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 XLIII

[M] (Main story line continued) THE next morning Naravāhanadatta rose up from the bank of that lake,[1] and setting out on his journey, said to his minister Gomukha:

“My friend, I remember a certain princess of heavenly beauty, dressed in white garments, came to me towards the end of last night in a dream and said this to me:

‘Lay aside your anxiety, dear one, for you will quickly reach a large and wonderful town situated in a forest, on the shore of the sea. And after resting there you shall with ease find that town Karpūrasambhava, and then win that Princess Karpūrikā.’

Having said this, she disappeared, and I immediately woke up.”

When he said that, Gomukha was delighted and said to him:

“King, you are favoured by the gods; what is difficult to you? So your enterprise will certainly succeed without difficulty.”

When Gomukha had said this, Naravāhanadatta hastened along the path with him. And in course of time he reached a city of vast extent on the shore of the sea, furnished with lofty mansions resembling the peaks of mountains, with streets and arches, adorned with a palace all golden like Mount Meru, looking like a second Earth. He entered that city by the market street, and beheld that all the population, merchants, women and citizens, were wooden automata,[2] that moved as if they were alive, but were recognised as lifeless by their want of speech. This aroused astonishment in his mind. And in due course he arrived with Gomukha near the king’s palace, and saw that all the horses and elephants there were of the same material; and with his minister he entered, full of wonder, that palace, which was resplendent with seven ranges of golden buildings. There he saw a majestic man sitting on a jewelled throne, surrounded by warders and women who were also wooden automata, the only living being there, who produced motion in those dull material things, like the soul presiding over the senses.

He, for his part, seeing that that hero Naravāhanadatta was of noble form, rose up and welcomed him, and made him sit down on his own seat, and sitting in front of him he thus questioned him:

“Who are you? How and why have you come to this uninhabited land with one companion?”

Then Naravāhanadatta told his own story from the beginning, and asked that hero, who was prostrating himself before him:

“Who are you, my good sir, and what is this wonderful city of yours? Tell me.”

That man, when he heard that, began to tell his own story.


59. Story of the Two Brothers Prāṇadhara and Rājyadhara

There is a city named Kāñcī possessed of great excellences,[3] which, like a girdle, well adorns the earth-bride. In it there was a famous king of the name of Bāhubala, who won Fortune by the might of his arm, and imprisoned her in his treasury, though she is a gadding dame. We were two brothers in his kingdom, carpenters by trade, skilful in making ingenious automata of wood and other materials, such as Maya[4] first invented. My elder brother was by name Prāṇadhara, and he was infatuated with love for a fickle dame, and I, my lord, am named Rājyadhara, and I was ever devoted to him. That brother of mine consumed all my father’s property and his own, and some portion of what I had acquired, which, melted by affection, I made over to him.

Then he, being much infatuated about the lady, out of desire to steal wealth for her sake, made a couple of swans of wood with mechanism and strings attached to them. That pair of swans was sent out at night by pulling strings, and entering by means of the mechanical contrivance into the king’s treasury through a window; they took from it with their beaks jewels placed in a basket, and returned to the house of my brother. And my elder brother sold the jewels and spent the money so acquired with his paramour, and in that way he robbed the king’s treasury every night, and though I tried to prevent him he would not give up that improper proceeding; for who, when blinded by passion, distinguishes between right and wrong?

And then the keeper of the treasury, as the king’s treasure-house was plundered night after night without the bolt being moved, though there were no mice in it, for several days in succession inquired into the matter, without saying anything, out of fear, and then, being exceedingly vexed, went and told the matter plainly to the king.

Then the king posted him and some other guards in the treasure-house at night, with orders to keep awake in order to find out the truth of it. Those guards went into the treasure-house at midnight, and while there saw my brother’s two swans entering in by the window, impelled by strings. The swans moved round by means of their mechanism and took the jewels; then the guards cut the strings and took the swans to show the king in the morning.

And then my elder brother said in a state of bewilderment:

“Brother, my two swans have been seized by the guards of the treasury, for the strings have become slack and the pin of the mechanism has dropped. So we must both of us leave this place immediately, for the king, when he hears of it in the morning, will punish us as thieves. For we are both known to be skilled in mechanical contrivances. And I have here a chariot with a pneumatic contrivance, which quickly goes eight hundred yojanas, if you press a spring. Let us go by means of it to-day to a distant foreign land, though exile may be disagreeable; for how can an evil deed, that is done in despite of good advice, bring pleasure to anyone? This is the mature fruit of my wickedness in not obeying your advice, which has extended to innocent you as well as to me.”

After saying this my brother Prāṇadhara immediately mounted with his family that chariot that flew through the air. But though he urged me I would not mount it, as it was laden with many people, so he flew up in it to the sky and went off to some distant place.

When that Prāṇadhara,[5] who was rightly named, had gone off somewhere, I, expecting that in the morning I singly should be exposed to danger at the hands of the king, mounted another chariot with a pneumatic mechanism, which I had myself made, and quickly travelled two hundred yojanas from that place. Then I again started that air-travelling chariot and went another two hundred yojanas. Then I left my chariot, terrified at finding that I was near the sea, and travelling on my feet reached in course of time this city, which was empty. And out of curiosity I entered this palace, which was filled with garments, ornaments and couches, and all the other conveniences for a king.

And in the evening I bathed in the water of the garden lake, and ate fruits, and going to the royal bed reflected alone at night:

“What am I to do in this uninhabited spot? So to-morrow I will go hence to some place or other, for I no longer need fear danger from King Bāhubala.”

When I had thus reflected I went to sleep, and towards the end of night a hero of divine appearance, mounted on a peacock, thus addressed me in a dream:

“You must live here, good sir, you must not depart elsewhere, and at the time of meals you must go up to the middle court of the palace and wait there.”

Thus he spoke and disappeared, and I woke up and reflected:

“Undoubtedly this heavenly place has been made by Kārttikeya, and he has favoured me with this dream on account of my merits in a former life. I have turned up here because I am to be happy dwelling in this town.”

I conceived this hope and rose up, and said the prayer for the day, and at the time of eating I went up to the middle court, and while I was waiting there golden dishes were placed in front of me, and there fell into them from heaven food consisting of ghee, milk, rice, boiled rice and other things[6]; and any other kinds of food that I thought of came to me as fast as I thought of them. After eating all this I felt comforted by the favour of the god. So, my lord, I took up my abode in this city, with kingly luxuries coming to me every day as fast as I wished for them. But I do not obtain wives and retinue by thinking of them, so I made all these people of wood. Though I am a carpenter, since I have come here I enjoy alone all the pleasures of a king by the power of Destiny, and my name is Rājyadhara.[7]


[M] (Main story line continued)

“So repose, now, a day in this god-built town, and I will attend upon you to the best of my ability.”

After saying this, Rājyadhara led off with him Naravāhanadatta and Gomukha to the city garden. There the prince bathed in the water of the lake and offered lotuses to Śiva, and was conducted to the feasting-place in the middle court, and there he and his minister enjoyed viands which were placed before them by Rājyadhara, who stood in front of them, to whom they came as soon as he thought of them. Then the eating-ground was swept by some unseen hand, and after they had taken betel they drank wine and remained in great felicity.

And after Rājyadhara had eaten, the prince retired to a gorgeous couch, astonished at the wonderful nature of the town, which resembled the philosopher’s stone.[8]

And when he could not sleep, on account of his recently conceived longing for Karpūrikā, Rājyadhara, who was also in bed, asked her story, and then said to him:

“Why do you not sleep, auspicious sir? You will obtain your desired love. For a fair woman, like Fortune, of her own accord chooses a man of high courage. I have had ocular proof of this, so hear the story; I will relate it to you.


60. Story of Arthalobha and his Beautiful Wife

That King of Kāñcī, Bāhubala, whom I mentioned to you, had a rich doorkeeper, rightly named Arthalobha.[9] He had a beautiful wife named Mānaparā. That Arthalobha, being by profession a merchant, and on account of his avarice distrusting his servants, appointed that wife of his to look after his business in preference to them. She, though she did not like it, being obedient to him, made bargains with merchants and captivated all men by her sweet form and speech. And Arthalobha, seeing that all the sales of elephants, horses, jewels and garments that she made brought in a profit, rejoiced exceedingly.

And once on a time there came there from a distant foreign land a merchant, named Sukhadhana, having a large stock of horses and other commodities.

The moment Arthalobha heard that he had come, he said to his wife:

“My dear, a merchant named Sukhadhana has arrived from a foreign land; he has brought twenty thousand horses, and innumerable pairs of excellent garments made in China, so please go and purchase from him five thousand horses and ten thousand pairs of garments, in order that with the thousands of horses I already possess and those other five, I may pay a visit to the king, and carry on my commerce.”

