Kathasaritsagara (the Ocean of Story)

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

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

[M] (main story line continued) THUS Naravāhanadatta dwelt in the house of his father, the King of Vatsa, being attended by his affectionate ministers, Gomukha and the others, and amusing himself with his loving Queen Alaṅkāravatī, whose jealousy was removed by her great love, that refused to be hampered by female pride. Then, once on a time, he went to a forest of wild beasts, mounted on a chariot, with Gomukha seated behind him. And, with that heroic Brāhman Pralambabāhu going in front of him, he indulged in sylvan sports, accompanied by his attendants. And though the horses of his chariot galloped at the utmost of their speed, Pralambabāhu outstripped their swiftness, and still kept in front of them. The prince, from his position on the chariot, killed lions and tigers and other wild beasts with arrows, but Pralambabāhu, going on foot, slew them with his sword.

And Naravāhanadatta, as often as he beheld that Brāhman, said in astonishment:

“What courage, and what fleetness of foot he possesses!”

And the prince, being wearied at the end of his hunting, and overcome with thirst, went in search of water, mounted on his chariot, with Gomukha and his charioteer, and preceded by that champion Pralambabāhu, and in the course of his search he reached another great forest far distant. There he came to a great and charming lake with full-blown lotuses, looking like a second sky on earth, studded with many solar orbs.

There he bathed and drank water, and, after he and his companions had performed their ablutions and other duties, he beheld at one end of the lake, at a distance, four men of heavenly appearance, dressed in heavenly garments, adorned with heavenly ornaments, engaged in culling golden lotuses from that lake. And out of curiosity he approached them, and when they asked him who he was he told them his descent, his name and his history.

And they, pleased at seeing him, told him their story when he asked them:

“There is in the midst of the great sea a great, prosperous and splendid island, which is called the island of Nārikela, and is renowned in the world for its beauty.[1] And in it there are four mountains with splendid expanses of land, named Maināka, Vṛṣabha, Cakra and Balāhaka; in those four we four live. One of us is named Rūpasiddhi, and he possesses the power of assuming various forms; another is by name Pramāṇasiddhi, who can measure the most minute as well as the largest things; and the third is Jñānasiddhi, who knows the past, the present and the future; and the fourth is Devasiddhi, who possesses the power of calling down to his aid all the deities. We have now gathered these golden lotuses and are going to offer them to the god, the husband of Śrī, in Śvetadvīpa.[2] For we are all of us devoted to him, and it is by his favour that we possess rule over those mountains of ours, and prosperity, accompanied with supernatural power. So come, we will show you the lord Hari in Śvetadvīpa; we will carry you through the air, friend, if you approve.”

When those sons of gods said this, Naravāhanadatta consented, and leaving Gomukha and the others in that place, where they could obtain water, fruits and so on, he went with them to Śvetadvīpa through the air, for Devasiddhi, one of the four brothers, carried him in his lap. There he descended from heaven, and beheld Viṣṇu, and approached him from a distance, introduced by those four sons of gods. The god was reclining upon the snake Śeṣa; in front of him sat Garuḍa, at his side was the daughter of the sea,[3] at his feet was the Earth; he was waited upon by the discus, the conch, the club and the lotus, incarnate in bodily form, and the Gandharvas, with Nārada at their head, were piously chanting hymns in his honour, and the gods, Siddhas and Vidyādharas were bowing before him. To whom is not association with the good a cause of exaltation?

Then, after that lord had been honoured by those sons of gods, and praised by Kaśyapa and others, Naravāhanadatta thus praised him with folded hands:

“All hail to thee, venerable one, the wishing-tree of thy worshippers, whose body is encircled with the wish-granting creeper of Lakṣmī, who art the granter of all desires; hail to thee, the divine swan, dwelling in the Mānasa lake of the minds of the good,[4] ever soaring and singing in the highest ether. Hail to thee, who dost transcend all, and dwell within all, who hast a form transcending qualities, and whose shape is the full aggregate of the six kingly measures[5]; Brahmā is the bee on the lotus of thy navel, O Lord, humming with the soft sound of Veda-murmur, though from him spring many verses[6]; thy foot is the earth, the heaven is thy head, the cardinal points are thy ears, the sun and moon are thy eyes; thy belly is the egg of Brahmā, the globe of the world; thou art hymned by the wise as the infinite soul. From thee, the home of brightness, spring all these creatures, O Lord, as the host of sparks from the blazing fire, and when the time of destruction comes they again enter thy essence, as at the end of the day a flock of birds enters the great tree in which they dwell. Thou flashest forth, and createst these lords of the world, who are parts of thee, as the ocean, disturbed with a continual flow, creates the waves. Though the world is thy form, thou art formless; though the world is thy handiwork, thou art free from the bondage of works; though thou art the support of the world, thou art thyself without support. Who is he that knows thy real nature? The gods have obtained various stages of prosperity by being looked upon by thee with a favourable eye; so be propitious, and look upon me, thy suppliant, with an eye melting with love.”

When Naravāhanadatta had in these words praised Viṣṇu, the god looked upon him with a favourable eye, and said to Nārada:

“Go and demand back from Indra in my name those lovely Apsarases of mine, who long ago sprang from the sea of milk, and whom I deposited in his hand, and make them mount the chariot of Indra, and quickly bring them here.”

When Nārada received this command from Hari, he said: “So be it.” And with Mātali he brought the Apsarases from Indra in his chariot, and then bowing he presented the Apsarases to Viṣṇu, and the holy one spake thus to the son of the King of Vatsa:

“Naravāhanadatta, I give these Apsarases to thee, the future emperor of the kings of the Vidyādharas. Thou art a fitting husband for them, and they are fitting wives for thee, for thou hast been created by Śiva as an incarnation of the God of Love.”

When Viṣṇu said that, the son of the King of Vatsa fell at his feet, delighted at having obtained favour, and Viṣṇu thus commanded Mātali:

“Let this Naravāhanadatta, together with the Apsarases, be taken back by thee to his palace, by whatever path he desires.”

When the holy one gave this command, Naravāhanadatta, with the Apsarases and those sons of gods who invited him, mounted the chariot which was driven by Mātali, and went to the island of Nārikela, being envied even by gods. There the successful hero, honoured by those four sons of gods, Rūpasiddhi and his brethren, and accompanied by Indra’s chariot, sported in succession on those four mountains on which they dwelt, Maināka, Vṛṣabha and the others, that vied with heaven, in the company of those Apsarases. And he roamed, full of joy, in the thickets of their pleasure-grounds, the various splendid trees of which were in blossom on account of the arrival of the month of spring.

And those sons of gods said to him:

“See! these clusters on the trees seem to be regarding with the expanded eyes of their open flowers their beloved spring that has arrived. See! the full-blown lotuses shield the lake, as if to prevent their place of birth from being afflicted by the warmth of the sun’s rays. See! the bees, after resorting to a Karṇikāra splendid with blossoms, leave it again, finding it destitute of perfume, as good men leave a rich man of mean character. See! a concert is being held in honour of spring, the king of the seasons, with the songs of the Kinnarīs, the notes of the cuckoos and the humming of bees.”

With such words those sons of gods showed Naravāhanadatta the range of their pleasure-grounds. And the son of the King of Vatsa amused himself also in their cities, beholding the merry-makings of the citizens, who danced without restraint in honour of the spring festival. And he enjoyed with the Apsarases delights fitted for gods. Wherever the virtuous go, their good fortunes precede them.

After remaining there for four days[7] thus occupied, Naravāhanadatta said to those sons of gods, his friends:

“I now wish to go to my own city, being anxious to behold my father[8]; so come you also to that city and bless it with a visit.”

When they heard that, they said:

“We have seen you, the choicest jewel in that town; what more do we require? But when you have obtained the sciences of the Vidyādharas you must not forget us.”

With these words they dismissed him, and Naravāhanadatta said to Mātali, who brought him the splendid chariot of Indra:

“Take me to the city of Kauśāmbī by a course leading past that lovely lake, on the bank of which I left Gomukha and the others.”

Mātali consented, and the prince ascended the chariot with the Apsarases, and reached that lake, and saw Gomukha and the others, and said to them:

“Come quickly by your own way. I will tell you all when I get home.”

