Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/388

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she can extricate herself from difficulties as So-and-so did. Requested to tell the story, he does so, but only as far as the dilemma, when he asks the woman what course the person concerned should take. As she cannot guess, the parrot promises to tell her if she stays at home that night. Seventy days pass in the same way, till the husband returns.

These three collections of fairy tales are all written in prose and are comparatively short. There is, however, another of special importance, which is composed in verse and is of very considerable length. For it contains no less than 22,000 çlokas, equal to nearly one-fourth of the Mahābhārata, or to almost twice as much as the Iliad and Odyssey put together. This is the Kathā-sarit-sāgara, or "Ocean of Rivers of Stories." It is divided into 124 chapters, called tarangas, or "waves," to be in keeping with the title of the work. Independent of these is another division into eighteen books called lambakas.

The author was Somadeva, a Kashmirian poet, who composed his work about 1070 A.D. Though he himself was a Brahman, his work contains not only many traces of the Buddhistic character of his sources, but even direct allusions to Buddhist Birth Stories. He states the real basis of his work to have been the Bṛihat-kathā, or "Great Narration," which Bāṇa mentions, by the poet Guṇādhya, who is quoted by Daṇḍin. This original must, in the opinion of Bühler, go back to the first or second century A.D.

A somewhat earlier recast of this work was made about A.D. 1037 by a contemporary of Somadeva's named Kshemendra Vyāsadāsa. It is entitled Bṛihat-kathā-manjarī, and is only about one-third as long as the Kathā--