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 ...

62. Story of Sūryaprabha and how he attained Sovereignty over the Vidyādharas

THEN Maya and Sunītha and Sūryaprabha, all of them, left that hermitage of Kaśyapa and reached the junction of the Candrabhāgā and Airāvatī, where the kings, the friends and connections of Sūryaprabha, were awaiting him. And the kings who were there, when they saw Sūryaprabha arrived, rose up weeping in despair, eager to die. Sūryaprabha, thinking that their grief arose from not seeing Candraprabha, told them the whole occurrence as it happened. Then, as they still remained despondent, he questioned them, and they reluctantly related how his wives had been carried off by Śrutaśarman. And they also told him how they were preparing to commit suicide through grief at that outrage, when they were forbidden by a heavenly voice.

Then Sūryaprabha in wrath made this vow:

“Even if Brahmā and all the other gods protect Śrutaśarman, I will certainly overthrow him, a villain who carries off the wives of others, addicted to treacherous insolence.”

And having made this vow, he appointed a moment fixed by the astrologers on the seventh day for marching to his overthrow.

Then Maya, perceiving that he was determined, and had made up his mind to conquer his enemy, again confirmed him with his speech, and said to him:

“If you really have made up your mind, then I will tell you this: it was I that on that occasion carried off your wives by magic, and I placed them in the underworld, thinking that thus you would set about your victorious expedition in an impetuous manner, for a fire does not of itself burn so fiercely as it does when fanned by a breeze. So come, let us go to the underworld; I will show you those wives of yours.”

When they heard that speech of Maya’s, they all rejoiced, and they entered again by the same opening as before, and went to the fourth underworld, Maya leading the way. There Maya brought those wives of Sūryaprabha’s out of a dwelling-house and delivered them over to him. Then Sūryaprabha, after receiving those wives, and the others, the daughters of the Asuras, went by the advice of Maya to visit Prahlāda.

He, having heard from Maya that Sūryaprabha had obtained boons, and being desirous of proving him, took up his weapon and said with feigned anger as he bowed before him:

“I have heard, wicked one, that you have carried off the twelve maidens captured by my brother, so I will slay you now; behold me.”

When Sūryaprabha heard that, he said to him, without changing countenance:

“My body is at your disposal; punish me, for I have acted improperly.”

When he said this, Prahlāda laughed, and said to him:

“As far as I have tested you, you have not a drop of pride in you. Choose a boon. I am pleased with you.”

When Sūryaprabha heard this, he consented, and chose as his boon devotion to his superiors and to Śiva. Then, all being satisfied, Prahlāda gave to Sūryaprabha a second daughter of his, named Yāminī, and that prince of the Asuras gave him two of his sons as allies. Then Sūryaprabha went with all the rest into the presence of Amīla. He too was pleased on hearing that he had obtained boons, and gave him Sukhāvatī, his second daughter, and two of his sons to help him.

Then Sūryaprabha remained there during those days, accompanied by his wives, inducing other kings of the Asuras to make common cause with him. And he heard, in the company of Maya and the others, that the three wives of Sunītha and his own wives, the daughters of the kings, had all become pregnant, and when asked what they longed for, they all said, to see that great battle; and the Asura Maya rejoiced at it, perceiving that the Asuras who were slain in old time had been conceived again in them.

“This,” said he, “is the cause of their desire.”

So six days passed, but on the seventh Sūryaprabha and the others, with their wives and all, set out from the underworld. Delusive portents, which their rivals displayed to impede them, were dissipated by Suvāsakumāra, who came when thought of. Then they anointed Ratnaprabha, the son of Candraprabha, king of the earth, and ascended the chariot Bhūtāsana,[1] and went all of them, by the advice of Maya, to a wood of ascetics on the bank of the eastern Ganges, the dwelling of Sumeru, the King of the Vidyādharas. There Sumeru received them with all honour, as they had come on a friendly visit, having been told the whole story by Maya, and remembering the previous command of Śiva. And while Candraprabha and the others were in that place, they summoned each of them all their own forces, and also their relations and friends. First came those princes, the sons of the fathers-in-law of Sūryaprabha, who had acquired from Maya the required sciences, eager for the fray. They were sixteen in number, headed by Haribhaṭa, and each was followed by a force consisting of a myriad of chariots and two myriads of footmen. After them came the Daityas and Dānavas, true to their agreement, brothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, friends and other connections of Sūryaprabha.

