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Chapter XIII

[M] (Main story line continued) AS time went on Vāsavadattā began to feel a great affection for the King of Vatsa, and to take part with him against her father. Then Yaugandharāyaṇa again came in to see the King of Vatsa, making himself invisible to all the others who were there.

And he gave him the following information in private in the presence of Vasantaka only:

“King, you were made captive by King Caṇḍamahāsena by means of an artifice. And he wishes to give you his daughter, and set you at liberty, treating you with all honour; so let us carry off his daughter and escape. For in this way we shall have revenged ourselves upon the haughty monarch, and we shall not be thought lightly of in the world for want of prowess. Now the king has given that daughter of his, Vāsavadattā, a female elephant called Bhadravatī. And no other elephant but Naḍāgiri is swift enough to catch her up, and he will not fight when he sees her. The driver of this elephant is a man called Āṣāḍhaka, and him I have won over to our side by giving him much wealth. So you must mount that elephant with Vāsavadattā, fully armed, and start from this place secretly by night. And you must have the superintendent of the royal elephants here made drunk with wine, in order that he may not perceive what is about to take place,[1] for he understands every sign that elephants give. I for my part will first repair to your ally Pulindaka in order that he may be prepared to guard the road by which you escape.”

When he had said this, Yaugandharāyaṇa departed.

So the King of Vatsa stored up all his instructions in his heart; and soon Vāsavadattā came to him. Then he made all kinds of confidential speeches to her, and at last told her what Yaugandharāyaṇa had said to him. She consented to the proposal, and made up her mind to start, and causing the elephant-driver Āṣāḍhaka to be summoned, she prepared his mind for the attempt, and, on the pretext of worshipping the gods, she gave the superintendent of the elephants, with all the elephant-drivers, a supply of spirits and made them drunk.

Then in the evening, which was disturbed with the echoing roar of clouds,[2] Āṣāḍhaka brought that female elephant ready harnessed, but she, while she was being harnessed, uttered a cry, which was heard by the superintendent of the elephants, who was skilled in elephant’s language; and he faltered out in a voice indistinct from excessive intoxication:

“The female elephant says she is going sixty-three yojanas to-day.”

But his mind in his drunken state was not capable of reasoning, and the elephant-drivers, who were also intoxicated, did not even hear what he said. Then the King of Vatsa broke his chains by means of the charms which Yaugandharāyaṇa had given him, and took that lute of his, and Vāsavadattā of her own accord brought him his weapons, and then he mounted the female elephant with Vasantaka. And then Vāsavadattā mounted the same elephant with her friend and confidante Kāñcanamālā; then the King of Vatsa went out from Ujjayinī with five persons in all, including himself and the elephant-driver, by a path which the infuriated elephant clove through the rampart.

And the king attacked and slew the two warriors who guarded that point, the Rājpūts Vīrabāhu and Tālabhaṭa. Then the monarch set out rapidly on his journey in high spirits, mounted on the female elephant, together with his beloved, Āṣāḍhaka holding the elephant-hook. In the meanwhile in Ujjayinī the city patrol beheld those guards of the rampart lying dead, and in consternation reported the news to the king at night. Caṇḍamahāsena inquired into the matter, and found out at last that the King of Vatsa had escaped, taking Vāsavadattā with him. Then the alarm spread through the city, and one of his sons named Pālaka mounted Naḍāgiri and pursued the King of Vatsa. The King of Vatsa for his part combated him with arrows as he advanced, and Naḍāgiri, seeing that female elephant, would not attack her. Then Pālaka, who was ready to listen to reason, was induced to desist from the pursuit by his brother Gopālaka, who had his father’s interests at heart.

Then the King of Vatsa boldly continued his journey, and as he journeyed the night gradually came to an end. So by the middle of the day the king had reached the Vindhya forest, and his elephant, having journeyed sixty-three yojanas, was thirsty. So the king and his wife dismounted, and the female elephant having drunk water, owing to its being bad, fell dead on the spot.

Then the King of Vatsa and Vāsavadattā, in their despair, heard this voice coming from the air:

“I, O king, am a female Vidyādhara named Māyāvatī, and for this long time I have been a female elephant in consequence of a curse; and to-day, O lord of Vatsa, I have done you a good turn, and I will do another to your son that is to be: and this queen of yours, Vāsavadattā, is not a mere mortal; she is a goddess for a certain cause incarnate on the earth.”

Then the king regained his spirits, and sent on Vasantaka to the plateau of the Vindhya hills to announce his arrival to his ally Pulindaka; and as he was himself journeying along slowly on foot with his beloved he was surrounded by brigands, who sprang out from an ambuscade. And the king, with only his bow to help him, slew one hundred and five of them before the eyes of Vāsavadattā. And immediately the king’s ally Pulindaka came up, together with Yaugandharāyaṇa, Vasantaka showing them the way. The King of the Bheels ordered the surviving brigands[3] to desist, and after prostrating himself before the King of Vatsa, conducted him with his beloved to his own village.

The king rested there that night with Vāsavadattā, whose foot had been cut with a blade of forest grass, and early in the morning the General Rumaṇvat reached him, who had before been summoned by Yaugandharāyaṇa, who sent a messenger to him. And the whole army came with him, filling the land as far as the eye could reach, so that the Vindhya forest appeared to be besieged. So that King of Vatsa entered into the encampment of his army, and remained in that wild region to wait for news from Ujjayinī.

And while he was there a merchant came from Ujjayinī, a friend of Yaugandharāyaṇa’s, and when he had arrived reported these tidings:

“The King Caṇḍamahāsena is pleased to have thee for a son-in-law, and he has sent his warder to thee. The warder is on the way, but he has stopped short of this place; however, I came secretly on in front of him, as fast as I could, to bring your Highness information.”

When he heard this the King of Vatsa rejoiced, and told it all to Vāsavadattā, and she was exceedingly delighted. Then Vāsavadattā, having abandoned her own relations, and being anxious for the ceremony of marriage, was at the same time bashful and impatient: then she said, in order to divert her thoughts, to Vasantaka, who was in attendance: “Tell me some story.” Then the sagacious Vasantaka told that fair-eyed one the following tale in order to increase her affection for her husband.


8. Story of Devasmitā

There is a city in the world famous under the name of Tāmraliptā, and in that city there was a very rich merchant named Dhanadatta. And he, being childless, assembled many Brāhmans and said to them with due respect:

“Take such steps as will procure me a son soon.”

Then those Brāhmans said to him:

“This is not at all difficult, for Brāhmans can accomplish all things in this world by means of ceremonies in accordance with the scriptures. To give you an instance, there was in old time a king who had no sons, and he had a hundred and five wives in his harem. And by means of a sacrifice to procure a son there was born to him a son named Jantu, who was like the rising of the new moon to the eyes of his wives. Once on a time an ant bit the boy on the thigh as he was crawling about on his knees, so that he was very un-happy and sobbed loudly. Thereupon the whole harem was full of confused lamentation, and the king himself shrieked out, ‘My son! my son!’ like a common man. The boy was soon comforted, the ant having been removed, and the king blamed the misfortune of his only having one son as the cause of all his grief. And he asked the Brāhmans in his affliction if there was any expedient by which he might obtain a large number of children.

They answered him:

‘O king, there is one expedient open to you: you must slay this son and offer up all his flesh in the fire.[4] By smelling the smell of that sacrifice all thy wives will obtain sons.’

When he heard that, the king had the whole ceremony performed as they directed; and he obtained as many sons as he had wives. So we can obtain a son for you also by a burnt-offering.”

When they had said this to Dhanadatta, the Brāhmans, after a sacrificial fee had been promised them, performed a sacrifice: then a son was born to that merchant. That son was called Guhasena, and he gradually grew up to man’s estate. Then his father Dhanadatta began to look out for a wife for him.

Then his father went with that son of his to another country, on the pretence of traffic, but really to get a daughter-in-law; there he asked an excellent merchant of the name of Dharmagupta to give him his daughter named Devasmitā for his son Guhasena. But Dharmagupta, who was tenderly attached to his daughter, did not approve of that connection, reflecting that the city of Tāmraliptā was very far off. But when Devasmitā beheld that Guhasena, her mind was immediately attracted by his virtues, and she was set on abandoning her relations, and so she made an assignation with him by means of a confidante, and went away from that country at night with her beloved and his father. When they reached Tāmraliptā they were married, and the minds of the young couple were firmly knit together by the bond of mutual love. Then Guhasena’s father died, and he himself was urged by his relations to go to the country of Kaṭāha[5] for the purpose of trafficking; but his wife Devasmitā was too jealous to approve of that expedition, fearing exceedingly that he would be attracted by some other lady. Then, as his wife did not approve of it, and his relations kept inciting him to it, Guhasena, whose mind was firmly set on doing his duty, was bewildered. Then he went and performed a vow in the temple of the god, observing a rigid fast, trusting that the god would show him some way out of his difficulty. And his wife Devasmitā also performed a vow with him.

Then Śiva was pleased to appear to that couple in a dream; and giving them two red lotuses, the god said to them:

“Take each of you one of these lotuses in your hand. And if either of you shall be unfaithful during your separation the lotus in the hand of the other shall fade, but not otherwise.”[6]

After hearing this the two woke up, and each beheld in the hand of the other a red lotus, and it seemed as if they had got one another’s hearts. Then Guhasena set out, lotus in hand, but Devasmitā remained in the house with her eyes fixed upon her flower. Guhasena for his part quickly reached the country of Kaṭāha, and began to buy and sell jewels there. And four young merchants in that country, seeing that that unfading lotus was ever in his hand, were greatly astonished. Accordingly they got him to their house by an artifice, and made him drink a great deal of wine, and then asked him the history of the lotus, and he being intoxicated told them the whole story. Then those four young merchants, knowing that Guhasena would take a long time to complete his sales and purchases of jewels and other wares, planned together, like rascals as they were, the seduction of his wife out of curiosity, and eager to accomplish it, set out quickly for Tāmraliptā without their departure being noticed.

There they cast about for some instrument, and at last had recourse to a female ascetic of the name of Yogakaraṇḍikā, who lived in a sanctuary of Buddha; and they said to her in an affectionate manner:

“Reverend madam, if our object is accomplished by your help we will give you much wealth.”

She answered them:

“No doubt you young men desire some woman in this city, so tell me all about it, I will procure you the object of your desire; but I have no wish for money. I have a pupil of distinguished ability named Siddhikarī; owing to her kindness I have obtained untold wealth.”

The young merchants asked:

“How have you obtained untold wealth by the assistance of a pupil?”

Being asked this question, the female ascetic said: “If you feel any curiosity about the matter, listen, my sons, I will tell you the whole story:


8a. The Cunning Siddhikarī

Long ago a certain merchant came here from the north; while he was dwelling here my pupil went and obtained, with a treacherous object, the position of a serving-maid in his house, having first altered her appearance; and after she had gained the confidence of that merchant she stole all his hoard of gold from his house and went off secretly in the morning twilight. And as she went out from the city, moving rapidly through fear, a certain Domba,[7] with his drum in his hand, saw her, and pursued her at full speed with the intention of robbing her.

When she had reached the foot of a Nyagrodha tree she saw that he had come up with her, and so the cunning Siddhikarī said this to him in a plaintive manner:

“I have had a jealous quarrel with my husband, and I have left his house to die, therefore, my good man, make a noose for me to hang myself with.”

Then the Domba thought:

“Let her hang herself. Why should I be guilty of her death, especially as she is a woman?”

and so he fastened a noose for her to the tree. Then Siddhikarī, feigning ignorance, said to the Domba:

“How is the noose slipped round the neck? Show me, I entreat you.”

Then the Domba placed the drum under his feet, and saying,

“This is the way we do the trick,” 

he fastened the noose round his own throat. Siddhikarī for her part smashed the drum to atoms with a kick, and that Domba hung till he was dead.[8] At that moment the merchant arrived in search of her, and beheld from a distance Siddhikarī, who had stolen from him untold treasures, at the foot of the tree. She too saw him coming, and climbed up the tree without being noticed, and remained there on a bough, having her body concealed by the dense foliage.

When the merchant came up with his servants he saw the Domba hanging by his neck, but Siddhikarī was nowhere to be seen. Immediately one of his servants said,

“I wonder whether she has got up this tree,”

and proceeded to ascend it himself. Then Siddhikarī said:

“I have always loved you, and now you have climbed up where I am, so all this wealth is at your disposal, handsome man; come and embrace me.”

So she embraced the merchant’s servant, and as she was kissing his mouth she bit off the fool’s tongue. He, overcome with pain, fell from that tree, spitting blood from his mouth, uttering some indistinct syllables, which sounded like “Lalalla.” When he saw that, the merchant was terrified, and supposing that his servant had been seized by a demon, he fled from that place, and went to his own house with his attendants. Then Siddhikarī, the female ascetic, equally frightened, descended from the top of the tree, and brought home with her all that wealth. Such a person is my pupil, distinguished for her great discernment, and it is in this way, my sons, that I have obtained wealth by her kindness.


8. Story of Devasmitā

When she had said this to the young merchants the female ascetic showed to them her pupil, who happened to come in at that moment, and said to them:

“Now, my sons, tell me the real state of affairs—what woman do you desire? I will quickly procure her for you.”

When they heard that they said:

“Procure us an interview with the wife of the merchant Guhasena named Devasmitā.”

When she heard that, the ascetic undertook to manage that business for them, and she gave those young merchants her own house to reside in. Then she gratified the servants at Guhasena’s house with gifts of sweetmeats and other things, and afterwards entered it with her pupil. Then, as she approached the private rooms of Devasmitā, a bitch, that was fastened there with a chain, would not let her come near, but opposed her entrance in the most determined way.

Then Devasmitā seeing her, of her own accord sent a maid, and had her brought in, thinking to herself:

“What can this person be come for?”

After she had entered, the wicked ascetic gave Devasniitā her blessing, and, treating the virtuous woman with affected respect, said to her:

“I have always had a desire to see you, but to-day I saw you in a dream, therefore I have come to visit you with impatient eagerness; and my mind is afflicted at beholding you separated from your husband, for beauty and youth are wasted when one is deprived of the society of one’s beloved.”

With this and many other speeches of the same kind she tried to gain the confidence of the virtuous woman in a short interview, and then taking leave of her she returned to her own house.

On the second day she took with her a piece of meat full of pepper dust, and went again to the house of Devasmitā, and there she gave that piece of meat to the bitch at the door, and the bitch gobbled it up, pepper and all. Then owing to the pepper dust the tears flowed in profusion from the animal’s eyes, and her nose began to run. And the cunning ascetic immediately went into the apartment of Devasmitā, who received her hospitably, and began to cry.

When Devasmitā asked her why she shed tears she said with affected reluctance:

“My friend, look at this bitch weeping outside here.[9] This creature recognised me to-day as having been its companion in a former birth, and began to weep; for that reason my tears gushed through pity.”

When she heard that, and saw that bitch outside apparently weeping, Devasmitā thought for a moment to herself:

“What can be the meaning of this wonderful sight?”

Then the ascetic said to her:

“My daughter, in a former birth I and that bitch were the two wives of a certain Brāhman. And our husband frequently went about to other countries on embassies by order of the king. Now while he was away from home I lived with other men at my pleasure, and so did not cheat the elements, of which I was composed, and my senses, of their lawful enjoyment. For considerate treatment of the elements and senses is held to be the highest duty. Therefore I have been born in this birth with a recollection of my former existence. But she in her former life, through ignorance, confined all her attention to the preservation of her character, therefore she has been degraded and born again as one of the canine race; however, she too remembers her former birth.”

The wise Devasmitā said to herself:

“This is a novel conception of duty; no doubt this woman has laid a treacherous snare for me”;

and so she said to her:

“Reverend lady, for this long time I have been ignorant of this duty, so procure me an interview with some charming man.”

