The Silly Monkeys

A long time ago in ancient India, a festival was held in the city of Varanasi. It was to be a grand occasion with singing and dancing and all kinds of food and entertainment. While the festival was in progress, the king of Varanasi issued strict in structions that the gardener should take good care of his beautiful garden. The gardener knew that the king was very proud of his garden but when the festival music sounded, and the people started to flock in the streets, the gardener could not bear to miss out.
A tribe of monkeys lived in the garden and the gardener started thinking, `If I can get the monkeys to do the watering for me, I can go and enjoy myself too.’ He presented himself respectfully to the king of the monkeys, offering his majesty and his subjects fruit and young shoots to eat. Then he asked, `Would you please do me a favour and water the plants in the garden while I’m away?’ `We would be delighted,’ said the monkey king. `Make sure you do,’ said the gardener, giving the monkeys the water-skins and watering-pots to do the work with. Then off he went. The monkeys quickly set to work.

`We should be careful not to waste the water,’ observed their king. `Before you water, first pull up each plant and look at the size of its roots. Give plenty of water to the ones with deep roots and only a little to those with tiny roots.’ The monkeys obediently did what they were told. Besides, they were having a lovely time playing with the water, and pulling up the plants added to their fun.

A wise man came by and saw what was happening. He asked them why they pulled up plant after plant and watered them according to the size of the roots. `Because these are our king’s commands,’ answered the monkeys cheerily. The wise man pointed out to the monkeys that they had killed all the plants, and went on his way. The monkeys were shocked. They decided to follow the wise man, leaving the monkey king alone in the ruined garden, feeling very foolish indeed.


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