When the Well-and-wise-walking Khan found that he had again missed the end and object of his labour, he proceeded yet again as heretofore to the cool grove, and having taken captive the Siddhî-kür bore him along to present to the Master and Teacher Nâgârg'una. But by the way the Siddhî-kür asked him to tell a tale, and when he would not speak, craved of him the token that he willed he should tell one; which, when he had given, he told this tale, saying,--
HOW ÂNANDA THE WOOD-CARVER AND ÂNANDA THE PAINTER STROVE AGAINST EACH OTHER.
LONG ages ago there lived in a kingdom which was called Kun-smon (1), a Khan named Kun-snang (2). When this Khan departed this life his son named Chamut Ssakiktschi (3) succeeded to the throne.
In the same kingdom lived a painter named Ânanda (4), and a wood-carver also named Ânanda. These men were friends of each other apparently, but jealousy reigned in their hearts.
One day, now, it befell that Ânanda the painter, whom to distinguish from the other, we will call by his Tibetian name of Kun-dgah instead of by his Sanskrit name of Ânanda, appeared before the Khan, and spoke in this wise: "O Khan, thy father, born anew into the kingdom of the gods, called me thither unto him, and straightway hearing his behest, I obeyed it." As he spoke he handed to "All-protecting" the Khan, a forged strip of writing which was conceived after this manner:--
"To my son Chotolo (5) Ssakiktschi!
"When I last parted from thee, I took my flight out of the lower life, and was born again into the kingdom of the gods (6). Here I have my abode in plenitude, yea, superabundance of all that I require. Only one thing is wanting. In order to complete a temple I am building, I find not one to adorn it cunning in his art like unto Ânanda our wood-carver. Wherefore, I charge thee, son Chotolo-Ssakiktschi, call unto thee Ânanda the wood-carver, and send him up hither to me. The way and means of his coming shall be explained unto thee by Kun-dgah the painter."
Such was the letter that Kun-dgah the painter, with crafty art, delivered to Kun-tschong (7), the Khan. Which when the Khan had read he said to him--"That the Khan, my father, is in truth born anew into the gods' kingdom is very good."
And forthwith he sent for Ânanda the wood-carver, and spoke thus to him: "My father, the Khan, is new born into the gods' kingdom, and is there building a temple. For this purpose he has need of a wood-carver; but can find none cunning in his art like unto thee. Now, therefore, he has written unto me to send thee straightway above unto him." With these words he handed the strip of writing into his hands.
But the Wood-carver when he had read it thought within himself, "This is indeed contrary to all rule and precedent. Do I not scent here some craft of Kun-dgah the painter? Nevertheless, shall I not find a means to provide against his mischievous intent?" Then he raised his voice, and spoke thus aloud to the Khan:--
"Tell me, O Khan, how shall I a poor Wood-carver attain to the gods' kingdom?"
"In this," replied the Khan, "shall the Painter instruct thee."
And while the Wood-carver said within himself, "Have I not smelt thee out, thou crafty one?" the Khan sent and fetched the Painter into his presence. Then having commanded him to declare the way and manner of the journey into the gods' kingdom, the Painter answered in this wise,--
"When thou hast collected all the materials and instruments appertaining to thy calling, and hast gathered them at thy feet, thou shalt order a pile of beams of wood well steeped in spirit distilled from sesame grain to be heaped around thee. Then to the accompaniment of every solemn-sounding instrument kindle the pile, and rise to the gods' kingdom borne on obedient clouds of smoke as on a swift charger."
The Wood-carver durst not refuse the behest of the Khan; but obtained an interval of seven days in order to collect the materials and instruments of his calling, but also to consider and find out a means of avenging the astuteness of the Painter. Then he went home, and told his wife all that had befallen him.
His wife, without hesitating, proposed to him a means of evading while seeming to fulfil the decree. In a field belonging to him at a short distance from his house, she caused a large flat stone to be placed, on which the sacrifice was to be consummated. But under it by night she had an underground passage made, communicating with the house.
When the eighth day had arrived the Khan rose and said, "This is the day that the Wood-carver is to go up to my father into the gods' kingdom."
And all the people were assembled round the pile of wood steeped in spirit distilled from sesame grain, in the Wood-carver's field. It was a pile of the height of a man, well heaped up, and in its midst stood the Wood-carver calm and impassible, while all kinds of musical instruments sent up their solemn-sounding tones.
When the smoke of the spirit-steeped wood began to rise in concealing density, the Wood-carver pushed aside the stone with his feet, and returned to his home by the underground way his wife had had made for him.
But the Painter, never doubting but that he must have fallen a prey to the flames, rubbed his hands and pointing with his finger in joy and triumph to the curling smoke, cried out to the people,--
"Behold the spirit of our brother Ânanda the wood-carver, ascending on the obedient clouds as on a swift charger to the kingdom of the gods!"
And all the people followed the point of his finger with their eyes and believing his words, they cried out,--
"Behold the spirit of Ânanda the wood-carver, ascending to adorn the temple of the gods' kingdom."
And now for the space of a whole month the Wood-carver remained closely at home letting himself be seen by no one save his wife only. Daily he washed himself over with milk, and sat in the shade out of the coloured light of the sun. At the end of the month his wife brought him a garment of white gauze, with which he covered himself; and he wrote, he also, a feigned letter, and went up with it to "All-protecting" the Khan.
As soon as the Khan saw him he cried out,--
"How art thou returned from the gods' kingdom? And how didst thou leave my father 'All-knowing' the Khan?"
Then Ânanda the wood-carver handed to him the forged letter which he had prepared, and he caused it to be read aloud before the people in these words:--
"To my son, Chotolo-Ssakiktschi.
"That thou occupiest thyself without wearying in leading thy people in the way of prosperity and happiness is well. As regards the erection of the temple up here, concerning which I wrote thee in my former letter, Ânanda the wood-carver hath well executed the part we committed to him, and we charge thee that thou recompense him richly for his labour. But in order to the entire completion of the same, we stand in need of a painter to adorn with cunning art the sculpture he hath executed. When this cometh into thy hands, therefore, send straightway for Kun-dgah the painter, for there is none other like to him, and let him come up to us forthwith; according to the same way and manner that thou heretofore sendedst unto us Ânanda the wood-carver, shall he come."
When the Khan had heard the letter, he rejoiced greatly, and said, "These are in truth the words of my father, 'All-knowing' the Khan." And he loaded Ânanda the wood-carver with rich rewards, but sent and called unto him Kun-dgah the painter.
Kun-dgah the painter came with all haste into the presence of the Khan, who caused the letter of his father to be read out to him; and he as he heard it was seized with great fear and trembling; but when he saw Ânanda the wood-carver standing whole before him, all white from the milk-washing and clad in the costly garment of gauze as if the light of the gods' kingdom yet clove to him, he said within himself,--
"Surely the fire hath not burnt him, as I see him before mine eyes, so neither shall it burn me; and if I refuse to go a worse death will be allotted me, while if I accept the charge I shall receive rich rewards like unto Ânanda," So he consented to have his painter's gear in readiness in seven days, and to go up to the gods' kingdom by means of the pile burnt with fire.
When the seven days were passed, all the people assembled in the field of Kun-dgah the painter, and the Khan came in his robes of state surrounded by the officers of his palace, and the ministers of the kingdom. The pile was well heaped up of beams of wood steeped in spirit distilled from sesame grain; in the midst they placed Kun-dgah the painter, and with the melody of every solemn-sounding instrument they set fire to the pile. Kun-dgah fortified himself for the torture by the expectation that soon he would begin to rise on the clouds of smoke; but when he found that, instead of this, his body sank to the ground with unendurable pain, he shouted out to the people to come and release him. But the device whereby he had intended to drown the cries of the Wood-carver prevailed against him. No one could hear his voice for the noise of the resounding instruments; and thus he perished miserably in the flames.
"Truly that bad man was rewarded according to his deserts!" exclaimed the Prince.
And as he let these words escape him thoughtlessly, the Siddhî-kür replied, "Forgetting his health, the Well-and-wise-walking Prince hath opened his lips." And with the cry, "To escape out of this world is good!" he sped him through the air, swift out of sight.