Then the ascetic said:

“There are residing here some young merchants that have come from another country, so I will bring them to you.”

When she had said this the ascetic returned home delighted, and Devasmitā of her own accord said to her maids:

“No doubt those scoundrelly young merchants, whoever they may be, have seen that unfading lotus in the hand of my husband, and have on some occasion or other, when he was drinking wine, asked him out of curiosity to tell the whole story of it, and have now come here from that island to seduce me, and this wicked ascetic is employed by them. So bring quickly some wine mixed with Datura,[10] and when you have brought it, have a dog’s foot of iron made as quickly as possible.”

When Devasmitā had given these orders, the maids executed them faithfully, and one of the maids, by her orders, dressed herself up to resemble her mistress. The ascetic for her part chose out of the party of four merchants (each of whom in his eagerness said: “Let me go first”) one individual, and brought him with her. And concealing him in the dress of her pupil, she introduced him in the evening into the house of Devasmitā, and coming out, disappeared. Then that maid who was disguised as Devasmitā courteously persuaded the young merchant to drink some of that wine drugged with Datura. That liquor,[11] like his own immodesty, robbed him of his senses, and then the maids took away his clothes and other equipments and left him stark naked; then they branded him on the forehead with the mark of a dog’s foot,[12] and during the night took him and pushed him into a ditch full of filth. Then he recovered consciousness in the last watch of the night, and found himself plunged in a ditch, as it were the hell Avīchi assigned to him by his sins. Then he got up and washed himself and went to the house of the female ascetic, in a state of nature, feeling with his fingers the mark on his forehead. And when he got there he told his friends that he had been robbed on the way, in order that he might not be the only person made ridiculous.

And the next morning he sat with a cloth wrapped round his branded forehead, giving as an excuse that he had a headache from keeping awake so long and drinking too much. In the same way the next young merchant was maltreated when he got to the house of Devasmitā, and when he returned home naked he said:

“I put on my ornaments there, and as I was coming out I was plundered by robbers.”

In the morning he also, on the plea of a headache, put a wrapper on to cover his branded forehead.

In the same way all the four young merchants suffered in turns branding and other humiliating treatment, though they concealed the fact. And they went away from the place without revealing to the female Buddhist ascetic the ill treatment they had experienced, hoping that she would suffer in a similar way.

On the next day the ascetic went with her disciple to the house of Devasmitā, much delighted at having accomplished what she undertook to do. Then Devasmitā received her courteously, and made her drink wine drugged with Datura, offered as a sign of gratitude. When she and her disciple were intoxicated with it, that chaste wife cut off their ears and noses and flung them also into a filthy pool. And being distressed by the thought that perhaps these young merchants might go and slay her husband, she told the whole circumstance to her mother-in-law.

Then her mother-in-law said to her:

“My daughter, you have acted nobly, but possibly some misfortune may happen to my son in consequence of what you have done.”

Then Devasmitā said:

“I will deliver him even as Śaktimatī in old time delivered her husband by her wisdom.”

Her mother-in-law asked:

“How did Śaktimatī deliver her husband? Tell me, my daughter.”

Then Devasmitā related the following story:


8b. Śaktimatī and her Husband

In our country, within the city, there is the shrine of a powerful Yakṣa named Maṇibhadra, established by our ancestors. The people there come and make petitions at this shrine, offering various gifts, in order to obtain various blessings. Whenever a man is found at night with another man’s wife, he is placed with her within the inner chamber of the Yakṣa’s temple. And in the morning he is taken away from thence with the woman to the king’s court, and his behaviour being made known, he is punished. Such is the custom. Once on a time in that city a merchant, of the name of Samu-dradatta, was found by a city guard in the company of another man’s wife. So he took him and placed him with the woman in that temple of the Yakṣa, fastening the door firmly. And immediately the wise and devoted wife of that merchant, whose name was Śaktimatī, came to hear of the occurrence; then that resolute woman, disguising herself, went confidently at night to the temple of the Yakṣa, accompanied by her friends, taking with her offerings for the god. When she arrived there the priest whose business it was to eat the offerings, through desire for a fee, opened the door to let her enter, informing the magistrate of what he had done. And she, when she got inside, saw her husband looking sheepish, with a woman, and she made the woman put on her own dress, and told her to go out. So that woman went out in her dress by night, and got off, but Śaktimatī remained in the temple with her husband. And when the king’s officers came in the morning to examine the merchant, he was seen by all to be in the company of his own wife.[13] When he heard that, the king dismissed the merchant from the temple of the Yakṣa, as it were from the mouth of death, and punished the chief magistrate. So Śaktimatī in old time delivered her husband by her wisdom, and in the same way I will go and save my husband by my discretion.


8. Story of Devasmitā

So the wise Devasmitā said in secret to her mother-in-law, and, in company with her maids, she put on the dress of a merchant. Then she embarked on a ship, on the pretence of a mercantile expedition, and came to the country of Kaṭāha where her husband was. And when she arrived there she saw that husband of hers, Guhasena, in the midst of a circle of merchants, like consolation in external bodily form.

He seeing her afar off in the dress of a man,[14] as it were, drank her in with his eyes, and thought to himself:

“Who may this merchant be that looks so like my beloved wife?”

So Devasmitā went and represented to the king that she had a petition to make, and asked him to assemble all his subjects. Then the king, full of curiosity, assembled all the citizens, and said to that lady disguised as a merchant: “What is your petition?”

Then Devasmitā said:

“There are residing here in your midst four slaves of mine who have escaped, let the king make them over to me.”

Then the king said to her:

“All the citizens are present here, so look at every one in order to recognise him, and take those slaves of yours.”

Then she seized upon the four young merchants, whom she had before treated in such a humiliating way in her house, and who had wrappers bound round their heads. Then the merchants, who were there, flew in a passion, and said to her:

“These are the sons of distinguished merchants, how then can they be your slaves?”

Then she answered them:

“If you do not believe what I say, examine their foreheads, which I marked with a dog’s foot.”

They consented, and removing the head-wrappers of these four, they all beheld the dog’s foot on their foreheads. Then all the merchants were abashed, and the king, being astonished, himself asked Devasmitā what all this meant.

She told the whole story, and all the people burst out laughing, and the king said to the lady:

“They are your slaves by the best of titles.”

Then the other merchants paid a large sum of money to that chaste wife to redeem those four from slavery, and a fine to the king’s treasury. Devasmitā received that money, and recovered her husband, and being honoured by all good men, returned to her own city Tāmraliptā, and she was never afterwards separated from her beloved.


[M] (Main story line continued) “Thus, O queen, women of good family ever worship their husbands with chaste and resolute behaviour,[15] and never think of any other man, for to virtuous wives the husband is the highest deity.” When Vāsavadattā on the journey heard this noble story from the mouth of Vasantaka she got over the feeling of shame at having recently left her father’s house, and her mind, which was previously attached by strong affection to her husband, became so fixed upon him as to be entirely devoted to his service.



Compare the rose garland in the story of “The Wright’s Chaste Wife,” edited for the Early English Text Society by Frederick J. Furnivall, especially lines 58 et seq:

“Wete thou wele withowtyn fable
Alle the whyle thy wife is stable
The chaplett wolle holde hewe;
And yf thy wyfe use putry
Or tolle eny man to lye her by
Then wolle yt change hewe,
And by the garland thou may see,
Fekylle or fals yf that sche be,
Or elles yf she be true.”

See also note in Wilson’s Essays on Sanskrit Literature, vol. i, p. 218. He tells us that in Perceforest the lily of the Kathā Sarit Sāgara is represented by a rose. In Amadîs de Gaula it is a garland which blooms on the head of her that is faithful, and fades on the brow of the inconstant. In Les Contes à Rire it is also a flower. In Ariosto the test applied to both male and female is a cup, the wine of which is spilled by the unfaithful lover. This fiction also occurs in the romances of Tristan, Perceval and La Morte d’Arthur, and is well known by La Fontaine’s version, La Coupe Enchantée. In La Lai du Corn it is a drinking-horn. Spenser has derived his girdle of Florimel from these sources, or more immediately from the Fabliau, “Le Manteau mal taillé” or “Le Court Mantel,” an English version of which is published in Percy’s Reliques, “The Boy and the Mantle” (Book III), where in the case of Sir Kay’s lady we read:

“ When she had tane the mantle with purpose for to wear,
It shrunk up to her shoulder and left her backside bare.”

