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 ...

Chapter XVII

[M] (Main story line continued) THE next day the King of Vatsa, sitting in private with Vāsavadattā and Padmāvatī, engaged in a festive banquet, sent for Yaugandharāyaṇa, Gopālaka, Rumaṇvat and Vasantaka, and had much confidential conversation with them. Then the king, in the hearing of them all, told the following tale, with reference to the subject of his separation from his beloved:—


18. Story of Urvaśī [1]

Once on a time there was a king of the name of Purūravas, who was a devoted worshipper of Viṣṇu; he traversed heaven as well as earth without opposition, and one day, as he was sauntering in Nandana, the garden of the gods, a certain Apsaras of the name of Urvaśī, who was a second stupefying weapon[2] in the hands of Love, cast an eye upon him. The moment she beheld him, the sight so completely robbed her of her senses that she alarmed the timid minds of Rambhā and her other friends. The king too, when he saw that torrent of the nectar of beauty, was quite faint with thirst, because he could not obtain possession of her.

Then Viṣṇu, who knoweth all, dwelling in the sea of milk, gave the following command to Nārada, an excellent hermit, who came to visit him:

“O divine sage,[3] the King Purūravas, at present abiding in the garden of Nandana, having had his mind captivated by Urvaśī, remains incapable of bearing the pain of separation from his love. Therefore go, O hermit, and, informing Indra as from me, cause that Urvaśī to be quickly given to the king.”

Having received this order from Viṣṇu, Nārada undertook to execute it, and going to Purūravas, who was in the state described, roused him from his lethargy and said to him:

“Rise up, O King; for thy sake I am sent here by Viṣṇu, for that god does not neglect the sufferings of those who are unfeignedly devoted to him.”

With these words, the hermit Nārada cheered up Purūravas, and then went with him into the presence of the king of the gods.

Then he communicated the order of Viṣṇu to Indra, who received it with reverent mind, and so the hermit caused Urvaśī to be given to Purūravas. That gift of Urvaśī deprived the inhabitants of heaven of life, but it was to Urvaśī herself an elixir to restore her to life. Then Purūravas returned with her to the earth, exhibiting to the eyes of mortals the wonderful spectacle of a heavenly bride. Thenceforth those two, Urvaśī and that king, remained, so to speak, fastened together by the leash of gazing on one another, so that they were unable to separate. One day Purūravas went to heaven, invited by Indra to assist him, as a war had arisen between him and the Dānavas. In that war the King of the Asuras, named Māyādhara, was slain, and accordingly Indra held a great feast, at which all the nymphs of heaven displayed their skill.[4] And on that occasion Purūravas, when he saw the nymph Rambhā performing a dramatic dance called chalita,[5] with the teacher Tumburu standing by her, laughed.

Then Rambhā said to him sarcastically:

“I suppose, mortal, you know this heavenly dance, do you not?”

Purūravas answered:

“From associating with Urvaśī, I know dances which even your teacher Tumburu does not know.”

When Tumburu heard that, he laid this curse on him in his wrath:

“Mayest thou be separated from Urvaśī until thou propitiate Kṛṣṇa.”

When he heard that curse, Purūravas went and told Urvaśī what had happened to him, which was terrible as “a thunderbolt from the blue.” Immediately some Gandharvas swooped down, without the king seeing them, and carried off Urvaśī, whither he knew not. Then Purūravas, knowing that the calamity was due to that curse, went and performed penance to appease Viṣṇu in the hermitage of Badarikā.

But Urvaśī, remaining in the country of the Gandharvas, afflicted at her separation, was as void of sense as if she had been dead, asleep, or a mere picture. She kept herself alive with hoping for the end of the curse, but it is wonderful that she did not lose her hold on life, while she remained like the female cakravāka during the night, the appointed time of her separation from the male bird. And Purūravas propitiated Viṣṇu by that penance, and, owing to Viṣṇu having been gratified, the Gandharvas surrendered Urvaśī to him. So that king, reunited to the nymph whom he had recovered at the termination of the curse, enjoyed heavenly pleasures, though living upon earth.


