Mr. Monkey and Sir Crocodile – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[Good Manners]
The Buddha told this story while dwelling in the
Bamboo Grove temple with regard to Devadatta’s attempts to
kill him.
The Buddha said, “Not only today, but also in the past,
Devadatta tried to kill me. But as today, he failed then, too.”
And the Buddha then told this story of the past:
Once upon a time, Mr. Monkey was living by himself
near a riverbank. He was very strong, and he was a great
jumper.
In the middle of the river there was a beautiful island
covered with mango, jackfruit and other fruit trees. There
happened to be a rock sticking out of the water halfway
between the bank and the island. Although it looked
impossible, Mr. Monkey was used to jumping from the
riverbank to the rock, and from the rock to the island. He
would eat fruits all day and then return home by the same
route each evening.
A high-class couple was living next to the same river –
Sir Crocodile and Lady Crocodile. They were expecting their
first brood of baby crocks. Because she was pregnant, Lady
Crocodile sometimes wished for strange things to eat. So she
made unusual demands on her faithful husband.
Lady Crocodile had been amazed, just like the other
animals, by the way Mr. Monkey jumped back and forth to
the island. One day she developed a sudden craving to eat the
heart of Mr. Monkey! She told Sir Crocodile about her
desire. To please her, he promised to get Mr. Monkey’s heart
for her in time for dinner.
Sir Crocodile went and laid himself down on the rock
between the riverbank and the island. He waited for Mr.
Monkey to return that evening, planning to catch him.
As usual, Mr. Monkey spent the rest of the day on the
island. When it was time to return to his home on the
riverbank, he noticed that the rock seemed to have grown. It
was higher above water than he remembered it. He
investigated and saw that the river level was the same as in
the morning, yet the rock was definitely higher. Immediately
he suspected the cunning Sir Crocodile.
To find out for sure, he called out in the direction of the
rock, “Hi there, Mr. Rock! How are you?” He yelled this
three times. Then he shouted, “You used to answer me when
I spoke to you. But today you say nothing. What’s wrong
with you, Mr. Rock?”
Sir Crocodile thought, “No doubt on other days this
rock used to talk to the monkey. I can’t wait any longer for
this dumb rock to speak! I will just have to speak for the
rock, and trick the monkey.” So he shouted, “I’m fine, Mr.
Monkey. What do you want?”
Mr. Monkey asked, “Who are you?”
Without thinking, the crocodile replied, “I’m Sir
Crocodile.”
“Why are you lying there?” asked the monkey.
Sir Crocodile said, “I’m expecting to take your heart!
There’s no escape for you, Mr. Monkey.”
The clever monkey thought, “Aha! He’s right – there’s
no other way back to the riverbank. So I will have to trick
him.”
Then he yelled, “Sir Crocodile my friend, it looks like
you’ve got me. So I’ll give you my heart. Open your mouth
and take it when I come your way.”
When Sir Crocodile opened his mouth, he opened it so
wide that his eyes were squeezed shut. When Mr. Monkey
saw this, he immediately jumped onto the top of Sir
Crocodile’s head, and then instantly to the riverbank.
When Sir Crocodile realized he’d been outsmarted, he
admired Mr. Monkey’s victory. Like a good sport in a
contest, he praised the winner. He said, “Mr. Monkey, my
intention towards you was unwholesome – I wanted to kill
you and take your heart just to please my wife. But you
wanted only to save yourself and harm no one. I congratulate
you!”
Then Sir Crocodile returned to Lady Crocodile. At first
she was displeased with him, but when the little ones came
they forgot their troubles for a time.
The Buddha said:
“Sir Crocodile is today the venerable Devadatta. And
Mr. Monkey was I who am today the Buddha.”
The moral: “The bad intentions of foolish people can be
easily overcome by the wile of noble ones.”
Also,
“A good loser is a true gentleman.”

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