Watering The Garden – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[Foolishness]
It was just before New Years in Benares, in
northern India. Everyone in the city was getting
ready for the three day celebration, including the
gardener of the king’s pleasure garden.
There was a large troop of monkeys living
in this pleasure garden. So they wouldn’t have to
think too much, they always followed the advice
of their leader, the monkey king.
The royal gardener wanted to celebrate the
New Years holiday, just like everybody else. So he
decided to hand over his duties to the monkeys.
He went to the monkey king and said, “Oh
king of monkeys, my honourable friend, would
you do a little favour for me? New Years is com-
ing. I too wish to celebrate. So I must be away for
three full days. Here in this lovely garden, there
are plenty of fruits and berries and nuts to eat. You
and your subjects may be my guests, and eat as
much as you wish. In return, please water the
young trees and plants while I’m gone.”
The monkey king replied, “Don’t worry
about a thing, my friend! We will do a terrific job!
Have a good time!”
The gardener showed the monkeys where
the watering buckets were kept. Feeling confident,
he left to celebrate the holiday. The monkeys
called after him, “Happy New Years!”
The next day, the monkeys filled up the
buckets, and began watering the young trees and
plants. Then the king of the monkeys addressed
them: “My subjects, it is not good to waste water.
Therefore, pull up each young tree or plant before
watering. Inspect it to see how long the roots are.
Then give more water to the ones with long roots,
and less water to the ones with short roots. That
way we will not waste water, and the gardener
will be pleased!”
Without giving it any further thought, the
obedient subjects followed their king’s orders.
Meanwhile, a wise man was walking by
outside the entrance to the garden. He saw the
monkeys uprooting all the lovely young trees and
plants, measuring their roots, and carefully pour-
ing water into the holes in the ground. He asked,
“Oh foolish monkeys, what do you think you’re
doing to the king’s beautiful garden?”
They answered, “We are watering the trees
and plants, without wasting water! We were
commanded to do so by our lord king.”
The man said, “If this is the wisdom of the
wisest among you – the king – what are the rest of
you like? Intending to do a worthwhile deed, your
foolishness turns it into disaster!”
The moral is: Only fools can make good
deeds into bad ones.