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Sûta Tells Ardschi-Bordschi Concerning Vikramâditja’s Youth, The


GANDHARVA, the hero's father, was himself also a mighty man of valour, and a prince devoting himself to the well-being of his people. He not only carried on wars against the enemies of his country, but exerted himself to the utmost to deliver his subjects from the onslaught of the wicked Schimnus.

               One day, therefore, he went forth alone to do battle with a prince of the Schimnus; and in order that he might be in a condition the better adapted to match him, he left his body behind him, under shadow of an image of Buddha. His younger wife, even the wife of low degree, happening by chance to see him leaving the temple without his body, was so delighted with the wonderfully beauteous appearance he thus presented that she went to Udsessküleng-Gôa-Chatun, saying, "Our master, so long as he went in and out among us, always was clothed in human form like other men; but to-day, when he started on his expedition against the Schimnus, he wore such a brilliant and beautiful appearance that it would be a joy if he looked the same when he is with us." But Udsessküleng-Chatun replied, "Because you are young you understand not these things. It is only to preserve his body from the fine piercing swords of the Schimnus that he left it behind him."

               The younger wife, however, was not satisfied with the explanation, and said within herself, "If I go and burn the body which the King has left behind him, then must he wear his beautiful spirit-appearance when he comes back to us."

               She called together, therefore, all the other maidens, and having kindled a great fire of sandal-wood, went back to the temple, and fetched Gandharva's body from beneath the image of Buddha, and burned it.

               While this was going on the King appeared in his radiant form in the heavens, and spoke thus to Udsessküleng-Gôa-Chatun, saying,--

               "From my beloved subjects, for whom I have laboured so untiringly, and from my dear wives and children and friends, and from my body which has served me so faithfully that I cannot but love it also--I am called to part. As my body is burnt, I cannot more visit the earth. My only concern, however, is this, that I know within seven days the host of the Schimnus will come down upon you, and I shall not be there to defend you. Take, therefore, this counsel, giving which is all I can do for you more, for I go to Nirvâna (1). Get you up then, and escape with the young prince, even with the Bodhisattva Vikramâditja, within these seven days, so that the Schimnus' host coming may not find you."

               After these words they saw him no more, for he entered then upon Nirvâna.

               The officers and ministers and household and subjects gave themselves to distressful grief when they knew that they should see their good master Gandharva no more, but Udsessküleng-Chatun said, "If I give myself over thus to grief it will not bring back my lord the Khan; it were better that I stir myself to fulfil his all-wise counsel, and bear his son to a place of safety." Having thus spoken, she called all her maidens together and the child, and went to seek safety from the Schimnus in her own country. As they journeyed, the young maiden who had given her the counsel to visit the hermit of the kaitja, and who had eaten what was left of the porridge made of earth boiled in sesame oil in the porcelain vessel, she also had a child, and when the Khanin was astonished at the thing, the maid confessed that she had eaten of the porridge which the hermit gave her that was left behind in the porcelain vessel, and the Khanin remembered that she had neglected to fulfil the counsel of the hermit, saying to her, "Eat it all up."

               The other maidens now objected to the burden of having another infant to take care of on a perilous journey, and would have put it to death. But the Khanin said, "Nay, but shall a child that came of the hermit's blessing be slain?" And when she found she could not prevail with them to take it she bid them not slay it, but leave it in shelter of a cave which there was by the way.

               Then they journeyed farther amid many dangers and privations till they came to the capital of the mighty King Kütschün-Tschidaktschi (2) in the outskirts of which they encamped. All the people gathered, however, on the other side of the way, struck with admiration by the wondrous beauty of Udsessküleng-Chatun, all inquiring whence she could be, and flocking to gain a sight of her (3).

               The Khan, seeing this gathering of people from the terrace of his palace, sent to inquire what it was, and a man of the train of the Khanin sent answer, "It is the wife of a mighty King who is escaping from the fear of the Schimnus, her lord having entered Nirvâna." The King, therefore, went down, and spoke with the Khanin, and having learnt from her that such was really the case, the younger wife having burnt his body, and he having appeared in the sky to bid her escape with their son from before the fury of the Schimnus, ordered his ministers to appoint her a dwelling for her and her son, and her train of followers, and to provide them richly with all things befitting their rank.

