Kathāmṛta - 75 - Śaktiyaśo-lambaka - The Stories of the Fools

This article is part 75 of 118 in the series Kathāmṛta

A poor man once found a bag of gold coins. While he could have gone elsewhere, he foolishly sat down at the same place and started counting the coins. In the meantime, the person who had lost the money came looking for it. He found this man and snatched his belonging back.

Thus, anything that a fool finds will come of no use to him.

~

A person wanted to show the full moon to a foolish guy. He stretched his hand out and pointed a finger at the moon. The fool kept staring at the tip of his finger and never saw the moon!

With intelligence, even the impossible can be achieved.

~

 

A lady had to travel alone to another province. On her way, she was chased by a monkey. She tried to deceive the monkey by hiding behind a tree. The monkey hugged the tree with both its hands. She held its hands tightly and called out for a bhilla who was passing by and said – “Please catch this monkey! I will adjust my sari and hair!” He said – “I will listen to you only if you follow my instructions”. She agreed. As he held on to the monkey, she killed it using his knife. She told him that she would like to be with him in an isolated place, took him to a large distance and arrived at a place filled with people. Waiting no more, she vanished into the group and escaped from him.

Thus, difficulties can be overcome if intelligent.

A person poor of money may survive, however, a person with no intelligence can never do so.

The Story of the Thieves Ghaṭa and Karpara

In a certain town, there lived two thieves named Ghaṭa and Karpara. One day, Karpara broke into the palace after making a hole in the wall. It was the bedchamber of the princess. She awoke with a start and she was smitten by him even as she cast a glance on his face. Therefore, his task became easier. As a result, even the following night, he went there; he ate and drank till he was satiated and spent the night there. In the morning, the guards of the antaḥpura found him and brought him before the king. The king pronounced the death sentence and he was to be executed. As he was being taken to the gallows, he saw Ghaṭa and by means of a secret indication told him, “Protect the princess!” Karpara was executed. That night, Ghaṭa broke into the bedchamber of the princess. He found that she had been tied up. He told her that he was a dear friend of Karpara and that he had come to take her to safety. Saying so, he untied her. Both of them came out through the hole in the wall and reached Ghaṭa’s house. When he found that his daughter was missing, the king said at once, “There must be some associate or kinsman of Karpara; this is his handiwork; he will definitely come forward to perform the cremation and post-death rites to the corpse; then we can apprehend him; if we catch him, my daughter will also be found!” Saying so, he ordered the corpse to be guarded. Ghaṭa disguised himself as a kāpālika and filling a vessel to the brim with curd-rice, he set out to the cemetery. He went near the corpse and intentionally tripped over it and fell down along with the vessel, which broke to pieces. He cried out, “O Karpara! You’re gone!” The word ‘karpara’ means vessel and so the guards thought that he was wailing for his broken vessel. In this manner, he mourned for his dead friend. The next day, he had one of his lackeys dress up as a woman and another to carry a basket of snacks and sweets. Along with the two of them, he went to the cemetery disguised like a drunkard. As he walked near the corpse with unsteady steps, swaying from side to side, the guards asked, “Hey, who are you? Who are these people? Where are you going?” and stopped them. His speech slurred, he told them, “My lord, this is my wife; we’re going to my in-laws. I’ve packed some snacks and sweets to give them! Now that we have had a chat, you too are my friends; you too take some of it!” Saying so, he gave them a few pieces of the snacks they were carrying with them. They were laced with a powerful sedative. No sooner than they ate the snacks, they fell down unconscious. He then prepared a funeral pyre and cremated the corpse. When the king learnt of this, he dismissed the guards and replaced them with more efficient sentinels. He ordered them, “He will return to collect the bones and ashes; then you must catch him. Don’t eat anything he offers!” Ghaṭa called one of his friends, who was a yogin and was knowledgeable in hypnosis. He had the yogin utter a mantra and cast a spell on the sentinels; in the meantime, he took the bones and ashes from the cemetery and submerged it in the Gaṅgā. The king surmised that it was the work of someone who was well versed in magic and mantras, and so he had an announcement made by the town criers: “Let the yogin who did this come forward; I will gift him half my kingdom!” Listening to this, Ghaṭa decided to reveal his identity. However, the princess warned him, “The king is luring you and will end up killing you; don’t believe those words!” He gave up the idea and at once left the town along with the princess and the yogin. On the way, the princess told the yogin in secret, “The man I loved, Karpura, is now dead. I don’t have any feelings for this guy. I am besotted with you!” Thus seducing the yogin, she administered a lethal poison to Ghaṭa, who died instantaneously. They went further ahead and encountered a merchant by name Dhanadeva. Thinking that it was worthless being with a wretched kāpālika, she abandoned the yogin when he was asleep and went away with Dhanadeva. When the yogin woke up the next morning and looked around, he said to himself, “Women are all like this! They lack affection and trust; she ran away with all my money; let her go! At least she did not take my life as she did with Ghaṭa; I’m lucky!” Thinking thus, he returned home. 