[M] (Main story line continued) The king stopped speaking, and Vāsavadattā felt an emotion of shame at having endured separation, when she heard of the attachment of Urvaśī to her husband.

Then Yaugandharāyaṇa, seeing that the queen was abashed at having been indirectly reproved by her husband, said, in order to make him feel in his turn[6]:

“King, listen to this tale, if you have not already heard it:


19. Story of Vihitasena

There is on this earth a city of the name of Timirā, the dwelling of the Goddess of Prosperity; in it there was a famous king named Vihitasena; he had a wife named Tejovatī, a very goddess upon earth. That king was ever hanging on her neck, devoted to her embraces, and could not even bear that his body should be for a short time scratched with the coat of mail. And once there came upon the king a lingering fever with diminishing intensity; and the physicians forbade him to continue in the queen’s society. But when he was excluded from the society of the queen, there was engendered in his heart a disease not to be reached by medicine or treatment. The physicians told the ministers in private that the disease might relieve itself by fear or the stroke of some affliction.

The ministers reflected:

“How can we produce fear in that brave king, who did not tremble when an enormous snake once fell on his back, who was not confused when a hostile army penetrated into his harem? It is useless thinking of devices to produce fear; what are we ministers to do with the king?”

Thus the ministers reflected, and after deliberating with the queen, concealed her, and said to the king: “The queen is dead.” While the king was tortured with that exceeding grief, in his agitation that disease in his heart relieved itself.[7] When the king had got over the pain of the illness, the ministers restored to him that great queen, who seemed like a second gift of ease, and the king valued her highly as the saviour of his life, and as too wise to bear anger against her afterwards for concealing herself.


[M] (Main story line continued)

“For it is care for a husband’s interests that entitles a king’s wife to the name of queen; by mere compliance with a husband’s whims the name of queen is not obtained. And discharging the duty of minister means undivided attention to the burden of the king’s affairs, but the compliance with a king’s passing fancies is the characteristic of a mere courtier. Accordingly we made this effort in order to come to terms with your enemy, the King of Magadha, and with a view to your conquering the whole earth. So it is not the case that the queen, who, through love for you, endured intolerable separation, has done you a wrong; on the contrary she has conferred on you a great benefit.”

When the King of Vatsa heard this true speech of his prime minister, he thought that he himself was in the wrong, and was quite satisfied.

And he said:

“I know this well enough, that the queen, like Policy incarnate in bodily form, acting under your inspiration, has bestowed upon me the dominion of the earth. But that unbecoming speech which I uttered was due to excessive affection. How can people whose minds are blinded with love bring themselves to deliberate calmly?”[8]

With such conversation that King of Vatsa brought the day and the queen’s eclipse of shame to an end.

On the next day a messenger sent by the King of Magadha, who had discovered the real state of the case, came to the sovereign of Vatsa, and said to him as from his master:

“We have been deceived by thy ministers, therefore take such steps as that the world may not henceforth be to us a place of misery.”

When he heard that, the king showed all honour to the messenger, and sent him to Padmāvatī to take his answer from her. She, for her part, being altogether devoted to Vāsavadattā, had an interview with the ambassador in her presence. For humility is an unfailing characteristic of good women.

The ambassador delivered her father’s message:

“My daughter, you have been married by an artifice, and your husband is attached to another, thus it has come to pass that I reap in misery the fruit of being the father of a daughter.”

But Padmāvatī thus answered him:

“Say to my father from me here:

‘What need of grief? For my husband is very indulgent to me, and the Queen Vāsavadattā is my affectionate sister, so my father must not be angry with my husband, unless he wishes to break his own plighted faith and my heart at the same time.’”

