Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/432

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well as European languages. It is enlivened by a number of fables and parables, most of which have been traced to Indian sources. The very hero of the story, Prince Josaphat, has an Indian origin, being, in fact, no other than Buddha. The name has been shown to be a corruption of Bodhisattva, a well-known designation of the Indian reformer. Josaphat rose to the rank of a saint both in the Greek and the Roman Church, his day in the former being August 26, in the latter November 27. That the founder of an atheistic Oriental religion should have developed into a Christian saint is one of the most astounding facts in religious history.

Though Europe was thus undoubtedly indebted to India for its mediæval literature of fairy tales and fables, the Indian claim to priority of origin in ancient times is somewhat dubious. A certain number of apologues found in the collections of Æsop and Babrius are distinctly related to Indian fables. The Indian claim is supported by the argument that the relation of the jackal to the lion is a natural one in the Indian fable, while the connection of the fox and the lion in Greece has no basis in fact. On the other side it has been urged that animals and birds which are peculiar to India play but a minor part in Indian fables, while there exists a Greek representation of the Æsopian fable of the fox and the raven, dating from the sixth century B.C. Weber and Benfey both conclude that the Indians borrowed a few fables from the Greeks, admitting at the same time that the Indians had independent fables of their own before. Rudimentary fables are found even in the Chhāndogya Upanishad, and the transmigration theory would have favoured the development of this