Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/387

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A collection of pretty and ingenious fairy tales, with a highly Oriental colouring, is the Vetāla-panchaviṃçati, or "Twenty-five Tales of the Vetāla" (a demon supposed to occupy corpses). The framework of this collection is briefly as follows. King Vikrama of Ujjayinī is directed by an ascetic (yogin) to take down from a tree and convey a corpse, without uttering a single word, to a spot in a graveyard where certain rites for the attainment of high magical powers are to take place. As the king is carrying the corpse along on his shoulders, a Vetāla, which has entered it, begins to speak and tells him a fairy tale. On the king inadvertently replying to a question, the corpse at once disappears and is found hanging on the tree again. The king goes back to fetch it, and the same process is repeated till the Vetāla has told twenty-five tales. Each of these is so constructed as to end in a subtle problem, on which the king is asked to express his opinion. The stories contained in this work are known to many English readers under the title of Vikram and the Vampire.

Another collection of fairy tales is the Siṃhāsana-dvātriṃçikā or "Thirty-two Stories of the Lion-seat" (i.e. throne), which also goes by the name of Vikrama-charita, or "Adventures of Vikrama." Here it is the throne of King Vikrama that tells the tales. Both this and the preceding collection are of Buddhistic origin.

A third work of the same kind is the Çuka-saptati, or "Seventy Stories of a Parrot." Here a wife, whose husband is travelling abroad, and who is inclined to run after other men, turns to her husband's clever parrot for advice. The bird, while seeming to approve of her plans, warns her of the risks she runs, and makes her promise not to go and meet any paramour unless