In the Gesta Romanorum (chap. lxix) the test is the whimsical one of a shirt, which will neither require washing nor mending as long as the wearer is constant (not the wearer only, but the wearer and his wife). Davenant has substituted an emerald for a flower:

“ The bridal stone,
And much renowned, because it chasteness loves,
And will, when worn by the neglected wife,
Shew when her absent lord disloyal proves
By faintness and a pale decay of life.”

I may remark that there is a certain resemblance in this story to that of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, which is founded on the ninth story of the second day in The Decameron, and to the seventh story in Gonzenbach’s Sicilianische Märchen. See also “The King of Spain and his Queen” in Thorpe’s Yule-tide Stories, pp. 452-455. Thorpe remarks that the tale agrees in substance with the ballad of the “Graf Von Rom” in Uhland, ii, 784; and with the Flemish story of “Ritter Alexander aus Metz und seine Frau Florentina.” In the twenty-first of Bandello’s novels the test is a mirror (Liebrecht’s Dunlop, p. 287). See also pp. 85 and 86 of Liebrecht’s Dunlop, with the notes at the end of the volume.-

In considering the “Tests of Chastity” or “Faith Token” motif, as E. S. Hartland prefers to call it, we should be careful to differentiate from other motifs which are rather similar. In the motif with which we are here concerned the usual details are: The husband is going abroad, leaving behind a beautiful wife. Both are in love with each other, but are not unmindful of the adage, “Out of sight, out of mind,” so they arrange that one of them (or both) should have a magical article to serve as an index to their actions.

Closely allied to this idea is that where the services of a chaste woman or a virgin are required. Thus in Chapter XXXVI of the Ocean of Story only a chaste woman could raise up the fallen elephant. As we shall see later in a note to that story, there are many variants of this motif.

Finally there is the “Act of Truth” motif (ably discussed by Burliṅgame in the Journ. Roy. Asiat. Soc., July 1917, p. 429 et seq.), which at times practically coincides with that mentioned immediately above. An “act of truth” is a declaration of fact accompanied by a desire for a certain thing to happen in proof of the declaration being true. Thus in making the elephant rise up (see above) the chaste woman says: “If I have not ever thought in my mind of any other man than my husband, may it rise up.” As the declaration is the absolute truth, the elephant rises immediately. But the “act of truth” need not necessarily have any connection with chastity, as numerous examples (to be quoted in Chapter XXXVI) will show. Thus the elephant incident is both a “test of chastity” and “act of truth” motif

In the method of leaving behind flowers (or other articles) which show the chastity of the absentee, or of the lady left at home, I would, therefore, not call the motif “Test of Chastity,” as there is really no test used at all. The test is used in the “Act of Truth” motif, where, as explained above, it may be a chastity test or any other sort of test.

The name “Faith Token” is an improvement, but I think “Chastity Index” is the most suitable.

Thus the three varieties would be:

  1. Chastity Index. Where an object by some mystical power records the chastity of an absent person.
  2. Test of Chastity. Where a person is ready to put his or her chastity to the test, thereby achieving some wish or rendering some help in an emergency.
  3. Act of Truth. Where the power of a simple truthful declaration (of whatever nature) causes the accomplishment of some wish or resolution.

In several cases a person before setting out on a dangerous journey will leave an object which will show if that person is hurt or killed. This idea dates from Ptolemaic times, where, in the “Veritable History of Satni-Khamoîs,”

Tnahsît has to go to Egypt, and says to his mother:

“If I am vanquished, when thou drinkest or when thou eatest, the water will become the colour of blood before thee, the provisions will become the colour of blood before thee, the sky will become the colour of blood before thee.”

While even earlier, in the nineteenth dynasty, the misfortune of an absent brother will be shown to the one at home by his beer throwing up froth and his wine becoming thick. This motif is clearly the passive side of the “Life Index” motif (see my note on p. 129) and has been classified as such by Dr Ruth Norton (Studies in Honor of Maurice Bloomfield, p. 220).

In view of the above classification we find that certain incidents which at first sight seem to be variants of the motif in our text come under “Tests of Chastity” and are not examples of the “Chastity Index.” Thus Zayn al-Asnam (Burton, Nights, Supp., vol. iii, p. 23) has a mirror which tests the virtue of women who look into it, remaining clear if they are pure, and becoming dull if they are not (rather like “Le Court Mantel” already mentioned). Similarly, the cup which Oberon, King of the Fairies, gave to the Duke Huon of Bordeaux immediately filled itself with wine when held in the hand of a man of noble character, but remained empty when in that of a sinner. Both of these are examples of the “Tests of Chastity” motif and not of the “ Chastity Index.”

Apart from the examples of the “Chastity Index” motif already given at the beginning of this note a few more can be added.

As both Clouston and Hartland have noticed, it is quite possible that “The Wright’s Chaste Wife” suggested to Massinger the idea of the plot of his comedy of The Picture (printed in 1630), where a Bohemian knight, Mathias by name, is given a picture by his friend Baptista, which will serve as an index to his (the knight’s) wife’s behaviour while away at the wars.

The picture is of the wife herself, and Baptista explains its properties, saying:

“Carry it still about you, and as oft
As you desire to know how she’s affected,
With curious eyes peruse it. While it keeps
The figure it has now entire and perfect,
She is not only innocent in fact
But unattempted; but if once it vary
From the true form, and what’s now white and red
Incline to yellow, rest most confident
She’s with all violence courted, but unconquered;
But if it turn all black,’tis an assurance
The fort by composition or surprise
Is forced, or with her free consent surrendered.”

As readers will have noticed, it often happens that a story combines the “Entrapped Suitors” motif and that of the “Chastity Index.” Thus several of the tales mentioned in my note to the story of “Upakośā and her Four Lovers” (pp. 42-44) occur again here. Moreover, the second part of the present story may be looked upon as a variant of the “ Entrapped Suitors” motif. It will be discussed in the next note.

An example of a story embodying both motifs is found in the Persian Tūtī-Nāma (fourth night of the India Office MS., No. 2573). It bears quite a strong resemblance to the tale of Devasmitā. A soldier receives a nosegay from his wife on parting which is an index of her chastity. The husband enters the service of a nobleman, who learns the history of the unfading flowers. For a joke he sends one of his servants to tempt the wife to be unfaithful. He fails, so a second servant is sent, who likewise fails—both being entrapped by the wife. Finally the nobleman himself, in company with many retainers, including the husband, visit the wife. She receives them most courteously and his own servants are made to wait upon him at supper. The nobleman apologises for his behaviour and all is well.

For a detailed list of chastity articles see Chauvin, Bibliographie des Ouvrages Arabes, vii, pp. 167-1 69 . See also Swynnerton, Indian Nights Entertainments, p. 335.

Both Burton and Clouston mention an incident in the Pentamerone where a fairy gives each of a king’s three daughters a ring, which would break if they became immoral. I have failed to find this, but suspect a mistake, as in the third diversion of the fourth day Queen Grazolla gives a ring to each of her three daughters, saying that if parted from each other, on meeting again, or meeting any of their relations at any time, they would always be able to recognise them (however changed or altered) by the virtue of the rings. Thus it has no bearing on our note at all.

The mystic connection between the absent person and an object left behind is fully believed in by certain peoples. Thus in Peru the husband knots a branch of Euphorbia before leaving home. If on his return the knots are withered it is a sign that his wife has been unfaithful (Zeitschrift für Ethnologie} vol. xxxvii, p. 439).

