The story of the Cibi-king

(Sutralankara no. 64 )

Cakra, king of the gods, was much grieved by the false doctrine communicated to him by a heretic teacher, but Vicvakarman told him there was no cause for his sadness, while there lived upon the earth a king of the Cibi's who was so virtuous that it was believed he would soon become a Buddha. Both the gods then decided to convince themselves if this king was really so firm in his faith and put him to the proof. Cakra took the shape of a falcon, Vicvakarman that of a dove. Thedove,pursued by the falcon, fled in fear to the Qibi-king who, as the guardian of living creatures, took it under his protection. The falcon demanded that his prey should be given up to him, but the king refused and said his compassion should be given to all living creatures. If that is true, answered the falcon, then you ought to give me the dove so that I need not die of hunger. The king thought over this and inquired if there was no other food as good, but the falcon could only feed on flesh and blood. Then the king thought of a way by offering his own flesh to the bird of prey, and the falcon agreed to accept an equal weight of the monarch's flesh. The scales were fetched and because a servant could not bring himself to cut off his master's flesh when ordered to do so, the king cut a lump out of his thigh with his own hand. Everyone turned away their eyes; and the gods and demigods came rushing to the scene. Once more the falcon asked for the dove, but the king remained firm. The scales continued to weigh down on the side of the dove and the king added more lumps of flesh till at last he threw all his flesh on to the scales in the hope of obtaining the bodhi by this means. The earth trembled, the two gods resumed their own shape and praised the Bodhisattva. When Qakra asked him if he had done his deed without regret, the king replied that as truly he had felt no regret, so truly his body might recover its former condition. Immediately all signs of mutilation disappeared and the king was himself again. After doing homage akra and Vic, vakarman took leave.

56. The king, the dove arid the falcon, the weighing of the flesh

Here we have one of the few instances, where consecutive episodes appear on the same relief without any distinct separation; it looks all like one scene, especially as the king is only once depicted. The king sits on the extreme right in a seat with back, placed in a large niche; under the seat is a dish with wreaths on it. The dove is perched on the chairback. The king is making a gesture of refusal with his right hand, either to the falcon who asks for his prey or to the courtiers who beseech him to alter his intention. The bird of prey sits in a tree opposite the king; the retinue is seated beneath it with the umbrella and bow and arrows in the background. Without any transition, a little to the left, we see the scales, a large rack to which the beam is tied, of a thicker sort than that seen in the specimens in the museum at Batavia. On the round flat scales, is the dove on the righthand side and some lumps, of course the royal flesh, on the left one. The presence of the dove for the second time and the flesh in the scales, shows that the weighing is taking place already, thus a later episode in the tale than the discussion between the king and the falcon, pictured on the right. We need not mention that the king is not represented in his mutilated condition. Under the scales and quite on the left, some more courtiers can be seen sitting as witnesses of the virtuous deed.

In older Buddhist art this story, so popular according to the Chinese pilgrims, is specially represented at AmaravatI and found there in three reliefs (see Fergusson pi. 60, 82 and 83). It can easily be recognised everywhere by the scales in the kings palace, but in contrast to Barabud. ur the sculptors have not hesitated to picture the kings' sacrifice in a realistic manner; first on no. 60 where he is cutting flesh off his thigh with a long sword, then on no. 82 where we see it is a servant, not the king himself, who holds the sword. No. 83 is rather different, the king has his foot on the scales, while one of the attendants holds the dove in his hands. At Ajanta we find in Cave I the dove on the kings knee as well as the monarch putting his foot on the scale. The old Chinese art also gives the Cibi story; in the caves at Long-men there is a scene that represents, on the right the king with one servant, on the left the scales, and above, the two birds.