When this becoming answer had been given by Padmāvatī, the Queen Vāsavadattā hospitably entertained the ambassador and then sent him away. When the ambassador had departed, Padmāvatī remained somewhat depressed with regret, calling to mind her father’s house. Then Vāsavadattā ordered Vasantaka to amuse her, and he came near, and with that object proceeded to tell the following tale: —


20. Story of Somaprabhā

There is a city, the ornament of the earth, called Pāṭaliputra, [see notes on Pāṭaliputra] and in it there was a great merchant named Dharmagupta. He had a wife named Candraprabhā, and she once on a time became pregnant, and brought forth a daughter beautiful in all her limbs. That girl, the moment she was born, illuminated the chamber with her beauty, spoke distinctly,[9] and got up and sat down. Then Dharmagupta, seeing that the women in the lying-in chamber were astonished and terrified, went there himself in a state of alarm.

And immediately he asked that girl in secret, bowing before her humbly:

“Adorable one, who art thou that art thus become incarnate in my family?”

She answered him:

“Thou must not give me in marriage to anyone; as long as I remain in thy house, father, I am a blessing to thee; what profit is there in inquiring further?”

When she said this to him, Dharmagupta was frightened, and he concealed her in his house, giving out abroad that she was dead.

Then that girl, whose name was Somaprabhā, gradually grew up with human body, but celestial splendour of beauty. And one day a young merchant, of the name of Guhacandra, beheld her, as she was standing upon the top of her palace, looking on with delight at the celebration of the spring festival; she clung like a creeper of love round his heart, so that he was, as it were, faint,[10] and with difficulty got home to his house. There he was tortured with the pain of love, and when his parents persistently importuned him to tell them the cause of his distress, he informed them by the mouth of a friend.

Then his father, whose name was Guhasena, out of love for his son, went to the house of Dharmagupta to ask him to give his daughter in marriage to Guhacandra.

Then Dharmagupta put off Guhasena when he made the request, desiring to obtain a daughter-in-law, and said to him:

“The fact is, my daughter is out of her mind.”[11]

Considering that he meant by that to refuse to give his daughter, Guhasena returned home, and there he beheld his son prostrate by the fever of love, and thus reflected:

“I will persuade the king to move in this matter, for I have before this conferred an obligation on him, and he will cause that maiden to be given to my son, who is at the point of death.”

Having thus determined, the merchant went and presented to the king a splendid jewel, and made known to him his desire. The king, for his part, being well disposed towards him, commissioned the head of the police to assist him, with whom he went to the house of Dharmagupta, and surrounded it on all sides with troops,[12] so that Dharmagupta’s throat was choked with tears, as he expected utter ruin.

Then Somaprabhā said to Dharmagupta:

“Give me in marriage, my father; let not calamity befall you on my account; but I must never be treated as a wife[13] by my husband, and this agreement you must make in express terms with my future father-in-law.”

When his daughter had said this to him, Dharmagupta agreed to give her in marriage, after stipulating that she should not be treated as a wife[14]; and Guhasena, with inward laughter, agreed to the condition, thinking to himself: “Only let my son be once married.” Then Guhacandra, the son of Guhasena, went to his own house, taking with him his bride Somaprabhā.

And in the evening his father said to him:

“My son, treat her as a wife, for who abstains from the society of his own wife?”[15]

When she heard that, the bride Somaprabhā looked angrily at her father-in-law, and whirled round her threatening forefinger, as it were the decree of death. When he saw that finger of his daughter-in-law, the breath of that merchant immediately left him, and fear came upon all besides. But Guhacandra, when his father was dead, thought to himself: “The goddess of death has entered into my house as a wife.” And thenceforth he avoided the society of that wife, though she remained in his house, and so observed a vow difficult as that of standing on the edge of a sword. And being inly consumed by that grief, losing his taste for all enjoyment, he made a vow and feasted Brāhmans every day. And that wife of his, of heavenly beauty, observing strict silence, used always to give a fee to those Brāhmans after they had eaten.

One day an aged Brāhman, who had come to be fed, beheld her exciting the wonder of the world by her dower of beauty; then the Brāhman, full of curiosity, secretly asked Guhacandra:

“Tell me who this young wife of yours is.”

Then Guhacandra, being importuned by that Brāhman, told him with afflicted mind her whole story. When he heard it, the excellent Brāhman, full of compassion, gave him a charm for appeasing the fire, in order that he might obtain his desire. Accordingly, while Guhacandra was in secret muttering that charm, there appeared to him a Brāhman from the midst of the fire.

And that god of fire in the shape of a Brāhman said to him, as he lay prostrate at his feet:

“To-day I will eat in thy house, and I will remain there during the night. And after I have shown thee the truth with respect to thy wife, I will accomplish thy desire.”

When he had said this to Guhacandra, the Brāhman entered his house. There he ate like the other Brāhmans, and lay down at night near Guhacandra for one watch of the night only, such was his unwearying zeal. And at this period of the night Somaprabhā, the wife of Guhacandra, went out of the house of her husband, all the inmates of which were asleep.

At that moment the Brāhman woke up Guhacandra, and said to him:

“Come, see what thy wife is doing.”

And by magic power he gave Guhacandra and himself the shape of bees,[16] and going out he showed him that wife of his, who had issued from the house. And that fair one went a long distance outside the city, and the Brāhman with Guhacandra followed her. Thereupon Guhacandra saw before him a Nyagrodha[17] tree of wide extent, beautiful with its shady stem, and under it he heard a heavenly sound of singing, sweet with strains floating on the air, accompanied with the music of the lyre and the flute. And on the trunk of the tree he saw a heavenly maiden,[18] like his wife in appearance, seated on a splendid throne, eclipsing by her beauty the moonbeam, fanned with white chowries, like the goddess presiding over the treasure of all the moon’s beauty. And then Guhacandra saw his wife ascend that very tree and sit down beside that lady, occupying half of her throne. While he was contemplating those two heavenly maidens of equal beauty sitting together, it seemed to him as if that night were lighted by three moons.[19]

Then he, full of curiosity, thought for a moment:

“Can this be sleep or delusion? But away with both these suppositions! This is the expanding of the blossom from the bud of association with the wise, which springs on the tree of right conduct, and this blossom gives promise of the appropriate fruit.”

While he was thus reflecting at his leisure, those two celestial maidens, after eating food suited for such as they were, drank heavenly wine.

Then the wife of Guhacandra said to the second heavenly maiden:

“To-day some glorious Brāhman has arrived in our house, for which reason, my sister, my heart is alarmed and I must go.”

In these words she took leave of that other heavenly maiden and descended from the tree. When Guhacandra and the Brāhman saw that, they returned in front of her, still preserving the form of bees, and arrived in the house by night before she did. And afterwards arrived that heavenly maiden, the wife of Guhacandra, and she entered the house without being observed.

Then that Brāhman of his own accord said to Guhacandra:

“You have had ocular proof that your wife is divine and not human, and you have to-day seen her sister, who is also divine; and how do you suppose that a heavenly nymph can desire the society of a man? So I will give you a charm to be written up over her door, and I will also teach you an artifice to be employed outside the house, which must increase the force of the charm. A fire burns even without being fanned, but much more when a strong current of air is brought to bear on it; in the same way a charm will produce the desired effect unaided, but much more readily when assisted by an artifice.”

When he had said this, the excellent Brāhman gave a charm to Guhacandra, and instructed him in the artifice, and then vanished in the dawn. Guhacandra for his part wrote it up over the door of his wife’s apartment, and in the evening had recourse to the following stratagem calculated to excite her affection. He dressed himself splendidly and went and conversed with a certain courtesan before her eyes. When she saw this, the heavenly maiden, being jealous, called to him with voice set free by the charm, and asked him who that woman was.

