Kathasaritsagara (the Ocean of Story)

by Somadeva | 1924 | 1,023,469 words | ISBN-13: 9789350501351

This is the English translation of the Kathasaritsagara written by Somadeva around 1070. The principle story line revolves around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the Vidhyādharas (‘celestial beings’). The work is one of the adoptations of the now lost Bṛhatkathā, a great Indian epic tale said to have been composed by ...

[M] (Main story line continued) THEN the King of Vatsa, while encamped in Lāvāṇaka to rest his army, said in secret to Yaugandharāyaṇa:

“Through your sagacity I have conquered all the kings upon the earth, and they being won over by politic devices will not conspire against me. But this King of Benares, Brahmadatta, is an ill-conditioned fellow, and he alone, I think, will plot against me; what confidence can be reposed in the wicked-minded?”

Then Yaugandharāyaṇa, being spoken to in this strain by the king, answered:

“O King, Brahmadatta will not plot against you again, for when he was conquered and submitted, you showed him great consideration; and what sensible man will injure one who treats him well? Whoever does, will find that it turns out unfortunately for himself, and on this point listen to what I am going to say; I will tell you a tale.


24. Story of Phalabhūti

There was once on a time in the land of Padma an excellent Brāhman of high renown, named Agnidatta, who lived on a grant of land given by the king. He had born to him two sons, the elder named Somadatta, and the second Vaiśvānaradatta. The elder of them was of fine person, but ignorant, and ill-conducted, but the second was sagacious, well-conducted, and fond of study. And those two after they were married, and their father had died, divided that royal grant and the rest of his possessions between them, each taking half; and the younger of the two was honoured by the king, but the elder, Somadatta, who was of unsteady character, remained a husbandman.

One day a Brāhman, who had been a friend of his father’s, seeing him engaged in conversation with some Śūdras, thus addressed him:

“Though you are the son of Agnidatta, you behave like a Śūdra, you blockhead, and you are not ashamed, though you see your own brother in favour with the king.”

Somadatta, when he heard that, flew into a passion, and, forgetting the respect due to the old man, ran upon him, and gave him a kick. Then the Brāhman, enraged on account of the kick, immediately called on some other Brāhmans to bear witness to it, and went and complained to the king. The king sent out soldiers to take Somadatta prisoner, but they, when they went out, were slain by his friends, who had taken up arms. Then the king sent out a second force, and captured Somadatta, and blinded by wrath ordered him to be impaled. Then that Brāhman, as he was being lifted on to the stake, suddenly fell to the ground, as if he were flung down by somebody. And those executioners, when preparing to lift him on again, became blind, for the Fates protect one who is destined to be prosperous.

The king, as soon as he heard of the occurrence, was pleased, and being entreated by the younger brother, spared the life of Somadatta; then Somadatta, having escaped death, desired to go to another land with his wife on account of the insulting treatment of the king, and when his relations in a body disapproved of his departure, he determined to live without the half of the king’s grant, which he resigned; then, finding no other means of support, he desired to practise husbandry, and went to the forest on a lucky day to find a piece of ground suitable for it. There he found a promising piece of ground, from which it seemed likely that an abundant crop could be produced, and in the middle of it he saw an Aśvattha tree of great size. Desiring ground fit for cultivation, and seeing that tree to be cool like the rainy season, as it kept off the rays of the sun with its auspicious thick shade, he was much delighted.

He said:

“I am a faithful votary of that being, whoever he may be, that presides over this tree,”[1]

and walking round the tree so as to keep it on his right,[2] he bowed before it. Then he yoked a pair of bullocks, and recited a prayer for success, and after making an oblation to that tree, he began to plough there. And he remained under that tree night and day, and his wife always brought him his meals there. And in course of time, when the corn was ripe, that piece of ground was, as fate would have it, unexpectedly plundered by the troops of a hostile kingdom. Then the hostile force having departed, the courageous man, though his corn was destroyed, comforted his weeping wife, gave her the little that remained, and after making an offering as before, remained in the same place, under the same tree. For that is the character of resolute men, that their perseverance is increased by misfortune.

Then one night, when he was sleepless from anxiety and alone, a voice came out from that Aśvattha tree:

“O Somadatta, I am pleased with thee, therefore go to the kingdom of a king named Ādityaprabha in the land of Śrīkaṇṭha; continually repeat at the door of that king (after reciting the form of words used at the evening oblation to Agni) the following sentence:—

‘I am Phalabhūti by name, a Brāhman, hear what I say: he who does good will obtain good, and he who does evil will obtain evil’;

by repeating this thou shalt obtain great prosperity; and now learn from me the form of words used at the evening oblation to Agni; I am a Yakṣa.”

