Hindoo Tales Or, the Adventures of Ten Princes online

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together with him.

When they were all nearly seventeen, their education was regarded as
complete, for they had not only been taught the vedas and the
commentaries on them, several languages, grammar, logic, philosophy,
&c., but were well acquainted with poetry, plays, and all sorts of
tales and stories; were accomplished in drawing and music, skilled in
games, sleight of hand and various tricks, and practised in the use of
weapons. They were also bold riders and drivers of horses and
elephants; and even clever thieves, able to steal without detection;
so that Râjahansa was exceedingly delighted at seeing his son
surrounded by a band of such brave, active, clever companions and
faithful followers. One day about this time Vâmadeva came to visit
the king, by whom he was received with great respect and reverence.
Seeing the prince perfect in beauty, strength, and accomplishments,
and surrounded by such companions, he said to Râjahansa: "Your wish
for a son has indeed been fully gratified, since you have one who is
all that you could desire. It is now time for him to go out into the
world and prepare himself for the career of conquest to which he is

The king listened respectfully to the advice of the muni, and
determined to be guided by it; having therefore given his son good
advice, he sent him forth at a propitious hour, to travel about in
search of adventure, accompanied by his nine friends.

After travelling for some days, they entered the forest of Vindhya,
and when halting there for the night they saw a rough-looking man,
having all the appearance of a Bheel, but wearing the sacred cord
which is the characteristic of a brahman.

The prince, surprised at such an incongruity, asked him who he was,
how he came to be living in such a wild place, and how, with all the
appearance of a forester, he was wearing the brahminical cord.

The man, seeming to be aware that his questioner was a person of
importance, answered respectfully, "O prince, there are in this forest
certain nominal brahmans, who, having abandoned the study of the
vedas, religious obligations, and family duties, are devoted to all
sorts of sinful practices, and act as leaders of robber bands,
associating with their followers and living as they live.

"I, Matanga by name, am the son of one of these, and was brought up
to be a robber like them. Since I have been grown up I have often
assisted in plundering expeditions, when they would fall suddenly on
some defenceless village, and carry away not only all the property on
which they could lay their hands, but several of the richest of the
inhabitants, whom they would keep prisoners till a ransom had been
paid, or till, compelled by torture, they confessed where their money
was concealed.

"On one of these occasions, when my companions were ill-treating a
brahman, I was seized by a sudden feeling of compassion and
remonstrated with them. Finding words of no avail, I stood before him,
and was killed by my own men while fighting on his behalf.

"After death I went down to the regions below, and was taken before
Yama, the judge of the dead, sitting on a great throne inlaid with

"When the god saw me prostrate before him he called one of his
attendants and said: 'The time for this man's death is not arrived,
and moreover, he was killed in defending a brahman; therefore, after
showing him the tortures of the wicked, let him return to his former
body, in which he will in future lead a holy life.'

"By him I was shown some sinners tied to red-hot iron bars, some
thrown into great tubs of boiling oil, some beaten with clubs, some
cut to pieces with swords; after which my spirit re-entered the body,
and I awoke to consciousness, lying alone, grievously wounded, in the

"In this state I was found by some of my relations, who carried me
home and took care of me till my wounds were healed.

"Shortly after this I met with the brahman whom I had rescued, and he,
grateful for the service which I had rendered him, read to me some
religious books, and taught me the due performance of religious rites,
especially the proper way of worshipping Siva.

"When he considered me sufficiently instructed, he quitted me, giving
me his blessing, and receiving many thanks from me for his kindness.

"Since then I have separated myself from all my former associates, and
have lived a life of penance and meditation in this forest,
endeavouring to atone for my past sins, and especially seeking, to
propitiate the mighty deity who has the half-moon for his crest; and
now, having told you my history, I have something to communicate
which concerns you alone, and beg you to withdraw with me to hear it
in private."

