Foreword/Introduction: Wendy Dongier/Arshia Sattar
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0-14-024721-1
An exhilarating anthology of stories, Kathasaritsagara, which literally means the 'Ocean of the Sea of Story', is often described as the motherlode of the world's stories.
The stories in this book are retold from ten of the eighteen books of the original Kathasaritsagara. The main narrative, or frame story, deals with the adventures of Naravahanadatta and culminates in his eventual coronation as the king of the sky-dwellers with magical powers.
The numerous tales and stories in the book are told by various ministers of Naravahanadatta. The most remarkable feature of the Kathasaritsagara is that unlike other classics of the time, it offers no moral conclusions, no principles to live by and is throughout a celebration of earthly life. Thus we have promiscuous married women and clever courtesans; imbecile Brahmins and incompetent kings; and men and women who are cursed and granted boons and experience exciting adventures.
Although its dates have not been conclusively established, the Kathasaritsagara is said to have been compiled by a Kashmiri Saivite Brahmin called Somadeva in AD 1070. Legend has it that Somadeva composed the Kathasaritsagara for queen Suryavati, wife of King Anantadeva who ruled Kashmir in the eleventh century.
The book has been translated from the Sanskrit with an introduction by Arshia Sattar and foreword by Wendy Doniger.
Arshia Sattar has a Ph.D. from the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago. Her areas of interest are Indian epics, mythology, and the story traditions of the subcontinent. She also reviews books and writes on women's issues and contemporary culture for various newspapers and magazines.