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. It also

includes the story about how “The Great Romance” was written and what happened to

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this book afterwards.

As the title implies –“Ocean to the Rivers of Story”, Somadeva’s work united all

the stories that were known at that time, just like an ocean unites all the rivers. Every

story, big or small, written or told found its reflection in Somadeva’s collection. Thus, no

wonder that the characters of this collection both, humans and all different creatures that

humans believed in. Some stories reflected the life of Indian society, and their characters

are desperate lovers, powerful kings, greedy bankers, smart merchants, ...

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