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

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Ardschi-Bordschi Discovers Vikramâditja’s Throne


ARDSCHI-BORDSCHI could not rest, because of this matter of the Boy-king. "For," said he, "if there is in my dominions a stupa where so great wisdom is to be acquired, is it not to the King that it should belong, that he may rule the people with sagacity? Let Us at least see this thing, and perhaps We may discover what is the source of the prodigy."

               Very early in the morning, therefore, he arose, and calling all his ministers, and counsellors, and all the great men of his court to him, he went forth to the mound, and there he found all even as it had been told him. There were the boys tending the calves; and when they had leisure to play, they all ran a race over the hill, and he who won the race was installed king on top of the mound, the other boys paying him homage, and making obeisance to him as to a real king.

               Then the most mighty king, even Ardschi-Bordschi himself, propounded the question to the Boy-king, saying, "Tell us whence is it that thou, who art only a boy and a herd of the calves, hast this wisdom, surpassing the wisdom of the King. The wisdom by which it is given thee to discern between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, shall it not also tell thee what is the source of this prodigy?"

               Then the Boy-king, rising in his majesty, made answer,--

               "Let the King cause labourers to be fetched, and let them dig under this mound, from the time of the rising of the sun even until the setting thereof again; thus shall it be found whence ariseth the prodigy."

               With these words the Boy-king came down from the mound, and Ardschi-Bordschi caused labourers to be fetched, and they began digging at the mound as the sun rose above the mountains, and ceased not till the setting thereof again; but then they came upon a throne of gold, all dazzling with brightness, and by its light (1) they went on working through the night, till the whole was delivered from its covering of earth. So great was its splendour when the morning sun rose upon it again, that all beholders were struck with awe, and the people prostrated themselves before it.

               Ardschi-Bordschi was filled with surpassing joy when he saw it, for now he saw he had attained the desired seat of wisdom, by means of which he should rule his people aright (2).

               Heading a procession of all that was great and noble in his realm, he had the throne brought, amid many ceremonies, to his own residence. Then having called the wise men of the kingdom, and inquired of them a lucky day, he summoned a great gathering of all his subjects, to attend his mounting of this throne of prodigy, amid singing, and offering of incense, and sounding of trumpet-shells (3).

               The throne, which had been set up in his dwelling, meantime, was all of pure and shining gold. The foundation of it rested on four terrible lions of gold; and it was reached by sixteen steps of precious stones, on every one of which were two figures of cunning workmanship--the one a warrior, the other a Sûta (4)--sculptured in wood, standing to guard the approach thereof. No such beautiful work had ever before been seen in all the dominions of Ardschi-Bordschi.

               When therefore the ministers and people were all arranged in order of rank, and a great silence had been proclaimed on the shell-trumpets, the King, habited in raiment of state, proceeded to mount the throne.

               Ere he had set foot on the lowest step, however, the two figures of sculptured wood that stood upon it, abandoning their guardant attitude, suddenly came forward, and placed themselves before him, as in defiance--the warrior striking him in the breast, while the Sûta addressed him thus:--

               "Surely, O Ardschi-Bordschi! it is not in earnest that thou art minded to ascend the steps of this sacred throne?" And all the thirty-two sculptured figures answered together,--

               "Halt! O Ardschi-Bordschi!"

               But the Sûta proceeded,--

               "Knowest thou not, O Ardschi-Bordschi, that this throne in the days of old was the seat of the god Churmusta, and that after him it was given to none to set upon it, till Vikramâditja rose. Wherefore, O Ardschi-Bordschi, approach not to occupy it. Unless thou also art prepared to devote thy days, not to thine own pleasure, but to the service of the six classes of living beings (5), renounce the attempt to set foot on it." And all the thirty-two sculptured figures answered together,--

               "Halt! O Ardschi-Bordschi!"

               But the Sûta proceeded,--

               "Art thou such a king as the great Vikramâditja? then come and sit upon his throne; but if not, then desist from the attempt." And all the thirty-two sculptured figures answered together,--

               "Halt! O Ardschi-Bordschi!"

               When they cried the third time, "Halt! O Ardschi-Bordschi!" the King himself, and all who stood there with him, fell on their faces before the throne, and worshipped it.

               Then spoke another Sûta,--

               "Listen, O Ardschi-Bordschi, and all ye people give ear, and I will tell you out of the days of old what manner of king was the hero Vikramâditja."


(1) We read of a silver statue in one of the many temples founded by Lalitâditja, King of Cashmere, whose bright golden cuirass "gave forth a stream of light like a river of milk." Mentioned in Lassen, iii. p. 1000, and iv. 575.

(2) It will be perceived the story is not without a certain meaning. It inculcates regard for the example and experience of the ancient and wise--the wisdom of the hero Vikramâditja (typified by his throne) was to be the model and guide of other kings and dynasties.

(3) Sounding of trumpet-shells. The shankha or concha seems to have been the earliest form of trumpet used in war. It often finds mention in the heroic poems. Crishna used one in his warrior character; and Vishnu, from bearing one, had the appellation shankha and shankhin. To the present day it is used in announcing festivals in Mongolia.

(4) Sûta, bard. To this order it is that we are indebted for the preservation of so many myths and heroic tales. He was also the charioteer of the kings.

(5) The six classes, states, or stages of living beings, by passing through which Buddhahood was to be attained--(1) Pure spirit or the devas gods (Skr. Surâs; Mongolian, Tegri; Kalm. Tenggeri); (2) the unclean spirits, enemies of the gods (Skr. Asurâs); (3) men; (4) beasts; (5) Pretâs, monsters surrounding the entrance of hell; (6) the hell-gods. (Köppen, i. 238, et seq., quoted by Jülg.)

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Ardschi-Bordschi Discovers Vikramâditja’s Throne
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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