Ja 280 Puṭadūsakajātaka
The Story about Spoiling the Basket (3s)

In the present while the monks are in a park the small son of a gardener destroys the baskets his father makes as he drops them. The Buddha tells a similar story from the past in which monkeys destroyed the gardener’s baskets.

The Bodhisatta = the wise man (paṇḍitapurisa),
the boy who spoiled the baskets = the monkey (vānara).

Keywords: Destructive behaviour, Animals.

“No doubt the king.” This story the Teacher told in Jetavana, about one who destroyed baskets. At Sāvatthi, we learn, a certain courtier invited the Buddha and his company, and made them sit in his park. {2.391} As he was distributing to them, during the meal, he said: “Let those who wish to walk about the park, do so.” The monks walked about the park. At that time the gardener climbed up a tree which had leaves upon it, and said, taking hold of some of the large leaves, “This will do for flowers, this one for fruit,” and making them into baskets he dropped them to the foot of the tree. His little son destroyed each as soon as it fell. The monks told this to the Teacher. “Monks,” said the Teacher, “this is not the first time that this lad has destroyed baskets: he did it before.” And he told them a story. [2.267]

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in a certain family of Benares. When he grew up, and was living in the world as a householder, it happened that for some reason he went into a park, where a number of monkeys lived. The gardener was throwing down his baskets as we have described, and the chief of the monkeys was destroying them as they fell. The Bodhisatta, addressing him, said: “As the gardener drops his baskets, the monkey thinks he is trying to please him by tearing them up,” Should we read, “...Kātukāmo ti maññe” ti? and repeated the first verse:

1. “No doubt the king of beasts is clever
In making baskets; he would never
Destroy what’s made with so much bother,
Unless he meant to make another.”

On hearing this the monkey repeated the second verse:

2. “Neither my father nor my mother
Nor I myself could make another.
What others make, we tear to pieces:
The proper way of monkeys, this is!” {2.392}

And the Bodhisatta responded with the third:

3. “If this is proper monkey nature,
What’s the improper way of such a creature!
Be off – it does not matter whether
You’re proper or improper – both together!”

With these words of blame he departed.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “At that time the monkey was the boy who has been destroying the baskets; but the wise man was I myself.”