               All this the ministers did, and the Khanin and her son were hospitably entertained.

               Thus Vikramâditja was brought up in a strange land, but was exercised in all kinds of arts; and increased in strength, well-favoured in mind and body. He learned wisdom of the wise, and the use of arms from men of valour; from the soothsayer learned he cunning arts, and trading from sagacious traders; from robber bands learned he the art of robbery, and from fraudulent dealers to lie.

[Schalû the Wolf-Boy]

               It happened that while they were yet dwelling in this place, a caravan of five hundred merchants came by, and encamped on the banks of a stream near at hand.

               As these men had journeyed along they had found a boy at play in a wolf's den.

               "How can a child live thus in a wolf's den?" said one of the merchants; and with that they set themselves to lure the child to them.

               "How canst thou, a child of men, live thus in common with a wolf's cubs?" inquired they. "It were better thou camest with us."

               But the child answered, "I am in truth a wolf-child, and had rather remain with my wolf-parents."

               But Galbischa, the chief of the merchants, said, "It must not be. A child of men must be brought up with men, and not with wolves." So the merchants took the boy with them, and gave him the name of Schalû (4).

               Thus it came to pass that the child was with them, when they encamped the night after they had taken him, in the neighbourhood of the city where Vikramâditja and his mother lived. In the night the wolves came near, and began to howl (5). Therefore, the merchants asked Schalû in sport, "What are the wolves saying?"

               But Schalû answered in all seriousness, "These wolves that you hear are my parents; and they are saying to me, 'Years ago a party of women passed by this way, and left thee with us as soon as thou wert born; and we have nurtured thee, and made thee strong and brave; and thou, without regard to our affection to thee, hast gone away with strangers. Nevertheless, because we love thee, we will give thee yet this piece of advice. To-night, there will be heavy torrents of rain, and the river by which your caravan is encamped, will overflow its banks. While the merchants, therefore, are engaged in hurry and confusion seeking shelter, then break thou away from them, darling, and come back to us. This further warning give we thee, that in the neighbourhood prowls a robber.'"

               Now it was so that Prince Vikramâditja, having seen the encampment of the merchants, was lurking in the thicket, to exercise his prowess in robbing them. Thus when he overheard how Schalû expounded all that the wolves said, he thought within himself, "This is no ordinary youth. That torrents of rain are about to fall might be a guess, even though the sky presents no indication of a coming storm; but how could he guess that I was prowling about to rob the caravan? this, at least, shows he has command of some sort of supernatural knowledge." Determining therefore to discover some means of possessing himself of the boy, he went away for that night, because the merchants having been warned by the wolves of his designs, they would be on the watch to take him had he attempted an attack.

               The merchants, meantime, believing the words of the wolves expounded to them by Schalû, removed their encampment to a high hill, out of the way of chances of damage by inundation. When night had fallen thick around, the rain began to fall in heavy torrents, and the river overflowed its banks, making particular havock of the very spot on which their tent had been pitched. When the merchants in the morning saw this part of the plain all under water, and the floods pouring over it, they said one to another, "Without Schalû's aid we had certainly all been washed away (6)," and out of gratitude they loaded him with rich presents.

               At the end of the next day's journey they selected the dry bank of a small tributary of the river for their camping-place. Prince Vikramâditja, who, in pursuance of his determination of overnight, had watched their movements from afar, drew near, under cover of the shades of evening, and set himself once more to overhear what Schalû might have to say. By-and-by two wolves approached, and began howling. Then the merchants asked Schalû, saying, "What do the wolves say?" And Schalû answered, "These are the wolves who have been to me from my birth up in the place of parents, and they say, 'Behold, we have watched over thee ever since thou wast born, and made thee brave and strong, nevertheless, unmindful of our aid, thou hast forsaken us, and betaken thyself to men, who are our enemies. This is the last time that we can come after thee (7); but of our affection we give thee this counsel: sleep not this night, for there is a robber again lurking about the camp. Early in the morning also, if thou goest out to the banks of the stream, thou shalt find a dead body brought down by the waters; fish it out, and cut it open, for in the right thigh is enclosed the jewel Tschin-tâmani (8), and whoso is in possession of this talisman, has only to desire it, and he will become a mighty King, ruler of the four parts of the earth.'"

