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 seven jewels of the Cakravartin

Note: this text is extracted from Book XV, chapter 109:

“Then he obtained the moonlight-jewel and the wife-jewel, and the jewel of charms, named the destroying charm. And thus having achieved in all seven jewels (useful in time of need, and bestowers of majesty), taking into account the two first, the lake and the sandalwood-tree, he went out from that cave and told the hermit Vāmadeva that he had succeeded in accomplishing all his objects”.

The seven jewels of the Cakravartin are often mentioned in Buddhist works. In the Mahāvastu, p. 108 (edited by Sénart) they are: chariot, elephant, horse, wife, householder, general. In a legend quoted by Burnouf (Introduction à l’Histoire du Buddhisme Indien, p. 343) the same six are enumerated as “les sept joyaux.” In both cases the sword is omitted. They are also described in the Mahā-Sudassana-Sutta translated by Rhys Davids in the eleventh volume of the Sacred Books of the East Series.

The term Cakravartin, translated by Tawney as “emperor,” is usually taken to mean “universal monarch.” The etymology of the word has been variously interpreted, but that advanced by Jacobi seems most acceptable. Cakra must be taken in its original sense of “circle,” while vartin denotes the idea of “abiding in.” Thus the whole expression denotes “he who abides in the circle.” The “circle” refers to the discus of Viṣṇu, the symbol of the sun, and only he who had attained the highest honours could rejoice in the name of Cakravartin, so closely connected with the deity.

The number and variety of the “jewels” or ratnas varies, although seven was the usual number. For further details see H. Jacobi, “Cakravartin,” Hastings’ Ency. Rel. Eth., vol. iii, pp. 336, 337. Dr Barnett puts a query to the above derivation.—n.m.p.

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