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) IN the meanwhile the ambassador sent by the King of Vatsa in answer to Caṇḍamahāsena’s embassy went and told that monarch his master’s reply.

Caṇḍamahāsena for his part, on hearing it, began to reflect:

“It is certain that that proud King of Vatsa will not come here. And I cannot send my daughter to his Court; such conduct would be unbecoming; so I must capture him by some stratagem and bring him here as a prisoner.”

Having thus reflected and deliberated with his ministers, the king had made a large artificial elephant like his own, and, after filling it with concealed warriors, he placed it in the Vindhya forest. There the scouts kept in his pay by the King of Vatsa, who was passionately fond of the sport of elephant-catching, discerned it from a distance[1]; and they came with speed and informed the King of Vatsa in these words:

“O king, we have seen a single elephant roaming in the Vindhya forest, such that nowhere else in this wide world is his equal to be found, filling the sky with his stature, like a moving peak of the Vindhya range.”

Then the king rejoiced on hearing this report from the scouts, and he gave them a hundred thousand gold pieces by way of reward. The king spent that night in thinking:

“If I obtain that mighty elephant, a fit match for Naḍāgiri, then that Caṇḍamahāsena will certainly be in my power, and then he will of his own accord give me his daughter Vāsavadattā.”

So in the morning he started for the Vindhya forest, making these scouts show him the way, disregarding, in his ardent desire to capture the elephant, Elephant the advice of his ministers. He did not pay any attention to the fact that the astrologers said that the position of the heavenly bodies at the moment of his departure portended the acquisition of a maiden together with imprisonment.

When the King of Vatsa reached the Vindhya forest he made his troops halt at a distance, through fear of alarming that elephant, and, accompanied by the scouts only, holding in his hand his melodious lute, he entered that great forest boundless as his own kingly vice. The king saw on the southern slope of the Vindhya range that elephant looking like a real one, pointed out to him by his scouts from a distance. He slowly approached it, alone, playing on his lute, thinking how he should bind it, and singing in melodious tones. As his mind was fixed on his music, and the shades of evening were setting in, that king did not perceive that the supposed elephant was an artificial one. The elephant,[2] too, for its part, lifting up its ears and flapping them, as if through delight in the music, kept advancing and then retiring, and so drew the king to a great distance. And then, suddenly issuing from that artificial elephant, a body of soldiers in full armour surrounded that King of Vatsa. When he beheld them, the king in a rage drew his hunting-knife, but while he was fighting with those in front of him he was seized by others coming up behind. And those warriors, with the help of others, who appeared at a concerted signal, carried that King of Vatsa into the presence of Caṇḍamahāsena. Caṇḍamahāsena for his part came out to meet him with the utmost respect, and entered with him the city of Ujjayinī.

Then the newly arrived King of Vatsa was beheld by the citizens, like the moon, pleasing to the eyes, though spotted with humiliation. Then all the citizens, suspecting that he was to be put to death, through regard for his virtues assembled and determined to commit suicide.[3] Then the King Caṇḍamahāsena put a stop to the agitation of the citizens by informing them that he did not intend to put the monarch of Vatsa to death, but to win him over.

So the king made over his daughter Vāsavadattā on the spot to the King of Vatsa to be taught music, and said to him:

“Prince, teach this lady music; in this way you will obtain a happy issue to your adventure; do not despond.”

But when he beheld that fair lady the mind of the King of Vatsa was so steeped in love that he put out of sight his anger; and her heart and mind turned towards him together; her eye was then averted through modesty, but her mind not at all. So the King of Vatsa dwelt in the concert-room of Caṇḍamahāsena’s palace, teaching Vāsavadattā to sing, with his eyes fixed ever on her. In his lap was his lute, in his throat the quarter-tone of vocal music, and in front of him stood Vāsavadattā, delighting his heart. And that princess was devoted in her attentions to him, resembling the Goddess of Fortune in that she was firmly attached to him, and did not leave him though he was a captive.

In the meanwhile the men who had accompanied the king returned to Kauśāmbī, and the country, hearing of the captivity of the monarch, was thrown into a state of great excitement. Then the enraged subjects, out of love for the King of Vatsa, wanted to make a general[4] assault on Ujjayinī. But Rumaṇvat checked the impetuous fury of the subjects by telling them that Caṇḍamahāsena was not to be overcome by force, for he was a mighty monarch, and besides that an assault was not advisable, for it might endanger the safety of the King of Vatsa; but their object must be attained by policy.

