Sagas from the Far East; or, Kalmouk and Mongolian Traditionary Tales | Annotated Tale

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Boy-King, The


LONG ages ago there lived a mighty king called Ardschi-Bordschi (1).

               In the neighbourhood of his residence was a hill where the boys who were tending the calves were wont to pass away the time by racing up and down. But they had also another custom, and it was, that whichever of them won the race was king for the day--an ordinary game enough, only that when it was played in this place the Boy-king thus constituted was at once endowed with such extraordinary importance and majesty that every one was constrained to treat him as a real king. He had not only ministers and dignitaries among his playfellows, who prostrated themselves before him and fulfilled all his behests, but whoever passed that way could not choose but pay him homage also.

               At last the report of the matter filled all the land, and came also to the ears of the King himself.

               Ardschi-Bordschi had the whole matter exposed before him, and he inquired into all the manners and ways of the boys; then he said,--

               "If this thing happened every day to one and the same boy, then would I acknowledge in him a Bodhisattva (2); but as every day a different boy may win the race, and it would seem that whichever of them is called king is clothed with equal majesty, it appears manifestly to me that the virtue is not in the boy, but in the hill of which he makes his throne."

               Nevertheless the matter troubled the King, and he desired above all things to obtain some certain knowledge concerning it, not seeing how to search it out.


(1) Ardschi-Bordschi is a Mongolian corruption of King Bhoga. (Jülg.)

               The name of Bhoga (also written Noe, Nauge, and Noza; the N having entered from a careless following of the Persian historian Abulfazl, n and b being only distinguished by a point in Persian writing; and the z through the Portuguese, who habitually rendered the Indian g thus) seems to have been almost as favourite an appellation as that of Vikramâditja itself, and pretty equally surrounded with confusion of fabulous incident.

               The Bhoga were one of the mightiest dynasties of ancient India, and the name was given to the family on account of their unbounded prosperity; being derived from bhug = enjoyment. The most celebrated king of the race bore a name which in our own day has become associated with prosperous rule, Bhoga Bismarka, or Bhismarka, is celebrated in ancient Sagas for his resistless might in the field, and was also accounted the type of a prudent and far-sighted sovereign. Many glories are fabled of him which I have not space to narrate, and even he only reigned over a fourth part of the Bhoga.

               The individual Bhoga, however, who is probably the subject of the present story, and the details of whose virtues and wisdom present particular analogies with the life of Vikramâditja is, comparatively speaking, modern, as he reigned from A.D. 1037 to 1093 according to some, or from 997 to 1053 according to others. He was likewise originally King of Maláva or Malwa, and fabulous conquests and extensions of dominion are likewise ascribed to him.

               He was the greatest king of the Prâmâra dynasty, one of the four so-called Agnikula, or "from-the-god-Agni-descended," or "fire-born" tribes, and traced up his pedigree to a certain Paramâra, "The destroyer of adversaries," born at the prayer of the Hermit Rishi Vasichta on the lofty mountain of Arbuda (Arboo).

               The story of this Bhoga is contained in two somewhat legendary accounts, called (1) the Bhogaprabandha, or poetical narrative concerning Bhoga; and (2) the Bhogakaritra, or the deeds of Bhoga. The first was written or collected by the Pandit Vallabha about 1340. The first part relates the circumstances concerning Bhoga's mounting the throne, and the second part is a history of the poets and learned men who flocked from all parts of India to his court. It tells an intricate fable about his having been persecuted in youth by a treacherous uncle who preceded him on the throne, but who afterwards came to repentance, while a supernatural interposition delivered Bhoga from all his machinations and made him master of Gauda or Bengal, and many other parts of India. Other legends mention his discovery of the throne of Vikramâditja, and make the figures on the steps Apsarasas, or nymphs, who were delivered and set free by him when he took possession of it and removed it to Dhara, whither he had transferred his capital from Uggajini. An Inscription (given at length, viii. 5, 6, in Journ. of As. Soc. of Bengal, v. p. 376) speaks thus of him:--"The most prosperous king Bhogadeva was the most illustrious of the whole generation of the Prâmâra. He attained to glory as great as that of the destroyer (Crishna) and traversed the universe to its utmost boundaries. His fame rose like the moonbeams over the mountains and rivers of the regions of the earth, and before it the renown of the inimical rulers faded away as the pale lotus-blossom is closed up." The Persian historian Abulfazl testifies in somewhat more sober language, that he greatly extended the frontiers of his kingdom.

               His career was not one of unchecked prosperity however. According to an Inscription he was at last subdued by his enemy, and it thus gently tells the tale of his reverse:--"After he had attained to equality with Vâsava (Indra) and the land was well watered with streams, his relation Udajâditja became Ruler of the earth." His adversary being a relation, and a Prâmâra like himself, the feud between them was considered a scandal, and the inscription avoids perpetuating the details of it. A legend in the Bhogakaritra supplies some. A hermit had been rather severely judged by King Bhoga for a misdemeanour, and condemned to ride through the streets of the capital on an ass. To punish the king for this scandal he went into Cashmere till he had acquired the power of making the soul of a man pass into another body. Then he came back and constrained the soul of the king to pass into the body of a parrot while he made his own soul pass into the king's body; then he issued a decree commanding the slaughter of all the parrots in the kingdom. The royal parrot, however, who was the object of the decree, effected his escape and came to the court of Kandrasena, where he became the pet bird of the princess his daughter; to her he revealed the story of his transformation. At her instigation the hermit-king was persuaded to come to Kandrasena's court to sue for her hand, and there, by means of an intrigue of hers he was put to death. Bhoga thus regained his original form and his kingdom.

               Abulfazl celebrates his moderation and uprightness, as well as his liberality and the encouragement he gave to men of learning, of whom he had not less than five hundred at one time lodged in his palace. This similarity of pursuits helped so to foster the tendency of which I have already spoken, to confuse the deeds of one hero with another, that one poet at least (Vararuki by name), who flourished under Bhoga, is reckoned among the nine "jewels" of Vikramâditja's court! Kalidasa, who was not very much, if at all later, is also put among the protégés of Bhoga in the Bhogaprabandha. The actual writers of any note belonging to Bhoga's age, whose names and works have come down to us are chiefly Subandhu and Vâna, authors of two poems entitled respectively Vâsavadattâ and Kâdambarî, of which a reprint was issued at Calcutta in 1850. Dandi, who wrote a celebrated drama called Dashakumârakaritra, affording a useful picture of the manners prevailing in Hindustan and the Dekhan in his time; he also left a treatise on the art of poetry, called Kâvjadarshâ. Another poet of this date, named Shankara, has often been confounded with a philosophical writer of the same name in the eighth century. The Harivansha, a mythological poem in continuation of the Mâha Bhârata, also belongs to this reign. Among numerous other works ascribed to it, many of which have not yet been examined into by Europeans, are several treatises of mathematics and astronomy. Bhoga himself is entered in a list of the astronomers of his time, and he was said to be the author of a treatise on medicine, called Vriddha Bhoga, and of one on jurisprudence, called Smritishâstra.

(2) Boddhisattva. See p. 342 and p. 365.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Boy-King, The
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Book Title: Sagas from the Far East; or, Kalmouk and Mongolian Traditionary Tales
Book Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Publisher: Griffith and Farran
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1873
Country of Origin: Mongolia & Russia
Classification: unclassified

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