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 XLVIII

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

THE next morning Sūryaprabha and his party, and Śrutaśarman and his supporters, again went to the field of battle armed, with their forces. And again the gods and Asuras, with Indra, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra, and with the Yakṣas, snakes and Gandharvas, came to see the fight. Dāmodara drew up the troops of Śrutaśarman in the form of a discus, and Prabhāsa drew up the troops of Sūryaprabha in the form of a thunderbolt. Then the battle of those two armies went on, deafening the horizon with drums and the shouts of champions, and the sun hid himself in flights of arrows, as if out of fear that the warriors smitten with weapons would certainly pierce his disk. Then Prabhāsa, by command of Sūryaprabha, broke the discus arrangement of the enemy’s host, hard for another to break, and entered alone. And Dāmodara himself came and defended that opening in the line, and Prabhāsa fought against him unaided. And Sūryaprabha, seeing that he had entered alone, sent fifteen great warriors to follow him, Prakampana, and Dhūmraketu, and Kālakampana, and Mahāmāya, and Marudvega, and Prahasta, and Vajrapañjara, and Kālacakra, and Pramathana, and Siṃhanāda, and Kambala, and Vikaṭākṣa, and Pravahana, and Kuñjarakumāraka, and Prahṛṣṭaroman, the heroic Asura prince: all those great warriors rushed forward to the opening in the line; then Dāmodara exhibited his wonderful heroism, in that alone he fought with those fifteen.

When Indra saw that, he said to the hermit Nārada, who was at his side:

“Sūryaprabha and the others of his party are incarnations of Asuras, but Śrutaśarman is a portion of me, and all these Vidyādharas are portions of the gods; so observe, hermit, this is a disguised fight between the gods and Asuras. And observe, in it Viṣṇu is, as ever, the ally of the gods, for Dāmodara, who is a portion of him, is fighting here.”

While Indra was saying this, fourteen great warriors came to assist the general Dāmodara: Brahmagupta and Vāyubala, and Yamadaṃṣṭra, and Suroṣaṇa, and Roṣāvaroha, and Atibala, and Tejaḥprabha, and Dhurandhara, and Kuveradatta, and Varuṇaśarman, and Kambalika, and the hero Duṣṭadamana, and Dohana and Ārohaṇa. And those fifteen heroes, joined with Dāmodara, fighting in front of the line, kept off the followers of Sūryaprabha.

Then single combats took place between them. Prakampana carried on a missile fight with Dāmodara, and Dhūmraketu fought with Brahmagupta, and Mahāmāya fought with Atibala, the Dānava Kālakampana fought with Tejaḥprabha, and the great Asura Marudvega with Vāyubala, and Vajrapañjara fought with Yamadaṃṣṭra, and the heroic Asura Kālacakra with Suroṣaṇa; Pramathana fought with Kuveradatta, and the King of the Daityas, named Siṃhanāda, with Varuṇaśarman. Pravahana fought with Duṣṭadamana, and the Dānava Prahṛṣṭaroman fought with Roṣāvaroha; and Vikaṭākṣa fought with Dhurandhara, Kambala fought with Kambalika, and Kuñjarakumāraka with Ārohaṇa, and Prahasta with Dohana, who was also called Mahotpāta.

When these pairs of warriors were thus fighting in the front of the line, Sunītha said to Maya:

“Alas! observe, our heroic warriors, though skilled in the use of many weapons, have been prevented by these antagonists from entering the enemy’s line; but Prabhāsa entered before recklessly alone, so we do not know what will become of him there.”

When Suvāsakumāra heard this, he said:

“All the gods, Asuras and men in the three worlds are not a match for this Prabhāsa unaided; much less, then, are these Vidyādharas. So why do you fear without reason, though you know this well enough?”

While the hermit’s son was saying this, the Vidyādhara Kālakampana came to meet Prabhāsa in fight. Then Prabhāsa said to him:

“Ha! ha! you have rendered me a great service, so let me now see your valour here.”

Saying this, Prabhāsa let fly at him a succession of arrows, and Kālakampana in return showered sharp arrows upon him. Then that Vidyādhara and that man fought together with arrows and answering arrows, making the worlds astonished. Then Prabhāsa, with a sharp arrow, struck down the banner of Kālakampana; with a second he killed his charioteer, with four more his four horses, and with one more he cut his bow in half, with two more he cut off his hands, with two more his arms, and with two more his two ears, and with one sharp-edged arrow he cut off the head of his foe, and thus displayed wonderful dexterity. Thus Prabhāsa, as it were, chastised Kālakampana, being angry with him because he had slain so many heroes in his own army. And the men and Asuras, when they saw that Vidyādhara chief slain, raised a shout, and the Vidyādharas immediately proclaimed their despondency.[1]

Then a king of the Vidyādharas, named Vidyutprabha, lord of the hill of Kālañjara, in wrath attacked Prabhāsa. When he was fighting with Prabhāsa, Prabhāsa first cut asunder his banner, and then kept cutting his bows in two, as fast as he took them up. Then the Vidyādhara, being ashamed, by his delusive power flew up invisible into the sky, and rained swords, clubs and other weapons upon Prabhāsa. Prabhāsa, for his part, swept away his succession of missiles with others, and by the illuminating weapon made that Asura manifest, and then, employing the weapon of fire, he burned up Vidyutprabha with its blaze, and bringing him down from the heaven laid him dead on the earth.

When Śrutaśarman saw this, he said to his warriors:

“Observe, this man has slain two chiefs of hosts of great warriors. Now why do you put up with it? Join together and slay him.”

When they heard that, eight warriors in anger surrounded Prabhāsa. One was a king of the Vidyādharas named Ūrdhvaroman, a lord of hosts of warriors, dwelling in the great mountain named Vaṅkaṭaka. And the second warrior was a chief of the Vidyādharas named Vikrośana, the king of the rock Dharaṇīdhara. And the third was the hero Indramālin, a prince of the Vidyādharas, lord of a host of distinguished warriors, and his home was the mountain Līlā.

And the fourth was an excellent Vidyādhara named King Kākaṇḍaka, a chief of a host of warriors, and his dwelling was in the mountain Malaya. And the fifth was Darpavāha by name, lord of the hill Niketa, and the sixth was Dhūrtavyayana, the lord of the mountain Añjana, and both these Vidyādharas were chiefs of excellent warriors. And the seventh one, whose chariot was drawn by asses, was named Varāhasvāmin, king of the mount Kumuda, and he was chief of a host of great warriors. And the eighth warrior was like him, Medhāvara, King of Dundhubhi.

Prabhāsa repelled the numerous arrows which these eight came and discharged, and he pierced them all at the same time with arrows. And he slew the horse of one, and of one the charioteer, and he cut in half the banner of one, and the bow of another. But Medhāvara he struck at the same time with four arrows in the heart, and at once laid him dead on the earth. And then he fought with the others, and cut off with an añjalika[2] the head of Ūrdhvaroman, with its curled and plaited hair; and of the other six he killed the horses and charioteers, and at last laid themselves low, cutting off their heads with crescent-headed arrows. And then a rain of flowers fell on his head from heaven, encouraging the kings of the Asuras, and discouraging the Vidyādharas.

Then four more great warriors, armed with bows, sent by Śrutaśarman, surrounded Prabhāsa: one was named Kācaraka, the lord of the mountain Kuraṇḍa; the second Diṇḍimālin, whose home was the hill of Pañcaka; the third was Vibhāvasu, king of the mountain Jayapura; the fourth was named Dhavala, the ruler of Bhūmituṇḍika. Those excellent Vidyādharas, chiefs of hosts of great warriors, let fly five hundred arrows at the same time at Prabhāsa. But Prabhāsa easily disposed of all, one by one, each with eight arrows: with one arrow he cut down the banner, with one cleft the bow, with one he killed the charioteer, with four the horses, and with one more he cut off the head of the warrior, and then shouted triumphantly.

Then another four Vidyādharas, by the order of Śrutaśarman, assembled in fight against Prabhāsa. The first was named Bhadraṅkara, dark as the blue water-lily, sprung from Mercury in the house[3] of Viśvāvasu, but the second was Niyantraka, like the fire in brightness, sprung from Mars in the house of Jambaka, and the third was called Kālakopa, very black in hue, with tawny hair, sprung from Saturn in the house of Dāmodara. And the fourth was Vikramaśakti, like gold in brightness, sprung from the planet Jupiter in the house of the Moon. The three first were lords of hosts of lords of hosts of transcendent warriors, but the fourth was a great hero surpassing the rest in valour. And those haughty chiefs attacked Prabhāsa with heavenly weapons. Prabhāsa repelled their weapons with the weapon of Nārāyaṇa and easily cut asunder the bow of each eight times; then he repelled the arrows and clubs which they hurled, and slaying their horses and charioteers, deprived them all of their chariots.