When commissioned in these words by that villain Arthalobha, Mānaparā went to Sukhadhana, whose eyes were captivated by her beauty, and who welcomed her gladly. And she demanded from him for a price those horses and garments.

The merchant, overpowered with love, took her aside and said to her:

“I will not give you one horse or garment for money, but if you will remain one night with me I will give you five hundred horses and five thousand garments.”

After saying this he solicited that fair one with even a larger amount. Who does not fall in love with women who are allowed to go about without restraint?

Then she answered him:

“I will ask my husband about this, for I know he will send me here out of excessive cupidity.”[10]

After saying this she went home, and told her husband what the merchant Sukhadhana had said to her secretly.

And that wicked, covetous husband Arthalobha said to her:

“My dear, if you obtain five hundred horses and five thousand pairs of garments for one night, what is the harm in it? So go to him now; you shall return quickly in the morning.”

When Mānaparā heard this speech of her mean-spirited husband’s, she began to debate in her heart, and thus reflected:

“Out on this base, spiritless husband of mine that sells his honour! By continually meditating on gain he has become all made up of the desire of gain. It is better that the generous man, who buys me for one night with hundreds of horses and thousands of pieces of China silk, should be my husband.”

Thus reflecting, she took leave of her base husband, saying, “It is not my fault,” and went to the house of that Sukhadhana. And he, when he saw that she had come, after questioning her and hearing the whole story from her, was astonished, and considered himself fortunate in obtaining her. And he sent off immediately to her husband Arthalobha the horses and garments that were to purchase her, as agreed upon. And he remained that night with her, having all his wishes attained, for she seemed like the fortune which was the fruit of his own wealth, incarnate in bodily form, at last obtained by him.

And in the morning the base Arthalobha sent, in his shamelessness, servants to summon her, whereupon Mānaparā said to them:

“How can I return to be the wife of that man who sold me to another? I am not as shameless as he is. Tell me yourselves if this would be becoming now. So depart; the man that bought me is my husband.”

When the servants were thus addressed by her they went and repeated her words to Arthalobha with downcast faces. The mean fellow, when he heard it, wanted to recover her by force.

Then a friend of the name of Harabala said to him:

“You cannot recover her from that Sukhadhana, for he is a hero, and I do not behold in you manliness corresponding to his. For he is moved to heroism by a woman that loves him on account of his generosity, and he is mighty, and surrounded with other mighty men that have come with him. But you have been deserted by your wife, who separated from you because you sold her out of meanness, and scorn makes you timid, and being reproached you have become effeminate. Moreover, you are not mighty, and you are not surrounded by mighty friends, so how can you possibly be capable of vanquishing that rival? And the king will be angry with you when he hears of your crime of selling your wife; so keep quiet, and do not make a ridiculous blunder.”

Though his friend tried to dissuade him with these words, Arthalobha went and beset, in his anger, the house of Sukhadhana with his retainers. While he was thus engaged, Sukhadhana sallied out with his friends and retainers, and in a moment easily defeated the whole of Arthalobha’s force.

And Arthalobha fled, and went into the presence of the king. And concealing his own wicked conduct, he said to the king:

“O King, the merchant Sukhadhana has carried off my wife by force.”

And the king in his rage wished to arrest that Sukhadhana. Then a minister of the name of Sandhāna said to the king:

“In any case, my lord, you cannot arrest him, for when his force is increased by that of the eleven friends who have come with him he will be found to have more than a hundred thousand excellent horses. And you have not discovered the truth about the matter; for his conduct will turn out to be not altogether without cause. So you had better send a messenger and ask what it is that this fellow here is chattering about.”

When King Bāhubala heard this he sent a messenger to Sukhadhana to ask about the matter. The messenger went and asked about the matter by the king’s order, and thereupon Mānaparā told him her story.

When Bāhubala heard that wonderful tale he came to the house of Sukhadhana to behold the beauty of Mānaparā, being filled with excessive curiosity. There he beheld, while Sukhadhana bent before him, Mānaparā, who with the wealth of her beauty would astonish even the Creator. She prostrated herself at his feet, and he questioned her, and heard from her own mouth how the whole thing happened, Arthalobha being present and listening. When he heard it he thought it was true, because Arthalobha was speechless, and he asked that fair one what was to be done now.

Then she said decidedly:

“How can I return to that spiritless, avaricious man, who sold me to another man without the excuse of distress?”

When the king heard this, he said: “Well said.”

