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 early the next day Naravāhanadatta went off to the forest for the purpose of hunting, surrounded with elephants, in the company of his father and his friends; but before going he comforted his beloved Ratnaprabhā, who was anxious about him, by saying that he would quickly return.

Then the scene of the chase became like a garden adorned with lovely creepers for his delight, for in it the pearls that dropped from the claws of the lions, that had cleft the foreheads of elephants, and now fell asleep in death, were sown like seeds; and the teeth of the tigers that were cut out by the crescent-headed arrows were like buds, and the flowing blood of the deer seemed like shoots, and the wild boars, in which stuck the arrows adorned with heron feathers, seemed like clusters, and the fallen bodies of Śarabhas[1] showed like fruit, and the arrows falling with deep hum appeared like bees.

Gradually the prince became wearied, and desisted from the chase, and went on horseback to another wood with Gomukha, who was also riding. There he began to play at ball, and while he was thus engaged a certain female ascetic came that way.

Then the ball slipped from his hand and fell on her head; whereupon the female ascetic laughed a little, and said to him:

“If your insolence is so great now, what will it be if you ever obtain Karpūrikā for a wife?”[2]

When Naravāhanadatta heard this, he dismounted from his horse, and prostrating himself at the feet of that female ascetic, said to her:

“I did not see you, and my ball fell on your head by chance. Reverend one, be propitiated, and pardon that fault of mine.”

When the female ascetic heard this she said: “My son, I am not angry with you”; and being victorious over her wrath she comforted him with blessings.

And then, thinking that the wise, truthful ascetic was well disposed to him, Naravāhanadatta respectfully asked her:

“Who, reverend lady, is this Karpūrikā spoken of by you? Condescend to inform me, if you are pleased with me, for I am curious on this head.”

When he said this, bending before her, the female ascetic said to him:

“There is on the other side of the sea a city named Karpūrasambhava[3]; in it there is a king rightly named Karpūraka; he has a daughter, a lovely maiden, named Karpūrikā, who appears like a second Lakṣmī, deposited in security there by the ocean, having seen that the first Lakṣmī had been carried away by the gods after the Churning. And she, as she hates men,[4] does not desire to be married; but she will desire it, if at all, when she sees you. So go there, my son, and you shall win that fair one; nevertheless, while you are going there, you will suffer great hardship in the forest. But you must not be perplexed at that, for all shall end well.”

When the ascetic had said this she flew up into the air and disappeared.

Then Naravāhanadatta, drawn on by the command of Love uttered through her voice, said to his attendant Gomukha:

“Come, let us go to Karpūrikā in the city of Karpūrasambhava, for I cannot remain a moment without beholding her.”

When Gomukha heard that, he said:

“King, desist from your rashness. Consider how far off you are from the sea and from that city, and whether the journey is worth taking for the sake of that maiden. Why, on merely hearing her name,[5] do you abandon celestial wives and alone run after a mere woman who is enveloped in doubt, owing to your not knowing what her intention is?”

When Gomukha said this to him, the son of the King of Vatsa said:

“The speech of that holy ascetic cannot be false. So I must certainly go to find that princess.”

Having said this, he set out thence on horseback that very moment. And Gomukha followed him; silently, though it was against his wish. When a lord does not act on the advice of his servants their only course is to follow him.

In the meanwhile the King of Vatsa, having finished his hunting, returned to his city thinking that that son of his was returning among his own armed followers. And the prince’s followers returned with Marubhūti and the others to the city, supposing that the prince was with the armed followers of his father. When they arrived the King of Vatsa and the others searched for him, and finding that he had not returned, they all went to the house of Ratnaprabhā.

She at first was grieved at that news, but she called up a supernatural science and was told by it tidings of her husband, and said to her distressed father-in-law:

“My husband heard the Princess Karpūrikā mentioned by a female ascetic in the forest, and in order to obtain her he has gone to the city of Karpūrasambhava. And he will soon have accomplished his object, and will return here with Gomukha. So dismiss anxiety, for this I have learned from a science.”