The calm and resolute Yaugandharāyaṇa, seeing that the country was loyal, and would not swerve from its allegiance, said to Rumaṇvat and the others:

“All of you must remain here, ever on the alert; you must guard this country, and when a fit occasion comes you must display your prowess; but I will go, accompanied by Vasantaka only, and will without fail accomplish by my wisdom the deliverance of the king and bring him home. For he is a truly firm and resolute man, whose wisdom shines forth in adversity, as the lightning flash is especially brilliant during pelting rain. I know spells for breaking through walls, and for rending fetters, and receipts for becoming invisible, serviceable at need.”

Having said this, and entrusted to Rumaṇvat the care of the subjects, Yaugandharāyaṇa set out for Kauśāmbī with Vasantaka. And with him he entered the Vindhya forest, full of life,[5] like his wisdom, intricate and trackless as his policy. Then he visited the palace of the King of the Pulindas, Pulindaka by name, who dwelt on a peak of the Vindhya range, and was an ally of the King of Vatsa. He first placed him, with a large force at his heels, in readiness to protect the King of Vatsa when he returned that way, and then he went on, accompanied by Vasantaka, and at last arrived at the burning-ground of Mahākāla in Ujjayinī, which was densely tenanted by vampires[6] that smelt of carrion, and hovered hither and thither, black as night, rivalling the smoke-wreaths of the funeral pyres. And there a Brāhman-Rākṣasa[7] of the name of Yogeśvara immediately came up to him, delighted to see him, and admitted him into his friendship; then Yaugandharāyaṇa by means of a charm, which he taught him, suddenly altered his shape. That charm immediately made him deformed, hunchbacked and old, and besides gave him the appearance of a madman, so that he produced loud laughter in those who beheld him.[8] And in the same way Yaugandharāyaṇa, by means of that very charm, gave Vasantaka a body full of outstanding veins, with a large stomach, and an ugly mouth with projecting teeth; then he sent Vasantaka on in front to the gate of the king’s palace, and entered Ujjayinī with such an appearance as I have described. There he, singing and dancing, surrounded by Brāhman boys, beheld with curiosity by all, made his way to the king’s palace. And there he excited by that behaviour the curiosity of the king’s wives, and was at last heard of by Vāsavadattā. She quickly sent a maid and had him brought to the concert-room. For youth is twin brother to mirth.[9] And when Yaugandharāyaṇa came there and beheld the King of Vatsa in fetters, though he had assumed the appearance of a madman, he could not help shedding tears. And he made a sign to the King of Vatsa, who quickly recognised him, though he had come in disguise. Then Yaugandharāyaṇa by means of his magic power made himself invisible to Vāsavadattā and her maids.

So the king alone saw him, and they all said with astonishment:

“That maniac has suddenly escaped somewhere or other.”

Then the King of Vatsa hearing them say that, and seeing Yaugandharāyaṇa in front of him, understood that this was due to magic, and cunningly said to Vāsavadattā:

“Go, my good girl, and bring the requisites for the worship of Sarasvatī.”

When she heard that she said, “So I will,” and went out with her companions.

Then Yaugandharāyaṇa approached the king and communicated to him, according to the prescribed form, spells for breaking chains; and at the same time he furnished him with other charms for winning the heart of Vāsavadattā, which were attached to the strings of the lute; and informed him that Vasantaka had come there and was standing outside the door in a changed form, and recommended him to have that Brāhman summoned to him.

At the same time he said:

“When this lady Vāsavadattā shall come to repose confidence in you, then you must do what I tell you; at the present remain quiet.”

Having said this, Yaugandharāyaṇa quickly went out, and immediately Vāsavadattā entered with the requisites for the worship of Sarasvatī.

Then the king said to her:

“There is a Brāhman standing outside the door, let him be brought in to celebrate this ceremony in honour of Sarasvatī, in order that he may obtain a sacrificial fee.”

Vāsavadattā consented, and had Vasantaka, who wore a deformed shape, summoned from the door into the music-hall. And when he was brought and saw the King of Vatsa, he wept for sorrow; and then the king said to him, in order that the secret might not be discovered:

“O Brāhman, I will remove all this deformity of thine produced by sickness; do not weep, remain here near me.”

And then Vasantaka said:

“It is a great condescension on thy part, O king.”

