Vikram and the Vampire by Sir Richard F. Burton Preface
THE VAMPIRE'S TENTH STORY.
Of the Marvellous Delicacy of Three Queens.
The Baital said, O king, in the Gaur country, Vardhman by name,
there is a city, and one called Gunshekhar was the Raja of that land.
His minister was one Abhaichand, a Jain, by whose teachings the king
also came into the Jain faith.
The worship of Shiva and of Vishnu, gifts of cows, gifts of lands,
gifts of rice balls, gaming and spirit-drinking, all these he
prohibited. In the city no man could get leave to do them, and as for
bones, into the Ganges no man was allowed to throw them, and in these
matters the minister, having taken orders from the king, caused a
proclamation to be made about the city, saying, "Whoever these acts
shall do, the Raja having confiscated, will punish him and banish him
from the city."
Now one day the Diwan[FN#169] began to say to the Raja, "O great
king, to the decisions of the Faith be pleased to give ear. Whosoever
takes the life of another, his life also in the future birth is taken:
this very sin causes him to be born again and again upon earth and to
die And thus he ever continues to be born again and to die. Hence for
one who has found entrance into this world to cultivate religion is
right and proper. Be pleased to behold! By love, by wrath, by pain, by
desire, and by fascination overpowered, the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and
Mahadeva (Shiva) in various ways upon the earth are ever becoming
incarnate. Far better than they is the Cow, who is free from passion,
enmity, drunkenness, anger, covetousness, and inordinate affection,
who supports mankind, and whose progeny in many ways give ease and
solace to the creatures of the world These deities and sages (munis)
believe in the Cow.[FN#170]
"For such reason to believe in the gods is not good. Upon this
earth be pleased to believe in the Cow. It is our duty to protect the
life of everyone, beginning from the elephant, through ants, beasts,
and birds, up to man. In the world righteousness equal to that there
is none. Those who, eating the flesh of other creatures, increase
their own flesh, shall in the fulness of time assuredly obtain the
fruition of Narak [FN#17l]; hence for a man it is proper to attend to
the conversation of life. They who understand not the pain of other
creatures, and who continue to slay and to devour them, last but few
days in the land, and return to mundane existence, maimed, limping,
one-eyed, blind, dwarfed, hunchbacked, and imperfect in such wise.
Just as they consume the bodies of beasts and of birds, even so they
end by spoiling their own bodies. From drinking spirits also the great
sin arises, hence the consuming of spirits and flesh is not
The minister having in this manner explained to the king the
sentiments of his own mind, so brought him over to the Jain faith,
that whatever he said, so the king did. Thus in Brahmans, in Jogis,
in Janganis, in Sevras, in Sannyasis,[FN#172] and in religious
mendicants, no man believed, and according to this creed the rule was
Now one day, being in the power of Death, Raja Gunshekhar died.
Then his son Dharmadhwaj sat upon the carpet (throne), and began to
rule. Presently he caused the minister Abhaichand to be seized, had
his head shaved all but seven locks of hair, ordered his face to be
blackened, and mounting him on an ass, with drums beaten, had him led
all about the city, and drove him from the kingdom. From that time he
carried on his rule free from all anxiety.
It so happened that in the season of spring, the king Dharmadhwaj,
taking his queens with him, went for a stroll in the garden, where
there was a large tank with lotuses blooming within it. The Raja
admiring its beauty, took off his clothes and went down to bathe.
After plucking a flower and coming to the bank, he was going to
give it into the hands of one of his queens, when it slipped from his
fingers, fell upon her foot, and broke it with the blow. Then the
Raja being alarmed, at once came out of the tank, and began to apply
remedies to her.
Hereupon night came on, and the moon shone brightly: the falling
of its rays on the body of the second queen formed blisters And
suddenly from a distance the sound of a wooden pestle came out of a
householder's dwelling, when the third queen fainted away with a
severe pain in the head
Having spoken thus much the Baital said "O my king! of these three
which is the most delicate?" The Raja answered, "She indeed is the
most delicate who fainted in consequence of the headache." The Baital
hearing this speech, went and hung himself from the very same tree,
and the Raja, having gone there and taken him down and fastened him in
the bundle and placed him on his shoulder, carried him away.
[FN#168] This story is perhaps the least interesting in the
collection. I have translated it literally, in order to give an idea
of the original. The reader will remark in it the source of our own
nursery tale about the princess who was so high born and delicately
bred, that she could discover the three peas laid beneath a straw
mattress and four feather beds. The Hindus, however, believe that
Sybaritism can be carried so far; I remember my Pandit asserting the
truth of the story.
[FN#169] A minister. The word, as is the case with many in this
collection, is quite modern Moslem, and anachronistic.
[FN#170] The cow is called the mother of the gods, and is declared
by Brahma, the first person of the triad, Vishnu and Shiva being the
second and the third, to be a proper object of worship. "If a European
speak to the Hindu about eating the flesh of cows," says an old
missionary, "they immediately raise their hands to their ears; yet
milkmen, carmen, and farmers beat the cow as unmercifully as a
carrier of coals beats his ass in England."The Jains or Jainas (from
ji, to conquer; as subduing the passions) are one of the atheistical
sects with whom the Brahmans have of old carried on the fiercest
religious controversies, ending in many a sanguinary fight. Their
tenets are consequently exaggerated and ridiculed, as in the text.
They believe that there is no such God as the common notions on the
subject point out, and they hold that the highest act of virtue is to
abstain from injuring sentient creatures. Man does not possess an
immortal spirit: death is the same to Brahma and to a fly. Therefore
there is no heaven or hell separate from present pleasure or pain.
Hindu Epicureans!—"Epicuri de grege porci."
[FN#171] Narak is one of the multitudinous places of Hindu
punishment, said to adjoin the residence of Ajarna. The less
cultivated Jains believe in a region of torment. The illuminati,
however, have a sovereign contempt for the Creator, for a future
state, and for all religious ceremonies. As Hindus, however, they
believe in future births of mankind, somewhat influenced by present
actions. The "next birth" in the mouth of a Hindu, we are told, is the
same as "to-morrow" in the mouth of a Christian. The metempsychosis
is on an extensive scale: according to some, a person who loses human
birth must pass through eight millions of successive incarnationsÄfish, insects, worms, birds, and beastsÄbefore he can
reappear as a man.
[FN#172] Jogi, or Yogi, properly applies to followers of the Yoga
or Patanjala school, who by ascetic practices acquire power over the
elements. Vulgarly, it is a general term for mountebank vagrants,
worshippers of Shiva. The Janganis adore the same deity, and carry
about a Linga. The Sevras are Jain beggars, who regard their chiefs
as superior to the gods of other sects. The Sannyasis are mendicant
followers of Shiva; they never touch metals or fire, and. in religious
parlance, they take up the staff They are opposed to the Viragis,
worshippers of Vishnu, who contend as strongly against the
worshippers of gods who receive bloody offerings. as a Christian
could do against idolatry.
THE VAMPIRE'S ELEVENTH STORY. Which
Puzzles Raja Vikram.