Kathasaritsagara (Ocean of rivers of stories) is a famous 11th-century collection of Indian legends, fairy tales and folk tales as retold by a Saivite Brahmin named Somadeva. Nothing is known about the author other than that his father’s name was Ramadevabatta. The work was compiled for the entertainment of the queen Suryamati, wife of king Anantadeva of Kashmir (CE 1063-81).
It consists of 18 books of 124 chapters and more than 21,000 verses in addition to prose sections. The principal tale is the narrative of the adventures of Naravahanadatta, son of the legendary king Udayana. A large number of tales are built around this central story, making it the largest existing collection of Indian tales. It notably also contains the Vetalapanchavimsati, or Baital Pachisi, in its twelfth book.
The Katha-sarit-sagara is generally believed to derive from Gunadhya’s Brhat-katha, written in Paisachi dialect from the south of India. But the Kashmirian Brhat-katha from which Somadeva took inspiration may be quite different from the Paisachi one as there were two versions of the Brhat-katha extant in Kashmir, as well as the related Brhatkatha-sloka-samgraha of Buddhasvamin from Nepal. Like the Panchatantra, tales from this (or its main source book the Brhat-katha) travelled to many parts of the world.
The only complete translation into English is by C. H. Tawney (1837–1922), published in two volumes (1300 pages in all) in 1880. This was greatly expanded, with additional notes and remarks comparing stories from different cultures, by N. M. Penzer, and published in ten volumes (“privately printed for subscribers only”) in 1924.
English Translation by C. H. Tawney in 2 volumes:
English Translation by N. M. Penzer in 10 volumes