In the course of his researches among the Indians in the Vera Paz, Guatemala, Mr Fenton was told that when a husband goes into the bush to trap animals the wife is not expected to leave her hut to greet a visitor, but to coax him to come into the room in the same way as she hopes the animals are being coaxed into her husband’s trap.

If, however, the husband is away shooting (pursuing), the wife on seeing her visitor will leave her hut and go after him to greet him.

Should the absent husband see two monkeys making love, he goes straight home and beats his wife, taking it for granted that she has been unfaithful to him.

At Siena formerly (says Hartland) a maiden who wished to know how her love progressed kept and tended a plant of rue. If it withered it was a sign that her lover had deceived her (Archivib, 1891, vol. x, p. 30).

Various methods of finding by means of different articles whether lovers are true exist everywhere and many examples will occur to readers.— n.m.p.



With regard to the incident of the bitch and the pepper in the story of Devasmitā see the note in the first volume of Wilson’s Essays on Sanskrit Literature. He says:

“This incident with a very different and much less moral dénouement is one of the stories in the Disciplina Clericalis, a collection of stories professedly derived from the Arabian fabulists and compiled by Petrus Alfonsus, a converted Jew, who flourished about 1106 and was godson to Alfonso I, King of Aragon. In the Analysis prepared by Mr Douce, this story is the twelfth, and is entitled ‘Stratagem of an Old Woman in Favour of a Young Gallant.’ She persuades his mistress, who had rejected his addresses, that her little dog was formerly a woman, and so transformed in consequence of her cruelty to her lover. (Ellis’ Metrical Romances, i, 130.) This story was introduced into Europe, therefore, much about the time at which it was enrolled among the contents of the Bṛhat-Kathā in Kashmir. The metempsychosis is so much more obvious an explanation of the change of forms that it renders it probable the story was originally Hindu. It was soon copied in Europe, and occurs in Le Grande as La vieille qui séduisit la jeune Jille, iii, 148 [ed. Ill, vol. iv, 50]. The parallel is very close and the old woman gives

une chienne à manger des choses fortement saupoudrêes de senève qui lui picotait le palais et les notifies et Vanimal larmoyait beaucoup.

She then shows her to a young woman and tells her the bitch was her daughter.

Son malheur fut d’avoir le cæur dur; un jeune homme Vaimait, elle le rebuta. Le malheureux après avoir tout tenté pour Vattendrir, désespéré de sa dureté en prit tant de chagrin quil tomba malade et mourut. Dieu l'a bien vengé; voyez en quel état pour la punir il a reduit ma pauvre Jille, et comment elle pleure sa faute.

The lesson was not thrown away.

“The story occurs also in the Gesta Romanoruin as ‘The Old Woman and her Dog’ [in Bohn’s edition it is tale xxviii], and it also finds a place where we should little have expected to find it, in the Promptuarium of John Herolt of Basil, an ample repository of examples for composing sermons: the compiler, a Dominican friar, professing to imitate his patron saint, who always abundabat exemplis in his discourses.”

(In Bohn’s edition we are told that it appears in an English garb amongst a translation of Æsop’s Fables published in 1658.)

Dr Rost refers us to Th. Wright, Latin Stories, London, 1842, p. 218; Loiseleur Deslongchamps, Essai sur les Fables Indiennes, Paris, 1838, p. 106 et seq.; F. H. Von der Hagen, Gesammtabenteuer, 1850, I, cxii et seq.; and Grasse, I, i, 374 et seq. In Gonzenbach’s Sicilianische Märchen, No. 55, vol. i, p. 359, Epomata plays some young men much the same trick as Devasmitā, and they try in much the same way to conceal their disgrace. The story is the second in my copy of the Suka Saptati. -

As the story in our text is not only an excellent example of a migratory tale, but one on which the effects of new environment are plainly discernible, I shall treat the second part of the story of Devasmitā at some length.

The incident of the bitch and the pepper became at an early date a common motif throughout Eastern collections of stories. It enters into every cycle of tales dealing with the deceits and tricks of women—such a favourite theme in the East. In its original form (in the Ocean of Story) we see that the dénouement is much more moral than in its numerous variants, where the wife is persuaded by the wiles of the bawd and grants her favours to the lover who is introduced into her house.

In the Persian Sindibād Nāma, the Syriac Sindban, the Greek Syntipas and the Libro de los Engaños it forms the fourth vazir’s story, but in the Hebrew Sandabar it becomes the second vazir’s story.

In the Sindibād Nāma the third vazir’s story is “The Libertine Husband,” in which an old man is married to a young and beautiful wife. He often goes away to a farm outside the city, when his wife takes advantage of his absence and meets many lovers. One day the old husband, instead of going straight home, calls on a bawd in order to be introduced to a mistress. The bawd says she knows the very woman, and leads the husband to his own wife. Being a very clever woman, she hides her own confusion and makes him believe the whole thing was a trick to expose his infidelity, which she had long suspected.

Now we find in the Arabic versions of the “bitch and pepper” incident that the Persian “Libertine Husband” story has been worked in as well, with certain slight alterations. Thus in the Nights (Burton, vol. vi, pp. 152-156) it appears as “The Wife’s Device to Cheat her Husband.” Here both husband and wife are young and good-looking. For some time past “a certain lewd youth and an obscene” has been casting loving glances at her, and accordingly employs a go-between on his behalf. The husband is away from home on business; the bawd plays the “bitch and pepper” trick with such success that she agrees to accept the attentions of the youth. All is arranged, but apparently some accident happens to the youth, as he fails to turn up at the appointed time. The bawd has been promised ten dinars, so she must produce some young man. She is in despair when suddenly “her eyes fell on a pretty fellow, young and distinguished-looking.” She approaches him and asks if he has a mind to meat and drink and a girl adorned and ready. He is accordingly taken to the house and is amazed to find it is his own. The wife then avoids trouble by pretending the whole thing is a trick.

The above version is found practically unchanged in Nefzaoui’s Perfumed Garden, p. 207 et seq.

In the Tūtī-Nāma and the Suka Saptati the “bitch and pepper” incident is absent, only the “libertine husband” part occurring. In another tale from the Suka Saptati (ii, p. 23 of the translation by R. Schmidt, 1899) we have a variant of the “bitch and pepper” story alone. Here the lady is the wife of a prince; a youth becomes enamoured of her, and his mother, seeing the ill effect his love has on his health, manages by the “bitch and pepper” trick to win the lady’s love for her son.

For further details concerning these different forms of this motif in the various Eastern versions reference should be made to Comparetti’s Researches respecting the Book of Sindibād, pp. 47-49, Folk-Lore Society, 1882; Clouston’s Book of Sindibād, pp. 58, 6l and 224 et seq.; and Chauvin’s Bibliographie des Ouvrages Arabes, viii, pp. 45, 46, where under “ La Chienne qui Pleure” will be found numerous references.

In the old German poem by Konrad of Würtzburg (Hagen, Gesammtabenteuer, vol. i, No. 9) called “ The Old Wife’s Deception” is an almost exact imitation of “ The Libertine Husband,” except that it is the old bawd who entirely on her own account gets the two chief people in the story anxious to have a rendezvous. Details will be found in Lee, The Decameron, its Sources and Analogues, p. 81. (He also gives numerous instances of the wife taking the place of the mistress.)

The idea of inducing a lady to take a lover by showing her the unhappy results, which were brought about in the case of another woman who was too particular in this respect, is well known from the story of “Nastagio and the Spectre Horseman,” which forms the eighth novel of the fifth day of The Decameron. Here Nastagio fails to gain the love of a damsel of the Traversari family. One day he wanders through a pine wood and suddenly hears the cries of a woman in distress. He looks up and sees a nude woman being chased by two huge mastiffs and a knight in armour with rapier in hand. On attempting to defend the woman he is told that when alive the woman had scorned his love and he had killed himself. When the woman died it was decreed that she would be ever fleeing before him and his love would be changed to hatred. Two dogs would help in the pursuit, who would bite her in pieces and tear out and eat her cold heart. As soon as this is done the woman becomes whole again and the chase goes on. Nastagio, on discovering the phantom horseman will be in the pine wood again on the following Friday, arranges for the Traversari damsel and her kinsfolk to breakfast in the wood. In the middle of the meal, however, the company is thrown into confusion by the sudden appearance of the naked woman, the dogs and the knight. The whole scene is enacted again. Nastagio explains that it is merely a case of Heaven fulfilling its decree. The maiden, afraid of a similar fate, looks favourably on Nastagio’s suit.

For further details of this part of our story reference should be made to Lee, op cit.f p. 169; Keller, Li Romans des Sept Sages, Tübingen, 1836, p. cxlvi; Gesta Romanorum, Oesterley, p. 499, No. 228; and Jacob’s Æsops Fables, vol. i, p. 266. —n.m.p.



The following metrical version of the “Story of Devasmitā” was translated by the Rev. B. Hale Wortham and printed in the Joum. Roy. As. Soc., vol. xvi, N.S., 1884, pp. 1-12. It is reproduced here in full by kind permission of the Royal Asiatic Society, and affords an interesting comparison with our text.

Upon this earth a famous city stands
Called Tāmraliptā; once a merchant dwelt
Within that town, possessed of endless wealth,
Named Dhanadatta. Now he had no son.
Therefore witli all due reverence he called
The priests together ; and he spoke and said:—
“I have no son: perform, most holy Sirs !
Such rites as may procure for me a son,
Without delay.” The Brāhmans answering
Said: “This indeed is easy: there is naught
Impossible to Brāhmans by the means
Of sacred rites ordained by Holy Writ.
This be a proof to you. In times gone by
There lived a king, and though his wives surpassed
By five a hundred, yet he had no son.
At last a son—the fruit of sacrifice—
Was born to him: to whom they gave the name
Of Santu: and the prince’s wives were filled
With joy as if the newly risen moon
First broke upon their eyes. It happened once
The child was crawling on the ground,—an ant
Bit him upon the thigh; and at the smart
He sobbed and cried. Immediately there rose
The sound of woe, and lamentation filled
The royal palace, while the king himself
Forgot his royal state, and cried aloud,
1 My son ! my son !‘ Ere long the child’s lament
Was pacified—the ant removed. The king,
Reflecting thus upon the cause which led
To all his sorrow, thought; ‘My heart is filled
With pain because I have, alas ! but one,
One only son. Is there,’ he asked, in grief,
‘Most holy Brāhmans,—is there any means
By which innumerable sons may be
My lot ?’ They answered him, ‘There is, O king,
But one expedient. Slay this thy son,
And offer up his flesh a sacrifice.
Thy wives shall smell the savour of his flesh
Burnt by the fire: so shall they bear thee sons.’
The King, obedient to the Brāhmans’ word,
Strengthened with all due pomp and ritual,
Offered the sacrifice: and thus ere long
Each wife bore him a son. So too will we
By sacrifice and offering procure
A son for you.” When Dhanadatta heard
The Brāhmans, then the sacrificial fee
He gave, and they performed the sacrifice ;
So through that sacrifice the merchant gained
A son, named Guhasena. Time went on,
The boy grew up and Dhanadatta sought
A wife for him. So then the father went
To some far distant country with his son,
On the pretence of traffic: but in truth
To get his son a bride. And there he begged
One Dharmagupta—held in high repute
Among his fellow-citizens—to give
His daughter Devasmitā as a bride
To Guhasena. But the father loved
His child, nor cared that she should be allied
With one whose home was in a distant land.
But Devasmitā saw the merchant’s son,
And at the sight of him, so richly graced
With virtues, lo! her heart fled from her grasp,
Nor thought she more of sire or home, but sent
A trusty friend to tell him of her love.
And then, leaving her native land, she fled
By night with her beloved. So they came
To Tāmraliptā: and the youthful pair
Were joined in wedlock, while their hearts were knit
Together in the bonds of mutual love.
Then Guhasena’s father passed away
From earth to heaven: and kinsmen urged on him
A journey to Kaṭāha, for the sake
Of merchandise. But Devasmitā, filled
With doubt,—fearing her husband’s constancy
Might fail, attracted by another’s charms,
Refused to listen to him when he spoke
Of his departure. Guhasena’s mind
Was filled with doubt, on one side urged by friends
To go, while on the other side his wife
Was hostile to his journey. Thus what course
He should pursue—his heart intent on right—
He knew not. Therefore to the god he went
With rigid fast, and now, hoping to find
His way made plain before him, through the aid
Of the Divinity ; and with him went
His wife. Then in a dream the god appeared
With two red lotuses: and Śiva said—
Placing a lotus in the hand of each:—
“Take each of you this lotus in your hand ;
If in your separation one shall be
Unfaithful, then the lotus flower shall fade
The other holds.” The pair awaking saw
The lotus blossom in each other’s hand.
And as they gazed it seemed as though each held
The other’s heart. Then Guhasena went
Forth on his journey, bearing in his hand
The crimson lotus: while, with eyes fast fixed
Upon her flower, Devasmitā stayed
At home. No long time passed—in Kaṭāha
Arrived her husband,—making merchandise
Of jewels. Now it happened that there dwelt
Four merchants in that country: when they saw
The unfading lotus ever in his hand,
Wonder possessed them. So by stratagem
They brought him home, and put before him wine
In measure plentiful. And he, deprived
Of mastery o’er his sense, through drunkenness,
Told them the whole. Then those four merchants planned,
Like rascals as they were, to lead astray
The merchant’s wife through curiosity.
For well they knew that Guhasena’s trade
Would keep him long in Kaṭāha engaged
On merchandise. Therefore they left in haste
And secrecy—to carry out their plan,
And entered Tāmraliptā. There they sought
Some one to help them, and at last they found
A female devotee, dwelling within
The sanctuary of Buddha: “Honoured dame !”
They said, addressing her with reverence,
“Wealth shall be thine in plenty, if in this
Our object thou wilt grant to us thy help.”
“Doubtless,” she said, “some woman in this town
Is your desire: tell me and you shall gain
Your wish. I want no money: for enough
I have, through Siddhikarī’s care,—
My pupil of distinguished cleverness,
By whose beneficence I have obtained
Riches untold.” “We pray thee, tell us now,”
Exclaimed the merchants, “how these riches came
To thee through Siddhikarī.” “Listen then !”
Replied the devotee. “If you, my sons,
Desire to hear it, I will tell the tale:—
Some time ago a certain merchant came
Here from the north, and while within this town
He dwelt, my pupil, meaning treachery,
Begged, in disguise, the post of serving maid
In his abode: and after having gained
The merchant’s confidence, she stole away
At early dawn, and carried off with her
The merchant’s hoard of gold. And as she went
Out from the city, flying rapidly
Through fear, a certain Domba followed her
Bearing his drum, on plunder bent. At length
In headlong flight, a Nyagrodha tree
She reached, and seeing that her foe was close
Behind her, putting on a look of woe
The crafty Siddhikarī said, ‘Alas !
A grievous strife of jealousy has come
Between my spouse and me, therefore my home
Have I forsaken, and I fain would end
My life; therefore I pray thee make a noose
That I may hang myself.’ The Domba thought,
‘Nay! why should I be guilty of her death ?
Nought is she but a woman ! let her hang
Herself.’ And therefore tying up the knot,
He fixed it firmly for her to the tree.
Then said she, feigning ignorance,f This noose—
Where do you place it ? I entreat of you
To show me.’ Then the Domba put the drum
Upon the ground, and mounting on it, tied
Round his own neck the noose; ‘This is the way,
He said, f we do the job! * Then, with a kick,
The crafty Siddhikarī smashed the drum
To atoms: and the thievish Domba hung
Till he was dead. Just then in view there came
The merchant, seeking for his stolen gold.
Standing beneath the tree, not far ahead,
He saw his servant maid. She saw him too—
Into the tree she climbed, unseen by him,
And hid among the leaves. The merchant soon
Arrived, attended by his serving men.
He found the Domba hanging by a rope,
But as for Siddhikarī, nought of her
Could he perceive. One of his servants said:
‘What think you ? Has she climbed into this tree ?’
And straightway clambered up. Then seeing him,
‘Ah ! sir,’ said Siddhikarī, ‘now indeed
I am rejoiced: for you have ever been
My choice. Take all this wealth, my charming friend,
And come ! embrace me!’ So the fool was caught
By Siddhikarī’s flattery ; and she,
Kissing him on the lips, bit off his tongue.
Then uttering spluttering sounds of pain, the man
Fell from the tree, spitting from out his mouth
The blood. The merchant seeing this, in fear and haste
Ran homewards, thinking that his serving man
Had been the victim of some demon foul.
Then Siddhikarī, too, not less alarmed,
Descended from the tree, and got clear off
With all the plunder. In this way, my sons,
Through her ability I have obtained
The wealth, which through her kindness I enjoy.”
Just as she finished, Siddhikarī came
Into the house: and to the merchant’s sons
The devotee presented her. “My sons!”
Said the ascetic, “tell me openly
Your business: say what woman do you seek—
She shall be yours.” They said, “Procure for us
An interview with Devasmitā, wife
To Guhasena.” Said the devotee,
“It shall be done for you,” and gave these men
A lodging in her house. Then she assailed
With bribes and sweetmeats all the slaves who dwelt
In Guhasena's house: and afterwards
Went there with Siddhikarī. When she came
To Devasmitā’s dwelling and would go
Within, a bitch chained up before the door
Kept her from entering. Devasmitā then
Sent out a maid to bring the stranger in,
Thinking within herself, “Who can this be ?”
The vile ascetic, entering the house,
Treated the merchant’s wife with feigned respect,
And blessed her, saying: “Long have I desired
Exceedingly to see you: in a dream
To-day you passed before me: therefore now
I come with eagerness: affliction fills
My mind when I behold you from your spouse
Thus torn asunder. What avails your youth,
Or what your beauty, since you live deprived
Of your beloved ?” Thus, with flattering words,
The ascetic tried to gain the confidence
Of virtuous Devasmitā. No long time
She stayed, but soon, bidding farewell, returned
To her own house. Ere long she came again,
This time bringing a piece of meat well strewed
With pepper dust: before the door she threw
The peppered meat; the bitch with greediness
Gobbled the morsel up, pepper and all.
The bitch’s eyes began to flow with tears
Profusely, through the pepper, and her nose
To run. Then went the crafty devotee
Within, to Devasmitā: and she wept,
Although received with hospitality.
Then said the merchant’s wife: “Why do you weep ?”
Feigning reluctance, the ascetic said:
“My friend ! you see this bitch weeping outside ;—
Know then ! this creature in a former state
Was my companion: seeing me again
She knew me, and she wept: my tears gush forth
In sympathy.” When Devasmitā saw
The bitch outside seeming to weep, she thought,
“What may this wonder be ?” “The bitch and I”—
Continuing her tale, the ascetic said—
“Were in a former birth a Brāhmans wives.
Our husband often was from home, engaged
On embassies by order of the king.
Meanwhile I spent my time with other men,
Living a life of pleasure, nor did I
Defraud my senses of enjoyment due
To them. For this is said to be, my child,
The highest duty—to indulge one’s sense,
And give the rein to pleasure. Therefore I
Have come to earth again, as you behold
Me now, remembering my former self.
But she thought not of this, setting her mind
To keep her fame unsullied: therefore born
Into this world again, she holds a place
Contemptible and mean: her former birth
Still in her memory.” The merchant’s wife—
Prudent and thoughtful, said within herself—
“This doctrine is both new and strange: no doubt
The woman has some treacherous snare for me.”
“Most reverend Dame!” she said, “too much, alas !
I fear, have I neglected hitherto
This duty. So, I pray you, gain for me
An interview with some delightful man.”
The ascetic answered, “There are living here
Some merchants, young and charming, who have come
From afar ; them will I bring you.” Filled with joy
She homeward turned: while Devasmitā said—
Her natural prudence coming to her aid:
“These scoundrelly young merchants, whosoe’er
They be, I know not, must have seen the flow’r
Unfading, carried in my husband’s hand.
It may be that they asked him, over wine,
And learnt its history. Now they intend
To lead me from my duty: and for this
They use the vile ascetic. Therefore bring”
(She bid her maids) “as quickly as you may,
Some wine mixed with Datura: and procure
An iron brand, bearing the sign impressed
Of a dog’s foot upon it.” These commands
The servants carried out: one of the maids,
By Devasmitā’s orders, dressed herself
To personate her mistress. Then the men,
All eagerness, each wished to be the first
To visit Devasmitā: but the dame
Chose one of them: in Siddhikarī’s dress
Disguising him, she left him at the house.
The maid, clothed in her mistress’s attire,
Addressed the merchant’s son with courtesy,
Politely offering him the wine to drink
Drugged with Datura. Then the liquor stole
His senses from him, like his shamelessness,
Depriving him of reason ; and the maid
Stripped him of all his clothes, and ornaments,
Leaving him naked. When the night had come,
They cast him out into a filthy ditch,
Marking his forehead with the iron brand.
The night passed by, and consciousness returned
In the last watch to him, and waking up
He thought himself in hell, the place assigned
To him for his offences. Then he rose
From out the ditch, and went in nakedness
Home to the devotee, the mark impressed
Upon his forehead. Fearing ridicule,
He said that he had been beset by thieves
Upon the way, and all day long at home
He sat, a cloth bound round his head to hide
The brand, saying that sleeplessness and wine
Had made his head ache. In the self-same way
They served the second merchant. He returned
Home naked ; and he said, “While on the road
From Devasmitā’s house, I was attacked
By robbers, and they stripped me of my clothes,
And ornaments.” He sat with bandaged head
To hide the brand, and made the same excuse.
Thus all the four suffered the same disgrace,
And all concealed their shame ; nor did they tell
Their ills to the ascetic when they left
Her dwelling: for they trusted that a plight
Like theirs would be her lot. Next day she went,
Followed by her disciple, to the house
Of Devasmitā ; and her mind was filled
Full of delight, because she had achieved
Her end so happily. With reverence
The merchant’s wife received the devotee,
And feigning gratitude, with courteous speech
Offered her wine mixed with the harmful drug.
The ascetic drank: and her disciple: both
Were overcome. Then helpless as they were
By Devasmitā’s orders they were cast,
With ears and noses slit, into a pool
Of filthy mud. Then Devasmitā thought,
“Perchance these merchants may revenge themselves
And slay my husband.” So she told the tale
To Guhasena’s mother. “Well, my child,”
Answered her husband’s mother, “have you done
Your duty ! Still misfortune may befall
My son through this.” “I will deliver him,”
Said Devasmitā, “as in times gone by
By wisdom Śaktimatī saved her spouse.”
“My daughter, how was this! tell me, I pray.”
Then answered Devasmitā, “In our land
Within this city stands an ancient fane,
The dwelling of a Yakṣa: and his name
Is Munibhadra. There the people come
And offer up their prayers, and make their gifts,
To gain from heaven the blessings they desire.
If it so happen that a man is caught
At night with someone else’s wife, the pair
Are placed within the temple’s inmost shrine.
Next morning they are brought before the king,
Sentence is passed on them, and punishment
Decreed. Now in that town the city guards
Once found a merchant with another’s wife;
And therefore by the law the two were seized
And placed within the temple: while the door
Was firmly shut and barred. The merchant’s wife,
Whose name was Śaktimatī, came to learn
Her husband’s trouble ; and she boldly went
By night with her companions to the shrine,
Bearing her off rings for the god. The priest,
Whose duty was to eat the offering,
Beheld her come: desirous of the fee,
He let her in, telling the magistrate
What he had done. Then Śaktimatī saw
Her husband looking like a fool, within
The inner room, in company with him
The woman. So she took her own disguise
And putting it upon the woman, bade
Her flee with haste. But Śaktimatī stayed
Within the shrine. Day broke ; the officers
Came to investigate the merchant’s crime,
And lo! within the temple’s inner room
They found the merchant and—his wife. The king,
Hearing the tale, punished the city guard
But set the merchant free. So he escaped,
As if held in the very jaws of death,
Out of the Yakṣa’s temple. So will I,
As Śaktimatī did, in bygone times,
By wisdom and discretion save my spouse.”
Thus Devasmitā spoke: and putting on
A merchant’s dress, she started with her maids
Under pretence of merchandise to join
Her husband at Kaṭāha. When she came
To that fair country, she beheld him sit,
Like comfort come to earth in human form,
Amid the merchants. He beholding her
Afar, clothed in a merchant’s dress, then thought;—
“Who can this merchant be, so like my wife
In form and feature ?” Earnestly he gazed
Upon her face. Then Devasmitā went
And begged the king to send throughout his realm
And summon all his subjects; for she had
A boon she fain would ask of him. The king
Convoking, full of curiosity,
His citizens, addressed that lady clothed
In man’s attire, and said, “What do you ask ?”
Then answered Devasmitā, “In your town
Four slaves of mine are living, who have run
Away. I pray you, noble king, restore
My slaves.” “The citizens,” replied the king,
ci Are all before you, therefore recognise
And take your slaves.” Then Devasmitā seized
The four young merchants, whom she had disgraced
And treated so disdainfully: their heads
Still bound about with wrappers. Then enraged,
The merchants of the city said, “Why, these
Are sons of honourable men: then how
Can they be slaves to you ?” She answered them:
“If you believe me not, here is the proof:—
Take from their heads the bandage; you will see
A dog’s foot on their forehead: with this brand
I marked them.” Then the wrappers were removed
And on their foreheads all beheld the mark—
The dog’s foot brand. Then were the merchants filled
With shame: the king himself in wonder said:
“Pray, what means this ?” Then Devasmitā told
The story. Laughter filled the crowd: the king
Turned to the merchant’s wife: “There are your slaves,”
He said; “your claim indeed none may dispute.”
Then all the merchants in the city gave
Vast sums of money to the prudent wife
Of Guhasena, to redeem the four
Young men from slavery: and to the king
They paid a fine. Thus Devasmitā gained
Money, and honour too, from all good men.
Then to her native city she returned,
Even to Tāmraliptā, never more
To be disjoined from her beloved lord.

