Aramadusaka Jataka

Once on a time when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, a festival was proclaimed in the city; and at the first summoning notes of the festal drum out poured the townsfolk to keep holiday.

            Now in those days, a tribe of monkeys was living in the king’s pleasaunce; and the king’s gardener thought to himself, “They’re holiday- making up in the city. I’ll get the monkeys to do the watering for me, and be off to enjoy myself with the rest.” So saying, he went to the king of the monkeys, and, first dwelling on the benefits his majesty and his subjects enjoyed from residence in the pleasaunce in the way of flowers and fruit and young shoots to eat, ended by saying, “To-day there’s holiday – making up in the city, and I’m off to enjoy myself. Couldn’t you water the young trees while I’m away?”

            “Oh! Yes,” said the monkey.

            “Only mind you do,” said the gardener; and off he went, giving the monkeys the water – skins and wooden watering – pots to do the work with.

            Then the monkeys took the water-skins and watering-pots, and fell to watering the young trees. “But we must mind not to waste the water,” observed their king; “as you water, first pull each young tree up and look at the size of its roots. Then give plenty of water to those whose roots strike deep but only a little to those with tiny roots. When this water is all gone, we shall be hard put to it to get more.”

            “To be sure,” said the other monkeys, and did as he bade them.

            At this juncture a certain wise man, seeing the monkeys thus engaged, asked them why they pulled up tree after tree and watered them according to the size of their roots.

            “Because such are our king’s commands,” answered the monkeys.

Their reply moved the wise man to reflect how, with every desire to do good, the ignorant and foolish only succeed in doing harm. And he recited this stanza; [251]

                        “Tis knowledge crowns endeavour with success

                        For fools are thwarted by their foolishness,

                        – Witness the ape that killed the garden trees.

            With this rebuke to the king of the monkeys, the wise man departed with his followers from the pleasaunce.

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