And then Arthalobha, bewildered with desire, wrath and shame, exclaimed:

“King, let him and me fight with our own retainers, without any auxiliary forces; then let it be seen who is spirited and who is spiritless.”

When Sukhadhana heard this he said:

“Then let us fight in single combat; what need is there of retainers? Mānaparā shall be the prize of the victor.”

When the king heard this he said: “Good! So let it be!”

Then, before the eyes of Mānaparā and the king, they both entered the lists mounted. And in the course of the combat Sukhadhana laid Arthalobha on the plain, by his horse’s rearing on account of a lance-wound. Then Arthalobha fell three times more on the earth, on account of his horse being killed, but Sukhadhana, who was a fair fighter, restrained himself and would not slay him. But the fifth time Arthalobha’s horse fell upon him, and bruised him, and he was carried off by his servants motionless.

Then Sukhadhana was cheered by all the spectators with shouts of applause, and the King Bāhubala honoured him as he deserved. And he immediately bestowed a gift of honour upon the lady, and he confiscated the property of Arthalobha, which had been acquired by unlawful means; and appointing another to his office, he departed pleased to his palace. For good men derive satisfaction from breaking off their connection with the bad. And Sukhadhana, having maintained his claim by force, remained enjoying himself in the society of Mānaparā, his loving wife.


[M] (Main story line continued)

“Thus wives and wealth leave the mean-spirited man and of their own accord come to the high-spirited man from every quarter. So dismiss anxiety. Go to sleep. In a short time, my lord, you will obtain that Princess Karpūrikā.”

When Naravāhanadatta heard that sound advice of Rājyadhara’s he and Gomukha went off to sleep.

And in the morning, while the prince was waiting awhile after his meal, the wise Gomukha addressed Rājyadhara as follows:

“Make such an ingenious chariot for my master as that he shall be able by means of it to reach the city of Karpūrasambhava and obtain his beloved.”

When thus supplicated, that carpenter offered Naravāhanadatta the chariot with a pneumatic contrivance that he had made before. He ascended that sky-travelling chariot, swift as thought, together with Gomukha, and crossed the deep, the home of monsters, that agitated its waves as if exulting to behold his valour, and reached the city of Karpūrasambhava on its shore. There the chariot descended from the sky, and he and Gomukha left it, and out of curiosity wandered about inside the town. And by questioning the people he found out that he had indeed without doubt reached the desired city, and, delighted, he went to the neighbourhood of the palace. There he found a splendid house occupied by an old woman, and he entered it to stay there, and she received him with respect.

And eager to hit upon an artifice, he immediately asked that woman:

“Noble lady, what is the name of the king here, and what children has he? And tell us of their appearance, for we are foreigners.”

When he said this to the old woman, she, seeing that he was of excessively noble form, answered:

“Listen, illustrious sir, I will tell you all. In this city of Karpūrasambhava there is a king named Karpūraka; and he, having no children, performed penance, with his wife Buddhikārī, fasting, in honour of Śiva, in order to obtain offspring.

After he had fasted for three nights the god Śiva commanded him in a dream:

‘Rise up! A daughter shall be born to you who shall be superior to a son, and whose husband shall obtain the sovereignty of the Vidyādharas.’

After receiving this order from Śiva the king woke up in the morning; and after communicating this dream to his wife Buddhikārī he rose up and went off delighted, and with his queen broke his fast. And then in a short time that queen conceived by the king, and when the period was completed she brought forth a daughter beautiful in all her limbs. She surpassed in splendour the lights in the lying-in chamber,[11] and they, as it were, heaved sighs by discharging lamp-black. And her father made great rejoicings, and gave her the name of Karpūrikā, which is his own name made feminine. And gradually that moonlight of the eyes of the people, the Princess Karpūrikā, has grown up, and is now in the full bloom of youth. And her father, the king here, desires to have her married, but the haughty girl detests men and will not consent.

And when my daughter, who is her friend, put this question to her,

‘My dear, why do you not desire marriage, the only fruit of a daughter’s birth?’

she answered:

‘My dear, I remember my former birth, and the cause is something which happened then. Hear it.


61. Story of the Princess Karpūrikā in her Birth as a Swan

On the shore of the ocean there is a great sandalwood-tree. Near it here is a lake adorned with full-blown lotuses. I was a female swan on that lake on account of my actions in a previous birth. Once on a time, out of fear of the sea, I made a nest in that sandalwood-tree, with my husband, who was a male swan. When I was dwelling in that nest I had male offspring born to me, and suddenly a great wave of the sea came and carried them off. When the flood carried away my children, out of grief I wept and took no food, and remained in front of a liṅga of Śiva on the shore of the sea.

Then that male swan, my husband, came to me and said:

“Rise up! Why do you lament your children that are dead? We shall get other ones.[12] As long as life is preserved everything can be obtained.”

His speech pierced my heart like an arrow; and I reflected:

“Alas! males are thus wickedly regardless of their youthful offspring, and show no affection to, or compassion for, their females, though they are attached to them. So of what comfort is this husband to me? Of what use is this body that brings only pain?”

Thus reflecting, I prostrated myself before Śiva, and devoutly placed him in my heart, and then in front of his symbol, before the eyes of the swan, my husband, I uttered this prayer,

“May I become in the next birth a princess remembering my former state,”

and thereupon I flung myself into the sea. Consequently I have been born in this life such as you see. And because I remember the cruelty of that husband in a former birth my mind does not feel inclined to any suitor. So I do not desire to be married. The rest is in the hands of Destiny.


[M] (Main story line continued)

“This is what the princess said then in private to my daughter, and that daughter of mine came and told it to me. So, my son, I have told you what you asked me. And that princess is undoubtedly destined to be your wife. For she was long ago designated by the god Śiva as the wife of the future Emperor of the Vidyādharas. And I see that you are marked with all the distinguishing signs of an emperor, such as the peculiar freckle,[13] and other marks. Perhaps you are some distinguished person brought here by Providence for that very purpose. Rise up; for the present we will see what there is in my house in the way of provision.”

After the old lady had told him this she brought him food, and he and Gomukha spent the night there.

And in the morning the prince deliberated in private with Gomukha as to the steps to be taken, and then he assumed the dress of a Pāśupata ascetic, and, accompanied by Gomukha, he went to the king’s gate and roamed about in front of it, crying out again and again:

“Ah, my female swan! Ah, my female swan!”

And the people gazed at him. And when the maids beheld him thus employed they went in astonishment and said to the Princess Karpūrikā:

“Your Highness, we have seen at the royal gate a Pāśupata ascetic who, though he has a fellow, is unfellowed in beauty,[14] and he continually utters these words, ‘Ah, my female swan! Ah, my female swan!’ which bewilders the minds of the women.”

When the princess heard this she, as having been a swan in a former birth, was filled with curiosity, and had him, just as he was, conducted by her maids into her presence. And she saw that he was adorned with infinite beauty, like a new God of Love that had taken a vow to propitiate Śiva.

And she said to him, when he looked at her with an eye expanded by curiosity:

“What is this that you are continually saying: ‘Ah, my female swan! Ah, my female swan!’?”

Though she said this to him, he went on to say:

“Ah, my female swan!”

Then his companion Gomukha answered her:

“I will explain this in a few words. Listen, your Highness. In a former birth he was a swan on account of his actions in an anterior state of existence. Then he built himself a nest in a sandalwood-tree, on the bank of a great lake near the shore of the sea, and lived there with his female. And as it happened their offspring in that nest were swept away by a wave, and his female, distracted with grief, threw herself into the sea.

Then he, being grieved at separation from her, and disgusted with his bird-nature, desirous of leaving that body, made a pious wish in his heart:

‘May I be in a future life a prince remembering my former state, and may this virtuous female swan be my wife, remembering her former existence also.’

Then he thought on Śiva, and, scorched with the fire of grief, flung that body into the water of the sea. So he has been now born, my fair lady, as Naravāhanadatta, the son of the King of Vatsa in Kauśāmbī, with the power of recollecting his former existence.

When he was born a voice said distinctly from heaven:

‘This prince shall be the emperor of all the kings of the Vidyādharas.’

“In course of time, when he had become Crown Prince, he was married by his father to the goddess Madanamañcukā of heavenly appearance, who had been born for a certain reason as a woman. And then the daughter of a king of the Vidyādharas named Hemaprabha, the maiden Ratnaprabhā, came of her own accord and chose him for a husband. Nevertheless, thinking on that female swan, he does not enjoy tranquillity; and he told this to me, who have been his servant from my childhood.

“Then, while he was out hunting, it happened that he and I had a meeting in the forest with a holy female hermit. And in the course of conversation she said to him, with favourable condescension:

‘Owing to the effect of his actions the God of Love, my son, became a swan. And a heavenly female, that had fallen through a curse, became his dear wife, when he was dwelling, as a swan, in a sandalwood-tree on the bank of the sea. But she threw herself into the sea, through grief at her offspring having been carried away by the tide, and then the male swan flung himself into the sea also. He has now by the favour of Śiva been born as yourself, the son of the King of Vatsa, and you know of that former birth of yours, my son, for you remember your former existence. And that female swan has been now born in Karpūrasambhava, a city on the shore of the sea, as a princess, Karpūrikā by name. Therefore go there, my son, and win her to wife.’

“When the holy female hermit had said this she flew up into the sky and disappeared. And this lord of mine, having heard this information, immediately set out with me to come here. And being attracted by love for you, he risked his life, and after traversing a hundred difficulties he reached the shore of the sea. There we had an interview with the carpenter, named Rājyadhara, who dwells in Hemapura, and who gave us an ingenious chariot. We have mounted on this terrible machine, as if it were our courage having taken shape,[15] and have crossed the perilous gulf of the sea and arrived at this town. For this reason, Queen, my master wandered about, exclaiming, ‘Ah, my female swan!’ until he came into your presence. Now, from the pleasing sight of the noble moon of your countenance, he enjoys the removal of the darkness caused by the presence of innumerable woes. Now honour your noble guest with the blue lotus garland of your look.”

When Karpūrikā heard this feigned speech of Gomukha’s she thought it was true, relying on the fact that it harmonised with her own recollections.

And she melted in her soul with love, and she thought:

“After all, this husband of mine was attached to me, and my despondency was causeless.”

And she said:

“I am in truth that very female swan, and I am fortunate in that my husband has for my sake endured suffering in two births. So now I am your slave, overcome by love.”

And saying this, she honoured Naravāhanadatta with baths and other hospitalities. Then she informed her father of all this by the mouth of her attendants, and he the moment he heard it came to her.

Then the king thought himself fortunate, having seen that his daughter had conceived a desire to be married, and that an appropriate suitor for her had at length arrived in Naravāhanadatta, who was marked with all the signs of a great emperor. And he gave, with all due honour, his daughter Karpūrikā to Naravāhanadatta according to the prescribed form. And he gave to that son-in-law of his, at every circumambulation from left to right[16] of the sacred fire, thirty millions of gold pieces, and as many lumps of camphor, the heaps of which appeared like the peaks of Meru and Kailāsa, that had witnessed the marriage of Pārvatī, come to behold his magnificence.

Moreover, the King Karpūraka, who had attained his wish, gave Naravāhanadatta a hundred millions of excellent garments and three hundred female slaves well adorned. And Naravāhanadatta, after his marriage, remained with that Karpūrikā, as if with affection incarnate in bodily form. Whose mind was not delighted at the union of that couple, which resembled the marriage of the spring creeper and the spring festival?

And on the next day Naravāhanadatta, who had attained his object, said to his beloved Karpūrikā:

“Come, let us go to Kauśāmbī.”

Then she answered him:

“If it is to be so, why should we not go there immediately in this chariot of yours that flies through the air? If it is too small I will furnish another large one, for there is living here a mechanic who makes ingenious chariots, who has come from a foreign land, Prāṇadhara by name; I will cause him quickly to make such a chariot.”

After saying this she called the warder that kept the door and said to him:

“Go and order that chariot-maker Prāṇadhara to prepare a large chariot, that will travel through the air, for us to start in.”

Then the Queen Karpūrikā, having dismissed the warder, informed her father by the mouth of a slave of her desire to depart.

And while the king, on hearing it, was coming thither, Naravāhanadatta thus reflected:

“This Prāṇadhara is certainly the brother of Rājyadhara, whom he described as having run away from his native land through fear of his king.”

While he was thus thinking, the king quickly arrived, and that mechanic Prāṇadhara came with the warder, and said:

“I have ready-made a very large chariot, which will easily carry at this instant thousands of men.”

When the mechanic said this, Naravāhanadatta said, “Bravo!” and asked him courteously:

“Are you the elder brother of Rājyadhara, skilled in various very great mechanical contrivances?”

And Prāṇadhara answered him, bowing before him:

“I am that very brother of his, but how does your Highness know about us?”

Then Naravāhanadatta told him what Rājyadhara had told him, and how he had seen him. Then Prāṇadhara joyfully brought him the chariot, and he mounted it with Gomukha, after having been politely dismissed by his father-in-law the king, and after bidding farewell to him; but first he placed in it the slaves, camphor and gold.

And he took with him Prāṇadhara, whom the king permitted to depart, and that head warder, and his recently married wife Karpūrikā; and his mother-in-law uttered a solemn prayer for a blessing on his journey, and from those stores of splendid garments he bestowed gifts on the Brāhmans; and he said to Prāṇadhara:

“First let us go to Rājyadhara on the shore of the sea, and then home.”

Then the chariot was driven on by Prāṇadhara, and the prince and his wife flew up into the air quickly by means of it, as if by his accomplished wish.[17] In a moment he crossed the sea, and reached again that city of Hemapura on its shore, the abode of that Rājyadhara. There Rājyadhara bowed before him, delighted at beholding his brother, and as he had no female slaves the prince honoured him with the gift of some, at which he greatly rejoiced.

And after taking leave of Rājyadhara, whose tears flowed fast, as he could hardly bear to part from his elder brother, the prince reached Kauśāmbī in that same chariot.

Then the people, on beholding the prince unexpectedly descend from heaven, riding in that splendid chariot, followed by his retainers, and accompanied by his new bride, were much astonished. And his father, the King of Vatsa, having gathered from the exultations of the citizens that his son had arrived, was delighted, and went out to meet him, accompanied by the queen, the ministers, his daughter-in-law, and other persons. And the king, beholding that son prostrate at his feet with his wife, received him gladly, and thought that the fact that he was to be the future emperor of the aerial spirits was clearly revealed by his coming in a flying chariot.

His mother Vāsavadattā, with Padmāvatī, embraced him, and she shed a tear, which dropped like the knot of pain loosened by seeing him. And his wife Ratnaprabhā, and Madanamañcukā also, and their jealousy being overcome by love for him, they embraced his feet, and won his heart at the same time. And the prince delighted his father’s ministers, headed by Yaugandharāyaṇa, and his own, headed by Marubhūti, when they bowed before him, by rewarding them as they severally deserved.

And they all, with the King of Vatsa at their head, welcomed that new wife Karpūrikā, who bowed becomingly before them, like the Goddess of Fortune arrived surrounded by a hundred immortal nymphs, even the sister-shape Amṛta,[18] openly brought by her husband, having crossed the sea adorned with its shore as a garment with a beautiful fringe. And the King of Vatsa honoured that warder of her father’s, giving him many crores of gold pieces, garments and lumps of camphor, which had been brought in the chariot. And the king then honoured Prāṇadhara as the benefactor of his son Naravāhanadatta, who had pointed him out as the maker of the chariot.

And then the king honoured Gomukha, and asked him joyfully:

“How did you obtain this princess? And how did you start from this place?”

And then Gomukha deftly told the King of Vatsa, with his wives and ministers, in private, the whole adventure as it took place, beginning with their going to the forest to hunt —how they met the female hermit, and how they crossed the sea by means of the chariot provided by Rājyadhara, and how Karpūrikā was obtained with her female attendants, though she was averse to marriage, and how they returned by the way by which they went, in a chariot which they had obtained by finding Prāṇadhara.

Then all of them, shaking their heads in astonishment and joy, said:

“To think of the concurrence of all these circumstances, the chase, and the female ascetic, the carpenter Rājyadhara skilled in mechanical contrivances found on the shore of the sea, the crossing the ocean in the chariot that he made, and that another maker of these chariots should have previously reached the other side of the ocean! The truth is, Destiny takes trouble to provide the fortunate with the means of obtaining prosperous success.”

Then all respectfully commended Gomukha for his devotion to his lord. And they praised Queen Ratnaprabhā, who by her knowledge protected her lord on his journey, for she produced general satisfaction by acting like a woman devoted to her husband.

Then Naravāhanadatta, having made his party of air-travellers forget the fatigues of their journey, entered his palace with his father and mother, his wives and other relations. Then his treasury was filled with heaps of gold by the friends and relations who came to see him, and whom he honoured, and he loaded Prāṇadhara and his father-in-law’s warder with wealth.

And Prāṇadhara, immediately after he had taken food, respectfully addressed this petition to him:

“Prince, King Karpūraka gave us the following order: ‘You must come back quickly as soon as my daughter has reached her husband’s palace, in order that I may have early news of her arrival.’ So we must certainly go there quickly this very moment. Give us a letter from Karpūrikā to the king written with her own hand. For otherwise the heart of the king, which is attached to his daughter, will not take comfort. For he, never having mounted an air chariot, fears that we may have fallen from it. So give me the letter, and permit this head warder, who is desirous of ascending the chariot, to depart with me. But I will return here, Crown Prince, and will bring my family, for I cannot abandon the two ambrosial lotuses of your feet.”

