Bhallatiya Jataka (#504)

temple painting of Bhallatiya Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a king. He loved to eat charcoal-broiled venison, so he left his kingdom in the care of his advisors and went on a hunting trip in the Himalayas. One day he saw two fairies embracing and kissing each other along a pleasant stream; then suddenly they began to cry pitifully. He wanted to know why they wailed, so he laid down his bow and silently crept up to them; and before they had a chance to flee, he asked, “Why do you weep?”

Six hundred seventy-seven years ago, the fairies told him, a storm had sent the river rising high while the couple were on opposite sides and they had to spend the night apart, separated by the fast-flowing waters. They were reunited the next morning, but they loved each other so much that the tiny time apart left them with lingering sorrow. The king was so moved by their story he immediately returned to his palace. He gave up hunting and spent the rest of his life enjoying his wealth and giving charity.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The fairies were earlier births of King Pasenadi, a righteous ruler and devoted supporter of the Buddha, and Queen Mallika, his exceptionally wise chief queen. One time, while the king and queen quarreled about their conjugal rights, the king completely ignored her. Resolving to make peace between them, the Buddha went to collect alms at the palace, and after his meal, the Buddha asked why the queen was absent. The king explained that she had become intoxicated with pride, and the Buddha told them this story of their past love as a way to get them back to normal. From then on, the pair lived in harmony.

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