ACK-088: Vasavadatta

ACK #030 (674)

The story of King Udayana and Princess Vasavadatta was very well known in ancient India. Early writers were inspired by this story and made it the subject of poems and dramas. Bhasa wrote the ‘Swapnavasavadatta’ in Sanskrit, which is unique for its literary value. ‘Vasavadatta’ by Subandhu is another great work on the same theme.

This popular story was re-echoed in Pali and Prakrit literature. In Dhamma-pada-atthakatha (5th Century A.D.), on which this illustrated classic is based, we get an elaborate account of the story of Vasavadatta and Udayana.

King Pradyota of Ujjaini is disturbed to learn from his minister that Udayana of Kaushambi is a greater king than he is. He tricks Udayana into captivity. Pradyota then wants Udayana to teach him the secret of taming elephants.
Udayana refuses to do so until Pradyota himself pays him the homage due to a guru. As Pradyota's pride does not permit this, he sends his daughter lovely daughter Vasavadatta to Udayana for the lessons, with a curtain screen separating them. Vasavadatta is told her teacher is a leaper, and Udayanais told that his pupil is a hunch-backed relative of Pradyota.

What follows thereafther is encapsulated in this romantic tale.

Script: Menna Talim Illustrations: Pratap Mulick
(~From inside cover)

Note: It's said that the first reference to game pieces that could be chess or a similar game is found in Vasavadatta by Subandhu. I mean the reference only, game is older & started by Indians. With time there were changes in rules etc.

Check following links to read more about:

1. Earliest Chess Books and References by Bill Wall

2. Origins of ChessProtochess, 400 B.C. to 400 A.D. by G. Ferlito and A. Sanvito (FROM: The Pergamon Chess Monthly September 1990 Volume 55 No. 6)

Download Book Vasavadatta’ by Subandhu (Here)

Many many thanks to “Shailendra Rao” for providing ACK scan.

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Apoorva Chandar March 8, 2009 at 6:47 PM  

Thank you Mr.Shailendra Rao and prabhat. love these HQ scans

Apoorva Chandar March 8, 2009 at 6:57 PM  

I still vividly remember having read about Vasavadatta in Sanskrit during my second year P.U.C. It was the first chapter in my Sanskrrit text, if I am not wrong. Some of these great Sanskrit writers like Bhasa, Kalidasa, Bhartrihari,Śudraka have written plays which are simply amazing to read.

KK March 8, 2009 at 9:55 PM  

Thank you for your undying devotion...both Shailendra and Prabhat.

Prabhat's Books and Comics March 8, 2009 at 10:57 PM  

Apoorva Chandar: Welcome! You are really amazing, being related with medicine & such interest in Indian History & literature. Wonderful!

Prabhat's Books and Comics March 8, 2009 at 11:01 PM  

KK: Welcome! I love India & proud to be Indian. I'm rediscovering India for myself. Deeper I dig, find more & more interesting facts.

Anonymous March 9, 2009 at 7:28 AM  


great job Prabhat and Shailendra Rao!

Demonoid Fan

Amith Nag March 9, 2009 at 9:32 AM  

Thanks guys - I was waiting for this one - had read the story back in Sanskrit classes in college

Rajeev Sharma March 9, 2009 at 1:20 PM  

thank u prabhat and subandhu..

i always had a fancy towards historical and literary hindu names... may be as a child i was exposed to ack and their influence is very marked in my life.. if i had a girl child i wud have named her vasavdatta... the two names i chose for my son, who s six, were udyan and harshvardhan... learned only from ack's... astrologically the latter suited him so he was named harshvardhan... reading all that again is visiting some remote past all over again... yeah nostalgia does get u

thank u

Prabhat's Books and Comics March 10, 2009 at 5:51 AM  

Demonoid Fan: Welcome!

Prabhat's Books and Comics March 10, 2009 at 5:54 AM  

Amith Nag: Welcome! You are one of the luckiest people who read in original language.

Prabhat's Books and Comics March 10, 2009 at 6:03 AM  

Rajeev Sharma: Welcome! My son's name is Harsh Raj,he is 8 years old. But my wife wishes to change into Harshvardhan as full name of same legendary historical person.:)

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