The story of Bhallatiya

(Jataka No. 504)

The king of Benares wished to go hunting; he departed from the city with his dogs and went towards the Himalaya, first along the Ganges and then following a tributary of that river. When he had climbed to a great height, he observed on the bank of the river, that was full of fish and tortoises, shaded by trees bearing blossom and fruit, and frequented by birds, bees and many kinds of deer, a pair of kinnara's who embraced end kissed one anotherand then fell to weeping end wailing. Curious to discover the cause of their grief, the king left his dogs behind, laid down his bow and other weapons beside a tree, and walking quietly along the ground, he inquired of the kinnara's the reason of their tears. The male kinnara was silent, but his companion answered the king. It had happened once that they had been separated for one night; while she wasgathering flowers, a sudden rise of the river had separated her from her beloved who on the opposite bank was prevented from rejoining her. Not till the following morning did the water sink down and were they able to embrace one-another again. They still grieved for that one lost night in their life of a thousand years, although it had happened 697 years ago; for the separation of loving hearts, however short, seems to last for ages. Moved by this story, the king lost interest in his hunting and returned to the city, where he related the adventure to his courtiers.

89. The king overhears the kinnara's

The scene is a wooded landscape with rocks high and low, the whole relief being filled in with trees. Below on the left flows the riverin which, just as the text tells us, fishes and tortoises are swimming, there are birds in the trees and a deer lying on the rocky edge of the river to the left. It is all in accordance with the text; but it does not follow that the version of the Northern Church represented here, coincided with the Pali-j ataka known to us, for even without that the sculptor would naturally depict a scone on a mountain side with a river in this way. The pair of kinnara's stand to the left on the other side of the river, an actual embrace or expression of woe is not to tee detected, but they are hording each others right hand and looking at one another and in the left hand respectively they have a monochord cithern and a flower. They have not the human shape of the kinnara's in the Sudhanakumaravadana, but the shape usually given elsewhere to these creatures, a human body on bird legs, behind which the wings spread out. In this tale wings are rather out of place, for by using these they could have flown across the river into each others arms on that fateful night. Separated from the pair by the foliage of a tree just to the right, the king stands listening, his right hand before his breast, his face turned towards the spectator and so with his right ear listening to the loving pair. The royal retinue, not mentioned in the text, is sitting on the ground on the right; it consists of three rather damaged figures; the one most to the right has in his hand what seems to be an arrow. The dogs are nowhere to be seen, as weapon of the chase the king seems to have held a bow in his hand, of which not much remains.