253 . VIKRAM AND THE VAMPIRE . RICHARD F. BURTON
VIKRAM AND THE VAMPIRE
RICHARD F. BURTON
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Based on ‘Baital Pachisi’, a collection of tales about the legendary Indian King Vikram (identified as Vikramāditya) and the Vampire (Vetala) .
Betaal Pacchisi, wasv written nearly 2,500 years ago by Mahakavi Somdev Bhatt.
At the beginning of the frame story, Vikramaditya king of Ujjain receives, among other visitors, a mendicant who presents the king a fruit on every visit. In the fruits are later discovered orbs of ruby. Upon this discovery, the king resolves to visit the mendicant, who arranges a meeting under a banyan tree in a cremation ground beyond the city, at night, on the 14th day of the dark half of the month. At the meeting, the mendicant requests that Vikramaditya bring him a corpse suspended from another tree, with which the mendicant might achieve occult power.
Upon Vikramaditya’s doing so, the corpse is identified as Betaal, the ghost, who narrates a story to the king, concluding that Vikramaditya must answer a moral question pertaining to the story’s characters, on pain of his own death; and upon his answering the question, Betaal returns to his tree.