|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Manohara is the kinnari (half woman, half bird) heroine of one of the Jataka tales. Typically referred to as Manohara and Prince Sudhana, the legend appears in the Divyavadana and is documented by stone reliefs at Borobodur.
This story features in the folklore of Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, northern Malaysia and Indonesia. The Pannasjataka, Pali text written by a Buddhist monk/sage in Chiangmai around AD 1450-1470, also told the story of Sudhana and Manohra. There are also many similar versions told in China (where it is known as Chinese: 悅意; pinyin: Yuèyì), Japan, Korea and Vietnam, including the Chinese story of the Princess and the Cowherd. In these stories, seven women who can fly descended to earth to take a bath, the youngest and prettiest of whom was captured by a human, and subsequently became a wife of a male human (either her captor or the prince-hero of the story). Later in the stories, the heroine put on some magical thing that enabled her to fly or transform into a bird, and flew away; prompting the quest by the hero in pursuit of his flying wife.
Manohara, the youngest of seven daughters of the Kimnara king, lives on Mount Kailash. One day, she travels to the human realm. She is caught by a hunter (using a magic noose in some versions) who gives her to Prince Sudhana. Son of King Adityavamsa and Queen Chandradevi, Sudhana is a renowned archer and heir to the Panchala kingdom. The prince falls in love with Manohara, and they get married.
Later, when the prince is away in battle, Manohara is accused by the royal counsellor of bringing bad luck to the city and is threatened with death. She flies away, back to the Kimnara kingdom. She leaves behind a ring and the directions to reach the Kimnara kingdom, so that Prince Sudhana can follow her.
Prince Sudhana returns to Panchala and follows her. From a hermit he learns the language of animals to locate the Kimnara kingdom, and the necessary prayers to win back the princess. The journey takes seven years, seven months and seven days. Along the way, Sudhana confronts a yaksha (ogre), a river of flames, and a gigantic tree. After the long and arduous ordeal, he meets the Kimnara king who asks the prince to prove his sincerity with various tests assessing strength, perseverance, and wit. In the first test, Sudhana is made to lift a stone bench in the garden. The second task tested his skill with the bow and arrow. The final test is to identify which of seven identical women is Manohara, who he recognizes by the ring on her finger. Satisfied, the Kimnara king consents to their marriage and the couple returns to Panchala.