He answered her falsely:

“She is a courtesan who has taken a fancy to me, and I shall go and pay her a visit[20] to-day.”

Then she looked at him askance with wrinkled brows, and, lifting up her veil with her left hand,[21] said to him:

“Ah! I see: this is why you are dressed up so grandly; do not go to her, what have you to do with her? Lie with me, for I am your wife.”

When he had thus been implored by her, agitated with excitement, as if she were possessed, though that evil demon which held her had been expelled by the charm, he was in a state of ecstatic joy, and he immediately entered into her chamber with her, and enjoyed, though a mortal, celestial happiness not conceived of in imagination. Having thus obtained her as a loving wife, conciliated by the magic power of the charm, who abandoned for him her celestial rank, Guhacandra lived happily ever after.


[M] (Main story line continued)

“Thus heavenly nymphs, who have been cast down by some curse, live as wives in the houses of righteous men, as a reward for their good deeds, such as acts of devotion and charity.[22] For the honouring of gods and Brāhmans is considered the wishing-cow[23] of the good. For what is not obtained by that? All the other politic expedients, known as conciliation and so on, are mere adjuncts.[24] But evil actions are the chief cause of even heavenly beings, born in a very lofty station, falling from their high estate, as a hurricane is the cause of the falling of blossoms.”

When he had said this to the princess, Vasantaka continued:

“Hear moreover what happened to Ahalyā:


21. Story of Ahalyā [25]

Once upon a time there was a great hermit named Gautama, who knew the past, the present and the future. And he had a wife named Ahalyā, who in beauty surpassed the nymphs of heaven. One day Indra, in love with her beauty, tempted her in secret; for the mind of rulers, blinded with power, runs towards unlawful objects.

And she in her folly encouraged that husband of Śacī, being the slave of her passions; but the hermit Gautama found out the intrigue by his superhuman power, and arrived upon the scene. And Indra immediately assumed, out of fear, the form of a cat.

Then Gautama said to Ahalyā:

“Who is here?”

She answered her husband ambiguously in the Prakrit dialect:

“Here forsooth is a cat”—so managing to preserve verbal truth.[26]

Then Gautama said, laughing:

“It is quite true that your lover is here”—and he inflicted on her a curse, but ordained that it should terminate, because she had showed some regard for truth.

The curse ran as follows:—

“Harlot,[27] take for a long time the nature of a stone, until thou behold Rāma wandering in the forest.”

And Gautama at the same time inflicted on the god Indra the following curse:—

“A thousand pictures of that which thou has desired shall be upon thy body, but when thou shalt behold Tilottamā, a heavenly nymph, whom Viśvakarman shall make, they shall turn into a thousand eyes.”

When he had pronounced this curse, the hermit returned to his austerities according to his desire, but Ahalyā for her part assumed the awful condition of a stone.[28] And Indra immediately had his body covered with representations of the female pudenda[29]; for to whom is not immorality a cause of humiliation?


[M] (Main story line continued)

“So true is it that every man’s evil actions always bear fruit in himself, for whatever seed a man sows, of that he reaps the fruit. Therefore persons of noble character never desire that which is disagreeable to their neighbours, for this is the invariable observance of the good, prescribed by divine law. And you two were sister goddesses in a former birth, but you have been degraded in consequence of a curse, and accordingly your hearts are free from strife and bent on doing one another good turns.”

When they heard this from Vasantaka, Vāsavadattā and Padmāvatī dismissed from their hearts even the smallest remnants of mutual jealousy. But the Queen Vāsavadattā made her husband equally the property of both, and acted as kindly to Padmāvatī as if she were herself, desiring her welfare.