The merchant came back to his place along with her and thought, ‘Why should I allow this immoral woman immediately inside my home!’ He took her to an old woman’s residence and stayed there. In the night he asked the old woman, ‘O grandmother, have you heard about Dhanadeva? A resident of this town.’ She replied, ‘It's been quite long since he has been away; hasn’t returned. His wife has tied a leather rope to the window and has left it hanging; using it anyone can enter her room in the night; early next morning her attendants would shoo them away; since she would be drunk and intoxicated she wouldn’t remember anything from the previous night!’ Next day he tested it and confirmed it to be right, he thought, ‘Enough with this attachment towards this house and the wife; women are indeed untrustworthy like this!’ Thinking likewise, he deserted the princess too and went to the forest. On the way he met a brāhmaṇa called Rudrasoma. He heard the plight of Dhanadeva and with seeds of doubt about his wife, he took along Dhanadeva and went to his village. He saw a cowherd on the banks of the river, lost in thoughts, happily singing, Rudrasoma asked him, ‘Mister! Looks like you have got a young lover! No wonder you are singing as though the whole world amounts to a twig!’ he smiled and said, ‘What is there to hide? I’ve an illicit relationship with the wife of the village chief Rudrasoma; her attendant disguises me as a woman and takes me to her everyday!’ He tested it by dressing up himself like the cowherd, wearing a woollen cloth and carrying a stick. The attendant came, gave him a sari and took him home.  Noticing his wife’s behaviour mistaking him for the cowherd, he was disgusted, he escaped with a flimsy excuse and joined Dhanadeva. They both continued on their journey towards the forest, on the way they met Dhanadeva’s friend Śaśin. They narrated their stories to him. He had hid his wife in the cellar when he had left his place. Even then he was doubtful now after hearing their stories and took them along to his house to check. He saw a stinking leper singing near his house. He asked who he was and he replied that he is Kāma, the deity of love. Śaśin ridiculed him saying, ‘O yes! Your handsomeness is announcing that you are indeed Kāma himself!’ he replied, ‘Why not! Śaśin’s wife is smitten seeing me. Her attendant takes me every night on her back to the cellar where she resides. I spend the whole night there; Śaśin’s wife is beautiful; if I’m her beloved, am I not Kāma?’ He decided to test it and took the place of the leper that night in disguise. The attendant took him to his house. He was able to recognise his wife just by her touch and he fled. ‘Even when I kept in the cellar she came under the influence of that leper! To stop such a woman is like stopping the river which is about to descend into a waterfall!’ So he thought and came to Dhanadeva and Rudrasoma and narrated his story.

To be contiuned...

The current article is a translation of Prof. A R Krishnasastri’s Kannada classic Kathāmṛta along with additional segments added from the original Kathā-sarit-sāgara (of Soma-deva). Bṛhat-kathā-mañjarī (of Kṣemendra) and Bṛhat-kathā-śloka-saṃgraha (of Budha-svāmin) have also been referred to. The translation has been rendered by Raghavendra GS, Arjun Bharadwaj, Srishan Thirumalai, and Hari Ravikumar.

The original Kannada version of Kathāmṛta is available for free online reading. So are the other works of Prof. Krishna Shastri

Author(s)

About:

Prof. A R Krishna Sastri was a journalist, scholar, polyglot, and a pioneer of the modern Kannada renaissance, who founded the literary journal Prabuddha Karnāṭaka. His Vacana-bhārata and Kathāmṛta are classics of Kannada literature while his Saṃskṛta-nāṭaka and Bankimacandra are of unrivalled scholarship.

Prekshaa Publications

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