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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 206

"The Little Clay Cart" tells the story of a Brahman named Chrudatta, who despite being a member of the highest caste, is not endowed with riches because he gave them all out to people in need. Despite his misfortunes, Chrudatta continues with his duties as a Brahman, helping the people and giving advice where he can. Vasantasen, a courtesan, falls in love with Chrudatta as he is preaching at one of the temples. Despite being happily married, Chrudatta also falls for Vasantasen, and they start an affair. Vasantasen sees Chrudatta in secret and gives him expensive gifts—one which puts him in trouble after it's used as evidence in a murder case. After Samsthnaka strangles Vasantasen, he thinks that she is dead and frames the murder on the Brahman. Chrudatta refuses to be incriminated, but one of Vasantasen's kneck laces is found at his house. The judges find him guilty, believing that he killed the victim to steal the jewelry from her. The tyrant King Plaka orders his execution for the crime, but before he is killed, Vasantasen reappears and saves him. The story ends with Chrudatta's wealth and position reinstated by the new king Ryaka and his wife accepting Vasantasen as the Brahman's second lover.

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1003

Chrudatta is a Brahman who has impoverished himself by spending his substance on the public welfare and in helping individuals who have sought his aid. Although dwelling in poverty in a broken-down house, he still enjoys a fine reputation in Ujjayini as an honest and upright man of rare wisdom. This reputation eases somewhat the fact that he has been deserted by most of his friends and is embarrassed by his lack of wealth.

Although married happily and the proud father of a small son, Rohasena, Chrudatta is enamored of Vasantasen, a courtesan of great wealth and reputation who, having seen him at a temple, is also in love with him. One evening, as Chrudatta and his friend Maitreya sit discussing Chrudatta’s misfortunes and the efficacy of devotion to the gods, Vasantasen finds herself pursued by Samsthnaka, a half-mad brother-in-law of King Plaka, and one of his henchmen. The men threaten to do violence to Vasantasen, but she escapes from them in the darkness and finds safety in the house of Chrudatta, where a meeting between the two increases the love they already feel for each other. Before she leaves to return to her own palace, the courtesan entrusts a casket of jewelry to Chrudatta as an excuse to see him again.

During the night a thief, Sarvilaka, enters Chrudatta’s house and steals the jewelry to buy his love, Madanik, who is Vasantasen’s slave and confidant. The courtesan accepts the jewels and frees Madanik to marry Sarvilaka, intending to see that Chrudatta should learn that the jewels have been recovered. In the meantime, Chrudatta sends a rare pearl necklace of his wife’s to Vasantasen to recompense the courtesan for the loss of her less valuable jewels. His friend Maitreya, fearing that Vasantasen’s attentions can bring only bad luck and disaster, cautions Chrudatta against doing so. Maitreya, knowing courtesans, believes that Vasantasen is merely scheming to take from Chrudatta the few possessions he still has.

After leaving Vasantasen’s palace with his newly freed bride, Sarvilaka learns that his friend Prince ryaka has been arrested by King Plaka and placed in a dungeon. The king, neither a popular nor a just monarch, fears that the people might rise up, as a soothsayer has predicted, to place Prince ryaka on the throne. After Sarvilaka succeeds in freeing the prince from prison, ryaka seeks help from Chrudatta, who aids him in escaping the pursuing guards.

Vasantasen, having become Chrudatta’s mistress, meets his small son and gives...

(The entire section contains 1209 words.)

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