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 ...
[M] (main story line continued) THEN that Mālyavān wandering about in the wood in human form, passing under the name of Guṇāḍhya, having served the King Sātavāhana, and having, in accordance with a vow, abandoned in his presence the use of Sanskrit and two other languages, with sorrowful mind came to pay a visit to Durgā, the dweller in the Vindhya hills; and by her orders he went and beheld Kāṇabhūti. Then he remembered his origin and suddenly, as it were, awoke from sleep; and making use of the Paiśācha language, which was different from the three languages he had sworn to forsake, he said to Kāṇabhūti, after telling him his own name:
“Quickly tell me that tale which you heard from Puṣpadanta, in order that you and I together, my friend, may escape from our curse.”
Hearing that, Kāṇabhūti bowed before him, and said to him in joyful mood:
“I will tell you the story, but great curiosity possesses me, my lord; first tell me all your adventures from your birth; do me this favour.”
Thus being entreated by him, Guṇāḍhya proceeded to relate as follows:—
2. Story of Guṇāḍhya
In Pratiṣṭhāna there is a city named Supratiṣṭhita; in it there dwelt once upon a time an excellent Brāhman named Somaśarman, and he, my friend, had two sons, Vatsa and Gulma, and he had also born to him a third child, a daughter named Śrutārthā. Now in course of time that Brāhman and his wife died, and those two sons of his remained, taking care of their sister. And she suddenly became pregnant. Then Vatsa and Gulma began to suspect one another, because no other man came in their sister’s way: thereupon Śrutārthā, who saw what was in their minds, said to those brothers:
“Do not entertain evil suspicions: listen, I will tell you the truth. There is a prince of the name of Kīrtisena, brother’s son to Vāsuki, the king of the Nāgas; he saw me when I was going to bathe, thereupon he was overcome with love, and after telling me his lineage and his name, made me his wife by the gāndharva marriage; he belongs to the Brāhman race, and it is by him that I am pregnant.”
When they heard this speech of their sister’s, Vatsa and Gulma said:
“What confidence can we repose in all this?”
Then she silently called to mind that Nāga prince, and immediately he was thought upon he came and said to Vatsa and Gulma:
“In truth I have made your sister my wife. She is a glorious heavenly nymph fallen down to earth in consequence of a curse, and you, too, have descended to earth for the same reason; but a son shall without fail be born to your sister here, and then you and she together shall be freed from your curse.”
Having said this, he disappeared, and in a few days from that time a son was born to Śrutārthā. Know me, my friend, as that son. At that very time a divine voice was heard from heaven:
Thereupon my mother and uncles, as their curse had spent its force, died, and I for my part became inconsolable. Then I flung aside my grief, and though a child I went in the strength of my self-reliance to the Deccan to acquire knowledge. Then, having in course of time learned all the sciences, and become famous, I returned to my native land to exhibit my accomplishments; and when I entered after a long absence into the city of Supratiṣṭhita, surrounded by my disciples, I saw a wonderfully splendid scene. In one place chanters were intoning according to prescribed custom the hymns of the Sāma Veda; in another place Brāhmans were disputing about the interpretation of the sacred books; in another place gamblers were praising gambling in these deceitful words
“Whoever knows the art of gambling has a treasure in his grasp”;
and in another place, in the midst of a knot of merchants, who were talking to one another about their skill in the art of making money, a certain merchant spoke as follows: —
2a. The Mouse Merchant 
“It is not very wonderful that a thrifty man should acquire wealth by wealth; but I long ago achieved prosperity without any wealth to start with. My father died before I was born, and then my mother was deprived by wicked relations of all she possessed. Then she fled through fear of them, watching over the safety of her unborn child, and dwelt in the house of Kumāradatta, a friend of my father’s, and there the virtuous woman gave birth to me, who was destined to be the means of her future maintenance; and so she reared me up by performing menial drudgery. And as she was so poor, she persuaded a teacher by way of charity to give me some instruction in writing and ciphering.
Then she said to me:
‘You are the son of a merchant, so you must now engage in trade, and there is a very rich merchant in this country called Viśākhila; he is in the habit of lending capital to poor men of good family; go and entreat him to give you something to start with.’
‘You see this dead mouse here upon the floor, even that is a commodity by which a capable man would acquire wealth, but I gave you, you good-for-nothing fellow, many dinars, and so far from increasing them, you have not even been able to preserve what you got.’
When I heard that, I suddenly said to that Viśākhila:
‘I hereby take from you that mouse as capital advanced.’
Saying this I took the mouse up in my hand, and wrote him a receipt for it, which he put in his strong-box, and off I went. The merchant for his part burst out laughing. Well, I sold that mouse to a certain merchant as cat’s-meat for two handfuls of gram, then I ground up that gram and, taking a pitcher of water, I went and stood on the cross-road in a shady place, outside the city; there I offered with the utmost civility the water and gram to a band of wood-cutters; every wood-cutter gave me as a token of gratitude two pieces of wood; and I took those pieces of wood and sold them in the market; then for a small part of the price which I got for them I bought a second supply of gram, and in the same way on a second day I obtained wood from the wood-cutters. Doing this every day I gradually acquired capital, and I bought from those wood-cutters all their wood for three days. Then suddenly there befell a dearth of wood on account of heavy rains, and I sold that wood for many hundred paṇas; with that wealth I set up a shop and, engaging in traffic, I have become a very wealthy man by my own ability. Then I made a mouse of gold and gave it to that Viśākhila; then he gave me his daughter; and in consequence of my history I am known in the world by the name of Mouse. So without a coin in the world I acquired this prosperity.”
All the other merchants then, when they heard this story, were astonished. How can the mind help being amazed at pictures without walls?
“You get enough to live upon by your position as a Brāhman, so you ought now to employ this gold for the purpose of learning the way of the world in order that you may become a knowing fellow.”
The fool said: “Who will teach me?”
Thereupon the roué said to him:
The Brāhman said: “What am I to do there?”
The roué replied:
“Give her gold, and in order to please her make use of some sāma”
When he heard this, the chanter went quickly to the house of Caturikā; when he entered, the lady advanced to meet him and he took a seat. Then that Brāhman gave her the gold and faltered out the request:
“Teach me now for this fee the way of the world.”
Thereupon the people who were there began to titter, and he, after reflecting a little, putting his hands together in the shape of a cow’s ear, so that they formed a kind of pipe, began, like a stupid idiot, to chant with a shrill sound the Sāma Veda, so that all the roués in the house came together to see the fun; and they said:
“Whence has this jackal blundered in here? Come, let us quickly give him the half-moon on his throat.”
Thereupon the Brāhman, supposing that the half-moon meant an arrow with a head of that shape, and afraid of having his head cut off, rushed out of the house, bellowing out:
“I have learnt the way of the world.”
Then he went to the man who had sent him and told him the whole story.
“When I told you to use sāma I meant coaxing and wheedling. What is the propriety of introducing the Veda in a matter of this kind? The fact is, I suppose, that stupidity is engrained in a man who muddles his head with the Vedas.”
So he spoke, bursting with laughter all the while, and went off to the lady’s house and said to her:
“Give back to that two-legged cow his gold-fodder.”
So she, laughing, gave back the money, and when the Brāhman got it he went back to his house as happy as if he had been born again.
2. Story of Guṇāḍhya
Witnessing strange scenes of this kind at every step, I reached the palace of the king, which was like the Court of Indra. And then I entered it, with my pupils going before to herald my arrival, and saw the King Sātavāhana sitting in his hall of audience upon a jewelled throne, surrounded by his ministers, Śarvavarman and his colleagues, as Indra is by the gods. After I had blessed him and had taken a seat, and had been honoured by the king, Śarvavarman and the other ministers praised me in the following words:—
“This man, O king, is famous upon the earth as skilled in all lore, and therefore his name Guṇāḍhya is a true index of his nature.”
Sātavāhana, hearing me praised in this style by his ministers, was pleased with me, and immediately entertained me honourably, and appointed me to the office of Minister. Then I married a wife, and lived there comfortably, looking after the king’s affairs and instructing my pupils.
Once, as I was roaming about at leisure on the banks of the Godāvarī out of curiosity, I beheld a garden called Devīkṛti, and seeing that it was an exceedingly pleasant garden, like an earthly Nandana, I asked the gardener how it came there, and he said to me:
“My lord, according to the story which we hear from old people, long ago there came here a certain Brāhman who observed a vow of silence and abstained from food; he made this heavenly garden with a temple; then all the Brāhmans assembled here out of curiosity, and that Brāhman being persistently asked by them told his history:
2c. The Magic Garden
“‘There is in this land a province called Bakakaccha, on the banks of the Narmadā; in that district I was born as a Brāhman, and in former times no one gave me alms, as I was lazy as well as poor; then in a fit of annoyance I quitted my house, being disgusted with life, and wandering round the holy places I came to visit the shrine of Durgā, the dweller in the Vindhya hills, and having beheld that goddess, I reflected:
“People propitiate with animal offerings this giver of boons, but I will slay myself here, stupid beast that I am.”
Having formed this resolve, I took in hand a sword to cut off my head. Immediately that goddess, being propitious, herself said to me:
“Son, thou art perfected, do not slay thyself, remain near me.”
Thus I obtained a boon from the goddess and attained divine nature. From that day forth my hunger and thirst disappeared; then once on a time, as I was remaining there, that goddess herself said to me:
“Go, my son, and plant in Pratiṣṭhāna a glorious garden.”
Thus speaking, she gave me, with her own hands, heavenly seed; thereupon I came here and made this beautiful garden by means of her power; and this garden you must keep in good order.’
2. Story of Guṇāḍhya
When I had heard from the gardener this signal manifestation of the favour of the goddess, I went home penetrated with wonder.
[M] (main story line continued) When Guṇāḍhya had said this, Kāṇabhūti asked: “Why, my lord, was the king called Sātavāhana?” Then Guṇāḍhya said: “Listen, I will tell you the reason.
2d. The History of Sātavāhana
There was a king of great power named Dvīpikarṇi. He had a wife named Śaktimatī, whom he valued more then life, and once upon a time a snake bit her as she was sleeping in the garden. Thereupon she died, and that king, thinking only of her, though he had no son, took a vow of perpetual chastity.
Then once upon a time the god of the moon-crest said to him in a dream:
“While wandering in the forest thou shalt behold a boy mounted on a lion, take him and go home, he shall be thy son.”
Then the king woke up, and rejoiced, remembering that dream, and one day in his passion for the chase he went to a distant wood; there in the middle of the day that king beheld on the bank of a lotus-lake a boy, splendid as the sun, riding on a lion; the lion, desiring to drink water, set down the boy, and then the king, remembering his dream, slew it with one arrow. The creature thereupon abandoned the form of a lion, and suddenly assumed the shape of a man.
The king exclaimed: “Alas! what means this? Tell me.” And then the man answered him:
“O king, I am a Yakṣa of the name of Sāta, an attendant upon the God of Wealth; long ago I beheld the daughter of a Rishi bathing in the Ganges; she too, when she beheld me, felt love arise in her breast, like myself: then I made her my wife by the gāndharva form of marriage; and her relatives, finding it out, in their anger cursed me and her, saying:
‘You two wicked ones, doing what is right in your own eyes, shall become lions.’
The hermit-folk appointed that her curse should end when she gave birth to offspring, and that mine should continue longer, until I was slain by thee with an arrow. So we became a pair of lions; she in the course of time became pregnant, and then died after this boy was born, but I brought him up on the milk of other lionesses, and lo! to-day I am released from my curse, having been smitten by thee with an arrow. Therefore receive this noble son which I give thee, for this thing was foretold long ago by those hermit-folk.”
Having said this, that Guhyaka, named Sāta, disappeared, and the king taking the boy went home; and because he had ridden upon Sāta he gave the boy the name of Sātavāhana, and in course of time he established him in his kingdom. Then, when that King Dvīpikarṇi went to the forest, this Sātavāhana became sovereign of the whole earth.
[M] (main story line continued) Having said this in the middle of his tale in answer to Kāṇabhūti’s question, the wise Guṇāḍhya again called to mind and went on with the main thread of his narrative.
2. Story of Guṇāḍhya
Then once upon a time, in the spring festival, that King Sātavāhana went to visit the garden made by the goddess, of which I spake before. He roamed there for a long time like Indra in the garden of Nandana, and descended into the water of the lake to amuse himself in company with his wives. There he sprinkled his beloved ones sportively with water flung by his hands, and was sprinkled by them in return like an elephant by its females. His wives, with faces, the eyes of which were slightly reddened by the collyrium washed into them, and which were streaming with water, and with bodies, the proportions of which were revealed by their clinging garments, pelted him vigorously; and as the wind strips the creepers in the forest of leaves and flowers, so he made his fair ones, who fled into the adjoining shrubbery, lose the marks on their foreheads and their ornaments. Then one of his queens, tardy with the weight of her breasts, with body tender as a śirīṣa flower, became exhausted with the amusement; she not being able to endure more, said to the king, who was sprinkling her with water: “Do not pelt me with water-drops.” On hearing that, the king quickly had some sweetmeats brought.
Then the queen burst out laughing and said again:
“King, what do we want with sweetmeats in the water? For I said to you, do not sprinkle me with water-drops. Do you not even understand the coalescence of the words mā and udaka, and do you not know that chapter of the grammar? How can you be such a blockhead?”
When the queen, who knew grammatical treatises, said this to him, and the attendants laughed, the king was at once overpowered with secret shame; he left off romping in the water and immediately entered his own palace unperceived, crestfallen and full of self-contempt. Then he remained lost in thought, bewildered, averse to food and other enjoyments, and, like a picture, even when asked a question, he answered nothing. Thinking that his only resource was to acquire learning or die, he flung himself down on a couch, and remained in an agony of grief. Then all the king’s attendants, seeing that he had suddenly fallen into such a state, were utterly beside themselves to think what it could mean. Then I and Śarvavarman came at last to hear of the king’s condition, and by that time the day was almost at an end. So perceiving that the king was still in an unsatisfactory condition, we immediately summoned a servant of the king named Rājahansa.
And he, when asked by us about the state of the king’s health, said this:
“I never before in my life saw the king in such a state of depression: and the other queens told me with much indignation that he had been humiliated to-day by that superficial blue-stocking, the daughter of Viṣṇuśakti.”
When Śarvavarman and I had heard this from the mouth of the king’s servant, we fell into a state of despondency, and thus reflected in our dilemma:
“If the king were afflicted with bodily disease we might introduce the physicians, but if his disease is mental it is impossible to find the cause of it. For there is no enemy in his country the thorns of which are destroyed, and these subjects are attached to him; no dearth of any kind is to be seen; so how can this sudden melancholy of the king’s have arisen?”
After we had debated to this effect, the wise Śarvavarman said as follows:—
“I know the cause: this king is distressed by sorrow for his own ignorance, for he is always expressing a desire for culture, saying, ‘I am a blockhead.’ I long ago detected this desire of his, and we have heard that the occasion of the present fit is his having been humiliated by the queen.”
Thus we debated with one another, and after we had passed that night, in the morning we went to the private apartments of the sovereign. There, though strict orders had been given that no one was to enter, I managed to get in with difficulty, and after me Śarvavarman slipped in quickly.
I then sat down near the king and asked him this question:
“Why, O king, art thou without cause thus despondent?”
Though he heard this, Sātavāhana nevertheless remained silent, and then Śarvavarman uttered this extraordinary speech:
“King, thou didst long ago say to me, ‘Make me a learned man.’ Thinking upon that, I employed last night a charm to produce a dream. Then I saw in my dream a lotus fallen from heaven, and it was opened by some heavenly youth, and out of it came a divine woman in white garments, and immediately, O king, she entered thy mouth. When I had seen so much I woke up, and I think without doubt that the woman who visibly entered thy mouth was Sarasvatī.”
As soon as Śarvavarman had in these terms described his dream, the king broke his silence and said to me with the utmost earnestness:
“In how short a time can a man, who is diligently taught, acquire learning? Tell me this. For without learning all this regal splendour has no charms for me. What is the use of rank and power to a blockhead? They are like ornaments on a log of wood.”
Then I said:
“King, it is invariably the case that it takes men twelve years to learn grammar, the gate to all knowledge. But I, my sovereign, will teach it you in six years.”
When he heard that, Śarvavarman suddenly exclaimed, in a fit of jealousy:
“How can a man accustomed to enjoyment endure hardship for so long? So I will teach you grammar, my prince, in six months.”
When I heard this promise, which it seemed impossible to make good, I said to him in a rage:
Then Śarvavarman said:
“And if I do not do this, I, Śarvavarman, will carry your shoes on my head for twelve years.”
Having said this, he went out; I too went home; and the king for his part was comforted, expecting that he would attain his object by means of one of us two. Now Śarvavarman being in a dilemma, seeing that his promise was one very difficult to perform, and regretting what he had done, told the whole story to his wife, and she, grieved to hear it, said to him:
“It is so,” said Śarvavarman, and determined to implore it. Accordingly in the last watch of the night Śarvavarman set out fasting for the shrine of the god. Now I came to hear of it by means of my secret emissaries, and in the morning I told the king of it; and he, when he heard it, wondered what would happen.
Then a trusty Rājpūt called Siṃhagupta said to him:
“When I heard, O king, that thou wast afflicted I was seized with great despondency. Then I went out of this city, and was preparing to cut off my own head before the goddess Durgā in order to ensure thy happiness. Then a voice from heaven forbade me, saying: ‘Do not so; the king’s wish shall be fulfilled.’ Therefore, I believe, thou art sure of success.”
When he had said this, that Siṃhagupta took leave of the king and rapidly dispatched two emissaries after Śarvavarman, who, feeding only on air, observing a vow of silence, steadfast in resolution, reached at last the shrine of the Lord Kārttikeya. There, pleased with his penance that spared not the body, Kārttikeya favoured him according to his desire; then the two spies sent by Siṃhagupta came into the king’s presence and reported the minister’s success. On hearing that news the king was delighted and I was despondent, as the chātaka joys, and the swan grieves, on seeing the cloud. Then Śarvavarman arrived, successful by the favour of Kārttikeya, and communicated to the king all the sciences, which presented themselves to him on his thinking of them. And immediately they were revealed to the King Sātavāhana. For what cannot the grace of the Supreme Lord accomplish? Then the kingdom rejoiced on hearing that the king had thus obtained all knowledge, and there was high festival kept throughout it; and that moment banners were flaunted from every house and, being fanned by the wind, seemed to dance. Then Śarvavarman was honoured with abundance of jewels fit for a king by the sovereign, who bowed humbly before him, calling him his spiritual preceptor; and he was made governor of the territory called Bakakaccha, which lies along the bank of the Narmadā. The king being highly pleased with that Rājpūt Siṃhagupta, who first heard by the mouth of his spies that the boon had been obtained from the six-faced god, made him equal to himself in splendour and power. And that queen too, the daughter of Viṣṇuśakti, who was the cause of his acquiring learning he exalted at one bound above all the queens, through affection anointing her with his own hand.
Footnotes and references:
Pratiṣṭhāna [the modern Paitḥān] is celebrated as the capital of Śalivāhana [a late form of Sātavāhana], It is identifiable with Peytan on the Godāvarī, the Bathana or Paithana of Ptolemy, the capital of Siripolemaios. Wilson identifies this name with Śalivāhana, but Dr Rost remarks that Lassen more correctly identifies it with that of Śrī Pulimān [Pulumāyi] of the Andhra Dynasty, who reigned at Pratiṣṭhāna after the overthrow of the house of Śalivāhana about 130 a.d.
For details of these serpent-demons see Appendix I at the end of this volume. —n.m.p.
For a note on this form of marriage see pp. 87, 88.— n.m.p.
It seems to me that tvam in Dr Brockhaus’ text must be a misprint for tam.
Here Brockhaus has confounded guṇa and gaṇa. Durgāprasād’s text has the correct word, thus the translation should be: “an incarnation of one of his gaṇas.”— n.m.p.
I.e. rich in virtues and good qualities.
For comparison see the Cullaka-Seṭṭhi-Jātaka (No. 4 Cambridge Edition, vol. i, pp. 14-20), also Kalilah and Dimnah, chap. xviii (Knatchbull, p. 358).—N.M.p.
Durgāprasād’s text takes tayākiṃcanyadīnayā in one word, making better sense: “she, deserving compassion because of her poverty, persuaded... etc.”—N.M.p.
From the Greek δηνάριος =denarius (Monier Williams, s.v.). Dramma= Greek δραχμὴ is used in the Pauchatantra. See Dr Bühler’s Notes to Pañcatantra, iv and v; note on p. 40, I, 3.-The complicated and extensive history of the dīnār was thoroughly studied by the late Sir Henry Yule. Full details will be found in his new edition of Cathay and the Way Thither, revised in the light of recent research by Henri Cordier, Hakluyt Society, 4 vols., 1913-1916 (see vol. iv, pp. 54-62, and pp. 112, 113). In India the value of the dīnār continually changes with its locality. It is usually given as consisting of twenty-five dirhems and being worth 3s. 4-32d., or, according to another reckoning, 3s. l-44d. Reference should also be made to Yule and Cordier’ s Marco Polo, 2 vols., 1903 (see in Index under “Bezant”), and to the long note in Stein’s Rājataraṅgiṇī, vol. ii, pp. 308-328. —n.m.p.
He had made money without capital, so his achievements are compared to pictures suspended in the air.
Both māṣa and paṇa (mentioned above) are really ancient native Indian weights: 16 māṣas =1 paṇa. As the paṇa was usually of copper or silver, it seems probable that the gold māṣa only exists in fiction. See E. J. Rapson, Catalogue of the Indian Coins in the British Museum (Andhra Dynasty), 1908, p. clxxviii.— n.m.p.
The vita or roué meant “conciliation,” but the chanter of the Sāma Veda took it to mean “hymn.”
I.e. seize him with curved hand, and fling him out neck and crop. The precentor supposed them to mean a crescent-headed arrow.
I.e. rich in accomplishments.
Indra’s pleasure-ground or Elysium. For a similar Zaubergarten see Liebrecht’s translation of Dunlop’s History of Fiction, p. 251, and note, 325; and Gonzenbach’s Sicilianische Märchen, vol. i, p. 224. To this latter story there is a very close parallel in Jātaka, No. 220 (Fausboll, vol. ii, p. 188), where Sakko makes a garden for the Bodhisattva, who is threatened with death by the king if it is not done.
Owing to the scarcity of the lion in India, especially in the north, it appears little in folk-lore. There are, however, various references to the lion in the Ocean of Story. See Crooke, Folk-Lore of Northern India, vol. ii, p. 210. He refers to Tawney, but misprints p. 178 as 78.—n.m.p.
See note on this form of marriage on pp. 87, 88.— n.m.p.
Guhyaka here synonymous with Yakṣa.—For details of these mythical beings see Appendix I at the end of this volume. —n.m.p.
For a detailed note on the history and uses of collyrium and koḥl see Appendix II at the end of this volume.— n.m.p.
Compare with the sixth story of the tenth day of The Decameron, in which the clinging garments of Ginevra and Isotta have such a disturbing effect on King Charles.— n.m.p.
The tilaka, a mark made upon the forehead or between the eyebrows with coloured earths, sandal-wood, etc., serving as an ornament or a sectarial distinction (Monier Williams, s.v.).
The negative particle mā coalesces with udakaiḥ (the plural instrumental case of udaka) into modakaiḥ, and modakaiḥ (the single word) means “with sweetmeats.” The incident is related in Tārānātha’s Geschichte des Buddhismus in Indien, uebersetzt von Schiefner, p. 74.
So explained by Bohtlingk and Roth, s.v.; cf. Taraṅga 72, śl. 103.
He afterwards learns to speak in the language of the Piśācas—goblins or ogres. For details of this language see pp. 91, 92 of this volume.— n.m.p.
Called also Kumāra. This was no doubt indicated by the Kumāra, or boy, who opened the lotus.
The chāṭaka lives on raindrops, but the poor swan has to take a long journey to the Mānasa lake beyond the snowy hills at the approach of the rainy season.
More literally, “sprinkling her with water.”