Hṛṣṭaroman, and Mahāmāya, and Siṃhadaṃṣṭra and Prakampana, and Tantukaccha and Durāroha, and Sumāya, and Vajrapañjara, and Dhūmaketu, and Pramathana, and the Dānava Vikaṭākṣa, and many others came from as low down as the seventh underworld. One came with seven myriads of chariots, another with eight, another with six, and another with three, and the least powerful of all arrived with one myiard. One brought three hundred thousand footmen, another two hundred thousand, another one hundred thousand, and the pettiest potentate of all fifty thousand. And each brought a corresponding number of horses and elephants. And another innumerable host came, belonging to Maya and Sunītha. And Sūryaprabha’s own countless army also arrived, and those of Vasudatta and the other kings, and that of Sumeru.

Then the Asura Maya addressed this question to the hermit Suvāsakumāra, who came to him when thought of, in the presence of Sūryaprabha and the others:

“Reverend sir, we cannot review this army here because it is scattered; so tell me where we could get a view of the whole army at once extended in long array.”

The hermit answered:

“Not more than a yojana from here there is a place called Kalāpagrāma; go there and behold it drawn up in line.”

When the hermit said that, all the princes went with him and Sumeru to Kalāpagrāma. There they made the armies of the Asuras and the kings take up their positions, and going to an elevated spot they reviewed them separately.

Then Sumeru said:

“Śrutaśarman has a larger force, for he has under him a hundred and one chiefs of the Vidyādharas. And every single one of these is lord of two and thirty kings. Never mind! I will draw some away and make them join you. So let us go in the morning to the place named Valmīka. For to-morrow is the eighth lunar day of the black fortnight of Phālguna, which is a high day. And on that day there is produced there a sign to show the future emperor, and for that reason the Vidyādharas are going there in a great hurry on that day.”[2]

When Sumeru gave that opinion with regard to the army, they spent that day in accordance with the law, and went on the morrow to Valmīka in chariots with their army. There they encamped with shouting forces on the southern plateau of the Himālayas, and beheld many Vidyādhara kings that had arrived. And those Vidyādharas had lighted fires there in fire-cavities, and were engaged in sacrificing, and some were occupied with muttering prayers. Then, where Sūryaprabha made a fire-cavity, the fire burst forth of itself, owing to the power of his magic science.

When Sumeru saw it he was pleased, but envy arose in the breasts of the Vidyādharas at the sight. Then one said to him:

“For shame, Sumeru! Why do you abandon your rank as a Vidyādhara and follow this inhabitant of earth named Sūryaprabha?”

When Sumeru heard this, he angrily rebuked him. And when Sūryaprabha asked his name, he said:

“There is a Vidyādhara of the name of Bhīma, and Brahmā loved his wife at will; from this connection he sprang. Since he sprang from Brahmā in a secret way, he is called Brahmagupta. Hence he speaks in a style characteristic of his birth.”

After saying this, Sumeru also made a fire-cavity. And in it Sūryaprabha sacrificed with him to the God of Fire. And in a moment there suddenly rose from the hole in the ground an enormous and terrible serpent. In his arrogance that chief of the Vidyādharas, named Brahmagupta, by whom Sumeru was blamed, ran to seize it. That serpent thereupon sent forth a hissing wind from its mouth, which carried Brahmagupta a hundred feet, and flung him down with such violence that he fell like a withered leaf. Then a chief of the Vidyādharas, named Tejaḥprabha, ran to seize it; he was flung away by it in the same manner. Then a lord of the Vidyādharas, named Duṣṭadamana, approached it; he was hurled back like the others by that blast from its mouth. Then a prince of the sky-goers, named Virūpaśakti, approached it; he too was flung away as easily as a blade of grass by that breath. Then two kings, named Aṅgāraka and Vijṛmbhaka, ran towards it together, and it flung them to a distance with its breath. Thus all the princes of the Vidyādharas were flung away one after another, and rose up with difficulty, with their limbs bruised with stones.

Then Śrutaśarman, in his pride, went forward to seize the serpent, but it hurled him back with the blast of its breath, like the others. He fell at a short distance, and rose up again, and ran again towards it, when it carried him a greater distance with its breath and flung him to earth. Then Śrutaśarman rose up abashed, with bruised limbs, and Sumeru sent Sūryaprabha to lay hold of the serpent.

And then the Vidyādharas ridiculed him, saying:

“Look! he too is trying to catch the snake! Oh, these men, thoughtless as monkeys, imitate whatever they see another doing.”

Even while they were mocking him, Sūryaprabha went and seized the serpent, whose mouth was quiet, and dragged it out of the hole. But that moment the serpent became a priceless quiver, and a rain of flowers fell from the sky on his head.

And a heavenly voice sounded aloud:

“Sūryaprabha, thine is this imperishable quiver equal to a magic power, so take it.”

Then the Vidyādharas were cast down, Sūryaprabha seized the quiver, and Maya and Sunītha and Sumeru were delighted.

Then Śrutaśarman departed, accompanied by the host of the Vidyādharas, and his ambassador came to Sūryaprabha and said:

“The august Lord Śrutaśarman thus commands: ‘Give me that quiver, if you value your life.’”

Then Sūryaprabha said:

“Ambassador, go and tell him this: ‘Your body shall become a quiver, bristling all over with my arrows.’”

When the ambassador heard this speech, he turned and went away, and all laughed at that furious message of Śrutaśarman’s,[3] and Sumeru, joyfully embracing Sūryaprabha, said to him:

“I am delighted that that speech of Śiva’s has without doubt been fulfilled, for now that you have acquired this excellent quiver you have practically acquired sovereign empire; so come and obtain now a splendid bow with calm intrepidity.”

When they heard Sumeru say this, and he himself led the way, they all, Sūryaprabha and the others, went to the mountain Hemakūṭa. And on the north side of it they reached a beautiful lake named Mānasa, which seemed to have been the first assay of the Creator’s skill when making the sea, which eclipsed with its full-blown golden lotuses, shaken by the wind, the faces of the heavenly nymphs sporting in the water. And while they were contemplating the beauty of the lake, Śrutaśarman and all the others came there.

And then Sūryaprabha made a sacrifice with lotuses and ghee, and immediately a terrible cloud rose up from that lake. That cloud filled the heaven and poured down a great rain, and among the raindrops fell from the cloud a black serpent. By the order of Sumeru, Sūryaprabha rose up and seized that serpent with a firm grasp, though it resisted; thereupon it became a bow. When it became a bow a second snake fell from the cloud, through fear of the fiery poison of which all the sky-goers fled. That serpent too, when seized by Sūryaprabha, like the first, became a bow-string, and the cloud quickly disappeared.

And after a rain of flowers a voice was heard from heaven:

“Sūryaprabha, you have won this bow, Amitabala, and this string which cannot be cut; so take these priceless treasures.”

And Sūryaprabha took that excellent bow with the string. Śrutaśarman, for his part, went despondent to his wood of ascetics, and Sūryaprabha and Maya and the others were delighted.

