Hindoo Tales
Category: Novels
Level 6.21 6:10 h
The Kumara is ten princes and sons of royal ministers who go on an adventure and have exciting encounters in Hindoo Tales. The stories are told by the men and detail their lives, including gamblers, sorcery, murders, and demigods. Hindoo Tales is a romance initially written in Sanskirt, probably around the eighth century CE. Read this ancient text that provides vivid descriptions and unusual ordeals.

Hindoo Tales

Or, the Adventures of Ten Princes

by Dandin

Translated by P. W. Jacob

Hindoo Tales

Pronunciation of Proper Names

The vowel â, is always to be pronounced as in father.

The vowel a, as in America, or as u in dull, i in bird, &c.

The vowel e, always as a in cake.

The vowel í, as e in cede, or ee in reed.

The vowel i, as in pin.

The vowel ú, as in flute.

The vowel u, as in bull.

Pati is therefore pronounced putty, &c.

Hindoo Tales or, the Adventures of Ten Princes

There was formerly, in the most fertile part of India, a city called Pushpapuri, the capital of Magadha, magnificent as a mine of jewels, abounding in every kind of wealth, surpassing all other cities in splendour and prosperity.

The sovereign of this city and country was Râjahansa, whose armies were formidable with countless elephants and horses, whose glory was unsullied as the moon in a cloudless sky, or the plumage of the swan, and whose fame was sung even by celestial minstrels. Though a terror to his enemies, he was beloved by all his subjects, and especially by the learned and pious brahmans, who were continually employed in prayers and sacrifices to the gods, for the welfare of the king and his people.

The queen Vasumati was worthy of such a husband. She was of high birth and of a sweet temper, and so great was her beauty that it seemed as if the god of love had formed her for his own special delight, by uniting in her single person everything that is most beautiful in the world.

Among the king’s counsellors were three appointed to the highest offices of state, men of great probity and intelligence, who had been long in his father’s service and enjoyed his entire confidence. Their names were, Dharmapâla, Padmodbhava, and Sitavarma.

The first of these had three sons, Sumantra, Sumittra, and Kâmapâla; the second, two, Susruta and Ratnodbhava; and the last had also two, Sumati and Satyavarma.

Of these sons the last-mentioned renounced worldly cares and employments, devoted himself to religious meditation, and leaving home as a pilgrim, travelled into many countries in order to visit the holy places which they contained.

Kâmapâla was of an opposite character; he thought only of present pleasure, frequented the company of gamblers and harlots, and roamed about the world seeking amusement and dissipation.

Ratnodbhava became a merchant, and in the way of traffic made many long journeys by land and sea. The other sons, after their fathers’ death, succeeded to their offices, according to the custom of the country. When Râjahansa had reigned some years, war broke out between him and the king of the adjoining country of Mâlwa, the haughty and ambitious Mânasâra, whom he marched to encounter with a numerous army, making the earth tremble with the tread of his elephants, and disturbing even the dwellers in the sky with the clang of kettledrums louder than the roar of the stormy ocean.

Both armies were animated by equal rage, and terrible was the battle; the ground where they met was first turned to dust by the wheels of the chariots and the trampling of men and beasts, and then into mud through the streams of blood which flowed from the slain and wounded.

At last Râjahansa was victorious, the enemy was completely defeated, their king taken prisoner, and all Mâlwa lay open to the conqueror. He, however, having no wish to enlarge his dominions, released his prisoner on very easy terms, and returning to Pushpapuri, thought only of governing his own kingdom in peace, not expecting after such generous treatment any further trouble from his ambitious neighbour.

Though prosperous and happy in every other respect, the King of Magadha had one great cause of sorrow and anxiety — he had no son to succeed him. Therefore, at this time he made many prayers and offerings to Nârâyana the Creator of the World, who, having been thus propitiated, signified to the queen in a dream that she would bear a son; and not long afterwards her husband was gratified by the news of her pregnancy.

When the proper time arrived the king celebrated the ceremony called Simanta with great magnificence, and invited several of the neighbouring kings to be present on the occasion; among them was the King of Mithila, with his queen, a great friend of Vasumati — to congratulate whom she had accompanied her husband.

One day after this, when the king was sitting in council with his ministers, he was informed that a certain venerable Yati was desirous to see him. On his admission the king perceived that he was one of his secret emissaries; dismissing, therefore, the rest of the counsellors, he withdrew to a private apartment, followed by one or two of his most confidential ministers and the supposed Yati. He, bowing down to the ground, said in answer to the king’s inquiry, “In order the better to perform your Majesty’s commands, I have adopted this safe disguise, and have resided for some time in the capital of Mâlwa, from whence I now bring very important news. The haughty Mânasâra, brooding over his defeat, unmindful of your generous forbearance, and only anxious to wipe off his disgrace, has been for a long time endeavouring to propitiate with very severe penance the mighty Siva, whose temple is at Mahâkâla, and he has so far succeeded that the god has given him a magic club, very destructive of life and conducive to victory.”

