Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C. B. Varma Introduction | Glossary | Bibliography

013 – Story of the Monkey King

The monkeys in the king’s palace

Once in a royal orchard of a king there lived many monkeys. One day, when the chief priest was passing through the royal park after having taken his bath, a naughty monkey sitting on the arch of the gateway, pooed on his head. Baffled the priest looked all over; and when turned his eyes upward with the gaping mouth the monkey then voided in his mouth.

Infuriated, the priest swore vengeance on all the monkeys. And many monkeys in turn mimicked him in reply. But the king of the monkeys was alarmed. He took the swearings of the chaplain rather seriously. So, he called all his followers and counselled them to leave the royal park at once. Many monkeys followed him but for one haughty monkey and his five hundred followers.

By and by, one day, a female slave of the royal palace was drying some rice in the sun. A sheep then slipped into the place to eat the rice. Angry at the sheep, the slave girl hurled a burning stick on the sheep, which burnt its fur. It then ran to the elephants’ stall and the stall too, caught fire and inflicted burnt injuries on several royal elephants.

Now, looking for the most efficacious remedial measure the king summoned the chaplain and sought his advice. The chaplain, who was the sworn enemy of the monkeys tried to encash upon the opportunity for taking revenge against the monkeys. He, therefore, advised the king that the application of the monkey-fats would be the best remedial measure on any burnt-injury on an elephant. The king then ordered the royal archers to kill all the monkeys living in the park and bring their fats.

Thus, all those monkeys, who had ignored the advice of the wise monkey perished.

See Kapi Jataka, Jataka Pali No.404.