Having said this, he went to Kauśāmbī in the chariot of Indra. There he descended from heaven, and dismissed Mātali after honouring him, and entered his own palace accompanied by those Apsarases. And leaving them there, he went and prostrated himself before the feet of his father, who was delighted at his arrival, and also of Vāsavadattā and Padmāvatī, and they welcomed him, and their eyes were never satisfied with gazing on him. And in the meanwhile Gomukha came, riding on the chariot, with the charioteer, and that Brāhman Pralambabāhu. Then, being questioned by his father, Naravāhanadatta related, in the presence of all his ministers, his very wonderful adventures.

And all said:

“God grants to that virtuous man, whom he wishes to favour, association with good friends.”

When all said this, the king was pleased, and ordered a festival for his son on account of the favour which Viṣṇu had showed towards him. And he and his wives saw those Apsarases, his daughters-in-law, obtained by the favour of Viṣṇu, whom Gomukha brought to fall at his feet, Devarūpā, and Devarati, and Devamālā, and the fourth Devapriyā, whose names he inquired by the mouth of their maids.

And the city of Kauśāmbī, making festival, appeared as if scattering red paint with its waving scarlet banners, as much as to say:

“What am I that Apsarases should dwell in me? Blessed am I that the Prince Naravāhanadatta has made me a heavenly city upon earth.”

And Naravāhanadatta, after he had rejoiced the eyes of his father, visited his other wives, who were anxiously awaiting him, and they, who had been emaciated by those four days, as if they were four years, exulted, relating the various woes of their separation. And Gomukha described the valour of Pralambabāhu, while he was protecting the horses during their sojourn in the forest, in killing lions and other noxious beasts. Thus listening to pleasing, unrestrained conversation, and contemplating the beauty of his beloved ones, that was as nectar to his eyes, and making flattering speeches, and drinking wine in the company of his ministers, Naravāhanadatta passed that time there in happiness.

Once on a time, as he was in the apartments of Alaṅkāravatī with his ministers, he heard a loud sound of drums outside. Then he said to his general, Hariśikha:

“What may be the cause of this sudden great noise of drums outside?”

When Hariśikha heard this, he went out, and entering again immediately, said to the prince, the son of the King of Vatsa:

“There is in this town a merchant of the name of Rudra, and he went to the island of Suvarṇadvīpa on a mercantile expedition. As he was returning, the hoard of wealth that he had managed to acquire was lost, being sunk in the sea by his ship foundering. And he himself happened to escape from the sea alive. And today is the sixth day since he arrived in misery at his own house. After he had been living here for some days in distress it happened that he found a great treasure in his garden.

And the King of Vatsa heard of it from his relations, so the merchant came today and represented the matter to the king, saying:

‘I have obtained four crores of gold pieces, with a multitude of valuable jewels, so, if the king commands me, I will hand them over.’

The King of Vatsa thereupon gave this command to the merchant:

‘Who that had any sense,[9] after seeing you in distress, plundered by the sea, would plunder you again, now that you have been supplied with wealth by the mercy of Providence? Go and enjoy at will the wealth obtained from your own ground.’

The merchant fell at the king’s feet full of joy, and it is this very man that is now returning to his house, with his attendants beating drums.”

When Hariśikha said this, Naravāhanadatta praised the justice of his father, and said in astonishment to his ministers:

“If Destiny sometimes takes away wealth, does she not sometimes give it? She sports in a strange way with the raising and depressing of men.”[10]

When Gomukha heard that, he said:

“Such is the course of Destiny! And in proof of this hear the story of Samudraśūra.


