underwater hell or otherworld

james mallinson jim at KHECARI.COM
Thu Dec 10 09:49:50 UTC 2009

Dear Jonathan,

To add to Adheesh's note: Bṛhatkathāślokasaṃgraha 5.115-137 tells  
the story of Udayana's visit to the underwater city of Bhogavatī,  
which is populated by Nāgas from whom he obtains Ghoṣavatī, a  
magical vīṇā. Bhogavatī is a paradise, not a hell.

Yours, with best wishes,


On 9 Dec 2009, at 22:50, Adheesh Sathaye wrote:

> Dear Jonathan,
> Not 'hells', but there is a recurring motif of an undersea world (or  
> at least a fabulous land accessible through the ocean) within Skt.  
> kathā literature. In Śivadāsa's version of the Vetāla- 
> pañcaviṃśati, it is found in story 8 (which is cognate with ATU  
> tale type 1889H, "Submarine Underworld" if you're a folklorist), and  
> in story 11. In the Kathāsaritsāgara's version of the VP, these are  
> the stories #7 and 12, respectively, and I'd suggest your colleague  
> take a look at Penzer's still quite useful comparative notes to  
> Tawney's translation of the KSS (_Ocean of Story_), as found in vol.  
> 6, pp. 278-285, and vol. 7, pp. 211-212.
> If you don't mind indulging in some folkloristic jargon, in addition  
> to the numerous international versions noted under ATU 1889H in the  
> Aarne-Thompson-Uther tale type index, she may also consult  
> references to motifs F133, "Submarine otherworld" and F725.2,  
> "Submarine cities," in both Stith Thompson's Motif-Index as well as  
> the Motif Index of Indic Oral Tales (Thompson-Balys). I don't,  
> however, recall seeing many references to Indic versions of these  
> motifs.
> hope this is somewhat useful!
> best,
> Adheesh
> ----
> Adheesh Sathaye
> Department of Asian Studies
> University of British Columbia
> On Dec 9, 2009, at 2:11 PM, Jonathan Silk wrote:
>> a friend who is a student of Indo-european and currently working on  
>> Welsh
>> asked me whether there are things like underwater hells in Indic  
>> folklore
>> (she referred for instance to an Irish underwater otherworld)--I  
>> don't
>> recall any such thing, but that may be nothing more than a  
>> statement about
>> my ignorance or bad memory. Any ideas?
>> thanks, jonathan
>> -- 
>> J. Silk
>> Instituut Kern / Universiteit Leiden
>> Postbus 9515
>> 2300 RA Leiden
>> Netherlands

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