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, thinking on the peerless beauty of Kaliṅgasenā, was one night seized with love, so he rose up and went, sword in hand, and entered her palace alone; and she welcomed him and received him politely.

Then the king asked her to become his wife, but she rejected his addresses, saying:

“You should regard me as the wife of another.”

Whereupon he answered:

“Since you are unchaste as having resorted to three men, I shall not, by approaching you, incur the guilt of adultery.”

When the king said this to Kaliṅgasenā, she answered him:

“I came to marry you, O King, but I was married by the Vidyādhara Madanavega at his will, for he assumed your shape. And he is my only husband, so why am I unchaste? But such are the misfortunes even of ordinary women who desert their relations, having their minds bewildered with the love of lawless roaming, much more of princesses. And this is the fruit of my own folly in sending a messenger to you, though I had been warned not to do so by my friend, who had seen an evil omen. So if you touch me by force I will abandon life; for what woman of good family will injure her husband? And to prove this I will tell you a tale. Listen, O King.


46. Story of King Indradatta

There lived in old time in the land of Cedi a great king called Indradatta. He founded for his glory a great temple at the holy bathing-place of Pāpaśodhana, desiring the body of good reputation, as he saw that our mortal body is perishable. And the king in the ardour of his devotion was continually going to visit it, and all kinds of people were continually coming there to bathe in the holy water.

Now one day the king saw a merchant’s wife, whose husband was travelling in foreign parts, who had come there to bathe in the holy water; she was steeped in the nectar of pure beauty, and adorned with various charms, like a splendid moving palace of the God of Love. She was embraced on both her feet by the radiance of the two quivers of the five-arrowed god, as if out of love, believing that with her he would conquer the world.[1] The moment the king saw her she captivated his soul so entirely that, unable to restrain himself, he found out her house and went there at night.

And when he solicited her, she said to him:

“You are a protector of the helpless; you ought not to touch another man’s wife. And if you lay violent hands on me you will commit a great sin; and I will die immediately; I will not endure disgrace.”

Though she said this to him, the king still endeavoured to use force to her, whereupon her heart broke in a moment through fear of losing her chastity. When the king saw that, he was at once abashed, and went back by the way that he came, and in a few days died, out of remorse for that crime.


[M] (main story line continued)  Having told this tale, Kaliṅgasenā bowed in timid modesty and again said to the King of Vatsa:

“Therefore, King, set not your heart on wickedness that would rob me of breath; since I have come here, allow me to dwell here; if not, I will depart to some other place.”

Then the King of Vatsa, who knew what was right, hearing this from Kaliṅgasenā, after reflecting, desisted from his intention, and said to her:

“Princess, dwell here at will with this husband of yours; I will not say anything to you; henceforth fear not.”

When the king had said this, he returned of his own accord to his house, and Madanavega, having heard the conversation, descended from heaven, and said:

“My beloved, you have done well; if you had not acted thus, O fortunate one, good fortune would not have resulted, for I should not have tolerated your conduct.”

When the Vidyādhara had said this, he comforted her, and passed the night there, and continued going to her house and returning again. And Kaliṅgasenā, having a King of the Vidyādharas for her husband, remained there, blessed even in her mortal state with the enjoyment of heavenly pleasures. As for the King of Vatsa, he ceased to think about her, and remembering the speech of his minister, he rejoiced, considering that he had saved his queens and kingdom and also his son. And the Queen Vāsavadattā and the minister Yaugandharāyaṇa were at ease, having reaped the fruit of the wishing-tree of policy.

Then, as days went on, Kaliṅgasenā had the lotus of her face a little pale, and was pregnant, having longing produced in her. Her lofty breasts, with extremities a little dark, appeared like the treasure-vessels of Love, marked with his seal of joy.

Then her husband Madanavega came to her and said[2]:

“Kaliṅgasenā, we heavenly beings are subject to this law, that when a mortal child is conceived we must abandon it and go afar. Did not Menakā leave Śakuntalā in the hermitage of Kaṇva? And though you were formerly an Apsaras, you have now, goddess, become a mortal by the curse of Śiva, inflicted on account of your disobedience. Thus it has come to pass that, though chaste, you have incurred the reproach of unchastity; so guard your offspring; I will go to my own place. And whenever you think upon me I will appear to you.”

Thus the prince of the Vidyādharas spake to the weeping Kaliṅgasenā, and consoled her, and gave her a heap of valuable jewels, and departed with his mind fixed on her, drawn away by the law. Kaliṅgasenā, for her part, remained there, supported by the hope of offspring as by a friend, protected by the shade of the King of Vatsa’s arm.

In the meanwhile the husband of Ambikā[3] gave the following order to Rati, the wife of the God of Love, who had performed penance in order to get back her husband with his body restored:

That husband of thine, who was formerly consumed, has been born in the palace of the King of Vatsa, under the name of Naravāhanadatta, conceived in a mortal womb on account of disrespect shown to me. But because thou hast propitiated me thou shalt also be born in the world of mortals, without being conceived in a mortal womb; and then thou shalt be reunited to thy husband, once more possessing a body.”

Having said this to Rati, Śiva then gave this command to the Creator[4]:

“Kaliṅgasenā shall give birth to a son of divine origin. By thy power of illusion thou shalt remove her son and substitute in his place this very Rati, who shall abandon her heavenly body and be moulded by thee in the form of a mortal maiden.”

The Creator, in obedience to the order of Śiva,[5] went down to earth, and when the appointed time came Kaliṅgasenā gave birth to a son. The Creator abstracted, by his divine power of illusion, her son, the moment he was born, and substituted Rati, whom he had turned into a girl, in his place, without the change being detected. And all present there saw that girl born, and she seemed like the streak of the new moon suddenly rising in broad daylight, for she illuminated with her splendour the lying-in chamber, and eclipsing the long row of flames of the jewel-lamps [see notes on the lighting of a lamp] robbed them of lustre, and made them, as it were, abashed. Kaliṅgasenā, when she saw that incomparable daughter born, in her delight made greater rejoicing than she would have made at the birth of a son.

Then the King of Vatsa, with his queen and his ministers, heard that such a lovely daughter had been born to Kaliṅgasenā. And when the king heard of it he suddenly, under the impulsion of the god Śiva, said to the Queen Vāsavadattā, in the presence of Yaugandharāyaṇa:

“I know this Kaliṅgasenā is a heavenly nymph, who has fallen to earth in consequence of a curse, and this daughter born to her will also be heavenly and of wonderful beauty. So this girl, being equal in beauty to my son Naravāhanadatta, ought to be his head queen.”

When the Queen Vāsavadattā heard that, she said to the king:

“Great King, why do you suddenly say this now? What similarity can there possibly be between this son of yours, of pure descent by both lines, and the daughter of Kaliṅgasenā, a girl whose mother is unchaste?”

When the king heard that he reflected, and said:

“Truly, I do not say this of myself, but some god seems to have entered into me and to be forcing me to speak. And I seem to hear a voice uttering these words from heaven:

‘This daughter of Kaliṅgasenā is the appointed wife of Naravāhanadatta.’

Moreover, that Kaliṅgasenā is a faithful wife, of good family, and her reproach of unchastity has arisen from the influence of her actions in a former birth.”

When the king had said this, the minister Yaugandharāyaṇa spoke:

“We hear, King, that when the God of Love was consumed Rati performed asceticism. And Śiva granted to Rati, who wished to recover her husband, the following boon: ‘Thou shalt assume the condition of a mortal, and be reunited to thy husband, who has been born with a body in the world of mortals.’

Now your son has long ago been declared by a heavenly voice to be an incarnation of Kāma, and Rati, by the order of Śiva, has to become incarnate in mortal form. And the midwife said to me to-day:

‘I inspected previously the fetus when contained in the uterus, and then I saw one quite different from what has now appeared. Having beheld this marvel, I have come here to tell you.’

This is what that woman told me, and now this inspiration has come to you. So I am persuaded that the gods have stolen the real child of Kaliṅgasenā and substituted this daughter not born in the ordinary way, who is no other than Rati, ordained beforehand to be the wife of your son, who is an incarnation of Kāma, O King. To illustrate this, hear the following story concerning a Yakṣa:—


47. Story of the Yakṣa Virūpākṣa

The God of Wealth had for servant a Yakṣa named Virūpākṣa, who had been appointed chief guardian of lacs of treasure.[6] And he delegated a certain Yakṣa to guard a treasure lying outside the town of Mathurā, posted there like an immovable pillar of marble. And once on a time a certain Brāhman, a votary of Paśupati, who made it his business to exhume treasures, went there in search of hidden wealth. While he was examining that place, with a candle made of human fat in his hand, the candle fell from his grasp.[7] By that sign he knew that treasure was concealed there, and he attempted to dig it up with the help of some other Brāhmans, his friends.

Then the Yakṣa who was told off to guard that treasure, beholding that, came and related the whole circumstance to Virūpākṣa.

And Virūpākṣa, in his wrath, gave the following command to the Yakṣa:—

“Go and slay immediately those mean treasure-hunters.”

Then the Yakṣa went and slew by his power those Brāhmans, who were digging for treasure, before they had attained their object.

Then the God of Wealth came to hear of it, and being angry, he said to Virūpākṣa:

“Why did you, evil one, recklessly order the slaughter of a Brāhman? What will not poor people, who are struggling for a livelihood,[8] do out of desire for gain? But they must be prevented by being terrified with various bugbears; they must not be slain.”

When the God of Wealth had said this, he cursed that Virūpākṣa as follows:—

“Be born as a mortal on account of your wicked conduct.”

Then that Virūpākṣa, smitten with the curse, was born on the earth as the son of a certain Brāhman, who lived on a royal grant.

Then the Yakṣiṇī, his wife, implored the Lord of Wealth:

“O god, send me whither my husband has gone; be merciful to me, for I cannot live without him.”

When the virtuous lady addressed this prayer to him, Vaiśravaṇa said:

“Thou shalt descend, without being born, into the house of a female slave of that very Brāhman in whose house thy husband is born. There thou shalt be united to that husband of thine, and by thy power he shall surmount his curse and return to my service.”

In accordance with this decree of Vaiśravaṇa that virtuous wife became a mortal maiden, and fell at the door of that Brāhman’s female slave’s house. And the slave suddenly saw that maiden of marvellous beauty, and took her and exhibited her to her master, the Brāhman.

And the Brāhman rejoiced, and said to the female slave:

“This is without doubt some heavenly maiden not born in the ordinary way; so my soul tells me. Bring here this girl who has entered your house, for, I think, she deserves to be my son’s wife.”

Then in course of time that girl and the son of the Brāhman, having grown up, were smitten with ardent reciprocal affection at the sight of one another. Then they were married by the Brāhman; and the couple, though they did not remember their previous birth, felt as if a long separation had been brought to an end. Then at last the Yakṣa died, and as his wife burnt herself with his mortal body his sins were wiped away by her sufferings and he regained his former rank.


[M] (main story line continued)

“Thus, you see, heavenly beings, on account of certain causes, descend from heaven to the earth, by the appointment of fate, and, because they are free from sin, they are not born in the usual way. What does this girl’s family matter to you? So this daughter of Kaliṅgasenā is, as I said, the wife appointed for your son by destiny.”

When Yaugandharāyaṇa had said this to the King of Vatsa and the Queen Vāsavadattā, they both consented in their hearts that it should be so. Then the prime minister returned to his house, and the king, in the company of his wife, spent the day happily, in drinking and other amusements.

Then, as time went on, that daughter of Kaliṅgasenā, who had lost her recollection of her former state through illusion, gradually grew up, and her dower of beauty grew with her; and her mother and her attendants gave her the name of Madanamañcukā, because she was the daughter of Madanavega, saying:

“Surely the beauty of all other lovely women has fled to her, else how could they have become ugly before her?”

And the Queen Vāsavadattā, hearing she was beautiful, one day had her brought into her presence out of curiosity. Then the king and Yaugandharāyaṇa and his fellows beheld her clinging to the face of her nurse, as the candle-flame clings to the wick. And there was no one present who did not think that she was an incarnation of Rati when they beheld her matchless body, which was like nectar to their eyes. And then the Queen Vāsavadattā brought there her son Naravāhanadatta, who was a feast to the eyes of the world. He beheld, with the lotus of his face expanded, the gleaming Madanamañcukā, as the bed of water-lilies beholds the young splendour of the sun. The girl gazed with dilated countenance upon that gladdener of the eyes, and could not gaze enough, as the female partridge can never be sated with gazing on the moon. Henceforth these two children could not remain apart even for a moment, being, as it were, fastened together with the nooses of glances.

But in the course of time the King of Vatsa came to the conclusion that that marriage was made in heaven,[9] and turned his mind to the solemnisation of the nuptials. When Kaliṅgasenā heard that she rejoiced, and fixed her affection upon Naravāhanadatta out of love for her daughter’s future husband. And then the King of Vatsa, after deliberating with his ministers, had made for his son a separate palace like his own. Then that king, who could discern times and seasons, collected the necessary utensils and anointed his son as Crown Prince, since it was apparent that he possessed all praiseworthy qualities. First there fell on his head the water of his father’s tears, and then the water of holy bathing-places, purified by Vaidik spells of mickle might. When the lotus of his face was washed with the water of inauguration, wonderful to say, the faces of the cardinal points became also clear. When his mother threw on him flowers of the auspicious garlands, the heaven immediately shed a rain of many celestial wreaths. As if in emulation of the thunder of the drums of the gods, the echoes of the sound of the cymbals floated in the air. Everyone there bowed before him as soon as he was inaugurated as Crown Prince; then by that alone he was exalted, without his own power.

Then the King of Vatsa summoned the good sons of the ministers, who were the playfellows of his son, and appointed them to their offices as servants to the Crown Prince. He appointed to the office of the prime minister Marubhūti, the son of Yaugandharāyaṇa, and then Hariśikha, the son of Rumaṇvat, to the office of commander-in-chief, and he appointed Tapantaka, the son of Vasantaka, as the companion of his lighter hours, and Gomukha, the son of Ityaka, to the duty of chamberlain and warder, and to the office of domestic chaplains the two sons of Piṅgalikā, Vaiśvānara and Śāntisoma, the nephews of the king’s family priest.

When these men had been appointed by the king as servants to his son, there was heard from heaven a voice, preceded by a rain of flowers:

“These ministers shall accomplish all things prosperously for the prince, and Gomukha shall be his inseparable companion.”

When the heavenly voice had said this, the delighted King of Vatsa honoured them all with clothes and ornaments; and while that king was showering wealth upon his dependents, none of them could claim the title of poor on account of the accumulation of riches. And the city was filled with dancing-girls and minstrels, who seemed to be invited by the rows of silken streamers fanned and agitated by the wind.

Then Kaliṅgasenā came to the feast of her future son-in-law, looking like the Fortune of the Vidyādhara race which was to attend him, present in bodily form. Then Vāsavadattā and Padmāvatī and she danced, all three of them, for joy, like the three powers[10] of a king united together. And all the trees there seemed to dance, as their creepers waved in the wind; much more did the creatures possessing sense.

Then the Crown Prince Naravāhanadatta, having been inaugurated in his office, ascended an elephant of victory and went forth. And he was sprinkled by the city wives with their upcast eyes, blue, white and red, resembling offerings of blue lotuses, parched grain and water-lilies. And after visiting the gods worshipped in that city, being praised by heralds and minstrels, he entered his palace with his ministers. Then Kaliṅgasenā gave him, to begin with, celestial viands and drinks far exceeding what his own magnificence could supply, and she presented to him and his ministers, friends and servants, beautiful robes and heavenly ornaments, for she was overpowered with love for her son-in-law. So the day passed in high festivity for all these, the King of Vatsa and the others, charming as the taste of nectar.

Then the night arrived, and Kaliṅgasenā, pondering over her daughter’s marriage, called to mind her friend Soma prabhā.

No sooner had she called to mind the daughter of the Asura Maya than her husband, the much-knowing Naḍakūvara, thus addressed that noble lady, his wife:

“Dear one, Kaliṅgasenā is now thinking on thee with longing; therefore go and make a heavenly garden for her daughter.”

Having said this, and revealed the future and past history of that maiden, her husband dismissed that instant his wife Somaprabhā.

And when she arrived her friend Kaliṅgasenā threw her arms round her neck, having missed her so long, and Somaprabhā, after asking after her health, said to her:

“You have been married by a Vidyādhara of great power, and your daughter is an incarnation of Rati by the favour of Śiva, and she has been brought into the world as the wife, in a previous state of existence, of an incarnation of Love, that has taken his birth from the King of Vatsa. He shall be Emperor of the Vidyādharas for a Kalpa of the gods; and she shall be honoured above his other wives. But you have descended into this world, being an Apsaras degraded by the curse of Indra, and after you have brought your duties to completion you shall obtain deliverance from your curse. All this was told me, my friend, by my wise husband, so you must not be anxious; you will enjoy every prosperity. And I will now make here for your daughter a heavenly garden, the like of which does not exist on earth, in heaven, or in the nether regions.”

Having said this, Somaprabhā made a heavenly garden by her magic power, and taking leave of the regretful Kaliṅgasenā, she departed. Then, at the dawn of day, people beheld that garden, looking like the garden of Nandana suddenly fallen down from heaven to earth.

Then the King of Vatsa heard of it, and came there with his wives and his ministers, and Naravāhanadatta with his companions. And they beheld that garden, the trees of which bore both flowers and fruits all the year round,[11] with many jewelled pillars, walls, lawns and tanks; with birds of the colour of gold, with heavenly perfumed breezes, like a second Svarga descended to earth from the region of the gods.

The Lord of Vatsa, when he saw that wonderful sight, asked Kaliṅgasenā, who was intent on hospitality, what it was.

And she thus answered the king in the hearing of all:

“There is a great Asura, Maya by name, an incarnation of Viśvakarman, who made the assembly hall of Yudhiṣṭhira and the city of Indra; he has a daughter, Somaprabhā by name, who is a friend of mine. She came here at night to visit me, and out of love made this heavenly garden by her magic power, for the sake of my daughter.”

After saying this, she told all the past and future fortunes of her daughter, which Somaprabhā had revealed to her, letting the king know that she had heard them from her friend. Then all there, perceiving that the speech of Kaliṅgasenā tallied with what they previously knew, dismissed their doubts and were exceedingly delighted. And the King of Vatsa, with his wives and his son, spent that day in the garden, being hospitably entertained by Kaliṅgasenā.

The next day the king went to visit a god in a temple, and he saw many women well clothed and with beautiful ornaments.

And when he asked them who they were they said to him:

“We are the sciences and these are the accomplishments; and we are come here on account of your son: we shall now go and enter into him.”

Having said this, they disappeared, and the King of Vatsa entered his house astonished. There he told it to the Queen Vāsavadattā and to the circle of his ministers, and they rejoiced at that favour of the deity.

Then Vāsavadattā, by the direction of the king, took up a lyre as soon as Naravāhanadatta entered the room.

And while his mother was playing, Naravāhanadatta said modestly to her: “This lyre is out of tune.”

His father said: “Take it and play on it.”

Whereupon he played upon the lyre so as to astonish even the Gandharvas. When he was thus tested by his father in all the sciences and the accomplishments, he became endowed with them all, and of himself knew all knowledge.

When the King of Vatsa beheld his son endowed with all talents, he taught Madanamañcukā, the daughter of Kaliṅgasenā, dancing. As fast as she became perfect in accomplishments[12] the heart of the Prince Naravāhanadatta was disturbed. So the sea is disturbed, as fast as the orb of the moon rounds off its digits. And he delighted in beholding her singing and dancing, accomplished in all the gestures of the body, so that she seemed to be reciting the decrees of love. As for her, if she did not see for a moment that nectar-like lover, the tears rose to her eyes and she was like a bed of white lotuses, wet with dew at the hour of dawn.[13]

And Naravāhanadatta, being unable to live without continually beholding her face, came to that garden of hers. There he remained, and Kaliṅgasenā, out of affection, did all she could to please him, bringing her daughter to him. And Gomukha, who saw into his master’s heart, and wished to bring about his long stay there, used to tell various tales to Kaliṅgasenā. The prince was delighted by his friend’s penetrating his intentions, for seeing into one’s lord’s soul is the surest way of winning him.

And Naravāhanadatta himself perfected Madanamañcukā in dancing and other accomplishments, giving her lessons in a concert hall that stood in the garden, and while his beloved danced he played on all instruments, so as to put to the blush the most skilful minstrels. And he conquered also various professors that came from all quarters and were skilful in managing elephants, horses and chariots, in the use of hand-to-hand and missile weapons, in painting and modelling.[14] In these amusements passed during childhood the days of Naravāhanadatta, who was the chosen bridegroom of Science.

Now once on a time the prince, with his ministers, and accompanied by his beloved, went on a pilgrimage to a garden called Nāgavana. There a certain merchant’s wife fell in love with Gomukha, and being repulsed, tried to kill him by offering to him a poisoned drink.[15]

But Gomukha came to hear of it from the lips of her confidante, and did not take that drink, but broke out into the following denunciation of women:—

“Alas! the Creator first created recklessness, and then women in imitation of it; by nature nothing is too bad for them to do. Surely this being they call woman is created of nectar and poison, for when she is attached to one she is nectar, and when estranged she is indeed poison. Who can see through a woman with loving face secretly planning crime? A wicked woman is like a lotus-bed with its flowers expanded and an alligator concealed in it. But now and then there falls from heaven, urging on a host of virtues, a good woman that brings praise to her husband, like the pure light of the sun. But another, of evil augury, attached to strangers, not free from inordinate desires, wicked, bearing the poison of aversion,[16] slays her husband like a female snake.


48. Story of Śatrughna and his Wicked Wife

For instance, in a certain village there was a man named Śatrughna, and his wife was unchaste. He once saw in the evening his wife in the society of her lover, and he slew that lover of hers, when he was in the house, with his sword. And he remained at the door waiting for the night, keeping his wife inside, and at nightfall a traveller came there to ask for a lodging. He gave him refuge, and artfully carried away with his help the corpse of that adulterer at night, and went with it to the forest. And there, while he was throwing that corpse into a well, the mouth of which was overgrown with plants, his wife came behind him and pushed him in also.


[M] (main story line continued)

“What reckless crime of this kind will not a wicked wife commit?”

In these words Gomukha, though still a boy, denounced the conduct of women.

Then Naravāhanadatta himself worshipped the snakes in that grove of snakes, [see note on serpent-worship] and went back to his palace with his retinue.

While he was there he desired one day to prove his ministers, Gomukha and the others, so he asked them, though he himself knew it well, for a summary of the policy of princes.

They consulted among themselves, and said:

“You know all things; nevertheless we will tell you this, now that you ask us,”

and so they proceeded to relate the cream of political science[18]:

“A king should first tame and mount the horses of the senses, and should conquer those internal foes, love, anger, avarice and delusion, and should subdue himself as a preparation for subduing other enemies, for how can a man who has not conquered himself, being helpless, conquer others? Then he should procure ministers who, among other good qualities, possess that of being natives of his own country, and a skilful family priest, knowing the Atharva-Veda, gifted with asceticism. He should test his ministers with respect to fear, avarice, virtue and passion, by ingenious artifices, and then he should appoint them to appropriate duties, discerning their hearts. He should try their speech, when they are deliberating with one another on affairs, to see if it is truthful, or inspired by malice, spoken out of affection, or connected with selfish objects.

“He should be pleased with truth, but should punish untruth as it deserves, and he should continually inquire into the conduct of each of them by means of spies. Thus he should look at business with unhooded eye, and by rooting up opponents,[19] and acquiring a treasure, a force and the other means of success, should establish himself firmly on the throne. Then, equipped with the three powers of courage, kingly authority and counsel, he should be eager to conquer the territory of others, considering the difference between the power of himself and his foe. He should continually take counsel with advisers, who should be trusty, learned and wise, and should correct with his own intellect the policy determined on by them in all its details. Being versed in the means of success[20] (conciliation, bribery and the others), he should attain for himself security, and he should then employ the six proper courses, of which alliance and war are the chief.[21]

“Thus a king acquires prosperity, and as long as he carefully considers his own realm, and that of his rival, he is victorious but never vanquished. But an ignorant monarch, blind with passion and avarice, is plundered by wicked servants, who show him the wrong path and, leading him astray, fling him into pits. On account of these rogues a servant of another kind is never admitted into the presence of the king, as a husbandman cannot get at a crop of rice enclosed with a palisade. For he is enslaved by those faithless servants, who penetrate into his secrets; and consequently Fortune in disgust flies from him, because he does not know the difference between man and man. Therefore a king should conquer himself, should inflict due chastisement, and know the difference of men’s characters, for in this way he will acquire his subjects’ love and become thereby a vessel of prosperity.

“In old time a king named Śūrasena, who relied implicitly upon his servants, was enslaved and plundered by his ministers, who had formed a coalition. Whoever was a faithful servant to the king the ministers would not give even a straw to, though the king wished to bestow a reward upon him; but if any man was a faithful servant to them, they themselves gave him presents, and by their representations induced the king to give to him, though he was undeserving. When the king saw that, he gradually came to be aware of that coalition of rogues, and set those ministers at variance with one another by a clever artifice. When they were estranged, and the clique was broken up, and they began to inform against one another, the king ruled the realm successfully, without being deceived by others.

“And there was a king named Harisiṃha, of ordinary power, but versed in the true science of policy, who had surrounded himself with devoted and wise ministers, possessed forts and stores of wealth; he made his subjects devoted to him, and conducted himself in such a way that, though attacked by an emperor, he was not defeated. Thus discernment and reflection are the main things in governing a kingdom: what is of more importance?”

Having said this, each taking his part, Gomukha and his fellows ceased. Naravāhanadatta, approving that speech of theirs, though he knew that heroic action is to be thought upon,[22] still placed his reliance upon destiny, whose power surpasses all thought.

Then he rose up, and his ardour being kindled by delay, he went with them to visit his beloved Madanamañcukā; when he had reached her palace, and was seated on a throne, Kaliṅgasenā, after performing the usual courtesies, said with astonishment[23] to Gomukha:

“Before the Prince Naravāhanadatta arrived, Madanamañcukā, being impatient, went to the top of the palace to watch him coming, accompanied by me, and while we were there a man descended from heaven upon it. He was of divine appearance, wore a tiara and a sword, and said to me:

‘I am a king, a lord of the Vidyādharas named Mānasavega, and you are a heavenly nymph named Surabhidattā, who by a curse have fallen down to earth, and this your daughter is of heavenly origin; this is known to me well. So give me this daughter of yours in marriage, for the connection is a suitable one.’

When he said this, I suddenly burst out laughing, and said to him:

‘Naravāhanadatta has been appointed her husband by the gods, and he is to be the Emperor of all you Vidyādharas.’

When I said this to him the Vidyādhara flew up into the sky, like a sudden streak of lightning dazzling the eyes of my daughter.”

When Gomukha heard that, he said:

“The Vidyādharas found out that the prince was to be their future lord from a speech in the air, by which the future birth of the prince was made known to the king in private, and they immediately desired to do him a mischief. What self-willed one would desire a mighty lord as his ruler and restrainer? For which reason Śiva has made arrangements to ensure the safety of this prince by commissioning his attendants to wait on him in actual presence. I heard this speech of Nārada’s being related by my father. So it comes to pass that the Vidyādharas are now hostile to us.”

When Kaliṅgasenā heard this, she was terrified at the thought of what had happened to herself, and said:

“Why does not the prince marry Madanamañcukā now, before she is deceived, like me, by delusion?”

When Gomukha and the others heard this from Kaliṅgasenā, they said:

“Do you stir up the King of Vatsa to this business.”

Then Naravāhanadatta, with his heart fixed on Madanamañcukā only, amused himself by looking at her in the garden all that day, with her face like a full-blown lotus, with lier eyes like opening blue water-lilies, with lips lovely as the bandhūka, with breasts like clusters of mandāras, with body delicate as the śirīṣa, like a matchless arrow, composed of five flowers, appointed by the God of Love for the conquest of the world.

The next day Kaliṅgasenā went in person and preferred her petition to the king for the marriage of her daughter. The King of Vatsa dismissed her, and, summoning his ministers, said to them in the presence of the Queen Vāsavadattā:

“Kaliṅgasenā is impatient for the marriage of her daughter: so how are we to manage it? For the people think that that excellent woman is unchaste. And we must certainly consider the people; did not Rāmabhadra long ago desert Queen Sītā, though she was chaste, on account of the slander of the multitude? Was not Ambā, though carried off with great effort by Bhīṣma for the sake of his brother, reluctantly abandoned because she had previously chosen another husband? In the same way this Kaliṅgasenā, after spontaneously choosing me, was married by Madanavega; for this reason the people blame her. Therefore let this Naravāhanadatta himself marry by the gāndharva ceremony her daughter, who will be a suitable wife for him.”

When the King of Vatsa said this, Yaugandharāyaṇa answered:

“My lord, how could Kaliṅgasenā consent to this impropriety? For I have often observed that she, as well as her daughter, is a divine being, no ordinary woman, and this was told me by my wise friend the Brāhman-Rākṣasa.”

While they were debating with one another in this style the voice of Śiva was heard from heaven to the following effect:—

“The God of Love, after having been consumed by the fire of my eye, has been created again in the form of Naravāhanadatta, and having been pleased with the asceticism of Rati, I have created her as his wife in the form of Madanamañcukā. And dwelling with her as his head wife he shall exercise supreme sovereignty over the Vidyādharas for a Kalpa of the gods, after conquering his enemies by my favour.”

After saying this the voice ceased.

When he heard this speech of the adorable Śiva, the King of Vatsa, with his retinue, worshipped him, and joyfully made up his mind to celebrate the marriage of his son. Then the king congratulated his prime minister, who had before discerned the truth, and summoned the astrologers and asked them what would be a favourable moment, and they, after being honoured with presents, told him that a favourable moment would arrive within a few days.

Again those astrologers said to him:

“Your son will have to endure some separation for a short season from this wife of his; this we know, O Lord of Vatsa, by our own scientific foresight.”

Then the king proceeded to make the requisite preparations for the marriage of his son, in a style suited to his own magnificence, so that not only his own city but the whole earth was made to tremble with the effort of it. Then, the day of marriage having arrived, Kaliṅgasenā adorned her daughter, to whom her father had sent his own heavenly ornaments, and Somaprabhā came in obedience to her husband’s order. Then Madanamañcukā, adorned with a heavenly marriage-thread, looked still more lovely: is not the moon truly beautiful when accompanied by Kārtika? And heavenly nymphs, by the order of Śiva, sang auspicious strains in her honour: they were eclipsed by her beauty and remained hidden as if ashamed, but the sound of their songs was heard.

They sang the following hymn in honour of Gaurī, blended with the minstrelsy of the matchless musicians of heaven, so as to make unequalled harmony:

“Victory to thee, O daughter of the mountain, that hast mercy on thy faithful votaries, for thou hast thyself come to-day and blessed with success the asceticism of Rati.”

Then Naravāhanadatta, resplendent with excellent marriage-thread, entered the wedding pavilion full of various musical instruments. And the bride and bridegroom, after accomplishing the auspicious ceremony of marriage, with intent care, so that no rite was left out, ascended the altar-platform, where a fire was burning, as if ascending the pure flame of jewels on the heads of kings. If the moon and the sun were to revolve at the same time round the mountain of gold[24] there would be an exact representation in the world of the appearance of those two, the bride and the bride groom, when circumambulating the fire, keeping it on their right.[25] Not only did the drums of the gods in the air drown the cymbal-clang in honour of the marriage festival, but the rain of flowers sent down by the gods overwhelmed the gilt grain[26] thrown by the women.

Then also the generous Kaliṅgasenā honoured her son-in-law with heaps of gold studded with jewels, so that the lord of Alakā was considered very poor compared with him, and much more so all miserable earthly monarchs. And then the bride and bridegroom, now that the delightful ceremony of marriage was accomplished in accordance with their long-cherished wishes, entered the inner apartments crowded with women, adorned with pure and variegated decoration, even as they penetrated the heart of the people full of pure and various loyalty. Moreover, the city of the King of Vatsa was quickly filled with kings, surrounded with splendid armies, who, though their valour was worthy of the world’s admiration, had bent in submission, bringing in their hands valuable jewels by way of presents, as if with subject seas.[27]

On that high day of festival the king distributed gold with such magnificence to his dependents that the children in their mothers’ wombs were at any rate the only beings in his kingdom not made of gold.[28] Then, on account of the troops of excellent minstrels and dancing-girls, that came from all quarters of the world, with hymns, music, dances and songs on all sides, the world seemed full of harmony. And at that festival the city of Kauśāmbī seemed itself to be dancing, for the pennons, agitated by the wind, seemed like twining arms, and it was beautiful with the toilettes of the city matrons, as if with ornaments.

And thus waxing in mirth every day, that great festival continued for a long time, and all friends and relations, and people generally, were delighted by it, and had their wishes marvellously fulfilled. And that Crown Prince Naravāhanadatta, accompanied by Madanamañcukā, enjoyed, though intent on glory, the long-desired pleasures of this world.

[Additional note: the “hand of glory”]

Footnotes and references:


This probably means in plain English that she wore glittering anklets.


Cf. the conduct of the Meerweib in Hagen’s Helden-Sagen, vol. i, p. 55.


I.e. Śiva.




Literally, “placing it upon his head.”


For treasures and their guardians see Veckenstedt’s Wendisclie Sagen, pp. 356-3 74 and p. 394; also Bartsch’s Sagen, Märchen und Gebräuche aus Meklenburg, vol. i, p. 243 et seq. Preller, in his R’ômische Mythologie, p. 488, has a note on incubones or treasure-guarding spirits. Treasures can often be acquired by stealing the caps worn by these incubones as a symbol of their secret and mysterious character. See also Grohmann, Sagen aus Böhmen, p. 29 et seq., and Bernhard Schmidt’s Griechische Märchen, p. 28. The bugbears were no doubt much of the kind found in Schöppner’s Sagenbuch der Bayerischen Lande, vol. i, p. 87.——The most usual guardians of treasures in Eastern tales are serpents and dragons, the latter being also found extensively in Greek legends. See Clouston, Popular Tales and Fictions, vol. i, p. 126n2.—n.m.p.


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


There is probably a pun too on varti, “the wick of a lamp.”


Literally, “made by the gods.”


I.e. prabhutva, “the majesty or pre-eminence of the king himself”; mantra, “the power of good counsel”; utsālia, “energy.”


Cf. Odyssey, vii, 116; Spenser’s Faerie Queene, iii, 6, 42.


The pun lies in the word kalā, which means “accomplishment,” and also “a sixteenth of the moon's diameter.”


This lotus is a friend of the moon’s and bewails its absence.


Or perhaps books.


For a note on the motif, “Women whose Love is Scorned,” see Vol. II, pp. 120-124.—n.m.p,


I read virāga-viṣabhṛd.


I.e. Nāgavana.


For the duties of kings see Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra (trans. Shamasastry, 1915), Book I, chaps, xix, xx, xxi, pp. 42-50.—n.m.p.


Literally, “thorns.”


The upāyas which are usually enumerated are four—viz. sowing dissension, negotiation, bribery and open attack.


The six guṇas —peace, war, march, halt, stratagem and recourse to the protection of a mightier king.


I read abhyagāt with a MS. in the Sanskrit College.


I read vismitā with a MS. in the Sanskrit College.


I.e. Mount Sumeru. The moon being masculine in Sanskrit, the words “form of the moon” are used in the original, to satisfy the requirements of classical Hindu rhetoric, according to which feminine things cannot be compared to masculine.


See Vol. I, pp. 190-193. — n.m.p.


The D. text reads homa-lājā, “sacriñcial grain.”— n.m.p.


The sea is always spoken of as full of “inestimable stones, unvalued jewels.” There is a double meaning throughout. Sadvāhim, when applied to the sea, may mean “beautiful rivers.”


Jātarūpā also means “having assumed a form,” so that there is another pun here. I read abhamn for abhavad, in accordance with a MS. lent me from the Sanskrit College.

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