When the King of Magadha heard of that so great generosity of hers from the messengers sent by Padmāvatī, he was much pleased. So on the next day the minister Yaugandharāyaṇa came up to the King of Vatsa in the presence of the queen, the others also standing by, and said:

“Why do we not go now to Kauśāmbī, my prince, in order to begin our enterprise, for we know that there is nothing to be feared from the King of Magadha, even though he has been deceived? For he has been completely gained over by means of the negotiation termed ‘Giving of a daughter’: and how could he make war and so abandon his daughter, whom he loves more than life? He must keep his word; moreover he has not been deceived by you; I did it all myself; and it does not displease him; indeed I have learned from my spies that he will not act in a hostile way, and it was for this very purpose that we remained here for these days.”

While Yaugandharāyaṇa, who had accomplished the task he had in hand, was speaking thus, a messenger belonging to the King of Magadha arrived there, and entered into the palace immediately, being announced by the warder, and after he had done obeisance he sat down, and said to the King of Vatsa:

“The King of Magadha is delighted with the intelligence sent by the Queen Padmāvatī, and he now sends this message to your Highness:

‘What need is there of many words? I have heard all, and I am pleased with thee. Therefore do the thing for the sake of which this beginning has been made; we submit ourselves.’”

The King of Vatsa joyfully received this clear speech of the messenger, resembling the blossom of the tree of policy planted by Yaugandharāyaṇa. Then he brought Padmāvatī with the queen and, after he had bestowed a present upon the messenger, he dismissed him with honour.

Then a messenger from Caṇḍamahāsena also arrived, and, after entering, he bowed before the king, according to custom, and said to him:

“O King, his Majesty Caṇḍamahāsena, who understands the secrets of policy, has learnt the state of thy affairs and delighted sends this message:

‘Your Majesty’s excellence is plainly declared by this one fact, that you have Yaugandharāyaṇa for your minister; what need of further speeches? Blessed too is Vāsavadattā, who, through devotion to you, has done a deed which makes us exalt our head for ever among the good; moreover Padmāvatī is not separated from Vāsavadattā in my regard, for the two have one heart; therefore quickly exert yourself.’”

When the King of Vatsa heard this speech of his father-in-law’s messenger, joy suddenly arose in his heart, and his exceeding warmth of affection for the queen was increased, and also the great respect which he felt for his excellent minister. Then the king, together with the queens, entertained the messenger according to the laws of hospitality, in joyful excitement of mind, and sent him away pleased; and as he was bent on commencing his enterprise, he determined, after deliberating with his ministers, on returning to Kauśāmbī.

Footnotes and references:


This interesting story, dating back to Ṛg-Veda days, is fully treated in Appendix I of this volume, see pp. 245-259. —n.m.p.


This, with the water weapon, and that of whirlwind, is mentioned in the Rāmāyana and the Uttara Rāma Charita.


Or Devarshi, belonging to the highest class of Rishis or patriarchal saints.


Durgāprasād reads pranṛtta instead of pravṛtia, thus the translation’would be : “where the Apsarases executed their dances.” — n . m . p .


This dance is mentioned in Act I of the Mālavikāgnimitra.


The Durgāprasād text makes better sense: “in order to dispel that thought from her mind.. .” See Speyer, op. cit., pp. 97-98. —n.m.p.


Literaly, “broke.” The vyādhi or disease must have been of the nature of an abscess.


“Amare et sapere vix deo conceditur” (Publius Syrus).


Liebrecht in an essay on some modern Greek songs (Zur Volkskunde, p. 211) gives numerous stories of children who spoke shortly after birth. It appears to have been generally considered an evil omen. Cf. the “Romance of Merlin” (Dunlop’s History of Fiction, p. 146). See also Baring Gould’s Curious Myths of the Middle Ages (new edition, 1869), p. 170. In a startling announcement of the birth of Antichrist which appeared in 1623, purporting to come from the brothers of the Order of St John, the following passage occurs:—“The child is dusky, has pleasant mouth and eyes, teeth pointed like those of a cat, ears large, stature by no means exceeding that of other children; the said child, incontinent on his birth, walked and talked perfectly well.” -See Crooke, “The Legends of Kṛṣṇa,” Folk-Lore, Vol. xi, 1900, p. 10.—N.M.P.


