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The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma


009 -  The Wise Monkey

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The Monkey King

Once, there lived a wise monkey, who was the leader of eighty thousand monkeys. One day, wandering in a forest they went very far and became very thirsty. So, they looked for water and eventually found a water-pond surrounded by densely grown canes. But before the monkeys could jump into the water to quench their thirst, their leader, the wise monkey, warned them to wait until the safe drinking was assured, as the place was new for them. So, he made a circuit and scrutinised the foot-prints around the pond.  There, he noticed that there were some foot-prints, which appeared to have gone to the water but have not come up again.   So, he inferred that there was a water-ogre living in the lake. The result of the investigation was very disappointing and frustrating for all the monkeys. So, the wise monkey then made the suggestion that they could still drink the water safely by using the canes as straws, as their was a lavish growth of canes there. So, each monkey picked up one cane and made it hollow to use it as a straw and drank the water.  Thus, they all quenched their thirst safely by obeying the wise leader.

The water-ogre, however, appeared but could not harm a single monkey, as he was not empowered to touch the land.

(The monkey king is identified with the Bodhisatta;  the 80,000 monkeys with his followers; and the ogre with Devadatta).

See Nalapana Jataka Jataka Pali No.20.

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