Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

030 – Can A Fool Ever Act Good!

Aramaduksaka-Jataka, Bharhut

Once, the people of Varanasi were holidaying on a religious day. The king’s gardener, too, desired to participate in the religious festivities. As he had obliged the monkeys by giving them shelter in the royal park he approached the monkey king with a request to water the plants in his absence. The monkey king acceded to his request and assured him that he and his mates would do so. When the gardener departed he summoned all the monkeys and instructed them to water the plants. As he owed gratitude to the gardener he warned his followers not to waste water, which the gardener had so diligently harnessed. Further, in order to save the water he advised them to water the plants according to the size of their roots. The monkeys then started pulling out each of the plants to measure the size of the roots to pour water according to their sizes. They poured plenty of water on the plants having large roots; and little water on the plants having small roots. Thus, in minutes they pulled out all the plants to irrigate them according to the size of their roots.

When a passing wise man saw the monkeys acting in a bizarre way he demanded an explanation from them for their foolish actions. The monkeys then said to him that they were acting strictly on advice of their benefactor – the gardener – as he had given them the shelter.

The wise man, however, told them how to irrigate the plants without damaging them. But before leaving, he uttered:

With every desire to do good
A fool only harms others.

See Aramadusaka Jataka Jataka Pali No. 268.