               When Vikramâditja had heard these words, he gave up his marauding intention for that night also, his victims having been set upon their guard. But he was satisfied with the prospect of having the talisman for his booty. Going higher up the stream, therefore, he fished out the dead body as it floated down before it came to the merchants' encampment, opened the thigh, and took out the jewel, and then committed it to the waters again, so that when the merchants and Schalû took it, they found the treasure was gone. But he thought within himself the while, "This Schalû is no common boy; some pretext I must find to possess myself of him before the caravan leaves the neighbourhood."

               The next morning, therefore, before they struck their tents, he came to them in the disguise of a travelling merchant, he also bringing with him stuffs and other objects of barter, on which he had set a private mark. While pretending to trade, he contrived to pick a quarrel, as also to leave some of his wares unperceived hidden in one of the tents. Then he went to King Kütschün-Tschidaktschi, and laid this complaint before him:--

               "Behold, O King, I was engaged in trading with a company of five hundred merchants who are encamped outside this city, but a dispute arising, they fell upon me, and used me contumeliously, and drove me forth from among them, and, what is worst of all, they have retained among them the half of my stuffs."

               In answer to this complaint, the King sent two officers of the court, and an escort of two hundred fighting-men, with instructions to investigate the matter, and if they found that the five hundred merchants had really stolen the stuffs, to put them all to the edge of the sword; but if they found this was not the case, then to bring Vikramâditja to him for judgment.

               Then Vikramâditja once more prostrated himself before the King, and said, "Upon all my things have I set a mark (so and so), whereby they may be recognized, so that clearly may it be established whether they have my stuffs in possession or not."

               When the King's envoys came to the encampment of the five hundred merchants, they arraigned them, saying--

               "Young Vikramâditja lays this complaint against ye before the King, namely, that you have used him shamefully, driving him away from you contumeliously, and laying violent hands on his stuffs, wherewith he sought to trade with you. Know therefore that the command of our all-powerful King is, that if the stuffs of Vikramâditja are found in your tents, you be all put to the edge of the sword." And the merchants answered cheerfully, "Come in and search our tents, for we have no man's goods with us, saving only our own."

               Then the King's envoys searched through all the tents, no man hindering them, so persuaded were the good merchants that none of their company had defrauded any man. As they searched, behold, they found hidden in one of the tents, where Vikramâditja had concealed them, the stuffs bearing his marks, so and so, even as he had testified before the King.

               When the merchants saw this they cried, saying, "Surely some evil demon hath done this thing, for in our company is none who ever took any man's goods;" and they all began to weep with one accord.

               The King's envoys, however, said, "Weeping will bring you no help; we must do according to the words of our all-powerful king." And they called on the two hundred fighting-men to put the whole company of merchants to the edge of the sword.

               When the commotion was at the highest--the merchants entreating mercy and protesting their innocence, and the envoys declaring the urgency of the King's decree, and the fighting-men sharpening their swords--there stood forward young Vikramâditja, and spoke, saying, "Nay, let not so many men be put to death. Leave them their lives if they give me in exchange the boy Schalû, whom they have in their company."

               Then the merchants said to Schalû, "Already hast thou once saved our lives; go now with this man, and save them for us even this second time."

               And Schalû made answer, "To have saved the lives of five hundred men twice over, shall it not bring me good fortune?" So he went with Vikramâditja, and the merchants loaded him with rich merchandize out of gratitude, for his reward.

               When Vikramâditja came home, bringing the boy with him, his mother inquired of him, saying, "Vikramâditja, beloved son, where hast thou been, and whence hast thou the child which thou hast brought?"

               And Vikramâditja answered, "Beloved mother, when thou wast on thy way hither fleeing from before the face of the Schimnus, did not one of thy maidens leave a new-born infant in a wolves' den?"

               And his mother answered, "Even so did one of my maidens, and the child would now be about this age." So they took Schalû to them, and he was unto Udsessküleng-Chatun as a son, but unto Vikramâditja as a brother; and he went with him whithersoever he went.

[Vikramâditja and Schalû Conquer the Schimnus]

               One day Vikramâditja came to his mother, and said to her, "Beloved mother! Live on here in tranquillity, while I, in company with Schalû, will go to the capital where my father, the immortal Gandharva, reigned, and see what is the fate of our people, and how I may recover the inheritance."

               But Udsessküleng-Chatun made answer, "Vikramâditja, beloved son! Is not the way long, and beset with evil men, who are so many and so bold? How then wilt thou ever arrive, or escape their wiles?"

               Vikramâditja said to her, "How great soever the distance may be, by hard walking I will set it behind me; and how many soever the enemy may be, I shall overcome them, defying the violent with strength, and the crafty with craftiness."

               Thus he and Schalû set out to go to the immortal Gandharva's capital. Inquiring by the way what fate had befallen the kingdom, he found that Gandharva had no sooner entered Nirvâna, than his neighbour King Galischa, had made the design to obtain possession of his throne; but that the Schimnus' host had been beforehand with him, and had already commenced to take possession. They made a compact, however, by which the government was left to King Galischa, on condition of his sending to the Schimnus in Gandharva's palace, a tribute of a hundred men daily with a nobleman at their head.

               Then Vikramâditja was grieved when he learned that it was thus the usurping prince dealt with his subjects, and he proceeded farther on his way. When he had come nigh the capital, he heard sounds of wailing, proceeding from a hut on the outskirts; going in to discover the cause, Vikramâditja found lying, with her face upon the floor, a woman all disconsolate, and weeping piteously.

               "Mother! What is thy grief wherewith thou art so terribly oppressed?" inquired Vikramâditja of her.

               "Ah!" replied the woman, "there is no cure for my grief. This King Galischa, who has seized the kingdom of the immortal Gandharva, has entered into a compact with the Schimnus to pay them a tribute of a hundred men every day with a nobleman at their head. I had two sons, one of them is gone I know not whither, and now to-day they have come and taken the other to send in the tribute to the Schimnus, nor can I by any means resist the will of the King. That is why I wail, and that is why I am inconsolable." And she went on with her loud lament (9).

               But Vikramâditja bid her arise and be of good cheer, saying, "I will bring back thy son to thee alive this day, for I will go forth to the Schimnus in his stead."

               Then the woman said, "Nay, neither must this be. Thou art brave with the valour of youth, even as a young horse snorting to get him away to the battle. But when thou art devoured by the Schimnus, then shall thy mother grieve even as I; and belike she is young and has many years before her, whereas my life is well-nigh spent, and what matter if I go down to the grave in sorrow? Who am I that I should bring grief to the mother of thee, noble youth!"

               But Vikramâditja said, "Leave that to me, and if I send not back to thee thine own son as I have promised, then will I send back to thee this youth, Schalû, who is my younger brother, and he shall be thy son."

               When he drew near the dwelling of King Galischa, the King was just marshalling one hundred subjects, with a nobleman at their head, who were to be sent that day to the Schimnus in tribute in Gandharva's palace. But the King, espying him, inquired who and whence he was.

               Then Vikramâditja answered him, "I am Vikramâditja, son of Gandharva. When he died, my mother carried me, being an infant of days, far away for fear of the Schimnus. But now that I have grown to man's estate, I am come together with my younger brother to see after the state of my father's kingdom."

               Galischa then said, "It is well for thee that Heaven preserved thee from coming before, otherwise thou mightest have had all the travail which has fallen upon me; nevertheless, as I came first, I am in possession. But I have every day in sorrow and agony to send a tribute of one hundred subjects, with a nobleman at their head, to be devoured by the Schimnus."

               "This have I learnt," replied Vikramâditja, "and it is even on that account that I am here. For have I not seen the grief of a mother mourning over her son, and it is to take his place, and to go in his stead, that I came hither to thee."

               And Galischa said, "How canst thou, youth that thou art, defy all the might of the Schimnus, doubt not now but that they will devour thee before thou art aware."

               "Then," replied the magnanimous prince, "if I do not prevail against the Schimnus, this I shall gain, that because I have given my life for another, I shall in my next birth rise to a higher place (10) than at present."

               "If that is thy mind," replied the King, "then do even as thou hast said."

               So Vikramâditja went out with the tribute of blood, and sent back the youth whom he had come to replace, to his mother.

               When the King saw him go forth with firm step, and as it were dancing with joy over his undertaking, he said, "There is one case in which he might turn out to be our deliverer; but if that case does not befall, then will he but have come to swell the number of victims of the Schimnus. Let us, however, all wait here together through the day, to see what may befall."

               Vikramâditja and his companions meantime arrived at Gandharva's palace; and Vikramâditja, as if he had known the place all his life, went straight up to the throne-room, where was the great and dazzling Sinhâsana (11). Ascending it, therefore, he sat himself in it, and, while his tears flowed down, he cried, "Oh for the days of my father, the immortal Gandharva; for he reigned gloriously! But since he hath entered Nirvâna we have had nothing but weariness. What would my father have said had he seen his subjects made by hundreds at a time food for the SchimnusSchimnus, beware! lest I destroy your whole race from off the face of the earth."

               Thus spoke Vikramâditja, till, inspired by his royal courage, he had sent all the hundred victims of this tribute back to their homes, defying the anger of the Schimnus. But to the King he sent word, "The Schimnus of whom thou standest in mortal dread will I curb and tame. Meantime, let there be four hundred vessels of brandy prepared." And the King did as he said, and sent and put out four hundred vessels filled with strong brandy in the way.

               When, therefore, the Schimnus came that they might devour their victims as usual, they first came upon the four hundred vessels of brandy, and seeing them, they set upon them greedily, and drank up their contents. Overcome by the strong spirit, they lay about on the ground half-senseless, and Vikramâditja came upon them and slew them, and hewed them in pieces.

               He had hardly despatched the last of them when their Schimnu-king, informed of what had been done, came down in wrath and fury, flourishing his drawn sword. But Vikramâditja said to him, "Halt! King of the Schimnus; taste first of my brandy, and if it overcome thee, then shalt thou be my slave; but if not, then will I serve thee. Then the King of the Schimnus drank up all the brandy, and, overpowered by the strong spirit, fell down senseless on the earth.

               As he was about to slay him like the others, Vikramâditja thought within himself, "After all, it will bring greater fame to overcome him in fair fight than to slay him by stratagem." So he sat down and waited till he came to himself; then he defied him to combat; and when he stood up to fight, he raised his sword and cut him in two.

               Then see! of the two halves there arose two men; and when he cut each of these in two, there were four men; and when he cut these in two, there were eight men, who all rushed upon him. Then the Prince transformed himself into eight lions, which roared terribly, and tore the eight men in pieces, and destroyed them utterly.

               While this terrible combat was going on, there were frightful convulsions of nature (12): mountains fell in, and in the place where they had stood were level plains; and plains were raised up, and appeared as mountains, water gushed out of them and overran the land, and all the subjects of Gandharva fell senseless on the earth. But when Vikramâditja had made an end of the Schimnus, and resumed his own form again, he made a great offering of incense, and the earth resumed her stability; the people were called back to life, and all was gladness and thanksgiving. All the people, and King Galischa at their head, acknowledged Vikramâditja as their lawful sovereign, and he ascended the throne of his father Gandharva. Then he sent for the Queen-mother, and made the joy of all his people.

               When the Sûta had made an end of the narrative of Vikramâditja's youth, he addressed himself to Ardschi-Bordschi, saying,--

               "If thou canst boast of being such a King as Vikramâditja, then come and ascend this throne; but if not, then beware, at thy peril, that thou approach it not."

               Ardschi-Bordschi then drew near once more to ascend the throne, but two other of the sculptured figures, forsaking their guardant attitude, came forward and warned him back.

               Then another Sûta addressed him, saying, "Halt! O Ardschi-Bordschi! As yet thou hast only heard concerning the birth and the youth of Vikramâditja; now hearken, and I will tell thee some of his mighty deeds."

               And all the sculptured figures answered together,--

               "Halt! O Ardschi-Bordschi!"