And the king seeing how he was deformed could not keep his countenance. And when he saw that, Vasantaka guessed what was in the king’s mind, and laughed so that the deformity of his distorted face was increased; and thereupon Vāsavadattā, beholding him grinning like a doll, burst out laughing also, and was much delighted.

Then the young lady asked Vasantaka in fun the following question:—

“Brāhman, what science are you familiar with? Tell us.”

So he said:

“Princess, I am an adept at telling tales.”

Then she said: “Come, tell me a tale.” Then, in order to please that princess, Vasantaka told the following tale, which was charming by its comic humour and variety.


7. Story of Rūpiṇikā

There is in this country a city named Mathurā, the bith-place of Kṛṣṇa; in it there was a courtesan known by the name of Rūpiṇikā; she had for a mother an old bawd named Makaradaṃṣṭrā, who seemed a lump of poison in the eyes of the young men attracted by her daughter’s charms. One day Rūpiṇikā went at the time of worship to the temple to perform her duty,[10] and beheld from a distance a young man. When she saw that handsome young fellow, he made such an impression upon her heart that all her mother’s instructions vanished from it.

Then she said to her maid:

“Go and tell this man from me that he is to come to my house to-day.”

The maid said, “So I will,” and immediately went and told him. Then the man thought a little and said to her:

“I am a Brāhman named Lohajaṅgha[11]; I have no wealth; then what business have I in the house of Rūpiṇikā, which is only to be entered by the rich?”

The maid said:

“My mistress does not desire wealth from you.”

Whereupon Lohajaṅgha consented to do as she wished. When she heard that from the maid, Rūpiṇikā went home in a state of excitement, and remained with her eyes fixed on the path by which he would come. And soon Lohajaṅgha came to her house, while the bawd Makaradaṃṣṭrā looked at him, and wondered where he came from. Rūpiṇikā for her part, when she saw him, rose up to meet him herself with the utmost respect, and clinging to his neck in her joy led him to her own private apartments. Then she was captivated with Lohajaṅgha’s wealth of accomplishments, and considered that she had been only born to love him. So she avoided the society of other men, and that young fellow lived with her in her house in great comfort.

Rūpiṇikā’s mother Makaradaṃṣṭrā, who had trained up many courtesans, was annoyed when she saw this, and said to her in private:

“My daughter, why do you associate with a poor man? Courtesans of good taste embrace a corpse in preference to a poor man. What business has a courtesan like you with affection?[12] How have you come to forget that great principle? The light of a red[13] sunset lasts but a short time, and so does the splendour of a courtesan who gives way to affection. A courtesan, like an actress, should exhibit an assumed affection in order to get wealth; so forsake this pauper, do not ruin yourself.”

When she heard this speech of her mother’s, Rūpiṇikā said in a rage:

“Do not talk in this way, for I love him more than my life. And as for wealth, I have plenty, what do I want with more? So you must not speak to me again, mother, in this way.”

When she heard this, Makaradaṃṣṭrā was in a rage, and she remained thinking over some device for getting rid of this Lohajaṅgha. Then she saw coming along the road a certain Rājpūt, who had spent all his wealth, surrounded by retainers with swords in their hands.

So she went up to him quickly and, taking him aside, said:

“My house is beset by a certain poor lover. So come there yourself to-day, and take such order with him that he shall depart from my house, and do you possess my daughter.”

“Agreed,” said the Rājpūt, and entered that house.

At that precise moment Rūpiṇikā was in the temple, and Lohajaṅgha meanwhile was absent somewhere, and, suspecting nothing, he returned to the house a moment afterwards. Immediately the retainers of the Rājpūt ran upon him, and gave him severe kicks and blows on all his limbs, and then they threw him into a ditch full of all kinds of impurities, and Lohajaṅgha with difficulty escaped from it. Then Rūpiṇikā returned to the house, and when she heard what had taken place she was distracted with grief, so the Rājpūt, seeing that, returned as he came.

