Vikram and the Vampire by Sir Richard F. Burton Preface
THE VAMPIRE'S SIXTH STORY.
Three Men Dispute about a Woman.
On the lovely banks of Jumna's stream there was a city known as
Dharmasthal—the Place of Duty; and therein dwelt a certain Brahman
called Keshav. He was a very pious man, in the constant habit of
performing penance and worship upon the river Sidi. He modelled his
own clay images instead of buying them from others; he painted holy
stones red at the top, and made to them offerings of flowers, fruit,
water, sweetmeats, and fried peas. He had become a learned man
somewhat late in life, having, until twenty years old, neglected his
reading, and addicted himself to worshipping the beautiful youth
Kama-Deva[FN#116] and Rati his wife, accompanied by the cuckoo, the
humming-bee, and sweet breezes.
One day his parents having rebuked him sharply for his
ungovernable conduct, Keshav wandered to a neighbouring hamlet, and
hid himself in the tall fig-tree which shadowed a celebrated image of
Panchanan.[FN#117] Presently an evil thought arose in his head: he
defiled the god, and threw him into the nearest tank.
The next morning, when the person arrived whose livelihood
depended on the image, he discovered that his god was gone. He
returned into the village distracted, and all was soon in an uproar
about the lost deity.
In the midst of this confusion the parents of Keshav arrived,
seeking for their son; and a man in the crowd declared that he had
seen a young man sitting in Panchanan's tree, but what had become of
the god he knew not.
The runaway at length appeared, and the suspicions of the villagers
fell upon him as the stealer of Panchanan. He confessed the fact,
pointed out the place where he had thrown the stone, and added that
he had polluted the god. All hands and eyes were raised in amazement
at this atrocious crime, and every one present declared that Panchanan
would certainly punish the daring insult by immediate death. Keshav
was dreadfully frightened; he began to obey his parents from that very
hour, and applied to his studies so sedulously that he soon became the
most learned man of his country.
Now Keshav the Brahman had a daughter whose name was the
Madhumalati or Sweet Jasmine. She was very beautiful. Whence did the
gods procure the materials to form so exquisite a face? They took a
portion of the most excellent part of the moon to form that beautiful
face? Does any one seek a proof of this? Let him look at the empty
places left in the moon. Her eyes resembled the full-blown blue
nymphaea; her arms the charming stalk of the lotus; her flowing
tresses the thick darkness of night.
When this lovely person arrived at a marriageable age, her mother,
father, and brother, all three became very anxious about her. For the
wise have said, "A daughter nubile but without a husband is ever a
calamity hanging over a house." And, "Kings, women, and climbing
plants love those who are near them." Also, "Who is there that has not
suffered from the sex? for a woman cannot be kept in due subjection,
either by gifts or kindness, or correct conduct, or the greatest
services, or the laws of morality, or by the terror of punishment, for
she cannot discriminate between good and evil."
It so happened that one day Keshav the Brahman went to the
marriage of a certain customer of his,[FN#118] and his son repaired
to the house of a spiritual preceptor in order to read. During their
absence, a young man came to the house, when the Sweet Jasmine's
mother, inferring his good qualities from his good looks, said to him,
"I will give to thee my daughter in marriage." The father also had
promised his daughter to a Brahman youth whom he had met at the house
of his employer; and the brother likewise had betrothed his sister to
a fellow student at the place where he had gone to read.
After some days father and son came home, accompanied by these two
suitors, and in the house a third was already seated. The name of the
first was Tribikram, of the second Baman, and of the third Madhusadan.
The three were equal in mind and body, in knowledge, and in age.
Then the father, looking upon them, said to himself, "Ho! there is
one bride and three bridegrooms; to whom shall I give, and to whom
shall I not give? We three have pledged our word to these three. A
strange circumstance has occurred; what must we do?"
He then proposed to them a trial of wisdom, and made them agree
that he who should quote the most excellent saying of the wise should
become his daughter's husband.
Quoth Tribikram: "Courage is tried in war; integrity in the
payment of debt and interest; friendship in distress; and the
faithfulness of a wife in the day of poverty."
