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 ...

[M] (Main story line continued) AFTER he had gone a long distance, the king encamped that day in a certain forest on the border of a lake. He went to bed weary, and in the evening he said to Saṃgataka, a story-teller who had come to him on account of the pleasure he took in his service:

“Tell me some tale that will gladden my heart, for I am longing for the joy of beholding the lotus-face of Mṛgāvatī.”

Then Saṃgataka said:

“King, why do you grieve without cause? The union with your queen, which will mark the termination of your curse, is nigh at hand. Human beings experience many unions and separations; and I will tell you a story to illustrate this. Listen, my lord.


5. Story of Śrīdatta and Mṛgāṅkavatī

Once on a time there lived in the country of Mālava a Brāhman named Yajñasoma. And that good man had two sons born to him, beloved by men. One of them was known as Kālanemi and the second was named Vigatabhaya. Now when their father had gone to heaven, those two brothers, having passed through the age of childhood, went to the city of Pāṭaliputra to acquire learning. And when they had completed their studies their teacher Devaśarman gave them his own two daughters, like another couple of sciences incarnate in bodily form.

Then seeing that the householders around him were rich, Kālanemi through envy made a vow and propitiated the Goddess of Fortune with burnt-offerings. And the goddess being satisfied appeared in bodily form and said to him:

“Thou shalt obtain great wealth and a son who shall rule the earth; but at last thou shalt be put to death like a robber, because thou hast offered flesh in the fire with impure motives.”[1]

When she had said this, the goddess disappeared; and Kālanemi in course of time became very rich; moreover, after some days a son was born to him. So the father, whose desires were now accomplished, called that son Śrīdatta,[2] because he had been obtained by the favour of the Goddess of Fortune. In course of time Śrīdatta grew up, and though a Brāhman, became matchless upon earth in the use of weapons, and in boxing and wrestling.

Then Kālanemi’s brother Vigatabhaya went to a foreign land, having become desirous of visiting places of pilgrimage, through sorrow’ for his wife, who had died of the bite of a snake.

Moreover, the king of the land, Vallabhaśakti, who appreciated good qualities, made Śrīdatta the companion of his son Vikramaśakti. So he had to live with a haughty prince, as the impetuous Bhīma lived in his youth with Duryodhana. Then two Kṣatriyas, natives of Avanti, Bāhuśālin and Vajramuṣṭi, became friends of that Brāhman. And some other men from the Deccan, sons of ministers, having been conquered by him in wrestling, resorted to him out of spontaneous friendship, as they knew how to value merit. Mahābala and Vyāghrabhaṭa, and also Upendrabala and a man named Niṣṭhuraka, became his friends. One day, as years rolled on, Śrīdatta, being in attendance on the prince, went with him and those friends to sport on the bank of the Ganges; then the prince’s own servants made him king, and at the same time Śrīdatta was chosen king by his friends. This made the prince angry, and in overweening confidence he at once challenged that Brāhman hero to fight. Then being conquered by him in wrestling, and so disgraced, he made up his mind that this rising hero should be put to death. But Śrīdatta found out that intention of the prince’s, and withdrew in alarm with those friends of his from his presence.

And as he was going along he saw in the middle of the Ganges a woman being dragged under by the stream, looking like the Goddess of Fortune in the middle of the sea. And then he plunged in to pull her out of the water, leaving Bāhuśālin and his five other friends on the bank. Then that woman, though he seized her by the hair, sank deep in the water; and he dived as deep in order to follow her. And after he had dived a long way he suddenly saw a splendid temple of Śiva, but no water and no woman.[3] After beholding that wonderful sight, being wearied out, he paid his adorations to the god whose emblem is a bull, and spent that night in a beautiful garden attached to the temple. And in the morning that lady was seen by him, having come to worship the god Śiva, like the incarnate splendour of beauty attended by all womanly perfections. And after she had worshipped the god, the moon-faced one departed to her own house, and Śrīdatta for his part followed her. And he saw that palace of hers resembling the city of the gods, which the haughty beauty entered hurriedly in a contemptuous manner. And without deigning to address him, the graceful lady sat down on a sofa in the inner part of the house, waited upon by thousands of women. And Śrīdatta also took a seat near her. Then suddenly that virtuous lady began to weep. The teardrops fell in an unceasing shower on her bosom, and that moment pity entered into the heart of Śrīdatta.

