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Produced by "Batsy" Bybell. HTML version by Al Haines.


Translated from the Sanskrit by Arthur William Ryder




1. The Prince's Elopement. Whose fault was the resulting death of his

2. The Three Lovers who brought the Dead Girl to Life. Whose wife
should she be?

3. The Parrot and the Thrush. Which are worse, men or women?

4. King Shudraka and Hero's Family. Which of the five deserves the
most honour?

5. The Brave Man, the Wise Man, and the Clever Man. To which should
the girl be given?

6. The Girl who transposed the Heads of her Husband and Brother. Which
combination of head and body is her husband?

7. The Mutual Services of King Fierce-lion and Prince Good. Which is
the more deserving?

8. The Specialist in Food, the Specialist in Women, and the Specialist
in Cotton. Which is the cleverest?

9. The Four Scientific Suitors. To which should the girl be given?

10. The Three Delicate Wives of King Virtue-banner. Which is the most

11. The King who won a Fairy as his Wife. Why did his counsellor's
heart break?

12. The Brahman who died because Poison from a Snake in the Claws of a
Hawk fell into a Dish of Food given him by a Charitable Woman. Who is
to blame for his death?

13. The Girl who showed Great Devotion to the Thief. Did he weep or

14. The Man who changed into a Woman at Will. Was his wife his or the
other man's?

15. The Fairy Prince Cloud-chariot and the Serpent Shell-crest. Which
is the more self-sacrificing?

16. The King who died for Love of his General's Wife; the General
follows him in Death. Which is the more worthy?

17. The Youth who went through the Proper Ceremonies. Why did he fail
to win the magic spell?

18. The Boy whom his Parents, the King, and the Giant conspired to
Kill. Why did he laugh at the moment of death?

19. The Man, his Wife, and her Lover, who all died for Love. Which was
the most foolish?

20. The Four Brothers who brought a Dead Lion to Life. Which is to
blame when he kills them all?

21. The Old Hermit who exchanged his Body for that of the Dead Boy. Why
did he weep and dance?

22. The Father and Son who married Daughter and Mother. What relation
were their children?




On the bank of the Godavari River is a kingdom called the Abiding
Kingdom. There lived the son of King Victory, the famous King
Triple-victory, mighty as the king of the gods. As this king sat in
judgment, a monk called Patience brought him every day one piece of
fruit as an expression of homage. And the king took it and gave it each
day to the treasurer who stood near. Thus twelve years passed.

Now one day the monk came to court, gave the king a piece of fruit as
usual, and went away. But on this day the king gave the fruit to a pet
baby monkey that had escaped from his keepers, and happened to wander
in. And as the monkey ate the fruit, he split it open, and a priceless,
magnificent gem came out.

When the king saw this, he took it and asked the treasurer: "Where have
you been keeping the fruits which the monk brought? I gave them to
you." When the treasurer heard this, he was frightened and said: "Your
Majesty, I have thrown them all through the window. If your Majesty
desires, I will look for them now." And when the king had dismissed
him, he went, but returned in a moment, and said again: "Your Majesty,
they were all smashed in the treasury, and in them I see heaps of
dazzling gems."

When he heard this, the king was delighted, and gave the jewels to the
treasurer. And when the monk came the next day, he asked him: "Monk,
why do you keep honouring me in such an expensive way? Unless I know
the reason, I will not take your fruit."

Then the monk took the king aside and said: "O hero, there is a
business in which I need help. So I ask for your help in it, because
you are a brave man." And the king promised his assistance.

Then the monk was pleased, and said again: "O King, on the last night
of the waning moon, you must go to the great cemetery at nightfall, and
come to me under the fig-tree." Then the king said "Certainly," and
Patience, the monk, went home well pleased.

So when the night came, the mighty king remembered his promise to the
monk, and at dusk he wrapped his head in a black veil, took his sword
in his hand, and went to the great cemetery without being seen. When he
got there, he looked about, and saw the monk standing under the
fig-tree and making a magic circle. So he went up and said: "Monk, here
I am. Tell me what I am to do for you."

And when the monk saw the king, he was delighted and said: "O King, if
you wish to do me a favour, go south from here some distance all alone,
and you will see a sissoo tree and a dead body hanging from it. Be so
kind as to bring that here."

When the brave king heard this, he agreed, and, true to his promise,
turned south and started. And as he walked with difficulty along the
cemetery road, he came upon the sissoo tree at some distance, and saw a
body hanging on it. So he climbed the tree, cut the rope, and let it
fall to the ground. And as it fell, it unexpectedly cried aloud, as if
alive. Then the king climbed down, and thinking it was alive, he
mercifully rubbed its limbs. Then the body gave a loud laugh.

So the king knew that a goblin lived in it, and said without fear:
"What are you laughing about? Come, let us be off." But then he did not
see the goblin on the ground any longer. And when he looked up, there
he was, hanging in the tree as before. So the king climbed the tree
again, and carefully carried the body down. A brave man's heart is
harder than a diamond, and nothing makes it tremble.

Then he put the body with the goblin in it on his shoulder, and started
off in silence. And as he walked along, the goblin in the body said: "O
King, to amuse the journey, I will tell you a story. Listen."


_The Prince's Elopement. Whose fault was the resulting death of his

There is a city called Benares where Shiva lives. It is loved by pious
people like the soil of Mount Kailasa. The river of heaven shines there
like a pearl necklace. And in the city lived a king called Valour who
burned up all his enemies by his valour, as a fire burns a forest. He
had a son named Thunderbolt who broke the pride of the love-god by his
beauty, and the pride of men by his bravery. This prince had a clever
friend, the son of a counsellor.

One day the prince was enjoying himself with his friend hunting, and
went a long distance. And so he came to a great forest. There he saw a
beautiful lake, and being tired, he drank from it with his friend the
counsellor's son, washed his hands and feet, and sat down under a tree
on the bank.

And then he saw a beautiful maiden who had come there with her servants
to bathe. She seemed to fill the lake with the stream of her beauty,
and seemed to make lilies grow there with her eyes, and seemed to shame
the lotuses with a face more lovely than the moon. She captured the
prince's heart the moment that he saw her. And the prince took her eyes

The girl had a strange feeling when she saw him, but was too modest to
say a word. So she gave a hint of the feeling in her heart. She put a
lotus on her ear, laid a lily on her head after she had made the edge
look like a row of teeth, and placed her hand on her heart. But the
prince did not understand her signs, only the clever counsellor's son
understood them all.

A moment later the girl went away, led by her servants. She went home
and sat on the sofa and stayed there. But her thoughts were with the

The prince went slowly back to his city, and was terribly lonely
without her, and grew thinner every day. Then his friend the son of the
counsellor took him aside and told him that she was not hard to find.
But he had lost all courage and said: "My friend, I don't know her
name, nor her home, nor her family. How can I find her? Why do you
vainly try to comfort me?"

Then the counsellor's son said: "Did you not see all that she hinted
with her signs? When she put the lotus on her ear, she meant that she
lived in the kingdom of a king named Ear-lotus. And when she made the
row of teeth, she meant that she was the daughter of a man named Bite
there. And when she laid the lily on her head, she meant that her name
was Lily. And when she placed her hand on her heart, she meant that she
loved you. And there is a king named Ear-lotus in the Kalinga country.
There is a very rich man there whom the king likes. His real name is
Battler, but they call him Bite. He has a pearl of a girl whom he loves
more than his life, and her name is Lily. This is true, because people
told me. So I understood her signs about her country and the other
things." When the counsellor's son had said this, the prince was
delighted to find him so clever, and pleased because he knew what to do.

Then he formed a plan with the counsellor's son, and started for the
lake again, pretending that he was going to hunt, but really to find
the girl that he loved. On the way he rode like the wind away from his
soldiers, and started for the Kalinga country with the counsellor's son.

When they reached the city of King Ear-lotus, they looked about and
found the house of the man called Bite, and they went to a house near
by to live with an old woman. And the counsellor's son said to the old
woman: "Old woman, do you know anybody named Bite in this city?"

Then the old woman answered him respectfully: "My son, I know him well.
I was his nurse. And I am a servant of his daughter Lily. But I do not
go there now because my dress is stolen. My naughty son is a gambler
and steals my clothes."

Then the counsellor's son was pleased and satisfied her with his own
cloak and other presents. And he said: "Mother, you must do very
secretly what we tell you. Go to Bite's daughter Lily, and tell her
that the prince whom she saw on the bank of the lake is here, and sent
you with a love-message to her."

The old woman was pleased with the gifts and went to Lily at once. And
when she got a chance, she said: "My child, the prince and the
counsellor's son have come to take you. Tell me what to do now." But
the girl scolded her and struck her cheeks with both hands smeared with

The old woman was hurt by this treatment, and came home weeping, and
said to the two men: "My sons, see how she left the marks of her
fingers on my face."

And the prince was hopeless and sad, but the very clever counsellor's
son took him aside and said, "My friend, do not be sad. She was only
keeping the secret when she scolded the old woman, and put ten fingers
white with camphor on her face. She meant that you must wait before
seeing her, for the next ten nights are bright with moonlight."

So the counsellor's son comforted the prince, took a little gold
ornament and sold it in the market, and bought a great dinner for the
old woman. So they two took dinner with the old woman. They did this
for ten days, and then the counsellor's son sent her to Lily again, to
find out something more.

And the old woman was eager for dainty food and drink. So to please him
she went to Lily's house, and then came back and said: "My children, I
went there and stayed with her for some time without speaking. But she
spoke herself of my naughtiness in mentioning you, and struck me again
on the chest with three fingers stained red. So I came back in

Then the counsellor's son whispered to the prince: "Don't be alarmed,
my friend. When she left the marks of three red fingers on the old
woman's heart, she meant to say very cleverly that there were three
dangerous days coming." So the counsellor's son comforted the prince.

And when three days were gone, he sent the old woman to Lily again. And
this time she went and was very respectfully entertained, and treated
to wine and other things the whole day. But when she was ready to go
back in the evening, a terrible shouting was heard outside. They heard
people running and crying: "Oh, oh! A mad elephant has escaped from his
stable and is running around and stamping on people."

Then Lily said to the old woman: "Mother, you must not go through the
street now where the elephant is. I will put you in a swing and let you
down with ropes through this great window into the garden. Then you can
climb into a tree and jump on the wall, and go home by way of another
tree." So she had her servants let the old woman down from the window
into the garden by a rope-swing. And the old woman went home and told
the prince and the counsellor's son all about it.

Then the counsellor's son said to the prince: "My friend, your wishes
are fulfilled. She has been clever enough to show you the road. So you
must follow that same road this very evening to the room of your

So the prince went to the garden with the counsellor's son by the road
that the old woman had shown them. And there he saw the rope-swing
hanging down, and servants above keeping an eye on the road. And when
he got into the swing, the servants at the window pulled at the rope
and he came to his darling. And when he had gone in, the counsellor's
son went back to the old woman's house.

But the prince saw Lily, and her face was beautiful like the full moon,
and the moonlight of her beauty shone forth, like the night when the
moon shines in secret because of the dark. And when she saw him, she
threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. So he married her and
stayed hidden with her for some days.

One day he said to his wife: "My dear, my friend the counsellor's son
came with me, and he is staying all alone at the old woman's house. I
must go and see him, then I will come back."

But Lily was shrewd and said: "My dear, I must ask you something. Did
you understand the signs I made, or was it the counsellor's son?" And
the prince said to her: "My dear, I did not understand them all, but my
friend has wonderful wisdom. He understood everything and told me."
Then the sweet girl thought, and said: "My dear, you did wrong not to
tell me before. Your friend is a real brother to me. I ought to have
sent him some nuts and other nice things at the very first."

Then she let him go, and he went to his friend by night by the same
road, and told all that his wife had said. But the counsellor's son
said: "That is foolish," and did not think much of it. So they spent
the night talking.

Then when the time for the twilight sacrifice came, a friend of Lily's
came there with cooked rice and nuts in her hand. She came and asked
the counsellor's son about his health and gave him the present. And she
cleverly tried to keep the prince from eating. "Your wife is expecting
you to dinner," she said, and a moment later she went away.

Then the counsellor's son said to the prince: "Look, your Majesty. I
will show you something curious." So he took a little of the cooked
rice and gave it to a dog that was there. And the moment he ate it, the
dog died. And the prince asked the counsellor's son what this strange
thing could mean.

And he replied: "Your Majesty, she knew that I was clever because I
understood her signs, and she wanted to kill me out of love for you.
For she thought the prince would not be all her own while I was alive,
but would leave her for my sake and go back to his own city. So she
sent me poisoned food to eat. But you must not be angry with her. I
will think up some scheme."

Then the prince praised the counsellor's son, and said: "You are truly
the body of wisdom." And then suddenly a great wailing of
grief-stricken people was heard: "Alas! Alas! The king's little son is

When he heard this, the counsellor's son was delighted, and said: "Your
Majesty, go to-night to Lily's house, and make her drink wine until she
loses her senses and seems to be dead. Then as she lies there, make a
mark on her hip with a red-hot fork, steal her jewels, and come back
the old way through the window. After that I will do the right thing."

Then he made a three-pronged fork and gave it to the prince. And the
prince took the crooked, cruel thing, hard as the weapon of Death, and
went by night as before to Lily's house. "A king," he thought, "ought
not to disregard the words of a high-minded counsellor." So when he had
stupefied her with wine, he branded her hip with the fork, stole her
jewels, returned to his friend, and told him everything, showing him
the jewels.

Then the counsellor's son felt sure his scheme was successful. He went
to the cemetery in the morning, and disguised himself as a hermit, and
the prince as his pupil. And he said: "Take this pearl necklace from
among the jewels. Go and sell it in the market-place. And if the
policemen arrest you, say this: It was given to me to sell by my

So the prince went to the market-place and stood there offering the
pearl necklace for sale, and he was arrested while doing it by the
policemen. And as they were eager to find out about the theft of the
jewels from Bite's daughter, they took the prince at once to the chief
of police. And when he saw that the culprit was dressed like a hermit,
he asked him very gently: "Holy sir, where did you get this pearl
necklace? It belongs to Bite's daughter and was stolen." Then the
prince said to them: "Gentlemen, my teacher gave it to me to sell. You
had better go and ask him."

Then the chief of police went and asked him: "Holy sir, how did this
pearl necklace come into your pupil's hand?"

And the shrewd counsellor's son whispered to him: "Sir, as I am a
hermit, I wander about all the time in this region. And as I happened
to be here in this cemetery, I saw a whole company of witches who came
here at night. And one of the witches split open the heart of a king's
son, and offered it to her master. She was mad with wine, and screwed
up her face most horribly. But when she impudently tried to snatch my
rosary as I prayed, I became angry, and branded her on the hip with a
three-pronged fork which I had made red-hot with a magic spell. And I
took this pearl necklace from her neck. Then, as it was not a thing for
a hermit, I sent it to be sold."

When he heard this, the chief of police went and told the whole story
to the king. And when the king heard and saw the evidence, he sent the
old woman, who was reliable, to identify the pearl necklace. And he
heard from her that Lily was branded on the hip.

Then he was convinced that she was really a witch and had devoured his
son. So he went himself to the counsellor's son, who was disguised as a
hermit, and asked how Lily should be punished. And by his advice, she
was banished from the city, though her parents wept. So she was
banished naked to the forest and knew that the counsellor's son had
done it all, but she did not die.

And at nightfall the prince and the counsellor's son put off their
hermit disguise, mounted on horseback, and found her weeping. They put
her on a horse and took her to their own country. And when they got
there, the prince lived most happily with her.

But Bite thought that his daughter was eaten by wild beasts in the
wood, and he died of grief. And his wife died with him.

When he had told this story, the goblin asked the king: "O King, who
was to blame for the death of the parents: the prince, or the
counsellor's son, or Lily? You seem like a very wise man, so resolve my
doubts on this point. If you know and do not tell me the truth, then
your head will surely fly into a hundred pieces. And if you give a good
answer, then I will jump from your shoulder and go back to the sissoo

Then King Triple-victory said to the goblin: "You are a master of
magic. You surely know yourself, but I will tell you. It was not the
fault of any of the three you mentioned. It was entirely the fault of
King Ear-lotus."

But the goblin said: "How could it be the king's fault? The other three
did it. Are the crows to blame when the geese eat up the rice?"

Then the king said: "But those three are not to blame. It was right for
the counsellor's son to do his master's business. So he is not to
blame. And Lily and the prince were madly in love and could not stop to
think. They only looked after their own affairs. They are not to blame.

"But the king knew the law-books very well, and he had spies to find
out the facts among the people. And he knew about the doings of
rascals. So he acted without thinking. He is to blame."

When the goblin heard this, he wanted to test the king's constancy. So
he went back by magic in a moment to the sissoo tree. And the king went
back fearlessly to get him.


_The Three Lovers who brought the Dead Girl to Life. Whose wife should
she be?_

Then King Triple-victory went back under the sissoo tree to fetch the
goblin. And when he got there and looked about, he saw the goblin
fallen on the ground and moaning. Then, when the king put the body with
the goblin in it on his shoulder and started to carry him off quickly
and silently, the goblin on his shoulder said to him: "Oh King, you
have fallen into a very disagreeable task which you do not deserve. So
to amuse you I will tell another story. Listen."

On the bank of Kalindi River is a farm where a very learned Brahman
lived. And he had a very beautiful daughter named Coral. When the
Creator fashioned her fresh and peerless loveliness, surely he must
have despised the cleverness he showed before in fashioning the nymphs
of heaven.

When she had grown out of childhood, there came from the city of Kanauj
three Brahman youths, endowed with all the virtues. And each of them
asked her father for her, that she might be his own. And though her
father would rather have died than give her up to anyone, he made up
his mind to give her to one of them. But the girl would not marry any
one of them for some time, because she was afraid of hurting the
feelings of the other two. So they stayed there all three of them day
and night, feasting on the beauty of her face, like the birds that live
on moonbeams.

Then all at once Coral fell sick of a burning fever and died. And when
the Brahman youths saw that she was dead, they were smitten with grief.
But they adorned her body, took it to the cemetery, and burned it.

And one of them built a hut there, slept on a bed made of her ashes,
and got his food by begging. The second took her bones and went to dip
them in the sacred Ganges river. And the third became a monk and
wandered in other countries.

And as he wandered, the monk came to a village called Thunderbolt, and
was entertained in the house of a Brahman. But when he had been
honoured by the master of the house and had begun to eat dinner there,
the little boy began to cry and would not stop even when they petted
him. So his mother took him on her arm, and angrily threw him into the
blazing fire. And being tender, he was reduced to ashes in a moment.

When the monk saw this, his hair stood on end, and he said: "Alas! I
have come into the house of a devil. I will not eat this food. It would
be like eating sin." But the master of the house said to him: "Brahman,
I have studied to good purpose. See my skill in bringing the dead to
life." So he opened a book, took out a magic spell, read it, and
sprinkled water on the ashes. And the moment the water was sprinkled,
the boy stood up alive just as before. Then the monk was highly
delighted and finished his dinner with pleasure.

And the master of the house hung the book on an ivory peg, took dinner
with the monk, and went to bed. When he was asleep, the monk got up
quietly, and tremblingly took the book, hoping to bring his darling
Coral back to life. He went away and travelled night and day, until he
finally reached the cemetery. And he caught sight of the second youth,
who had come back after dipping the bones in the Ganges. And he also
found the third youth, who had made a hut and lived there, sleeping on
the girl's ashes.

Then the monk cried: "Brother, leave your hut. I will bring the dear
girl back to life." And while they eagerly questioned him, he opened
the book, and read the magic spell, and sprinkled holy water on the
ashes. And Coral immediately stood up, alive. And the girl was more
beautiful than ever. She looked as if she were made of gold.

When the three youths saw her come back to life like that, they went
mad with love, and fought with one another to possess her.

One said: "I brought her to life by my magic spell. She is my wife."

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