Baman proceeded: "That woman is destitute of virtue who in her
father's house is not in subjection, who wanders to feasts and
amusements, who throws off her veil in the presence of men, who
remains as a guest in the houses of strangers, who is much devoted to
sleep, who drinks inebriating beverages, and who delights in distance
from her husband."
"Let none," pursued Madhusadan, "confide in the sea, nor in
whatever has claws or horns, or who carries deadly weapons; neither
in a woman, nor in a king."
Whilst the Brahman was doubting which to prefer, and rather
inclining to the latter sentiment, a serpent bit the beautiful girl,
and in a few hours she died.
Stunned by this awful sudden death, the father and the three
suitors sat for a time motionless. They then arose, used great
exertions, and brought all kinds of sorcerers, wise men and women who
charm away poisons by incantations. These having seen the girl said,
"She cannot return to life." The first declared, "A person always dies
who has been bitten by a snake on the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, and
fourteenth days of the lunar month.'' The second asserted, "One who
has been bitten on a Saturday or a Tuesday does not survive." The
third opined, "Poison infused during certain six lunar mansions cannot
be got under." Quoth the fourth, "One who has been bitten in any organ
of sense, the lower lip, the cheek, the neck, or the stomach, cannot
escape death." The fifth said, "In this case even Brahma, the Creator,
could not restore life—of what account, then, are we? Do you perform
the funeral rites; we will depart."
Thus saying, the sorcerers went their way. The mourning father
took up his daughter's corpse and caused it to be burnt, in the place
where dead bodies are usually burnt, and returned to his house.
After that the three young men said to one another, "We must now
seek happiness elsewhere. And what better can we do than obey the
words of Indra, the God of Air, who spake thus ?—
"'For a man who does not travel about there is no felicity, and a
good man who stays at home is a bad man. Indra is the friend of him
who travels. Travel!
"'A traveller's legs are like blossoming branches, and he himself
grows and gathers the fruit. All his wrongs vanish, destroyed by his
exertion on the roadside. Travel!
"'The fortune of a man who sits, sits also; it rises when he rises;
it sleeps when he sleeps; it moves well when he moves. Travel!
"'A man who sleeps is like the Iron Age. A man who awakes is like
the Bronze Age. A man who rises up is like the Silver Age. A man who
travels is like the Golden Age. Travel!
"'A traveller finds honey; a traveller finds sweet figs. Look at
the happiness of the sun, who travailing never tires. Travel!"'
Before parting they divided the relics of the beloved one, and then
they went their way.
Tribikram, having separated and tied up the burnt bones, became
one of the Vaisheshikas, in those days a powerful sect. He solemnly
forswore the eight great crimes, namely: feeding at night; slaying any
animal; eating the fruit of trees that give milk, or pumpkins or young
bamboos: tasting honey or flesh; plundering the wealth of others;
taking by force a married woman; eating flowers, butter, or cheese;
and worshipping the gods of other religions. He learned that the
highest act of virtue is to abstain from doing injury to sentient
creatures; that crime does not justify the destruction of life; and
that kings, as the administrators of criminal justice, are the
greatest of sinners. He professed the five vows of total abstinence
from falsehood, eating flesh or fish, theft, drinking spirits, and
marriage. He bound himself to possess nothing beyond a white
loin-cloth, a towel to wipe the mouth, a beggar's dish, and a brush of
woollen threads to sweep the ground for fear of treading on insects.
And he was ordered to fear secular affairs; the miseries of a future
state; the receiving from others more than the food of a day at once;
all accidents; provisions, if connected with the destruction of animal
life; death and disgrace; also to please all, and to obtain compassion
He attempted to banish his love. He said to himself, "Surely it was
owing only to my pride and selfishness that I ever looked upon a
woman as capable of affording happiness; and I thought, 'Ah! ah!
thine eyes roll about like the tail of the water-wagtail, thy lips
resemble the ripe fruit, thy bosom is like the lotus bud, thy form is
resplendent as gold melted in a crucible, the moon wanes through
desire to imitate the shadow of thy face, thou resemblest the
pleasure-house of Cupid; the happiness of all time is concentrated in
thee; a touch from thee would surely give life to a dead image; at thy
approach a living admirer would be changed by joy into a lifeless
stone; obtaining thee I can face all the horrors of war; and were I
pierced by showers of arrows, one glance of thee would heal all my
"My mind is now averted from the world. Seeing her I say, 'Is this
the form by which men are bewitched? This is a basket covered with
skin; it contains bones, flesh, blood, and impurities. The stupid
creature who is captivated by this—is there a cannibal feeding in
Currim a greater cannibal than he? These persons call a thing made up
of impure matter a face, and drink its charms as a drunkard swallows
the inebriating liquor from his cup. The blind, infatuated beings! Why
should I be pleased or displeased with this body, composed of flesh
and blood? It is my duty to seek Him who is the Lord of this body, and
to disregard everything which gives rise either to pleasure or to
Baman, the second suitor, tied up a bundle of his beloved one's
ashes, and followed—somewhat prematurely—the precepts of the great
lawgiver Manu. "When the father of a family perceives his muscles
becoming flaccid, and his hair grey, and sees the child of his child,
let him then take refuge in a forest. Let him take up his consecrated
fire and all his domestic implements for making oblations to it, and,
departing from the town to the lonely wood, let him dwell in it with
complete power over his organs of sense and of action. With many sorts
of pure food, such as holy sages used to eat, with green herbs, roots,
and fruit, let him perform the five great sacraments, introducing them
with due ceremonies. Let him wear a black antelope-hide, or a vesture
of bark; let him bathe evening and morning; let him suffer the hair of
his head, his beard and his nails to grow continually. Let him slide
backwards and forwards on the ground; or let him stand a whole day on
tiptoe; or let him continue in motion, rising and sitting alternately;
but at sunrise, at noon, and at sunset, let him go to the waters and
bathe In the hot season let him sit exposed to five fires, four
blazing around him, with the sun above; in the rains let him stand
uncovered, without even a mantle, where the clouds pour the heaviest
showers; in the cold season let him wear damp clothes, and let him
increase by degrees the austerity of his devotions. Then, having
reposited his holy fires, as the law directs, in his mind, let him
live without external fire, without a mansion, wholly silent, feeding
on roots and fruit."
Meanwhile Madhusadan the third, having taken a wallet and
neckband, became a Jogi, and began to wander far and wide, living on
nothing but chaff, and practicing his devotions. In order to see
Brahma he attended to the following duties; 1. Hearing; 2.
Meditation; 3. Fixing the Mind; 4. Absorbing the Mind. He combated
the three evils, restlessness, injuriousness, voluptuousness by
settling the Deity in his spirit, by subjecting his senses, and by
destroying desire. Thus he would do away with the illusion (Maya)
which conceals all true knowledge. He repeated the name of the Deity
till it appeared to him in the form of a Dry Light or glory. Though
connected with the affairs of life, that is, with affairs belonging to
a body containing blood, bones, and impurities; to organs which are
blind, palsied, and full of weakness and error; to a mind filled with
thirst, hunger, sorrow, infatuation; to confirmed habits, and to the
fruits of former births: still he strove not to view these things as
realities. He made a companion of a dog, honouring it with his own
food, so as the better to think on spirit. He practiced all the five
operations connected with the vital air, or air collected in the body.
He attended much to Pranayama, or the gradual suppression of
breathing, and he secured fixedness of mind as follows. By placing his
sight and thoughts on the tip of his nose he perceived smell; on the
tip of his tongue he realized taste, on the root of his tongue he knew
sound, and so forth. He practiced the eighty-four Asana or postures,
raising his hand to the wonders of the heavens, till he felt no longer
the inconveniences of heat or cold, hunger or thirst. He particularly
preferred the Padma or lotus-posture, which consists of bringing the
feet to the sides, holding the right in the left hand and the left in
the right. In the work of suppressing his breath he permitted its
respiration to reach at furthest twelve fingers' breadth, and
gradually diminished the distance from his nostrils till he could
confine it to the length of twelve fingers from his nose, and even
after restraining it for some time he would draw it from no greater
distance than from his heart. As respects time, he began by retaining
inspiration for twenty-six seconds, and he enlarged this period
gradually till he became perfect. He sat cross-legged, closing with
his fingers all the avenues of inspiration, and he practiced
Prityahara, or the power of restraining the members of the body and
mind, with meditation and concentration, to which there are four
enemies, viz., a sleepy heart, human passions, a confused mind, and
attachment to anything but the one Brahma. He also cultivated Yama,
that is, inoffensiveness, truth, honesty, the forsaking of all evil in
the world, and the refusal of gifts except for sacrifice, and Nihama,
i.e., purity relative to the use of water after defilement, pleasure
in everything whether in prosperity or adversity, renouncing food when
hungry, and keeping down the body. Thus delivered from these four
enemies of the flesh, he resembled the unruffled flame of the lamp,
and by Brahmagnana, or meditating on the Deity, placing his mind on
the sun, moon, fire, or any other luminous body, or within his heart,
or at the bottom of his throat, or in the centre of his skull, he was
enabled to ascend from gross images of omnipotence to the works and
the divine wisdom of the glorious original.
One day Madhusadan, the Jogi, went to a certain house for food,
and the householder having seen him began to say, "Be so good as to
take your food here this day!" The visitor sat down, and when the
victuals were ready, the host caused his feet and hands to be washed,
and leading him to the Chauka, or square place upon which meals are
served, seated him and sat by him. And he quoted the scripture: "No
guest must be dismissed in the evening by a housekeeper: he is sent by
the returning sun, and whether he come in fit season or unseasonably,
he must not sojourn in the house without entertainment: let me not eat
any delicate food, without asking my guest to partake of it: the
satisfaction of a guest will assuredly bring the housekeeper wealth,
reputation, long life, and a place in heaven."
The householder's wife then came to serve up the food, rice and
split peas, oil, and spices, all cooked in a new earthen pot with
pure firewood. Part of the meal was served and the rest remained to
be served, when the woman's little child began to cry aloud and to
catch hold of its mother's dress. She endeavoured to release herself,
but the boy would not let go, and the more she coaxed the more he
cried, and was obstinate. On this the mother became angry, took up the
boy and threw him upon the fire, which instantly burnt him to ashes.
Madhusadan, the Jogi, seeing this, rose up without eating. The
master of the house said to him, "Why eatest thou not?" He replied,
"I am ' Atithi,' that is to say, to be entertained at your house, but
how can one eat under the roof of a person who has committed such a
Rakshasa-like (devilish) deed? Is it not said, 'He who does not govern
his passions, lives in vain'? 'A foolish king, a person puffed up with
riches, and a weak child, desire that which cannot be procured'? Also,
'A king destroys his enemies, even when flying; and the touch of an
elephant, as well as the breath of a serpent, are fatal; but the
wicked destroy even while laughing'?"
Hearing this, the householder smiled; presently he arose and went
to another part of the tenement, and brought back with him a book,
treating on Sanjivnividya, or the science of restoring the dead to
life. This he had taken from its hidden place, two beams almost
touching one another with the ends in the opposite wall. The precious
volume was in single leaves, some six inches broad by treble that
length, and the paper was stained with yellow orpiment and the juice
of tamarind seeds to keep away insects.
The householder opened the cloth containing the book, untied the
flat boards at the top and bottom, and took out from it a charm.
Having repeated this Mantra, with many ceremonies, he at once
restored the child to life, saying, "Of all precious things,
knowledge is the most valuable; other riches may be stolen, or
diminished by expenditure, but knowledge is immortal, and the greater
the expenditure the greater the increase; it can be shared with none,
and it defies the power of the thief."
The Jogi, seeing this marvel, took thought in his heart, "If I
could obtain that book, I would restore my beloved to life, and give
up this course of uncomfortable postures and difficulty of breathing."
With this resolution he sat down to his food, and remained in the
At length night came, and after a time, all, having eaten supper,
and gone to their sleeping-places, lay down. The Jogi also went to
rest in one part of the house, but did not allow sleep to close his
eyes. When he thought that a fourth part of the hours of darkness had
sped, and that all were deep in slumber, then he got up very quietly,
and going into the room of the master of the house, he took down the
book from the beam-ends and went his ways.
Madhusadan, the Jogi, went straight to the place where the
beautiful Sweet Jasmine had been burned. There he found his two
rivals sitting talking together and comparing experiences. They
recognized him at once, and cried aloud to him, "Brother! thou also
hast been wandering over the world; tell us this—hast thou learned
anything which can profit us?" He replied, "I have learned the science
of restoring the dead to life"; upon which they both exclaimed, "If
thou hast really learned such knowledge, restore our beloved to life."