71. Story of the Merchant Samudraśūra

In old times there was a splendid city, belonging to the King Harṣavarman, called Harṣapura, the citizens of which were made happy by good government. In this city there was a great merchant named Samudraśūra; he was of good family, just, of resolute courage, a lord of much wealth. He was once compelled by his business to go to Suvarṇadvīpa, and reaching the shore of the sea he embarked on a ship. As he was travelling over the sea, when his journey was very nearly at an end, a terrible cloud arose and a wind that agitated the deep. The wind tossed the ship about with the violence of the waves, and it was struck by a sea monster and split asunder; and then the merchant, girding up his loins, plunged into the sea. And after the brave man had made some way by swimming he found the corpse of a man long dead, driven hither and thither by the wind. And he climbed up on the corpse and, skilfully paddling himself along with his arms, he was carried to Suvarṇadvīpa by a favourable wind. There he got off that corpse on to the sand, and he perceived that it had a cloth tied round its loins, with a knot in it. When he unfastened the cloth from its loins, and examined it, he found inside it a necklace richly studded with jewels. He saw that it was of inestimable value, and he bathed and remained in a state of great felicity, thinking that the wealth he had lost in the sea was but a straw in comparison with it.

Then he went on to a city called Kalaśapura, and with the necklace in his hand entered the enclosure of a great temple. There he sat in the shade, and being exceedingly tired with his exertions in the water, he slowly dropped off to sleep, bewildered by Destiny. And while he was asleep the guards came and saw that necklace in his hand, exposed to view.

They said:

“Here is the necklace stolen from the neck of the Princess Cakrasenā; without doubt this is the thief.”

And so they woke the merchant up and took him to the palace. There the king himself questioned him, and he told him what had taken place.

The king held out the necklace and said to the people present in court:

“This man is speaking falsely; he is a thief; look at this necklace.”

And at that very moment a kite saw it glittering, and quickly swooping down from heaven, carried off the necklace, and disappeared where he could not be traced.[11] Then the king in his anger commanded that the merchant should be put to death, and he, in great grief, invoked the protection of Śiva.

Then a voice was heard from heaven:

“Do not put this man to death; he is a respectable merchant named Samudraśūra, from the city of Harṣapura, that has landed on your territory. The thief who stole the necklace fled, beside himself with fear of the police, and falling into the sea at night, perished. But this merchant here, when his ship foundered, came upon the body of that thief, and climbing up on it he crossed the sea and came here. And then he found the necklace in the knot of the cloth fastened round his loins; he did not take it from your house. So let go, King, this virtuous merchant, who is not a thief; dismiss him with honour.”

Having said this, the voice ceased. When the king heard this he was satisfied, and revoking the capital sentence passed on the merchant, he honoured him with wealth and let him go. And the merchant, having obtained wealth, bought wares, and again crossed the terrible ocean in a ship, in order to return to his own native land.

And after he had crossed the sea he travelled with a caravan, and one day, at evening time, he reached a wood. The caravan encamped in the wood for the night, and while Samudraśūra was awake a powerful host of bandits attacked it. While the bandits were massacring the members of the caravan Samudraśūra left his wares and fled, and climbed up a banyan-tree without being discovered. The host of bandits departed, after they had carried off all the wealth, and the merchant spent that night there, perplexed with fear and distracted with grief. In the morning he cast his eye towards the top of the tree and saw, as fate would have it, what looked like the light of a lamp, trembling among the leaves. And in his astonishment he climbed up the tree and saw a kite’s nest, in which there was a heap of glittering priceless jewelled ornaments. He took them all out of it, and found among the ornaments that necklace, which he had found in Suvarṇadvīpa and the kite had carried off. He obtained from that nest unlimited wealth, and, descending from the tree, he went off delighted, and reached in course of time his own city of Harṣapura. There the merchant Samudraśūra remained, enjoying himself to his heart’s content with his family, free from the desire of any other wealth


[M] (main story line continued)

“So you have that merchant’s whelming in the sea, and that loss of his wealth, and the finding of the necklace, and again the losing of it, and his undeserved degradation to the position of a malefactor, and his immediate obtaining of wealth from the satisfied king, and his return voyage over the sea, and his being stripped of all his wealth by falling in with bandits on the journey, and at last his acquisition of wealth from the top of a tree. So you see, Prince, such is the various working of Destiny, but a virtuous man, though he may have endured sorrow, obtains joy at the last.”

When Naravāhanadatta heard this from Gomukha, he approved it, and, rising up, he performed his daily duties, such as bathing and the like.

And the next day, when he was in the hall of assembly, the heroic Prince Samaratuṅga, who had been his servant ever since he was a boy, came and said:

“Prince, my relation Saṅgrāmavarṣa has ravaged my territory, with the help of his four sons, Vīrajita, and the others. So I will go myself and bring them all five here as prisoners. Let my lord know this.”

After saying this he departed. And the son of the King of Vatsa, knowing that he had but a small force, and that those others had large forces, ordered his own army to follow him. But that proud man refused to receive this accession to his force, and went and conquered those five enemies in fight by the help of his own two arms only, and brought them back prisoners.

Naravāhanadatta honoured and praised his follower when he came back victorious, and said:

“How wonderful! This man has conquered his five enemies, though with their forces they had overrun his territory, and has done the deed of a hero, as a man conquers the senses when they have laid hold upon outward objects, and are powerful, and so accomplishes emancipation, the work of the soul.”[12]

When Gomukha heard that, he said: “If, Prince, you have not heard the tale of King Camarabāla, which is similar, listen, I will tell it.


72. Story of King Camarabāla

There is a city named Hastināpura, and in it there lived a king named Camarabāla, who possessed treasure, a fort and an army. And he had as neighbours to his territory several kings of the same family as himself, the chief of whom was Samarabāla, and they put their heads together and reflected:

“This King Camarabāla defeats us all, one by one; so we will join together and accomplish his overthrow.”

After thus deliberating, those five kings, being anxious to march out against him to conquer him, secretly asked an astrologer when a favourable moment would come. The astrologer, not seeing a favourable moment, and not seeing good omens, said:

“There is no favourable moment for you this year. Under whatever circumstances you set out on your expedition, you will not be victorious. And why are you so eager for the undertaking, beholding his prosperity? Enjoyment is, after all, the fruit[13] of prosperity, and you have enjoyments in abundance. And now hear, if you have not heard it before, the story of the two merchants.


72a. Yaśovarman and the Two Fortunes

There was in old time in this country a city named Kautukapura. In it there lived a king called Bahusuvarṇaka,[14] rightly named. And he had a young Kṣatriya servant named Yaśovarman. To that man the king never gave anything, though he was generous by nature.

Whenever, in his distress, he asked the king, the king said to him, pointing to the sun:

“I wish to give to you, but this holy god will not permit me to give to you. Tell me what I am to do?”

While he remained distressed, watching for an opportunity, the time for an eclipse of the sun arrived. Then Yaśovarman, who had constantly served the king, went and said to him, when he was engaged in giving many valuable presents:

“Give me something, my sovereign, while this sun, who will not permit you to give, is in the grasp of his enemy.”[15]

When the king, who had given many presents, heard that, he laughed, and gave garments, gold and other things to him.

In course of time that wealth was consumed, and he, being afflicted, as the king gave him nothing, and having lost his wife, went to the shrine of the goddess that dwells in the Vindhya hills.[16]

He said:

“What is the use of this profitless body that is dead even while alive? I will abandon it before the shrine of the goddess, or gain the desired boon.”

Resolved on this course, he lay down on a bed of darbha grass in front of the goddess, with his mind intent on her, and fasting he performed a severe penance.

And the goddess said to him in a dream:

“I am pleased with thee, my son; tell me, shall I give thee the good fortune of wealth or the good fortune of enjoyment?”

When Yaśovarman heard this, he answered the goddess:

“I do not precisely know the difference between these two good fortunes.”

Then the goddess said to him:

“Return to thy own country, and there go and examine into the good fortunes of the two merchants, Arthavarman and Bhogavarman, and find out which of the two pleases thee, and then come here and ask a like fortune for thyself.”

When Yaśovarman heard this he woke up, and next morning he broke his fast and went to his own country of Kautukapura.

There he first went to the house of Arthavarman,[17] who had acquired much wealth, in the form of gold, jewels and other precious things, by his business transactions. Seeing that prosperity of his, he approached him with due politeness, and was welcomed by him and invited to dinner. Then he sat by the side of that Arthavarman and ate food appropriate to a guest, with meat-curry and ghee. But Arthavarman ate barley-meal, with half a pala of ghee and a little rice, and a small quantity of meat-curry.

Yaśovarman said to the merchant, out of curiosity:

“Great merchant, why do you eat so little?”

Thereupon the merchant gave him this answer:

“Today out of regard for you I have eaten a little rice, with meat-curry and half a pala of ghee; I have also eaten some barley-meal. But as a general rule I eat only a karsha of ghee and some barley-meal. I have a weak digestion, and cannot digest more in my stomach.”

When Yaśovarman heard that, he turned the matter over in his mind, and formed an unfavourable opinion of that prosperity of Arthavarman’s, as being without fruit. Then, at nightfall, that merchant Arthavarman again brought rice and milk for Yaśovarman to eat. And Yaśovarman again ate of it to his fill, and then Arthavarman drank one palā of milk. And in that same place Yaśovarman and Arthavarman both made their beds and gradually fell asleep.

And at midnight Yaśovarman suddenly saw in his sleep some men of terrible appearance, with clubs in their hands, entering the room.

And they exclaimed angrily:

“Fie! why have you taken today one karṣa more of ghee than the small amount allowed to you, and eaten meat-curry, and drunk a palā of milk?”

Then they dragged Arthavarman by his foot and beat him with clubs. And they extracted from his stomach the karsha of ghee, and the milk, flesh and rice which he had consumed above his allowance. When Yaśovarman had seen that, he woke up and looked about him, and lo! Arthavarman had awakened and was seized with colic. Then Arthavarman, crying out, and having his stomach rubbed by his servants, vomited up all the food he had eaten above the proper allowance.

After the merchant’s colic was allayed Yaśovarman said to himself:

“Away with this good fortune of wealth, which involves enjoyment of such an equivocal kind! This would be altogether neutralised by such misery of ill health.”

In such internal reflections he passed that night.

And in the morning he took leave of Arthavarman and went to the house of that merchant Bhogavarman. There he approached him in due form, and he received him with politeness, and invited him to dine with him on that day. Now he did not perceive any wealth in the possession of that merchant, but he saw that he had a nice house, and dresses, and ornaments. While Yaśovarman was waiting there, the merchant Bhogavarman proceeded to do his own special business. He took merchandise from one man and immediately handed it over to another, and without any capital of his own gained dinars by the transaction. And he quickly sent those dinars by the hand of his servant to his wife, in order that she might procure all kinds of food and drink.

And immediately one of that merchant’s friends, named Icchābharaṇa, rushed in and said to him:

“Our dinner is ready; rise up and come to us, and let us eat, for all our other friends have assembled and are waiting for you.”

He answered:

“I shall not come today, for I have a guest here.”

Thereupon his friend went on to say to him:

“Then let this guest come with you; is he not our friend also? Rise up quickly.”

Bhogavarman, being thus earnestly invited by that friend, went with him, accompanied by Yaśovarman, and ate excellent food. And after drinking wine he returned, and again enjoyed all kinds of viands and wines at his own house in the evening.

And when night came on he asked his servants:

“Have we enough wine left for the latter part of the night or not?”

When they replied, “No, master,” the merchant went to bed, exclaiming:

“How are we to drink water in the latter part of the night?”

Then Yaśovarman, sleeping at his side, saw in a dream two or three men enter, and some others behind them. And those who entered last, having sticks in their hands, exclaimed angrily to those who entered first:

“You rascals! Why did you not provide wine for Bhogavarman to drink in the latter half of the night? Where have you been all this time?”

Then they beat them with strokes of their sticks. The men who were beaten with sticks said:

“Pardon this single fault on our part.”

And then they and the others went out of the room. Then Yaśovarman, having seen that sight, woke up and reflected:

“The good fortune of enjoyment of Bhogavarman, in which blessings arrive unthought of, is preferable to the good fortune of wealth of Arthavarman, which, although attended with opulence, is devoid of enjoyment.”

In these reflections he spent the rest of the night.

And early the next morning Yaśovarman took leave of that excellent merchant, and again repaired to the feet of Durgā, the goddess that dwells in the Vindhya range. And he chose out of those two good fortunes mentioned by the goddess, when she appeared to him on a former occasion,[18] while he was engaged in austerities, the good fortune of enjoyment, and the goddess granted it to him. Then Yaśovarman returned home and lived in happiness, thanks to the good fortune of enjoyment, which, owing to the favour of the goddess, continually presented itself to him unthought of.


72. Story of King Camarabāla

“So a smaller fortune, accompanied with enjoyment, is to be preferred to a great fortune, which, though great, is devoid of enjoyment and therefore useless. So why are you annoyed at the good fortune of King Camarabāla, which is combined with meanness, and do not consider your own fortune, which is rich in the power of giving and in enjoyment? So an attack on him by you is not advisable, and there is no auspicious moment for commencing the expedition, and I do not foresee victory to you.”

Though those five kings were thus warned by the astrologer, they marched in their impatience against King Camarabāla.

And when King Camarabāla heard that they had reached the border, he bathed in the morning, and he worshipped Śiva duly by his auspicious names referring to sixty-eight excellent parts of the body,[19] his names that destroy sin and grant all desires.

And then he heard a voice coming from heaven:

“King, fight without fear; thou shalt conquer thy enemies in battle.”

Then King Camarabāla was delighted, and girded on his armour, and, accompanied by his army, marched out to fight with those foes. In the army of his enemies there were thirty thousand elephants, and three hundred thousand horses, and ten million foot-soldiers. And in his own army there were twenty hundred thousand foot-soldiers, and ten thousand elephants, and a hundred thousand horses. Then a great battle took place between those two armies, and King Camarabāla, preceded by his warder Vīra,[20] who was rightly named, entered that field of battle, as the holy Viṣṇu, in the form of the great boar, entered the great ocean. And though he had but a small army, he so grievously smote that great army of his foes that slain horses, elephants and footmen lay in heaps. And when King Samarabāla came across him in the battle he rushed upon him and smote him with an iron spear, and drawing him towards him with a lasso[21] made him prisoner. And in the same way he smote the second king, Samaraśūra, in the heart with an arrow, and drawing him towards him with a noose made him also prisoner. And his warder, named Vīra, captured the third king, named Samarajita, and brought him to him. And his general, named Devabala, brought and presented to him the fourth king, named Pratāpacandra, wounded with an arrow. Then the fifth king, Pratāpasena, beholding that, fell furiously upon King Camarabāla in the fight. But he repelled his arrows with the multitude of his own, and pierced him with three arrows in the forehead. And when he was bewildered with the blows of the arrows, Camarabāla, like a second Destiny, flung a noose round his neck, and dragging him along made him a captive.

When those five kings had in this way been taken prisoner in succession, as many of their soldiers as had escaped slaughter fled, dispersing themselves in every direction. And King Camarabāla captured an infinite mass of gold and jewels, and many wives belonging to those kings. And among them the head queen of King Pratāpasena, called Yaśolekhā, a lovely woman, fell into his hands.

Then he entered his city and gave turbans of honour to the warder Vīra and the general Devabala, and loaded them with jewels. And the king made Yaśolekhā an inmate of his own harem, on the ground that she, being the wife of Pratāpasena, was captured according to the custom of the Kṣatriyas. And she, though flighty, submitted to him because he had won her by the might of his arm. In those abandoned to the intoxication of love the impressions of virtue are evanescent.[22] And after some days King Camarabāla, being solicited by the Queen Yaśolekhā, let go those five captive kings, Pratāpasena and the others, after they had learnt submission and done homage, and after honouring them, dismissed them to their own kingdoms. And then King Camarabāla long ruled his own wealthy kingdom, in which there were no opponents, and the enemies of which had been conquered, and he sported with that Yaśolekhā, who surpassed in form and loveliness beautiful Apsarases, being, as it were, the banner that announced his victory over his foes.


[M] (main story line continued)

“Thus a brave man, though unsupported, conquers in the front of battle even many enemies coming against him in fight, distracted with hate, and not considering the resources of themselves and their foe, and by his surpassing bravery puts a stop to the fever of their conceit and pride.”

When Naravāhanadatta had heard this instructive tale told by Gomukha, he praised it, and set about his daily duties of bathing and so on. And he spent that night, which was devoted to the amusement of a concert,[23] in singing with his wives in such a ravishing way that Sarasvatī, from her seat in heaven, gave him and his beloved ones high commendation.

Footnotes and references:


This reminds one of the description which Palladius gives of the happy island of Taprobane. St Ambrose in his version speaks of it as governed by four kings or satraps. The fragment begins at the seventh chapter of the third book of the History of the Pseudo-Callisthenes, edited by Carolus Mueller. See Rohde, Der Griechische Roman, p. 239.


There is much uncertainty as to the identification of Śvetadvīpa. Tawney suspects it is an island, the same as the Whiteman’s Land of the Icelandic chronicles. See Baring-Gould, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages (new edition), p. 550 et seq. Weber put it in Alexandria, but the theory is unsupported. Sir George Grierson, in a letter to me on the subject, favours Central Asia, and is inclined to agree with Richard Garbe, who, in his Indien und das Christentum, p. 192 et seq., suggests Lake Balkash as its true identity. Another suggestion made by Kennedy is Lake Issyk-kul, the first account of which was given by Hsüan-tsaṅg, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim. It lies about three hundred miles south of Lake Balkash, both lakes being in the Russo-Turkestan province Semiryechensk. —n.m.p.


I.e. Lakṣmī or Śrī.


Haṃsa means “swan” and also “supreme soul”— i.e. Viṣṇu.


War, peace, marching, encamping, dividing one’s forces, seeking the alliance of a more powerful king.


Or sects. The word used for “bee” means literally “the six-footed.” The whole passage is full of double meanings, charaṇa meaning “foot,” “line”—i.e. the fourth part of a stanza—and also “sect.”


The D. text reads tricaturān instead of ’atra caturo, thus meaning "  for three or four days.” —n.m.p.


Darśana ulsukah should probably be read here for the sake of the metre.


Here there is a pun.


See Vol. II, p. 192n1.—n.m.p.


We have already (Vol. I, p. 118n1) come across an innocent man who by chance becomes possessed of a stolen necklace. The motif is common in folk tales, especially the incident about a kite or some other bird seizing a jewel, or turban containing a jewel or rarity of some kind or other. This is found in the Pañtschatantra (Benfey, i, p. 172) and appears several times in the Nights (see Burton, vol. iii, p. 279, vol. vi, p. 182, and Supp., vol. iii, pp. 344, 363, 589). It also occurs in Hebrew literature (see Gaster, Exempla of the Rabbis, p. 124, with analogues on p. 246). See also Clouston, Popular Tales and Fictions, vol. i, p. 402. —n.m.p.


This passage is an elaborate pun throughout.


I read phalam, which I find in the Sanskrit College MS., instead of param.


I.e. possessor of much gold.


See Vol. II, pp. 81-83.— n.m.p.


I.e. Durgā. For mṛtajātir I read mṛtajānir, which is the reading of the MS. in the Sanskrit College. In the next lineju’ttö should be jīvatā.


Cf. the story of Dhanagupta and Upabhuktadhana, Benfey’s Pañtschatantra, vol. ii, p. 197. It is part of the fifth story, that of Somilaka. See Benfey, vol. i, p. 321, where he traces it to a Buddhist source.


I read tapaḥstha-pūrva-dṛṣṭāyās one word.


Śiva is invoked by a different name for each limb which he is asked to protect. See the quotations in Brand’s Popular Antiquities (Bohn’s edition, vol. i, pp. 365, 366) from Moresini Papatus and Melton’s Astrologaster. Brand remarks: “The Romanists, in imitation of the heathens, have assigned tutelary gods to each member of the body.”


Vīra means “hero.”


The lasso has been used in war and among herdsmen and shepherds from early Egyptian days. A curious form appears in the Nights (Burton, vol. vii, p. 61n2).— n.m.p.


The D. text reads śabalā instead of chapalā. Speyer (op. cit., p. 122) would translate: “... in those who act up to their desires or their delusion the impressions of virtue are impure.”— n.m.p.


The D. text reading is slightly different and means: “. . . as he was fond of music, he spent that night,” etc. See Speyer, op. cit., p. 123.— n.m.p.

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