Ja 268 Ārāmadūsajātaka This is the same story as No. 46 (vol. i. of the translation, p. 118): it is briefer, and the verses are not the same. See Folk-Lore Journal, iii. 251; Cunningham, Bharhut, v.v. 5.
The Story about Spoiling the Park (3s)

Alternative Title: Ārāmadūsakajātaka (Cst)

In the present while on walking tour the monks come to a certain village and notice that there is an area of barren land. Upon enquiry it turns out a village lad had dug up the trees to water the roots by size. The Buddha tells a story of a monkey in the past who ordered his troop to do the same, thereby ruining the king’s gardens.

The Bodhisatta = the wise man (paṇḍitapurisa),
the boy who ruined the park = the elder monkey (vānarajeṭṭhaka).

Past Compare: Ja 46 Ārāmadūsaka, Ja 268 Ārāmadūsa.

Keywords: Foolishness, Inconsideration, Animals.

“Best of all.” This story the Teacher told while dwelling in the country near Dakkhiṇāgiri, about a gardener’s son.

After the rains, the Teacher left Jetavana, and went on alms pilgrimage in the [2.238] district about Dakkhiṇāgiri. A layman invited the Buddha and his company, and made them sit down in his grounds while he gave them rice and cakes. Then he said: “If any of the masters care to see over the grounds, they might go along with the gardener,” and he ordered the gardener to supply them with any fruit they might fancy.

By and by they came upon a bare spot. “What is the reason,” they asked, “that this spot is bare and treeless?” “The reason is,” answered the gardener, “that a certain gardener’s son, who had to water the saplings, thought he had better give them water in proportion to the length of the roots; so he pulled them all up to see, and watered them accordingly. The result was that the place became bare.”

The monks returned, and told this to their Teacher. Said he, “Not only now has the lad destroyed a plantation; he did just the same before,” and then he told them a story.

In the past, when a king named Vissasena was reigning over Benares, proclamation was made of a holiday. The park keeper thought he would go and keep holiday; so calling the monkeys that lived in the park, he said:

“This park is a great blessing to you. I want to take a week’s holiday. Will you water the saplings on the seventh day?” “Oh, yes,” said they; he gave them the watering-skins, and went his way.

The monkeys drew water, and began to water the roots.

The eldest monkey cried out, “Wait, now! It’s hard to get water always. We must be careful about it. Let us pull up the plants, {2.346} and see the length of their roots; if they have long roots, they need plenty of water; but short ones need but a little.” “True, true,” they agreed; then some of them pulled up the plants; then others put them in again, and watered them.

The Bodhisatta at the time was a young gentleman living in Benares. Something or other took him to this park, and he saw what the monkeys were doing.

“Who bids you do that?” asked he. “Our chief,” they replied.

“If that is the wisdom of the chief, what must the rest of you be like!” said he; and to explain the matter, he uttered the first verse:

1. “Best of all the troop is this:
What intelligence is his!
If he was chosen as the best,
What sort of creatures are the rest!”

Hearing this remark, the monkeys rejoined with the second verse:

2. “Brahmin, you know not what you say
Blaming us in such a way!
If the root we do not know,
How can we tell the trees that grow?” [2.239]

To which the Bodhisatta replied by the third, as follows:

3. “Monkeys, I have no blame for you,
Nor those who range the woodland through.
The monarch is a fool, to say
‘Please tend my trees while I’m away.’ ” {2.347}

When this discourse was ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “The lad who destroyed the park was the monkey chief, and I was the wise man.”