them, and praised them, and addressed this prayer to them:

‘Venerable ones, deliver me, a miserable man; for I have to-day come here as a suppliant for your protection.’

When I had uttered this prayer, being exhausted with my struggles in the current of the river, I rested, my friend, till my fatigue gradually disappeared, and the day disappeared also. And then there appeared the horrible female ascetic called Night, furnished with many stars by way of a bone necklace, white with moonlight instead of ashes, and carrying the moon for a gleaming skull.

“And then, I remember, a band of witches came out from the company of the Mothers, and they said to one another:

‘To-night we must go to the general assembly of the witches in Cakrapura,[19] and how can this Brāhman be kept safe in this place which is full of wild beasts? So let us take him to some place where he will be happy; and afterwards we will bring him back again: he has fled to us for protection.’

When they had said this, they adorned me, and, carrying me through the air, placed me in the house of a rich Brāhman in a certain city, and went away.

“And when I looked about me there, lo! the altar was prepared for a marriage, and the auspicious hour had arrived, but the procession of bridegroom’s friends was nowhere to be seen.

And all the people, seeing me in front of the door arrayed in bridegroom’s garments of heavenly splendour, said:

‘Here is the bridegroom at any rate arrived.’

Then the Brāhman of the house took me to the altar, and led his daughter there adorned, and gave her to me with the usual ceremonies.

And the women said to one another:

‘Fortunate is it that the beauty of Sumanas has borne fruit by winning her a bridegroom like herself!’

Then, having married Sumanas, I slept with her in the palace, gratified by having every want supplied in the most magnificent style.

“Then those witches came back from their assembly in this last watch of the night, and by their supernatural power carried me off, and flew up into the air with me. And while they were flying through the air they had a fight with another set of witches, who came wishing to carry me off, and they let me go, and I fell down here. And I do not know the city where I married that Sumanas; and I cannot tell what will become of her now. This succession of misfortunes, which Destiny has brought upon me, has now ended in happiness by my meeting with you.”

When Kandarpa had given this account of his adventures, Keśaṭa said to him:

“Do not be afraid, my friend: the witches will have no power over you henceforth, since I possess a certain irresistible charm, which will keep them at a distance. Now let us roam about together; Destiny will bestow on us good fortune.”

And while they were engaged in this conversation the night came to an end.

In the morning Keśaṭa and Kandarpa set out from that place together, and, crossing the sea, reached in due course a city named Bhīmapura, near the river called Ratnanadī. There they heard a great noise on the bank of that river, and when they went to the place whence it came, they saw a fish that filled the channel of the stream from bank to bank. It had been thrown up by the tide of the sea, and had got fast in the river owing to the vastness of its bulk, and men with various weapons in their hands were cutting it up to procure flesh. And while they were cutting it open there came out of its belly a woman, and being beheld by the people with astonishment, she came terrified to the bank.

Then Kandarpa looked at her, and said exultingly to Keśaṭa:

“My friend, here is that very Sumanas, whom I married! But I do not know how she came to be living in the belly of a fish. So let us remain here in silence, until the whole matter is cleared up.”

Keśaṭa consented, and they remained there. And the people said to Sumanas:

“Who are you, and what is the meaning of this?”

Then she said very reluctantly:

“I am the daughter of a crest-jewel of Brāhmans, named Jayadatta, who lived in the city of Ratnākara. My name is Sumanas, and one night I was married to a certain handsome young Brāhman, who was a suitable match for me. That very night my husband went away somewhere, while I was asleep; and though my father made diligent search for him, he could not find him anywhere. Then I threw myself into the river to cool the fire of grief at separation from him, and I was swallowed by this fish; and now Destiny has brought me here.”

While she was saying this a Brāhman named Yajñasvāmin rushed out of the crowd and embraced her, and said this to her:

“Come, come with me, niece! You are the daughter of my sister; for I am Yajñasvāmin, your mother’s own brother.”

When Sumanas heard that, she uncovered her face and looked at him, and recognising her uncle, she embraced his feet, weeping.

But after a moment she ceased weeping, and said to him:

“Do you give me fuel, for, as I am separated from my husband, I have no other refuge but the fire.”

Her uncle did all he could to dissuade her, but she would not abandon her intention; and then Kandarpa, having thus seen her real feelings tested, came up to her. When the wise Sumanas saw him near her she recognised him, and fell weeping at his feet.

And when the discreet woman was questioned by the people, and by that uncle of hers, she answered:

“He is my husband.”

Then all were delighted. And Yajñasvāmin took her husband Kandarpa to his house, together with Keśaṭa. There they told their adventures, and Yajñasvāmin and his family lovingly waited on them with many hospitable attentions.

After some days had passed, Keśaṭa said to Kandarpa:

“You have gained all you want by recovering your longed-for wife; so now go with her to Ratnapura, your own city. But as I have not attained the object of my desire, I will not return to my own country. I, my friend, will make a pilgrimage to all the holy bathing-places and so destroy my body.”

When Yajñasvāmin, in Bhīmapura, heard this, he said to Keśaṭa:

“Why do you utter this despondent speech? As long as people are alive there is nothing they cannot get. In proof of this hear the story of Kusumāyudha, which I am about to tell you.


171d (5). Kusumāyudha and Kamalalocanā

There was in a town named Candrapura a Brāhman named Devasvāmin: he had a very beautiful daughter named Kamalalocanā; and he had a young Brāhman pupil named Kusumāyudha, and that pupil and his daughter loved one another well.

One day her father made up his mind to give her to another suitor, and at once that maiden sent by her confidante the following message to Kusumāyudha:

“Though I have long ago fixed my heart on you for a husband, my father has promised to give me to another, so devise a scheme for carrying me off hence.”

So Kusumāyudha made an arrangement to carry her off, and he placed outside her house at night a servant with a mule for that purpose. So she quietly went out and mounted the mule, but that servant did not take her to his master; he took her somewhere else, to make her his own.

And during the night he took Kamalalocanā a long distance, and they reached a certain city by the morning, when that chaste woman said to the servant:

“Where is my husband, your master? Why do you not take me to him?”

When the cunning rogue heard this, he said to her who was alone in a foreign country:

“I am going to marry you myself: never mind about him; how can you get to him now?”

When the discreet woman heard this, she said: “Indeed I love you very much.”[20]

Then the rascal left her in the garden of the city, and went to the market to buy the things required for a wedding. In the meanwhile that maiden fled, with the mule, and entered the house of a certain old man who made garlands. She told him her history, and he made her welcome; so she remained there. And the wicked servant, not finding her in the garden, went away from it disappointed, and returned to his master Kusumāyudha.

And when his master questioned him, he said:

“The fact is, you are an upright man yourself, and you do not understand the ways of deceitful women. No sooner did she come out and was seen, than I was seized there by those other men, and the mule was taken away from me. By good luck I managed to escape, and have come here.”

When Kusumāyudha heard this, he remained silent and plunged in thought.

One day his father sent him to be married, and as he was going along he reached the city where Kamalalocanā was. There he made the bridegroom’s followers encamp in a neighbouring garden, and while he was roaming about alone, Kamalalocanā saw him, and told the garland-maker in whose house she was living. He went and told her intended husband what had taken place, and brought him to her. Then the garland-maker collected the necessary things, and the long-desired marriage between the youth and the maiden was immediately celebrated. Then Kusumāyudha punished that wicked servant, and married in addition that second maiden, who was the cause of his finding Kamalalocanā, and in order to marry whom he had started from home. And he returned rejoicing to his own country with those two wives.


171d (4). The Two Brāhmans Keśaṭa and Kandarpa

“Thus the fortunate are reunited in the most unexpected manner; and so you may be certain, Keśaṭa, of regaining your beloved soon in the same way.”

When Yajñasvāmin had said this, Kandarpa, Sumanas and Keśaṭa remained for some days in his house, and then set out for their own country. But on the way they reached a great forest, and they were separated from one another in the confusion produced by a charge of wild elephants. Of the party Keśaṭa went on alone, and grieved, and in course of time reached the city of Kāśī and found his friend Kandarpa there. And he went with him to his own city Pāṭaliputra, and he remained there some time welcomed by his father. And there he told his parents all his adventures, beginning with his marrying Rūpavatī, and ending with the story of Kandarpa.