In the Durgāprasād text we find that he was faint “because his heart was hit, as it were, by love’s arrow.” —n.m.p.


It seems curious that, after publicly declaring that his daughter died at birth, he should now say she was alive, but mad. The Durgāprasād text reads kuto and mūḍheti instead of’ arthato and mūḍhā ’iti, making the meaning, “Whence can I have a daughter, fool!” which makes much better sense, and is, moreover, more in accordance with the rest of the tale.— n.m.p.


More literally, “blockaded his house with troops and his throat with tears.”—The Durgāprasād text reads asubhiḥ, “with his breath.” —n.m.p.


Literally, “I must never be bedded by my husband.”— n.m.p.


Literally, “bedded.”— n.m.p.


Literally, “put this bride to bed, for who will not lie with his wife.”— n.m.p.


So in the twenty-first of Miss Stokes’ Indian Fairy Tales the fakir changes the king’s son into a fly. Cf. also Veckenstedt’s Wendische Sagen, p. 127.


Ficus Indica. Such a tree is said to have sheltered an army. Its branches take root and form a natural cloister. Cf. Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book IX, line 1000 et seq.


Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology (translation by Stallybrass, p. 121, note) connects the description of wonderful maidens sitting inside hollow trees, or perched on the boughs, with tree-worship. See also Grohmann’s Sagen aus Böhmen, p. 41.


For the illuminating power of female beauty see note 3 to the first tale in Miss Stokes’ collection, where parallels are cited from the folk-lore of Europe and Asia.


Literally, “I go to her house.”— n.m.p.


Reading nivārya (as in the Durgāprasād text) instead of vidārya we get much better sense—“retaining him with her left hand.”— n.m.p.


The Durgāprasād reading differs slightly and means “sacrifices, acts of charity and the like.” See Speyer, op. cit., p. 99-— n.m.p.


Kāmadhenu means a cow granting all desires; such a cow is said to have belonged to the sage Vaśiṣṭa.


Conciliation, bribery, sowing dissension, and war.


There are several versions of this tale. One of them in the Rāmāyaṇa (see Griffith’s metrical translation, vol. i, 1870, pp. 211 - 216) describes Ahalyā as being herself deceived, as Indra takes the form of her husband. Another story is that Indra was assisted in his designs by Soma (the moon), who, disguised as a cock, crowed at midnight. The unsuspecting Gautama left his bed and started his early morning devotions, while Indra immediately took his place. The morals of Indra were never above suspicion, but by the time of the Epics he had degenerated into nothing more than a “debonair debauchee.” In the Vedic age he is a god of the people, the champion of the fighting man, a kind of Hindu Zeus. For the gradual changing and explanation of the attributes of Indra see L. D. Barnett, Hindu Gods and Heroes, “Wisdom of the East” Series, 1922, pp. 26-34, 74, etc. See also Bloomfield, Vedic Concordance, under “Ahalyāyai,” p. 150; ditto, Proc. Am. Phil. Soc., vol. lvi, p. 7; V. Fausböll, Indian Mythology according to the Mahābhārata, 1903, pp. 88-92; and A. A. Macdonell, A History of Sanskrit Literature, 1909, pp. 84-87, etc. —n.m.p.


The Prakrit word majjāo means “a cat” and also “my lover.”


Literally, “woman of bad character.”—n.m.p.


For numerous references to stone metamorphoses see Chauvin, Bibliographic des Outrages Arabes, vi, 58.— n.m.p.


In some accounts Gautama repented of his curse and himself turned the marks into a thousand eyes. Another legend states that Indra obtained his numerous eyes in his eagerness to see as much as possible of the wonderful Tilottamā. We have already seen how Śiva became four-faced owing to the same cause (p. 14). Here the two stories seem rather muddled.— n.m.p.

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