Having said this, and having immediately taught him by his power the form of words used in the evening oblation, the voice in the tree ceased.

And the next morning the wise Somadatta set out with his wife, having received the name of Phalabhūti by imposition of the Yakṣa, and after crossing various forests, uneven and labyrinthine as his own calamities,[3] he reached the land of Śrīkaṇṭha. There he recited at the king’s door the form of words used at the evening oblation, and then he announced, as he had been directed, his name as Phalabhūti, and uttered the following speech, which excited the curiosity of the people:—

“The doer of good will obtain good, but the doer of evil, evil.”

And after he had said this frequently, the King Ādityaprabha, being full of curiosity, caused Phalabhūti to be brought into the palace, and he entered, and over and over again repeated that same speech in the presence of the king. That made the king and all his courtiers laugh. And the king and his chiefs gave him garments and ornaments, and also villages, for the amusement of great men is not without fruit; and so Phalabhūti, having been originally poor, immediately obtained by the favour of the Guhyaka[4] wealth bestowed by the king; and by continually reciting the words mentioned above he became a special favourite of the monarch; for the regal mind loves diversion. And gradually he attained to a position of love and respect in the palace, in the kingdom, and in the female apartments, as being beloved by the king.

One day that King Ādityaprabha returned from hunting in the forest, and quickly entered his harem[5]; his suspicions were aroused by the confusion of the warders, and when he entered, he saw the queen named Kuvalayāvalī engaged in worshipping the gods, stark naked[6] with her hair standing on end, and her eyes half closed, with a large patch of red lead upon her forehead, with her lips trembling in muttering charms, in the midst of a great circle [see notes on magical circles] strewed with various coloured powders, after offering a horrible oblation of blood, spirits and human flesh. She for her part, when the king entered, in her confusion seized her garments, and when questioned by him immediately answered, after craving pardon for what she had done: “I have gone through this ceremony in order that you might obtain prosperity, and now, my lord, listen to the way in which I learnt these rites, and the secret of my magic skill.


24a . Kuvalayāvalī and the Witch Kālarātri

Long ago, when I was living in my father’s house, I was thus addressed, while enjoying myself in the garden during the spring festival, by my friends who met me there:

“There is in this pleasure-garden an image of Gaṇeśa, the god of gods, in the middle of an arbour made of trees, and that image grants boons, and its power has been tested. Approach with devout faith that granter of petitions, and worship him, in order that you may soon obtain without difficulty a suitable husband.”

When I heard that, I asked my friends in my ignorance:

“What! do maidens obtain husbands by worshipping Gaṇeśa?”

Then they answered me:

“Why do you ask such a question? Without worshipping him no one obtains any success in this world; and in proof of it we will give you an instance of his power. Listen.”

Saying this, my friends told me the following tale: —


24aa . The Birth of Kārttikeya

Long ago, when Indra, oppressed by Tāraka, was desirous of obtaining a son from Śiva to act as general of the gods, and the God of Love had been consumed,[7] Gaurī by performing austerities sought and gained as a husband the three-eyed god, who was engaged in a very long and terrible course of mortification. Then she desired the obtaining of a son, and the return to life of the God of Love, but she did not remember to worship Gaṇeśa in order to gain her end. So, when his beloved asked that her desire should be granted, Śiva said to her:

“My dear goddess, the God of Love was born long ago from the mind of Brahmā, and no sooner was he born than he said in his insolence:

‘Whom shall I make mad (kan darpayāmi)?’

So Brahmā called him Kandarpa, and said to him:

‘Since thou art very confident, my son, avoid attacking Śiva only, lest thou receive death from him.’

Though the creator gave him this warning, the ill-disposed god came to trouble my austerities, therefore he was burned up by me, and he cannot be created again with his body.[8] But I will create by my power a son from you, for I do not require the might of love in order to have offspring as mortals do.”

While the god, whose ensign is a bull,[9] was saying this to Pārvatī, Brahmā accompanied by Indra appeared before him; and when he had been praised by them, and entreated to bring about the destruction of the Asura Tāraka, Śiva consented to beget on the goddess a son of his body. And, at their entreaty, he consented that the God of Love should be born without body in the minds of animate creatures, to prevent the destruction of created beings. And he gave permission to love to inflame his own mind; pleased with that, the creator went away and Pārvatī was delighted.

Some days after this, Śiva in privacy pursued the sport of love with Umā. When there was no end to his amorous play, though centuries passed by, the triple world trembled at the friction thereof. Then from fear of the world perishing, the gods, by order of Brahmā, called to mind Agni in order to stop Śiva’s amorous play. Agni, for his part, the moment they called him to mind, thinking that the foe of the God of Love was irresistible, and afraid to interfere, fled from the gods and entered the water; but the frogs, being burned by his heat, told the gods, who were searching for him, that he was in the water; then Agni by his curse immediately made the speech of the frogs thenceforth inarticulate, and again disappearing fled to a paradise tree.[10] There the gods found him, concealed in the trunk of the tree, in the form of a snail, for he was betrayed by the elephants and parrots, and he appeared to them. And after making by a curse the tongues of the parrots and the elephants incapable of clear utterance, he promised to do what the gods requested, having been praised by them. So he went to Śiva and by his heat stopped Śiva from his amorous play, and after inclining humbly before him, through fear of being cursed, he informed him of the commission the gods had given him. Śiva, in his turn, as the impulse arose in him, deposited his seed in the fire. Neither the Fire nor Umā was able to bear this.

The goddess, distracted with anger and grief, said:

“I have not obtained a son from you after all”;

and Śiva said to her:

“An obstacle has arisen in this matter, because you neglected to worship Gaṇeśa, the Lord of Obstacles; therefore adore him now in order that a son may speedily be born to us in the fire.”

When thus addressed by Śiva, the goddess worshipped Gaṇeśa, and the fire became pregnant with that germ of Śiva. Then, bearing that embryo of Śiva, the fire shone even in the day as if the sun had entered into it. And then it discharged into the Ganges the germ difficult to bear, and the Gaṇas, by the order of Śiva, placed it in a sacrificial cavity on Mount Meru. There that germ was watched by the Gaṇas, Śiva’s attendants, and after a thousand years had developed it, it became a boy with six faces.[11] Then, drinking milk with his six mouths from the breasts of the six Kṛttikās[12] appointed by Gaurī to nurse him, the boy grew big in a few days. In the meanwhile, the king of the gods, overcome by the Asura Tāraka, fled to the difficult peaks of Mount Meru, abandoning the field of battle. And the gods, together with the Rishis, went to the six-mouthed Kārttikeya for protection, and he, defending the god, remained surrounded by them. When Indra heard that, he was troubled, considering that his kingdom was taken from him, and being jealous he went and made war upon Kārttikeya. But from the body of Kārttikeya, when struck by the thunderbolt of Indra, there sprang two sons called Śākha and Viśākha, both of incomparable might.

Then Śiva came to his offspring Kārttikeya, who exceeded Indra in might, and forbade him and his two sons to fight, and rebuked him in the following words:—

“Thou wast born in order that thou mightest slay Tāraka and protect the realm of Indra, therefore do thy own duty.”

Then Indra was delighted, and immediately bowed before him, and commenced the ceremony of consecrating by ablutions Kārttikeya as general of his forces.

But when he himself lifted the pitcher for that purpose, his arm became stiff, wherefore he was despondent, but Śiva said to him:

“Thou didst not worship the elephant-faced god when thou desiredst a general; it was for this reason that thou hast met with this obstacle, therefore adore him now.”

Indra, when he heard that, did so, and his arm was set free, and he duly performed the joyful ceremony of consecrating the general. And, not long after, the general slew the Asura Tāraka, and the gods rejoiced at having accomplished their object, and Gaurī at having obtained a son. So, princess, you see even the gods are not successful without honouring Gaṇeśa, therefore adore him when you desire a blessing.


24a. Kuvalayāvalī and the Witch Kālarātri

After hearing this from my companions, I went, my husband, and worshipped an image of Gaṇeśa that stood in a lonely part of the garden, and after I had finished the worship I suddenly saw that those companions of mine had flown up by their own power and were disporting themselves in the fields of the air; when I saw that, out of curiosity I called them and made them come down from the heaven, and when I asked them about the nature of their magic power, they immediately gave me this answer:

“These are the magic powers of witches’ spells, and they are due to the eating of human flesh, and our teacher in this is a Brāhman woman known by the name of Kālarātri.”

When my companions said this to me, I, being desirous of acquiring the power of a woman that can fly in the air, but afraid of eating human flesh, was for a time in a state of hesitation; then, eager to possess that power, I said to those friends of mine:

“Cause me also to be instructed in this science.”

And immediately they went and brought, in accordance with my request, Kālarātri, who was of repulsive appearance. Her eyebrows met,[13] she had dull eyes, a depressed flat nose, large cheeks, widely parted lips, projecting teeth, a long neck, pendulous breasts, a large belly, and broad expanded feet. She appeared as if the creator had made her as a specimen of his skill in producing ugliness.[14] When I fell at her feet, after bathing and worshipping Gaṇeśa, she made me take off my clothes and perform, standing in a circle, a horrible ceremony in honour of Śiva in his terrific form, and after she had sprinkled me with water she gave me various spells known to her, and human flesh to eat that had been offered in sacrifice to the gods; so, after I had eaten man’s flesh and had received the various spells, I immediately flew up, naked as I was, into the heaven with my friends, and after I had amused myself, I descended from the heaven by command of my teacher, and I, the princess, went to my own apartments. Thus even in my girlhood I became one of the society of witches,[15] and in our meetings we devoured the bodies of many men. But listen, King, to a story which is a digression from my main tale.


24b. Sundaraka and the Witches

That Kālarātri had for husband a Brāhman of the name of Viṣṇusvāmin, and he, being an instructor in that country, taught many pupils who came from different lands, as he was skilful in the exposition of the Vedas. And among his pupils he had one young man of the name of Sundaraka, the beauty of whose person was set off by his excellent character. One day the teacher’s wife Kālarātri being love-sick secretly courted him, her husband having gone away to some place or other. Truly Kāma makes great sport with ugly people as his laughing-stocks, in that she, not considering her own appearance, fell in love with Sundaraka. But he, though tempted, detested with his whole soul the crime; however women may misbehave, the mind of the good is not to be shaken.

Then, he having departed, Kālarātri in a rage tore her own body with bites and scratches, and she remained weeping,[16] with dress and locks disordered, until the teacher Viṣṇusvāmin entered the house.

And when he had entered she said to him:

“Look, my lord, to this state has Sundaraka reduced me, endeavouring to gain possession of me by force.”[17]

As soon as the teacher heard that, he was inflamed with anger; for confidence in women robs even wise men of their power of reflection; and when Sundaraka returned home at night he ran upon him, and he and his pupils kicked him, and struck him with fists and sticks; moreover, when he was senseless with the blows, he ordered his pupils to fling him out in the road by night, without regard to his safety; and they did so.

Then Sundaraka was gradually restored to consciousness by the cool night breeze, and seeing himself thus outraged he reflected:

“Alas! the instigation of a woman troubles the minds even of those men whose souls are not under the dominion of passion, as a storm disturbs the repose of lakes which are not reached by dust.[18] This is why that teacher of mine, in the excess of his anger, though old and wise, was so inconsiderate as to treat me so cruelly. But the fact is, lust and wrath are appointed in the dispensation of fate, from the very birth even of wise Brāhmans, to be the two bolts on the door of their salvation.[19] For were not the sages long ago angry with Śiva in the devadāru wood, being afraid that their wives would go astray? And they did not know that he was a god, as he had assumed the appearance of a Buddhist mendicant, with the intention of showing Umā that even Rishis do not possess self-restraint. But after they had cursed him, they discovered that he was the ruling god that shakes the three worlds, and they fled to him for protection. So it appears that even hermits injure others when beguiled by the six faults that are enemies of man,[20] lust, wrath and their crew, much more so Brāhmans learned in the Vedas.”

Thinking thus, Sundaraka, from fear of robbers during the night, climbed up and took shelter in a neighbouring cow-house. And while he was croucing unobserved in a corner of that cow-house, Kālarātri came into it with a drawn sword in her hand,[21] terrible from the hissing she uttered, with wind and flames issuing from her mouth and eyes, accompanied by a crowd of witches. Then the terrified Sundaraka, beholding Kālarātri arriving in such a guise, called to mind the spells that drive away Rākṣasas, and bewildered by these spells Kālarātri did not see him croucing secretly in a corner, with his limbs drawn together from fear. Then Kālarātri with her friends recited the spells that enable witches to fly, and they flew up into the air, cow-house and all.

And Sundaraka heard the spell and remembered it [see notes on the motif of overhearing]; but Kālarātri with the cow-house quickly flew through the air to Ujjayinī: there she made it descend by a spell in a garden of herbs, and went and sported in the cemetery among the witches: and immediately Sundaraka, being hungry, went down into the garden of herbs and made a meal on some roots which he dug up, and after he had allayed the pangs of hunger, and returned to the cow-house, Kālarātri came back in the middle of the night from her meeting. Then she got up into the cow-house, and, just as before, she flew through the air with her pupils by the power of her magic, and returned home in the night. And after she had replaced the cow-house, which she made use of as a vehicle, in its original situation, and had dismissed those followers of hers, she entered her sleeping apartment. And Sundaraka, having thus passed through that night, astonished at the troubles he had undergone, in the morning left the cow-house and went to his friends; there he related what had happened to him, and, though desirous of going to some other country, he was comforted by those friends and took up his abode among them, and leaving the dwelling of his teacher, and taking his meals in the almshouse for Brāhmans, he lived there, enjoying himself at will in the society of his friends.

One day Kālarātri, having gone out to buy some necessaries for her house, saw Sundaraka in the market. And being once more love-sick, she went up to him and said to him a second time:

“Sundaraka, enjoy me even now, for my life depends on you.”

When she said this to him, the virtuous Sundaraka said to her:

“Do not speak thus, it is not right; you are my mother, as being the wife of my teacher.”

Then Kālarātri said:

“If you know what is right, then grant me my life, for what righteousness is greater than the saving of life?”

Then Sundaraka said:

“Mother,[22] do not entertain this wish, for what righteousness can there be in approaching the bed of my preceptor?”

Thus repulsed by him, and threatening him in her wrath, she went home, after tearing her upper garment with her own hand, and showing the garment to her husband, she said to him:

“Look, Sundaraka ran upon me and tore this garment of mine in this fashion.”

So her husband went in his anger and stopped Sundaraka’s supply of food at the almshouse, by saying that he was a felon who deserved death.[23] Then Sundaraka in disgust, being desirous of leaving that country, and knowing the spell for flying up into the air which he had learnt in the cowhouse, but being conscious that he had forgotten, after hearing it, the spell for descending from the sky, which he had been taught there also, again went in the night to that deserted cow-house, and while he was there Kālarātri came as before, and flying up in the cow-house in the same way as on the former occasion, travelled through the air to Ujjayinī, and having made the cow-house descend by a spell in the garden of herbs, went again to the cemetery to perform her nightly ceremonies.

And Sundaraka heard that spell again, but failed again to retain it; for how can magic practices be thoroughly learnt without explanation by a teacher? Then he ate some roots there, and put some others in the cow-house to take away with him, and remained there as before; then Kālarātri came, and climbing up into the cow-house, flew through the air by night, and stopping the vehicle, entered her house. In the morning Sundaraka also left that house, and taking the roots with him he went to the market in order to procure money with which to purchase food. And while he was selling them there some servants of the king, who were natives of Mālava, took them away without paying for them, seeing that they were the produce of their own country. Then he began to remonstrate angrily, so they manacled him, and took him before the king on a charge of throwing stones at them, and his friends followed him.

Those villains said to the king:

“This man, when we asked him how he managed continually to bring roots from Mālava and sell them in Ujjayinī, would not give us any answer; on the contrary he threw stones at us.”

When the king heard this, he asked about that marvel[24]: then his friends said:

“If he is placed on the palace with us, he will explain the whole wonder, but not otherwise.”

The king consented, and Sundaraka was placed on the palace, whereupon by the help of the spell he suddenly flew up into the heaven with the palace. And travelling on it with his friends, he gradually reached Prayāga,[25] and being now weary, he saw a certain king bathing there, and after stopping the palace there, he plunged from the heaven into the Ganges, and, beheld with wonder by all, he approached that king.

The king, inclining before him, said to him:

“Who art thou, and why hast thou descended from heaven?”

Sundaraka answered:

“I am an attendant of the god Śiva, named Murajaka, and by his command I have come to thee desiring human pleasures.”

When the king heard this, he supposed it was true, and gave him a city, rich in corn, filled with jewels, with women and all the insignia of rank. Then Sundaraka entered that city and flew up into the heaven with his followers, and for a long time roamed about at will, free from poverty. Lying on a golden bed, and fanned with chowries by beautiful women, he enjoyed happiness like that of Indra. Then once on a time a Siddha, that roamed in the air, with whom he had struck up a friendship, gave him a spell for descending from the air, and Sundaraka, having become possessed of this spell enabling him to come down to earth, descended from the sky-path in his own city of Kanyākubja.

Then the king, hearing that he had come down from heaven, possessed of full prosperity, with a city, went in person to meet him out of curiosity, and Sundaraka, when recognised and questioned, knowing what to say on all occasions, informed the king of all his own adventures brought about by Kālarātri. Then the king sent for Kālarātri and questioned her, and she fearlessly confessed her improper conduct; and the king was angry, and made up his mind to cut off her ears, but she, when seized, disappeared before the eyes of all the spectators. Then the king forbade her to live in his kingdom, and Sundaraka, having been honourably treated by him, returned to the air.


24a. Kuvalayāvalī and the Witch Kālarātri

Having said this to her husband, the King Ādityaprabha, the Queen Kuvalayāvalī went on to say:

“King, such magic powers, produced by the spells of witches, do exist, and this thing happened in my father’s kingdom, and it is famous in the world, and, as I told you at first, I am a pupil of Kālarātri’s, but because I am devoted to my husband I possess greater power even than she did. And to-day you saw me just at the time when I had performed ceremonies to ensure your welfare, and was endeavouring to attract by a spell a man to offer as a victim. So do you enter now into our practice, and set your foot on the head of all kings, conquering them by magic power.”[26]


24. Story of Phalabhūti

When he heard this proposal, the king at first rejected it, saying:

“What propriety is there in a king connecting himself with the eating of human flesh, the practice of witches?”

But when the queen was bent on committing suicide, he consented; for how can men who are attracted by the objects of passion remain in the good path? Then she made him enter into the circle previously consecrated, and said to the king after he had taken an oath.

“I attempted to draw hither as a victim that Brāhman named Phalabhūti, who is so intimate with you, but drawing him hither is a difficult task, so it is the best way to initiate some cook in our rites, that he may himself slay him and cook him. And you must not feel any compunction about it, because by eating a sacrificial offering of his flesh, after the ceremonies are complete, the enchantment will be perfect, for he is a Brāhman of the highest caste.”

When his beloved said this to him, the king, though afraid of the sin, a second time consented. Alas! terrible is compliance with women! Then that royal couple had the cook summoned, whose name was Sāhasika, and after encouraging him, and initiating him, they both said to him:

“Whoever comes to you to-morrow morning and says,

‘The king and queen will eat together to-day, so get some food ready quickly,’

him you must slay, and make for us secretly a savoury dish of his flesh.”

When the cook heard this, he consented, and went to his own house. And the next morning, when Phalabhūti arrived, the king said to him:

“Go and tell the cook Sāhasika in the kitchen:

‘The king together with the queen will eat to-day a savoury mess, therefore prepare as soon as possible a splendid dish.’”

Phalabhūti said, “I will do so,” and went out.

When he was outside, the prince whose name was Candraprabha came to him, and said:

“Have made for me this very day with this gold a pair of earrings, like those you had made before for my noble father.”

When the prince said this, Phalabhūti, in order to please him, went that moment, as he was commissioned, to get the earrings made, and the prince readily went with the king’s message, which Phalabhūti told him, alone to the kitchen. When he got there and told the king’s message, the cook Sāhasika, true to his agreement, immediately killed him with a knife, and made a dish of his flesh, which the king and queen, after performing their ceremonies, ate, not knowing the truth [also see notes on the message of death motif]; and after spending that night in remorse, the next morning the king saw Phalabhūti arrive with the earrings in his hand.

So, being bewildered, he questioned him about the earrings immediately; and when Phalabhūti had told him his story, the king fell on the earth, and cried out, “Alas, my son !” blaming the queen and himself; and when his ministers questioned him, he told them the whole story, and repeated what Phalabhūti had said every day:

“‘The doer of good will obtain good, and the doer of evil, evil.’

Often the harm that one wishes to do to another, recoils on oneself, as a ball thrown against a wall rebounding frequently; thus we, wicked ones, desiring to slay a Brāhman, have brought about our own son’s death, and devoured his flesh.”

After the king had said this, and informed his ministers, who stood with their faces fixed on the earth, of the whole transaction, and after he had anointed that very Phalabhūti as king in his place, he made a distribution of alms, and then, having no son, entered the fire with his wife to purify himself from guilt, though already consumed by the fire of remorse: and Phalabhūti, having obtained the royal dignity, ruled the earth; thus good or evil done by a man is made to return upon himself.


[M] (Main story line continued) Having related the above tale in the presence of the King of Vatsa, Yaugandharāyaṇa again said to that king:

“If Brahmadatta therefore were to plot against you, O great King, who, after conquering him, treated him kindly, he ought to be slain.”

When the chief minister had said this to him, the King of Vatsa approved of it, and rising up went to perform the duties of the day, and the day following he set out from Lāvāṇaka to go to his own city Kauśāmbī, having accomplished his objects in effecting the conquest of the regions. In course of time the lord of earth, accompanied by his retinue, reached his own city, which seemed to be dancing with delight, imitating with banners uplifted the taper arms[27] of the dancing-girl. So he entered the city, producing at every step, in the lotus garden composed of the eyes of the women of the city, the effect of the rising of a breeze. And the king entered his palace, sung by minstrels, praised by bards, and worshipped by kings.

Then the monarch of Vatsa laid his commands on the kings of every land, who bowed before him, and triumphantly ascended that throne, the heirloom of his race, which he had found long ago in the deposit of treasure. And the heaven was filled with the combined high and deep echoes of the sound of the drums, which accompanied the auspicious ceremonies on that occasion, like simultaneous shouts of applause uttered by the guardians of the world, each in his several quarter, being delighted with the prime minister of the King of Vatsa. Then the monarch, who was free from avarice, distributed to the Brāhmans all kinds of wealth acquired by the conquest of the world, and, after great festivities, satisfied the desires of the company of kings and of his own ministers.

Then in that city filled with the noise of drums resembling the thunder of the clouds, while the king was raining benefits on the fields[28] according to each man’s desert, the people, expecting great fruit in the form of corn, kept high festival in every house. Having thus conquered the world, that victorious king devolved on Rumaṇvat and Yaugandharāyaṇa the burden of his realm, and lived at ease there with Vāsavadattā and Padmāvatī. So he, being praised by excellent bards, seated between those two queens as if they were the goddesses of Fame and Fortune, enjoyed the rising of the moon, white as his own glory, and continually drank wine as he had swallowed the might of his foes.

[Additional note 1: nudity in magic ritual]

[Additional note 2: women whose love is scorned]

Footnotes and references:


For the worship of trees and tree-spirits, see Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology, p. 75 et seq., and Tylor’s Primitive Culture, vol. ii, p. 1 96 et seq.—Besides the references already given in Vol. I, p. 144n1, see also Sidney Hartland, Legend of Perseus, 1895, vol. ii, pp. 175-231; Crooke, Popular Religion of Northern India, vol. ii, pp. 83-121; Westermarck, Origin and Development of the Moral Idea (2nd edit.), 1919, vol. ii, p. 516; T. C. Hodson, “Primitive Culture of India,” Roy. As. Soc., 1922, p. 104.— n.m.p.


See Vol. I, pp. 190-193.— n.m.p.


I here read durdaśāḥ for the durdarśāḥ of Dr Brockhaus’ text. It must be a misprint. A MS. in the Sanskrit College reads durdaśāḥ.


The Guhyakas are demigods, attendants upon Kuvera and guardians of his wealth.—See Vol. I, Appendix I, p. 203.— n.m.p.


See note, p. 162 . —n.m.p.


Literally, “having the cardinal points as her only garment.”—For nudity in ritual and magic see Note 1 at the end of this chapter.— n.m.p.


I.e. by the fire of Śiva’s eye.


Perhaps we ought to read sadehasya. I find this reading in a MS. lent to me by the Librarian of the Sanskrit College with the kind permission of the Principal.


I.e. Śiva.


The correct reading here is mandara paradise” tree; Tawney originally had “place of refuge.”— n.m.p.


Cf. with this wild legend a similar one in the first book of the Rāmāyaṇa. Tawney omitted some details here in the translation. They have now been added from the D. text by Dr Barnett.— n.m.p.


I.e. the six Pleiades.


Mr Tylor (in his Primitive Culture, vol. ii, p. 176), speaking of Slavonian superstition, says: “A man whose eyebrows meet as if his soul were taking flight to enter some other body, may be marked by this sign either as a werewolf or a vampire.” In Icelandic Sagas a man with meeting eyebrows is said to be a werewolf. The same idea holds in Denmark, also in Germany, whilst in Greece it is a sign that a man is a Brukolak or vampire (note by Baring-Gould in Henderson’s Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties). The same idea is found in Bohemia, see Grohmann’s Sagen aus Böhmen, p. 210. Cf. Grimm’s Irische Märchen, p. cviii.—See Tawney’s original note on this subject in Ind. Ant., vol. vii, 1878, p. 87. We have already seen (Vol. I, p. 214) that the Persians considered joined eyebrows beautiful. The Arabs held the same views, and we read in the Nights (Burton, vol. i, p. 227; vol. iii, p. 164; vol. viii, p. 206) of “high-bosomed maids and of an equal age, with black eyes and cheeks like the rose, joined eyebrows and looks languorous” and “she had eyes koḥl’d with nature’s dye and joined eyebrows, a mouth as it were Solomon’s seal and lips and teeth bright with pearls’ and coral’s ight.” —n.m.p.


The D. text reads nayanānanavāntolkā as one of the epithets, “casting forth flames out of her eyes and mouth.” The Arab story-tellers have equally lucid descriptions of old hags and witches. Thus in the Nights (Burton, vol. ii, p. 233) we read:

“Now this accursed old woman was a witch of the witches, past mistress in sorcery and deception; wanton and wily, deboshed and deceptious; with foul breath, red eyelids, yellow' cheeks, dull-brown face, eyes bleared, mangy body, hair grizzled, back humped, skin withered and wan, and nostrils which ever ran.”

Similarly in vol. viii, p. 86, Hasan meets a “grizzled old woman, blue-eyed [unlucky] and big-nosed, a calamity of calamities, the foulest of all created things, with face pockmarked and eyebrows bald, gap-toothed and chap-fallen, with hair hoary, nose running and mouth slavering...”— n.m.p.


These magical rides in the air remind us of the orgies held by witches on the Brocken mountain in the Harz on Walpurgis night (1st May). Readers will, naturally, think of the famous “Brocken scene” in Goethe’s Faust. See the Index volume to Frazer’s Golden Bough, p. 517. A similar night was 31st October, known as Hallowe’en or All-Hallows day, which was the one night in all the year that ghosts and witches were sure to be found wandering about. See Brand’s Popular Antiquities of Great Britain, 1882-1883; Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie, ch. xx (Elemente) and ch. xxxiv; and the references given in Frazer, Golden Bough, vol. x, p. 266 et seq., and vol. xi, pp. 184n4, 185.— N.M.P.


I read āsta for āśu.


See Note 2 at the end of this chapter.— n.m.p.


Rajas in Sanskrit means “dust” and also “passion.”


I.e. immunity from future births.


I.e. desire, wrath, covetousness, bewilderment, pride and envy.


Cf. the Æthiopica of Heliodorus, Book VII, ch. xv, where the witch is armed with a sword during her incantations; and Homer’s Odyssey, xi, 48. See also for the magic virtues of steel, Liebrecht, Zur Volkskunde, pp. 312, 313.


See note on p. 201n3 of this volume.— n.m.p.


See Note 2 at the end of this chapter.— n.m.p.


I read tan tad.


Called more usually by English people Allāhābād.-Prayāga means “the place of sacrifice,” while Allāhābād, “abode of Allāh,” was the name given to the place by Akbar in 1572. For further details see Cunningham, Archæological Reports, vol. i, p. 296 et seq. —n.m.p.


From the days of the ancient Egyptians it was customary for kings to dabble in magic, and the magicians of Pharaoh often had Pharaoh himself as a pupil. See Maspero, Popular Stories of Ancient Egypt, p. 1. In a note he says:

“Even as late as the time of the Renaissance a prince was more highly regarded because he was a sorcerer. For example, in the Weisskunig one finds the young Maximilian of Austria instructed by his ecclesiastical preceptors not only in the secrets of white magic, but of black.” —n.m.p.


Literally, “creeper-like.”


There is a double meaning here: kṣetra means “fit recipients” as well as “field.” The king no doubt distributed corn.—The point is obscured by Tawney’s translation. The poet uses as a term for “king” the word narendra, “Indra of men”; so the words mean that “the king (narendra) pours forth benefits upon worthy objects (kṣetras) with beating of drums, as the god Indra pours forth rain upon the fields (kṣetras) amidst the thunders of the clouds” (Barnett).— n.m.p.

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