“Through this weapon, and the favour of Siva, he now thinks himself a match for you. He has for some time been strengthening his army, and will probably very soon invade this country. Your Majesty having received this information, will decide what ought to be done.”

On hearing this report the ministers consulted together and said to the king, “This enemy is coming against us favoured by the gods, and you cannot hope to resist him; we therefore advise that you should avoid fighting, and retire with your family and treasure to a strong fortress.”

Although they urged this advice with many reasons, it was not acceptable to the king, who determined to march at the head of his army against the invaders. When, however, the enemy had actually entered the country, the ministers succeeded in persuading their master to send away the queen and her attendants, and a part of the treasure, to a strong fortress in the forest of Vindhya, guarded by veteran soldiers.

Presently the two armies met, the battle raged furiously, and Mânasâra, eagerly seeking out his former conqueror, at last encountered his chariot. Wielding the magic club, with one blow he slew the charioteer and caused the king to fall down senseless.

The horses being freed from control, suddenly turned round, dashed off at full speed from the field, and never stopped till, utterly exhausted, they had dragged the chariot with the still insensible king very near to the fortress to which the queen had retreated.

Meanwhile, some of the fugitives from the battle, having reached the fortress, told the queen what had happened, and she, overwhelmed by grief at the death of her husband, determined not to survive him. Perceiving her purpose, the old brahmans and faithful counsellors, who had accompanied her, endeavoured, to dissuade her, saying, “O glorious lady, we have no certain information of the king’s death: moreover, learned astrologers have declared that the child to be born of you is destined to become a mighty sovereign, therefore do not act rashly or end so precious a life while the least hope remains.”

Apparently influenced by these reasons, eloquently urged, the queen remained silent, and seemed to renounce her purpose, but at midnight, unable to sleep, and oppressed by intolerable grief, she rose up, and evading her sleeping attendants and the guards outside, went into the forest, and there, after many passionate lamentations and prayers that she might rejoin her beloved husband, she formed a rope by twisting a part of her dress, and was preparing to hang herself with it from the branch of a tree, very near to the place where the chariot was standing concealed by the thick foliage.

Just then the king, revived by the cool night wind, recovered consciousness, and hearing his wife’s voice, softly called her by name. She, hardly believing her senses for joy, cried out loudly for help, and soon brought to her assistance some of the attendants, who carried him gently into the fort, where his wounds were dressed and found not to be dangerous.

After a short time, more of those who had escaped joined the king; and when he was sufficiently recovered, the charming Vasumati, instructed by the ministers, said to him, “All your dominions are lost except this fortress; but such is the power of fate; prosperity, like a bubble on the water, or a flash of lightning, appears and disappears in a moment. Former kings, Râmachandra and others, at least as great as yourself, were deprived of their kingdoms, and suffered for a long time the hardships of adversity; yet, through patience and perseverance and the will of fate, they were at last restored to all their former splendour. Do you therefore imitate them, and, laying aside all anxiety, devote yourself to prayer and meditation.”

To this advice the king gave ear, and went to consult a very celebrated rishi, Vâmadeva, intending, under his directions, to engage in such penance as might lead to the accomplishment of his wishes.

Having been well received by the holy man, he said to him: “O father, having heard of your great piety and wisdom, I have come hither for guidance and help in a great calamity. Mânasâra, King of Mâlwa, has overcome me, and now holds the kingdom which ought to be mine. I will shrink from no penance which you shall advise, if by such means I may obtain the favour of the gods, and be restored to my former power.”

Vâmadeva, well acquainted with all past, present, and future events, thus answered him: “O friend, there is no need of penance in your case; only wait patiently; a son will certainly be born to you who will crush all your enemies and restore your fortunes.” Then a voice was heard in the air, saying, “This is true.”

The king, fully believing the prophecy of the muni, thus miraculously confirmed, returned to the forest, resolved to await patiently the fulfilment of the promise; and shortly afterwards the queen brought forth a son possessing all good marks, to whom his father gave the name of Râjavâhana.

About the same time also sons were born to his four ministers. They were named severally Pramati, Mitragupta, Mantragupta, and Visruta, and were brought up together with the young prince.

Some time after the birth of these children, a certain muni brought a very beautiful boy to the king, and said: “Having gone lately into the forest to collect kusa-grass and fuel, I met a woman, evidently in great distress. When I questioned her, she wiped away her tears, and told me, with a voice broken by sobs, that she was a servant of Prahâravarma, King of Mithila — that he, with his family, had gone to Pushpapuri, to be present at the Simanta festival of the queen, and had stayed there some time after the departure of the other guests; that at that time the King of Mâlwa, furnished with a magic weapon, had invaded the country; that in the battle which ensued, Prahâravarma had assisted his friend with the few soldiers who accompanied him, and had been taken prisoner, but had been liberated by the conqueror; that on his return he had been attacked in the forest by Bheels, and had repulsed them with difficulty. ‘I and my daughter,’ she continued, ‘who had charge of the king’s twin children, were separated from the rest in the confusion, and lost our way in the forest. There we suddenly came upon a tiger. In my fright, I stumbled and fell, and dropped the child, which I was carrying, on the carcase of a cow with which the tiger had been engaged. At that moment an arrow struck and killed the tiger. I fainted away, and when I recovered, I found myself quite alone; my daughter had disappeared, and the child, as I suppose, was carried off by the Bheels, who shot the beast. After a time I was found by a compassionate cowherd, who took care of me till my wounds were healed; and I am now wandering about in the hope of finding the boy, and of hearing some tidings of my daughter and the other child.’ After giving me this account, she went on her way again, and I, distressed that the son of your majesty’s friend should be in such hands, determined to set out in search of him.

“After some days I came to a small temple of Durgâ, where a party of Bheels were about to make the child an offering to the goddess, in the hope of obtaining success through her favour; and they were then deliberating in what manner they should kill him, whether by hanging him on the branch of a tree and cutting him to pieces with swords, or by partly burying him in the ground and shooting at him with arrows, or by worrying him with young dogs.

“Then I went up to them very humbly, and said: ‘O Kirâtas, I am an old brahman; having lost my way in the forest, I laid down my child whom I was carrying, while I went away for a moment to try to find an opening out of the dense thicket; when I came back he was gone. I have been searching for him ever since; have you seen him?’ ‘Is this your child?’ said they. ‘O yes!’ I exclaimed. ‘Take him, then,’ they replied; ‘we respect a brahman.’ Thus I got possession of the boy, and, blessing them for their kindness, took him away as quickly as possible, and have now brought him here, thinking he will be best under your majesty’s protection.”

The king, though grieved at the calamity of his friend, rejoiced that the child was saved from such a death; and giving him the name of Upahâravarma, had him brought up as his own son.

Not long after this, Râjahansa went to bathe at a holy place, and in returning, as he passed by a group of Chandâlas, he observed a woman carrying a very beautiful boy. Being struck by the appearance of the child, he said “Where did you get this beautiful boy, who is like a king’s son? Surely he is not your own child! pray tell me.”

She answered: “When the Bheels attacked and plundered the King of Mithila near our village, this child was picked up and brought to me by my husband, and I have taken care of him ever since.”

The king being convinced that this was the other child of his friend, the King of Mithila, by fair words and gifts induced the woman to give him up, and took him to the queen, giving him the name of Apahâravarma, and begging her to bring him up with her own son.

Soon afterwards, a disciple of Vâmadeva brought a beautiful boy to the king, and said “As I was returning from a pilgrimage to Râmatirtha, I saw an old woman carrying this child, and asked her how she came to be wandering there. In answer to my questions, she told me her story, saying, ‘I was the servant of a rich man, named Kâlagupta, living in the island of Kâlayavana, and I waited on his daughter Suvritta. One day a young merchant, named Ratnodbhava, son of a minister of the King of Magadha, arrived in the island, and having become acquainted with my master, he married his beautiful daughter.

“‘After some time, he was desirous of visiting his family, and being unwilling to leave behind his young wife, who was then not far from childbirth, he took her with him, and me as her nurse.

“‘We embarked on board a ship, and had at first a favourable voyage; but when approaching the land, we were overtaken by a storm, and a great wave broke over the ship, which went down almost immediately. I found myself in the water near my young mistress, and managed to support her till we got hold of a plank, by means of which we at last reached the shore. Whether my master was saved or not I do not know, but I fear that he perished with the rest of those on board, whom we never saw again.

“‘The coast where we landed appeared to be uninhabited, and the poor lady, being unable to walk far, after much suffering of mind and body, gave birth to this child under a tree in the forest. I have just left her, in the hope of finding some village where I may obtain assistance; and by her wish I have brought the child with me, since she is incapable of taking care of it.’

“The woman had hardly finished speaking when a wild elephant, breaking through the bushes, came suddenly upon us, and she was so frightened that she let the child fall, and ran away.

“I hid myself behind a tree, and saw the elephant take up the child with his trunk, as if about to put it into its mouth. At that moment he was attacked by a lion, and let the child fall. When the two beasts had moved from the spot, I came from my hiding-place just in time to see the child taken up by a monkey, who ran up a high tree. Presently the beast let the child drop, and as it fell on a leafy branch, I took it up uninjured by the fall, or the other rough treatment which it had received.

“After searching for the woman some time in vain, I took the child to my master, the great muni Vâmadeva, and I have now brought it to you by his command.”

The king, astonished at the preservation of the child under such adverse circumstances, and hoping that Ratnodbhava might have escaped from the shipwreck, sent for Susruta to take charge of his brother’s child, to whom he gave the name of Pushpodbhava.

Some days after this the queen went up to her husband with a child in her arms, and told him, when he expressed his surprise “Last night I was suddenly awakened from sleep and saw a beautiful lady standing before me, holding this child. She said to me: ‘O queen, I am a Yaksha, daughter of Manibhadra, and wife of Kâmapâla, the son of your husband’s late minister, Dharmapâla; by command of Kuvera, I have brought this my child to you, that he may enter the service of your son, who is destined to become a mighty monarch.’

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