In the meanwhile Sumanas fled, terrified at the elephants, and entered a thicket, and while she was there the sun set for her. And when night came on she cried out in her woe: “Alas, my husband! Alas, my father! Alas, my mother!” and resolved to fling herself into a forest fire. And in the meanwhile that company of witches, that were so full of pity for Kandarpa, having conquered the other witches, reached their own temple.

There they remembered Kandarpa, and finding out by their supernatural knowledge that his wife had lost her way in a wood, they deliberated as follows:

“Kandarpa, being a resolute man, will unaided obtain his desire; but his wife, being a young girl, and having lost her way in the forest, will assuredly die. So let us take her and put her down in Ratnapura, in order that she may live there in the house of Kandarpa’s father with his other wife.”

When the witches had come to this conclusion, they went to that forest and comforted Sumanas there, and took her and left her in Ratnapura.

When the night had passed, Sumanas, wandering about in that city, heard the following cry in the mouths of the people, who were running hither and thither:

“Lo! the virtuous Anaṅgavatī, wife of the Brāhman Kandarpa, who, after her husband had gone somewhere or other, lived a long time in hope of reunion with him, not having recovered him, has now gone out in despair to enter the fire, followed by her weeping father-in-law and mother-in-law.”

When Sumanas heard that, she went quickly to the place where the pyre had been made, and going to Anaṅgavatī, said to her, in order to dissuade her:

“Noble lady, do not act rashly, for that husband of yours is alive.”

Having said this, she told the whole story from the beginning. And she showed the jewelled ring that Kandarpa gave her. Then all welcomed her, perceiving that her account was true. Then Kandarpa’s father honoured that bride Sumanas, and gladly lodged her in his house with the delighted Anaṅgavatī.

Then Kandarpa left Pāṭaliputra[21] without telling Keśaṭa, as he knew he would not like it, in order to roam about in search of Sumanas. And after he had gone, Keśaṭa, feeling unhappy without Rūpavatī, left his house without his parents’ knowledge, and went to roam about hither and thither. And Kandarpa, in the course of his wanderings, happened to visit that very city where Keśaṭa married Rūpavatī.

And hearing a great noise of people, he asked what it meant, and a certain man said to him:

“Here is Rūpavatī preparing to die, as she cannot find her husband Keśaṭa; the tumult is on that account. Listen to the story connected with her.”

Then that man related the strange story of Rūpavatī’s marriage with Keśaṭa and of her adventure with the Rākṣasa, and then continued as follows:

“Then that old Brāhman, having tricked Keśaṭa, went on his way, taking with him Rūpavatī for his son; but nobody knew where Keśaṭa had gone after marrying her.

And Rūpavatī, not seeing Keśaṭa on the journey, said:

‘Why do I not see my husband here, though all the rest of the party are travelling along with me?’

When the old Brāhman heard that, he showed her that son of his, and said to her:

‘My daughter, this son of mine is your husband: behold him!’

Then Rūpavatī said in a rage to the old man there:

‘I will not have this ugly fellow for a husband! I will certainly die if I cannot get that husband who married me yesterday.’

“Saying this, she at once stopped eating and drinking; and the old man, through fear of the king, had her taken back to her father’s house. There she told the trick that the old Brāhman had played her, and her father, in great grief, said to her:

‘How are we to discover, my daughter, who the man that married you is?’

Then Rūpavatī said:

‘My husband’s name is Keśaṭa, and he is the son of a Brāhman named Deśaṭa in Pāṭaliputra; for so much I heard from the mouth of a Rākṣasa.’

When she had said this, she told her father the whole story of her husband and the Rākṣasa. Then her father went and saw the Rākṣasa lying dead, and so he believed his daughter’s story, and was pleased with the virtue of that couple.

“He consoled his daughter with hopes of reunion with her husband, and sent his son to Keśaṭa’s father in Pāṭaliputra to search for him. And after some time he came back and said:

‘We saw the householder Deśaṭa in Pāṭaliputra. But when we asked him where his son Keśaṭa was, he answered us with tears:

“My son Keśaṭa is not here. He did return here, and a friend of his named Kandarpa came with him; but he went away from here without telling me, pining for Rūpavatī.”

When we heard this speech of his, we came back here in due course.’

“When those sent to search had brought back this report, Rūpavatī said to her father: ‘I shall never recover my husband, so I will enter the fire; how long, father, can I live here without my husband?’ She went on saying this, and as her father has not been able to dissuade her, she has come out to-day to perish in the fire. And two maidens, friends of hers, have come out to die in the same way; one is called Śṛṅgāravatī, and the other Anurāgavatī. For long ago, at the marriage of Rūpavatī, they saw Keśaṭa and made up their minds that they would have him for a husband, as their hearts were captivated by his beauty. This is the meaning of the noise which the people here are making.”

When Kandarpa heard this from that man, he went to the pyre which had been heaped up by those ladies.

He made a sign to the people from a distance to cease their tumult, and, going up quickly, he said to Rūpavatī, who was worshipping the fire:

“Noble lady, desist from this rashness. That husband of yours, Keśaṭa, is alive; he is my friend: know that I am Kandarpa.”

When he had said this, he told her all Keśaṭa’s adventures, beginning with the circumstance of the old Brāhman’s treacherously making him embark on the boat. Then Rūpavatī believed him, as his story tallied so completely with what she knew, and she joyfully entered her father’s house with those two friends. And her father kindly welcomed Kandarpa and took good care of him. And so he remained there, to please him.

In the meanwhile it happened that, as Keśaṭa was roaming about, he reached Ratnapura, and found there the house of Kandarpa, in which the two wives were.

And as he was wandering about near the house, Sumanas, the wife of Kandarpa, saw him from the top of her house, and said, delighted, to her father-in-law and mother-in-law, and the other people in the house:

“Here, now, is Keśaṭa, my husband’s friend, arrived; we may hear news of my husband from him. Quickly invite him in.”

Then they went and, on some pretext or other, brought in Keśaṭa as she advised, and when he saw Sumanas come towards him, he was delighted. And after he had rested she questioned him, and he immediately told her his own and Kandarpa’s adventures, after the scare produced by the wild elephants.

He remained there some days, hospitably entertained, and then a messenger came from Kandarpa with a letter.

The messenger said:

“Kandarpa and Rūpavatī are in the town where Kandarpa’s friend Keśaṭa married Rūpavatī”;

and the contents of the letter were to the same effect. And Keśaṭa, with tears, communicated the tidings to the father of Kandarpa.

And the next day Kandarpa’s father sent, in high glee, a messenger to bring his son, and dismissed Keśaṭa, that he might join his beloved. And Keśaṭa went with that messenger, who brought the letter, to that country where Rūpavatī was living in her father’s house. There, after a long absence, he greeted and refreshed the delighted Rūpavatī, as the cloud does the chātakī. He met Kandarpa once more, and he married, at the instance of Rūpavatī, her two before-mentioned friends, Anurāgavatī and Śṛṅgāravatī. And then Keśaṭa went with Rūpavatī and them to his own land, after taking leave of Kandarpa. And Kandarpa returned to Ratnapura with the messenger, and was once more united to Sumanas and Anaṅgavatī and his relations. So Kandarpa regained his beloved Sumanas, and Keśaṭa his beloved Rūpavatī, and they lived enjoying the good things of this life, each in his own country.


171d (3). The Merchant Dhanadatta who lost his Wife

“Thus men of firm resolution, though separated by adverse destiny, are reunited with their dear ones, despising even terrible sufferings, and taking no account of their interminable duration. So rise up quickly, my friend; let us go. You also will find your wife, if you search for her. Who knows the way of Destiny? I myself regained my wife alive after she had died.”


171d. Kaliṅgasenā’s Marriage to King Vikramāditya

“Telling me this tale, my friend encouraged me; and himself accompanied me. And so roaming about with him, I reached this land, and here I saw a mighty elephant and a wild boar. And (wonderful to say!) I saw that elephant bring my helpless wife out of his mouth and swallow her again. And I followed that elephant, which appeared for a moment and then disappeared for a long time; and in my search for it I have now, thanks to my merits, beheld your Majesty here.”

