Kathasaritsagara means 'The Ocean of Stories'. Written in the eleventh century by Somadeva in verse form, the stories are told with simplicity and directness, and with touches of humour and pathos. These reflect on many facets of life-love, intrigue, separation, re-union, cleverness, velour and might. The underlying theme is one-triumph of the righteous and sagacious!
From the Book:
The Story of Pataliputra
Three Brahmin brothers were once journeying to the Deccan. After several days, they reached a big city named Chinchini.
"I am tired, O, brother," said the youngest. "Let us find shelter here."
A man standing nearby approached them. "O, noblemen," he said, "I am a Brahmin, Bhojika. I overheard your talk and I would like to offer you shelter in my humble abode."
The brothers accepted at once. Soon after, they were pleasantly surprised to see Bhojika's three beautiful daughters.
Bhojika had made up his mind. Calling the eldest brother aside, he said, "I see the marks of learning on you three. I could get no better suitors for my daughters. Marry them and I will give you all my wealth."
After the marriage, Bhojika left to perform some austerities. All went well for a while until a famine suddenly struck the city on the heels of a terrible drought. One morning, the three women woke up to find their husbands gone. "Alas! They have deserted us!" they cried. "How could they be so cruel?"
"And I am pregnant," lamented the middle sister. "What does fate have in store for me?"
The three sisters embraced each other. "Let us be brave," said the eldest. "We will take care of each other and of this unborn child as well."
In course of time a son was born to the middle sister. That night Lord Shiva appeared to them in their dreams.
"Do not fear for the future," he said. "Call this young boy Putraka. He will always be your support. Every morning, a hundred thousand gold pieces will be found under his pillow and he will become a king at last."
The dream was found to be true. All through Putraka's boyhood, the three women lavished love and care on him and accumulated his treasure. Word of this miracle spread slowly but surely and at last, when a candidate for the throne was desired, Putraka was the popular choice.
"Give wealth to everyone," ordered the new king. "A famine drove my father and uncles away. None should suffer from want again."
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