Vetalas, from N.M. Penzer (ed.), `Ocean of Story´, 1923

„I am Madanamanjari, the daughter of Dundubhi, the king of the Yakshas, and the wife of Manibhadra, the brother of Kuvera. I used always to roam about happily with my husband on the banks of the rivers, on hills, and in charming groves.

And one day I went with my beloved to a garden in Ujjayini called Makaranda to amuse myself. There it happened that in the dawn a low hypocritical scoundrel of a kapalika ( a worshipper of Siva of the left-handed order, characterised by carrying skulls of men as ornaments, and by eating and drinking from them) saw me, when I had just woke up from a sleep brought on by the fatigue of roaming about. That rascal, being overcome with love, went into a cemetery, and proceeded to try to procure me for his wife by means of a spell and a burnt-offering. But I, by my power, found out what he was about, and informed my husband; and he told his elder brother, Kuvera. And Kuvera went and complained to Brahma, and the holy Brahma, after meditating, said to him: `It is true that kapalika intends to rob your brother of his wife, for such is the power of those spells for mastering Yakshas, which he possesses. But when she feels herself being drawn along by the spell, she must invoke the protection of King Vikramaditya; he will save her from him.“

Then Kuvera came and told this answer of Brahma´s to my husband, and my husband told it to me, whose mind was troubled by that wicked spell.

And in the meanwhile that hypocritical kapalika, offering a burnt-offering in the cemetery, began to draw me to him by means of a spell, duly muttered in a circle. And I, being drawn by that spell, reached in an agony of terror that awful cemetery, full of bones and skulls, haunted by demons. And then I saw there that wicked kapalika: he had made an offering to the fire, and he had in a circle a corpse lying on its back, which he had been worshipping. And that kapalika, when he saw that I had arrived, was beside himself with pride, and with difficulty tore himself away to rinse his mouth in a river, which happened to be near.

At that moment I called to mind what Brahma had said, and I thought: `Why should I not call to the king for aid? He may be roaming about in the darkness somewhere near.´ When I had said this to myself, I called aloud for his help in the following words: `Deliver me, noble king Vikramaditya! See, protecting talisman of the world, this kapalika is bent on outraging by force, in your realm, me, a chaste woman, the Yakshi Madanamanjarí by name, the daughter of Dundubhi, and the wife of Manibhadra, the younger brother of Kuvera.´

No sooner had I finished this plaintive appeal than I saw that king coming toward me, sword in hand; he seemed to be all resplendent with brightness of valour, and he said to me: `My good lady, do not fear; be at ease. I will deliver you from that kapalika, fair one. For who is able to work such unrighteousness in my realm?´ When he had said this, he summoned a Vetala, named Agnisikha. And he, when summoned, came – tall, with flaming eyes, with upstanding hair – and said to the king: `Tell me what I am to do.´ Then the king said: `Kill and eat this wicked kapalika, who is trying to carry off his neighbour´s wife.´ Then that Vetala, Agnisikha, entered the corpse that was in the circle of adoration, and rose up and rushed forward, stretching out his arms and mouth. And when the kapalika, who had come back from rinsing his mouth, was preparing to fly, he seized him from behind by the legs; and he whirled him round in the air, and then dashed him down with great force on the earth, and so at one blow crushed his body and his aspirations. When the demons saw the kapalika slain they were all eager for flesh, and a fiece Vetala, named Yamasikha, came there. As soon as he came he seized the body of the kapalika; then the first Vetala, Agnisikha, said to him: `Hear, villain! I have killed this kapalika by the order of king Vikramaditya… so he is my proper prey, to be devoured by me.´

Though Agnisikha made this appeal to Yamasikha, the latter proceeded contumaciously to drag with his hand the corpse of that hypocritical kapalika. Then king Vikramaditya appeared there, and drew the figure of a man on the earth, and then cut off its hand with his sword. That made the hand of Yamasikha fall severed; so he left the corpse, and fled in fear. And Agnisikha immediately devoured the corpse of that kapalika. And I witnessed all this, securely protected by the might of the king.“



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