The two then went aside from the rest of the party, and the stranger
said, "O prince, last night, during sleep, Siva appeared to me and
addressed me thus: 'Matanga, I am pleased with your devotions; they
shall now have their reward. North of this place, on the bank of the
river which flows through the Dandaka forest, there is a remarkable
rock, glittering with crystal and marked with the footsteps of Gaurí.
Go thither; in the side of the rock you will see a yawning chasm,
enter it and search till you find a copper plate with letters engraved
on it; follow the directions therein contained, and you will become
King of Pâtâla. That you may know this not to be a mere dream, a
king's son will come to this place to-morrow, and he will be your
companion in the journey.'

"I have in consequence anxiously awaited your coming, and now entreat
you to go with me to the place pointed out in the vision."

The curiosity of the prince was much excited by Matanga's story, and
he readily promised to be his companion; fearing, however, that his
friends would be opposed to his purpose, he did not on his return tell
them anything of what he had heard, and at midnight, when they were
all fast asleep, he slipped away without disturbing them, and went to
join Matanga, who was waiting for him at a place which had been agreed
on, and the two walked on till they came to the rock indicated by Siva
in the vision.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party, uneasy at the disappearance of the
prince, sought for him all over the forest, and not finding him,
determined to disperse, and continue the search in different
countries; and having arranged where to meet again, took leave of each
other, and set out separately in different directions.

Matanga, entirely believing the vision, and rendered still more
confident by the companionship of the prince, fearlessly entered the
cavern, found the copper plate and read the words engraved on it.
Following the directions therein contained, they went on in darkness,
groping their way through long passages, till at last they saw light
before them and arrived at the subterranean country of Pâtâla.

After walking some distance further, they came to a small lake,
surrounded by trees, with a city in view.

Here they stopped, and Matanga begging the prince to watch and guard
against interruption, collected a quantity of wood and lighted a large
fire, into which he threw himself with many charms and incantations,
and presently came forth with a new body full of youth, beauty, and
vigour, to the great astonishment of his companion.

Hardly was this change effected, when they saw coming towards them
from the city a procession, headed by a beautiful young lady
splendidly dressed, and adorned with very costly jewels. Approaching
Matanga, she made a low obeisance, and, without speaking, put a very
precious gem into his hand. Being questioned by him, she answered,
with tears in her eyes and in a soft musical voice, "O excellent
brahman, I am the daughter of a chief of Asuras, and my name is
Kalindí; my father, the ruler of this subterranean world, was slain
by Vishnu whom he had offended, and as he had no son, I was left his
heir and successor, and suffered great distress and perplexity.

"Some time ago I consulted a very holy Siddha, who had compassion on
me, and told me, 'After a time, a certain mortal, having a heavenly
body, will come down here from the upper world; he will become your
husband, and reign prosperously with you over all Pâtâla'.

"Trusting to this prophecy, I have waited impatiently, longing for
your coming as a Châtaka longs for rain, and am now come, with the
consent of my ministers and people, to offer you my hand and kingdom."

Matanga, delighted at such a speedy fulfilment of the promise given in
the vision, gladly accepted her offer, and with the approbation of
his companion, was soon afterwards married to her amid great

Râjavâhana was treated with great respect and kindness by Matanga and
his bride; but after seeing all the wonders of the place, his
curiosity was satisfied, and he was desirous of returning to the upper

At his departure, a magic jewel was given him by Kalindí, which had
the power of keeping off from the possessor of it hunger, thirst,
fatigue, and other discomforts; and Matanga accompanied him for a part
of the way. Walking through darkness as before, the prince at last
reached the mouth of the cavern and came forth into the open air.

Having missed all his companions, he was uncertain where to direct his
steps, and wandered on till he came to a large park, outside a city,
where a great concourse of people was assembled, and he there sat down
to rest.

As he sat watching the various groups, he saw a young man enter the
park, accompanied by a lady and followed by a numerous retinue, and
they both got into one of the swings placed there for the amusement of
the festal crowd.

Presently the eye of the new-comer rested on the prince; with signs of
great joy he jumped down, exclaiming, "O what happiness! That is my
lord Râjavâhana," and, running to him, bowed down to his feet, saying
"Great is my good fortune in meeting you again." Râjavâhana, affected
by equal pleasure, warmly embraced him, saying, "O my dear friend
Somadatta, how happy I am to see you once more!"

Then they sat down together under a shady tree, and the prince
inquired: "What have you been doing all this time? Where have you
been? Who is this lady? And how did you get all these attendants?"
Somadatta, thus questioned, began the recital of what he had done and

* * * * *


My lord, having great anxiety on your account, I wandered about in
various countries. One day, when stooping to drink from a cool, clear
stream, near a forest, I saw something bright under the water, and
having taken it up, found it to be a ruby of very great value.

Exhausted by fatigue and the scorching heat of the sun, I went into a
small temple to rest, and saw there a brahman with a number of
children, all looking wretched and half-starved. He seemed to regard
me as a possible benefactor, and when questioned, readily told me his
story; how his wife had died, leaving him with the care of all these
children, and how, having no means of subsistence, he had wandered
about in the hope of obtaining some employment; but had got nothing
better than the charge of this small temple, where the offerings were
not sufficient to support him and his family.

I asked him - "What is that camp which I see at some distance?"

He answered - "The Lord of Lâta, Mattakâla by name, hearing again and
again of the great beauty of Vâmalochana, daughter of Víraketu,
sovereign of this country, asked her in marriage, and was refused.
Being determined to obtain her, he raised an army and besieged Pâtali,
the capital city. Víraketu finding himself unable to resist the enemy,
purchased peace by giving up his daughter, and Mattakâla, thinking
that the marriage can be celebrated with greater magnificence in his
own country, has deferred it till his return. He is now on his way
home with a small part of his army, the rest having been dismissed;
and he is staying at present near this forest to enjoy the pleasures
of the chase. The princess is not with her intended husband, but under
the care of Mânapâla, one of her father's officers, who is said to be
very indignant at the surrender of the lady; you may see his camp at
no great distance from the other."

While thanking the poor man for his information, a thought came into
my mind - here is a very poor and deserving man, I will give him the
jewel which I have found; and I did so.

He received the gift with profuse thanks, and set out immediately to
try to dispose of it; while I lay down there to sleep.

After a time I was awakened by a great clamour, and saw the brahman
coming towards me with his hands tied behind him, driven along, with
blows of a whip and much abuse, by a party of soldiers.

On seeing me, he called out, "There is the thief; that is the man who
gave me the jewel."

Upon this the soldiers let him go, and, seizing me, refused to listen
to my remonstrances, or to my account of the manner in which I had
found the ruby. They dragged me along with them, and having put
fetters on my feet, thrust me into a dungeon, saying, "There are your
companions," pointing at the same time to some other prisoners
confined in that place.

When I recovered my senses - for I was half stunned by the violence
with which I had been pushed in - I said to my fellow-prisoners, "Who
are you, and what did the soldiers mean by calling you my companions?
for you are quite strangers to me."

Those prisoners then told me the story of the King of Lâta, which I
had already heard from the brahman, and further said, "We were sent by
Mânapâla to assassinate that king, and broke into the place where we
supposed him to be. Not finding him, we were unwilling to come away
empty-handed; we therefore carried off everything of value within our
reach and made our escape to the forest. The next morning there was an
active pursuit, our hiding-place was discovered, we were all captured,
and the stolen property taken from us, with the exception of one ruby
of great value, which had disappeared. The king is exceedingly angry
that this cannot be found; our assertion that we have lost it is
disbelieved, and we are threatened with torture to-morrow, unless we
say where it is hidden."

Having heard the robbers' story, I was convinced that the ruby in
question was the one which I had found and given to the brahman, and I
now understood why these men were supposed to be my accomplices.

I told them who I was, how I had found the jewel, and had been
unjustly arrested on account of it, and exhorted them to take courage
and join me in an attempt to escape that night. To this they agreed,
and at midnight we managed to overpower the jailors and knock off our
fetters; and having armed ourselves with weapons which we found in the
prison, we cut our way through the guards, and reached Mânapâla's camp
in safety. The next day, men sent by the King of Lâta came to
Mânapâla, and said - "Some robbers, who were caught after breaking into
the king's dwelling, have made their escape, and are known to have
come here; give them up immediately, or it will be the worse for you."

Mânapâla, who only wanted an excuse for a quarrel, having heard this
insulting message, his eyes red with anger, answered, - "Who is the
King of Lâta, that I should bow down to him? What have I to do with
that low fellow? Begone!"

When the men returned to their master and told him the reception they
had met with, he was in a furious rage, and, disregarding the
smallness of the force which was with him, marched out at once to
attack Mânapâla, who was quite prepared to meet him.

When I entered the camp, after my escape, Mânapâla, who received from
his servants an exaggerated account of my coolness, dexterity, and
courage, had treated me with great honour, and now I offered my
services in the approaching fight. They were gladly accepted, and I
was furnished with an excellent chariot and horses guided by a skilful
charioteer, a strong coat of mail, a bow and two quivers full of
arrows, as well as with other weapons.

Thus equipped, I went forth to meet the enemy, and seeking out the
leader, soon found myself near him. First confusing him with arrows
poured upon him in rapid succession, I brought my chariot close to
his, and suddenly springing into it, cut off his head at a blow.

Seeing the king fall, his soldiers were discouraged, and fled; the
camp was taken, much booty gained, and the princess led back, to her
father. He having received an account of the victory, and of my share
in it, through a messenger sent from Mânapâla, came forth to meet us
when we entered the city, and received me with great honour. After a
time, as I continued daily to increase in favour with him, he bestowed
on me the hand of his daughter, and declared me his successor.

Being thus arrived at the height of prosperity and happiness, I had
but one cause of sorrow - my absence from you. I am on my way to
Mahâkâla, to worship Siva there. I have stopped at this place, hoping,
at a festival so much frequented, I might at least hear some tidings
of you, and now the god has favoured his worshipper, and through this
happy meeting all my wishes are fulfilled.

Râjavâhana, who delighted in valour, having heard Somadatta's story,
while expressing his sorrow for his undeserved imprisonment,
congratulated him on the happy result of it, and told him his own

He had scarcely finished the relation of them when a third person came
up, and the prince, warmly greeting him, exclaimed, "O, Somadatta,
here is Pushpodbhava." Then there were mutual embracings and
rejoicings, after which they all three sat down again, and Râjavâhana
said: "Somadatta has told me his adventures, but I know nothing of the
rest of my friends. What did you do when you missed me that morning in
the forest?" Then Pushpodbhava respectfully spoke as follows: -

* * * * *


My lord, your friends being convinced that you had gone on some
expedition with the brahman, and knowing nothing of the direction
which you had taken, were greatly perplexed. At last we agreed to
separate, each going a different way, and I, like the rest, set out by
myself. One day, being unable to bear the heat of the noonday sun, I
sat down in the shade of a tree at the bottom of a mountain. Happening
to look up, I saw a man falling from the rock above, and he came to
the ground very near me.

On going up to him, I found that he was still alive, and having
revived him by throwing cold water over him, and by other means, I
found that he had no bone broken, and did not appear to have received
any serious injury.

When he was sufficiently recovered, I asked him who he was and how he
came to fall from the precipice. With tears in his eyes, and a feeble
voice, he said: "My name is Ratnodbhava; I am the son of a minister of
the King of Magadha; travelling about as a merchant, I came, many
years ago, to the island of Kâlayavana. There I married a merchant's
daughter, and going with her by sea to visit my relations, was
overtaken by a violent storm, during which the ship sank, and I was
the only person saved.

"After reaching the shore, I wandered about for some time in a strange
country, and, unable to bear my misery, was about to put an end to my
life, when I was stopped by a Siddha, who assured me that after
sixteen years I should find my wife. Trusting to this promise, I have
endured life through all these years; but the appointed time having
passed without any sign of the fulfilment of the prophecy, I could
hold out no longer, and threw myself from the top of this precipice."

At that moment the voice of a woman in distress was heard not far off,
and saying to him whom I recognised as my father, "Take courage, I
have good news for you; only wait a moment," I ran off in the
direction of the place whence the voice had proceeded, and soon came
in sight of a large fire and two women near it, the one trying to
throw herself into the flames, the other struggling to prevent her.
Going to the help of the latter, I soon got the lady away, and
brought her and her companion to the place where my father was lying.
I then said to the old woman, "Pray tell me what all this means? How
came you to be in such a place, and why did the lady wish to destroy

With a voice broken by sobs, she answered me: "This lady, whose name
is Suvritta, is the daughter of a merchant in the island of
Kâlayavana, and the wife of Ratnodbhava. While crossing the sea with
her husband, there was a great storm, the ship sank, and this lady and
I, her nurse, were the only persons saved. A few days afterwards she
gave birth to a son in the forest; but through my ill-fortune the
child was lost, having been seized by a wild elephant. Afterwards we
two wandered about in great misery, and she would have put an end to
her life had we not met with a holy man, who comforted her with the
assurance that after sixteen years she would be reunited with her
husband and son. Relying on this prophecy, she consented to wait, and
we have spent all these years living near his hermitage; but the
sixteen years were ended some time ago, and having lost all hope, she
was about to end her wretched life by throwing herself into a fire
which she had made, when you so opportunely came to my assistance."

Hearing this story, my father was unable to speak from astonishment. I
made him known to my mother, and myself to both of them, to their very
great joy; and my mother seemed as if she would never weary of kissing
and embracing me.

After a time, when we were all more composed, my father began to
inquire about the king and his own relations, for during all these
years he had heard nothing of them. I told him everything - how the
king had been defeated, and had been living in the forest; your birth,
and the wonderful preservation of myself and my companions; how we had
all set out together; how we had lost you, and how I was now searching
for you.

As soon as my father was able to walk, I placed him and my mother
under the care of a certain muni, not very far off, and set out again
on my travels. Just at this time I had heard that under the ruins of
an ancient city, overgrown by trees, a great treasure was supposed to
be concealed; and as I possessed a magic ointment which, when applied
to the eyes, enabled me to see through the ground, I determined to
try to dig it up. I therefore got together some strong young men with
the promise of good pay, went to the place, and succeeded in finding a
large quantity of gold and silver coin. While I was thus engaged, a
caravan of merchants came to that neighbourhood, and halted there for
a day or two. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I purchased of
them sacks for holding the coin, and some strong oxen to carry them. I
then dismissed my men, well satisfied with their share, and joined the
caravan, where I soon made friends with the leader, the son of a
merchant at Oujein, to which place he was then going.

On our arrival at the city, he introduced me to his father,
Bandhupâla, by whose means I obtained permission from the King of
Mâlwa to reside there. When I had taken a house, safely deposited the
money, and established my parents in it, I was anxious to set out
again in search of you.

Bandhupâla, seeing this, said to me: "You have already spent much time
in searching for your friend, and may spend much more in the same
manner to no purpose, if you have no clue to guide you. Now I am
skilled in augury and the language of birds; it is probable that I may
obtain some indications for you; wait, therefore, patiently for the
present. Meanwhile, my house is always open to you."

To this I agreed, and having great pleasure in his society, was much
with him, and soon had other attractions there, for I fell in love
with his beautiful daughter, Bâlachandrika.

Though I had not declared my passion, I was convinced, from her looks
and from many things which I observed, that she was equally in love
with me, and therefore anxiously sought an opportunity of speaking to
her in private.

One day, Bandhupâla, wishing to obtain information about you by
listening to the voices of birds, went with me into a park near the
city, and while he waited under the trees, hearing the birds, I walked
on, and had the good fortune to see my beloved alone, in another part
of the park.

Although she was evidently pleased at seeing me, and did not reject my
suit, I observed that she was distressed and dispirited, and inquired

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