And then he said to her:

“Who art thou, and what is thy sorrow? Tell me, fair one, for I am able to remove it.”

Then she said reluctantly:

“We are the thousand granddaughters of Bali,[4] the king of the Daityas, and I am the eldest of all, and my name is Vidyutprabhā. That grandfather of ours was carried off by Viṣṇu to long imprisonment, and the same hero slew our father in a wrestling match. And after he had slain him he excluded us from our own city, and he placed a lion in it to prevent us from entering.[5] The lion occupies that place, and grief our hearts. It is a Yakṣa that was made a lion by the curse of Kuvera, and long ago it was predicted that the Yakṣa’s curse should end when he was conquered by some mortal; so Viṣṇu deigned to inform us on our humbly asking him how we might be enabled to enter our city. Therefore subdue that lion, our enemy: it was for that reason, O hero, that I enticed you hither. And when you have overcome him you will obtain from him a sword named Mṛgāṅka,[6] by the virtue of which you shall conquer the world and become a king.”

When he heard that, Śrīdatta agreed to undertake the adventure, and after that day had passed, on the morrow he took those Daitya maidens with him as guides, and went to that city, and there he overcame in wrestling that haughty lion. He being freed from his curse assumed a human form, and out of gratitude gave his sword to the man who had put an end to his curse, and then disappeared together with the burden of the sorrow' of the great Asura’s daughter. Then that Śrīdatta, together with the Daitya’s daughter, who was accompanied by her younger sisters, entered that splendid city, which looked like the serpent Ananta[7] having emerged from the earth. And that Daitya maiden gave him a ring that destroyed the effect of poison. [also see notes on poison detectors]

Then that young man, remaining there, fell in love with her. And she cunningly said to him:

“Bathe in this tank, and when you dive in take with you this sword[8] to keep off the danger of crocodiles.”

He consented, and diving into the tank rose upon that very bank of the Ganges from which he first plunged in. Then he, seeing the ring and the sword, felt astonishment at having emerged from the lower regions, and despondency at having been tricked by the Asura maid. Then he went towards his own house to look for his friends, and as he was going he saw on the way his friend Niṣṭhuraka. Niṣṭhuraka came up to him and saluted him, and quickly took him aside into a lonely place, and when asked by him for news of his relations gave him this answer:

“On that occasion when you plunged into the Ganges we searched for you for many days, and out of grief we were preparing to cut off our heads, but a voice from heaven forbade that attempt of ours, saying:

‘My sons, do no rash act, your friend shall return alive.’

And then we were returning into the presence of your father when on the way a man hurriedly advanced to meet us and said this:

‘You must not enter this city at present, for the king of it, Vallabhaśakti, is dead, and the ministers have with one accord conferred the royal dignity on Vikramaśakti. Now the day after he was made king he went to the house of Kālanemi and, full of wrath, asked where his son Śrīdatta was, and he replied: “I do not know.” Then the king in a rage, supposing he had concealed his son, had him put to death by impalement as a thief. When his wife saw that, her heart broke. Men of cruel deeds must always pile one evil upon another in long succession; and so Vikramaśakti is searching for Śrīdatta to slay him, and you are his friends, therefore leave this place.’

When the man had given us this warning, Bāhuśālin and his four companions, being grieved, went by common consent to their own home in Ujjayinī. And they left me here in concealment, my friend, for your sake. So come, let us go to that very place to meet our friends.”

Having heard this from Niṣṭhuraka, and having bewailed his parents, Śrīdatta cast many a look at his sword, as if reposing in that his hope of vengeance; then the hero, biding his time, set out, accompanied by Niṣṭhuraka, for that city of Ujjayinī in order to meet his friends.

And as he was relating to his friend his adventures from the time of his plunging into the stream, Śrīdatta beheld a woman weeping in the road; when she said,

“I am a woman going to Ujjayinī and I have lost my way,”

Śrīdatta out of pity made her journey along with him. He and Niṣṭhuraka, together with that woman, whom he kept with him out of compassion, halted that day in a certain deserted town. There he suddenly woke up in the night and beheld that the woman had slain Niṣṭhuraka and was devouring his flesh with the utmost delight. Then he rose up, drawing his sword Mṛgāṅka, and that woman assumed her own terrible form, that of a Rākṣasī,[9] and he seized that night-wanderer by her hair, to slay her.

That moment she assumed a heavenly shape and said to him:

“Slay me not, mighty hero, let me go; I am not a Rākṣasī; the hermit Viśvāmitra imposed this condition on me by a curse. For once, when he was performing austerities from a desire to attain the position of the God of Wealth, I was sent by the god to impede him. Then finding that I was not able to seduce him with my alluring form, being abashed, I assumed, in order to terrify him, a formidable shape.

When he saw this, that hermit laid on me a curse suitable to my offence, exclaiming:

‘Wicked one, become a Rākṣasī and slay men.’

And he appointed my curse should end when you took hold of my hair; accordingly I assumed this detestable condition of a Rākṣasī, and I have devoured all the inhabitants of this town. Now to-day, after a long time, you have brought my curse to an end in the manner foretold, therefore receive now some boon.”

When he heard that speech of hers, Śrīdatta said respectfully:

“Mother, grant that my friend may be restored to life. What need have I of any other boon?”

“So be it,” she said, and after granting the boon disappeared. And Niṣṭhuraka rose up again alive without a scratch on his body. Then Śrīdatta set out the next morning with him delighted and astonished and at last reached Ujjayinī. There he revived by his appearance the spirits of his friends, who were anxiously expecting him, as the arrival of the cloud revives the peacocks. And after he had told all the wonders of his adventures Bāhuśālin went through the usual formalities of hospitality, taking him to his own home. There Śrīdatta was taken care of by the parents of Bāhuśālin, and lived with his friends as comfortably as if he were in his own house.

Once on a time, when the great feast of springtide[10] had arrived, he went with his friends to behold some festal rejoicings in a garden. There he beheld a maiden, the daughter of King Bimbaki, who had come to see the show, looking like the Goddess of the Splendour of Spring present in bodily form. She, by name Mṛgāṅkavatī, that moment penetrated into his heart, as if through the openings left by the expansion of his eye. Her passionate look, too, indicative of the beginning of love, fixed on him, went and returned like a confidante. When she entered a thicket of trees, Śrīdatta, not beholding her, suddenly felt his heart so empty that he did not know where he was.

His friend Bāhuśālin, who thoroughly understood the language of gestures, said to him:

“My friend, I know your heart, do not deny your passion, therefore come, let us go to that part of the garden where the king’s daughter is.”

He consented and went near her, accompanied by his friend. That moment a cry was heard there which gave great pain to the heart of Śrīdatta:

“Alas, the princess has been bitten by a snake!”

Bāhuśālin then went and said to the chamberlain:

“My friend here possesses a ring that counteracts the effects of poison, and also healing spells.”

Immediately the chamberlain came and, bowing at his feet, quickly led Śrīdatta to the princess. He placed the ring on her finger and then muttered his spells, so that she revived. Then all the attendants were delighted, and loud in praise of Śrīdatta, and the King Bimbaki hearing the circumstances came to the place. Accordingly Śrīdatta returned with his friends to the house of Bāhuśālin without taking back the ring. And all the gold and other presents which the delighted king sent to him there he handed over to the father of Bāhuśālin. Then, thinking upon that fair one, he was so much afflicted that his friends became utterly bewildered as to what to do with him.

Then a dear friend of the princess, Bhāvanikā by name, came to him on pretence of returning the ring, and said to him:

“That friend of mine, illustrious sir, has made up her mind that either you must save her life by becoming her husband, or she will be married to her grave.”

When Bhāvanikā had said this Śrīdatta and Bāhuśālin and the others quickly put their heads together and came to the following resolution:—

“We will carry off this princess secretly by a stratagem, and will go unperceived from here to Mathurā and live there.”

The plan having been thoroughly talked over, and the conspirators having agreed with one another what each was to do in order to carry it out, Bhāvanikā then departed. And the next day Bāhuśālin, accompanied by three of his friends, went to Mathurā on pretext of trafficking, and as he went he posted in concealment at intervals swift horses for the conveyance of the princess. But Śrīdatta then brought at eventide a woman with her daughter into the palace of the princess, after making them both drink spirits, and then Bhāvanikā, on pretence of lighting up the palace, set fire to it, and secretly conveyed the princess out of it; and that moment Śrīdatta, who was remaining outside, received her, and sent her on to Bāhuśālin, who had started in the morning, and directed two of his friends to attend on her and also Bhāvanikā. Now that drunken woman and her daughter were burnt in the palace of the princess, and people supposed that the princess had been burnt with her friend. But Śrīdatta took care to show himself in the morning, as before, in the city; then on the second night, taking with him his sword Mṛgāṅka, he started to follow his beloved, who had set out before him. And in his eagerness he accomplished a great distance that night, and when the morning watch[11] had passed he reached the Vindhya forest. There he first beheld unlucky omens, and afterwards he saw all those friends of his, together with Bhāvanikā, lying in the road gashed with wounds.

And when he came up all distracted they said to him:

“We were robbed to-day by a large troop of horsemen that set upon us. And after we were reduced to this state one of the horsemen threw the terrified princess on his horse and carried her off. So before she has been carried a great distance, go in this direction; do not remain near us, she is certainly of more importance than we.”

Being urged on with these words by his friends, Śrīdatta rapidly followed after the princess, but could not help frequently turning round to look at them. And after he had gone a considerable distance he caught up that troop of cavalry, and he saw a young man of the warrior caste in the midst of it. And he beheld that princess held by him upon his horse. So he slowly approached that young warrior; and when soft words would not induce him to let the princess go, he hurled him from his horse with a blow of his foot and dashed him to pieces on a rock. And after he had slain him he mounted on his horse and slew a great number of the other horsemen who charged him in anger. And then those who remained alive, seeing that the might which the hero displayed was more than human, fled away in terror; and Śrīdatta mounted on the horse with the Princess Mṛgāṅkavatī and set out to find those friends of his. And after he had gone a little way he and his wife got off the horse, which had been severely wounded in the fight, and soon after it fell down and died. And then his beloved Mṛgāṅkavatī, exhausted with fear and exertion, became very thirsty. And leaving her there, he roamed a long distance hither and thither, and while he was looking for water the sun set. Then he discovered that though he had found water he had lost his way, and he passed that night in the wood roaming about, moaning aloud like a Cakravāka.[12] And in the morning he reached that place, which was easy to recognise by the carcase of the horse. And nowhere there did he behold his beloved princess. Then in his distraction he placed his sword Mṛgāṅka on the ground and climbed to the top of a tree, in order to cast his eye in all directions for her. That very moment a certain Śavara chieftain passed that way, and he came up and took the sword from the foot of the tree. Beholding that Śavara chieftain, Śrīdatta came down from the top of the tree and in great grief asked him for news of his beloved.

The Śavara chieftain said:

“Leave this place and come to my village; I have no doubt she whom you seek has gone there; and I shall come there and return you this sword.”

When the Śavara chieftain urged him to go with these words, Śrīdatta, being himself all eagerness, went to that village with the chief’s men. And there those men said to him: “Sleep off your fatigue.” And when he reached the house of the chief of the village, being tired, he went to sleep in an instant. And when he woke up he saw his two feet fastened with fetters, like the two efforts he had made in order to obtain his beloved, which failed to reach their object. Then he remained there weeping for his darling, who, like the course of destiny, had for a moment brought him joy, and the next moment blasted his hopes.

One day a serving-maid of the name of Mocanikā came to him and said:

“Illustrious sir, unwittingly you have come hither to your death. For the Śavara chieftain has gone somewhither to accomplish certain weighty affairs, and when he returns he will offer you to Caṇḍikā.[13] For with that object he decoyed you here by a stratagem from this slope of the wild Vindhya hill, and immediately threw you into the chains in which you now are. And it is because you are intended to be offered as a victim to the goddess that you are continually served with garments and food. But I know of only one expedient for delivering you, if you agree to it. This Śavara chieftain has a daughter named Sundarī, and she having seen you is becoming exceedingly lovesick; marry her who is my friend, then you will obtain deliverance.”[14]

When she said this to him Śrīdatta consented, desiring to be set at liberty, and secretly made that Sundarī his wife by the gāndharva form of marriage. And every night she removed his chains, and in a short time Sundarī became pregnant. Then her mother, having heard the whole story from the mouth of Mocanikā, out of love for her son-in-law Śrīdatta, went and of her own accord said to him:

“My son, Śrīcaṇḍa, the father of Sundarī, is a wrathful man, and will show thee no mercy; therefore depart; but thou must not forget Sundarī.”

When his mother-in-law had said this, she set him at liberty, and Śrīdatta departed, after telling Sundarī that the sword which was in her father’s possession really belonged to himself.

So he again entered, full of anxiety, that forest in which he had before wandered about, in order again to search for traces of Mṛgāṅkavatī. And having seen an auspicious omen he came to that same place where that horse of his died before, and whence his wife was carried off. And there he saw near him[15] a hunter coming towards him, and when he saw him he asked him for news of that gazelle-eyed lady.

Then the hunter asked him:

“Are you Śrīdatta?”

and he, sighing, replied: “I am that unfortunate man.”

Then that hunter said:

“Listen, friend, I have somewhat to tell you. I saw that wife of yours wandering hither and thither lamenting your absence, and having asked her her story, and consoled her, moved with compassion I took her out of this wood to my own village. But when I saw the young Pulindas[16] there I was afraid, and I took her to a village named Nāgasthala, near Mathurā.[17] And then I placed her in the house of an old Brāhman named Viśvadatta, commending her with all due respect to his care. And thence I came here, having learnt your name from her lips. Therefore you had better go quickly to Nāgasthala to search for her.”

When the hunter had told him this Śrīdatta quickly set out, and he reached Nāgasthala in the evening of the second day.

Then he entered the house of Viśvadatta and when he saw him said:

“Give me my wife, who was placed here by the hunter.”

Viśvadatta when he heard that answered him:

“I have a friend in Mathurā, a Brāhman, dear to all virtuous men, the spiritual preceptor and minister of the King Śūrasena; in his care I placed your wife; for this village is an out-of-the-way place and would not afford her protection. So go to that city to-morrow morning, but to-day rest here.”

When Viśvadatta said this, he spent that night there, and the next morning he set off, and reached Mathurā on the second day. Being weary and dusty with the long journey, he bathed outside that city in the pellucid water of a lake. And he drew out of the middle of the lake a garment placed there by some robbers, not suspecting any harm. But in one corner of the garment, which was knotted up, a necklace was concealed.[18] Then Śrīdatta took that garment, and in his eagerness to meet his wife did not notice the necklace, and so entered the city of Mathurā. Then the city police recognised the garment, and finding the necklace, arrested Śrīdatta as a thief, and carried him off, and brought him before the chief magistrate exactly as he was found with the garment in his possession; by him he was handed up to the king, and the king ordered him to be put to death.[19]

Then as he was being led off to the place of execution, with the drum being beaten behind him,[20] his wife Mṛgāṅkavatī saw him in the distance. She went in a state of the utmost distraction and said to the chief minister, in whose house she was residing:

“Yonder is my husband being led off to execution.”

Then that minister went and ordered the executioners to desist, and by making a representation to the king got Śrīdatta pardoned, and had him brought to his house. And when Śrīdatta reached his house, and saw that minister, he recognised him and fell at his feet, exclaiming:

“What! is this my uncle Vigatabhaya, who long ago went to a foreign country, and do I now by good luck find him established in the position of a minister?”

He too recognised, to his astonishment, Śrīdatta as his brother’s son, and embraced him, and questioned him about all his adventures. Then Śrīdatta related to his uncle his whole history, beginning with the execution of his father. And he, after weeping, said to his nephew in private:

“Do not despond, my son, for I once brought a female Yakṣa into subjection by means of magic; and she gave me, though I have no son, five thousand horses and seventy millions of gold pieces; and all that wealth is at your disposal.”

After telling him this, his uncle brought him his beloved, and he, having obtained wealth, married her on the spot. And then he remained there in joy, united with that beloved Mṛgāṅkavatī as a bed of white lotuses[21] with the night. But even when his happiness was at its full, anxiety for Bāhuśālin and his companions clouded his heart, as a spot of darkness does the full moon.

Now one day his uncle said secretly to Śrīdatta:

“My son, the King Śūrasena has a maiden daughter, and in accordance with his orders I have to take her to the land of Avanti to give her away in marriage; so I will take her away on that very pretext, and marry her to you. Then, when you have got possession of the force that follows her, with mine already at your disposal, you will soon gain the kingdom that was promised you by the goddess Srī.”

Having resolved on this, and having taken that maiden, Śrīdatta and his uncle set out with their army and their attendants. But as soon as they had reached the Vindhya forest, before they were aware of the danger, a large army of brigands set upon them showering arrows. After routing Śrīdatta’s force and seizing all the wealth, they bound Śrīdatta himself, who had fainted from his wounds, and carried him off to their village. And they took him to the awful temple of Durgā, in order to offer him up in sacrifice, and, as it were, summoned Death with the sound of their gongs. There Sundarī saw him, one of his wives, the daughter of the chief of the village, who had come with her young son to visit the shrine of the goddess. Full of joy she ordered the brigands who were between her and her husband to stand aside, and then Śrīdatta entered her palace with her. Immediately Śrīdatta obtained the sovereignty of that village, which Sundarī’s father, having no son, bequeathed to her when he went to heaven. So Śrīdatta recovered his wife and his sword Mṛgāṅka, and also his uncle and his followers, who had been overpowered by the robbers. And while he was in that town he married the daughter of Śūrasena, and became a great king there. And from that place he sent ambassadors to his two fathers-in-law, to Bimbaki and King Śūrasena. And they, being very fond of their daughters, gladly recognised him as a connection, and came to him accompanied by the whole of their armies. And his friends Bāhuśālin and the others, who had been separated from him, when they heard what had happened, came to him with their wounds healed and in good health. Then the hero marched, united with his fathers-in-law, and made that Vikramaśakti, who had put his father to death, a burnt-offering in the flame of his wrath. And then Śrīdatta, having gained dominion over the sea-encircled earth, and deliverance from the sorrow’ of separation, joyed in the society of Mṛgāṅkavatī. Even so, my king, do men of firm resolution cross the calamitous sea of separation and obtain prosperity.


[M] (Main story line continued) After hearing this tale from Saṃgataka, the King Sahasrānīka, though longing for the sight of his beloved one, managed to get through that night on the journey. Then, engrossed with his desire, sending his thoughts on before, in the morning Sahasrānīka set out to meet his darling. And in a few' days he reached that peaceful hermitage of Jamadagni, in which even the deer laid aside their wantonness. And there he beheld with reverence that Jamadagni, the sight of whom was sanctifying, like the incarnate form of penance, who received him hospitably. And the hermit handed over to him that Queen Mṛgāvatī with her son, regained by the king after long separation, like tranquillity with joy. And that sight which the husband and wife obtained of one another, now that the curse had ceased, rained, as it were, nectar into their eyes, which were filled with tears of joy. And the king embracing that son Udayana, whom he now beheld for the first time, could with difficulty let him go, as he was, so to speak, riveted to his body with his own hairs that stood erect from joy.[22] Then King Sahasrānīka took his Queen Mṛgāvatī with Udayana, and, bidding adieu to Jamadagni, set out from that tranquil hermitage for his own city, and even the deer followed him as far as the border of the hermitage with tearful eyes. Beguiling the way by listening to the adventures of his beloved wife during the period of separation, and by relating his own, he at length reached the city of Kauśāmbī, in which triumphal arches were erected and banners displayed. And he entered that city in company with his wife and child, being, so to speak, devoured[23] by the eyes of the citizens, that had the fringe of their lashes elevated. And immediately the king appointed his son Udayana crown prince, being incited to it by his excellent qualities. And he assigned to him as advisers the sons of his own ministers, Vasantaka and Rumaṇvat and Yaugandharāyaṇa.

Then a rain of flowers fell, and a celestial voice was heard:

“By the help of these excellent ministers, the prince shall obtain dominion over the whole earth.”

Then the king devolved on his son the cares of empire, and enjoyed in the society of Mṛgāvatī the long-desired pleasures of the world. At last the desire of earthly enjoyment, beholding suddenly that old age, the harbinger of composure, had reached the root of the king’s ear,[24] became enraged and fled far from him. Then that King Sahasrānīka established in his throne his excellent son Udayana,[25] whom the subjects loved so well, to ensure the world’s prosperity, and, accompanied by his ministers and his beloved wife, ascended the Himālaya to prepare for the last great journey.

Footnotes and references:


The Durgāprasād text reads amarsha instead of amis ham, which seems to make better sense. Thus the translation would be: “because thou hast offered libations with a mind troubled by anger”— n.m.p.


I.e. given by Fortune.


Cf. the story of Sattvaśīla, which is the seventh tale in the Vetāla Pañcaviṃśati, and will be found in Chapter LXXXI of this work. Cf. also the story of Śaktideva in Book V, chap. xxvi, and Ralston’s remarks on it in his Russian Folk-Tales, p. 99.


Viṣṇu assumed the form of a dwarf and appeared before Bali, and asked for as much land as he could step over. On Bali granting it, Viṣṇu, dilating himself, in two steps deprived him of heaven and earth, but left the lower regions still in his dominion.


This incident may be compared with one described in Veckenstedt’s Wendische Sagen, p. 82.


I.e. “the moon”—bright and shining—literally, “the hare-marked,” as the Hindus see a hare in the moon instead of a “man.” The custom of giving names to swords is very widely spread and dates from the earliest times. Sword-making has always been a highly specialised craft with many well-guarded secrets, and consequently magic has been continually connected with it. Many were actually made by sorcerers, while others took years to fashion. Sometimes the name of the sword gives its history, as in Arthur’s Excalibar = Ex cal (ce) liber (are) = “to free from the stone.” In most cases, however, a name was given to it which would inspire confidence to the wielder and terror to the foe. Thus Cæsar’s sword was called Crocea Mors, the “yellow death”; Edward the Confessor’s was Curta’na, the “cutter”; Mohammed had many—the “beater,” the “keen,” the “deadly”; Hieme’s was the “blood-fetcher,” and so forth.

A long list will be found in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, pp. 1196 , 1197. See also Oppert’s On the Weapons, etc., of the Ancient Hindus, 1880; Burton’s Book of the Sword, pp. 214-219; J. A. Macculloch’s Childhood of Fiction, pp. 203, 204, and my Selected Papers of Sir Richard Burton, 1923, p. 51. -N.M.P.


Ananta (endless, or infinite) is the name of the thousand-headed serpent Śeṣa.—A coiled snake in Maya (Central America) was the symbol of eternity.—n.m.p.


Reading khaḍgam for the khaḍge of Dr Brockhaus’ text.


Female demon. The Rākṣasas are often called “night-wanderers.”—See Appendix I at the end of this volume. —n.m.p.


Or, more literally, of the month Chaitra— i.e. March-April.


At nine o’clock in the morning.


Anas Casarca, commonly called the Brahmany duck. The male has to pass the night separated from its female—if we are to trust the unanimous testimony of Hindu poets.


A name of Durgā. Cf. Prescott’s account of the human sacrifices in The History of the Conquest of Mexico, vol. i, pp. 62, 63.-See Rai Bahadur Hira Lai’s article on “Human Sacrifice in Central India” in Man in India,. vol. i, pp. 57-66; also E. A. Gait’s article on “Human Sacrifice (Indian)” in Hastings’ Ency. Bel. Eth., vol. vi, pp. 849-853.— n.m.p.


This incident reminds us of the fifth tale in Wright’s Gesta Bomanorum.


Or it may mean “from a distance,” as Dr Brockhaus takes it.


Pulinda is the name of a savage tribe.


Mr Growse remarks: “In Hindi the word Nāgasthala would assume the form Nāgal; and there is a village of that name to this day in the Mahāban Pargana of the Mathurā district.”


A common way of carrying money in India at the present day.—In Arabia it is often carried in the turban, while in Morocco it is kept with the hashish pipe, knife, etc., in the large yellow leather bag slung underneath the haik or jellaba. I brought back several beautifully worked specimens of these bags when last in Morocco.— n.m.p.


Cf. Samarāditijasaṃkṣepa 4, p. 104 et seq. We shall come across a similar incident in Chaper LIV, where I shall add a further note.— n.m.p.


Cf. the last scene of “The Toy Cart” in the first volume of Wilson’s

Hindu Theatre.—See also Ryder’s edition, 1905, p. 155. In the Kaṇavera Jātalta (318) the thief is made to wear a wreath of flowers symbolic of death, is scourged with whips and led to execution to the beat of the harsh-sounding drum. For further references see Bloomfield, “The Art of Stealing,” Am. Journ. Phil., vol. xliv, 3, pp. 227, 228. On the ceremonial uses of the drum see A. E. Crawley’s article, "Drums and Cymbals,” in Hastings’ Ency. Rel. Eth., vol. v, p. 93 et seq. For the use of the drum for proclamation and obtaining a royal audience see Bloomfield, Life and Stories of Pārgvanāthā and the references there given. —n.m.p.


The esculent white lotus (Sanskrit, kumuda) expands its petals at night and closes them in the daytime.


In Sanskrit poetry horripilation is often said to be produced by joy. I have here inserted the words “from joy” in order to make the meaning clear.—It is the same as the Arabic kusKarīrah and the pelo arriciato of Boccaccio. In the Nights, however, horripilation is usually produced by anger; thus we read (Burton, vol. ii, p. 88): “She raged with exceeding rage, and her body-liair stood on end like the bristles of a fretful hedgehog.”— n.m.p.


Literally, drunk in.


Alluding to his grey hairs. In all Eastern stories the appearance of the first grey hair is a momentous epoch. The point of the whole passage consists in the fact that jarā (old age) is feminine in form. Cf the perturbation of King Samson in Hagen’s Helden-Sagen, vol. i, p. 26 , and Spence Hardy’s Manual of Buddhism, I 860 , pp. 12.9 and 130.-See also Jātakas, Nos. 9, 411 and 541; Tawney’s Kathākoga, pp. 125, 146; Jacobi’s preface to his edition of the Pariśiṣṭaparvan, p. 14, note 2.

Bloomfield (Journ. Amer. Orient. Soc., vol. xxxvi, Part I) has written briefly on the “Grey Hair” motif in Sanskrit literature. See op. cit., p. 57, where he gives a few further references to those already mentioned— n.m.p.


There is a pun between the name of the King Udayana and prosperity (udaya).

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