Kathasaritsagara (the Ocean of Story)

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

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

[M] (main story line continued) THEN the Prince Naravāhanadatta, with his beloved by his side, being much pleased at the tale of Gomukha, but seeing that Marubhūti was quite put out, in order to pay him a compliment, said to him, attempting to conciliate him:

“Marubhūti, why do you not tell a tale also?”

Then he said: “Well, I will tell one,” and with pleased soul began to relate the following story:—


75. Story of the Brāhman Candrasvāmin, his Son Mahīpāla, and his Daughter Candravatī

There once lived in a town called Devakamalapura, belonging to the King Kamalavarman, an excellent Brāhman named Candrasvāmin. And that wise man had a wife like himself, distinguished for modesty, and she was a worthy match for Sarasvatī and Lakṣmī.

And to that Brāhman was born a son with auspicious marks, and when he was born this voice was heard from heaven:

“Candrasvāmin, you must call your son Mahīpāla,[1] because he shall be a king and long protect the earth.”

When Candrasvāmin heard this, he made a feast and called that son Mahīpāla. And in course of time Mahīpāla grew up, and was taught the science of missile and hand-to-hand weapons, and was at the same time instructed in all knowledge. And in the meanwhile his wife Devamati brought forth to Candrasvāmin another child, beautiful in all her limbs. And the brother and sister, Mahīpāla and Candravatī, grew up together in their father’s house.

Then a famine, caused by want of rain, sprang up in that country, the corn having been scorched up by the rays of the sun. And owing to that the king began to play the bandit, leaving the right path and taking wealth from his subjects unlawfully.

Then, as that land was going rapidly to ruin, Candrasvāmin’s wife said to her husband:

“Come to my father’s house, let us leave this city, for our children will perish here some day or other.”

When Candrasvāmin heard this, he said to his wife:

“By no means; for flight from one’s own country in time of famine is a great sin. So I will take these children and deposit them in your father’s house, and do you remain here; I will return soon.”

She agreed, and then Candrasvāmin left her in his house, and taking those two children, the boy Mahīpāla and the girl Candravatī, set out from that city for his father-in-law’s house. And in course of time, as he roamed on, he reached a great wilderness, with sands heated by the rays of the sun, and with but a few parched-up trees in it. And there he left his two children, who were exhausted with thirst, and went to a great distance to look for water for them.

Then there met him a chief of the Śavaras, named Siṃhadaṃṣṭra, with his followers, going somewhere or other for his own ends. The Bhilla saw him and questioned him, and finding out that he was in search of water, said to his followers, “Take him to some water,” at the same time making a sign to them. When they heard it, two or three of the Śavara king’s followers, perceiving his intention, took the innocent Candrasvāmin to the village and fettered him.

And he, learning from them that he was fettered in order to be offered as a victim, lamented for his two children that he had left in the wilderness.

“Ah, Mahīpāla! Ah, dear Candravatī! Why did I foolishly abandon you in the wilderness and make you the prey of lions and tigers? And I have brought myself also into a position where I am sure to be slain by bandits, and there is no escape for me.”

While he was thus lamenting in his terror he saw, to his delight, the sun. And exclaiming,

“Ah! I will fling aside bewilderment and fly for refuge to my own lord,”

the Brāhman began to praise the sun in the following verses:

“Hail to thee, O Lord! the brightness residing in the near and in the remote ether, that dispersest the internal and external darkness. Thou art Viṣṇu, pervading the three worlds; thou art Śiva, the treasure-house of blessings; thou art the supreme lord of creatures, calling into activity the sleeping universe. Thou deposest thy brightness in fire and in the moon, out of pity, as it were, saying: ‘Let these two dull things shine,’ and so thou dispellest the night. When thou risest the Rākṣasas disperse, the Dasyus have no power, and the virtuous rejoice.[2] So, thou matchless illuminator of the three worlds, deliver me, who take refuge with thee. Disperse this darkness of my grief, have mercy upon me.”

When the Brāhman had devoutly praised the sun with these and other similar hymns, a voice was heard from heaven:

“Candrasvāmin, I am pleased with thee, thou shalt not be put to death, and by my favour thou shalt be reunited with thy wife and children.”

When the divine voice had said this to Candrasvāmin, he recovered his spirits, and remained in a state of tranquillity, being supplied with bathing requisites and food by the Śavaras.

And in the meanwhile the boy Mahīpāla, left in the wilderness with his sister, as his father did not return, remained lamenting bitterly, supposing that some calamity had befallen him. And in this state he was beheld by a great merchant, of the name of Sārthadhara, who came that way, and the merchant asked him what had happened to him. And feeling compassion, he consoled the boy, and observing that he had auspicious marks, he took him and his sister to his own country. There that Mahīpāla lived in the house of that merchant, who looked upon him with all the affection of a father for his son; and though a boy, he was occupied in the rites of the sacred fire.

But one day the minister of the King Tārāvarman, who lived in the city of Tārāpura, the excellent Brāhman Anantasvāmin, came that way on business, with his elephants, horses and foot-soldiers, and entered the house of that merchant, being a friend of his. After he had rested, he saw the handsome boy Mahīpāla, engaged in muttering prayers and in sacrificing to the fire, and asked his story; then the Brāhman minister, finding that the boy was of his own caste, as he had no children, begged the boy and his sister from the merchant. Then the merchant, who was a Vaiśya, gave him the children, and Anantasvāmin went with them to Tārāpura. There Mahīpāla remained in the house of that minister, which abounded in wealth on account of its master’s knowledge, and was treated by him as a son.

And in the meanwhile Siṃhadaṃṣṭra, the King of the Bhillas, came to Candrasvāmin, who was in captivity in that village, and said to him:

“Brāhman, I have been ordered in a dream by the sun-god not to slay you, but to set you free, after doing you honour. So rise up and go where you please.”

After saying this he let him go, giving him pearls and musk, and supplying him with an escort through the forest.

And Candrasvāmin, being thus set at liberty, not finding his son and his younger sister in the wood, wandered in search of them; and as he wandered he found a city named Jalapura on the shore of the sea, and entered as a guest the house of a certain Brāhman.

There, after he had taken refreshment and then told his story, the Brāhman, the master of the house, said to him:

“A merchant named Kanakavarman came here some days ago; he found in the forest a Brāhman boy with his sister, and he has gone off with those two very handsome children to the great island of Nārikela, but he did not tell his name.”

When Candrasvāmin heard that, he made up his mind that those children were his, and he determined to go to that beautiful island.

And after he had spent the night, and looked about him, he made acquaintance with a merchant named Viṣṇuvarman, who was about to go to the isle of Nārikela. And with him he embarked in a ship, and went across the sea to the island, out of love for his children.

When he began to inquire there, the merchants who lived there said to him:

“It is true that a merchant named Kanakavarman did come here with two beautiful Brāhman children whom he found in a wood. But he has now gone with them to the island of Kaṭāha.”

When the Brāhman heard that, he went in a ship with the merchant Dānavarman to this island of Kaṭāha. There he heard that the merchant Kanakavarman had gone from that island to an island named Karpūra. In the same way he visited in turn the islands of Karpūra, Suvarṇa and Siṃhala with merchants, but he did not find the merchant whom he was in search of.[3] But from the people of Siṃhala he heard that that merchant Kanakavarman had gone to his own city, named Citrakūṭa.

