The story literature of India is in a large measure the outcome of the moral revolution of the peninsula connected with the name of Gautama Buddha. As the influence of his life and doctrines grew, a tendency arose to connect all the popular stories of India round the great teacher. This could be easily effected owing to the wide spread of the belief in metempsychosis. All that was told of the sages of the past could be interpreted of the Buddha by representing them as pre- incarnations of him. Even with Fables, or beast-tales, this could be done, for the Hindoos were Darwinists long before Darwin, and regarded beasts as cousins of men and stages of development in the progress of the soul through the ages. Thus, by identifying the Buddha with the heroes of all folk-tales and the chief characters in the beast-drolls, the Buddhists were enabled to incorporate the whole of the story-store of Hindostan in their sacred books, and enlist on their side the tale- telling instincts of men.
In making Buddha the centre figure of the popular literature of India, his followers also invented the Frame as a method of literary art. The idea of connecting a number of disconnected stories familiar to us from The Arabian Nights, Boccaccio's Decamerone, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, or even Pickwick, is directly traceable to the plan of making Buddha the central figure of India folk-literature. Curiously enough, the earliest instance of this in Buddhist literature was intended to be a Decameron, ten tales of Buddha's previous births, told of each of the ten Perfections. Asvagosha, the earlier Boccaccio, died when he had completed thirty-four of the Birth-Tales. But other collections were made, and at last a corpus of the JATAKAS, or Birth-Tales of the Buddha, was carried over to Ceylon, possibly as early as the first introduction of Buddhism, 241 B.C. There they have remained till the present day, and have at last been made accessible in a complete edition in the original Pali by Prof. Fausbøll.
These JATAKAS, as we now have them, are enshrined in a commentary on the gathas, or moral verses, written in Ceylon by one of Buddhaghosa's school in the fifth century A.D. They invariably begin with a "Story of the Present," an incident in Buddha's life which calls up to him a "Story of the Past," a folk-tale in which he had played a part during one of his former incarnations. Thus the fable of the Lion and the Crane, which opens the present collection, is introduced by a "Story of the Present" in the following words:--
"A service have we done thee" [the opening words of the gatha or moral verse]. "This the Master told while living at Jetavana concerning Devadatta's treachery. Not only now, O Bhickkus, but in a former existence was Devadatta ungrateful. And having said this he told a tale" Then follows the tale as given above, and the commentary concludes: "The Master, having given the lesson, summed up the Jataka thus: 'At that time, the Lion was Devadatta, and the Crane was I myself.'" Similarly, with each story of the past the Buddha identifies himself, or is mentioned as identical with, the virtuous hero of the folk-tale. These Jatakas are 550 in number, and have been reckoned to include some 2000 tales. Some of these had been translated by Mr. Rhys-Davids (Buddhist Birth Stories, I., Trübner's Oriental Library, 1880), Prof. Fausbøll (Five Jatakas, Copenhagen), and Dr. R. Morris (Folk-Lore Journal, vols. ii.-v.). A few exist sculptured on the earliest Buddhist Stupas. Thus several of the circular figure designs on the reliefs from Amaravati, now on the grand staircase of the British Museum, represent Jatakas, or previous births of the Buddha.
Some of the Jatakas bear a remarkable resemblance to some of the most familiar FABLES OF AESOP. So close is the resemblance, indeed, that it is impossible not to surmise an historical relation between the two. What this relation is I have discussed at considerable length in the "History of the Aesopic Fable," which forms the introductory volume to my edition of Caxton's Esope (London, D. Nutt, "Bibliothèque de Carabas," 1889). In this place I can only roughly summarise my results. I conjecture that a collection of fables existed in India before Buddha and independently of the Jatakas, and connected with the name of Kasyapa, who was afterwards made by the Buddhists into the latest of the twenty-seven pre-incarnations of the Buddha. This collection of the Fables of Kasyapa was brought to Europe with a deputation from the Cingalese King Chandra Muka Siwa (obiit 52 A.D.) to the Emperor Claudius about 50 A.D., and was done into Greek as the [Greek: Logoi Lubikoi] of "Kybises." These were utilised by Babrius (from whom the Greek Aesop is derived) and Avian, and so came into the European Aesop. I have discussed all those that are to be found in the Jatakas in the "History" before mentioned, i. pp. 54-72 (see Notes i. xv. xx.). In these Notes henceforth I refer to this "History" as my Aesop.
