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Ocean to the Rivers of Story by Somadeva

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"Ocean to the Rivers of Story" by Somadeva The Kathasaritsagara ("Ocean to the Rivers of Story") is a famous compendium of Indian legends fairy tales and folk stories compiled by Somadeva. Somadeva lived in the 11th century. He was a court poet to King Ananta of Kashmir. Most likely he was asked to compose a cycle of stories for the Queen Suryamati to keep her mind away from the political crisis in the country. The poet knew a lot of ancient tales that contained many ancient Indian beliefs. As a basis for his book he took a much older Indian tale collection Brhat-katha ("The Great Romance") by Gunadhya, the original version of which had been lost. The structure of Kathasaritsagara is a collection of tales inside one main framing tale about the life and adventures of the son of the legendary King Udayana. ...read more.


The only son of a merchant got married to a smart and beautiful girl named Devasmita. The young man inherited his father's business and had to take care of his family's prosperity. One day he decided to go to the island of Cathay to sell his goods. His wife was afraid that he would fall in love with another woman while being away. She went to the temple and asked God Siva for a piece of advise. God Siva gave a red lotuse to her and her husband, saying that it any of them would be unfaithful, the lotus of the spouse would fade. On the trip the fellow merchants of the young man found out about this and decided to seduce the young merchant's wife and humiliate Guhasena. However, all their attempts were in vain, as Devasmita understood their plan and could play a trick on all of them. ...read more.


The character of this story can be easily compared to the characters of Moliere's plays and Shakespeare's comedies. There have been many discussions about how Indian stories traveled around the world. According to some scientists Indian story-telling made the Persians learn the art of storytelling and pass it on to the Arabians. Then ancient Indian tales traveled from the Middle East to Constantinople and Venice. Later they were reflected in the works of the early representatives of the Renaissance Era. Some scientists believe that Western tales borrowed a lot from Indian ones. The discussion is still open nowadays. The researches could not prove anything yet. However, even on the example of this story we could see the similarity of character types and story development. But it would be not surprising that this type of a connection would be established as it is very likely that educated European people knew Indian tales and were fascinated by them. Obviously, they could have borrowed some motives and characters for their later works. ...read more.

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