Then Candrasvāmin went with a merchant named Koṭīśvara to Citrakūṭa. crossing the sea in his ship. And in that city he found the merchant Kanakavarman, and longing tor his children, he told him the whole story. Then Kanakavarman, when he saw the cause of his grief, showed him the children, whom he had found in the forest and brought away. But when Candrasvāmin looked at those two children he saw that they were not his, but some other children.

Then he, being afflicted with tears anti grief, lamented in desperate mood:

“Alas! though I have wandered so far I have not found my son or my daughter. Malignant Providence, like a wicked master, has held out hopes to me, but has not fulfilled them, and has made me wander far and wide on a false surmise.”

While he was indulging in such lamentations he was at last, though with difficulty, consoled by Kanakavarman, anti exclaimed in his grief:

“If I do not find those children in a year, by wandering over the earth, I will abandon the body by austerities on the bank of the River Ganges.”

When he said this, a certain seer there said to him:

“Go, you will recover your children by the favour of Nārāyaṇī.”

When he heard that, he was delighted, remembering the compassion shown him by the sun, and he departed from that city, honoured by the merchants.

Then, searching the lands which were royal grants to Brāhmans, and the villages and the towns, he reached one evening a wood with many tall trees in it. There he made a meal on fruits and water, and climbed up into a tree to spend the night there, dreading the lions, and tigers, and other noisome beasts. And being sleepless, he saw in the night at the foot of the tree a great body of divine Mothers assembled, with Nārāyaṇī at their head,[4] waiting for the arrival of the god Bhairava,[5] having brought with them all kinds of presents suited to their resources. And thereupon the Mothers asked Nārāyaṇī why the god delayed, but she laughed and gave no reason. And being persistently questioned by them, she thus answered them:


75a. Prabhākara and Vidyādharī

Although this story makes me feel shame, still, friends, I will tell it. There is here, in the city of Surapura, a king named Surasena. He has a daughter renowned for beauty, named Vidyādharī.

When it was time for her to be given in marriage, the king heard that a son of King Vimala, named Prabhākara, was equal to her in beauty. While the king was willing to give her to Prabhākara, Vimala also learned that Surasena’s daughter was worthy of his son. Thereupon Vimala, by the mouth of an envoy, asked Surasena to bestow his daughter Vidyādharī upon his son. Surasena, for his part, his desires being attained, gave with due ceremony his daugther to Prabhākara.

Then, on reaching her father-in-law’s city, named Vimalapura, Vidyādharī at night went with her husband to their couch. There her husband' Prabhākara fell asleep without embracing her as she desired, and when she observed him she saw him to be a eunuch.

“Alas! I am undone! How have I come by a eunuch as my lord?”

Grieved in her mind by such thoughts, the princess passed the night. She then wrote a letter to her father, saying,

“How is it that you have, without making inquiry, given me to a eunuch?”

and dispatched it to him. On reading the letter her father became angry with Vimala, thinking that he had deceived him by a trick.

So King Surasena in the pride of his power sent to King Vimala a message by a letter, saying:

“As you have induced me by fraud to give my daughter to your son, who is a eunuch, suffer the result thereof. Behold, I will come and slay you.”

Vimala with his ministers, understanding the purport of the letter, took counsel together, but could discover no way of meeting him, as he was invincible.

Then a minister named Piṅgadatta said to Vimala:

“There is one plan only in this case; carry it out, your Majesty, and all will be well. There is a Yakṣa named Sthūlaśiras, and I know a charm to propitiate him, by which he bestows the boon that one desires. By means of this charm acquired by me, propitiate now the Yakṣa and ask him for genitals for your son: the strife will calm down at once.”

Thus addressed by the minister, the king took from him the charm, propitiated the Yakṣa, and asked him for genitals for his son. The Yakṣa then giving them, his son Prabhākara became a man, but the Yakṣa became a eunuch.

Vidyādharī, seeing Prabhākara to be a man, enjoyed the delights of love with her husband, and reflected:

“I was misled by the fault of pride: my husband is not a eunuch, he is a perfect man; there can be no other opinion about it.”

Having made this observation, she wrote again to her father to this effect, and thereby he became calmed.

On learning of this event the god Bhairava, being angry now, caused the Guhyaka Sthūlaśiras to be brought to him, and cursed him, saying:

“As you have become a eunuch by giving up your genitals, so remain a eunuch throughout your life, and let Prabhākara be a man.”

Thus the Guhyaka, become a eunuch, is now suffering grief, and Prabhākara has become a man, so as to enjoy pleasure. And on account of that business some delay has taken place about his arrival, but know that he will be here soon.


75. Story of the Brāhman Candrasvāmin, his Son Mahīpāla, and his Daughter Candravatī

While Nārāyaṇī was saying this to the Mothers there came there Bhairava, the lord of the company of Mothers. And he, having been honoured with gifts by all the Mothers, spent some time in dancing, and sported with the witches.[6]

And while Candrasvāmin was surveying that from the summit of a tree he saw a slave belonging to Nārāyaṇī, and she saw him. And, as chance would have it, they fell in love with one another, and the goddess Nārāyaṇī perceived their feelings. And when Bhairava had departed, accompanied by the witches, she, lingering behind, summoned Candrasvāmin, who was on the tree.

And when he came down she said to him and her slave:

“Are you in love with one another?”

And they confessed the truth, and said they were, and thereupon she dismissed her anger and said to Candrasvāmin:

“I am pleased with thee for confessing the truth, so I will not curse thee, but I will give thee this slave. Live in happiness.”

When the Brāhman heard this, he said:

“Goddess, though my mind is fickle, I hold it in check; I do not touch a strange woman. For this is the nature of the mind, but bodily sin should be avoided.”

When that firm-souled Brāhman said this, the goddess said to him:

“I am pleased with thee, and I give thee this boon: thou shalt quickly find thy children. And receive from me this unfading lotus that destroys poison.”[7]

When the goddess had said this, she gave the Brāhman Candrasvāmin a lotus and disappeared from his eyes.

And he, having received the lotus, set out, at the end of the night, and roaming along reached the city of Tārāpura, where his son Mahīpāla and his daughter were living in the house of that Brāhman minister Anantasvāmin. There he went and recited at the door of that minister, in order to obtain food, having heard that he was hospitable. And the minister, having been informed by the doorkeepers, had him introduced by them, and when he saw that he was learned, invited him to dinner. And when he was invited, having heard that there was a lake there, named Anantahrada, that washed away sin, he went to bathe there. While he was returning after bathing, the Brāhman heard all round him in the city a cry of grief.

And when he asked the cause the people said:

“There is in this city a Brāhman boy, of the name of Mahīpāla, who was found in the forest by the merchant Sārthadhara. The minister Anantasvāmin, observing that he had auspicious marks, with some difficulty begged him and his sister from the merchant, and brought them both here. And being without a son, he has adopted the boy, whose excellent qualities have endeared him to King Tārāvarman and his people. To-day he has been bitten by a poisonous snake; hence the cry of grief in the city.”

