Somdev Bhatt 11th Century. Original in Sanskrit.
English Translation: C. A. KINCAID, c. v. o. Indian Civil Serice  1921
Background. "Vikram Aur Betaal" is a series of enchanting tales derived from the 11th-century work 'Betaal Pachisi' by Kashmiri poet Somdev Bhatt. The narrative follows the wise and adventurous King Vikramaditya of Ujjain. When a mendicant consistently gifts him fruits containing rubies, the king's curiosity is piqued. Meeting the mendicant under specific, eerie conditions, Vikramaditya learns of a task only he can perform: to retrieve a corpse, Betaal, from an ancient tree for the mendicant's mystical rituals.

As King Vikramaditya carries the corpse, Betaal's spirit tells him tales, concluding each with a riddle. If Vikramaditya knows the answer but stays silent, his head will shatter. But answering breaks his vow, and Betaal returns to the tree, making the king restart his mission. After 25 stories, Betaal reveals the mendicant's ulterior motive: to gain unparalleled powers by sacrificing the king. Forewarned by Betaal, Vikramaditya confronts the mendicant and, through his wit, triumphs over the deceitful ascetic.
King Vikrama dies in the hand of a two-year-old weilding a toy club.
UNDER the blessing of the god Indra the fame of King Vikrama spread over the whole world. One day the god Indra fearing the merit that by his penances the Rishi Vishwamitra had gained, resolved to stop them by sending either Rambha or Urvasi to win him from them. Both dancing girls were such mistresses of their art that even Indra could not decide between them. At last the Sage Narad said to the god, "0 Lord of Lords! there is only one, and only one who can settle this question, King Vikrama of Ujjain, for none is so versed, as he is, in the science of dancing". The god Indra approved the words of the sage and sent his charioteer Matali to invite King Vikrama to Indra's heaven. When King Vikrama came in answer to Indra's summons, the god paid him great honour and seated him close to his own throne. Then he sent for Rambha and bade her dance before King Vikrama. All that day Rambha displayed her marvelous skill to the king, who sat watching her wrapt in admiration. Next day the god Indra sent for Urvasi and bade her dance before King Vikrama. Wonderful as Rambha's dancing had been, it was yet surpassed by the dancing of Urvasi, and at the close of the second day, King Vikrama pronounced her victorious. The King Indra pleased at the judgment of King Vikrama, gave the king presents of rich clothes and a wonderful golden throne set with precious stones and hung round with thirty-two.

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golden dolls. The throne had no steps so that he who mounted it had to climb into the seat by placing his foot on the head of one of the golden dolls. The king after thanking the god for his gifts asked for and received leave to return to Ujjain. There he set up the golden throne and sitting on it dispensed justice such as has never been known before or afterwards.
After many many years many signs and portents were seen by the men of Ujjain. Comets coursed across the heavens, the earth quaked, the colour of the sky turned from blue to red.
King Vikrama sent for his astrologers and asked them the cause of the omens. The astrologers answered, "0 king, the earthquakes and the comets can have but one meaning, the death of the king".
King Vikrama said, "Nay, that cannot be. Once by my austerities I won a boon from the gods. I asked them that I should not die save by the hand of one born of a girl two-and-a-half years old.
The gods granted my prayer; and as no such birth can happen, I shall live forever." The astrologers replied, "Nothing, 0 King, is impossible to divinity. Such a man may be living now and making ready to slay you".
When King Vikrama heard the astrologers' words, he called to him Vetal, the king of the ghosts and said, "Ghost-lord, go forth and wander over all the earth, search every village, town and city to find out whether there lives on earth anyone born of a mother but two-and-a-half years old''. King Vetal wandered over the whole earth until at last he came to the town of Pratishta.

Tales of King Vikrama.
There he saw in the house of a potter a little boy and a little girl, hardly any older, playing together. He asked them how they were related. The little girl replied, "This is my son." "'Where is your father?" asked king Vetal of the little girl. She pointed to a Brahman and King Vetal questioned him about the little girl and boy. "The little girl is my daughter," said the Brahman "and the little boy is her son." King Vetal could not believe his ears and said angrily to the Brahman, "But how can that be?" The Brahman answered, "The ways of God are inscrutable. The Serpent King loved my daughter and she bore him the little boy yonder. His name is Shalivahan ".
On hearing this King Vetal rode with all speed to Ujjain and told King Vikrama all that he had heard and seen. King Vikrama rewarded King Vetal richly and taking his sword rode to Pratishtan city. Finding out the potter's house, he went up to Shalivahan with sword raised, meaning to kill him. But before the sword could fall, Shalivahan struck King Vikrama so fierce a blow with his toy club that King Vikrama fell to the ground and died instantly. When the news of King Vikrama's death reached Ujjain, all his queens wished to burn themselves on his body. But the ministers were in great perplexity for King Vikrama had left no son. Then the prime minister Bhatti by name questioned his queens and learning that one was expecting a child in two months’ time, forbade her to burn herself and

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declared her unborn son to be king of Ujjain.
During the ceremony a heavenly voice was heard to say, "Neyer will there be a king fit to sit on the throne of King Vikrama. Let a good field be chosen and the throne buried in it." As the voice commanded, so King Vikrama's councilors did, and choosing the richest field in Ujjain they buried in it the throne given by the god Indra to King Vikrama.
00VikramBetaalIntroduction 01VajramukutAndPadmavati
02MadhumalotiAndHerSuitors 03KingRupsenAndVirvar
04The MainaAndTheParrot 05MahadeviAndTheGiant
06ParvatiAndTheWashermansBride 07PrincessTribhuvanasundari
08KingGunadipAndViramdeva 09SomadattaAndMadansena
10KingGunashekhar 11KingAndSeamaiden
12PrincessLavanyaAndThe Gandharva 13ShobhaniAndTheRobber
14PrincessChandraprabha 15KingJimutketuAndPrinceJimutvahan
16TheKingAndUnmadini 17GunakarAndTheAnchorite
18TheRobbersBride 19TheGiantAndTheBrahmanBoy
20MadanmanjariKamalakarAndDhanwati 21TheLionAndTheFourLearnedMen
22The MagicianAndTheDeadYouth 23TheThreeSonsOfGovind
24TheWanderingAnchorite 25KingMahabalHisQueenAndDaughter