Madhusadan proceeded to make his incantations, despite terrible
sights in the air, the cries of jackals, owls, crows, cats, asses,
vultures, dogs, and lizards, and the wrath of innumerable invisible
beings, such as messengers of Yama (Pluto), ghosts, devils, demons,
imps, fiends, devas, succubi, and others. All the three lovers drawing
blood from their own bodies, offered it to the goddess Chandi,
repeating the following incantation, "Hail! supreme delusion! Hail!
goddess of the universe! Hail! thou who fulfillest the desires of all.
May I presume to offer thee the blood of my body; and wilt thou deign
to accept it, and be propitious towards me!"
They then made a burnt-offering of their flesh, and each one
prayed, "Grant me, O goddess! to see the maiden alive again, in
proportion to the fervency with which I present thee with mine own
flesh, invoking thee to be propitious to me. Salutation to thee again
and again, under the mysterious syllables any! any!"
Then they made a heap of the bones and the ashes, which had been
carefully kept by Tribikram and Baman. As the Jogi Madhusadan
proceeded with his incantation, a white vapour arose from the ground,
and, gradually condensing, assumed a perispiritual form— the fluid
envelope of the soul. The three spectators felt their blood freeze as
the bones and the ashes were gradually absorbed into the before
shadowy shape, and they were restored to themselves only when the
maiden Madhuvati begged to be taken home to her mother.
Then Kama, God of Love, blinded them, and they began fiercely to
quarrel about who should have the beautiful maid. Each wanted to be
her sole master. Tribikram declared the bones to be the great fact of
the incantation; Baman swore by the ashes; and Madhusadan laughed them
both to scorn. No one could decide the dispute; the wisest doctors
were all nonplussed; and as for the Raja—well! we do not go for wit
or wisdom to kings. I wonder if the great Raja Vikram could decide
which person the woman belonged to?
"To Baman, the man who kept her ashes, fellow!" exclaimed the
hero, not a little offended by the free remarks of the fiend.
"Yet," rejoined the Baital impudently, "if Tribikram had not
preserved her bones how could she have been restored to life? And if
Madhusadan had not learned the science of restoring the dead to life
how could she have been revivified? At least, so it seems to me. But
perhaps your royal wisdom may explain."
"Devil!" said the king angrily, "Tribikram, who preserved her
bones, by that act placed himself in the position of her son;
therefore he could not marry her. Madhusadan, who, restoring her to
life, gave her life, was evidently a father to her; he could not,
then, become her husband. Therefore she was the wife of Baman, who
had collected her ashes."
"I am happy to see, O king," exclaimed the Vampire, "that in spite
of my presentiments, we are not to part company just yet. These
little trips I hold to be, like lovers' quarrels, the prelude to
closer union. With your leave we will still practice a little
And so saying, the Baital again ascended the tree, and was
"Would it not be better," thought the monarch, after recapturing
and shouldering the fugitive, "for me to sit down this time and
listen to the fellow's story? Perhaps the double exercise of walking
and thinking confuses me."
With this idea Vikram placed his bundle upon the ground, well tied
up with turband and waistband; then he seated himself cross-legged
before it, and bade his son do the same.
The Vampire strongly objected to this measure, as it was contrary,
he asserted, to the covenant between him and the Raja. Vikram replied
by citing the very words of the agreement, proving that there was no
allusion to walking or sitting.
Then the Baital became sulky, and swore that he would not utter
another word. But he, too, was bound by the chain of destiny.
Presently he opened his lips, with the normal prelude that he was
about to tell a true tale.
[FN#116] Cupid. His wife Rati is the spring personified. The
Hindu poets always unite love and spring, and perhaps physiologically
they are correct.
[FN#117] An incarnation of the third person of the Hindu Triad,
or Triumvirate, Shiva the God of Destruction, the Indian Bacchus. The
image has five faces, and each face has three eyes. In Bengal it is
found in many villages, and the women warn their children not to touch
it on pain of being killed.
[FN#118] A village Brahman on stated occasions receives fees from
all the villagers.
THE VAMPIRE'S SEVENTH STORY.
Showing the Exceeding Folly of Many Wise Fools.