When Candrasvāmin heard that, he said to himself: “This must be my son.” And reflecting thus, he went to the house of that minister as fast as he could. There he saw his son surrounded by all, and recognised him, and rejoiced, having in his hand the lotus that was an antidote to snake-poison. And he put that lotus to the nose of that Mahīpāla, and the moment he smelt it he was free from the effects of poison. And Mahīpāla rose up, and was as one who had just awoke from sleep,[8] and all the people in the city and the king rejoiced. And Candrasvāmin was honoured with wealth by Anantasvāmin, the king and the citizens, who said: “This is some incarnation of the divinity.” And he remained in the house of the minister in great comfort, honoured by him, and he saw his son Mahīpāla and his daughter Candravatī. And the three, though they mutually recognised one another, said nothing; for the wise have regard to what is excellent, and do not discover themselves out of season.

Then the King Tārāvarman, being highly pleased with the virtues of Mahīpāla, gave him his daughter Bandhumatī. Then that king, after giving him the half of the kingdom, being pleased with him, laid the whole burden of the kingdom upon him, as he had no other son. And Mahīpāla, after he had obtained the kingdom, acknowledged his father, and gave him a position next to his, and so lived in happiness.

One day his father Candrasvāmin said to him:

“Come, let us go to our own country to bring your mother. For if she hears that you are the occupant of a throne, having been long afflicted, she might think, ‘How comes it that my son has forgotten me?’ and might curse you in her anger. But one who is cursed by his father and mother does not long enjoy prosperity. In proof of this hear this tale of what happened long ago to the merchant’s son.


75b. Cakra and the Iron Wheel [9]

In the city of Dhavala there was a merchant’s son named Cakra. He went on a trading voyage to Svarṇadvīpa against the will of his parents. There he gained great wealth in five years, and in order to return embarked on the sea in a ship laden with jewels. And when his voyage was very nearly at an end the sea rose up against him, troubled with a great wind, and with clouds and rain. And the huge billows broke his vessel, as if angry because he had come against the wish of his parents. Some of the passengers were whelmed in the waves; others were eaten by sea-monsters. But Cakra, as his allotted term of life had not run out, was carried to the shore and flung up there by the waves. While he was lying there in a state of exhaustion he saw, as if in a dream, a man of black and terrible appearance come to him, with a noose in his hand. Cakra was caught in the noose by that man, who took him up and dragged him a long distance to a court presided over by a man on a throne. By the order of the occupant of the throne the merchant’s son was carried off by that noose-bearer and flung into a cell of iron.

In that cell Cakra saw a man being tortured by means of an iron wheel[10] on his head, that revolved incessantly. And Cakra asked him:

“Who are you, by what crime did you incur this, and how do you manage to continue alive?”

And the man answered:

“I am a merchant’s son named Khaḍga, and because I did not obey the commands of my parents they were angry, and in wrath laid this curse upon me[11]:

‘Because, wicked son, you torture us like a hot wheel placed on the head, therefore such shall be your punishment.’

When they had said this they ceased, and as I wept they said to me:

‘Weep not, your punishment shall only last for one month.’

When I heard that, I spent the day in grief, and at night when I was in bed I saw, as if in a dream, a terrible man come. He took me off and thrust me by force into this iron cell, and he placed on my head this burning and ever-revolving wheel. This was my parents’ curse, hence I do not die. And the month is at an end to-day; still I am not set free.”

When Khaḍga said that, Cakra in pity answered him:

“I too did not obey my parents, for I went abroad to get wealth against their will, and they pronounced against me the curse that my wealth, when acquired, should perish. So I lost in the sea my whole wealth, that I had acquired in a foreign island. My case is the same as yours. So what is the use of my life? Place this wheel on my head. Let your curse, Khaḍga, depart.”

When Cakra said this, a voice was heard in the air:

“Khaḍga, thou art released, so place this wheel on the head of Cakra.”

When Khaḍga heard this, he placed the wheel on the head of Cakra, and was conveyed by some invisible being to his parents’ house.

There he remained without disobeying again the orders of his parents; but Cakra put that wheel upon his head and then spake thus:

“May other sinners also on the earth be released from the result of their sins; until all sins are cancelled, may this wheel revolve on my head.”

When the resolute Cakra said this, the gods in heaven, being pleased, rained flowers, and thus addressed him:

“Bravo! Bravo! Man of noble spirit, this compassion has cancelled thy sin. Go; thou shalt possess inexhaustible wealth.”

When the gods said this, that iron wheel fell from the head of Cakra and disappeared somewhere. Then a Vidyādhara youth descended from heaven and gave him a valuable treasure of jewels, sent by Indra, pleased with his self-abnegation, and taking Cakra in his arms, carried him to his city named Dhavala, and departed as he had come. Then Cakra delighted his relations by his arrival at the house of his parents, and, after telling his adventures, remained there without falling away from virtue.


75. Story of the Brāhman Candrasvāmin, his Son Mahīpāla, and his Daughter Candravatī

When Candrasvāmin had told this story he said again to Mahīpāla:

“Such evil fruits does opposition to one’s parents’ produce, my son, but devotion to them is a wishing-cow of plenty. In illustration of this hear the following tale:—


75c. The Hermit and the Faithful Wife

There was in old time a hermit of great austerity, who roamed in the forest. And one day a hen-crow, as he was sitting under the shade of a tree, dropped dirt upon him, so he looked at the crow with angry eyes. And the crow, as soon as he looked at it, was reduced to ashes; and so the hermit conceived a vainglorious confidence in the might of his austerities.

Once on a time, in a certain city, the hermit entered the house of a Brāhman and asked his wife for alms. And that wife, who was devoted to her husband, answered him:

“Wait a little, I am attending upon my husband.”

Then he looked at her with an angry look, and she laughed at him and said:

“Remember,[12] I am not a crow.”

When the hermit heard that, he sat down in a state of astonishment, and remained wondering how she could possibly have come to know of the fate of the crow. Then, after she had attended upon her husband in the oblation to the fire and in other rites, the virtuous woman brought alms and approached that hermit.

Then the hermit joined his hands in the attitude of supplication and said to that virtuous woman:

“How did you come to know of my adventure with the crow in the forest? Tell me first, and then I will receive your alms.”

When the hermit said this, that wife, who adored her husband, said:

“I know of no virtue other than devotion to my husband; accordingly by his favour I have such power of discernment. But go and visit a man here who lives by selling flesh, whose name is Dharmavyādha; from him thou shalt learn the secret of blessedness free from the consciousness of self.”

The hermit, thus addressed by the all-knowing faithful wife, took the portion of a guest and, after bowing before her, departed.

The next day he went in search of that Dharmavyādha[13], and approached him as he was selling flesh in his shop.

And as soon as Dharmavyādha saw the hermit, he said:

“Have you been sent here, Brāhman, by that faithful wife?”

When the hermit heard that, he said to Dharmavyādha in his astonishment:

“How come you to have such knowledge, being a seller of flesh?”

When the hermit said this, Dharmavyādha answered him:

“I am devoted to my father and mother; that is my only object in life. I bathe after I have provided them with the requisites for bathing; I eat after I have fed them; I lie down after I have seen them to bed; thus it comes to pass that I have such knowledge. And being engaged in the duties of my profession, I sell only for my subsistence the flesh of deer and other animals slain by others, not from desire of wealth. And I and that faithful wife do not indulge self-consciousness, the impediment of knowledge, so the knowledge of both of us is free from hindrance. Therefore do you, observing the vow of a hermit, perform your own duties, without giving way to self-consciousness, with a view to acquiring purity, in order that you may quickly attain the supreme brightness.”

When he had been thus instructed by Dharmavyādha, he went to his house and observed his practice, and afterwards he returned satisfied to the forest. And by his advice he became perfected, and the faithful wife and Dharmavyādha also attained perfection by such performance of their duties.


75. Story of the Brāhman Candrasvāmin, his Son Mahīpāla, and his Daughter Candravatī

“Such is the power of those who are devoted to husband or father and mother. So come, visit that mother who longs for a sight of you.”

When thus addressed by his father Candrasvāmin, Mahīpāla promised to go to his native land to please his is mother. And he disclosed that of his own accord to Anantasvāmin, his spiritual father, and when he took upon him the burden of his kingdom the king set out with his natural father by night. And at last he reached his own country, and refreshed his mother Devamati with a sight of him. as the spring refreshes the female cuckoo. And Mahīpāla stayed there some time with his mother, being welcomed by his relations, together with his father, who related their adventures.

In the meanwhile in Tārāpura the princess, his wife Bandhumatī. who was sleeping within the house, woke up the the close of night. And discovering that her husband had gone somewhere, she was distressed at her lonely state, and could not find solace in the palace, the garden or any other place. But she remained weeping, shedding tears that seemed to double her necklace, intent on lamentation only, desiring relief by death.

But the minister Anantasvāmin came and comforted her with hope-inspiring words, saying:

“Before your husband went he said to me: ‘I am going away on some business and I will quickly return.’ So do not weep, my daughter.”

Then she recovered her self-control, though with difficulty. Then she remained continually honouring with gifts excellent Brahmans, that came from a foreign country, in order to obtain news of her husband. And she asked a poor Brāhman. named Saṅgamadatta, who came for a gift, for tidings of her husband, having told him his name and the signs by which to recognise him.

Then the Brāhman said:

“I have never beheld a man of that kind: but, Queen, you must not give way to excessive anxiety on this account. Doers of righteous actions eventually obtain reunion with loved ones, and in proof of that I will tell you a wonder which I saw. Listen.


75d. The Treacherous Pāśupata Ascetic and King Tribhuvana

As I was wandering round all the holy places I came to the Mānasa lake on the Himālayas, and in it I saw, as in a mirror,[14] a house composed of jewels, and from that building there came out suddenly a man with a sword in his hand, and he ascended the bank of the lake, accompanied by a troop of celestial females. There he amused himself with the females in a garden in the recreation of drinking, and I was looking on from a distance unobserved, full of interest in the spectacle. In the meanwhile a man of prepossessing appearance came there from somewhere or other. And when he met me I told him what I had seen.

And with much interest I pointed out to him that man from a distance, and when he beheld him he told me his own story in the following words:—

“I am a king named Tribhuvana, in the city of Tribhuvana. There a certain Pāśupata ascetic for a long time paid me court. And being asked the reason by me, he at once asked me to be his ally in obtaining a sword concealed in a cavern, and I agreed to that. Then the Pāśupata ascetic went with me at night, and having, by means of a burnt -offering and other rites, discovered an opening in the earth, the ascetic said to me:

‘Hero! enter thou first, and after thou hast obtained the sword, come out, and cause me also to enter; make a compact with me to do this.’

When he said this, I made that compact with him, and quickly entered the opening, and found a palace of jewels.[15] And the chief of the Asura maidens who dwelt there came out from the palace, and out of love led me in, and there gave me a sword. She said:

‘Keep this sword, which confers the power of flying in the air, and bestows all magical faculties.’

Then I remained there with her. But I remembered my compact, and going out with the sword in my hand I introduced that ascetic into the palace of the Asuras by that opening.

“There I dwelt with the first Asura lady, who was surrounded by her attendants, and he dwelt with the second. One day when I was stupefied with drinking the ascetic treacherously took away from my side the sword and grasped it in his own hand. When he had it in his grasp he possessed great power, and with his hand he seized me and flung me out of the cavern. Then I searched for him for twelve years at the mouths of caverns, hoping that some time I might find him outside. And this very day the scoundrel has presented himself to my eyes, sporting with that very Asura lady who belongs to me.”

While the King Tribhuvana was relating this to me, O Queen, that ascetic, stupefied with drink, went to sleep. And while he was asleep the king went and took the sword from his side, and by its operation he recovered celestial might. Then the hero woke up that ascetic with a kick, and reproached the unfortunate man, but did not kill him. And then he entered the palace with the Asura lady and her attendants, recovered again like his own magic power. But the ascetic was much grieved at having lost his magic power. For the ungrateful, though long successful, are sure to fail at last.


75. Story of the Brāhman Candrasvāmin, his Son Mahīpāla, and his Daughter Candravatī

“Having seen this with my own eyes, I have now arrived here in the course of my wanderings; so be assured, Queen, that you shall eventually be reunited to your beloved, like Tribhuvana, for the righteous do not sink.”

When Bandhumatī heard that from the Brāhman she was highly delighted, and made him successful by giving him much wealth.

And the next day a distinguished Brāhman came there from a distant land, and Bandhumatī eagerly asked him for tidings of her husband, telling his name and the tokens by which he might be recognised.

Then that Brāhman said to her:

“Queen, I have not seen your husband anywhere, but I, who have to-day come to your house, am named, not without reason, the Brāhman Sumanas,[16] so you will quickly have your wishes satisfied; thus my heart tells me. And reunions do take place, even of the long separated. In proof of this I will tell you the following tale. Listen, Queen.


75e. Nala and Damayantī [17]

Of old time there lived a king named Nala, whose beauty, I fancy, so surpassed that of the God of Love that in disgust he offered his body as a burnt-offering in the fire of the eye of the enraged Śiva. He had no wife, and when he made inquiries he heard that Damayantī, the daughter of Bhīma, the King of Vidarbha, would make him a suitable wife. And Bhīma, searching through the world, found that there was no king except Nala fit to marry his daughter.

In the meanwhile Damayantī went down into a tank in her own city, to amuse herself in the water. There the girl saw a swan that had fed on blue and white lotuses, and by a trick she threw over it her robe and made it a prisoner in sport. But the celestial swan, when captured, said to her in accents that she could understand: “Princess, I will do you a good turn; let me go. There is a king of the name of Nala, whom even the nymphs of heaven bear on their hearts, like a necklace strung with threads of merit.[18] You are a wife fitted for him and he is a husband suited for you, so I will be an ambassador of Love to bring like to like.”

When she heard that, she thought that the celestial swan was a polished speaker, and so she let him go, saying: “So be it.” And she said: “I will not choose any husband but Nala,” having her mind captivated by that prince, who had entered by the channel of her ear.

