The Story of Devadatta – Somadeva (Flourished about 1070 A.D.)
Somadeva (Soma with the Brahminical suffix deva) was a poet of Kashmir. His celebrated collection, the Ocean of Streams of Stories, based upon Buddhist stories, traditions, and an earlier collection of tales, is one of the’ most voluminous and interesting of its kind in Sanskrit literature.
The present story, translated by C. H. Tawney, appeared in The Ocean of Story, Vol. I, Book IV, Chap. 21, of the complete edition in ten volumes edited by N. M. Penzer, and published in 1924—25 by Chas. J. Sawyer, Ltd., by whose permission it is here included.
The Story of Devadatta
From the Katha-Sarit-Sagara
The Story of Devadatta – In old time there was a certain petty monarch of the name of Jayadatta, and there was born to him a son, named Devadatta. And that wise king, wishing to marry his son, who was grown up, thus reflected: “The prosperity of kings is very unstable, being like a courtesan to be enjoyed by force; but the prosperity of merchants is like a woman of good family; it is steady and does not fly to another’man. Therefore I will take a wife to my son from a merchant’s family, in order that misfortune may not overtake his throne, though it is surrounded with many relations.” Having formed this resolve, that king sought for his son the daughter of a merchant in Pataliputra named Vasudatta. Vasudatta for his part, eager for such a distinguished alliance, gave that daughter of his to the prince, though he dwelt in a remote foreign land.
And he loaded his son-in-law with wealth to such an extent that he no longer felt much respect for his father’s magnificence. Then King Jayadatta dwelt happily with that son of his who had obtained the daughter of that rich merchant. Now one day the merchant Vasudatta came, full of desire to see his daughter, to the palace of his connection by marriage, and took away his daughter to his own home. Shortly after the King Jayadatta suddenly went to heaven, and that kingdom was seized by his relations, who rose in rebellion; through fear of them his son Devadatta was secretly taken away by his mother during the night to another country.
Then that mother, distressed in soul, said to the prince: “Our feudal lord is the emperor who rules the eastern region; repair to him, my son; he will procure you the kingdom.”