When the young merchant had said this, Vikramāditya sent for his wife, whom he had rescued by killing the elephant, and handed her over to him. And then the couple, delighted at their marvellous reunion, recounted their adventures to one another, and their mouths were loud in praise of the glorious King Viṣamaśīla.

Footnotes and references:


See Vol. II, p. 178,178n1; Vol. IV, p. 168,168n1, and Vol. VI, p. 209,209n2.—n.m.p.


Cf. Iliad, v, 265 et seq.; and (still better) Æneid, vii, 280 et seq.


Devīyasīm is a misprint for davīyasīm, as Dr Kern points out.


In European superstition we find the notion that witches can fly through the air by anointing themselves with the fat of a toad, Veckenstedt, Wendische Märchen, p. 288. In Bartsch, Sagen und Gebräuche aus Meklenburg, we read (vol. ii, p. 19) that Margretha Detloses confesses that she smeared her feet with some black stuff that Satan brought, and then said, Auf und darvan und nergens an. Anneke Mettinges (ibid., p. 23) smeared herself with yellow fat; Anneke Swarten (ibid. p. 27) with black stuff from an unused pot.——Cf. the magic ointment in the Nights, “The Adventures of Bulukiya,” vol. v, p. 308


See Vol. V, pp. 157,157n1, 158n. The present story bears perhaps a closer resemblance to that of Androclus, Aulus Gellius, Nodes Atticæ, v, 14, the Indian form of which may be found in Miss Stokes’ tale of “The Man who went to seek his Fate,” Indian Fairy Tales, p. 63 et seq.——Owing to the large number of sub-tales introduced, a slightly different form of enumeration has to be adopted.—n.m.p.


Valī should, of course, be vallī.


Cf. Oesterley’s Baitāl Pachīsi, p. 14; and the note on p. 176. In A Ælian’s Varia Historia, iii, 19, there is a tree, the fruit of which makes an old man become gradually younger and younger until he reaches the antenatal state of non-existence. The passage is referred to by Rohde, Der Griechische Roman, p. 207. Baring-Gould, in Appendix A to his Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, gives a very curious passage from the Bragda Māgus Saga, an Icelandic version of the romance of Maugis. Here we have a man named Vidförull who was in the habit of changing his skin and becoming young again. He changed his skin once when he was 330 years old, a second time at the age of 215 and a third time in the presence of Charlemagne. It is quite possible that the story in the text is a form of the fable of the Wandering Jew.


I read devakumārau.


I.e. “sea of virtues.”


See Vol. II, pp. 193,193n1, 194 n, and Vol. VI, p. 154,154n3, and Rohde’s note on page 196 of Der Griechische Roman. This is probably the incident depicted on the Bharhut Stūpa. See General Cunningham's work, Plate XXXIV, Medallion 2.


A certain dark-coloured precious stone. Böhtlingk and Roth s.v.——Sir George Grierson tells me he thinks it must be the same as the Garuḍa-māṇikya, which means “emerald.” Both words have the same literal meaning anyway.—n.m.p.


The Petersburg lexicographers explain it as a statue of sāla wood. They explain stambhotkīrṇa too as wie aus einem Pfosten geschnitten, wie eine Statue von Holz. But could not the figures be cut in stone, as the Bharhut sculptures are?


See Vol. I, pp. 156, l65-l68. The parallel to the story of the “Wright’s Chaste Wife” is strikingly close.


Dr Kem would read avidito. This is confirmed by the Sanskrit College MS. and by MS. No. 1882; No. 3003 has avadito.


Both the India Office MSS. and the Sanskrit College MS. have yāsyasi for pāsyasi. The latter would mean: “Where will you drink?”


This is another example of the “Promise to Return” motif. See Ocean, Vol. VII, p. 203,203n1.—n.m.p


Cf Vol. V, pp. 95, 96. —n.m.p.


I insert subhayaṃ before khād, from the Sanskrit College MS.


Both the India Office MSS. read Vakrapura. The Sanskrit College MS. supports Brockhaus’ text.


No. 1882 and the Sanskrit College MS. give tarhi for tvaṃ hi and priyaṃ. for priyaḥ. No. 3003 agrees with the above MSS. in the first point and in the second with Brockhaus.


I read Pāṭaliputrakāt.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: