Kathasaritsagara (the Ocean of Story)

by Somadeva | 1924 | 1,050,534 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 Princess Kaliṅgasenā, who had deserted her own country and relations, remembering her dear friend Somaprabhā, who had left her, and finding the great festival of her marriage with the King of Vatsa delayed, remained in Kauśāmbī like a doe that had strayed from the forest.

And the King of Vatsa, feeling a little bitter against the astrologers, who were so dexterous in deferring the marriage of Kaliṅgasenā, being despondent with love-longing, went that day, to divert his mind, to the private apartments of Vāsavadattā. There the queen, who had been tutored beforehand by the excellent minister, let fall no sign of anger, but showed especial sedulity in honouring her husband with her usual attentions.

And the king, wondering how it was that, even though she knew the episode of Kaliṅgasenā, the queen was not angry, being desirous of knowing the cause, said to her:

“Do you know, queen, that a princess named Kaliṅgasenā has come here to choose me for her husband?”

The moment she heard it she answered, without changing the hue of her countenance:

“I know it; I am exceedingly delighted, for in her the Goddess of Fortune has come to our house; for by gaining her you will also get her father, Kaliṅgadatta, under your influence, and the earth will be more completely in your power. Now I am delighted on account of his great power and your pleasure, and long ago did I know this circumstance with regard to you. So am I not fortunate, since I have such a husband as you, whom princesses fall in love with, that are themselves sought by other kings?”

When thus addressed by Queen Vāsavadattā, who had been previously tutored by Yaugandharāyaṇa, the king rejoiced in his heart.

And after enjoying a drinking-bout with her he slept that night in her apartments, and waking up in the morning he reflected:

“What, does the magnanimous queen obey me so implicitly as even to acquiesce in having Kaliṅgasenā for a rival? But how could this same proud woman endure her, since it was owing to the special favour of destiny that she did not yield her breath even when I married Padmāvatī? So if anything were to happen to her, it would be utter ruin; upon her hang the lives of my son, my brother-in-law, my father-in-law and Padmāvatī, and the welfare of the kingdom. What higher tribute can I pay her? So how can I marry that Kaliṅgasenā?”

Thus reflecting, the King of Vatsa left her chamber at the close of night and the next day went to the palace of the Queen Padmāvatī. She too, having been taught her lesson by Vāsavadattā, showed him attentions after the very same fashion, and when questioned by him gave a similar answer.

The next day the king, thinking over the sentiments and speeches of the queens, which were completely in unison, commended them to Yaugandharāyaṇa.

And the minister Yaugandharāyaṇa, who knew how to seize the right moment, seeing that the king was plunged in doubt, spake slowly to him as follows:

“I know well the matter does not end where you think; there is a terrible resolve here. For the queens spoke thus because they are steadfastly bent on surrendering their lives. Chaste women, when their beloved is attached to another, or has gone to heaven, become careless about all enjoyments and determined to die, though their intentions are inscrutable on account of the haughtiness of their character. For matrons cannot endure the interruption of a deep affection, and in proof of this hear now, O King, this story of Śrutasena.

 

43. Story of Śrutasena

There lived long ago in the Deccan, in a city called Gokarṇa, a king named Śrutasena, who was the ornament of his race and possessed of learning. And this king, though his prosperity was complete, had yet one source of sorrow, that he had not as yet obtained a wife who was a suitable match for him. And once on a time the king, while brooding over that sorrow, began to talk about it, and was thus addressed by a Brāhman, named Agniśarman:

“I have seen two wonders, O King. I will describe them to you. Listen! Having gone on a pilgrimage to all the sacred bathing-places, I reached that Pañcatīrthī, in which five Apsarases were reduced to the condition of crocodiles by the curse of a holy sage, and were rescued from it by Arjuna, who had come there while going round the holy spots. There I bathed in the blessed water, which possesses the power of enabling those men who bathe in it, and fast for five nights, to become followers of Nārāyaṇa. And while I was departing I beheld a cultivator in the middle of a field, who had furrowed the earth with his plough, singing. That cultivator was asked about the road by a certain wandering hermit who had come that way, but did not hear what he said, being wholly occupied with his song.

Then the hermit was angry with that cultivator, and began to talk in a distracted manner; and the cultivator, Stopping his song, said to him:

‘Alas! though you are a hermit you will not learn even a fraction of virtue; even I, though a fool, have discovered what is the highest essence of virtue.’

When he heard that, the hermit asked him out of curiosity:

‘What have you discovered?’

And the cultivator answered him:

‘Sit here in the shade and listen while I tell you a tale.

 

43a. The Three Brāhman Brothers

In this land there were three Brāhman brothers, Brahmadatta, Somadatta and Viśvadatta, of holy deeds. Of these two, the eldest, possessed wives, but the youngest was unmarried; he remained as their servant without being-angry, obeying their orders along with me; for I was their ploughman. And those elder brothers thought that he was soft, and devoid of intellect, good, not swerving from the right path, simple and unenterprising. Then, once on a time, the youngest brother, Viśvadatta, was solicited by his two brothers’ wives, who fell in love with him, but he rejected their advances as if each of them had been his mother.

Then they both of them went and said falsely to their own husbands:

“This younger brother of yours makes love to us in secret.”[1]

This speech made those two elder brothers cherish anger against him in their hearts, for men bewildered by the speeches of wicked women do not know the difference between truth and falsehood.

Then those brothers said, once on a time, to Viśvadatta:

“Go and level that ant-hill in the middle of the field!”

He said, “I will,” and went and proceeded to dig up the ant-hill with his spade, though I said to him:

“Do not do it; a venomous snake lives there.”

Though he heard what I said, he continued to dig at the ant-hill, exclaiming, “Let what will happen!” for he would not disobey the order of his two elder brothers, though they wished him ill.

Then, while he was digging it up, he got out of it a pitcher filled with gold, and not a venomous snake; for virtue is an auxiliary to the good. So he took that pitcher and gave it all to his elder brothers out of his constant affection for them, though I tried to dissuade him. But they sent assassins, hiring them with a portion of that gold, and had his hands and feet cut off, in their desire to seize his wealth. But he was free from anger, and in spite of that treatment did not wax wroth with his brothers, and on account of that virtue of his, his hands and feet grew again.

 

43. Story of Śrutasena

“‘After beholding that I renounced from that time all anger, but you, though you are a hermit, have not even now renounced anger. The man who is free from anger has gained heaven. Behold now a proof of this.’

After saying this, the husbandman left his body and ascended to heaven. This is one wonder which I have seen. Hear a second, O Iving.”

After saying this to King Śrutasena the Brāhman continued:

“Then, as I was roaming about on the shore of the sea to visit sacred places, I reached the realm of King Vasan-tasena. There, as I was about to enter an almshouse where cooked food is distributed -by the king, the Brāhmans said to me:

‘Brāhman, advance not in that direction, for there the king’s daughter is present; she is called Vidyuddyotā, and if even a hermit beholds her he is pierced by the arrow of love and, becoming distracted, ceases to live.’

Then I answered them:

‘This is not wonderful to me, for I continually behold King Śrutasena, who is a second God of Love. When he leaves his palace on an expedition, or for some other purpose, women of good family are removed by guards from any place whence they may possibly see him, for fear they should infringe chastity.’

When I said this, they knew I was a subject of your Majesty’s, and the superintendent of the house of entertainment and the king’s chaplain took me into the presence of the king, that I might share the feast. There I saw that Princess Vidyuddyotā, looking like the incarnation of the magic art with which the God of Love bewilders the world.

After a long time I mastered my confusion at beholding her, and reflected:

‘If this lady were to become the wife of our sovereign, he would forget his kingdom. Nevertheless I must tell this tale to my master, otherwise there might take place the incident of Devasena and Unmādinī.’

 

43b. Devasena and Unmādinī

Once on a time, in the realm of King Devasena, there was a merchant’s daughter, a maiden that bewildered the world with her beauty. Her father told the king about her, but the king did not take her in marriage, for the Brāhmans, who wished to prevent him neglecting his duties, told him she had inauspicious marks. So she was married to his prime minister.[2] And once on a time she showed herself to the king at a window. And the king, struck by her with a poisonous look from a distance, as if she had been a female snake,[3] fainted again and again, enjoyed no pleasure, and took no food. And the righteous king, though entreated over and over again to marry her by the ministers, with her husband at their head, refused to do so, and, devoted to her, yielded up his breath.

 

43. Story of Śrutasena

“Accordingly I have come to-day and told you this wonderful tale, thinking that if a similar distraction were to come upon you I should be guilty of conspiring against your life.”

When King Śrutasena heard from that Brāhman this speech, which was like the command of the God of Love, he became ardently attached to Vidyuddyotā, so he immediately sent off the Brāhman and took steps to have her brought quickly, and married her. Then the Princess Vidyuddyotā became inseparable from the person of that king, as the daylight from the orb of the sun.

Then a maiden of the name of Mātṛdattā, the daughter of a very rich merchant, intoxicated with the pride of her beauty, came to select that king for her husband. Through fear of committing unrighteousness, the king married that merchant’s daughter; then Vidyuddyotā, coming to hear of it, died of a broken heart. And the king came and beheld that dearly loved wife lying dead, and took her up in his arms and, lamenting, died on the spot. Thereupon Mātṛdattā, the merchant’s daughter, entered the fire. And so the whole kingdom perished with the king.

 

[M] (Main story line continued)

“So you see. King, that the breaking off of long love is difficult to bear; especially would it be so to the proud Queen Vāsavadattā. Accordingly, if you were to marry this Kaliṅgasenā, the Queen Vāsavadattā would indubitably quit her life, and the Queen Padmāvatī would do the same, for their life is one. And then how would your son Naravā-hanadatta live? And, I know, the king’s heart would not be able to bear any misfortune happening to him. And so all this happiness would perish in a moment, O King. But as for the dignified reserve which the queens displayed in their speeches, that sufficiently shows that their hearts are indifferent to all things, being firmly resolved on suicide. So you must guard your own interests, for even animals understand self-protection, much more wise men like yourself, O King.”

The King of Vatsa, when he heard this at length from the excellent minister Yaugandharāyaṇa, having now become quite capable of wise discrimination, said:

“It is so; there can be no doubt about it; all this fabric of my happiness would be overthrown. So what is the use of my marrying Kaliṅgasenā? Accordingly the astrologers did well in mentioning a distant hour as auspicious for the marriage; and there cannot, after all, be much sin in abandoning one who had come to select me as her husband.”

When Yaugandharāyaṇa heard this, he reflected with joy:

“Our business has almost turned out according to our wishes. Will not that same great plant of policy, watered with the streams of expediency and nourished with due time and place, truly bring forth fruit?”

Thus reflecting, and meditating upon fitting time and place, the minister Yaugandharāyaṇa went to his house, after taking a ceremonious farewell of the king.

The king too went to the Queen Vāsavadattā, who had assumed to welcome him a manner which concealed her real feelings, and thus spoke to her to console her:

“Why do I speak? You know well, O gazelle-eyed one, that your love is my life, even as the water is of the lotus. Could I bear even to mention the name of another woman? But Kaliṅgasenā came to my house of her own impetuous motion. And this is well known, that Rambhā, who came to visit Arjuna of her own impetuous will, having been rejected by him, as he was engaged in austerities, inflicted on him a curse which made him a eunuch. That curse was endured by him to the end, living in the house of the King of Virāṭa in woman’s garb for a year, though he displayed miraculous valour.[4] So I did not reject this Kaliṅgasenā when she came, but I cannot bring myself to do anything without your wish.”

Having comforted her in these words, and having perceived by the flush of wine which rose to her cheek, as if it were her glowing, passionate heart, that her cruel design was a reality, the King of Vatsa spent that night with the Queen Vāsavadattā, delighted at the transcendent ability of his prime minister.

And in the meanwhile that Brāhman-Rākṣasa named Yogeśvara, who was a friend of Yaugandharāyaṇa’s, and whom he had commissioned beforehand to watch day and night the proceedings of Kaliṅgasenā, came that very night of his own accord and said to the prime minister:

“I remain ever at Kaliṅgasenā’s house, either without it or within it, and I have never seen man or god come there. But to-day I suddenly heard an indistinct noise in the air, at the commencement of the night, as I was lying hid near the roof of the palace.

Then my magic science was set in motion to ascertain the cause of the sound, but prevailed not; so I pondered over it and came to this conclusion:

‘This must certainly be the voice of some being of divine power, enamoured of Kaliṅgasenā, who is roaming in the sky. Since my science does not succeed, I must look for some opening, for clever people who remain vigilant find little difficulty in discovering holes in their opponent’s armour.

And I know that the prime minister said:

“Divine beings are in love with her.”

Moreover, I overheard her friend Somaprabhā saying the same.’

After arriving at this conclusion I came here to make my report to you. This I have to ask you by the way, so tell me so much, I pray you. By my magic power I heard, without being seen, what you said to the king:

‘Even animals understand self-protection.’

Now tell me, sagacious man, if there is any instance of this.”

When Yogeśvara asked him this question Yaugandharāyaṇa answered:

“There is, my friend; and to prove it I will tell you this tale. Listen.

 

44. Story of the Ichneumon, the Owl, the Cat and the Mouse

Once on a time there was a large banyan-tree outside the city of Yidiśā. In that vast tree dwelt four creatures, an ichneumon,[5] an owl, a cat and a mouse, and their habitations were apart. The ichneumon and the mouse dwelt in separate holes in the root, the cat in a great hollow in the middle of the tree; but the owl dwelt in a bower of creepers on the top of it, which was inaccessible to the others. Among these the mouse was the natural prey of all three, three out of the four of the cat. The mouse, the ichneumon and the owl ranged for food during the night, the first two through fear of the cat only, the owl partly because it was his nature to do so. But the cat fearlessly wandered night and day through the neighbouring barley-field, in order to catch the mouse, while the others went there by stealth at a suitable time out of desire for food.

One day a certain hunter of the Chāṇḍāla caste came there. He saw the track of the cat entering that field, and having set nooses all round the field in order to compass its death, departed. So the cat came there at night to slay the mouse, and entering the field was caught in one of the hunter’s nooses. The mouse, for his part, came there secretly in search of food, and seeing the cat caught in the noose, danced for joy.

While it was entering the field the owl and ichneumon came from afar by the same path, and seeing the cat fast in the noose, desired to capture the mouse.

And the mouse, beholding them afar off, was terrified, and reflected:

“If I fly to the cat, which the owl and the ichneumon are afraid of, that enemy, though fast in the noose, may slay me with one blow, but if I keep at a distance from the cat the owl and the ichneumon will be the death of me. So being compassed about with enemies, where shall I go, what shall I do? Ah! I will take refuge with the cat here, for it is in trouble and may serve me to preserve its own life, as I shall be of use to gnaw through the noose.”

Thus reflecting, the mouse slowly approached the cat and said to it:

“I am exceedingly grieved at your being caught, so I will gnaw through your noose; the upright come to love even their enemies by dwelling in their neighbourhood. But I do not feel confidence in you, as I do not know your intentions.”

When the cat heard that, he said:

“Worthy mouse, be at rest; from this day forth you are my friend, as giving me life.”

The moment he heard this from the cat he crept into his bosom; when the owl and the ichneumon saw that, they went away hopeless.

Then the cat, galled with the noose, said to the mouse:

“My friend, the night is almost gone, so quickly gnaw through my bonds.”

The mouse for its part, waiting for the arrival of the hunter, slowly nibbled the noose and protracted the business, making a continual munching with its teeth, which was all pretence.

Soon the night came to an end and the hunter came near; then the mouse, at the request of the cat, quickly gnawed through the noose which held it. So the cat’s noose was severed and it ran away, afraid of the hunter; and the mouse, delivered from death, fled into its hole.

But when called again by the cat it reposed no confidence in him, but remarked:

“The truth is, an enemy is occasionally made a friend by circumstances, but does not remain such for ever.”

 

[M] (Main story line continued)

“Thus the mouse, though an animal, saved its life from many foes; much more ought the same thing to take place among men. You heard that speech which I uttered to the king on that occasion, to the effect that by wisdom he should guard his own interests by preserving the life of the queen. And wisdom is in every exigency the best friend, not valour, Yogeśvara. In illustration of this hear the following story:—

 

45. Story of King Prasenajit and the Brāhman who lost his Treasure [6]

There is a city named Srāvastī, and in it there lived in old time a king of the name of Prasenajit, and one day a strange Brāhman arrived in that city. A merchant, thinking he was virtuous because he lived on rice in the husk, provided him a lodging there in the house of a Brāhman. There he was loaded by him every day with presents of unhusked rice and other gifts, and gradually by other great merchants also, who came to hear his story. In this way the miserly fellow gradually accumulated a thousand dīnārs, and, going to the forest, he dug a hole and buried it in the ground,[7] and he went every day and examined the spot.

Now one day he saw that the hole, in which he had hidden his gold, had been reopened, and that all the gold had gone. When he saw that hole empty his soul was smitten, and not only was there a void in his heart, but the whole universe seemed to him to be void also. And then he came crying to the Brāhman in whose house he lived, and when questioned he told him his whole story; and he made up his mind to go to a holy bathing-place and starve himself to death.

Then the merchant who supplied him with food, hearing of it, came there with others and said to him:

“Brāhman, why do you long to die for the loss of your wealth? Wealth, like an unseasonable cloud, suddenly comes and goes.”

Though plied by him with these and similar arguments, he would not abandon his fixed determination to commit suicide, for wealth is dearer to the miser than life itself. But when the Brāhman was going to the holy place to commit suicide the King Prasenajit himself, having heard of it, came to him and asked him:

“Brāhman, do you know of any marks by which you can recognise the place where you buried your dīnārs?”

When the Brāhman heard that, he said:

“There is a small tree in the wood there. I buried that wealth at its foot.”

When the king heard that, he said:

“I will find that wealth and give it back to you, or I will give it you from my own treasury. Do not commit suicide, Brāhman.”

After saying this, and so diverting the Brāhman from his intention of committing suicide, the king entrusted him to the care of the merchant, and retired to his palace. There he pretended to have a headache, and sending out the doorkeeper, he summoned all the physicians in the city by proclamation with beat of drum.

And he took aside every single one of them and questioned him privately in the following words:—

“What patients have you here, and how many, and what medicine have you prescribed for each?”

And they thereupon, one by one, answered all the king’s questions.

Then one among the physicians, when his turn came to be questioned, said this:

“The merchant Mātṛ-datta has been out of sorts, O King, and this is the second day that I have prescribed for him nāgabalā.”[8]

When the king heard that, he sent for the merchant and said to him:

“Tell me, who fetched you the nāgabalā?”

The merchant said: “My servant, your Highness.”

When the king got this answer from the merchant, he quickly summoned the servant and said to him:

“Give up that treasure belonging to a Brāhman, consisting of a store of dīnārs, which you found when you were digging at the foot of a tree for nāgabalā.”

When the king said this to him, the servant was frightened, and confessed immediately, and bringing those dīnārs left them there. So the king for his part summoned the Brāhman and gave him, who had been fasting in the meanwhile, his dīnārs, lost and found again, like a second soul external to his body.

 

[M] (Main story line continued)

“Thus that king by his wisdom recovered for the Brāhman his wealth, which had been taken away from the root of the tree, knowing that that simple grew in such spots. So true is it, that intellect always obtains the supremacy, triumphing over valour; indeed in such cases what could courage accomplish? Accordingly, Yogeśvara, you ought to bring it to pass by your wisdom that some peccadillo be discovered in Kaliṅgasenā. And it is true that the gods and Asuras are in love with her. This explains your hearing at night the sound of someone being in the air. And if we could only obtain some pretext, calamity would fall upon her, not on us; the king would not marry her, and yet we should not have dealt unrighteously with her.”

When the Brāhman-Rākṣasa Yogeśvara heard all this from the sagacious Yaugandharāyaṇa he was delighted, and said to him:

“Who except the god Vṛhaspati can match thee in policy? This counsel of thine waters with ambrosia the tree of empire. I, even I, will investigate with wisdom and might the proceedings of Kaliṅgasenā.”

Having said this, Yogeśvara departed thence.

And at this time Kaliṅgasenā, while in her palace, was continually afflicted by beholding the King of Yatsa roaming about in his palace and its grounds. Thinking on him, she was inflamed with love, and though she wore a bracelet and necklace of lotus fibres[9] she never obtained relief thereby, nor from sandal-ointment or other remedies.

In the meanwhile the King of the Vidyādharas, named Madanavega, who had seen her before, remained wounded by the arrow of ardent love. Though he had performed a vow to obtain her and had been granted a boon by Śiva, still she was not easy to gain, because she was living in the land of another, and attached to another, so the Vidyādhara prince was wandering about at night in the air over her palace, in order to obtain an opportunity. But, remembering the order of Śiva, pleased with his asceticism, he assumed one night by his skill the form of the King of Vatsa.

And in this shape he entered her palace, saluted with praises by the doorkeepers, who said:

“Unable to bear delay, the king has come here without the knowledge of his ministers.”

And Kaliṅgasenā, on beholding him, rose up bewildered with agitation, though she was, so to speak, warned by her ornaments, which jingled out the sounds: “This is not the man.”

Then she by degrees gained confidence in him, and Madanavega, wearing the form of the King of Vatsa, made her his wife by the gāndharva rite.[10]

At that moment Yogeśvara entered, invisible by his magic, and, beholding the incident, was cast down, supposing that he saw the King of Vatsa before him. He went and told Yaugandharāyaṇa, who, on receiving his report, saw by his skill that the king was in the society of Vāsavadattā. So by the order of the prime minister he returned delighted, to observe the shape of that secret paramour of Kaliṅgasenā when asleep. And so he went and beheld that Madanavega asleep in his own form on the bed of the sleeping Kaliṅgasenā, a heavenly being, the dustless lotus of whose foot was marked with the umbrella and the banner; and who had lost his power of changing his form, because his science was suspended during sleep.[11]

Then Yogeśvara, full of delight, went and told what he had seen, in a joyful mood, to Yaugandharāyaṇa.

He said:

“One like me knows nothing; you know everything by the eye of policy; by your counsel this difficult result has been attained for your king. What is the sky without the sun? What is a tank without water? What is a realm without counsel? What is speech without truth?”

When Yogeśvara said this, Yaugandharāyaṇa took leave of him, much pleased, and went in the morning to visit the King of Vatsa.

He approached him with the usual reverence, and in course of conversation said to the king, who asked him what was to be done about Kaliṅgasenā:

“She is unchaste, O King, and does not deserve to touch your hand. For she went of her own accord to visit Prasenajit. When she saw that he was old, she was disgusted, and came to visit you out of desire for your beauty, and now she even enjoys at her pleasure the society of another person.”

When the king heard this, he said:

“How could a lady of birth and rank do such a deed? Or who has the power to enter my harem?”

When the king said this, the wise Yaugandharāyaṇa answered him:

“I will prove it to you by ocular testimony this very night, my sovereign. For the divine Siddhas and other beings of the kind are in love with her. What can a man do against them? And who here can interfere with the movements of gods? So come and see it with your own eyes.”

When the minister said this, the king determined to go there with him at night.

Then Yaugandharāyaṇa came to the queen, and said:

“To-day, O Queen, I have carried out what I promised, that the king should marry no other wife except Padmāvatī,”

and thereupon he told her the whole story of Kaliṅgasenā. And the Queen Vāsavadattā congratulated him, bowing low and saying:

“This is the fruit which I have reaped from following your instructions.”

Then at night, when folk were asleep, the King of Vatsa went with Yaugandharāyaṇa to the palace of Kaliṅgasenā. And, entering unperceived, he beheld Madanavega in his proper form, sleeping by the side of the sleeping Kaliṅgasenā. And when the king was minded to slay that audacious one, the Vidyādhara prince was roused by his own magic knowledge, and when awake he went out, and immediately flew up into the heaven.

And then Kaliṅgasenā awoke immediately. And seeing the bed empty, she said:

“How is this, that the King of Vatsa wakes up before me and departs, leaving me asleep?”

When Yaugandharāyaṇa heard that, he said to the King of Vatsa:

“Listen. She has been beguiled by that Vidyādhara wearing your form. He was found out by me by means of my magic power, and now I have exhibited him before your eyes, but you cannot kill him on account of his heavenly might.”

After saying this, he and the king approached her, and Kaliṅgasenā, for her part, seeing them, stood in a respectful attitude. But when she began to say to the king,

“Where, O King, did you go only a moment ago, so as to return with your minister?”

—Yaugandharāyaṇa said to her:

“Kaliṅgasenā, you have been married by some being, who beguiled you by assuming the shape of the King of Vatsa, and not by this lord of mine.”[12]

When Kaliṅgasenā heard this she was bewildered, and as if pierced through the heart by an arrow she said to the King of Vatsa, with tear-streaming eyes:

“Have you forgotten me, O King, after marrying me by the gāndharva rite, as Śakuntalā long ago was forgotten by Duṣyanta?”[13]

When the king was thus addressed by her, he said with downcast face:

“In truth you were not married by me, for I never came here till this moment.”

When the King of Vatsa had said this, the minister said to him, “Come along,” and conducted him at will to the palace.

When the king had departed thence with his minister, that lady Kaliṅgasenā, sojourning in a foreign country, like a doe that had strayed from the herd, having deserted her relations, with her face robbed of its painting by kissing, as a lotus is robbed of its leaves by cropping, having her braided tresses disordered, even as a bed of lotuses trampled by an elephant has its cluster of black bees dispersed, now that her maidenhood was gone for ever, not knowing what expedient to adopt or what course to pursue, looked up to heaven and spake as follows:—

“Whoever that was that assumed the shape of the King of Vatsa and married me, let him appear, for he is the husband of my youth.”

When invoked in these words, that King of the Vidyādharas descended from heaven, of divine shape, adorned with necklace and bracelet.

And when she asked him who he was, he answered her:

“I, fair one, am a prince of the Vidyādharas, named Madanavega. And long ago I beheld you in your father’s house, and by performing penance obtained a boon from Śiva, which conferred on me the attainment of you. So, as you were in love with the King of Vatsa, I assumed his form, and quickly married you by stealth, before your contract with him had been celebrated.”

By the nectar of this speech of his, entering her ears, the lotus of her heart was a little revived.

Then Madanavega comforted that fair one, and made her recover her composure, and bestowed on her a heap of gold, and when she had conceived in her heart affection for her excellent husband, as being well suited to her, he flew up into the heaven, to return again. And Kaliṅgasenā, after obtaining permission from Madanavega, consented to dwell patiently where she was, reflecting that the heavenly home, the abode of her husband, could not be approached by a mortal, and that through passion she had left her father’s house.

 

NOTE ON THE PRETENDED HUSBAND” MOTIF

The readiness with which no less a person than Śiva himself becomes a party to the trick played upon Kaliṅgasenā may seem surprising, but perhaps we are to understand that, after such a penance as that performed by Madanavega on the Ṛṣabha mountain, Śiva was almost bound to grant a boon of whatever nature it might be. Yet, as we have already seen (Vol. II, pp. 45, 46), Indra did not scruple to enjoy Ahalyā by disguising himself as her husband, Gautama.

The motif found its way into Sanskrit literature at a very early date, and Benfey, Pañcatantra (i, p. 299 et seq.), traces the different versions found in Kalila and Dimna, John of Capua, Suka Saptati, Anvār-i-Suhailī, Bahār-i-Dānish, etc., besides in well-known European collections, such as Le Livre des Lumières, Cabinet des Fées and the Decameron.

In nearly all these versions the wife is perfectly innocent of the cheat played upon her, and, on the return of the real husband, makes a similar remark to that in our text, such as: Wherefore have you returned? Did

I not serve your wishes at the beginning of the night?” Similarly in the Decameron (day 3, nov. 2) the queen confronts her husband with: My lord, what a surprise is this to-night!’Twas but now you left me after an unwonted measure of enjoyment, and do you now return so soon?” The king behaves in a most diplomatic manner and pretends he had been with his wife earlier in the evening. He then attempts to find out the culprit, and although he is unsuccessful in this, he makes any repetition of the offence unlikely.

In the version found in the Heptameron, however, the unhappy husband is unable to conceal his curiosity and resentment:

“What do these words mean? I know of a truth that I have not lain with you for three weeks, and yet you rebuke me for coming too often.”

Suddenly the terrible truth dawns upon the chaste lady. The husband rushes in pursuit of the wicked friar who has done the deed, but meanwhile his wife hangs herself and kills her child through shame and misery. Her brother hears the news, and, misunderstanding the details, runs his sword through the returning husband (see vol. iii, p. 97 et seq., of the English translation printed for the Society of English Bibliophilists, 1894).

In all the above versions we notice that the cheat played upon the innocent wife is done by an ordinary human being, and not by a god or supernatural being, as in our text. We find, however, a closer analogue in Herodotus (vi, 69). Demaratus was deposed from the sovereignty and made a magistrate of Sparta, owing to the charge of bastardy made by Leutychides. He is later insulted by Leutychides at the Gymnopædiæ, and, intending to get to the bottom of the whole matter, calls upon his mother with a mighty oath to tell the truth.

She then explains:

“When Ariston [her husband] had taken me to his own house, on the third night from the first, a spectre resembling Ariston came to me; and having lain with me, put on me a crown that it had: it departed, and afterwards Ariston came; but when he saw me with the crown, he asked who it was that gave it me. I said he did, but he would not admit it; whereupon I took an oath, and said that he did not well to deny it, for that having come shortly before and lain with me, he had given me the crown. Ariston, seeing that I affirmed with an oath, discovered that the event was superhuman: and, in the first place, the crown proved to have come from the shrine situate near the palace gates, which they call Astrabacus’s; and, in the next place, the seers pronounced that it was the hero himself. Thus, then, my son, you have all that you wish to know: for you are sprung either from that hero, and the hero Astrabacus is your father, or Ariston; for I conceived you in that night.. (Cary’s trans. Bohn's edition, 1877, p. 379).

There is also the legend of Amphitryon, son of Alcæus, whose wife, Alcmene, gave birth to twin sons, Iphicles being that of Amphitryon, and Heracles that of Zeus, who had visited her in the guise of her husband while he was away fighting.

The incident forms Plautus’ comedy Amphitruo, whence Molière adapted his Amphitryon.

Lee, op. cit., pp. 62-67, gives several other analogues of the motif. See also Chauvin, op. cit., ii, p. 92.—n.m.p.

Footnotes and references:

1.

For a note on women whose love is scorned see Vol. II, pp. 120-124.—n.m.p.

2.

This is a repetition of the story of Devasena and Unmādinī in Book III.——See Vol. II, pp. 6-8.—n.m.p.

3.

Cf the “death-darting eye of cockatrice” in Romeo and Juliet. See also Schmidt’s Shakespeare Dictionary, under the word “basilisk.”——Accounts of the basilisk are found in Pliny, XXIX, xix, and Heliodorus, Æthiopica, iii, 8. It is described as a serpent with a cock’s head, whose look is fatal. See the section “The Fatal Look” in Appendix III on “Poison-Damsels” in Vol. II of this work, p. 298 et seq.—n.m.p.

4.

For details of Indian eunuchs see Appendix II of this volume.— n.m.p.

5.

Benfey found this story in the Arabic version of the Pañcatantra and in all the translations and reproductions of it. He finds it also in the Makābhārata, xii (iii, 589), śl. 4930 et seq. He expresses his opinion that it formed a portion of the original Pañcatantra. See Benfey’s Pañcatantra, pp. 544-560; Orient und Occident, vol. i, p. 383. The account in the Mahābhārata is very prolix.

——The ichneumon is found in several animal stories in Eastern collections, often in company with a mouse. See, for instance, Schiefner and Ralston’s Tibetan Tales, p. 308, where there is a pathetic little story about an ichneumon, a mouse and a snake. The cunning of the former is shown in the tale of the “Mouse and the Ichneumon” in the Nights, Burton, vol. iii, pp. 147-148. (See Burton’s note on p. 147.) It is unnecessary to speak of Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

It would be more correct in our text to call the animal by the Indian name “mongoose” (Herpestes mungo), the Indian being smaller than the Egyptian variety (H. ichneumon). The type genus has numerous species found all over Africa and throughout Southern Asia. In India the mongoose is especially famous as a serpent-killer, and owing to its successful encounters with even the deadliest snakes has been credited with immunity from snakebites. The Hindus also say that, if bitten, the animal has recourse to a certain root which it uses as an antidote. It has been found, however, that the mongoose is affected by venom just like other animals, but owing to its extraordinary quickness, and the thickness of its skin and the protection afforded by its long stiff hair, which it erects in anger, it is a very formidable enemy to the snake.

A spectator of a fight between a mongoose and a snake thus writes (Ency. Brit., vol. xiv, p. 242):

“His whole nature appears to be changed. His fur stands on end, and he presents the incarnation of intense rage. The snake invariably attempts to escape, but, finding it impossible to evade the rapid onslaught of the mongoose, raises his crest and lashes out fiercely at his little persecutor, who seems to delight in dodging out of the way just in time. This goes on until the mongoose sees his opportunity, when like lightning he rushes in and seizes the snake with his teeth by the back of the neck close to the head, shaking him as a terrier does a rat. These tactics are repeated until the snake is killed.”

It was, however, in ancient Egypt that the ichneumon was most venerated, the centre of the worship being at Heracleopolis. The principal cause of the respect paid to the animal is said to be on account of its great hostility to the crocodile, an animal especially feared and hated by the Heracleopolites. Living among the reeds on the banks of the Nile, it takes the eggs of young crocodiles which have been hidden in the sand. Diodorus (i, 87, etc.) tells us that it even kills full-grown crocodiles in a wonderful and almost incredible manner. Covering itself with a coat of mud, the ichneumon watches the moment when the crocodile, coming out of the river, sleeps (as is its custom) upon a sand-bank, with its mouth open (turned towards the wind), and, adroitly gliding down its throat, penetrates to its entrails. It then gnaws through its stomach, and, having killed its enemy, escapes without receiving any injury (quoted by Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii, p. 280).

Several other classical writers, Pliny, Strabo, Herodotus, Aelian, etc., have described the mode of attack of the ichneumon against the snake.

The animal is often kept as a pet and becomes very tame, and usually has a wonderful temper, but its partiality for eggs and poultry makes it a bad substitute for the cat. It is the cat that is afraid of the mongoose rather than the opposite, as mentioned in our text. For further details see Wilkinson, op. cit., pp. 279-285, and Yule, Hobson Jobson, under Mungoose.”—n.m.p.

6.

This story found its way into a Persian work, Maḥbūb ul-Qulūb. It was translated by Edward Rehatsek, and appears in his Amusing Stories, Bombay, 1871. It was reprinted as “The Hidden Treasure,” by Clouston, in A Group of Eastern Romances and Stories, 1889, p. 442 et seq., who gives some analogues (including the original story from our text) on pp. 558-561. There is also a similar tale in the Nights, “The Melancholist and the Sharper” (Burton, Supp., vol. i, pp. 264-266), in which the loser, suspecting a certain man of the theft, arranges to mutter to himself within his hearing: “In the pot are sixty ducats, and 1 have with me other twenty in such a place, and to-day I will unite the whole in the pot.” The other returns what he has taken, thinking to get more in the end—and so the lost property is recovered. In Burton’s next volume (Supp., vol. ii, pp. 333-340) Clouston adds several analogues besides those already mentioned. There is one from Gladwin’s Persian Moonsliee, and a good Italian version from Sacchetti’s Novelle (No. 198). His tales are not very well known in England, but are especially interesting as they are largely based on real incidents in domestic and public life in Florence in the fourteenth century. The tale in question, however, was taken from the Cento Novelle Antiche (No. 74). The motif is well represented in Jewish literature, as has recently been shown by Gaster, The Exempla of the Rabbis, 1924. In story No. 324 (p. 117) of this collection a man hides his money in a garden. It is stolen by a neighbour. He pretends not to know of the theft and asks the neighbour whether it would be wise to hide the other money in the same secret spot. The stolen money is then replaced by the neighbour so as not to arouse suspicion, and thus the owner recovers it. Numerous analogues are given on pp. 220 and 240. Similar stories also occur in the Disciplina Clericalis of Alphonsus, chap. xvi; the Gesta Romanorum (chap. cxviii — i.e. tale 38, “Of Deceit,” in vol. ii of Thomas Wright’s edition of Swan’s translation); and in the Decameron, day 8, nov. 10. Numerous analogues to this latter are given by Lee, The Decameron, its Sources and Atialogues, pp. 266-270. On p. 268 he mentions the tale of Ali Cogia in the Mille et une Nuits, but did not know it appeared in Burton’s Nights, Supp., vol. iii, p. 405 et seq., as “Ali Khwajah and the Merchant of Baghdad.” Although it contains the incident of recovering stolen gold by a clever trick, the leading motif is that of “precocious children.” Clouston gives several analogues on pp. 596-600 of the same volume of the Nights. These references should be added to those I have already given on “precocious children” in Vol. I, p. 186n1.—n.m.p.

7.

For nihatya I conjecture nikhanya.

8.

The plant Uraria Lagopodioides (Monier Williams).

9.

See Crooke, Popular Religion and Folk-Lore of Northern India, vol. ii, pp. 44, 45.—n.m.p.

10.

See Vol. I, pp. 87-88.—n.m.p.

11.

See note on pp. 126-127 of this volume.—n.m.p.

12.

For a note on the “Pretended Husband” motif see the end of this chapter.—n.m.p.

13.

For similar instances of forgetting in European stories, see Nos. I3, 14, 54, 55 in the Sicilianische Märchen, with Köhler’s notes, and his article in Orient und Occident, vol. ii, p. 103.