When Prāṇadhara said this firmly, the son of the King of Vatsa immediately made Karpūrikā sit down to write that letter. It ran as follows:

“My father, you must not feel anxious about me, since I share the happiness and possess the love of a good husband. Was the goddess Lakṣmī an object of anxiety to the ocean after she had betaken herself to the Supreme Bridegroom?”

When she had written the above letter with her own hand, and given it, the son of the King of Vatsa dismissed the warder and Prāṇadhara with honour. And they ascended the chariot, and produced astonishment in the minds of all, as they were seen going through the air, and crossing the sea they went to the city of Karpūrasambhava. There they delighted the King Karpūraka by reading out his daughter’s letter, which told that she had reached her husband’s palace.

The next day Prāṇadhara took leave of the king, and after visiting Rājyadhara repaired with his family into the presence of Naravāhanadatta. Naravāhanadatta, when he had returned thus quickly after accomplishing his mission, gave him a dwelling near his palace and an ample allowance. And he amused himself and his wives by going about in the flying chariots made by him, as if rehearsing future journeyings in the skies as Emperor of the Vidyādharas.

Thus, having delighted his friends, followers and wives, and obtained a third wife, Karpūrikā, in addition to Ratnaprabhā and Madanamañcukā, the son of the King of Vatsa spent those days in happiness.

Footnotes and references:


I read sarastīrāt for sarittīrāt.


See note on pp. 55-59 of this volume.—n.m.p.


Here there is a pun, as the words may also be construed “woven of excellent threads.”


Maya was the architect of the Daityas. According to some Maya = Ptolemaios.——This latter theory is very unlikely.—n.m.p.


I.e. holding life.


Cf. the Metamorphoses (Golden Ass) of Apuleius, Lib. V, cap. iii:

Visoquestatim semirolundo suggestu propter instrumentum cænatorum, rata refectui suo commodum, libens accumbit. Et illico vini nectarei eduliumque variorum fercula copiosa, nullo serviente, sed tantum spiritu quodam impulsa, subministrantur.

See also the romance of Parthenopex of Blois in Dunlop’s History of Fiction (Liebrecht’s translation, p. 175). See the Pentamerone of Basile (Burton, vol. i, p. 39, third diversion of the first day).


I.e. holding or possessing a kingdom.


For a short note on this subject see p. l61n1.—n.m.p.


I.e. greed of wealth.


Cf. “Die Sieben Weisen Meister,” c. 18 (Simrock’s Deutsche Volksbücher, vol. xii, p. 185).——A close variant of this story forms the fifteenth novel of Masuccio’s Novellino. (See Waters’ translation, 1895, vol. i, pp. 227-237.) Here a cardinal falls in love with the fair Giacomina, who, however, remains true to her husband. The cardinal offers the husband a large sum for his wife’s honour, and he, greedy for the money, finally persuades her to go to the cardinal for one night. When he tries to get her back in the morning she acts as does the lady in our text.—n.m.p.


See Vol. II, pp. 166-169, and pp. 131n3, 132n of this volume.—n.m.p.


Cf. Herodotus, iii, 119; Sophocles, Antigone, 11. 909-912. See also the Penlamerone of Basile (Burton, vol. ii, ninth diversion of the fourth day, p. 454), and the Ucchanga-Jātaka, No. 67 in Dr Fausböll’s edition.


See Vol. I, p. 49, 49nl, and Vol. II, pp. 4, 7, 7n1.—n.m.p.


A mere pun.


I read with a MS. in the Sanskrit College: bhayade hā mūrta iva sāhase.


This subject has already been dealt with in Vol. I, pp. 190-193. See also E. Peacock, “Sunwise Processions” Folk-Lore, vol. xi, 1900, p. 220; and W. H. R. Rivers, “Primitive Orientation,” ditto, vol. xii, 1901, pp. 210-212.—N.M.P.


“Wish” is literally “chariot of the mind” so here there is a pun.


Both Śrī and the Amṛta came out of the sea when it was churned. Sudaśārha kūlena seems to be corrupt.——All is, however, clear in the D. text; see Speyer, op. cit., p. 115, who translates:

“and they all welcomed her, arrived with her husband, the ornament of the illustrious family of the Daśārhas, who had brought her over sea, as a manifestation of the very sister of the Amṛta, yea as if she were Śrī accompanied by a hundred of ever-young nymphs.”


Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: