Kathasaritsagara (the Ocean of Story)

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

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

Chapter XXXVII

[M] (Main story line continued) THEN Naravāhanadatta’s minister Gomukha said to him, by way of capping the tale which had been told by Ratnaprabhā:

“It is true that chaste women are few and far between, but unchaste women are never to be trusted; in illustration of this, hear the following story:


51. Story of Niścayadatta

There is in this land a town of the name of Ujjayinī, famous throughout the world: in it there lived of old time a merchant’s son, named Niścayadatta. He was a gambler and had acquired money by gambling, and every day the generous man used to bathe in the water of the Siprā and worship Mahākāla[1]: his custom was first to give money to the Brāhmans, the poor and the helpless, and then to anoint himself and indulge in food and betel.

Every day, when he had finished his bathing and his worship, he used to go and anoint himself, in a cemetery near the temple of Mahākāla, with sandalwood and other things. And the young man placed the unguent on a stone pillar that stood there, and so anointed himself every day alone, rubbing his back against it. In that way the pillar eventually became very smooth and polished. Then there came that way a draughtsman with a sculptor; the first, seeing that the pillar was very smooth, drew on it a figure of Gaurī, and the sculptor with his chisel, in pure sport, carved it on the stone. Then, after they had departed, a certain daughter of the Vidyādharas came there to worship Mahākāla, and saw that image of Gaurī on the stone. From the clearness of the image she inferred the proximity of the goddess, and, after worshipping, she entered that stone pillar to rest.

In the meanwhile Niścayadatta, the merchant’s son, came there, and to his astonishment beheld that figure of Umā carved on the stone. He first anointed his limbs, and then, placing the unguent on another part of the stone, began to anoint his back by rubbing it against the stone.

When the rolling-eyed Vidyādhara maiden inside the pillar saw that, her heart being captivated by his beauty, she reflected:

“What! has this handsome man no one to anoint his back? Then I will now rub his back for him.”

Thus the Vidyādharī reflected, and, stretching forth her hand from inside the pillar, she anointed his back then and there out of affection. Immediately the merchant’s son felt the touch, and heard the jingling of the bracelet, and caught hold of her hand with his.

And the Vidyādharī, invisible as she was, said to him from the pillar:

“Noble sir, what harm have I done you? Let go my hand.”

Then Niścayadatta answered her:

“Appear before me, and say who you are, then I will let go your hand.”

Then the Vidyādharī affirmed with an oath:

“I will appear before your eyes and tell you all.”

So he let go her hand.

Then she came out visibly from the pillar, beautiful in every limb, and sitting down, with her eyes fixed on his face, said to him:

“There is a city called Puṣkarāvatī[2] on a peak of the Himālayas; in it there lives a king named Vindhyapara. I am his maiden daughter, named Anurāgaparā. I came to worship Mahākāla, and rested here to-day. And thereupon you came here and were beheld by me anointing your back on this pillar, resembling the stupefying weapon of the God of Love. Then first my heart was charmed with affection for you, and afterwards my hand was smeared with your unguent, as I rubbed your back.[3] The sequel you know. So I will now go to my father’s house.”

When she said this to the merchant’s son, he answered:

“Fair one, I have not recovered my soul which you have taken captive; how can you thus depart, without letting go the soul which you have taken possession of?”

When he said this to her, she was immediately overcome with love, and said:

“I will marry you, if you come to my city. It is not hard for you to reach; your endeavour will be sure to succeed. For nothing in this world is difficult to the enterprising.”

Having said this, Anurāgaparā flew up into the air and departed; and Niścayadatta returned home with mind fixed upon her.

Recollecting the hand that was protruded from the pillar, like a shoot from the trunk of a tree, he thought:

“Alas! though I seized her hand I did not win it for my own. Therefore I will go to the city of Puṣkarāvatī to visit her, and either I shall lose my life or Fate will come to my aid.”

So musing, he passed that day there in an agony of love, and he set out from that place early the next morning, making for the north. As he journeyed, three other merchants’ sons, who were travelling towards the north, associated themselves with him as companions. In company with them he travelled through cities, villages, forests and rivers, and at last reached the northern region, abounding in barbarians.

There he and his companions were found on the way by some Tājikas, who took them and sold them to another Tājika. He sent them in the care of his servants as a present to a Turuṣka, named Muravāra. Then those servants took him and the other three, and hearing that Muravāra was dead, they delivered them to his son.

The son of Muravāra thought:

“These men have been sent me as a present by my father’s friend, so I must send them to him to-morrow by throwing them into his grave.”[4]

Accordingly the Turuṣka fettered Niścayadatta and his three friends with strong chains, that they might be kept till the morning.

Then, while they were remaining in chains at night, Niścayadatta said to his three friends, the merchants’ sons, who were afflicted with dread of death:

“What will you gain by despondency? Maintain steadfast resolution. For calamities depart far away from the resolute, as if terrified at them. Think on the peerless, adorable Durgā, that deliverer from calamity.”

Thus encouraging them, he devoutly worshipped that goddess Durgā:

“Hail to thee, O Goddess! I worship thy feet that are stained with a red dye, as if it were the clotted gore of the trampled Asura clinging to them. Thou, as the all-ruling power of Śiva, dost govern the three worlds, and inspired by thee they live and move. Thou didst deliver the worlds, O slayer of the Asura Mahiṣa! Deliver me that crave thy protection, O thou cherisher of thy votaries!”

In these and similar words he and his companions duly worshipped the goddess, and then they all fell asleep, being weary.

And the goddess Durgā in a dream commanded Niścayadatta and his companions:

“Rise up, my children, depart, for your fetters are loosed.”

Then they woke up at night and saw that their fetters had fallen off of themselves, and after relating to one another their dream they departed thence, delighted.

And after they had gone a long journey the night came to an end, and then those merchants’ sons, who had gone through such terrors, said to Niścayadatta:

“Enough of this quarter of the world infested with barbarians! We will go to the Deccan, friend, but do you do as you desire.”

When they said this to him, he dismissed them to go where they would, and set out alone vigorously on his journey, making towards that very northern quarter, drawn by the noose of love for Anurāgaparā, flinging aside fear.

As he went along, he fell in, in course of time, with four Pāśupata ascetics, and reached and crossed the River Vitastā. And after crossing it he took food, and as the sun was kissing the western mountain he entered with them a forest that lay in their path. And there some woodmen, that met them, said to them:

“Whither are you going, now that the day is over? There is no village in front of you; but there is an empty temple of Śiva in this wood. Whoever remains there during the night, inside or outside, falls a prey to a Yakṣiṇī, who bewilders him, making horns grow on his forehead, and then treats him as a victim and devours him.”

Those four Pāśupata ascetics, who were travelling together, though they heard this, said to Niścayadatta:

“Come along! What can that miserable Yakṣiṇī do to us? For we have remained many nights in various cemeteries.”

When they said this, he went with them, and finding an empty temple of Śiva he entered it with them to pass the night there. In the court of that temple the bold Niścayadatta and the Pāśupata ascetics quickly made a great circle with ashes, and entering into it, they lighted a fire with fuel, and all remained there, muttering a charm to protect themselves.[5]

Then at night there came there dancing the Yakṣiṇī Śṛṅgotpādinī,[6] playing from afar on her lute of bones, and when she came near she fixed her eye on one of the four Pāśupata ascetics, and recited a charm, as she danced outside the circle. That charm produced horns on him, [see notes on the significance of horns] and bewildered he rose up, and danced till he fell into the blazing fire. And when he had fallen the Yakṣiṇī dragged him half-burnt out of the fire, and devoured him with delight. Then she fixed her eye on the second Pāśupata ascetic, and in the same way recited the horn-producing charm and danced. The second one also had horns produced by that charm, and was made to dance, and falling into the fire was dragged out and devoured before the eyes of the others.

In this way the Yakṣiṇī maddened one after another at night the four ascetics, and, after horns had been produced on them, devoured them. But while she was devouring the fourth it came to pass that, being intoxicated with flesh and blood, she laid her lute down on the ground. Thereupon the bold Niścayadatta rose up quickly, and seized the lute, and began to play on it, and, dancing round with a laugh, to recite that horn-producing charm, which he had learned from hearing it often, fixing at the same time his eye on the face of the Yakṣiṇī.

By the operation of the charm she was confused, and dreading death, as horns were just about to sprout on her forehead, she flung herself prostrate and thus entreated him:

“Valiant man, do not slay me, a helpless woman. I now implore your protection; stop the recital of the charm and the accompanying movements. Spare me! I know all your story, and will bring about your wish; I will carry you to the place where Anurāgaparā is.”

The bold Niścayadatta, when thus confidingly addressed by her, consented, and stopped the recital of the charm and the accompanying movements. Then, at the request of the Yakṣiṇī, he mounted on her back, and being carried by her through the air, he went to find his beloved.[7]

And when the night came to an end they had reached a mountain wood; there the Guhyakī, bowing, thus addressed Niścayadatta:

“Now that the sun has risen, I have no power to go upwards,[8] so spend this day in this charming wood, my lord; eat sweet fruits and drink the clear water of the brooks. I go to my own place, and I will return at the approach of night; and then I will take you to the city of Puṣkarāvatī, the crown of the Himālayas, and into the presence of Anurāgaparā.”

Having said this, the Yakṣiṇī with his permission set him down from her shoulder, and departed, to return again according to her promise.

When she had gone, Niścayadatta beheld a deep lake, transparent and cool, but tainted with poison, lit up by the sun, that, stretching forth the fingers of its rays, revealed it as an example illustrative of the nature of the heart of a passionate woman. He knew by the smell that it was tainted with poison, and left it, after necessary ablutions, and being afflicted with thirst he roamed all over that heavenly mountain in search of water. And as he was wandering about he saw on a lofty place what seemed to be two rubies glittering, and he dug up the ground there.

And after he had removed the earth he saw there the head of a living monkey, and his eyes like two rubies.

While he was indulging his wonder, thinking what this could be, that monkey thus addressed him with human voice:

“I am a man, a Brāhman transformed into a monkey; release me, and then I will tell you all my story, excellent sir.”

As soon as he heard this he removed the earth, marvelling, and drew the ape out of the ground.

When Niścayadatta had drawn out the ape, it fell at his feet, and continued:

“You have given me life by rescuing me from calamity. So come, since you are weary, take fruit and water, and by your favour I also will break my long fast.”

Having said this, the liberated monkey took him to the bank of a mountain torrent some distance off, where there were delicious fruits and shady trees.

There he bathed and took fruit and water, and coming back he said to the monkey, who had broken his fast:

“Tell me how you have become a monkey, being really a man.”

Then that monkey said:

“Listen, I will tell you now.


51a. Somasvāmin and Bandhudattā

In the city of Vārāṇasī there is an excellent Brāhman named Candrasvāmin. I am his son by his virtuous wife, my friend. And my father gave me the name of Somasvāmin. In course of time it came to pass that I mounted the fierce elephant of love, which infatuation makes uncontrollable. When I was at this stage of my life the youthful Bandhudattā, the daughter of the merchant Śrīgarbha, an inhabitant of that city, and the wife of the great merchant of Mathurā, Varāhadatta, who was dwelling in her father’s house, beheld me one day as she was looking out of the window. She was enamoured of me on beholding me, and after inquiring my name she sent a confidential female friend to me, desiring an interview. Her friend came up secretly to me, who was blind with love, and, after telling her friend’s desire, took me to her house. There she placed me, and then went and brought secretly Bandhudattā, whose eagerness made her disregard shame. And no sooner was she brought than she threw her arms round my neck; for excessive love in women is your only hero for daring. Thus every day Bandhudattā came at will from her father’s house and sported with me in the house of her female friend.

Now one day the great merchant, her husband, came from Mathurā to take her back to his own house, as she had been long absent. Then Bandhudattā, as her father ordered her to go, and her husband was eager to take her away, secretly made a second request to her friend.

She said:

“I am certainly going to be taken by my husband to the city of Mathurā, and I cannot live there separated from Somasvāmin. So tell me what resource there is left to me in this matter?”

When she said this, her friend Sukhaśayā, who was a witch, answered her:

“I know two spells[9]: by reciting one of them a man can be in a moment made an ape, if a string is fastened round his neck, and by the second, if the string is loosed, he will immediately become a man again; and while he is an ape his intelligence is not diminished. So if you like, fair one, you can keep your lover Somasvāmin; for I will turn him into an ape on the spot; then take him with you to Mathurā as a pet animal. And I will show you how to use the two spells, so that you can turn him, when near you, into the shape of a monkey, and when you are in a secret place, make him once more a beloved man.”

When her friend had told her this, Bandhudattā consented, and sending for me in secret, told me that matter in the most loving tone. I consented, and immediately Sukhaśayā fastened a thread on my neck and recited the spell, and made me a young monkey.

And in that shape Bandhudattā brought and showed me to her husband, and she said:

“A friend of mine gave me this animal to play with.”

And he was delighted when he saw me in her arms as a plaything, and I, though a monkey, retained my intelligence and the power of articulate speech.

And I remained there, saying to myself with inward laughter:

“Wonderful are the actions of women.”

For whom does not love beguile?

The next day Bandhudattā, having been taught that spell by her friend, set out from her father’s house to go to Mathurā with her husband. And the husband of Bandhudattā, wishing to please her, had me carried on the back of one of his servants during the journey. So the servant and I and the rest went along, and in two or three days reached a wood, that lay in our way, which was perilous from abounding in monkeys. Then the monkeys, beholding me, attacked me in troops on all sides, quickly calling to one another with shrill cries. And the irresponsible apes came and began to bite that merchant’s servant, on whose back I was sitting. He was terrified at that, and flung me off his back on to the ground, and fled for fear, so the monkeys got hold of me then and there. And Bandhudattā, out of love for me, and her husband and his servants, attacked the apes with stones and sticks, but were not able to get the better of them. Then those monkeys, as if enraged with my evil actions, pulled off with their teeth and nails every hair from every one of my limbs as I lay there bewildered.

At last, by the virtue of the string on my neck, and by thinking on Śiva, I managed to recover my strength, and getting loose from them I ran away. And entering into the depths of the wood, I got out of their sight, and gradually, roaming from forest to forest, I reached this wood.

And while I was wandering about here in the rainy season, blind with the darkness of grief, saying to myself:

“How is it that even in this life adultery has produced for thee the fruit of transformation into the shape of a monkey, and thou hast lost Bandhudattā?”

—Destiny, not yet sated with tormenting me, inflicted on me another woe, for a female elephant suddenly came upon me and, seizing me with her trunk, flung me into the mud of an ant-hill that had been saturated with rain. I know it must have been some divinity instigated by Destiny, for, though I exerted myself to the utmost, I could not get out of that mud.

And while it was drying up,[10] not only did I not die, but knowledge was produced in me, while I thought continually upon Śiva. And all the while I never felt hunger nor thirst, my friend, until to-day you drew me out of this trap of dry mud. And though I have gained knowledge, I do not even now possess power sufficient to set myself free from this monkey nature. But when some witch unties the thread on my neck, reciting at the same time the appropriate spell, then I shall once more become a man.


51. Story of Niścayadatta

“This is my story; but tell me now, my friend, how you came to this inaccessible wood, and why.”

When Niścayadatta was thus requested by the Brāhman Somasvāmin, he told him his story, how he came from Ujjayinī on account of a Vidyādharī, and how he was conveyed at night by a Yakṣiṇī, whom he had subdued by his presence of mind.

Then the wise Somasvāmin, who wore the form of a monkey, having heard that wonderful story, went on to say:

“You, like myself, have suffered great woe for the sake of a female. But females, like prosperous circumstances, are never faithful to anyone in this world. Like the evening, they display a short-lived passion, their hearts are crooked like the channels of rivers, like snakes they are not to be relied on, like lightning they are fickle. So that Anurāgaparā, though she may be enamoured of you for a time, when she finds a paramour of her own race, will be disgusted with you, who are only a mortal. So desist now from this effort for the sake of a female, which you will find like the fruit of the colocynth, bitter in its after-taste. Do not go, my friend, to Puṣkarāvatī, the city of the Vidyādharas, but ascend the back of the Yakṣiṇī and return to your own Ujjayinī. Do what I tell you, my friend; formerly in my passion I did not heed the voice of a friend, and I am suffering for it at this very moment.

For when I was in love with Bandhudattā, a Brāhman friend named Bhavaśarman said this to me in order to dissuade me:

‘Do not put yourself in the power of a female; the heart of a female is a tangled maze; in proof of it I will tell you what happened to me. Listen!


51 b. Bhavaśarman and the Two Witches

In this very country, in the city of Vārāṇasī, there lived a young and beautiful Brāhman woman named Somadā, who was unchaste and secretly a witch. And as Destiny would have it, I had secret interviews with her, and in the course of our intimacy my love for her increased. One day I wilfully struck her in the fury of jealousy, and the cruel woman bore it patiently, concealing her anger for the time. The next day she fastened a string round my neck, as if in loving sport, and I was immediately turned into a domesticated ox. Then I, thus transformed into an ox, was sold by her, on receiving the required price, to a man who lived by keeping domesticated camels. When he placed a load upon me, a witch there, named Bandhamocinī, beholding me sore burdened, was filled with pity. She knew by her supernatural knowledge that I had been made an animal by Somadā, and when my proprietor was not looking she loosed the string from my neck.[11]

So I returned to the form of a man, and that master of mine immediately looked round, and thinking that I had escaped, wandered all about the country in search of me. And as I was going away from that place with Bandhamocinī it happened that Somadā came that way and beheld me at a distance.

She, burning with rage, said to Bandhamocinī, who possessed supernatural knowledge:

“Why did you deliver this villain from his bestial transformation? Curses on you! wicked woman, you shall reap the fruit of this evil deed. To-morrow morning I will slay you, together with this villain.”

When she had gone, after saying this, that skilful sorceress Bandhamocinī, in order to repel her assault, gave me the following instructions:

“She will come to-morrow morning in the form of a black mare to slay me, and I shall then assume the form of a bay mare. And when we have begun to fight you must come behind this Somadā, sword in hand, and resolutely strike her. In this way we will slay her; so come to-morrow morning to my house.”

After saying this, she pointed out to me her house.

When she had entered it I went home, having endured more than one birth in this very life. And in the morning I went to the house of Bandhamocinī, sword in hand. Then Somadā came there in the form of a black mare.[12] And Bandhamocinī, for her part, assumed the form of a bay mare; and then they fought with their teeth and heels, biting and kicking. Then I struck that vile witch Somadā a blow with my sword, and she was slain by Bandhamocinī. Then I was freed from fear, and having escaped the calamity of bestial transformation, I never again allowed my mind to entertain the idea of associating with wicked women. Women generally have these three faults, terrible to the three worlds, flightiness, recklessness, and a love for the congregation of witches.[13] So why do you run after Bandhudattā, who is a friend of witches? Since she does not love her husband, how is it possible that she can love you?


51. Story of Niścayadatta

“Though my friend Bhavaśarman gave me this advice, I did not do what he told me, and so I am reduced to this state. So I give you this counsel: do not suffer hardship to win Anurāgaparā, for when she obtains a lover of her own race she will, of a surety, desert you. A woman ever desires fresh men, as a female humble bee wanders from flower to flower; so you will suffer regret some day, like me, my friend.”

This speech of Somasvāmin, who had been transformed into a monkey, did not penetrate the heart of Niścayadatta, for it was full of passion.

And he said to that monkey:

“She will not be unfaithful to me, for she is born of the pure race of the Vidyādharas.”

Whilst they were thus conversing, the sun, red with the hues of evening, went to the mountain of setting, as if wishing to please Niścayadatta. Then the night arrived, as the harbinger of the Yakṣiṇī Śṛṅgotpādinī, and she herself came soon afterwards. And Niścayadatta mounted on her back, and went off to go to his beloved, taking leave of the ape, who begged that he might ever be remembered by him. And at midnight he reached that city of Puṣkarāvatī, which was situated on the Himālayas, and belonged to the King of the Vidyādharas, the father of Anurāgaparā. At that very moment Anurāgaparā, having known by her power of his arrival, came out from that city to meet him.

Then the Yakṣiṇī put down Niścayadatta from her shoulder, and pointing out to him Anurāgaparā, said:

“Here comes your beloved, like a second moon giving a feast to your eyes in the night, so now I will depart.”

And bowing before him, she went her way. Then Anurāgaparā, full of the excitement produced by expectation, went up to her beloved, and welcomed him with embraces and other signs of love. He too embraced her, and now that he had obtained the joy of meeting her after enduring many hardships, he could not be contained in his own body, and as it were entered hers. So Anurāgaparā was made his wife by the gāndharva ceremony of marriage, and she immediately by her magic skill created a city. In that city, which was outside the metropolis, he dwelt with her, without her parents suspecting it, as their eyes were blinded by her skill. And when, on her questioning him, he told her those strange and painful adventures of his journey, she respected him much and bestowed on him all the enjoyments that heart could wish.

Then Niścayadatta told that Vidyādharī the strange story of Somasvāmin, who had been transformed into a monkey, and said to her:

“If this friend of mine could by any endeavour on your part be freed from his monkey condition, then, my beloved, you would have done a good deed.”

When he told her this, Anurāgaparā said to him:

“This is in the way of witches’ spells, but it is not our province. Nevertheless I will accomplish this desire of yours, by asking a friend of mine, a skilful witch named Bhadrarūpā.”

When the merchant’s son heard that, he was delighted, and said to that beloved of his:

“So come and see my friend; let us go to visit him.”

She consented, and the next day, carried in her lap, Niścayadatta went through the air to the wood, which was the residence of his friend. When he saw his friend there in monkey form he went up to him with his wife, who bowed before him, and asked after his welfare.

And the monkey Somasvāmin welcomed him, saying:

“It is well with me to-day, in that I have beheld you united to Anurāgaparā.”

And he gave his blessing to Niścayadatta’s wife. Then all three sat down on a charming slab of rock there and held a conversation[14] about his story, the various adventures of that ape, previously discussed by Niścayadatta with his beloved. Then Niścayadatta took leave of that monkey and went to the house of his beloved, flying up into the air, carried by her in her arms.

And the next day he again said to that Anurāgaparā:

“Come, let us go for a moment to visit that ape our friend.”

Then she said to him:

“Go to-day yourself; receive from me the science of flying up, and also that of descending.”

When she had said this to him, he took those two sciences and flew through the air to his friend the ape. And as he remained long conversing with him, Anurāgaparā went out of the house into the garden. While she was seated there a certain Vidyādhara youth, who was wandering at will through the air, came there. The Vidyādhara, knowing by his art that she was a Vidyādharī who had a mortal husband, the moment he beheld her, was overpowered with a paroxysm of love, and approached her. And she, with face bent on the ground, beheld that he was handsome and attractive, and slowly asked him out of curiosity who he was and whence he came.

Then he answered her:

“Know, fair one, that I am a Vidyādhara, by name Rāgabhañjana, distinguished for my knowledge of the sciences of the Vidyādharas. The moment I beheld you, O gazelle-eyed one, I was suddenly overpowered by love, and made your slave, so cease to honour, O Goddess, a mortal, whose abode is the earth, and favour me, your equal, before your father finds out your intrigue.”

When he said this, the fickle-hearted one, looking timidly at him with a sidelong glance, thought:

“Here is a fit match for me.”

When he had thus ascertained her wishes, he made her his wife: when two are of one mind what more does secret love require?

Then Niścayadatta arrived from the presence of Somasvāmin, after that Vidyādhara had departed. And when he came, Anurāgaparā, having lost her love for him, did not embrace him, giving as an excuse that she had a headache. But the simple-minded man, bewildered by love, not seeing through her excuse, thought that her pain was due to illness and spent the day in that belief. But the next day he again went in low spirits to see his friend the ape, flying through the air by the force of the two sciences he possessed.

When he had gone, Anurāgaparā’s Vidyādhara lover returned to her, having spent a sleepless night without her. And embracing round the neck her who was eager for his arrival, owing to having been separated during the night, he was at length overcome by sleep. She by the power of her science concealed her lover, who lay asleep in her lap, and weary with having kept awake all night, went to sleep herself.

In the meanwhile Niścayadatta came to the ape, and his friend, welcoming him, asked him:

“Why do I seem to see you in low spirits to-day? Tell me.”

Then Niścayadatta said to that ape:

“Anurāgaparā is exceedingly ill, my friend; for that reason I am grieved, for she is dearer to me than life.”

Then that ape, who possessed supernatural knowledge, said to him:

“Go, take her in your arms, asleep as she is, and flying through the air by the help of the science she bestowed, bring her to me, in order that I may this very day show you a great marvel.”

When Niścayadatta heard this, he went through the air and lightly took up that sleeping fair one, but he did not see that Vidyādhara, who was asleep in her lap, and had been previously made invisible by the power of her science. And flying up into the air, he quickly brought Anurāgaparā to that ape. That ape, who possessed divine insight, immediately showed him a charm, by which he was able to behold the Vidyādhara clinging to her neck.

When he saw this, he exclaimed:

“Alas! what does this mean?”

And the ape, who was able to discern the truth, told him the whole story.

Then Niścayadatta fell into a passion, and the Vidyādhara, who was the lover of his wife, woke up, and flying up into the air, disappeared. Then Anurāgaparā woke up, and seeing that her secret was revealed, stood with face cast down through shame.

Then Niścayadatta said to her, with eyes gushing with tears:

“Wicked female, how could you thus deceive me who reposed confidence in you? Although a device is known in this world for fixing that exceedingly fickle metal quicksilver, no expedient is known for fixing the heart of a woman.”

While he was saying this, Anurāgaparā, at a loss for an answer, and weeping, slowly soared up into the air, and went to her own home.

Then Niścayadatta’s friend, the ape, said to him:

“That you are grieved is the fruit of the fierce fire of passion, in that you ran after this fair one, though I tried to dissuade you. For what reliance can be placed on fickle fortunes and fickle women? So cease your regret. Be patient now. For even the Disposer himself cannot o’erstep Destiny.”

When Niścayadatta heard this speech from the ape he flung aside that delusion of grief and, abandoning passion, fled to Śiva as his refuge. Then, as he was remaining in that wood with his friend the ape, it happened that a female hermit of the name of Mokṣadā came near him.

She, seeing him bowing before her, proceeded to ask him:

“How comes this strange thing to pass that, though a man, you have struck up a friendship with this ape?”

Then he related to her his own melancholy story, and afterwards the sad tale of his friend, and thereupon thus said to her:

“If you, reverend lady, know any incantation or spell by which it can be done, immediately release this excellent Brāhman, my friend, from his ape-transformation.”

When she heard that, she consented, and employing a spell, she loosed the string from his neck, and Somasvāmin abandoned that monkey form and became a man as before. Then she disappeared like lightning, clothed with celestial brightness, and in time Niścayadatta and the Brāhman Somasvāmin, having performed many austerities, attained final beatitude.


[M] (Main story line continued)

“Thus fair ones, naturally fickle, bring about a series of evil actions which produce true discernment, and aversion to the world. But here and there you will find a virtuous one among them, who adorns a glorious family, as the streak of the moon the broad sky.”

When Naravāhanadatta, accompanied by Ratnaprabhā, heard this wonderful tale from the mouth of Gomukha, he was highly pleased.

[Additional note 1: the “magic circle” motif]

[Additional note 2: the “magical conflict” motif]

Footnotes and references:


A famous liṅga of Śiva in Ujjayinī.


Perhaps the Pushkalāvatī described by General Cunningham in his Ancient Geography of India, p. 49.


There is a studied ambiguity in all these words, the usual play on affection and oil being kept up. A marginal correction in a Sanskrit College MS. lent to me gives hṛdayam. The text has rāñjitam sthāthavān. The latter is a vox nihili. Brockhaus’ text may be explained: “My hand full of my heart was steeped in affection for you.”


For “funeral human sacrifice for the service of the dead” see Tylor’s Primitive Culture, pp. 413-422. Cf. Hagen’s Helden-Sagen, vol. iii, pp. 165, 166.——See Crooke, Popular Religion and Folk-Lore of Northern India, vol. ii, p. 167 et seq., and the references in this work, Vol. I, p. 116n1.—n.m.p.


See Note 1 at the end of this chapter.—n.m.p.


I.e. producer of horns.


Cf. Grimm’s Märchen, No. 193. The parallel between Grimm’s story and that of Vidūṣaka in Chapter XVI11 of this work is still more striking.


All demons become powerless at cock-crow. See Vol. I, p. 77n1—n.m.p.


Cf. Veckenstedt’s Wendische Sagen, pp. 256, 394. See also No. 129 in Giles’ Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, vol. ii, p. 265, the title of which is “Making of Animals.” Cf. with the string the gold rings in the “Volsunga Saga,” Hagen’s Helden-Sagen, vol. iii, p. 30. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, viii, 850 et seq., there is an account of Mestra’s transformation. Neptune gave her the power of transforming herself whenever she was sold by her father. See also the story of Achelous and Hercules in Book IX of the Metamorphoses; Prym and Socin’s Syrische Märchen, p. 229, where we have the incident of the selling; Waldau, Böhmische Märchen, p. 125; Coelho, Contos Populares Portugueses, p. 32.-For references to animal metamorphoses in folk-lore see Chauvin, op. cit., vi, p. 1 99. The references to the Nights are numerous.—n.m.p.


Pandit Śyāmā Charaṇa Mukhopādhyāya conjectures āśoshyamāne. This I adopt unhesitatingly.


Cf. Sagas from the Far East, p. 35. This story very closely resembles that of Sidi Nu’uman in the Nights (Burton, Supp., vol. iii, p. 325 et seq.), and The Golden Ass of Apuleius.


Cf. Campbell’s Tales from the West Highlands, vol. ii, p. 422, and Sagas from the Far East, p. 4. This part of the story comes under Mr Baring-Gould’s “Magical Conflict” root (see his “Story Radicals” in the appendix to Henderson’s Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties).——For details of the “Magical Conflict” or “Transformation Combat” motif see Note 2 at the end of this chapter.—n.m.p.


The word samvara, which I have translated “congregation,” probably means “sorcery”; see Böhtlingk and Roth s.v.


I adopt kṛtam, the reading of a MS. lent me from the Sanskrit College, should put a comma after ālāpam, as that word is used in the masculine.

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