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 ...

The ten stages of love-sickness

Note: this text is extracted from Book III, chapter 15.

“So he took her in his arms and wept over her, and immediately the vital spirits left his body, which was on fire with the flame of grief, as if they were afraid to remain. So that married couple perished by mutual separation, and therefore we must take care that the king is not separated from the queen....”

Among the Hindus death was the tenth, and final, stage of love-sickness.

Vātsyāyana in his Kāma-sūtra (circa a.d. 250) gives the ten stages as follows:—

  1. love of the eyes— i.e. pleasure in seeing the beloved one;
  2. attraction and dwelling of the mind;
  3. the birth of desire for union;
  4. loss of sleep;
  5. emaciation;
  6. total indifference to other objects;
  7. loss of shame;
  8. distraction and madness;
  9. fainting, and
  10. death.

This list was repeated in rather more detail in the Anaṅga-Raṅga; see the Kāma Shastra Society edition, 1885, pp. 87, 88, and my Annotated Bibliography of Sir Richard Burton, pp. 161-173.

In Arabian fiction the favourite stage appears to be the ninth, and nearly every hero faints for love on the slightest provocation. There are, however, cases of death. See the Nights (Burton, vol. v, p. 134), where three unhappy people die through love of each other. Cf. also the story of “The Mad Lover” on p. 138 of the same volume. In Europe the favourite form of the motif was for one of the lovers to die naturally or unintentionally, whereupon the other would either commit suicide or die of grief—the consequence being that they were buried together in the same tomb. See, for example, Decameron, day 4, novs. 1, 5, 7, 8 and 9; Straparola, night 9, nov. 2; Bandello, part i, nov. 33; Heptameron, day 7, nov. 70. Cf. also the ballad of “Fair Margaret and Sweet William” (Percy, Reliques, iii, p. 125) and “Lord Thomas and Fair Annet” (op. cip., iii, p. 234). For numerous imitations of the tale in the Decameron, day 4, nov. 8, reference should be made to Lee, The Decameron, its Sources and Analogues, pp. 140-143. —n.m.p.

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