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The Unforgiving Monkey

(Story found in:  Franklin Edgerton's reconstruction Durgasimha's Kannada translation Purnabhadra's recension Hitopadesha by Narayana )

Chandra was a king, whose sons kept a group of monkeys as pets.
 
These monkeys were treated as royal pets, and were provided with the choicest of foods and the best of care. As they did not have much to do, they had become fat.
 
The chief of these monkeys was very wise. The followed great philosophers and was learned in many sciences. He always tried to teach the other monkeys, but they had become too absorbed in their lavish lives to follow much of his teachings.
 
On the other hand, the princes also had two strong rams (billy goats), which used to draw the carriage used by the young princes.
 
One of the rams was a glutton, and would creep into the kitchen whenever he could and eat whatever he could get there. This made the cooks very angry, and they would keep a watch. The cooks would throw anything they could lay their hand on, to hit the ram, when he would be near the kitchen.
 
Noticing the cooks trying to hit him with sticks, earthen pots, copper pans and anything they found handy, the chief of the monkeys thought, "This behaviour could lead to accidents, and this entire city may perish. What if they threw something with fire?"
 
The chief of monkeys summoned the other monkey and said, "The behaviour of the cooks towards the ram can lead to some mishap any day, and we may well be on the losing side, if that is to happen. Let us get away from here, before some accident is to happen."
 
But, the other monkeys were enjoying their lavish treatment, and did not go back to the jungle. They refused to heed the chief's warnings, and decided to stay. They assumed that the chief was getting old, and having all types of weird thoughts.
 
Thus, the chief of monkeys decided to leave alone. He said, "You are more fools than crazy not to foresee the danger. I shall leave here, as I value life more than the abundant foods served here!"
 
After the chief of monkey had departed to the jungle alone, one day, the ram entered the kitchen and ate some food that was being organized to be served to the king.
 
One of the cooks got very angry, and unable to get anything else handy, threw a half-burnt log from the oven. The log hit the ram. As the ram's body was covered with wool, it instantly caught fire. In the pain of fire on him, the ram ran to the stable. The dry grass for the horses caught fire, and in a moment the whole stable was engulfed in fire.
 
There was a pandemonium, and by the time, the fire was extinguished by the palace workers, the horses suffered grave burnings. When the news reached the king, he was very depressed that such a thing had happened to his favourite horses, and summoned veterinary surgeons to prescribe him remedy.
 
After referring many scriptures, the veterinary surgeons advised, "O King, the wounds caused by fire will recover fast, if they are applied with monkey's fat."
 
Thus, the king ordered all the pet monkeys be caught, and killed immediately. The fat from their bodies were then used to treat the horse's wounds.
 
When this news reached the chief of the monkeys, he was very sad. He thought, "The monkeys were foolish not to heed the warnings, but the king is wicked for doing this to his pets. I will make him pay for his actions!"
 
He had not eaten food, or drunk water for several days as he was heart-broken. Absent-mindedly, he came to a lake full of beautiful lotus. He was thirsty, and decided to drink some water. As he came near the lake, he noticed that there were many footprints of both men and animals, that led to the lake, but not a single footprint led away from the lake.
 
He became aware, and concluded there must be something wrong in this beautifully decorated lake. He fetched some hollow stems of lotus plant nearby, and using them as a pipe, drank water from a distance.
 
As he was doing so, a monster emerged from the lake. He had a necklace of jewels around his neck. He said, "I am a monster who lives in this lake. Whoever enters this lake to bath or drink water, ends up in my tummy. For so many years, I have not seen anybody as wise as you! You drink water from the lake, but maintain a distance where I cannot touch you. I am so pleased with you, that I shall grant any wish you may want!"
 
The chief of monkey immediately remembered that he had a revenge to take, and said, "Tell me, how many can you eat? I have a certain king as my enemy. If you give me your necklace, I shall use it to persuade the king and his men to enter the lake."
 
The monster replied, "If they enter the lake, I can eat thousands of them. Go ahead and bring as many as you can!"
 
The chief of monkey wore the necklace in his neck and jumped from tree to tree to reach the palace as early as possible. He went straight into the king's court.
 
When the king and everybody else saw the chief of monkeys wearing a beautiful necklace of jewels, they became curious. They asked the chief of monkeys all sort of questions.
 
The chief of monkey said to the king, "O king, while wandering in the jungle, I have come across a large treasure that Kuber (God of treasures) has hidden. It is secretly hidden inside a lake. Anyone, who takes a bath in the lake on a Sunday, can have as much treasure as he can carry. This necklace is nothing compared to the other treasures there! The diamonds in the lake would even put the sun to shame!"
 
When the king heard this, he said, "Hey Monkey Chief, if this lake really exists, please take lead us to it. I will come to see it myself, and even bring everybody in the palace along with me."
 
It was decided, and in the early morning of the very next Sunday, the king and the chief of the monkeys set to travel inside the jungle. They were followed by the princes, queens, ministers, household workers and everybody else in the palace.
 
When they reached the place, everybody was awe-struck to see the lake full of lotus. The chief of monkeys said, "Everybody should enter the lake at the same time, or only the first few will received the blessings. As for you, my king, you should wait. I will show you a special place to enter the lake after they have gone into the lake."
 
The greedy king, and everybody else followed his instructions and got into the lake. One by one, they started to disappear. The king kept anxiously waiting for them to return with treasures.
 
When his people and relatives did not come out of the lake after a long time, the king asked, "O Monkey Chief, why do they not come out? Why is it that they take so long time?"
 
The chief of the monkeys jumped to the top of a tree and replied, "O wicked king, a monster lives in this very lake that has eaten all your court members, and relatives. I have now killed all your family, as you have killed mine. The scriptures say, it is not a sin to return evil for evil deeds."
 
He continued, "I have saved you, for you were once my master! You may return to your palace, empty-handed and alone."
 
Thus, the king returned to his palace after losing all his relatives and household members, while the chief of monkeys had his revenge.
 
The wise indeed say:
Greed surely brings disaster and destruction in the end.
 
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