Katha Saritsagara is a famous 11th century collection
of Indian legends, folk and fairy tales written by poet Somdeva
Bhatta in Sanskrit. The work was compiled for the entertainment
of the queen Suryamati, wife of king Ananthadeva of Kashmir (1063-81).
C.H.Tawney translated them into English under the title, ”Ocean of Streams
of Stories” in 1880.The legend says that a saint–poet named Gunadhya had
composed 7 lakh verses which contained a series of interesting stories
in a vernacular language and sent those to a particular
Satavahana (name of a dynasty) king, who was his
contemporary, through two of his disciples.
King refused to listen to those because the verses were
not written in Sanskrit. Deeply frustrated, Gunadhya went
to forest and read out the verses to the birds and animals
and started burning those one after another. Meanwhile
the king’s health began to deteriorate, as the food was not
nourishing him.He asked the cook, ”what’s wrong?” Cook
but depended on the hunter for the supply of meat. Hunter
was called in. The hunter disclosed that the birds and animals
were feeding themselves on the stories of Gunadhya. What
nutrition they would get from those? The king felt ashamed of
himself. He went to forest and apologised to Gunadhya. Alas!
by then 6 lakh verses were burnt to ashes. The remaining one
lakh were saved by the king. Later based on those, Somdev Bhatta
wrote the Katha Saritsagara in Sanskrit.