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The Ways of Man

King Brahmadatta of Varanasi was loved by his subjects. They often gave many gifts that were rare and of exceptional value to show their love for their ruler. One day the royal woodcutter returned from his winter trip into the woods with a monkey for the king. The king took one good look at this tawny coloured monkey with bright eyes and decided to keep him. The woodcutter’s heart puffed up with joy seeing how well his gift was received.

Tawny, the monkey became the king’s favorite animal in a short time. He was allowed to roam just about anywhere in the palace. Sometimes he would crawl under the kitchen shelves and watch the cooks scramble to make fancy dishes. He would play with the children and get teased by the ladies. Perching on top of a pillar he would watch with great fascination the way the king held court. His curiosity in other words led him to see behaviors quite different from the way he and his monkeys lived in the forest.

The king noticed that now and then Tawny would have a look in his eyes that showed that he missed his forest home. Brahmadatta felt sorry for him. He called the woodcutter and told him of his wish. “He truly belongs in the forest with his kind and not here. Here take this sack of gold coins as I appreciate what you gifted me. Please take him back to his forest home,” said the King.

The woodcutter returned him to the forest the very same day. Tawny made a dash for the trees and swung from vine to vine till he reached home. It was not long before his friends and family gathered in excitement all around him. They were so glad to have him back. They fussed over him. Many a question was asked about his whereabouts. “Tell us all about the ways of Man,” they asked. “I do not think you should hear about them,” he replied. “Of course we are curious and would like to hear from you,” they insisted. Tawny yielded and said, “You will all have to do as I tell you.” Full of excitement and anticipation they agreed.

Tawny chose the largest monkey and had him sit on a huge boulder overlooking the grassy plain. “You are the King,” he said. “The rest of you assemble before him and be ready to take his orders,” he added. The monkey king ordered for fruits. Tawny asked them all to go to get fruits. Soon a pile of delicious fruits of all sorts was heaped in front of him. “Why does the king need so much?” piped a little one. Tawny told him about the King’s treasury and how everyone should contribute. He then requested each monkey subject to praise the king. One spoke highly of his fur, another admired his beautiful eyes. A third monkey complimented on his wisdom and a fourth gave praise to his strength. “Now get behind his back and insult him,” said Tawny. This was indeed a strange request! One by one they went behind and gathered there to talk about their king. They made fun, criticized and put down every feature that seconds ago they had all praised. The monkey king who heard all of this flew into a rage. He thrashed, hopped and slapped the boulder again and again and chased those that insulted him. When he returned, famished and perturbed he saw that not a single fruit was left on the ground. The subjects had consumed them. Tawny whispered into his ears. “Fetch me the guilty one!” shouted the king. “I shall put him to death.” “Death? Oh no!” they said as they covered their ears in horror and buried their heads in disgust. “Enough! Enough!” they chorused. “We no longer wish to hear anymore about the ways of Man!”

Om Muni Muni MAHAmuniye Svaha