A Wise Old Monkey




In the courtyard of a king a pack of monkeys sported happily in the trees. Their leader was old and exceptionally wise.

Now, once the wise old monkey was reflecting upon the happenings in the courtyard. He observed that the sons of the king played there every day with pet lambs. These lambs would often enter the kitchen on one side of the courtyard and try to eat whatever they could find within. And the cooks would angrily chase them out, brandishing whatever stick or utensil they could lay their hands on. Across from the kitchen, on the other side of the courtyard, was the horse stable where the king kept his favorite mounts. Whenever the king visited the stable, the old monkey could see how attached the king was to his horses.

After duly considering all he’d seen, the wise old monkey called the pack of monkeys together one day and urged them to leave the courtyard for good. But this time his instructions were not welcomed as they always had been in the past. “See here! Now the old fellow really goes too far!” a young bull monkey passionately proclaimed to his mates. “Our life here is good. There are plenty of scraps to eat, and because the princes are amused by us, the humans leave us in peace. In this royal courtyard we have no dangers from tigers, snakes and eagles as do the ordinary forest monkeys. Why on earth should we listen to this addle-headed raving about abandoning this paradise?”

“Now listen to me,” the old one countered. “Those wooly lambs enter the kitchen almost every day and are driven out by the cooks who beat them with anything they can lay their hands on. One day the cooks will become so enraged they’ll grab sticks from the fire and beat the lambs with those. The lambs’ wool will then ignite, and they’ll run helter-skelter around this courtyard in pain and terror. One or two at least are sure to enter the horse stables. The straw will catch fire, and the stables will burn. If after the flames are put out some of the king’s precious horses are found to be suffering from burn injuries, that king will ask his salihotra (veterinarian) what the best cure for burns are. The salihotra will reply that monkey fat should be applied to the wounds. Then the king will order his men to catch every one of you, butcher you and extract the fat from your dead bodies.”

The younger monkeys had a good laugh at this. “Sorry, old fellow,” they scoffed, “but we think your oversized brain has finally aged to the point of senility. We will therefore from this day onwards reject your advice as worthless. Such fanciful notions! We cannot take you seriously any longer.” Sadly, the old monkey took his leave from the pack and went to the forest to dwell.

But in time everything he predicted came to pass, and the whole pack of courtyard monkeys was mercilessly slaughtered for the curative powers of their fat.


This story illustrates how arrogant sceptics who refuse to heed the warnings of the pure servant of the Lord simply pave their own way to destruction. The instructions of the spiritual master are never to be estimated in material terms. One who does so commits a great offense and condemns himself to ruin.


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