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Produced by Delphine Lettau, Jayam Subramanian and PG Distributed








The Sanscrit work entitled "Dasakumaracharitam, or the Adventures of
Ten Princes," though printed more than twenty-five years ago, has not,
as far as I can ascertain, been translated into any European language.
Many parts of it are written in such a turgid "Oriental" style, that a
close translation would be quite unsuitable to the English reader.
Such passages have therefore been much condensed; others, which are
hardly decent - or, as in the speech of the parasite in the last story,
tedious and uninteresting, have been omitted; but in general the
original has been pretty closely adhered to, and nothing has been
added to it.

The exact date of the composition of the "Dasakumaracharitam" is not
known. It is supposed to have been written about the end of the
eleventh century, and was left unfinished by the author; but as the
story of the last narrator is almost finished, not much could have
been wanting to complete the work, and the reader may easily imagine
what the conclusion would have been.

Some of the incidents correspond with those of the "Arabian Nights,"
but the stories on the whole are quite different from anything found
there, and give a lively picture of Hindoo manners and morals.
Unscrupulous deception, ready invention, extreme credulity and
superstition, and disregard of human life, are strongly illustrated.

The belief in the power of penance, which was supposed to confer on
the person practising it not merely personal sanctity, but even great
supernatural powers, was very generally entertained among the Hindoos,
and is often alluded to here; as is also transmigration, or the birth
of the soul after death in a new body, human or brute. Sufferings or
misfortunes are attributed to sins committed in a former existence,
and in more than one story two persons are supposed to recollect
having many years before lived together as husband and wife.

Much use also is made of the agency of supernatural beings; for
besides numerous gods, the Hindoos believe, or at least believed, in
the existence of innumerable beings, in some degree immortal, but
liable to be killed even by men, swarming in the air, generally
invisible, but sometimes assuming a human or a more terrible form;
occasionally beneficent, but more commonly injurious to human beings.

At the time when the original work was written, India appears to have
been divided into a large number of small kingdoms or principalities,
the rulers of which are here termed "Râja," a word almost adopted into
our language, but which. I have rendered by the equivalent and more
familiar term "King."

The numerous uncouth names, which cannot well be shortened or
translated, will, it is feared, cause some annoyance to the reader. As
many as possible have been omitted, and of those which occur a list is
given in the Appendix, together with a few terms which seemed to
require explanation. This will save the reader the trouble of,
referring, when a name recurs, to the place where it is first
mentioned in order to find out to whom it belongs.

The Appendix also contains a few pages of a very close literal
translation, which will enable the reader to form some idea of the
nature and style of the original, and to see how far it has been
departed from in the preceding pages.

P. W. J.

GUILDFORD, _December_, 1872.


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.
















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

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[1] 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

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,[2] 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[3] 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

"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.'

"I was too much astonished to ask her any question, and she, having
laid down the child near me, disappeared."

The king, greatly surprised, especially that Kâmapâla should have
married a Yaksha, sent for the child's uncle, Sumittra, and committed
the boy to his care, giving him the name of Arthapâla.

Not long after this another disciple of Vâmadeva brought a very
beautiful child to the king, and said: "My lord, I have lately been on
a pilgrimage to several holy places, and on my way back, happening to
be on the bank of the river Kâvari, I saw a woman carrying this child,
and evidently in great distress. On being questioned by me, she wiped
away her tears, and with difficulty told me her story, saying, 'O
brahman, Satyavarma, the youngest son of Sitavarma, a minister of the
King of Magadha, after travelling about a long time, visiting all holy
places as a pilgrim, came to this country, and here married a
Brahman's daughter, named Kâli. Having no children by her, he took as
his second wife her sister Gaurí, and by her he had one son, this

"'Then the first wife, envious of her sister, determined to destroy
the child; and having, with some false pretence, enticed me, when I
was carrying the child, to the bank of the river, she pushed us in. I
contrived to hold my charge with one hand, and to swim with the other
till I met with an uprooted tree carried down by the rapid current. To
this I clung, and after floating a long distance, was able at last to
land at this place; but in getting away from the tree I disturbed a
black serpent which had taken refuge there, and having been bitten by
it, I now feel that I am dying.' As she spoke, the poison began to
take greater effect, and she fell on the ground.

"After trying in vain the power of charms, I went to look for some
herb which might serve as an antidote; but when I returned the poor
creature was dead.

"I was much perplexed at this occurrence, especially as she had not
told me the name of the village from which she came, nor could I
conjecture how far off it might be, so that I was unable to take the
child to its father.

"Therefore, after collecting wood and burning the body, I have brought
the child to you, thinking that he will be best taken care of under
your protection."

The king, astonished that so many children should have been brought in
such a wonderful manner, and distressed at not knowing where to find
Satyavarma, gave the child the name of Somadatta, and committed him to
the care of his uncle, Sumati, who received him with great affection.

These nine boys, thus wonderfully collected together, became the
associates and play-fellows of the young prince, and were educated

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