(1) Nirvâna. See supra, p. 330, note, p. 334, and p. 343. The word is sometimes used however poetically, simply as an equivalent for death.

(2) Kütschun Tschindaktschi = "One provided with might." (Jülg.)

(3) "The custom of requiring women to go abroad veiled was only introduced after the Mussulman invasion, and was nearly the only important circumstance in which Muhammedan influenced Indian manners." See Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde, iii. p. 1157. In Mongolia, however, Abbé Huc found that women have completely preserved their independence. "Far from being kept down as among other Asiatic nations they come and go at pleasure, ride out on horseback, and pay visits to each other from tent to tent. In place of the soft languishing physiognomy of the Chinese women, they present in their bearing and manners a sense of power and free will in accordance with their active life and nomad habits. Their attire augments the effect of their masculine haughty mien."

               In chapter v. of vol. ii., however, he tells of a custom prevailing in part of Tibet of a much more objectionable nature than the use of a veil:--"Nearly 200 years ago the Nome-Khan, who ruled over Hither-Tibet, was a man of rigid manners.... To meet the libertinism prevailing at his day he published an edict prohibiting women from appearing in public otherwise than with their faces bedaubed with a hideous black varnish.... The most extraordinary circumstance connected with it is that the women are perfectly resigned to it.... The women who bedaub their faces most disgustingly are deemed the most pious.... In country places the edict is still observed with exactitude, but at Lha-Ssa it is not unusual to meet women who set it at defiance, ... they are, however, unfavourably regarded. In other respects they enjoy great liberty. Instead of vegetating prisoners in the depths of their houses they lead an active and laborious life.... Besides household duties, they concentrate in their own hands all the retail trade of the country, and in rural districts perform most of the labours of agriculture."

(4) Schalû. In another version of the legend he is called Sakori, the soothsayer, because he made these predictions. (Journal of As. Soc. of Bengal, vi. 350, in a paper by Lieut. W. Postans.)

(5) The wolf-nurtured prince has a prominent place in Mongolian chronicles. Their dynasty was founded by Bürte-Tschinoa = the Wolf in winter-clothing. See I. J. Schmidt's Die Völker Mittel-Asiens, vorzüglich die Mongolen und Tibeter, St. Petersburg, 1824, pp. 11-18, 33 et seq.; 70-75; and sSanang sSetsen, 56 and 372.

(6) I cannot forbear reference to notices of such sudden storms and inundations in Mongolia made from personal experience by Abbé Huc "Travels in China and Tartary," chapters vi. and vii.

(7) The persistent removal of the child after such tender entreaties and such faithful unrequited service carries an idea of heartlessness, but in extenuation it should be mentioned that while the Indians honoured every kind of animal by reason of their doctrine of metempsychosis, the wolf was just the only beast with which they seem to have had no sympathy, and they reckoned the sight of one brought ill-luck, a prejudice probably derived from the days of their pastoral existence when their approach was fraught with so much danger to their flocks. In Mongolia, where the pastoral mode of life still continues in vogue, the dread of the wolf was not likely to have diminished. Thus Abbé Huc says, "Although the want of population might seem to abandon the interminable deserts of Tartary to wild beasts, wolves are rarely met, owing to the incessant and vindictive warfare the Mongolians wage against them. They pursue them every where to the death, regarding them as their capital enemy on account of the great damage they may inflict upon their flocks. The announcement that a wolf has been seen is a signal for every one to mount his horse ... the wolf in vain attempts to flee in every direction; it meets horsemen from every side. There is no mountain so rugged that the Tartar horses, agile as goats, cannot pursue it. The horseman who has caught it with his lasso gallops off, dragging it behind, to the nearest tent; there they strongly bind its muzzle, so that they may torture it securely, and by way of finale skin it alive. In summer the wretched brute will live in this condition several days; in winter it soon dies frozen." The wolf seems fully to return the antipathy, for (chapter xi.) he says, "It is remarkable wolves in Mongolia attack men rather than animals. They may be seen sometimes passing at full gallop through a flock of sheep in order to attack the shepherd."

(8) Tschin-tâmani, Sanskrit, "thought-jewel," a jewel having the magic power of supplying all the possessor wishes for. Indian fable writers revel in the idea of the possession of a talisman which can satisfy all desire. The grandest and perhaps earliest remaining example of it occurs in the Ramajana, where King Visvamitra = the universal friend, who from a Xatrija (warrior caste) merited to become a Brahman, visits Vasichtha, the chief of hermits, and finds him in possession of Sabala, a beautiful cow, which has the quality of providing Vasichtha with every thing whatever he may wish for. He wants to provide a banquet for Visvamitra, and he has only to tell Sabala to lay the board with worthy food, with food according to the six kinds of taste and drinks worthy of a king of the world. She immediately provides sugar, and honey, and rice, maireja or nectar, and wine, besides all manner of other drinks and various kinds of food heaped up like mountains; sweet fruits, and cakes, and jars of milk; all these things Sabala showered down for the use of the hosts who accompanied Visvamitra. Visvamitra covets the precious cow, and offers a hundred thousand cows of earth in barter for her. But Vasichtha refuses to part with her for a hundred million other cows or for fulness of silver. The king offers him next all manner of ornaments of gold, fourteen thousand elephants, gold chariots with four white steeds and eight hundred bells to them, eleven thousand horses of noble race, full of courage, and a million cows. The seer still remaining deaf to his offers the king carries her off by force.

               The heavenly cow, however, in virtue of her extraordinary qualities, helps herself out of the difficulty. It is her part to fulfil her master's wishes, and as it is his wish to have her by him she gallops back to him, knocking over the soldiers of the earthly king by hundreds in her career. Returned to her master, the Brahman hermit, she reproaches him tenderly for letting her be removed by the earthly king. He answers her with equal affection, explaining that the earthly king has so much earthly strength that it is vain for him to resist him. At this Sabala is fired with holy indignation. She declares it must not be said that earthly power should triumph over spiritual strength. She reminds him that the power of Brahma, whom he represents, is unfailing in might, and begs him only to desire of her that she should destroy the Xatrija's host. He desires it, and she forthwith furnishes a terrible army, and another, and another, till Visvamitra is quite undone, all his hosts, and allies, and children killed in the fray. Then he goes into the wilderness and prays to Mahâdeva, the great god, to come to his aid and give him divine weapons, spending a hundred years standing on the tips of his feet, and living on air like the serpent. Mahâdeva at last brings him weapons from heaven, at sight of which he is so elated that "his heroic courage rises like the tide of the ocean when the moon is at the full." With these burning arrows he devastates the whole of the beautiful garden surrounding Vasichta's dwelling. Vasichta, in high indignation at this wanton cruelty, raises his vadschra, the Brahma sceptre or staff, and all Visvamitra's weapons serve him no more. Then owning the fault he has committed in fighting against Brahma he goes into the wilderness and lives a life of penance a thousand years or two, after which he is permitted to become a Brahman.

(9) Those who can see one and the same hero in the Sagas of Wodin, the Wild Huntsman, and William Tell [1], might well trace a connexion between such a legend as this and the working of the modern law of conscription. There is no country exposed to its action where such scenes as that described in the text might not be found. There have been plenty such brought under my own notice in Rome since this "tribute of blood," as the Romans bitterly call it, was first established there last year.

(10) I have spoken elsewhere in these pages of the question of rebirth in the Buddhist system. Though not holding so cardinal a place as in Brahmanism the necessity for it remained to a certain extent. All virtues were recommended in the one case as a means to obtaining a higher degree at the next re-birth, and in the other the same, but less as an end, than as a means to earlier attaining to Nirvâna. Of all virtues the most serviceable for this purpose was the sacrifice of self for the good of the species.

(11) Sinhâsana, lit. Lion-throne; a throne resting on lions, as before described in the text.

(12) At the exercise of such heaven-given powers nature was supposed to testify her astonishment, and thus we are told of sacrifices and incense offered for the pacification of the same. (Jülg.)


 [1] See Max Müller's "Chips from a German Workshop."

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Sûta Tells Ardschi-Bordschi Concerning Vikramâditja’s Youth, 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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