Brihatkatha
(c. 200 C.E.)
   The Brihatkatha (Great Story) is a collection of adventure tales ascribed to GUNADHYA and written around 200 C.E. It is said to have been originally composed in a dialect of the forest people, but if so, the original was not preserved. Several Sanskrit versions exist, the most famous the 11th-century KATHASARITSAGARA (The ocean of the streams of story) by Somadeva. Many of the stories of the Brihatkatha complex have found their way into the Jain tradition and reappear in such languages as Kannada and Tamil.
   The stories tell of merchants and kings, romance and adventure, quite unlike the tra-ditional Sanskrit PURANAS. The central hero is Naravahanadatta, the son of Udayana. Common in these stories is the appearance of semidevine wizardlike beings called Vidyadharas, who per-form magic.
   Further reading: J. A. B van Buitenen, Tales of Ancient India (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969); Jag-dishchandra Jain, The Vasudevahindi: An Authentic Jain Version of the Brhatkatha (Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute of Indology, 1977); Sarla Khosla, Brihatkatha and Its Con-tributions (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan, 2003).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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