Then they asked Sumeru about the origin of the bow, and he said:

“Here there is a great and marvellous wood of bamboo canes[4]; whatever bamboos are cut from it and thrown into this lake become great and wonderful bows; and these bows have been acquired by several of the gods before yourself, and by Asuras and Gandharvas, and distinguished Vidyādharas. They have various names, but the bows appropriated to emperors are all called Amitabala, and were in old time deposited in the lake by the gods. And they are obtained, through the favour of Śiva, with these exertions, by certain men of virtuous conduct destined to be emperors. Hence it comes that Sūryaprabha has to-day procured this great bow, and these companions of his shall procure bows suited to them. For they, being heroes who have acquired the sciences, are appropriate recipients for them, for they are still procured by worthy men, as is right.”

When the companions of Sūryaprabha, Prabhāsa and the others, heard this speech of Sumeru’s they went to the bamboo grove, and after defeating the King Candradatta, who guarded it, they brought the bamboos and threw them into the lake. And these heroic men, by fasting on the bank of the lake, and muttering prayers, and sacrificing, obtained bows in seven days. When they returned and told their adventure, Sūryaprabha returned with them and Maya and the others to that wood of ascetics, in which Sumeru dwelt.

Then Sumeru said to him:

“It is strange that your friends have conquered Candradatta, the king of the bamboo wood, though he is invincible. He possesses a science called the bewildering science; for that reason he is hard to conquer. Surely he must have been keeping it to use against a more important enemy. For this reason he did not employ it against these companions of yours on the present occasion, for it can succeed only once in his hands, not repeatedly. For he employed it once against his spiritual preceptor to try its force; thereupon he laid upon him this curse. So this matter should be thought upon, for the might of sciences is hard to overcome, and for that reason you should consult the revered Maya. What can I say in his presence? Of what avail is a candle in the face of the sun?”

When Sumeru had said this to Sūryaprabha, Maya said:

“Sumeru has told you the truth in few words. Listen to this which I now say: From undeveloped matter there spring in this world various powers and subordinate powers. Among them the sound expressed by Anusvāra arises from the power of breathing, and becomes a spell of force in magic sciences, when accompanied with the doctrine of the highest truth. And of those sciences which deal with spells, and which are acquired by supernatural knowledge, or austerity, or the holy command of holy men, the power is hard to resist. So, my son, you have obtained all the sciences except two, in which you are deficient—namely, the science of bewildering and that of counteracting. But Yājñavalkya knows them; therefore go and ask him to bestow them on you.”

When thus advised by Maya, Sūryaprabha went into the presence of that Ṛṣi.

That hermit made him dwell for seven days in the serpent lake, and ordered him to perform austerities for three days in the midst of the fire. And he gave him the bewildering power when he had endured for seven days the bite of the snakes, and the counteracting power when he had resisted for three days the force of the fire.[5] And when he had obtained these sciences that hermit ordered him again to enter the fire-cavity, and he consented and did it. And immediately there was bestowed on Sūryaprabha a chariot in the form of a white lotus, that moved at the will of the possessor and travelled through the air, which was furnished with a hundred and eight[6] wings, and the same number of dwellings, and constructed of precious jewels of various kinds.

And a voice from heaven addressed that resolute one:

“You have obtained this chariot suitable for an emperor, and you must place your wives in all these dwellings, in order that they may be safe from your enemies.”

Then he, bending low, addressed this petition to his preceptor, Yājñavalkya:

“Tell me what fee I am to pay.”

The hermit answered him:

“Remember me at the time when you are anointed emperor; this in itself will be sufficient fee; in the meanwhile go to your army.”

Then he bowed before that hermit, and ascended that chariot and went to his army, that was encamped in the place where Sumeru dwelt. There he told his story, and Maya and the others, with Sunītha and Sumeru, congratulated him, now that he had obtained a magic chariot.

Then Sunītha called to mind that Suvāsakumāra, and he came and said to Maya and the others, with the kings:

“Sūryaprabha has obtained a chariot and all the magic sciences; so why do you even now remain indifferent about conquering your enemies?”

When Maya heard that, he said:

“Reverend sir, you have spoken rightly, but first let an ambassador be sent and let policy be employed.”

