The Story of the Horse-King and the Merchant Simhala in Buddhist Texts

Authors

  • Naomi Appleton Oriental Institute, Oxford

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.2006.23.2.187

Keywords:

Aśvarāja story, Sinhalese, Siṃhala story, Horse King in Buddhist Texts

Abstract

The Asvaraja story relates the adventures of a caravan of merchants shipwrecked on an island of demonesses and rescued by a flying horse, the asvaraja, ‘king of horses’. The Simhala story continues this narrative to include the chief merchant, Simhala, being followed home by a demoness, who tries to get him back before seducing and eating the king. Simhala is crowned king and invades the island. Each story has many versions, both Mahayana and non-Mahayana. This paper examines five key versions: birth story with ‘ocean of samsara’ metaphor; political and quasi-historical narrative of the invasion of Sri Lanka by the Sinhalese; warning that ‘all women are demonesses’; glorifi cation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara; and Newar warning of the dangers of travelling to Tibet. Each version reveals some of the issues that its community is preoccupied with.

Author Biography

Naomi Appleton, Oriental Institute, Oxford

DPhil. candidate in Buddhist Studies Oriental Institute, Oxford University

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Published

2007-02-03

How to Cite

Appleton, N. (2007). The Story of the Horse-King and the Merchant Simhala in Buddhist Texts. Buddhist Studies Review, 23(2), 187–201. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.2006.23.2.187

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