Kathāsaritsāgara, Somadeva
Kathāsaritsāgara
Somadeva
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The Kathāsaritsāgara ("Ocean of the Streams of Stories") (Devanagari: कथासरित्सागर) is a famous 11th-century collection of Indian legends, fairy tales and folk tales as retold in Sanskrit by the Shaivite Somadeva.

Kathā Sarit Sāgara

The Ocean of Story

by
Somadeva

Book XII: Saśānkavatī


Preface

So far each volume has contained two or three Appendixes, but in both this and the next volume there will be only one. This is due to the subject-matter which they contain. I refer to that most interesting cycle of vampire stories known as the Vetālapañcaviṃśati. Eight of them occur in the present volume, while the remaining sixteen (really fifteen) will appear in Volume VII.

With but few exceptions all the tales are important and worthy of fairly extensive notes. This would mean overcrowding of footnotes or “end of chapter” notes. The history of the collection itself, as well as the frame-story, both require considerable attention. Thus I have decided on the course intimated above.

Once again I have been fortunate in obtaining the valuable services of an expert in the writing of the Foreword — Mr A. R. Wright, President of the Folk-Lore Society. His treatment of the subject is interesting, as it approaches the Indian tales from the standpoint of the European folklorist rather than the Oriental scholar.

Both Dr Barnett and Mr Fenton continue to render me invaluable service, both by proof-reading and expert advice.

N. M. P.

St John’s Wood, N.W.8,
September 1926.


Chapter LXVIII

Invocation

May Gaṇeśa protect you, who, when he sports, throws up his trunk, round which plays a continual swarm of bees, like a triumphal pillar covered with letters, erected on account of the overthrow of obstacles!

We worship Śiva, who, though free from the hue of passion, abounds in colours, the skilful painter who is ever producing new and wonderful creations. Victorious are the arrows of the God of Love, for, when they descend, though they are made of flowers, the thunderbolt and other weapons are blunted in the hands of those who bear them.

[M] So the son of the King of Vatsa remained in Kauśāmbī, having obtained wife after wife. But though he had so many wives, he ever cherished the head queen, Madanamanchukā, more than his own life, as Kṛṣhṇa cherishes Rukmiṇī. But one night he saw in a dream that a heavenly maiden came and carried him off. And when he awoke he found himself on a slab of the tārkshya gem, on the plateau of a great hill, a place full of shady trees. And he saw that maiden near him, illuminating the wood, though it was night, like a herb used by the God of Love for bewildering the world. He thought that she had brought him there, and he perceived that modesty made her conceal her real feelings; so the cunning prince pretended to be asleep, and in order to test her he said, as if talking in his sleep: “Where are you, my dear Madanamanchukā? Come and embrace me.” When she heard it, she profited by his suggestion, and assumed the form of his wife, and embraced him without the restraint of modesty. Then he opened his eyes, and beholding her in the form of his wife, he said, “O how intelligent you are!” and smiling threw his arms round her neck. Then she dismissed all shame, and exhibiting herself in her real shape, she said: “Receive, my husband, this maiden, who chooses you for her own.” And when she said that, he married her by the gāndharva form of marriage.

But next morning he said to her, by way of an artifice to discover her lineage, about which he felt curious: “Listen, dear one, I will tell you a wonderful story.

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