The Birth Of A Banyan Tree – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[Respect for Elders]
Once upon a time, there was a big banyan
tree in the forest beneath the mighty Himalayas.
Living near this banyan tree were three very good
friends. They were a quail, a monkey and an ele-
phant. Each of them was quite smart.
Occasionally the three friends got into a
disagreement. When this happened, they did not
consider the opinion of any one of them to be
more valuable. No matter how much experience
each one had, his opinion was treated the same as
the others. So it, took them a long time to reach an
agreement. Every time this happened, they had to
start from the beginning to reach a solution.
After a while they realized that it would
save time, and help their friendship, if they could
shorten their disagreements. They decided that it
would certainly help if they considered the most
valuable opinion first. Then, if they could agree
on that one, they would not have to waste time,
and possibly even become less friendly, by argu-
ing about the other two.
Fortunately, they all thought the most valu-
able opinion was the one based on the most ex-
perience. Therefore, they could live together even
more peacefully if they gave higher respect to the
oldest among them. Only if his opinion were
clearly wrong, would they need to consider others.
Unfortunately, the elephant and the monkey
and the quail had no idea which one was the old-
est. Since this was a time before old age was re-
spected, they had no reason to remember their
birthdays or their ages.
Then one day, while they were relaxing in
the shade of the big banyan tree, the quail and the
monkey asked the elephant, “As far back as you
can remember, what was the size of this banyan
The elephant replied, “I remember this tree
for a very long time. When I was just a little baby,
I used to scratch my belly by rubbing it over the
tender shoots on top of this banyan tree.”
Then the monkey said, “When I was a curi-
ous baby monkey, I used to sit and examine the
little seedling banyan tree. Sometimes I used to
bend over and nibble its top tender leaves.”
The monkey and the elephant asked the
quail, “As far back as you can remember, what
was the size of this banyan tree?”
The quail said, “When I was young, I was
looking for food in a nearby forest. In that forest,
there was a big old banyan tree, which was full of
ripe berries. I ate some of those berries, and the
next day I was standing right here. This was
where I let my droppings fall, and the seeds they
contained grew up to be this very tree!”
The monkey and the elephant said, “Aha!
Sir quail, you must be the oldest. You deserve our
respect and honour. From now on we will pay
close attention to your words. Based on your wis-
dom and experience, advise us when we make
mistakes. When there are disagreements, we will
give the highest place to your opinion. We ask
only that you be honest and just.”
The quail replied, “I thank you for your
respect, and I promise to always do my best to
deserve it.” It just so happened that this wise little
quail was the Bodhisatta the Enlightenment
The moral is: Respect for the wisdom of
elders leads to harmony.

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