When Maya said this, the hermit’s son said:

“So be it! What harm can this do? Let this Prahasta be sent. He is discerning, eloquent, and understands the nature of business and occasions, and he is stern and enduring; he possesses all the qualities of an ambassador.”

All approved this speech of his, and after giving Prahasta instructions they sent him off as ambassador to Śrutaśarman.

When he had gone, Sūryaprabha said to all his followers:

“Hear the strange, wonderful vision that I have had—I remember I saw, toward the end of last night, that we were all carried away by a great stream of water, and while we were swept away we kept dancing; we did not sink at all. Then that stream was turned back by a contrary breeze. Then a certain man of fiery brightness drew us out and threw us into the fire, and we were not burned by the fire. Then a cloud rained a stream of blood, and that blood filled the whole sky; then my sleep came to an end with the night.”

When he said this, Suvāsakumāra said to him:

“This dream indicates success preceded by a struggle. The stream of water is battle; it is due to valour that you did not sink, but danced, and were carried along by the water; the wind, that turned back the water for you, is some saviour to whom men resort for protection; and the man of fiery brightness, who drew you out of it, is Śiva in bodily form. And that he threw you into the fire means that you are cast into a great war; and that the clouds arose, that means the returning again of fear; and the rain of a stream of blood, that means the destroying of fear; and the filling of all the quarters with blood, that means great success for you. Now dreams are of many kinds,[7] the rich-sensed, the true-sensed and the senseless. A dream which quickly reveals its meaning is called rich-sensed, a dream in which a propitious god gives a command is called true-sensed, and one which is brought about by deep meditation and anxiety they call senseless. For a man under the influence of sleep, with mind bewildered by the quality of passion and withdrawn from outward objects, sees a dream on account of various causes. And it depends upon the time when it is seen whether it is fulfilled soon or late; but this kind of dream which is seen at the end of the night is quickly fulfilled.”[8]

When Sūryaprabha and his companions heard this from the hermit’s son, they were much pleased, and, rising up, they performed the duties of the day.

In the meanwhile Prahasta returned from the Court of Śrutaśarman, and, when asked by Maya and the others, he described his adventures:

“I went rapidly hence to the city named Trikūṭapatākā, situated on the mountain Trikūṭa, built of gold. And being introduced by the doorkeeper, I entered, and beheld Śrutaśarman surrounded by various Vidyādhara kings, by his father Trikūṭasena, and also by Vikramaśakti and Dhurandhara and other heroes, Dāmodara among them.

And sitting down, I said to Śrutaśarman:

‘I am sent to visit you by the august Sūryaprabha; and he commissioned me to give you this command:

“By the favour of Śiva I have obtained precious sciences, and wives and allies. So come and join my army, together with those chiefs of the sky-goers. I am the slayer of those that oppose, but the saviour of those that bend. And as for your carrying off from her relations[9] the maiden Kāmacūḍāmaṇi, the daughter of Sunītha, who ought not to be approached, set her at liberty, for that is a deed of shame.”’

When I said this, they all exclaimed in wrath:

‘Who is he that sends us this haughty command? Let him give commands to mortals, but who is he compared with Vidyādharas? Since he assumes such airs, though he is a miserable mortal, he should be destroyed.’

When I heard that, I said:

‘What, what? Who is he? Listen: he has been created by Śiva as your future emperor. If he is a mortal, then mortals have attained divinity, and the Vidyādharas have seen the valour of that mortal; moreover, if he comes here we shall soon see which party will be destroyed.’

When I said this in wrath, that assembly was disturbed. And Śrutaśarman and Dhurandhara rushed forward to slay me. And I said to them:

‘Come now, let me see your valour!’

Then Dāmodara rose up and restrained them, exclaiming:

‘Peace! An ambassador and a Brāhman must not be slain.’

Then Vikramaśakti said to me:

‘Depart, ambassador, for we, like your master, are all created by Śiva. So let him come, and we will see whether we are able to entertain him or not.’

When he said this in a haughty manner, I laughed, and said:

‘The swans utter their cries in the lotus bower and enjoy themselves much, until they see the cloud that comes darkening the heaven.’

After saying this, I rose up in a contemptuous manner, left the court and came here.”

When Maya and the others heard this from Prahasta, they were pleased. And they all, Sūryaprabha and the rest, determined on preparing for battle, and made Prabhāsa, the impetuous in war, their general. And receiving the command from Suvāsakumāra, they all prepared that day with strict vows to consecrate themselves for the combat.[10]

And at night Sūryaprabha, as he was lying sleepless, saw a wonderful and beautiful maiden enter the chamber, in which he was occupying a solitary couch in accordance with his vow. She came boldly up to him, who pretended to be asleep, with his ministers sleeping round him, and said to her confidante, who was with her:

“If he possesses such glorious beauty when he is asleep, and all the graceful motion of his body is still, what must it be, my friend, when he is awake? So let be! We must not wake him up. I have gratified the curiosity of my eyes. Why should I fix my heart too fondly on him? For he will have a battle with Śrutaśarman, and who can say what will befall either party in it? For the feast of battle is for consuming the lives of heroes. And should he not be fortunate, we shall have to take some other resolve.[11] And how could one like me captivate the soul of a man who, when roaming in the air, beheld Kāmacūḍāmaṇi?”

When she said this, her confidante answered:

“Why do you say this? Why, fair one, is it your duty not to allow your heart to attach itself to him? Why should not he, the sight of whom captivated the heart of Kāmacūḍāmaṇi, captivate the heart of any other lady, were she even Arundhatī in bodily presence? And do you not know that he will prosper in fight by the force of science? And when he is emperor you and Kāmacūḍāmaṇi and Suprabhā, of the same family, are to be his wives; so say the holy sages; and in these very days he has married Suprabhā. So, how can he be unsuccessful in fight? For the predictions of the sages are never falsified. And will you not captivate the heart of the man whose heart was captivated by Suprabhā? For you, blameless one, exceed her in beauty. And if you hesitate through regard for your relations, that is not right, for good women have no relations but their husbands.”

That excellent maiden, when she heard this speech of her confidante’s, said:

“You have spoken truth, my friend; I need no other relations. And I know my husband will conquer in fight by his science. He has obtained jewels and sciences, but my mind is grieved because, up to the present time, he has not obtained the virtuous herbs. Now they are all in a cave of the mountain Candrapāda. But they are to be obtained by an emperor possessing virtue. So, if he were to go there and procure those mighty drugs, it would be well, for his great struggle is nigh at hand, even to-morrow.”

When Sūryaprabha heard this, he flung off all his feigned sleep and, rising up, said respectfully to that maiden:

“Lovely-eyed one, you have shown great favour to me, so I will go there; tell me who you are.”

When the maiden heard that, she was abashed with shame and silent, thinking that he had heard all; but her friend said:

“This is a maiden named Vilāsinī, the daughter of Sumeru, the Prince of the Vidyādharas, who was desirous of beholding you.”

When her friend said this, Vilāsinī said to her: “Come, let us go now,” and went out of the room.

Then Sūryaprabha woke up his ministers, Prabhāsa and the rest, and told them of that method of procuring the drugs which the lady spoke of. And he sent Prabhāsa, a fit person to accomplish that, to tell it to Sunītha and Sumeru and Maya. And when they came and approved of it, Sūryaprabha, accompanied by his ministers, went with them in the night to the mountain Candrapāda. And as they were gradually advancing the Yakṣas, Guhyakas and Kumbhāṇḍas,[12] being alarmed, rose up to bar their way, armed with numerous weapons. Some of them Sūryaprabha and his friends bewildered with weapons, some they paralysed by science, and at last they reached that mountain Candrapāda. When they reached the mouth of the cavern in that mountain, the Gaṇas[13] of Śiva prevented them from entering, assuming strange, deformed countenances.

Then Suvāsakumāra said to Sūryaprabha and the others:

“We must not fight with these, for the revered god Śiva might be angry. Let us praise that giver of boons by his eight thousand names, and that will make the Gaṇas favourably disposed to us.”

Then they all agreed, and praised Śiva; and the Gaṇas, pleased at hearing their master praised, said to them:

“We abandon this cave to you; take its potent simples. But Sūryaprabha must not enter it himself; let Prabhāsa enter it, for it will be easy for him to enter.”

Then that cave, as soon as Prabhāsa entered it, though before enveloped in darkness, became irradiated with light. And four very terrible Rākṣasas, who were servants there, rose up and, bending before him, said to him: “Enter.” Then Prabhāsa entered, and collected those seven divine herbs, and coming out, gave them all to Sūryaprabha.

And that moment a voice was heard from heaven, saying:

“Sūryaprabha, of great power are these seven drugs which you have obtained to-day.”

When Sūryaprabha and the others heard that, they were delighted, and quickly returned to the dwelling of Sumeru to greet their army. Then Sunītha asked Suvāsakumārā:

“Hermit, why was Prabhāsa allowed by the Gaṇas to enter the cave, and not Sūryaprabha, and why was he also welcomed by the servants?”

When the hermit heard that, he said in the hearing of all:

“Listen, I will explain this — Prabhāsa is a great benefactor to Sūryaprabha, being a second self to him; there is no difference between them. Moreover, no one is equal in might and courage to Prabhāsa, and this cave belongs to him on account of his good deeds in a former life; and listen, I will tell you what sort of a person he was in a former existence.


62b. The Generous Dānava Namuci

In old times there was an excellent Dānava named Namuci, who was devoted to charity and very brave, and did not refuse to give anything to anybody that asked, even if he were his enemy. He practised asceticism as a drinker of smoke for ten thousand years, and obtained as a favour from Brahmā that he should be proof against iron, stone and wood. Then he frequently conquered Indra and made him flee, so the Ṛṣi Kaśyapa entreated him and made him make peace with the gods. Then the gods and Asuras, as their enmity was at an end, deliberated together, and went to the ocean of milk and churned it, with the mountain Mandara. And as Viṣṇu and the other gods received Lakṣmī and other things as their shares, so Namuci gained the horse Uccaiḥśravas; and the other gods and Asuras received other various shares, appointed by Brahmā, of the things that rose from the sea when churned. And the Amṛta at last came up at the end of the churning, and the gods stole it, so a quarrel again took place between them and the Asuras. Then, as fast as the gods killed an Asura in their fight with them, the horse Uccaiḥśravas immediately restored him to life by smelling him. The consequence was that the gods found it impossible to conquer the Daityas and Dānavas.

Then Bṛhaspati said in secret to Indra, who was in despair:

“There is only one expedient left —adopt it without delay; go to Namuci yourself and ask him for that excellent horse, for he will certainly give it to you, though you are his enemy, sooner than mar the glory of open-handedness, which he has been accumulating since his birth.”

When the preceptor of the gods said that to him, great Indra went with the gods and craved as a boon that horse Uccaiḥśravas from Namuci. Then the great-hearted Namuci reflected:

“I never turn back a suppliant, so I will not turn back Indra; and how can I, as long as I am Namuci, refuse to give him the horse? If the glory of generosity, which I have long been acquiring in the worlds, were to wither, what would be the use to me of prosperity or life?”

Accordingly he gave the horse to Indra, although Śukra warned him not to do it. Then Indra, after he had been given the horse, lulled him to security, and as he could not be slain by any other weapon, killed him with foam of the Ganges, in which he had placed a thunderbolt. Alas! terrible in the world is the thirst for enjoyment, carried away by which even gods do not shrink from unbecoming and infamous conduct.

When Danu, the mother of Namuci, heard this, being afflicted with grief, she made by virtue of her asceticism a solemn resolve for the allaying of her sorrow:

“May that mighty Namuci be born again in my womb, and may he again become invincible by the gods in battle.”

Then he was again conceived in her womb, and born as an Asura composed all of jewels, named Prabala on account of his strength. Then he performed asceticism, and satisfying suppliants even with his life, became successful, and as Prince of the Dānavas conquered Indra a hundred times.

Then the gods took counsel together, and came to him, and said to him:

“By all means give us your body for a human sacrifice.” [see notes on the history of human sacrifice]

When he heard that, he gave them his own body, although they were his enemies; noble men do not turn their backs on a suppliant, but bestow on him even their lives. Then that Dānava Prabala was cut to pieces by the gods, and he has been again born in the world of men with the body of Prabhāsa.


62. Story of Sūryaprabha and how he attained Sovereignty over the Vidyādharas

“So Prabhāsa was first Namuci, and then he was Prabala, and then he became Prabhāsa; therefore on account of his merit he is hard for his enemies to conquer. And that cave of herbs, which belonged to that Prabala, is for that reason the property of Prabhāsa, and is at his command with its servants. And below it there is Pātāla,[14] the mansion of Prabala, and in it there are his twelve head wives, beautifully adorned, and various jewels, and many kinds of weapons, and a wishing-stone, and a hundred thousand warriors, and also horses. This all belongs to Prabhāsa, and was acquired by him in a former life. Such a hero is Prabhāsa; in him nothing is wonderful.”

When they heard this from the hermit’s son, Sūryaprabha and his followers, with Maya and Prabhāsa, went immediately to that cavern belonging to Prabhāsa, that led down to Pātāla, for the purpose of securing the jewels. Prabhāsa alone went in by that entrance and secured his former wives, and the wishing-stone, and the horses, and the Asura warriors, and coming out again with all his wealth, he gave great satisfaction to Sūryaprabha. Then that Sūryaprabha, having quickly obtained what he wished, returned to his own camp with Maya and Sunītha and Prabhāsa, followed by Sumeru and the other kings and the ministers. There, after the Asuras and kings and others had gone to their own quarters, he again was consecrated for the fight, restraining his passions, and spent the rest of the night on a bed of kuśa grass.

Footnotes and references:


I read samārūḍha-Bhūtāsana-vimānakāḥ.——This is confirmed by the D. text.—n.m.p.


In the B. text we are not told what the sign is, but on page 54 we discover it was a quiver, which first appeared in the shape of a serpent. In the D. text, however, the quiver is actually mentioned, the reading being tūṇam instead of tūrṇam, and in the next line we find sainyasaṃvidhinā instead of sainye, suvidhinā.

Thus in translating the present text we should insert “quiver” after the word “emperor,” and continue with:

“After Sumeru had spoken thus, they spent that day with the arrangement of the army, and went on the morrow to Valmīka in chariots with the army.”

This is according to Speyer, op. cit., pp. 117, 118.— n.m.p.


Reading rabhasokti for nabhasokti. Perhaps siddhimitam in śl.78a should be siddhamidam.


See Crooke, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 113. —n.m.p.


In the MS. lent me from the Sanskrit College I find soḍhāhidanśasya and visoḍhavahneś.


See Vol. I, p. 242n3.— n.m.p.


Reading aneko dhanyārtho.


Cf. Odyssey, iv, 841, ὥς οἱ ἐναργὲς ὄνειρον ἐπέσσυτο νυκτὸς ἀμολγῷ, where some suppose ἀμολγὸς to mean the four hours before daybreak.


Instead of hṛta jñāteḥ the D. text reads hṛtājñāte, “carried off stealthily.” —n. m. p.


I read cha raṇadīkṣāyām.


The MS. in the Sanskrit College reads tatrāsyāstu śivam tāvat, “let him succeed in the battle.”


See Vol. I, pp. 202, 203. —n.m.p.


See Vol. I., pp. 202, 203.— n.m.p.


Cf. Chapter XLV. In Chapter LXXIII will be found another instance of a “rifted rock whose entrance leads to hell.” Cf. the Hercules Furens of Seneca, v, 662 et seq.

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