Lohajaṅgha, after suffering this brutal outrage by the machinations of the bawd, set out for some holy place of pilgrimage, in order to leave his life there, now that he was separated from his beloved. As he was going along in the wild country,[14] with his heart burning with anger against the bawd, and his skin with the heat of the summer, he longed for shade. Not being able to find a tree, he lighted on the body of an elephant which had been stripped of all its flesh[15] by jackals making their way into it by the hind-quarters; accordingly Lohajaṅgha, being worn out, crept into this carcass, which was a mere shell, as only the skin remained, and went to sleep in it, as it was kept cool by the breeze which freely entered. Then suddenly clouds arose from all sides and began to pour down a pelting shower of rain; that rain made the elephant’s skin contract so that no aperture was left,[16] and immediately a copious inundation came that way, and carrying off the elephant’s hide swept it into the Ganges, so that eventually the inundation bore it into the sea. And there a bird of the race of Garuḍa saw that hide and, supposing it to be carrion, took it to the other side of the sea; there it tore open the elephant’s hide with its claws and, seeing that there was a man inside it, fled away. But Lohajaṅgha was awaked by the bird’s pecking and scratching, and came out through the aperture made by its beak. And finding that he was on the other side of the sea, he was astonished, and looked upon the whole thing as a daydream; then he saw there to his terror two horrible Rākṣasas, and those two for their part contemplated him from a distance with feelings of fear. Remembering how they were defeated by Rāma, and seeing that Lohajaṅgha was also a man who had crossed the sea,[17] they were once more alarmed in their hearts. So, after they had deliberated together, one of them went off immediately and told the whole occurrence to King Vibhīṣaṇa.

King Vibhīṣaṇa, too, as he had seen the prowess of Rāma, being terrified at the arrival of a man, said to that Rākṣasa:

“Go, my good friend, and tell that man from me, in a friendly manner, that he is to do me the favour of coming to my palace.”

The Rākṣasa said, “I will do so,” and timidly approached Lohajaṅgha, and told him that request of his sovereign’s. Lohajaṅgha for his part accepted that invitation with unruffled calm, and went to Laṅkā with that Rākṣasa as his companion. And when he arrived in Laṅkā he was astonished at beholding numerous splendid edifices of gold, and entering the king’s palace he saw Vibhīṣaṇa.

The king welcomed the Brāhman, who blessed him in return, and then Vibhīṣaṇa said:

“Brāhman, how did you manage to reach this country?”

Then the cunning Lohajaṅgha said to Vibhīṣaṇa:

“I am a Brāhman of the name of Lohajaṅgha residing in Mathurā; and I, Lohajaṅgha, being afflicted at my poverty, went to the temple of the god, and remaining fasting, for a long time performed austerities in the presence of Nārāyaṇa.[18] Then the adorable Hari[18] commanded me in a dream, saying:

‘Go thou to Vibhīṣaṇa, for he is a faithful worshipper of mine, and he will give thee wealth.’

Then I said:

‘Vibhīṣaṇa is where I cannot reach him.’

But the lord continued:

‘To-day shalt thou see that Vibhīṣaṇa.’

So the lord spake to me, and immediately I woke up and found myself upon this side of the sea. I know no more.”

When Vibhīṣaṇa heard this from Lohajaṅgha, reflecting that Laṅkā was a difficult place to reach, he thought to himself:

“Of a truth this man possesses divine power.”

And he said to that Brāhman:

“Remain here; I will give you wealth.”

Then he committed him to the care of the man-slaying Rākṣasas as an inviolable deposit, and sent some of his subjects to a mountain in his kingdom called Svarṇamūla, who brought from it a young bird belonging to the race of Garuḍa; and he gave it to that Lohajaṅgha (who had to take a long journey to Mathurā) to ride upon, in order that he might in the meanwhile break it in. Lohajaṅgha for his part mounted on its back, and riding about on it in Laṅkā, rested there for some time, being hospitably entertained by Vibhīṣaṇa.

One day he asked the King of the Rākṣasas, feeling curiosity on the point, why the whole ground of Laṅkā was made of wood; and Vibhīṣaṇa, when he heard that, explained the circumstance to him, saying:

“Brāhman, if you take any interest in this matter, listen, I will explain it to you. Long ago Garuḍa, the son of Kaśyapa, wishing to redeem his mother from her slavery to the snakes, to whom she had been subjected in accordance with an agreement,[19] and preparing to obtain from the gods the nectar which was the price of her ransom, wanted to eat something which would increase his strength, and so he went to his father, who, being importuned, said to him:

‘My son, in the sea there is a huge elephant and a huge tortoise. They have assumed their present form in consequence of a curse: go and eat them.’

Then Garuḍa went and brought them both to eat, and then perched on a bough of the great wishing-tree of paradise.[20] And when that bough suddenly broke with his weight, he held it up with his beak, out of regard to the Bālakhilyas[21] who were engaged in austerities underneath it. Then Garuḍa, afraid that the bough would crush mankind if he let it fall at random, by the advice of his father brought the bough to this uninhabited part of the earth and let it drop. Laṅkā was built on the top of that bough, therefore the ground here is of wood.”

When he heard this from Vibhīṣaṇa, Lohajaṅgha was perfectly satisfied.

Then Vibhīṣaṇa gave to Lohajaṅgha many valuable jewels, as he desired to set out for Mathurā. And out of his devotion to the god Viṣṇu, who dwells at Mathurā, he entrusted to the care of Lohajaṅgha a lotus, a club, a shell and a discus all of gold, to be offered to the god. Lohajaṅgha took all these and mounted the bird given to him by Vibhīṣaṇa, that could accomplish a hundred thousand yojanas,[22] and rising up into the air in Laṅkā, he crossed the sea and without any difficulty arrived at Mathurā. And there he descended from the air into an empty convent outside the town, and deposited there his abundant treasure, and tied up that bird. And then he went into the market and sold one of his jewels, and bought garments and scented unguents, and also food. And he ate the food in that convent where he was, and gave some to his bird; and he adorned himself with the garments, unguents, flowers and other decorations. And when night came he mounted that same bird and went to the house of Rūpiṇikā, bearing in his hand the shell, discus and mace; then he hovered over it in the air, knowing the place well, and made a low, deep sound to attract the attention of his beloved, who was alone. But Rūpiṇikā, as soon as she heard that sound, came out, and saw hovering in the air by night a being like Nārāyaṇa, gleaming with jewels.

He said to her:

“I am Hari come hither for thy sake”;

whereupon she bowed with her face to the earth and said:

“May the god have mercy upon me!”

Then Lohajaṅgha descended and tied up his bird, and entered the private apartments of his beloved hand in hand with her. And after remaining there a short time he came out and, mounting the bird as before, went off through the air.[23]

In the morning Rūpiṇikā remained observing an obstinate silence, thinking to herself:

“I am the wife of the god Viṣṇu, I must cease to converse with mortals.”

And then her mother Makaradaṃṣṭrā said to her:

“Why do you behave in this way, my daughter?”

And after she had been perseveringly questioned by her mother, she caused to be put up a curtain between herself and her parent, and told her what had taken place in the night, which was the cause of her silence. When the bawd heard that, she felt doubt on the subject, but soon after, at night, she saw that very Lohajaṅgha mounted on the bird, and in the morning Makaradaṃṣṭrā came secretly to Rūpiṇikā, who still remained behind the curtain, and inclining herself humbly, preferred to her this request:

“Through the favour of the god, thou, my daughter, hast obtained here on earth the rank of a goddess, and I am thy mother in this world, therefore grant me a reward for giving thee birth: entreat the god that, old as I am, with this very body I may enter paradise. Do me this favour.”

Rūpiṇikā consented, and requested that very boon from Lohajaṅgha, who came again at night disguised as Viṣṇu. Then Lohajaṅgha, who was personating the god, said to that beloved of his:

“Thy mother is a wicked woman, it would not be fitting to take her openly to paradise; but on the morning of the eleventh day the door of heaven is opened, and many of the Gaṇas, Śiva’s companions, enter into it before anyone else is admitted. Among them I will introduce this mother of thine, if she assume their appearance. So shave her head with a razor, in such a manner that five locks[24] shall be left, put a necklace of skulls round her neck, and stripping off her clothes, paint one side of her body with lamp-black and the other with red lead,[25] for when she has in this way been made to resemble a Gaṇa, I shall find it an easy matter to get her into heaven.”

When he had said this, Lohajaṅgha remained a short time and then departed. And in the morning Rūpiṇikā attired her mother as he had directed; and then she remained with her mind entirely fixed on paradise. So when night came Lohajaṅgha appeared again, and Rūpiṇikā handed over her mother to him. Then he mounted on the bird, and took the bawd with him naked, and transformed as he had directed, and he flew up rapidly with her into the air. While he was in the air, he beheld a lofty stone pillar in front of a temple, with a discus on its summit. So he placed her on the top of the pillar, with the discus as her only support,[26] and there she hung like a banner to blazon forth his revenge for his ill usage.

He said to her:

“Remain here a moment while I bless the earth with my approach,”

and vanished from her sight. Then beholding a number of people in front of the temple, who had come there to spend the night in devout vigils before the festive procession, he called aloud from the air:

“Hear, ye people, this very day there shall fall upon you here the all-destroying Goddess of Pestilence, therefore fly to Hari for protection.”

When they heard this voice from the air all the inhabitants of Mathurā who were there, being terrified, implored the protection of the god, and remained devoutly muttering prayers to ward off the calamity. Lohajaṅgha for his part descended from the air and encouraged them to pray, and after changing that dress of his came and stood among the people, without being observed.

The bawd thought as she sat upon the top of the pillar:

“The god has not come as yet, and I have not reached heaven.”

At last, feeling it impossible to remain up there any longer, she cried out in her fear, so that the people below heard:

“Alas! I am falling, I am falling.”

Hearing that, the people in front of the god’s temple were beside themselves, fearing that the destroying goddess was falling upon them, even as had been foretold, and said:

“O goddess, do not fall, do not fall.”

So those people of Mathurā, young and old, spent that night in perpetual dread that the destroying goddess would fall upon them, but at last it came to an end; and then beholding that bawd upon the pillar in the state described,[27] the citizens and the king recognised her at once. All the people thereupon forgot their alarm and burst out laughing, and Rūpiṇikā herself at last arrived, having heard of the occurrence. And when she saw it she was abashed, and with the help of the people who were there she managed to get that mother of hers down from the top of the pillar immediately. Then that bawd was asked by all the people there, who were filled with curiosity, to tell them the whole story, and she did so. Thereupon the king, the Brāhmans and the merchants, thinking that that laughable incident must have been brought about by a sorcerer or some person of that description, made a proclamation, that whoever had made a fool of the bawd, who had deceived innumerable lovers, was to show himself, and he would receive a turban of honour on the spot. When he heard that, Lohajaṅgha made himself known to those present, and, being questioned, he related the whole story from its commencement. And he offered to the god the discus, shell, club and lotus of gold, the present which Vibhīṣaṇa had sent, and which aroused the astonishment of the people. Then all the people of Mathurā, being pleased, immediately invested him with a turban of honour, and by the command of the king made that Rūpiṇikā a free woman. And then Lohajaṅgha, having wreaked upon the bawd his wrath caused by her ill usage of him, lived in great comfort in Mathurā with that beloved of his, being very well off by means of the large stock of jewels which he had brought from Laṅkā.

[M] (Main story line continued) Hearing this tale from the mouth of the transformed Vasantaka, Vāsavadattā, who was sitting at the side of the fettered King of Vatsa, felt extreme delight in her heart.

Footnotes and references:


They would not go near for fear of disturbing it. Wild elephants are timid, so there is more probability in this story than in that of the Trojan horse. Even now scouts who mark down a wild beast in India almost lose their heads with excitement.’The hiding of men in imitation animals is rare in literature, but the introduction into a city of armed men, hidden in jars, is found in an Egyptian papyrus of the twentieth dynasty. The incident occurs in the story, “How Thutīyi took the City of Joppa.” It has been translated, and well annotated, by Maspero, Stories of Ancient Egypt, pp. 108-144. The same idea, which will at once occur to readers, was used in the story of Ali Baba in the Nights. Maspero refers to this story, but makes the usual mistake of calling the jars earthenware instead of leather or sewed skins.— n.m.p.


For the part played by elephants in folk-tales see W. Crooke, Folk-Lore of Northern India, vol. ii, pp. 238-241, and F. W. Thomas’ article, “Animals,” in Hastings’ Ency. Rel. Eth., vol. i, p. 514.—n.m.p.


I.e. they sat in Dharnā outside the door of the palace.


Perhaps we should read samantataḥ one word.


Sattva, when applied to the forest, means “animal”; when applied to wisdom it means “excellence.”


Vetāla is especially used of a goblin that tenants dead bodies. See Captain R. F. Burton’s Vikram and the Vampire. The tales will be found in the twelfth book of this work. In the fifth chapter of Ralston’s Russian Folk-Tales will be found much interesting information with regard to the Slavonic superstitions about vampires. They resemble very closely those of the Hindus. See especially p. 311: “At cross-roads, or in the neighbourhood of cemeteries, an animated corpse of this description often lurks, watching for some unwary traveller whom it may be able to slay and eat.”


We shall meet this gentleman again in Chapter XXXII.— n.m.p.


Cf. the way in which the Ritter Malegis transmutes Reinhold in the story of “Die Heimonskinder” (Simrock’s Deutsche Volksbiicher, vol. ii, p. 86): “He changed him into an old man, a hundred years of age, with a decrepit and misshaped body, and long hair.” See also p. 114. So Merlin assumes the form of an old man and disguises Uther and Ulfin (Dunlop’s History of Fiction, translated by Liebrecht, p. 66).-In Durgāprasād’s text we read that Yogeśvara “chose him” as a friend, and he is also described as bald in addition to his other attractions! —n.m.p.


The Eastern equivalent of the mediæval court jester was nearly always a deformed dwarf. —n.m.p.


Tawney merely says naively, “ Such people dance in temples, I believe,” but we touch here upon one of the oldest and most interesting customs of religion, that of sacred prostitution. Recent research has thrown much light on this strange custom, which found its way all over the (then) civilised world. Its importance warrants more than a mere note, so I shall discuss the subject in detail in Appendix IV at the end of this volume.— n.m.p.


Mr Growse writes to me with reference to the name Lohajaṅgha: “This name still exists on the spot, though probably not to be found elsewhere. The original bearer of the title is said to have been one of the demons whom Kṛṣṇa slew, and a village is called Lohaban after him, where an ancient red sandstone image is supposed to represent him, and has offerings of iron made to it at the annual festival.”


Compare the seventh of Lucian’s 'ErcuptKot SiáXoyoi, where the mother blames Musarium for favouring good looks rather than wealth. “You see how much this boy brings in; not an obol, not a dress, not a pair of shoes, not a box of ointment, has he ever given you; it is all professions and promises and distant prospects; always if my father should -, and I should inherit, everything would be yours—” (Fowler, iv, p. 60). —n.m.p.


Rāgiṇī means “affection” and also “red.”


Aṭavī is generally translated “forest.” I believe the English word “forest” does not necessarily imply trees, but it is perhaps better to avoid it here.’“Forest” comes from the Latin foris, “out of doors,” and its connection with trees came later.—n.m.p.


For the vṛtam of the text I read kṛtain. Cf. this incident with Joseph’s adventure in the sixth story of the Sicilianische Marchen. He is sewn up in a horse’s skin and carried by ravens to Che top of a high mountain. There he stamps and finds a wooden trap-door under his feet. In the notes Dr Kohler refers to this passage, Campbell, No. 44; the story of Sindbad and other parallels. Cf. also Veckenstedt’s Wendische Sagen, p. 124. See also the story of “Heinrich der Lowe,” Simrock’s Deutsche Volksbücher, vol. i, p. 8 . Dr Kohler refers to the story of “Herzog Ernst.” The incident will be found in Simrock’s version of the story, at p. 308 of the third volume of his Deutsche Volksbūcher. -An incident very similar to that in our text occurs in the “Story of Janshah” (Burton, Nights, vol. v, pp. 341, 342): “So Janshah slit the mule’s belly and crept into it, whereupon the merchant sewed it up on him and, withdrawing to a distance, hid himself in the skirts of the mountain. After a while a huge bird swooped down on the dead mule and, snatching it up, flew with it to the top of the mountain....”

In the Travels of Rabbi Beñjamin of Tudela it is related that when sailors were in danger of being lost in the stormy sea that led to China, they sewed themselves in hides and, cast on the surface of the waters, were snatched up by “great eagles called Gryphons,” which carried their supposed prey ashore. (See Yule’s Marco Polo, vol. ii, p. 418.)— n.m.p.


Cf. Freer’s Old Deccan Days, p. 164. —n.m.p.


Referring, of course, to Rāma’s defeat of Rāvaṇa and his army of Rākṣasas in Laṅkā (Ceylon). —n.m.p.


Names of Viṣṇu, who became incarnate in the hero Kṛṣṇa.


See chap. xx, śl. 181 et seq. Kaśyapa’s two wives disputed about the colour of the sun’s horses. They agreed that whichever was in the wrong should become a slave to the other. Kadrū, the mother of the snakes, won by getting her children to darken the horses. So Garuḍa’s mother, Vinatā, became a slave.-See Charpentier, Die Suparṇasage, Upsala, 1922 , p. 220 et seq. — n.m.p.


The wishing-tree of paradise is found in all Eastern religions, including Christianity. In a note on the Arabian variety Burton says (Nights, vol. v, p. 237):

“The paradiseal tree which supplied every want. Mohammed borrowed it from the Christians (Rev. xxi, 10-21, and xxii, 1-2) who placed in their paradise the Tree of Life which bears twelve sorts of fruits and leaves of healing virtue. (See also the third book of Hermas, his Similitudes.) The Hebrews borrowed it from the Persians. Amongst the Hindus it appears as Kalpavrikṣa; amongst the Scandinavians as Yggdrasil. The curious reader will consult Mr James Fergusson’s learned work, Tree and Serpent Worship, London, 1873.”

Reference should also be made to the article on “Tree-Worship,” by S. A. Cook, in the Ency. Brit,, vol. xxvii, p. 448 et seq., and to that on “Trees and Plants,” by T. Barnes, in Hastings’ Ency. Rel. Eth., vol. xii, p. 235 et seq., and to the general index to Frazer’s Golden Bough, p. 501. —N.M.P.


Divine personages of the size of a thumb. Sixty thousand were produced from Brahmā’s body and surrounded the chariot of the sun. The legend of Garuḍa and the Bālakhilyas is found in the Mahābhārata (see De Gubernatis, Zoological Mythology, p. 95).


See note on p. 3. —n.m.p.


Compare the fifth story in the first book of the Pañcatantra, in Benfey’s translation. He shows that this story found its way into Mohammedan collections, such as The Thousand and One Nights, and The Thousand and One Days, as also into The Decameron of Boccaccio, and other European storybooks, vol. i, p. 159 et seq. The story, as given in the Pañcatantra, reminds us of the “Squire’s Tale” in Chaucer. But Josephus in Ant. Jud., xviii, 3, tells it of a Roman knight named Mundus, who fell in love with Paulina, the wife of Saturninus, and, by corrupting the priestess of Isis, was enabled to pass himself off as Anubis. On the matter coming to the ears of Tiberius, he had the temple of Isis destroyed and the priests crucified. (Dunlop’s History of Fiction, vol. ii, p. 27; Liebrecht’s German translation, p. 232.) A similar story is told by the Pseudo-Callisthenes of Nectanebos and Olympias. Cf. Coelho’s Contos Populares Portuguezes, No. 71, p. 155.


Compare Mahābodhi-Jātaka (No. 528, Cambridge edition, vol. v, pp. 125, 126), where the king as a punishment to the five princes “stript them of all their property and disgracing them in various ways, by fastening their hair into five locks, by putting them into fetters and chains and by sprinkling cow-dung over them, he drove them out of his kingdom.” —n.m.p.


Thus she represented the Ardha-nārīśvara, or Śiva half-male and half-female, which compound figure is to be painted in this manner.


She held on to it by her hands.


Wilson remarks that this presents some analogy to the story in The Decameron (No. 7, Gior. 8) of the scholar and the widow, “la quale egli con un suo consiglio, di mezzo Luglio, ignuda, tutto un di fa stare in su una torre.” It also bears some resemblance to the story of “The Master Thief” in Thorpe’s Yule-tide Stories, p. 272. The master thief persuades the priest that he will take him to heaven. He thus induces him to get into a sack, and then he throws him into the goose-house, and when the geese peck him, tells him that he is in purgatory. The story is Norwegian. See also Sir G. W. Cox’s Mythology of the Aryan Nations, vol. i, p. 127.-The story in The Decameron (see Rigg’s translation, 1906, vol. ii, p. 209 et seq.) can be sufficiently explained by the rubric—a scholar loves a widow lady, who, being enamoured of another, causes him to spend a winter’s night awaiting her in the snow. He afterwards by a stratagem causes her to stand for a whole day in July, naked, upon a tower, exposed to the flies, the gadflies and the sun.

It is interesting to notice that scholars contend that in this tale of revenge Boccaccio introduces himself.

A. C. Lee (The Decameron, its Sources and Analogues, pp. 259, 260) gives various examples of tricks played on lovers by a basket being drawn half-way up to the lady’s window and there left till a crowd assembles. For full details reference should be made to Comparetti, Virgilio nel medio evo, Firenze, 2nd edition, vol. ii, p. Ill et seq.

Cf also chap. viii of Le Sage’s Le Diable Boiteux, where Patrice is made to wait outside the door of two women under the pretext that the brother of one is within.— n.m.p.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: