Also known as the Vetala Panchvimshati (Twenty-Five Tales of a Baital) , this is a collection of stories from ancient India, originally written in Sanskrit, that centre around a BAITAL. The framework of the story is that King Vikram sets out to bring a baital to a sorcerer, but each time he attempts to do so, the baital tells him a story about someone being unfair. At the end of each story, the vampire then asks the king a theoretical ethical question. If the king knows the answer, he must give it lest his head will rupture. If he does not know the answer, he may sit there quietly. If the king answers the question, the baital flies away. Unfortunately, the king, who is very wise and knowledgeable, correctly answers the baital’s question twenty-four times. It was only with the last tale told that the king was unable to answer.
Returning home with the vampire finally captured, the baital informs the king that the sorcerer knows that the king has 32 virtues and plans to sacrificially slay him to honour a goddess. By doing so, the baital will then be under the control of the sorcerer unless the sorcerer is slain first. The king kills the sorcerer and is granted a boon by Lord Indra. The king asks that the sorcerer be restored to life and that the baital will help him whenever he is needed.
- Arbuthnot, Early Ideas, 102;
- Forbes, Baital Pachchise; Masters, Natural History of the Vampire, 66;
- Summers, The Vampire, 220;
- Vikram and the Vampire