When Śrutaśarman saw that, he quickly sent other ten lords of the Vidyādharas, chiefs of lords of hosts or lords of hosts of warriors, two called Dama and Niyama, who exactly resembled one another in appearance, two sons born to the Aśvins in the house of the lord of Ketumālā, and Vikrama and Saṅkrama, and Parākrama and Ākrama, and Sammardana and Mardana, and Pramardana and Vimardana, the eight similar sons of the Vasus born in the house of Makaranda. And when they came the previous assailants mounted other chariots. Wonderful to say, though all those fourteen joined together and showered arrows on Prabhāsa, he alone fought with them fearlessly. Then, by the order of Sūryaprabha, Kuñjarakumāra and Prahasta left the mêlée and, flying up from the front of the line, weapons in hand, white and black in hue, came to the aid of Prabhāsa, like Rāma and Kṛṣṇa over again. They, though fighting on foot, harassed Dama and Niyama by cutting asunder their bows and killing their charioteers. When they, in their fear, soared up to heaven Kuñjarakumāra and Prahasta soared up also, weapons in hand.

When Sūryaprabha saw that, he quickly sent them his ministers Mahābuddhi and Acalabuddhi to act as charioteers. Then Prahasta and Kuñjarakumāra discovered, by employing magic collyrium, those two sons of the Vidyādharas, Dama and Niyama, though they had made themselves invisible by magic power, and riddled them so with showers of arrows that they fled. And Prabhāsa, fighting with the other twelve, cleft all their bows asunder, though they kept continually taking fresh ones. And Prahasta came and killed at the same time the charioteers of all, and Kuñjarakumāra slew their horses. Then those twelve together, being deprived of their chariots, and finding themselves smitten by three heroes, fled out of the battle.

Then Śrutaśarman, beside himself with grief, anger and shame, sent two more Vidyādharas, captains of hosts of warriors and distinguished warriors: one was called Candragupta, born in the house of the lord of the great mountain Candrakula, beautiful as a second moon; and the second was his own minister, named Naraṅgama, of great splendour, born in the house of the lord of the mountain Dhurandhara. They also, after discharging a shower of arrows, were in a moment deprived of their chariots by Prabhāsa and his comrades, and disappeared.

Then the men and Asuras shouted for joy; but thereupon Śrutaśarman came himself, with four great warriors of mighty force, named Mahaugha, Ārohaṇa, Utpāta and Vetravat, the sons respectively of Tvaṣṭṛ,[4] Bhaga, Aryaman and Pūṣan, born in the house of the four Vidyādhara kings, Citrapada and others, that ruled over mount Malaya. And Śrutaśarman himself, blinded with furious anger, was the fifth, and they all fought against Prabhāsa and his two companions. Then the host of arrows, which they shot at one another, seemed like a canopy spread in the sky by the fortune of war in the full blaze of the sun. Then those other Vidyādharas, who had been deprived of their chariots and had fled from the battle, came back into the fight.

Then Sūryaprabha, seeing many of them assembled in fight, under the leadership of Śrutaśarman, sent other great warriors of his own to support Prabhāsa and his comrades, his own friends with Prajñāḍhya at their head, and the princes of whom Śatānīka and Vīrasena were the chief. They flew through the air, and Sūryaprabha sent the other warriors also through the air in the chariot Bhūtāsana. When all those archers had gone chariot-borne, the other Vidyādhara kings, who were on the side of Śrutaśarman, also came up. Then a fight took place between those Vidyādhara princes on the one side and Prabhāsa and his comrades on the other, in which there was a great slaughter of soldiers. And in the single combats between the two hosts many warriors were slain on both sides, men, Asuras and Vidyādharas. Vīrasena slew Dhūmralocana and his followers, but, having been deprived of his chariot, he was in his turn killed by Hariśarman. Then the Vidyādhara hero Hiraṇyākṣa was killed by Abhimanyu, but Abhimanyu and Haribhaṭa were slain by Sunetra. And Sunetra was killed by Prabhāsa, who cut off his head. And Jvālāmālin and Mahāyu killed one another. But Kumbhīraka and Nirāsaka fought with their teeth, after their arms were cut off, and so did Kharva and the mighty Suśarman. And the three, Śatrubhaṭa, Vyāghrabhaṭa and Siṃhabhaṭa, were slain by Pravahana, the Vidyādhara king. Pravahana was killed by the two warriors Suroha and Viroha, and those two were slain by Siṃhabala, the dweller in the cemetery. That very Siṃhabala, whose chariot was drawn by ghosts, and Kapilaka, and Citrāpīḍa, the Vidyādhara king, and Jagajjvara, and the hero Kāntāpati, and the mighty Suvarṇa, and the two Vidyādhara kings, Kāmaghana and Krodhapati, and King Baladeva and Vicitrāpīḍa—these ten were slain by the Prince Śatānīka.

When these heroes had been slain, Śrutaśarman, beholding the slaughter of the Vidyādharas, himself attacked Śatānīka in his anger. Then a terrible fight took place between those two, lasting to the close of the day, and causing a great slaughter of soldiers, exciting the wonder even of the gods; and it continued until hundreds of corpses, rising up all round, laid hold of the demons as their partners, when the time arrived for the joyous evening dance. At the close of day the Vidyādharas, depressed at the great slaughter of their army, and grieved at the death of their friends, and the men and Asuras having won the victory by sheer force, stopped the combat, and went each of them to their own camps.

At that time two Vidyādharas, chiefs of captains of bands of warriors, who had deserted the cause of Śrutaśarman, came, introduced by Sumeru, and said to Sūryaprabha, after bowing before him:

“We are named Mahāyāna and Sumāya, and this Siṃhabala was the third of us; we had obtained magic power by having the rule of a great cemetery, and were unassailable by the other Vidyādharas. While we, such as you have heard, were once taking our ease in a corner of the great cemetery, there came to us a good witch named Śarabhānanā, of great and godlike power, who is always well disposed towards us.

We bowed before her and asked her:

‘Where have you been, honoured lady, and what have you seen there strange?’

She thereupon related this adventure.


62c. Adventure of the Witch Śarabhānanā

I went with the witches to visit my master, the god Mahākāla,[5] and while I was there a king of the Vetālas came and reported:

“See, O master, the chiefs of the Vidyādharas have killed our commander-in-chief, named Agnika, and one named Tejaḥprabha is swiftly carrying off his lovely daughter. But the holy sages have foretold that she shall be the wife of the Emperor of the Vidyādharas, so grant us a boon and have her released before he forcibly carries her off to a distance.”

When the god heard this speech of the afflicted Vetāla, he said to me:

“Go and set her free.”

Then I went through the air and came up with the maiden. Tejaḥprabha said:

“I am carrying off the girl for our rightful emperor, Śrutaśarman.”

But I paralysed him by my magic power, and bringing back the maiden, gave her to my master. And he made her over to her own family. I, in truth, went through this strange adventure. Then I remained there some days, and after taking a reverent farewell of the god I came here.


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

“When that witch Śarabhānanā had said this, we said to her:

‘Tell us, who is to be the future emperor of the Vidyādharas? You, in truth, know all.’

She said:

‘Sūryaprabha will certainly be.’

Whereupon Siṃhabala said to us:

‘This is untrue, for have not the gods and Indra girded up their loins to support the cause of Śrutaśarman?’

When the noble woman heard that, she said to us:

‘If you do not believe this, listen. I tell you that soon there will be war between Sūryaprabha and Śrutaśarman, and when this Siṃhabala shall be slain before your eyes by a man in battle you will recognise this token, and will know that this speech of mine is true.’

When that witch had said this, she departed, and those days passed away, and now we have seen with our own eyes that in truth this Siṃhabala has been slain. Relying upon that, we think that you are indeed appointed emperor of all the Vidyādharas, and submitting ourselves to your rule, we have repaired to your two lotuslike feet.”

When the Vidyādharas Mahāyāna and Sumāya said this, Sūryaprabha, in concert with Maya and the rest, received them into confidence and honoured them, and they rejoiced.

When Śrutaśarman heard that, he was in great consternation, but Indra comforted him by a message, sending to him Viśvāvasu, and commissioning him to say:

“Be of good cheer! To-morrow I will aid thee with all the gods in the van of battle.”

This he said to him out of love, to comfort him. And Sūryaprabha, having been encouraged by beholding the breaking of his enemy’s line, and having seen in the front of battle the slaughter of his rival’s partisans, again forwent the society of his charmers, and entered his dwelling at night surrounded by his ministers.

Footnotes and references:


The MS. in the Sanskrit College reads jagme.


Possibly an arrow with a head resembling two hands joined.


There is probably a pun here. Kṣetra, besides its astrological sense, means a wife on whom issue is begotten by some kinsman or duly appointed person, as in the Jewish law.


Tvashtri is the Vulcan of the Hindus. Bhaga is an Āditya regarded in the Vedas as bestowing wealth, and presiding over marriage, his Nakṣatra is the Uttara Phālgunī. Aryaman is also an Āditya; Pūṣan, originally the sun, is in later times an Āditya. The “canopy of arrows” reminds us of the saying of Dieneces, Herodotus, vii, 227, and of Milton, Paradise Lost, vi, 666.


An epithet of Śiva in his character of the destroying deity.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: