Ja 176 The Story about the Fistful of Peas

In the present a king of Kosala wants to go on an expedition with his army, but first he sought the counsel of the Buddha, who tells a story of a monkey who lost one pea, and dropped all the other peas he had when seeking to find the lost one.

1. Bālo vatāyaṁ dumasākhagocaro –
Paññā janinda na-y-imassa vijjati –
Kaḷāyamuṭṭhiṁ avakiriya kevalaṁ,
Ekaṁ kaḷāyaṁ patitaṁ gavesatī ti.

The fool, who resorts to the tree branches – leader of men, wisdom’s not found in him – threw away a whole fistful of cow peas, seeking out one cow pea that had fallen.

In this connection, who resorts to the tree branches means the monkey. He takes up his resort amongst the tree branches, this is his resort, the place where he lives and exists, therefore: who resorts to the tree branches is said.

Leader of men, he addresses the king. Because the king has power over others, leads his men, therefore leader of men is said.

A fistful of cow peas means a fistful of gram. “A fistful of black king bean,” this is also said.

Whole means all.

Seeking out means seeking out on the floor just one pea that had fallen.

2. Evam-eva mayaṁ, rāja, ye caññe atilobhino,
Appena bahuṁ jiyyāma, kaḷāyeneva vānaro ti.

Such are we, O king, those who live amongst others, having great greed, we lose a lot through a little, like the monkey with the cow pea.

In this connection, this is the meaning in brief: Great king, such are we, who live amongst others, we are people having great greed, we lose a whole lot through seeking a little. Therefore we, at the wrong time, in the springtime, going along the path, lose a great deal of benefit, labouring for a little benefit.

Like the monkey with the cow pea, like this monkey did seeking out one cow pea, losing all the cow peas through seeking one cow pea, so we, at the wrong time, going along the mountain passes filled with glens and so on, seeking but a little benefit, we will lose a great deal of elephant vehicles, horse vehicles and so on, together with the army. Therefore it is not suitable to go at the wrong time, this was the advice he gave the king.