By Budhasvāmin
Translated by Sir James Mallinson


Volume two of Budha·svamin’s “The Emperor of the Sorcerers” begins with the merchant Sanu·dasa telling the story, an epic in itself, of how he acquired Gandhárva·datta, his daughter whose hand Nara·váhana·datta, the hero of the book, has just won in a lute contest. In this and the tales of how the prince comes by his next two wives, the reader’s tour of ancient India continues, extending to the far south and beyond, to magical islands of gold, before heading north to Varánasi. Along the way, we learn of, among other things, flying sorcerers, transvestite ascetics clad in skulls, the finer points of gambling with dice, the perils of trading by sea, the rivalry between fate and human effort and the difference between town and country mice. Sadly, the surviving manuscripts of the texts break off while our hero is in pursuit of only the sixth of his twenty-six wives.

Look at those bamboos on the other bank of the river. A strong wind is blowing in our direction from the opposite bank and bends them over to this one. Get a good grip on a bamboo which is neither too thin, too bendy, too rotten, nor too dry. When there is a lull in the wind and the bamboo straightens up, get down gently on the other bank. Any man who hangs on to a piece of bamboo that is rotten or dry or otherwise unsound will fall and his body shall turn to stone. This is called the “bamboo path.” It is as terrifying as the path to the next world, but is quickly and easily crossed by men who are able and intrepid.

467 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-5707-9  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-5707-3  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation

About the Translator

Sir James Mallinson translates and edits Sanskrit literature for the JJC Foundation, co-publishers (with NYU Press) of the Clay Sanskrit Library. He also translated The Emperor of the Sorcerers (volume one), Messenger Poems, The Ocean of the Rivers of Story (volume one of seven), and The Ocean of the Rivers of Story (volume two of seven).