Tales from the Kathasaritsagara by Somadeva
The vast ocean of stories that influenced storytelling the world over 'The Kathasaritasagara' is said to have been compiled by a Kashmiri Saivite Brahmin called Somadeva in AD 1070, although the date has not been conclusively established. Legend has it that Somadeva composed the Kathasaritasagara for Queen Suryavati, wife of King Anantadeva who ruled Kashmir in the eleventh century. The stories in this book are retold from ten of the eighteen books of the original Kathasaritasagara. The most remarkable feature of the Kathasaritasagara is that unlike other texts of the time, it offers no moral conclusions, no principles to live by and is throughout a celebration of earthly life. The tale of Naravahanadatta, the prince of the vidyadharas, the sky-dwellers with magical powers, comprises the main narrative and is used as an outer frame to introduce the stories in the text. Promiscuous married women and clever courtesans, imbecile Brahmins, incompetent kings and wise ministers, wicked mendicants and holy ascetics, cursed men and men who are granted boons, evil non-human creatures and friendly magical beings, all jostle for attention in Arshia Sattar’s masterful translation of this timeless collection of tales.