The Wicked Wife of Vamadatta

From the Indian folklore collection The Ocean Of Stories, comes this tale, similar to the story of Sidi Nu'uman.

There was once a Brahman who owned a hundred villages and had a son named Vamadatta. Vamadatta took for himself a wife, Shashiprabha, who seemed on the surface to be an exemplary wife. She was comely, and took her wifely duties seriously.

Unknown to Vamadatta however, she secretly dabbled with the Black Arts, and was moreover possessed of overpowering lust for other men. It chanced that Vamadatta's head stockman was attractive in her eyes and it was not long before she had seduced him.

Word of this reached Vamadatta's ears and he seized up his sword and dashed to his barn where, sure enough, he found his wife and the stockman in close embrace, lying in the sweet straw. With a shout, Vamadatta raised his sword, but Shashiprabha seized a handful of dust and threw it at him. He staggered back, and as he did so, his body grew immense and muscular, and burst from his clothing. Course brown fur covered his skin, and his hand and feet became bifurcated hooves. Long horns erupted from his brow as his face pushed out to form a muzzle, and he uttered an outlandish bellow: Vamadatta had been transformed into an ox.

Finding himself strangely unable to disobey the woman who had done this to him, he could do nothing as Shashiprabha directed her lover to put her confounded husband with his own herds, and to beat him with a stick. This the stockman performed with relish, driving Vamadatta in with the rest of the cattle, and sorely abusing him with undeserved blows and kicks. Poor Vamadatta found himself quite unable to retaliate.

Then the evil man, unable to resist an opportunity to further his own profit, sold the poor beast to a trader. Vamadatta found himself driven from his own home and over many miles before reaching a town near the Ganges. As the trader drove him along a street, a woman in white emerged from a house and stood in their path. The good sorceress saw through the ox's shape to the man within, and with a sprinkle of holy water, restored him to his own form.

In short order the tale was told, and the sorceress gave Vamadatta some magic mustard seeds and certain instructions. Vamadatta made his way home and soon located the treacherous lovers, sleeping exhausted in his own bed. Vamadatta drew his sword and slew the stockman where he lay, but Shashiprabha he sprinkled with the mustard seeds, then before the startled woman knew what was happening, dragged her outside as her body rapidly began to swell and transform. First her voice was lost, and she could only whinny and squeal like a mare. Then her hands and feet became horse's hooves. Then her limbs became the limbs of a steed, forcing her to stand on all fours. Then her body grew to that of a good-sized saddle-mare. Her neck grew long and arched, and finally, her face lengthened. Shashiprabha stood transformed into a fine grey mare.

Vamadatta led her to the stables, for like his own transformation, she had no power to resist him. There he tied her in a stall and following the sorceress's instructions, struck the mare seven times with a stick. This he repeated every day. Then Vamadatta rode the transformed woman back to the white sorceress, where soon he fell in love with her daughter, Kantimati. In due course they were wed, and she proved a faithful and loving wife. Shashiprabha however, lived out the rest of her days as Vamadatta's saddle-mare.