There were probably other Buddhist collections of a similar nature to the Jatakas with a framework. When the Hindu reaction against Buddhism came, the Brahmins adapted these, with the omission of Buddha as the central figure. There is scarcely any doubt that the so-called FABLES OF BIDPAI were thus derived from Buddhistic sources. In its Indian form this is now extant as a Panchatantra or Pentateuch, five books of tales connected by a Frame. This collection is of special interest to us in the present connection, as it has come to Europe in various forms and shapes. I have edited Sir Thomas North's English version of an Italian adaptation of a Spanish translation of a Latin version of a Hebrew translation of an Arabic adaptation of the Pehlevi version of the Indian original (Fables of Bidpai, London, D. Nutt, "Bibliothèque de Carabas," 1888). In this I give a genealogical table of the various versions, from which I calculate that the tales have been translated into thirty-eight languages in 112 different versions, twenty different ones in English alone. Their influence on European folk-tales has been very great: it is probable that nearly one-tenth of these can be traced to the Bidpai literature. (See Notes v. ix. x. xiii. xv.)
Other collections of a similar character, arranged in a frame, and derived ultimately from Buddhistic sources, also reached Europe and formed popular reading in the Middle Ages. Among these may be mentioned THE TALES OF SINDIBAD, known to Europe as The Seven Sages of Rome: from this we get the Gellert story (cf. Celtic Fairy Tales), though it also occurs in the Bidpai. Another popular collection was that associated with the life of St. Buddha, who has been canonised as St. Josaphat: BARLAAM AND JOSAPHAT tells of his conversion and much else besides, including the tale of the Three Caskets, used by Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice.
Some of the Indian tales reached Europe at the time of the Crusades, either orally or in collections no longer extant. The earliest selection of these was the Disciplina Clericalis of Petrus Alphonsi, a Spanish Jew converted about 1106: his tales were to be used as seasoning for sermons, and strong seasoning they must have proved. Another Spanish collection of considerably later date was entitled El Conde Lucanor (Eng. trans. by W. York): this contains the fable of The Man, his Son, and their Ass, which they ride or carry as the popular voice decides. But the most famous collection of this kind was that known as GESTA ROMANORUM, much of which was certainly derived from Oriental and ultimately Indian sources, and so might more appropriately be termed Gesta Indorum.
All these collections, which reached Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, became very popular, and were used by monks and friars to enliven their sermons as EXEMPLA. Prof. Crane has given a full account of this very curious phenomenon in his erudite edition of the Exempla of Jacques de Vitry (Folk Lore Society, 1890). The Indian stories were also used by the Italian Novellieri, much of Boccaccio and his school being derived from this source. As these again gave material for the Elizabethan Drama, chiefly in W. Painter's Palace of Pleasure, a collection of translated Novelle which I have edited (Lond., 3 vols. 1890), it is not surprising that we can at times trace portions of Shakespeare back to India. It should also be mentioned that one-half of La Fontaine's Fables (Bks. vii.-xii.) are derived from Indian sources. (See Note on No. v.)
In India itself the collection of stories in frames went on and still goes on. Besides those already mentioned there are the stories of Vikram and the Vampire (Vetala), translated among others by the late Sir Richard Burton, and the seventy stories of a parrot (Suka Saptati.) The whole of this literature was summed up by Somnadeva, c. 1200 A.D. in a huge compilation entitled Katha Sarit Sagara ("Ocean of the Stream of Stories"). Of this work, written in very florid style, Mr. Tawney has produced a translation in two volumes in the Bibliotheca Indica. Unfortunately, there is a Divorce Court atmosphere about the whole book, and my selections from it have been accordingly restricted. (Notes, No. xi.)