And the swan departed thence and quickly repaired to a tank resorted to by Nala, when bent on sporting in the water. And Nala, seeing that the swan was beautiful, took it captive out of curiosity by throwing his robe over it in sport.

Then the swan said:

“Set me free, O King, for I have come to benefit you. Listen, I will tell you. There is in Vidarbha one Damayantī, the daughter of King Bhīma, the Tilottamā[19] of the earth, to be desired even by the gods. And she has chosen you as her future husband, having fallen in love with you on account of my description of your virtues; and I have come here to tell you.”

Nala was at the same time pierced with the words of that excellent swan, that were brightened by the splendid object they had in view,[20] and with the sharp arrows of the god of the flowery shafts.

And he said to that swan:

“I am fortunate, best of birds, in that I have been selected by her, as if by the incarnate fulfilment of my wishes.”

When the swan had been thus addressed by him, and let go, it went and related the whole occurrence to Damayantī, as it took place, and then went whither it would.

Now Damayantī was longing for Nala; so, by way of a device to obtain him, she sent her mother to ask her father to appoint for her the ceremony of the svayaṃvara.

And her father Bhīma consented, and sent messengers to all the kings on the earth, to invite them to the svayaṃvara. And all the kings, when they had received the summons, set out for Vidarbha, and Nala went also eagerly, mounted on his chariot.

And in the meanwhile Indra and the other Lokapālas heard from the hermit Nārada of the svayaṃvara of Damayantī, and of her love for Nala. And of them Indra, the Wind, the God of Fire, Yama and Varuṇa, longing for Damayantī, deliberated together, and went to Nala; and they found Nala setting off on the journey, and when he prostrated himself before them they said to him:

“Go, Nala, and tell Damayantī this from us:

‘Choose one of us five. What is the use of choosing Nala, who is a mortal? Mortals are subject to death, but gods are undying.’

And by our favour thou shalt enter where she is, unperceived by the others.”

Nala said, “So be it,” and consented to do the errand of the gods. And he entered the apartments of Damayantī without being seen, and delivered that command of the gods, exactly as it was given.

But when the virtuous woman heard that, she said:

“Suppose the gods are such, nevertheless Nala shall be my husband. I have no need of gods.”

When Nala had heard her utter this noble sentiment, and had revealed himself, he went and told it, exactly as it was said, to Indra and the others; and they, pleased with him, gave him a boon, saying:

“We are thy servants from this time forth, and will repair to thee as soon as thought of, truthful man.”

Then Nala went delighted to Vidarbha, and Indra and the other gods assumed the form of Nala, with intent to deceive Damayantī. And they went to the Court of Bhīma, assuming the attributes of mortals, and when the svayaṃvara began they sat near Nala. Then Damayantī came, and leaving the kings, who were being proclaimed one by one by her brother, gradually reached Nala.

And when she saw six Nalas,[21] all possessing shadows and the power of winking,[22] she thought in her perplexity, while her brother stood amazed:

“Surely these five guardians of the world have produced this illusion to deceive me, but I think that Nala is the sixth here, and so I cannot go in any other direction.”

When the virtuous one had thus reflected, she stood facing the sun, with mind fixed on Nala alone, and spoke thus:

“O guardians of the world, if even in sleep I have never fixed my heart on any but Nala, on account of that loyal conduct of mine, show me your real forms. And to a maiden any other men than her lover previously chosen are strangers, and she is to them the wife of another, so how comes this delusion upon you?”[23]

When the five, with Indra at their head, heard that, they assumed their own forms, and the sixth, the true Nala, preserved his true form. The princess in her delight cast upon the king her eye, beautiful as a blown blue lotus, and the garland of election. And a rain of flowers fell from heaven. Then King Bhīma performed the marriage ceremony of her and Nala. And the kings and the gods, Indra and the others, returned by the way that they came, after due honour had been done to them by the King of Vidarbha.

But Indra and his companions saw on the way Kali and Dvāpara, [see note on Kali and Dvāpara] and knowing that they had come for Damayantī, they said to them:

“It is of no use your going to Vidarbha; we come thence; and the svayaṃvara has taken place. Damayantī has chosen King Nala.”

When the wicked Kali and Dvāpara heard that, they exclaimed in wrath:

“Since she has chosen that mortal in preference to gods like thyself, we will certainly separate that couple.” After making this vow they turned round and departed thence.

And Nala remained seven days in the house of his father-in-law and then departed, a successful man, for Niṣāda, with his wife Damayantī. There their love was greater than that of Śiva and Pārvatī. Pārvatī truly is half of Śiva, but Damayantī was Nala’s self. And in due time Damayantī brought forth to Nala a son named Indrasena, and after that a daughter named Indrasenā.

And in the meanwhile Kali, who was resolved on effecting what he had promised, was seeking an occasion against Nala, who lived according to the Śāstras. Then, one day, Nala lost his senses from drunkenness, and went to sleep without saying the evening prayer and without washing his feet. After Kali had obtained this opportunity, for which he had been watching day and night, he entered into the body of Nala. When Kali had entered his body King Nala abandoned righteous practices and acted as he pleased. The king played dice, he loved female slaves, he spoke untruths, he slept in the day, he kept awake at night, he became angry without cause, he took wealth unjustly, he despised the good and he honoured the bad.

Moreover, Dvāpara entered into his brother Puṣkara, having obtained an opportunity, and made him depart from the true path. And one day Nala saw, in the house of his younger brother Puṣkara, a fine white bull, named Dānta. And Puṣkara would not give the bull to his elder brother, though he wanted it and asked for it, because his respect for him had been taken away by Dvāpara.

And he said to him:

“If you desire this bull, then win it from me at once at play.”

When Nala heard that challenge, in his infatuation he accepted it, and then those two brothers began to play against each other. Puṣkara staked the bull, Nala staked elephants and other things; and Puṣkara continually won; Nala as continually lost. In two or three days Nala had lost his army and his treasure, but he still refused to desist from gambling, though entreated to desist, for he was distracted by Kali. Damayantī, thinking that the kingdom was lost, put her children in a splendid chariot and sent them to the house of her father.

In the meanwhile Nala lost his whole kingdom; then the hypocritical Puṣkara said:

“Since you have lost everything else, now stake Damayantī on the game against that bull of mine.”

This windy speech of Puṣkara’s, like a strong blast, made Nala blaze like fire; but he did not say anything unbecoming, nor did he stake his wife.

Then Puṣkara said to him:

“If you will not stake your wife, then leave this country of mine with her.”

When Nala heard this, he left that country with Damayantī, and the king’s officers saw him as far as the frontier. Alas! When Kali reduced Nala to such a state, say, what will be the lot of other mortals, who are like worms compared with him? Curse on this gambling, the livelihood of Kali and Dvāpara, without law, without natural affection, such a cause of misfortunes even to royal sages!

So Nala, having been deprived of his sovereignty by his brother, started to go to another land with Damayantī, and as he was journeying along, he reached the centre of a forest, exhausted with hunger. There, as he was resting with his wife, whose soft feet were pierced with darbha grass, on the bank of a river, he saw two swans arrive. And he threw his upper garment over them, to capture them for food, and those two swans flew away with it. And Nala heard a voice from heaven:

“These are those two dice in the form of swans; they have descended and flown off with your garment also.”

Then the king sat down despondent, with only one garment on, and providently showed to Damayantī the way to her father’s house, saying:

“This is the way to Vidarbha, my beloved, to your father’s house; this is the way to the country of the Aṅgas, and this is the way to Kośala.”

When Damayantī heard this, she was terrified, thinking to herself:

“Why does my husband tell me the way, as if he meant to abandon me?”

Then the couple fed on roots and fruits, and when night came on lay down, both of them wearied, in the wood on a bed of kuśa grass. And Damayantī, worn out with the journey, gradually dropped off to sleep, but Nala, desiring to depart, kept awake, deluded by Kali. So he rose up with one garment, deserting that Damayantī, and departed thence, after cutting off half her upper garment and putting it on.[24]

But Damayantī woke up at the end of the night, and when she did not see in the forest her husband, who had deserted her and gone, she thought for some time, and then lamented as follows:

“Alas, my husband, great of heart, merciful even to your enemy! You that used to love me so well, what has made you cruel to me? And how will you be able to go alone on foot through the forests, and who will attend on you to remove your weariness? How will the dust defile on the journey your feet, that used to be stained with the pollen of the flowers in the garlands worn on the heads of kings? How will your body, that could not endure to be anointed with the powder of yellow sandal-wood, endure the heat of the sun in the middle of the day? What do I care for my young son? What for my daughter? What for myself? May the gods, if I am chaste, procure good fortune for you alone!”

Thus Damayantī lamented in her loneliness, and then set out by the path which her husband had shown her beforehand. And with difficulty she crossed the woods, forests, rivers and rocks, and never did she depart from her devotion to her husband in any point. And the might of her chastity preserved her on the way,[25] so that the hunter who, after delivering her from the serpent, fell in love with her for a moment was reduced to ashes. Then she joined a caravan of merchants, which she met on the way, and with them she reached the city of a king named Subāhu. There the daughter of the king saw her from her palace, and, pleased with her beauty, had her brought and gave her as a present to her mother. Then she remained in attendance on the queen, respected by her, and when questioned she answered only: “My husband has abandoned me.”

And in the meanwhile her father Bhīma, having heard the tidings of Nala’s misfortune, sent trustworthy men in every direction to make search for the royal couple. And one of them, his minister named Suveṇa, as he was wandering about disguised as a Brāhman, reached that palace of Subāhu. There he saw Damayantī, who always examined guests, and she saw with sorrow her father’s minister. And having recognised one another, they wept together so violently that Subāhu’s queen heard it. And the queen had them summoned, and asked them the truth of the matter, and then she found out that the lady was Damayantī, the daughter of her sister. Then she informed her husband, and after showing her honour she sent her to the house of her father with Suveṇa and an army. There Damayantī remained, reunited with her two children, inquiring under her father’s guidance for news of her husband. And her father sent out spies to look for her husband, who was distinguished by preternatural skill in cooking and driving.

And King Bhīma commanded the spies to say:

“Moon, where have you hid yourself so cruelly, deserting your young bride asleep in the forest, dear as a cluster of white lotuses, having taken a piece of her robe?”[26]

This he told them to utter wherever they suspected the presence of Nala.

And in the meanwhile King Nala travelled a long way at night in that forest, clothed with the half-garment, and at last he saw a jungle-fire.

And he heard someone exclaim:

“Great-hearted one, take me away from the neighbourhood of this fire, in order that I, being helpless, may not be burned up by it.”

When Nala heard this, he looked round, and beheld a snake coiled up near the fire, having his head encircled with the rays of the jewels of his crest,[27] as if seized on the head by the jungle-fire, with terrible flaming weapons in its hand.

He went up to it, and in compassion put it on his shoulder,[28] and carried it a long distance, and when he wished to put it down the snake said to him:

“Carry me ten steps farther, counting them as you go.”

Then Nala advanced, counting the steps, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven—listen, snake—eight, nine, ten, and when he said ten (daśa[29]) the snake took him at his word, and bit him in the front of the forehead, as he lay on his shoulder. That made the king small in the arms, deformed and black.

Then the king took down the snake from his shoulder, and said to him:

“Who art thou, and what kind of a return for my kindness is this which thou hast made?”

When the snake heard this speech of Nala’s, he answered him:

“King, know that I am a king of the snakes named Kārkoṭaka, and I gave you the bite for your good; that you will come to learn; when great ones wish to live concealed, a deformed appearance of body furthers their plans. Receive also from me this pair of garments, named the ‘fire-bleached’[30]; you need only put them on and you will recover your true form.”

When Kārkotaka had said this, and had departed after giving those garments, Nala left that wood, and in course of time reached the city of Kośala.

And going by the name of Hrasvabāhu, he took service as a cook in the family of King Ṛtuparṇa, the sovereign of Kośala. And he acquired renown by making dishes of exquisite flavour, and by his skill in chariot-driving. And while Nala was living there, under the name of Hrasvabāhu, it happened that once upon a time one of the spies of the King of Vidarbha came there.

And the spy heard men there saying:

“In this place there is a new cook, of the name of Hrasvabāhu. equal to Nala in his own special art and also in the art of driving.”

The spy suspected that the cook was Nala himself, and hearing that he was in the judgment-hall of the king, he went there and repeated the following Āryā verse, taught him by his master:

“Moon, where have you hid yourself so cruelly, deserting your young bride asleep in the forest, dear as a cluster of white lotuses, having taken a piece of her robe?”

The people present in the judgment-hall. when they heard that, thought that his words were those of a madman. but Nala, who stood there disguised as a cook, answered him:

“What cruelty was there in the moon's becoming invisible to the lotus-cluster, when it reached and entered another region, after one part of the heaven[31] had become exhausted?”

When the spy heard this, he surmised that the supposed cook was really Nala transformed by misfortune, and he departed thence, and when he reached Vidarbha he told King Bhīma and his queen and Damayantī all that he had heard and seen.

Then Damayantī, of her own accord, said to her father:

“Without doubt that man is my husband disguised as a cook. So let this amusing artifice be employed to bring him here.

Let a messenger be sent to King Ṛtuparṇa, and the moment he arrives let him say to that king:

‘Nala has gone off somewhere or other, no tidings are heard of him; accordingly to-morrow morning Damayantī will again make her svayaṃvara; so come quickly to Vidarbha this very day.’

And the moment the king hears his speech he will certainly come here in one day, together with that husband of mine, who is skilled in chariot-driving.”

Having thus debated with her father, Damayantī sent off that very moment a messenger to the city of Kośala with exactly this message. He went and told it, as it was given him, to Ṛtuparṇa, and the king thereupon, being excited, said affectionately to his attendant Nala, who was disguised as a cook:

“Hrasvabāhu, you said: ‘I possess skill in chariot-driving.’ So take me this very day to Vidarbha if you have sufficient endurance.”

When Nala heard that, he said:

“Good! I will take you there.”

And thereupon he yoked swift horses, and made ready the splendid chariot. He said to himself:

“Damayantī has spread this report of a svayaṃvara in order to recover me, otherwise, I know, she would not have behaved in this way even in her dreams. So I will go there and see what happens.”

With such reflections he brought to Ṛtuparṇa the chariot ready. And as soon as the king had mounted it, Nala proceeded to drive on that chariot with a speed exceeding even that of Garuḍa.

Then Ṛtuparṇa dropped his garment, and wished to stop the chariot in order to recover it, but Nala said to him:

“King, where is that garment of yours? Why, the chariot has in this moment left it many yqjanas behind.”

When Ṛtuparṇa heard this, he said:

“Well, give me this skill in chariot-driving, and I will give you my skill in dice, so that the dice shall obey your command, and you shall acquire skill in numbers. And now look; I will give you a proof of the truth of what I say. You see this tree in front of us; I will tell you the number of its leaves and fruits, and then do you count them for yourself and see.”

When he had said this, he told him the number of the leaves and fruits on that tree, and Nala counted them and found them exactly as many as he had said. Then Nala gave to Ṛtuparṇa his skill in driving, and Ṛtuparṇa gave to Nala his skill in dice and numbers.

And Nala tested that skill on another tree, and found the number of leaves and fruits to be exactly what he had guessed.

And while he was rejoicing a black man issued from his body; and he asked him who he was. Then he said:

“I am Kali; when you were chosen by Damayantī, I entered your body out of jealousy, so you lost your fortune at play. And when Kārkoṭaka bit you in the forest you were not consumed, but I was burnt, as you see, being in your body. For to whom is a treacherous injury done to another likely to be beneficial? So I depart, my friend, for I have opportunities against others.”

After saying this, Kali vanished from his sight, and Nala at once became well disposed as before, and recovered his former splendour. And he returned and remounted the chariot; and in the course of the same day he drove King Ṛtuparṇa into Vidarbha, so rapidly did he get over the ground, and there the king was ridiculed by the people, who asked the cause of his coming; and he put up near the palace.

And when he arrived Damayantī knew of it, having heard the wonderful noise of the chariot, and she inly rejoiced, as she suspected that Nala had come too.

And she sent her own maid to find out the truth, and she inquired into it, and came back and said to her mistress, who was longing for her beloved lord:

“Queen, I have inquired into the matter; this King of Kośala heard a false report of your svayaṃvara and has come here, and he has been driven here in one day by Hrasvabāhu, his charioteer and cook, who is famous for his skill in managing chariots. And I went into the kitchen and saw that cook. And he is black and deformed, but possesses wonderful powers. It is miraculous that water gushed up in his pots and pans without being put in, and wood burst into flames of its own accord without having been lighted,[32] and various cakes were produced in a moment. After I had seen this great miracle I came back here.”

When Damayantī heard this from the maid, she reflected:

“This cook, whom the fire and the water obey, and who knows the secret of chariot-driving, can be no other than my husband, and I suspect he has become changed and deformed on account of separation from me, but I will test him.”

When she had made this resolve, she sent, by way of stratagem, her two children with that same maid, to show them to him. And Nala, when he had seen his children and taken them on his knees, after a long separation, wept silently with a flood of tears.

And he said to the maid:

“I have two children like these in the house of their maternal grandfather. I have been moved to sorrow by recollecting them.”

The maid returned with the children and told all to Damayantī, and then she conceived much hope.

And early the next day she gave her maid this order:

“Go and tell that cook of Ṛtuparṇa’s from me: ‘I hear that there is no cook like you in the world, so come and prepare my curry for me to-day.’”

When the maid communicated to Nala this politic request, he got leave from Ṛtuparṇa and came to Damayantī. And she said:

“Tell me the truth: are you the King Nala disguised as a cook? I am drowned in a sea of anxiety, and you must to-day bring me safe to shore.”

When Nala heard that, he was full of joy, grief and shame, and with downcast face he spoke, in a voice faltering from tears, this speech suited to the occasion:

“I am in truth that wicked Nala, hard as adamant, who in his madness behaved like fire in afflicting you.”

When he said this, Damayantī asked him:

“If it is so, how did you become deformed?”

Then Nala told her the whole of his adventures, from his making friends with Kārkoṭaka to the departure of Kali from him. And immediately he put on the pair of garments called the “fire-bleached,” given hirñ by Kārkoṭaka, and recovered on the spot his own original shape.

When Damayantī saw that Nala had resumed his own charming form, the lotus of her face quickly expanded, and she quenched, as it were, with the waters of her eyes the forest-fire of her grief, and attained indescribable, unequalled happiness. And Bhīma, the King of Vidarbha, quickly heard that intelligence from his joyful attendants, and coming there he welcomed Nala, who showed him becoming respect, and he made his city full of rejoicing. Then King Ṛtuparṇa was welcomed with the observance of all outward courtesy and every hospitable rite[33] by King Bhīma, who in his heart could not help laughing, and after he had in return honoured Nala, he returned to Kośala. Then Nala lived there happily with his wife, describing to his father-in-law his outburst of wickedness due to the influence of Kali. And in a few days he returned to Niṣada with the troops of his father-in-law, and he humbled his younger brother Puṣkara, beating him by his knowledge of dice, but, righteous as he was, he gave him a share of the kingdom again, after Dvāpara had left his body, and glad at having recovered Damayantī, he enjoyed his kingdom lawfully.


75. Story of the Brāhman Candrasvāmin, his Son Mahīpāla, and his Daughter Candravatī

When the Brāhman Sumanas had told this story to the Princess Bandhumatī in Tārāpura, whose husband was away, he went on to say to her:

“Even thus, Queen, do great ones, after enduring separation, enjoy prosperity, and following the example of the sun, after suffering a decline, they rise again. So you also, blameless one, shall soon recover your husband returning from his absence; use patient self-control, banish grief, and console yourself with the approaching gratification of your wishes in the return of your husband.”

When the virtuous Brāhman had spoken these appropriate words she honoured him with much wealth, and taking refuge in patience, she remained there awaiting her beloved. And in a few days her husband Mahīpāla returned with his father, bringing that mother of his from a distant land. And when he returned, furnishing a feast to all eyes, he gladdened Bandhumatī, as the full moon gladdens the lovely water of the ocean. Then Mahīpāla, on whom her father had already devolved the burden of the kingdom, enjoyed as a king desired pleasures with her.


[M] (main story line continued)  When Prince Naravāhanadatta, the son of the King of Vatsa, had heard in the company of his wife, from the mouth of his minister Marubhūti, this matchless romantic story, pleasing on account of its picture of affection, he was exceedingly pleased.

Footnotes and references:


I.e. earth-protector, king.


Cf. for the idea Richard II, Act III, sc. 2, line 41 et seq.


See my note on Kaṭāha in Vol. I, p. 155nl. In the present passage we read of the island of Kaṭāha and of various neighbouring islands. In a letter to me on the subject Mr C. O. Blagden points out that we are not bound to assume that the writer of the passage had a perfect knowledge of the precise relative geographical positions of these islands —he may have known more or less vaguely that these places were all in the Indonesian region. Karpūra-dvipa is the Camphor Island, either Borneo, or the north (especially the north-west side) of Sumatra, where lies the port Barus, from which to this day the Malays name the true camphor Kapur Barus. Blagden considers this latter region the most probable of the two. Suvarṇa-dvipa is a recognised epigriphically attested name for South and Central Sumatra, from which there was a large export of gold. That two regions in different parts of this big inland should be mentioned in our text as separate islands is nothing remarkable. The same thing happened with Sunda (West Java) and Java the rest of the island) in the case of the early Portuguese travellers and geographers.

See further G. Ferrand, L’Empire sumatranais de Çrīvijaya, and notes by G. Coedes when reviewing it in the Bulletin de L’École Française d’extrême Orient, vol. xxiii, l923 p. 470.—n.m.p.


For an account of the worship of the Great Mothers see Crooke, Popular Religion and Folk-Lore of Northern India, vol. i, pp. 111-112.—n.m.p.


A name of Śiva, meaning “fearful.” Eight or twelve forms are recognised in the classical side of his worship. The popular modern side of his character, however, is derived from the village god Bhairon, who in time appropriated the attributes of Bhairava. For details see E. Washburn. Hopkins, “Bhairava,” Hastings’ Ency. Rel. Eth., vol. ii, pp. 538-539.— n.m.p.


He seems to correspond to the Junker Voland, or Herr Urian of the Walpurgisnacht (see Bayard Taylor's notes to his translation of Goethe’s Faust). See also, for the assembly of witches and their uncanny president, Birlinger, Aus Schwaben, pp. 323 and 372. In Bartsch’s Sagen, Märchen und Gebräuche aus Meklenburg, pp. 11-44, will be found the recorded confessions of many witches, who deposed to having danced with the Teutonic Bhairava on the Blocksberg. The Mothers of the second part of Faust probably come from Greece.


For a short note on poison-detectors see Vol. I, p. 110n1. —n.m.p.


Mukta for yukta, which is clearly a misprint.


This story is identical with the story of “The Merchant who struck his Mother,” as given by the Rev. S. Beal in the Antiquary for September 1880. It is also found in the Avadāna Śataka: see Dr R. L. Mitra’s Account of the Buddhist Literature of Nepal, p. 28, where the above MS. is described. See also Dr R. Morris’ remarks in The Academy of the 27th August 1881.


A similar transferable wheel is found in the Pañcatantra, Book V, third story, Benfey’s Pañtschatantra, vol. ii, p. 381.


Cf. Ralston’s Russian Folk-Tales, p. 358: “Great stress is laid in the skazkas and legends upon the terrible power of a parent’s curse. The hasty word of a father or mother will condemn even an innocent child to slavery among devils, and when it is once uttered it is irrevocable.” Throughout the present work curses appear to be irrevocable, but susceptible of modification and limitation. See Waldau’s Böhmische Märchen, p. 537, and the remarks of Preller in his Griechische Mythologie, vol. ii, p. 345.


Perhaps we should read mṛṣyatām, “forgive me,” “be patient.”


This character is probably taken from the Mahābhārata (see Dowson’s Dictionary of Hindu Mythology, p. 90).


I have followed the Sanskrit College MS., which gives ādarśa.


We naturally think of Aladdin. For numerous variants see Chauvin, Bibliographic des Outrages Arabes, v, pp. 66, 67. For a note on mine and cave spirits see Crooke, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 282, 283.—n. m. p.


I.e. benevolent, and also satisfied at heart.


This well-known story is fully treated in Appendix II, p. 275 et seq.—n.m.p.


Sadguṇa means “good quality,” also “good thread.”


See Vol. II, p. 14.—n.m.p.


The epithet refers also to the arrows and means “bright with excellent heads.”


In the Mahābhārata version the number is only five.—n.m.p.


So in Heliodorus, Æthiopica, Lib. Ill, cap. xiii: “ἀλλὰ τοῖς τ’ὀφθαλμοῖς ἂν γνωσθεῖεν ἀτενὲς ςιόλον βλέποντες καὶ βλέφαρον οὔ ποτ’ ἐπιμύοντες”—In the third canto of the Purgatorio Dante is much troubled at finding that Virgil, being a disembodied spirit, casts no shadow.


For the “Act of Truth” see Vol. I, pp. 166, 167; Vol. II, pp. 31-33, and Vol. Ill, pp. I72n2, 179-182.— n.m.p.


The reluctant parting of Nala is much more beautifully described in the Mahābhārata. See Appendix II, pp. 278, 279.—n.m.p.


Cf. Milton’s Comus, v, 421 et seq. The word “might” also means “fire.” This “fire” burnt up the hunter. The pun in the previous sentence cannot be rendered in English.


Here then is a pun. Ambara also means “the sky.”


For the jewels in the heads of reptiles see the long note in Benfey’s Pañtschatantra, vol. i, p. 214. The passage in As You Like It will occur to everyone. Snakes’ crowns are mentioned in Grössler, Sagen aus der Grafschaft Mansfeld, p. 178, in Veckenstedt’s Wendische Sagen, pp. 403-405, and in Grohmann, Sagen aus Böhmen, pp. 219, 223.——Reference should also be made to Crooke, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 143; Thurston, Ethnographic Notes in Southern India, p. 284, and especially W. W. Skeat, “Snakestones,” Folk-Lore, vol. xxiii, 1912, pp. 45-80; and W. R. Haliday in ditto, December 1921, pp. 262-271.—N.M.P.


Preller in his Griechische Mythologie, vol. ii, p. 475, refers to a Servian story, in which a shepherd saves the life of a snake in a forest fire. In return for this service the snake’s father gives him endless treasures, and teaches him the language of birds.


Daśa means “ten” and also “bite.”


In Prester John’s letter quoted by Baring-Gould, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, new edition, p. 43, we find:

“In one of our lands, hight Zone, are worms called in our tongue Salamanders. These worms can only live in fire, and they build cocoons like silk-worms, which are unwound by the ladies of our palace, and spun into cloth and dresses, which are worn by our Exaltedness. These dresses, in order to be cleansed and washed, are cast into flames.


Or robe. The pun is obvious.


Cf. the twenty-eighth story of the first part of Sicilianische Märchen, Gonzenbach, “Von der Tochter der Sonne.” Here Lattughina says: “Fire, be lighted,” and immediately a clear fire burned upon the hearth. Then she said: “Come along, pan,” and a golden pan came and placed itself upon the fire; “Come along, oil,” and the oil came and poured itself into the pan. De Gubernatis (Zoological Mythology, vol. i, p. 158) remarks that service in the kitchen is especially dear to the young hero. Bhīma disguises himself as a cook in the Virāta Parvan of the Mahābhārata.

Pausanias tells us, Book I, chap. xvi:

“Σελεύκῳ γὰρ, ὅς ὡρμᾶτο ἐκ Μακεδονίας σὺν Άλεξάνδρῳ θύοντι ἐν Πέλλῃ τᾷ Διι(?), τὰ ξύλα ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ κείμενα προὔβμ τε αὐτόματα πρὸς τὸ ἄγαγμα, καὶ ἄνευ πυρὸς ἥφθη”

——In the “Story of Nūr al-Dīn All and his Son,” Nights (Burton, vol. i, p. 244), the hero is discovered by his skill in cooking. See Chauvin, op. cit., vi, p. 105. —n.m.p.


The Petersburg lexicographers think that samvṛtti should be sadvṛtti.

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