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Emperor of Ujjain
Reign 1st century BCE

Vikramaditya (IAST: Vikramāditya) was a legendary 1st-century BCE emperor of Ujjain, India, famed for his wisdom, valour and magnanimity. According to the Bhavishya Purana, he was the second son of Ujjain's King Gandharvasena of the Paramara dynasty. Vikramaditya was born in 102 BCE and died on 15 CE.


  • Birth of Vikramaditya 1
  • Legends 2
    • Contemporary media 2.1
  • Vikram Samvat calendar 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6

Birth of Vikramaditya

According to the Bhavisya Purana, Gandharvasena, after ruling for 50 years, had his son Sankharaja made king. Gandharvasena went into the forest for meditation. His son died childless after ruling for 30 years, so Gandharvasena returned and ruled for another 20 years. In the year 101 BC his second son, Vikramaditya, was born.


A picture of vetala hanging by a tree and Vikram in the background.

Vikramaditya is the subject of several collections of legends and stories in both Sanskrit and regional languages in India. The two most famous are Vetala Panchvimshati ("Twenty-five [Tales] of the Vetala") and Simhasana-Dwatrimshika ("Thirty-two [Tales] of the Throne"). These two collections are opposites structurally: in the Vetala Tales Vikramaditya is the central character of the frame story, but he has no connection to the individual tales (other than that the vetala is telling them to him) — by contrast the frame story of the Throne Tales takes place long after Vikramaditya's death, but the individual tales describe his life and deeds.[1]

Twenty-five tales of the vetala

Vetala Panchvimshati tell twenty-five stories in which the king tries to capture and hold on to a vetala that tells a puzzling tale and ends it with a question for the king. This is the "most popular and celebrated"[2] of the Vikramaditya cycles, existing in four Sanskrit recensions, numerous Indian vernacular versions, several English translations (both from Sanskrit and Hindi), and more.

Thirty-two tales of the throne

Simhasana-Dwatrimshika,[3] recounts the tale of the lost throne of Vikramaditya which king Bhoja, the parmar king of Dhar, found after many centuries. King Bhoja tries to ascend the throne of Vikramaditya. Thirty-two female statues which adorn the steps to the throne each challenge him to ascend the throne only if he has magnanimity equal to Vikramaditya as revealed by a tale she would narrate. This leads to 32 attempts of Bhoja to ascend the throne (and 32 tales of Vikramaditya's virtue); in each case Bhoja acknowledges his inferiority. Finally, the statues let him ascend the throne when they are pleased with his humility.

Other legends

The Mādhavānala Kāmakandalā Kathā by Ānanda is a story of separated lovers who are at last reunited by Vikramaditya.[4] Vikramodaya is a series of verse tales in which Vikramaditya appears as a wise parrot;[5] a similar series can by found in the Jainistic Pārśvanāthacaritra.[6] Pañcadaṇḍachattra Prabandha ("The Story of Umbrellas Having Five Sticks"), a work of the 15th century or later, contains "stories of magic and witchcraft, full of wonderful adventures, in which Vikramāditya plays the rôle of a powerful magician".[7] Vikramaditya also figures in two extended narratives about an enemy, Śālivāhana: The beginning of the epic Vīracaritra by Ananta describes a struggle between Śālivāhana and Vikramaditya; a similar work is the poetical biography, the Śālivāhana Kātha by Śivadāsa.[8] The Kathasaritsagara, in addition to its recension of the Vetala Panchvimshati in Book 12 (in which the hero is referred to as "Trivikramasena"), also contains another series of stories in Book 18 (here referring to "Vikramaditya").[9]

Contemporary media

Vikram Aur Betaal was a television programme based on Baital Pachisi; it was directed by Ramanand Sagar and aired on Doordarshan. Another Indian television series named Singhasan Battisi also aired on DD National in 1985, and a new series Betaal Aur Singhasan Battisi airs on SAB TV.

Vikram Samvat calendar

The Vikram Samvat or Bikram Samwat is the calendar said to have been founded by the emperor Vikramaditya[10] following his victory over the Sakas in 56 BCE, although it is popularly associated with the subsequent king Chandragupta Vikramaditya. It is a lunar calendar based on ancient Hindu tradition and is currently the official calendar of Nepal.

See also


  1. ^ Haksar 1998, pp x-xi.
  2. ^ Rajan 1995, p xvii.
  3. ^ Different traditions give this collection a variety of titles, among them: Dvātriṃśat Puttalikā ("Thirty-two Statue Stories"), Vikrāmaditya Simhāsana Dvātriṃśika ("Thirty-two Tales of the Throne of Vikramaditya"), and Vikrama Charita ("Deeds or Adventures of Vikrama"). (Haksar 1998, p xiii.)
  4. ^ Winternitz 1985 p. 376.
  5. ^ Winternitz 1985 p. 376.
  6. ^ Winternitz 1985 p. 377n.
  7. ^ Winternitz 1985 p. 377.
  8. ^ Winternitz 1985 p. 377.
  9. ^ Tawney 1884, pp 232-360 & 563-624.
  10. ^ The Encyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia by Edward Balfour, B. Quaritch 1885, p.502.


  • Rajan, Chandra (1995), Śivadāsa: The Five-and-Twenty Tales of the Genie, Penguin Books,  
See also
  • Bhavisya Purana, Pratisarga Parva, in Sanskrit
  • The Historicity of Vikramaditya & Salivahana, by Kota Venkatachelam, 1951
  • Story of Vikramaditya re-building Ayodhya Temple
  • Gold Coin of Vikramaditya 1
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