So much for a short sketch of Indian folk-tales so far as they have been reduced to writing in the native literature. [Footnote: An admirable and full account of this literature was given by M. A. Barth in Mülusine, t. iv. No. 12, and t. v. No. 1. See also Table i. of Prof. Rhys-Davids' Birth Stories.] The Jatakas are probably the oldest collection of such tales in literature, and the greater part of the rest are demonstrably more than a thousand years old. It is certain that much (perhaps one-fifth) of the popular literature of modern Europe is derived from those portions of this large bulk which came west with the Crusades through the medium of Arabs and Jews. In his elaborate Einleitung to the Pantschatantra, the Indian version of the Fables of Bidpai, Prof. Benfey contended with enormous erudition that the majority of folk-tale incidents were to be found in the Bidpai literature. His introduction consisted of over 200 monographs on the spread of Indian tales to Europe. He wrote in 1859, before the great outburst of folk-tale collection in Europe, and he had not thus adequate materials to go about in determining the extent of Indian influence on the popular mind of Europe. But he made it clear that for beast-tales and for drolls, the majority of those current in the mouths of occidental people were derived from Eastern and mainly Indian sources. He was not successful, in my opinion, in tracing the serious fairy tale to India. Few of the tales in the Indian literary collections could be dignified by the name of fairy tales, and it was clear that if these were to be traced to India, an examination of the contemporary folk-tales of the peninsula would have to be attempted.
The collection of current Indian folk-tales has been the work of the last quarter of a century, a work, even after what has been achieved, still in its initial stages. The credit of having begun the process is due to Miss Frere, who, while her father was Governor of the Bombay Presidency, took down from the lips of her ayah, Anna de Souza, one of a Lingaet family from Goa who had been Christian for three generations, the tales she afterwards published with Mr. Murray in 1868, under the title, "Old Deccan Days, or, Indian Fairy Legends current in Southern India, collected from oral tradition by M. Frere, with an introduction and notes by Sir Bartle Frere." Her example was followed by Miss Stokes in her Indian Fairy Tales (London, Ellis & White, 1880), who took down her tales from two ayahs and a Khitmatgar, all of them Bengalese--the ayahs Hindus, and the man a Mohammedan. Mr. Ralston introduced the volume with some remarks which dealt too much with sun-myths for present-day taste. Another collection from Bengal was that of Lal Behari Day, a Hindu gentleman, in his Folk-Tales of Bengal (London, Macmillan, 1883). The Panjab and the Kashmir then had their turn: Mrs. Steel collected, and Captain (now Major) Temple edited and annotated, their Wideawake Stories (London, Trübner, 1884), stories capitally told and admirably annotated. Captain Temple increased the value of this collection by a remarkable analysis of all the incidents contained in the two hundred Indian folk-tales collected up to this date. It is not too much to say that this analysis marks an onward step in the scientific study of the folk-tale: there is such a thing, derided as it may be. I have throughout the Notes been able to draw attention to Indian parallels by a simple reference to Major Temple's Analysis.
Major Temple has not alone himself collected: he has been the cause that many others have collected. In the pages of the Indian Antiquary, edited by him, there have appeared from time to time folk-tales collected from all parts of India. Some of these have been issued separately. Sets of tales from Southern India, collected by the Pandit Natesa Sastri, have been issued under the title Folk-Lore of Southern India, three fascicules of which have been recently re- issued by Mrs. Kingscote under the title, Tales of the Sun (W. H. Allen, 1891): it would have been well if the identity of the two works had been clearly explained. The largest addition to our knowledge of the Indian folk-tale that has been made since Wideawake Stories is that contained in Mr. Knowles' Folk-Tales of Kashmir (Trübner's Oriental Library, 1887), sixty-three stories, some of great length. These, with Mr. Campbell's Santal Tales (1892); Ramaswami Raju's Indian Fables (London, Sonnenschein, n. d.); M. Thornhill, Indian Fairy Tales (London, 1889); and E. J. Robinson, Tales of S. India (1885), together with those contained in books of travel like Thornton's Bannu or Smeaton's Karens of Burmah bring up the list of printed Indian folk-tales to over 350--a respectable total indeed, but a mere drop in the ocean of the stream of stories that must exist in such a huge population as that of India: the Central Provinces in particular are practically unexplored. There are doubtless many collections still unpublished. Col. Lewin has large numbers, besides the few published in his Lushai Grammar; and Mr. M. L. Dames has a number of Baluchi tales which I have been privileged to use. Altogether, India now ranks among the best represented countries for printed folk-tales, coming only after Russia (1500), Germany (1200), Italy and France (1000 each.) [Footnote: Finland boasts of 12,000 but most of these lie unprinted among the archives of the Helsingfors Literary Society.] Counting the ancient with the modern, India has probably some 600 to 700 folk-tales printed and translated in accessible form. There should be enough material to determine the vexed question of the relations between the European and the Indian collections.
This question has taken a new departure with the researches of M. Emanuel Cosquin in his Contes populaires de Lorraine (Paris, 1886, 2° tirage, 1890), undoubtedly the most important contribution to the scientific study of the folk-tale since the Grimms. M. Cosquin gives in the annotations to the eighty-four tales which he has collected in Lorraine a mass of information as to the various forms which the tales take in other countries of Europe and in the East. In my opinion, the work he has done for the European folk-tale is even more valuable than the conclusions he draws from it as to the relations with India. He has taken up the work which Wilhelm Grimm dropped in 1859, and shown from the huge accumulations of folk-tales that have appeared during the last thirty years that there is a common fund of folk-tales which every country of Europe without exception possesses, though this does not of course preclude them from possessing others that are not shared by the rest. M. Cosquin further contends that the whole of these have come from the East, ultimately from India, not by literary transmission, as Benfey contended, but by oral transmission. He has certainly shown that very many of the most striking incidents common to European folk-tales are also to be found in Eastern mährchen. What, however, he has failed to show is that some of these may not have been carried out to the Eastern world by Europeans. Borrowing tales is a mutual process, and when Indian meets European, European meets Indian; which borrowed from which, is a question which we have very few criteria to decide. It should be added that Mr W. A. Clouston has in England collected with exemplary industry a large number of parallels between Indian and European folk-tale incidents in his Popular Tales and Fictions (Edinburgh, 2 vols., 1887) and Book of Noodles (London, 1888). Mr Clouston has not openly expressed his conviction that all folk-tales are Indian in origin: he prefers to convince us non vi sed saepe cadendo. He has certainly made out a good case for tracing all European drolls, or comic folk- tales, from the East.
With the fairy tale strictly so called--i.e., the serious folk- tale of romantic adventure--I am more doubtful. It is mainly a modern product in India as in Europe, so far as literary evidence goes. The vast bulk of the Jatakas does not contain a single example worthy the name, nor does the Bidpai literature. Some of Somadeva's tales, however, approach the nature of fairy tales, but there are several Celtic tales which can be traced to an earlier date than his (1200 A.D.) and are equally near to fairy tales. Yet it is dangerous to trust to mere non-appearance in literature as proof of non-existence among the folk. To take our own tales here in England, there is not a single instance of a reference to Jack and the Beanstalk for the last three hundred years, yet it is undoubtedly a true folk-tale. And it is indeed remarkable how many of the formulae of fairy tales have been found of recent years in India. Thus, the Magic Fiddle, found among the Santals by Mr. Campbell in two variants (see Notes on vi.), contains the germ idea of the wide-spread story represented in Great Britain by the ballad of Binnorie (see English Fairy Tales, No. ix.). Similarly, Mr. Knowles' collection has added considerably to the number of Indian variants of European "formulae" beyond those noted by M. Cosquin.
It is still more striking as regards incidents. In a paper read before the Folk-Lore Congress of 1891, and reprinted in the Transactions, pp. 76 seq., I have drawn up a list of some 630 incidents found in common among European folk-tales (including drolls). Of these, I reckon that about 250 have been already found among Indian folk-tales, and the number is increased by each new collection that is made or printed. The moral of this is, that India belongs to a group of peoples who have a common store of stories; India belongs to Europe for purposes of comparative folk-tales.
Can we go further and say that India is the source of all the incidents that are held in common by European children? I think we may answer "Yes" as regards droll incidents, the travels of many of which we can trace, and we have the curious result that European children owe their earliest laughter to Hindu wags. As regards the serious incidents further inquiry is needed. Thus, we find the incident of an "external soul" (Life Index, Captain Temple very appropriately named it) in Asbjürnsen's Norse Tales and in Miss Frere's Old Deccan Days (see Notes on Punchkin). Yet the latter is a very suspicious source, since Miss Frere derived her tales from a Christian ayah whose family had been in Portuguese Goa for a hundred years. May they not have got the story of the giant with his soul outside his body from some European sailor touching at Goa? This is to a certain extent negatived by the fact of the frequent occurrence of the incident in Indian folk-tales (Captain Temple gave a large number of instances in Wideawake Stories, pp. 404-5). On the other hand, Mr. Frazer in his Golden Bough has shown the wide spread of the idea among all savage or semi-savage tribes. (See Note on No. iv.)
In this particular case we may be doubtful; but in others, again--as the incident of the rat's tail up nose (see Notes on The Charmed Ring)--there can be little doubt of the Indian origin. And generally, so far as the incidents are marvellous and of true fairy- tale character, the presumption is in favour of India, because of the vitality of animism or metempsychosis in India throughout all historic time. No Hindu would doubt the fact of animals speaking or of men transformed into plants and animals. The European may once have had these beliefs, and may still hold them implicitly as "survivals"; but in the "survival" stage they cannot afford material for artistic creation, and the fact that the higher minds of Europe for the last thousand years have discountenanced these beliefs has not been entirely without influence. Of one thing there is practical certainty: the fairy tales that are common to the Indo-European world were invented once for all in a certain locality; and thence spread to all the countries in culture contact with the original source. The mere fact that contiguous countries have more similarities in their story store than distant ones is sufficient to prove this: indeed, the fact that any single country has spread throughout it a definite set of folk-tales as distinctive as its flora and fauna, is sufficient to prove it. It is equally certain that not all folk-tales have come from one source, for each country has tales peculiar to itself. The question is as to the source of the tales that are common to all European children, and increasing evidence seems to show that this common nucleus is derived from India and India alone. The Hindus have been more successful than others, because of two facts: they have had the appropriate "atmosphere" of metempsychosis, and they have also had spread among the people sufficient literary training and mental grip to invent plots. The Hindu tales have ousted the native European, which undoubtedly existed independently; indeed, many still survive, especially in Celtic lands. Exactly in the same way, Perrault's tales have ousted the older English folk-tales, and it is with the utmost difficulty that one can get true English fairy tales because Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Blue Beard, Puss in Boots and the rest, have survived in the struggle for existence among English folk-tales. So far as Europe has a common store of fairy tales, it owes this to India.
I do not wish to be misunderstood. I do not hold with Benfey that all European folk-tales are derived from the Bidpai literature and similar literary products, nor with M. Cosquin that they are all derived from India. The latter scholar has proved that there is a nucleus of stories in every European land which is common to all. I calculate that this includes from 30 to 50 per cent. of the whole, and it is this common stock of Europe that I regard as coming from India mainly at the time of the Crusades, and chiefly by oral transmission. It includes all the beast tales and most of the drolls, but evidence is still lacking about the more serious fairy tales, though it is increasing with every fresh collection of folk-tales in India, the great importance of which is obvious from the above considerations.
In the following Notes I give, as on the two previous occasions, the source whence I derived the tale, then parallels, and finally remarks. For Indian parallels I have been able to refer to Major Temple's remarkable Analysis of Indian Folk-tale incidents at the end of Wide-awake Stories (pp. 386-436), for European ones to my alphabetical List of Incidents, with bibliographical references, in Transactions of Folk-Lore Congress, 1892, pp. 87-98. My remarks have been mainly devoted to tracing the relation between the Indian and the European tales, with the object of showing that the latter have been derived from the former. I have, however, to some extent handicapped myself, as I have avoided giving again the Indian versions of stories already given in English Fairy Tales or Celtic Fairy Tales.