Kathasaritsagara (Devanagari कथासरित्सागर "ocean of the streams of stories") is a famous 11th-century collection of Indian legends, fairy tales and folk tales as retold by a Saivite Brahmin named Somadeva.

Nothing is known about the author other than that his father's name was Ramadevabatta. The work was compiled for the entertainment of the queen Suryamati, wife of king Anantadeva of Kashmir (r. 1063-81).

It consists of 18 books of 124 chapters and more than 21,000 verses in addition to prose sections. The principal tale is the narrative of the adventures of Naravahanadatta, son of the legendary king Udayana. A large number of tales are built around this central story, making it the largest existing collection of Indian tales. It notably also contains recensions of the Panchatantra in Book 10; and the Vetālapañcaviṃśati, or Baital Pachisi, in Book 12.

The Katha-sarit-sagara is generally believed to derive from Gunadhya's Brhat-katha, written in Paisachi dialect from the south of India. But the Kashmirian Brhat-katha from which Somadeva took inspiration may be quite different from the Paisachi one as there were two versions of the Brhat-katha extant in Kashmir, as well as the related Brhatkatha-sloka-samgraha of Buddhasvamin from Nepal. Like the Panchatantra, tales from this (or its main source book the Brhat-katha) travelled to many parts of the world.

The only complete translation into English[1] is by C. H. Tawney (1837–1922), published in two volumes (1300 pages in all) in 1880. This was greatly expanded, with additional notes and remarks comparing stories from different cultures, by N. M. Penzer, and published in ten volumes ("privately printed for subscribers only") in 1924.

Another translation was to be published in seven volumes by the Clay Sanskrit Library, translated by Sir James Mallinson, but it published only two volumes, reaching up to canto 6.8, before the publisher ended operations.


  1. And, at least as of the 1960s, the only complete translation into any European language. (Igor D. Serebryakov: "A Few Thoughts on the Katha Sarit Sagara" pp a-b in Tawney (1880, rpt. 1993 New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal).


Sanskrit text
  • Arshia Sattar (1997), Tales from the Kathasaritsagara includes key selections from the Kathasaritsagara. Published by Penguin Classics.
  • Radhavallabh Tripathi, Katha Sarit Sagar (Hindi). National Book Trust.ISBN 9788123714318.

See also

bn:কথাসরিৎসাগর cs:Kathásaritságarako:카타사리트사가라 mr:कथासरित्सागर ru:Океан сказаний sv:Kathasaritsagara th:กถาสริตสาคร hi:कथासरित्सागर

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