Ja 173 Makkaṭajātaka
The Story about (the Wild) Monkey (2s)

In the present one monk gets his living in dishonest ways. When the Buddha finds out he tells a story of a monkey who tried to disguise himself as an ascetic, but was chased back into the jungle.

The Bodhisatta = the ascetic (tāpasa),
Rāhula = the young ascetic (tāpasakumāra),
the cheating monk = the monkey (makkaṭa).

Present Source: Ja 487 Uddāla,
Quoted at: Ja 89 Kuhaka, Ja 138 Godha, Ja 173 Makkaṭa, Ja 175 Ādiccupaṭṭhāna, Ja 336 Brahāchatta, Ja 377 Setaketu.

Keywords: Deceit, Disguise, Animals.

“Father, see! A poor old fellow.” [2.47] {2.68} This story the Teacher told while staying in Jetavana, about a rogue. The circumstances will be explained in the Uddālajātaka [Ja 487], Book xiv.

This story the Teacher told, while dwelling in Jetavana, about a dishonest monk. This man, even though dedicated to the dispensation that leads to safety, notwithstanding to gain life’s necessaries fulfilled the threefold cheating practice [seeking requisites, seeking honour and hinting].

The monks brought to light all the evil parts in the man as they conversed together in the Dhamma Hall, “Such a one, monks, after he had dedicated himself to this dispensation which leads to safety, yet lives in deceit!” The Teacher came in, and would know what they talked of there. They told him.

Here too the Teacher said: “Monks, not this once only has the fellow turned out a rogue; in days of yore, when he was a monkey, he played tricks for the sake of a fire.” And he told a tale of days long gone by.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in a brahmin family in a village of Kāsi. When he came of years, he received his education at Taxila, and settled down in life.

His lady in time bore him a son; and when the child could just run to and fro, she died. The husband performed her obsequies, and then, said he, “What is home to me now? I and my son will live the life of ascetics.” Leaving his friends and kindred in tears, he took the lad to the Himālayas, became an ascetic, and lived on the fruits and roots which the forest yielded.

On a day during the rainy season, when there had been a downpour, he kindled some sticks, and lay down on a pallet, warming himself at the fire. And his son sat beside him massaging his feet.

Now a wild monkey, miserable with cold, spied the fire in the leaf-hut of our ascetic. “Now,” he thought, “suppose I go in: they’ll cry out monkey! monkey! and beat me back: I shan’t get a chance of warming myself. I have it!” he cried. “I’ll get an ascetic’s dress, and get inside by a trick!” So he put on the bark dress of a dead ascetic, lifted his basket and crooked stick, and took his stand by the hut door, where he crouched down beside a palm tree. The lad saw him, and cried to his father (not knowing he was a monkey) “Here’s an old ascetic, sure enough, miserably cold, come to warm himself at the fire.” {2.69} Then he addressed his father in the words of the first verse, begging him to let the poor fellow in to warm himself:

1. “Father, see! A poor old fellow huddled by a palm tree there!
Here we have a hut to live in; let us give the man a share.” [2.48]

When the Bodhisatta heard this, up he got and went to the door. But when he saw the creature was only a monkey, he said: “My son, men have no such face as that; ’tis a monkey, and he must not be asked in here.” Then he repeated the second verse:

2. “He would but defile our dwelling if he came inside the door;
Such a face – ’tis easy telling – no good brahmin ever bore.”

The Bodhisatta seized a brand, crying, “What do you want there?” threw it at him, and drove him away. The monkey dropped his bark garments, sprang up a tree, and buried himself in the forest.

Then the Bodhisatta cultivated the four Divine Abidings until he came unto Brahmā’s Realm.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “This tricky monk was the monkey of those days; Rāhula Gotama Buddha’s son. was the ascetic’s son, and I myself was the ascetic.”