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Footnotes and references:


Cf the way in which Rüdigar carries off the daughter of King Osantrix, Hagen’s Helden-Sagen, vol. i, p. 227.


τηρήσαντες νύκτες χειμέριον ὕδατι καὶ ἀνέμῳ καὶ ἅμἀσέληνον ἐξῄεσαν, Thucyd., iii, 22.


The word dasyu here means “savage,” “barbarian.” These wild mountain tribes, called indiscriminately Śavaras, Pulindas, Bhillas, etc., seem to have been addicted to cattle-lifting and brigandage. So the word dasyu comes to mean “robber.” Even the virtuous Śavara prince described in the story of Jīmūtavāhana plunders a caravan.


I have already (p. 98) given cases of child murder with the hopes of obtaining offspring. I would also draw attention to an article in the Indian Antiquary for May 1923, “Ritual Murder as a Means of Producing Children.” It consists of cases which came under the personal notice of Sir Richard Temple when he was Superintendent of the Penal Settlement at Port Blair, Andaman Islands, between 1893-1896.— n.m.p.


Tawney suggested that Kaṭāha might possibly be identified with Cathay, the mediæval name of China. His surmise, however, has been proved incorrect. It has now been traced to Kedah, one of the unfederated Malay States, which was apparently known in Southern India as Kaḍāram, or Kaṭāha. The data for arriving at this conclusion is interesting.

The Chōla monarch, Rājēndra Chōla I (a.d. 1012-1052), dispatched several expeditions over the water to the East probably in defence of Tamil or Telugu settlements on the east coast of Sumatra and on the west coast of southernmost Burma, the isthmus of Kra, and Malaya. Among the inscriptions recording such events is one which tells of an expedition to Kaḍāram via Ma-Nakkavāram— i.e. the Nicobar Islands. For full details of the evidence derived from this inscription reference should be made to Hultzsch, South Indian Inscriptions, vol. iii, Part. II, Arch. Surv. Ind., New Imp. Series, vol. xxix, 1903, pp. 194-195; Hultzsch, Epigraphia Indica, vol. ix, No. 31, 1907-1908, p. 231; and especially pp. 19-22 of Cædès’ “Le Royaume de £rīvijaya” in Bull, de VÊcole Franqaise d’extreme Orient, Tome XVIII, 1918. R. Sewell, in a letter to me on the subject, would trace the phonetic changes of Kedah as follows:—

Granted that Kedah was so spelt in ancient times, and that it came to be called Kaḍāram in South India, we can delete the “m” as a South Indian dialect suffix {e.g. pattana becomes pattanam, maṇḍala is maṇḍalam, etc.). Then the transformation is natural enough:

ke da h  
ka ha  
{   ka}
{or ki}
ra m

Sewell considers that the phonetic change from ha to ra is not too forced. It should be noted that the Southern Hindus knew of a Kaḍāram in their own country, and it is natural for people, hearing of a foreign place with a name like that of one of their own towns, to call the foreign place after their own.

There is, however, a little further evidence of considerable interest. In the Kanyākumari (Cape Cormorin) inscription of Virarajendra, verse 72 reads: “

With (the help of) his forces, which crossed the seas, which were excessively powerful in arms and which had scattered away the armies of all his enemies, he burnt Kaṭāha, that could not be set on fire by others. What is (there that is) impossible for this Rājēndra-Chōla!”

This burning of Kaṭāha is considered by K. V. S. Aiyar to refer to the conquest of Burma. See Travancore Archæological Seiies, vol. iii, Part I, 1922 , pp. 120 , 159, from which the above translation has been taken. —n.m.p.


See the first note at the end of this chapter.— n.m.p.


A man of low caste, now called Dom. They officiate as executioners.


Cf. the way in which the widow’s son, the shifty lad, treats Black Rogue in Campbell’s Tales of the Western Highlands. (Tale xvii d., Orient und Occident, vol. ii, p. 303.)- Cf. Parker’s Village Folk-Tales of Ceylon, vol. iii, p. 346 et seq., and Benfey, Pañcatantra, i, p. 609. —n.m.p.


See the second note at the end of this chapter.— n.m.p.


Datura is still employed, I believe, to stupefy people whom it is thought desirable to rob.


I read iva for the eva of Dr Brockhaus’ text.


Cf. the incident in the Persian story of the “Gul-i-Bakāwalī,” or the “Rose of Bakāwalī” (Clouston, A Group of Eastern Romances and Stories, 1889, pp. 269 and 287), where the courtesan Dilbar brands the four wicked brothers of Tāj ul-Mulūk in the same way as in our text. — n . m . p .


A precisely similar story occurs in the Bahār-i-Dānish. The turn of the chief incident, although not the same, is similar to that of nov. vii, part iv, of Bandello’s Novelle, or the Accorto Avvedimento di una Fantesca à liberare la padrona e Vinnamoralo di quella de la morte. (Wilson’s Essays, vol. i, p. 224.) Cf. also the Mongolian version of the story in Sagas from the Far East, p. 320. The story of Śaktimatī is the nineteenth in the Śuka Saptati. I have been presented by Professor Nilmani Mukhopadhyaya with a copy of a MS. of this work made by Babu Umeśa Chandra Gupta.—See also the “Tale of the Goldsmith” in Hatims Tales, Stein and Grierson, 1923, p. 27, with Crooke’s notes on p. xxxiv. A good variant occurs in the Nights (Burton, Supp., vol. v, p. 335 et seq.). — n . m . p .


Cf. the “Story of the Chest” in Campbell’s Stories from the Western Highlands. It is the first story in the second volume and contains one or two incidents which remind us of this story.


I read mahākulodgatāḥ.

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