By these words she comforted the King of Vatsa and his retinue. And she dispatched another science to wait on her husband during his journey and dispel his fatigue: for good women who desire their husband’s happiness do not nourish jealousy.

In the meanwhile Naravāhanadatta performed a long journey on horseback in that forest, accompanied by Gomukha.

Then a maiden suddenly came up to him in his path and said to him:

“I am a science,[6] sent by Ratnaprabhā, named Māyāvatī; I will guard you on the path without being seen, so proceed now without fear.”

Having said this, the incarnate science disappeared as he gazed at it.

By virtue of it Naravāhanadatta continued his journey with his thirst and hunger appeased, praising his beloved Ratnaprabhā. And in the evening he reached a wood with a pure lake in it, and with Gomukha he bathed and took a meal of delicious fruit and water. And at night he tied up the two horses underneath a large tree, after supplying them with grass, and he and his minister climbed up into it to sleep. While reposing on a broad bough of the tree he was wakened by the neighings of the terrified horses, and saw a lion that had come close underneath.

When he saw it he wished[7] to get down for the sake of the horses, but Gomukha said to him:

“Alas! you are neglecting the safety of your person and acting without counsel; for kings the first duty is the preservation of their persons, and counsel is the foundation of rule. How can you desire to contend with wild beasts armed with teeth and claws? For it was to avoid these that we just now got up into this tree.”

When the king had been restrained from descending by these words of Gomukha’s, seeing the lion killing the horse, he immediately threw his sword at it from the tree, and succeeded in wounding it with the weapon, which was buried in its body. The mighty lion, though pierced with the sword, after killing that horse, slew the other also. Then the son of the King of Vatsa took Gomukha’s sword from him and, throwing it, cut the lion in half in the middle. And descending he recovered his sword from the body of the lion, and ascending again to his sleeping-place he passed the night there in the tree.

In the morning Naravāhanahatta got down and set out to find Karpūrikā, accompanied by Gomukha. Then Gomukha, beholding him travelling on foot, as the lion had slain his horse, in order to amuse him on the way, said:

“Listen, King; I will relate you this story, which is particularly appropriate on the present occasion.


58. Story of King Parityāgasena, his Wicked Wife and his Two Sons

There is in this world a city named Irāvatī, which surpasses Alakā[8]; in it there dwelt a king named Parityāgasena. And he had two beloved queens, whom he valued as his life. One was the daughter of his own minister, and her name was Adhikasaṅgamā; and the other was of royal race, and was called Kāvyālaṅkārā. And with those two the king propitiated Durgā to obtain a son, and performed penance without food, sleeping on darbha grass.

Then Bhavānī, who is kind to her votaries,, pleased with his penance, appeared to him in a dream and gave him two heavenly fruits, and thus commanded him:

“Rise up and give your two wives these two fruits to eat, and then, King, you will have born to you two heroic sons.”[9]

Having said this, Gaurī disappeared, and the king woke up in the morning and rose delighted at beholding those fruits in his hand. And by describing that dream of his he delighted his wives, and bathed and worshipped the consort of Śiva, and broke his fast. And at night he first visited that wife of his Adhikasaṅgamā, and gave her one of the fruits, and she immediately ate it. Then the king spent the night in her pavilion, out of respect for her father, who was his own prime minister. And he placed near the head of his bed the second fruit, which was intended for the other queen.

While the king was asleep the Queen Adhikasaṅgamā rose up, and desiring for herself two similar sons, she took from his head and ate that second fruit also. For women are naturally envious of their rivals.

And in the morning, when the king rose up and was looking for that fruit, she said:

“I ate that second fruit also.”

Then the king went away despondent, and after spending the day he went at night to the apartments of the second queen.

And when she asked for that other fruit he said to her:

“While I was asleep your fellow-wife treacherously devoured it.”

Then the Queen Kāvyālaṅkārā, not having obtained that fruit which was to enable her to give birth to a son, remained silently grieved.

In the course of some days that Queen Adhikasaṅgamā became pregnant, and in due time gave birth to twin sons. And the King Parityāgasena rejoiced, and made a great feast, since his desire was fulfilled by their birth. And the king gave the name of Indīvarasena to the elder of the two, who was of wonderful beauty and had eyes like a blue lotus. And he gave to the younger the name of Anicchasena, because his mother ate the second fruit against his wish.

Then Kāvyālaṅkārā, the second wife of that king, on beholding this, was angry, and reflected:

“Alas! I have been cheated by this rival wife out of having children; so I must without fail revenge myself on her. I must destroy these sons of hers by my cunning.”

Having thus reflected, she remained thinking over a means of doing this. And as fast as those two princes grew, the tree of enmity grew in her heart.

And in course of time those two princes, having attained manhood, and being mighty of arm, and desirous of conquest, said to their father:

“We have attained manhood, and we have been trained in the use of weapons, so how can we remain here endowed to no profit with these mighty arms? Out on the arms and the youth of a Kṣatriya that longs not for victory! So let us go now, father, and conquer the regions.”

When the King Parityāgasena heard this request of his sons he was pleased, and consented, and made arrangements for their expedition.

And he said to them:

“If ever you are in difficulties you must think upon the goddess Durgā, the remover of sorrows, for she gave you to me.”

Then the king sent forth those two sons on their expedition, accompanied by his troops and feudal chiefs, after their mother had performed the auspicious ceremonies to ensure them success. And he sent after them his own sagacious prime minister, their maternal grandfather, whose name was Prathamasaṅgama.

Then those two mighty princely brothers, with their army, first marched in due order to the eastern quarter and subdued it. Then these two irresistible heroes of approved might, to whom many kings had joined themselves, went to the southern quarter to conquer it. And their parents rejoiced on hearing these tidings of them, but their second mother was consumed with the fire of concealed hate.

The treacherous queen then got the following false dispatch written in the king’s name to the chiefs in the princes’ camp, by means of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, whom she had bribed with heaps of treasure:

“My two sons, having subdued the earth by the might of their arms, have formed the intention of killing me and seizing my kingdom; so if you are loyal to me you must without hesitation put to death both those sons of mine.”

This letter Kāvyālaṅkārā sent off secretly by a courier.[10] And the courier went secretly to the camp of those two princes and gave that letter to the chiefs. And they all, after reading it, reflecting that the policy of kings is very cruel, and considering that that command of their master must not be disobeyed, met and deliberated in the night, and, as they saw no way out of the difficulty, determined to kill those two princes, though they had been fascinated by their virtues. But their maternal grandfather, the minister, who was with them, heard of it from a friend that he had among the chiefs, and after informing the princes of the state of affairs he thereupon mounted them on swift horses and conveyed them safely out of the camp.

The two princes, when conveyed away by the minister at night, travelled along with him, and entered the Vindhya forest out of ignorance of the true road. Then, after the night had passed, as they slowly proceeded on their way, about noon their horses died, overcome with excessive thirst, And that aged maternal grandfather of theirs, whose palate was dry with hunger and thirst, died exhausted with the heat before the eyes of those two, who were also weary.

Then those afflicted brothers exclaimed in their sorrow:

“Why has our father reduced to this state us who are innocent, and fulfilled the desire of that wicked second mother of ours?”

In the midst of their lamentation they thought upon the goddess Ambikā,[11] whom their father had long ago pointed out to them as their natural protectress. That moment, by force of thinking on that kind protectress, their hunger, thirst and fatigue left them, and they were strong. Then they were comforted by faith in her, and without feeling the fatigue of the journey they went to visit that goddess who dwells in the Vindhya forest. And when those two brothers had arrived there, they began a course of fasting and asceticism to propitiate her.

In the meanwhile those chiefs in the camp assembled together in a band, and went with the intention of doing the princes a mischief; but they could not find them, though they searched everywhere.

They said:

“The princes have escaped somewhere with their maternal grandfather”;

and fearing that the whole thing would come out, they went in a fright to the King Parityāgasena, and, showing him the letter, they told him the whole story.

He, when he heard it, was agitated, and said to them in his anger:

“I did not send this letter; this is some deception. And how comes it that you did not know, you foolish creatures, that I should not be likely to put to death two sons obtained by severe austerities? They have been put to death as far as you are concerned, but they were saved by their own merits, and their maternal grandfather has exhibited a specimen of his statesmanship.”

He said this to the chiefs, and though the Secretary who wrote the treacherous letter fled, the king quickly had him brought back by his royal power, and after thoroughly investigating the whole matter, punished him as he deserved. And he threw into a dungeon his wicked wife Kāvyālaṅkārā, who was guilty of such a crime as trying to slay his sons. For how can an evil deed audaciously done, the end of which is not considered through the mind being blinded with excessive hate, help bringing ruin? And as for those chiefs who had set out with his two sons and returned, the king dismissed them and appointed others in their place. And with their mother he continued to seek for tidings of those sons, plunged in grief, devoted to righteousness, thinking upon Durgā.

In the meanwhile that goddess, who has her shrine in the Vindhya mountains, was pleased with the asceticism of the Prince Indīvarasena and his younger brother.

And she gave Indīvarasena a sword in a dream, and appearing to him, thus addressed him:

“By the power of this sword thou shalt conquer enemies hard to overcome, and whatever thou shalt think of thou shalt obtain, and by means of it you shall both gain the success you desire.”

When the goddess had said that she disappeared, and Indīvarasena, waking up, beheld that sword in his hand. Then he comforted his younger brother by showing him that sword and describing to him his dream, and in the morning he and his brother broke their fast on wild fruits. Then he worshipped that goddess, and having his fatigue removed by her favour, he departed rejoicing, with the sword in his hand, in the company of his brother.

And after he had travelled a long distance he found a great and splendid city, looking like the peak of Meru on account of its golden houses. There he beheld a terrible Rākṣasa standing at the gate of the high street, and the hero asked him what was the name of the town, and who was its king.

That Rākṣasa said:

“This city is called Śailapura, and it is possessed by our lord Yamadaṃṣṭra, the slayer of his foes, King of the Rākṣasas.”

When the Rākṣasa said this, Indīvarasena attempted to enter, in order to slay Yamadaṃṣṭra, but the Rākṣasa at the door tried to prevent him, upon which the mighty Indīvarasena killed him, cutting off his head with one stroke of his sword. After slaying him the hero entered the royal palace, and beheld inside it the Rākṣasa Yamadaṃṣṭra sitting on his throne, having a mouth terrible with tusks, with a lovely woman at his left hand, and a virgin of heavenly beauty on his right hand. And when Indīvarasena saw him he went with the sword given him by Durgā in his hand and challenged him to fight, and the Rākṣasa drew his sword and stood up to resist him. And in the course of the fight Indīvarasena frequently cut off the Rākṣasa’s head, but it grew again. [also see notes on regrowing of the head] Seeing that magic power of his, and having had a sign made to him by the virgin at the Rākṣasa’s side, who had fallen in love with him at first sight, the prince, after cutting off the head of the Rākṣasa, being quick of hand, again cut it in two with a stroke of his sword. Then the Rākṣasa’s magic was baffled by contrary magic, and his head did not grow again, and the Rākṣasa died of the wound.

When he was slain the lovely woman and the princess were delighted, and the prince with his younger brother sat down and asked them the following questions:

“Why did this Rākṣasa live in such a city as this, guarded by one warder only, and who are you two, and why do you rejoice at his being slain?”

When they heard this, the virgin was the one that answered, and she spoke as follows:

“In this city of Śailpura there lived a king of the name of Vīrabhuja, and this is his wife Madanadaṃṣṭrā, and this Rākṣasa came and devoured him by the help of his magic power. And he ate up his attendants, but he did not eat this Madanadaṃṣṭrā, whom alone he spared because she was beautiful, but he made her his wife. Then he became disgusted with this city though beautiful, and building in it houses of gold he remained here sporting with Madanadaṃṣṭrā, having dismissed his retinue. And I am the younger sister of this Rākṣasa, and unmarried, but the moment I saw you I fell in love with you. Accordingly she is glad at his having been slain, and so also am I; so marry me here now, my husband, since love makes me offer myself to you.”

When Khaḍgadaṃṣṭrā said this, Indīvarasena married her then and there by the gāndharva form of marriage. And he remained in that very city, having everything brought to him on his thinking of it, by the virtue of the sword of Durgā, married and accompanied by his younger brother. And once on a time he made a chariot that would fly through the air, produced by thought through

the virtue of his sword, that resembled in its powers the philosopher’s stone, and placed in it his heroic brother Anicchasena, and sent him off from his retreat to bear tidings of him to his parents. Anicchasena, for his part, travelled quickly through the air in that chariot and reached Irāvatī, that city of his father. There he refreshed his grief-worn parents with the sight of him, as the moon refreshes the partridges when exhausted with severe heat. And he approached them and fell at their feet, and was embraced by them; and when they questioned him he dispelled their apprehensions with good news of his brother. And he told in their presence the whole adventure of himself and his brother, which in the beginning was sad, but in the end was happy. And there he heard the treacherous device which his wicked second mother had, out of enmity, contrived for his destruction.

Then Anicchasena remained there in tranquillity, in the company of his delighted father and his mother, honoured by the subjects.

But after some days had passed his fears were aroused by a threatening dream, and he yearned to see his brother again, and said to his father:

“I will depart, and by telling my brother Indīvarasena that you are anxiously awaiting him I will bring him back. Give me leave to depart, my father.”

When his father heard that, being anxious for the sight of his son, he and his wife gave Anicchasena leave to depart, and he immediately mounted his chariot and reached through the air that city of Śailapura. And when he arrived there he entered the palace of that brother of his. He saw there his elder brother lying senseless in the presence of Khaḍgadaṃṣṭrā and Madanadaṃṣṭrā, who were weeping.

In his perplexity he asked: “What does this mean?”

And then Khaḍgadaṃṣṭrā said, with her eyes fixed on the ground, though the other blamed her for it:

“When you were away your brother one day, on my going to bathe, had a secret intrigue with this Madanadaṃṣṭrā, and I, on returning from bathing, found him with her, and abused him. Then he tried to propitiate me, but I, being exceedingly bewildered by unforgiving jealousy, that seemed to have possessed me, thought thus with myself:

‘Ah! without taking me into account, he favours another. I believe he shows this insolence confiding in the magic properties of his sword, so I will hide this weapon of his.’

After thus reflecting, in my folly I thrust his sword into the fire at night while he was asleep. The consequence was that his sword was dimmed and he was reduced to this state. And I am grieved for this myself and upbraided by Madanadaṃṣṭrā. So you have come here now when both our minds are blinded with grief and we have resolved on death. So take this sword and kill me with it, since I have proved true to the customs of my race and acted cruelly.”

When Anicchasena was thus entreated by his brother’s wife, he thought that he ought not to slay her on account of her repentance, but prepared to cut off his own head.

But at that moment he heard the following voice from the air:

“Do not act thus, prince; your brother is not dead, but he has been struck senseless by Durgā, who is angry at his not having taken sufficient care of the sword, and you must not impute guilt to Khaḍgadaṃṣṭrā, for this circumstance is the consequence of your all having been born into this world on account of a curse. And they were both of them your brother’s wives in a former life. So propitiate Durgā in order to gain your object.”

Accordingly Anicchasena gave up his intention of slaying himself. But he mounted that chariot, and took that fire-dimmed sword, and went to propitiate the soles of the feet of Durgā, the dweller in the Vindhya range.

There he fasted, and was about to propitiate the goddess with the offering of his head when he heard this voice from heaven:

“Do not be rash, my son. Go; thy elder brother shall live, and the sword shall become pure from stain, for I am pleased with thy devotion.”

When Anicchasena heard this speech of the goddess he immediately saw that the sword in his hand had recovered its brightness, and he walked round the goddess, keeping his right hand towards her, and ascending his swift magic car, as if it were his own desire,[12] he returned in a state of anxious expectation to that Śailapura. There he saw that his elder brother had just risen up, having suddenly regained consciousness, and, weeping, he seized his feet, and his elder brother threw his arms round his neck.

And both the wives of Indīvarasena fell at the feet of Anicchasena and said:

“You have saved the life of our husband.”

Then he told the whole story to his brother Indīvarasena; who questioned him, and he, when he heard it, was not angry with Khaḍgadaṃṣṭrā, but was pleased with his brother.[13]

And when he heard from the lips of his brother that his parents were eager to see him, and of the fraud of his second mother, that had brought about his separation from them, he took the sword which his brother handed to him, and mounted a large chariot, which came to him the moment he thought of it, owing to the virtue of the sword, and with his golden palaces, and his two wives, and his younger brother, Indīvarasena returned to his own city, Irāvatī. There he alighted from the air, beheld with wonder by the subjects, and entered the palace, and went with his attendants into the presence of the king. And in that condition he beheld his father and his mother, and fell at their feet with his eyes bathed in streaming tears. And they, the moment they beheld their son, embraced him and his younger brother, and having their bodies, as it were, bathed in nectar, they were relieved from their sorrow.

And when their daughters-in-law, those two wives of Indīvarasena, of heavenly beauty, fell at their feet, they looked on them with delight and welcomed them. And the parents, learning in course of conversation that they were said by a divine voice to have been appointed in a previous life as his wives, were exceedingly delighted. And they rejoiced with astonishment at the power of their son, which enabled him to travel through the air, and bring golden palaces, and do other things of this kind.

Then Indīvarasena remained, with those two wives and his attendants, in the society of his parents, causing delight to the subjects. And once on a time he took leave of his father, King Parityāgasena, and went forth again to conquer the four quarters, accompanied by his younger brother. And the mighty-armed hero conquered the whole earth by the virtue of his sword, and came back, bringing with him gold, elephants, horses and jewels of conquered kings. And he reached his capital, followed out of fear by the conquered earth in the form of the army of dust, that his forces raised. And he entered the palace, where his father advanced to meet him, and he and his brother delighted their mother Adhikasaṅgamā by their return. And after he had honoured the kings, Indīvarasena spent that day in pleasure, accompanied by his wives and followers.

And on the next day the prince made over the earth to his father by way of tribute from the kings, and suddenly recollected his former birth.

Then, like one waking up from sleep, he said to his father:

“Father, I remember my former birth; listen, I will tell you all about it. There is a city on the plateau of the Himālayas named Muktāpura; in it there lives a king named Muktāsena, a king of the Vidyādharas. And by a queen named Kambuvatī he had born to him in course of time two virtuous sons, Padmasena and Rūpasena. Then a maiden, named Ādityaprabhā, the daughter of a chief of the Vidyādharas, of her own accord, out of love, chose Padmasena for her husband. Hearing of that, a Vidyādhara maiden, of the name of Candravatī, became love-sick also, and came and chose him for her husband.

“Then Padmasena, having two wives, was continually worried by that wife Ādityaprabhā, who was jealous of her rival. And so Padmasena over and over again importuned his father Muktāsena to the following effect:

‘I cannot endure every day the ill temper of my wife, who is blind with jealousy; let me retire to a wood of ascetics to put an end to this misery. Therefore, father, give me permission.’

“His father, annoyed at his persistence, cursed him and his wives, saying:

‘What need is there of your going to a wood of ascetics? Fall into the world of mortals. There this quarrelsome wife of yours, Ādityaprabhā, shall be born in the race of Rākṣasas, and become your wife again. And this second, Candravatī, who is virtuous and attached to you, her husband, shall be the wife of a king, and the paramour of a Rākṣasa, and shall obtain you as her beloved. And since this Rūpasena has been observed by me to follow you, his elder brother, with affection, he shall be your brother also in that world. There, too, you shall endure some affliction caused by your wives.’

Thus he spoke and ceased, and appointed this as the termination of the curse:

‘When you, being a prince, shall conquer the earth and give it to your father, then you and they shall remember your former birth, and be freed from your curse.’

“When Padmasena had been thus addressed by his own father, he went with those others to the world of mortals. I am that very Padmasena, born here as your son, Indīvarasena by name, and I have done what I was appointed to do. And the other Vidyādhara prince, Rūpasena, has been born as Anicchasena, my younger brother. And as for my wives Ādityaprabhā[14] and Candravatī, know that they have been born here as these two, Khaḍgadaṃṣṭrā and Madanadaṃṣṭrā. And now we have reached that appointed end of our curse. So let us go, father, to our own Vidyādhara home.”

Having said this, he, together with his brother and his wives, who remembered their former existence, abandoned the human and assumed the Vidyādhara form. And having worshipped the feet of his father, and taken his two wives in his arms, he went with his younger brother through the air to his own city, Muktāpura. There the wise prince, gladly welcomed by his father Muktāsena, a joy to the eyes of his mother, accompanied by his brother Rūpasena, lived with his Ādityaprabhā, who did not again display jealousy, and with Candravatī in happiness.


[M] (main story line continued)  The minister Gomukha, having told this delightful tale on the road, again said to Naravāhanadatta:

“Thus the great must endure great pains and gain great glory, but others have little pain and little glory. But you, protected by the might of the science of Queen Ratnaprabhā, shall without difficulty gain that Princess Karpūrikā.”

When Naravāhanadatta heard this from the lips of the eloquent Gomukha, he set out on the path with him, insensible to fatigue. And as he travelled he came in the evening to a pellucid lake, the lotuses on which were in full bloom, and which was full of an abundant supply of cold water, delicious as nectar. Its banks were adorned with pomegranate-trees, bread-fruit trees, and rows of mango-trees, and on it the swans sang sweetly. They bathed in it, and devoutly worshipped the beloved[15] of the daughter of Himālaya, and refreshed themselves with various fragrant, sweet-tasting, delightful fruits, and then the son of the King of Vatsa and his friend spent the night on the bank of the lake, sleeping on a bed strewn with soft young shoots.

[Additional note: the “letter of death” motif]

Footnotes and references:


Fabulous animals with eight feet.


Cf. Sicilianische Märchen, vol. i, p. 74.


I.e. camphor-produced.——Mysterious Lands of Camphor and Camphor Islands are often mentioned in Eastern legend. In the tale of “Hasan of Bassorah” (Burton, Nights, vol. viii, p. 81), while searching for the Islands of Wak, Hasan calls upon the Lord of the Land of Camphor (see Chauvin, vii, p. 11n2), and Arabian writers speak of the white city of al-Barraqa, in which cries and songs were heard but no inhabitants seen. Sailors who landed there for water found it clear and sweet with an odour of camphor, but the houses receded as fast as approached and finally faded from view. See G. Ferrand, Relations de Voyage et Textes Géographiques Arabes, Paris, 1913, vol. i, pp. 145, 157, and vol. ii, pp. 570-573. For an interesting article on camphor see W. H. Schoff, Joum. Amer. Orient. Soc., vol. xlii, 1922, pp. 355-370.—n.m.p.


Cf. Nights, Burton, vol. iii, p. 31, and vol. vii, pp. 209, 243.—n.m.p.


For falling in love on mere mention see Vol. I, p. 128, 128n1, and Vol. II, pp. 143, 144. —n.m.p.


See Vol. II, pp. 211, 211n1, and 212, 212n1.—n.m.p.


I find that a MS. in the Sanskrit College reads avatitīrṣum. This is obviously the right reading.


The city of Kuvera, the God of Wealth.


Readers will remember that Vāsavadattā received a fruit from Śiva which brought about the birth of Naravāhanadatta. See Vol. II, p. 136, 136n1, where several references to analogues are given. See also Hartland, Legend of Perseus, vol. i, p. 41, and Crooke, op. cit., vol. i, p. 228.—n.m.p.


For a note on the “Letter of Death” see the end of this chapter.—N.M.P.


The mother—i.e. Durgā.


The word literally means “chariot of the mind.” There is a pun here.


This resembles the German story of the two brothers as given in Cox’s Mythology of the Aryan Nations, vol. i, p. 162. See also Gonzenbach’s Sicilianische Märchen, Nos. 39 and 40, with Dr Köhler’s note. He there refers us to his own remarks on the fourth of Campbell’s West Highland Tales in Orient und Occident, vol. ii, p. 118, and to Grimm, Nos. 60 and 85, Hahn, No. 22, Widter-Wolf, No. 8, Vernaleken, No. 35, etc. In Grimm’s No. 60 we have a magic sword, and the temporary death of one of the brothers is indicated by the dimming of one side of a knife. This story resembles Grimm’s more closely than that of Aśokadatta and Vijayadatta in Chapter XXV. See also Bartsch’s Sagen, Märchen und Gebräuche aus Meklenburg, vol. i, p. 474, and De Gubernatis, Zoological Mythology, vol. i, p. 328; vol. ii, p. 317. The story of Amys and Amylion, in Ellis’s Metrical Romances, resembles closely the tale as given by Grimm and Gonzenbach. So too do the seventh and ninth stories of the first day in the Pentamerone of Basile, and the fifty-second in Coelho’s Contos Populares Portuguezes, p. 120. Perhaps the oldest pair of mythological brothers are the Aśvins, who have their counterpart in the Dioscuri and in Heracles and Iphiclus.

——For further analogues to Grimm Nos. 60 and 85 see Bolte and Polivka, op. cit., vol. i, p. 528, and vol. ii, p. 204.

The “External Soul” motif has already been discussed (Vol. I, pp. 129 - 1 32) and numerous references have been given. In many of the examples found on those pages we saw that the “life” of the person was dependent on a bird, although in some cases it is an inanimate object like a ring, stone, necklace or sword (as in our present text).

In Steel and Temple’s Wide-Awake Stories, p. 47, the prince’s life depends upon a sword, which the witch manages to get hold of. As soon as the sword is heated the prince becomes feverish, and tries to get his sword back. A rivet falls from the hilt, and as the hilt drops so does the prince’s head. Barley plants which he had left behind as a “health (i.e. passive) index” show his unhappy condition to his friends. A new rivet is forged, the sword is polished and the prince is restored to life. Other examples of the sword as a “life-index” will be found in Shaikh Chilli, Folk-Tales of Hindustan, p. 51; Parker, Village Folk-Tales of Ceylon, vol. i, p. 165; vol. ii, p. 162 et seq.; vol. iii, p. 35 et seq. These are discussed by Norton, “The Life-index,” Studies in Honour of Maurice Bloomfield, 1920, pp. 214, 215. See also Crooke, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 13, and Chauvin, Bibliographie Arabe, v, p. 87n1.—n.m.p.


I.e. brightness of the sun. Candravatī means moon-like.


I.e. Śiva, the beloved of Parvatī.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: