Somdev Bhatt 11th Century. Original in Sanskrit.
English Translation: C. A. KINCAID, c. v. o. Indian Civil Serice  1921
ONCE upon a time· there was a town called Champapur. Its king was called Champeshwar, and the queen's name was Sulochana. They had a daughter called Tribhuvanasundari. Her beauty was such that no words could describe it. Her face was like the full moon.* Her hair was like a dark cloud round it. Her eyes would have put a fawn's to shame. Her eyebrows were like bended bows. Her nose was like a parrot's beak. Her neck was like a pigeon's. Her lips were as soft and as pale as the seeds of a pomegranate. The color of her skin was yellow gold like the blossom of the champak. And she was endowed with every grace both of mind and body.
When she reached the spring of womanhood, her father began to debate on whom he should

* This description of female beauty is not as absurd as it at first sight appears. The writer compares her face not with the shape, but with the beauty and brightness of the full Eastern moon. Byron does the same, e.g.

"She walks in beauty like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,"
Tribhuvanasundari's nose was not hooked. But the tip of her nose had perfect symmetry and was perfectly rounded like a parrot's beak. Her neck was like a pigeon's because she was "deep bosomed"-a quality admired by both East and West, e.g.
"The tall deep bosomed women The children nine and ten."
60 Tales of King Vikrama
bestow his lovely daughter. He sent heralds to the kings of the neighboring countries. They announced that King Champeshwar sought a husband for his daughter, now reached womanhood, and that her beauty was such that it would charm away the wits alike of sages and magicians. When the kings heard the message of the heralds, they had at once their likenesses painted and sent them by the hands of Brahmans to King Champeshwar. The latter showed portraits, one after the other, to his daughter, but she did not like any one of them. Her father said, "What sort of husband do you want'?" "Give me a husband," she said, "in whom are combined beauty, strength and wisdom." The king searched everywhere to find such a husband. Some days afterwards four kings came from their own country, each in the hope of winning Tribhuwanasundari. After the king had welcomed them, he said, "Let each of you display to me your wisdom and your merits".
,. One of them at once answered, "O king, listen and you shall hear how wise I am. Each day I weave a garment which I sell for five precious stones. Of these I give one as an offering to the Brahmans. The second I offer to the gods. The third I wear myself. The fourth I put aside for my wife. The fifth I sell, and with the money I prepare myself a splendid banquet. No one else has such skill as I have. As for my beauty, you can see it for yourself. There is no need for me to talk about it."
The second king then said, "I know the tongues
Princess Tribhuvanasundari 61
of all birds, beasts and fishes, whether in the sky or on the earth or in the sea. Moreover, no man is as strong as I am. As for my looks, you can judge for yourself."
The third king said, "I know the sacred books better than anyone living, and whether I am handsome or not, it is for you to say."
The fourth king said, "I am the most skillful man-at-arms in all India. I can shoot and kill my foe merely on hearing his voice, even though I do not see him. My beauty is renowned all over the earth. You can see for yourself whether it deserves its fame." When the king had heard the speech of each of the Four suitors, he was again perplexed. "All four, he said," have equal merits. To whom shall I give my daughter?" Then he went to his daughter's room and told her the claims of each of the four kings and begged her to choose one among them. Tribhuwanasundari blushed and drawing her sari across her face, she looked down upon the ground. But she said nothing.
At this point the oilman's son said, "King Vikrama, which of the four kings should she have chosen?" King Vikrama answered, "He who wove garments was a Sudra by caste. He who knew the tongues of birds, beasts and fishes was a Vaishya by caste. He who knew the sacred books was a Brahman.* But he who was the skilled man at arms was a Kshatriya. He was of the same caste as the princess and, therefore, he alone was fitted to be her husband. When the king had finished speaking, he saw that he was alone. He realized that he had again broken his promise. Going back to the tree, he flung the dead body across his shoulders. Then once more he retraced his steps. As he did so, the oilman's son began to tell eighth tale.
* The Brahman is the priestly caste.· The Kshatriya is the warrior or ruling caste. The Vaishya is or was the agricultural caste. The Sudra is the lowest caste.
62 Tales of King Vikrama



00VikramBetaalIntroduction 01VajramukutAndPadmavati
02MadhumalotiAndHerSuitors 03KingRupsenAndVirvar
04The MainaAndTheParrot 05MahadeviAndTheGiant
06ParvatiAndTheWashermansBride 07PrincessTribhuvanasundari
08KingGunadipAndViramdeva 09SomadattaAndMadansena
10KingGunashekhar 11KingAndSeamaiden
12PrincessLavanyaAndThe Gandharva 13ShobhaniAndTheRobber
14PrincessChandraprabha 15KingJimutketuAndPrinceJimutvahan
16TheKingAndUnmadini 17GunakarAndTheAnchorite