Ja 298 Udumbarajātaka
The Story about the Figs (3s)
In the present one monk finds a nice hermitage and succeeds in forcing the resident monk out of it and taking it over. The Buddha tells a story of a monkey who tempted another to leave his cave, and then took it over for himself.
The Bodhisatta = the Tree Devatā (Rukkhadevatā),
the visitor = the big black monkey (kāḷamahāmakkaṭa),
the resident = the small monkey (khuddakamakkaṭa).
Keywords: Greed, Trickery, Devas, Animals.
“Ripe are the figs.” This story the Teacher told at Jetavana, about a certain monk, who had made a hermitage to live in at a certain village on the frontier. This delightful dwelling stood upon a flat rock; a little well-swept spot, with enough water to make it pleasant, a village close at hand to go your rounds in, and friendly people to give food. A monk on his rounds arrived at this place. The elder who lived in it did the duties of host to the new arrival, and next day took him along with him for his rounds. The people gave him food, and invited him to visit them again next day.
After the newcomer had thus fared a few days, he meditated by what means he could oust the other
They began to discuss the matter in their Dhamma Hall, “Friend, monk So-and-so has turned monk So-and-so out of his hermitage, and taken it for himself!” The Teacher came in, and wanted to know what they were discussing as they sat there. They told him. Said he, “Monks, this is not the first time that this man turned the other out of his dwelling,” and he told them a story.
In the past, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta became a Tree Devatā in the woods. At that time during the rainy season rain used to pour down seven days on a stretch. A certain small red-faced monkey lived in a rock-cave sheltered from the rain. One day he was sitting at the mouth of it, in the dry, quite happy. As he sat there, a big black-faced monkey, wet through, perishing with cold, spied him. “How can I get that fellow out, and live in his hole?” he wondered. Puffing out his belly, and making as though he had eaten a good meal, he stopped in front of the other, and repeated the first verse:
1. “Ripe are the figs, the banyans good,
And ready for the monkey’s food.
Come along with me and eat!
Why should you for hunger fret?”
Redface believed all this, and longed to have all this fruit to eat. So he went off, and hunted here, and hunted there, but no fruit could he find. Then he came back again; and there was Blackface sitting inside his cave! He determined to outwit him; so stopping in front he repeated the second verse:
2. “Happy he who honour pays
To his elders full of days;
Just as happy I feel now
After all that fruit, I vow!”
The big monkey listened, and repeated the third:
3. “When woodsmen meet, then comes the tug of war;
A monkey scents a monkey’s tricks afar.
Even a young one were too sharp by half;
But old birds never can be caught with chaff.”
The other made off.
When the Teacher ended this discourse, he summed up the birth-tale, “At that time the owner of the hut was the little monkey, the interloper was the big black monkey, but the Tree Devatā was I myself.”
last updated: November 2021