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Kinnara

1 min read

In Southeast Asia, two of the most beloved mythological characters are the benevolent half-human, half-bird creatures known as the Kinnara and Kinnari, which are believed to come from the Himalayas and often watch over the well-being of humans in times of trouble or danger.

Kinnaris, the female counterpart of Kinnaras, are depicted as half-bird, half-woman creatures.  One of the many creatures that inhabit the mythical Himavanta, Kinnaris have the head, torso, and arms of a woman and the wings, tail and feet of a swan.  They are renowned for their dance, song and poetry, and are a traditional symbol of feminine beauty, grace and accomplishment.

Their character is clarified in the Adi parva of the Mahabharata, where they say:

We are everlasting lover and beloved.  We never separate.  We are eternally husband and wife; never do we become mother and father.  No offspring is seen in our lap.  We are lover and beloved ever-embracing.  In between us we do not permit any third creature demanding affection.  Our life is a life of perpetual pleasures.

They are also featured in a number of Buddhist texts, including the Lotus Sutra.  An ancient Indian string instrument is known as the Kinnari Veena.


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