Panchatantra Story: How the Monkey Punished the Greedy King


White and Beige Monkey

There was once a wealthy King, who lived in a large palace with his wife and little sons. He had a large army and ruled over a big kingdom. He loved his sons a lot and made sure to give them everything they wanted. Once a monkey trainer was passing through the city, with his many monkeys. The king’s men invited him to the palace to have them perform their many tricks for the king and his family. He instantly agreed. 

When the king’s sons saw the smart monkeys and their funny tricks; they instantly wanted them as pets, and their father agreed; as he loved them a lot. The trainer received money and jewels in return for his animals, and the little boys of the palace were happy. Soon the monkeys became the favorite pets of the palace. They were fed the best food and did nothing but play all day. Soon, they also became quite stupid and lazy. They were not as smart as they used to be, as all they did all day, was eat, sleep, and play. 

The monkeys lived on the palace grounds, in a large tree beside the palace kitchen. In the palace kitchen was a big ram. He was greedy and did nothing but eat all day, and yet no amount of food was ever enough. He often stole food from the kitchen, and the cooks were often angry with him. When they saw him rob food, they threw sticks and stones at him. The oldest and wisest among all the monkeys would look into the kitchen and see all of this happening. 

He thought right away that the ram and the impatient cooks could cause a big accident and he warned the other monkeys that they should run away while there was still time. However, they did not listen to him. They thought he had grown old, and mad, and they were enjoying their lives, as they had the best food, and they did nothing but play and sleep all day. Life went on; the ram would continue to steal, and the cooks would throw things at him that often went straight into the kitchen fire. Soon the oldest monkey left his group and escaped into the forest nearby. 

A few days later, the ram tried to steal food again. The cooks were very angry and threw a large log at him. The force of the block of wood pushed him right into the fire, and his wool was soon burning. He jumped out of the fireplace and went running straight to the stable. The hay in the stables caught on fire, and the king’s best horse was burned and injured. When the king heard of this, he instantly called the best animal doctor to make sure that his favorite horse was well again. After much thought, the doctor advised that the horse’s wounds needed treating with the fat of the monkeys for a speedy cure. The king immediately ordered the monkeys to be killed, and their fat collected, to cure his injured horse. 

Not long after, the old monkey got to know what had happened to his friends. He was both sad and angry, and he decided that he needed to punish the king for his cruelty, but what could he do? 

While walking through the forest and crying for his friends, he saw a beautiful lake with clear water. He was thirsty and walked towards the lake. But he stopped midway. The reason he stopped was that all he could see was footprints leading towards the lake, none leading away from it. He suspected that somehow anyone that went close to the lake disappeared in it. 

So without going too near, he made a pipe out a hollow stem of a lotus plant and used it for drinking water. While drinking, a monster came out of the water and said to him in a heavy voice, “you are wise, so much wiser than anyone who has come to this lake before”. “Your wisdom has saved your life, or else I would have eaten you as soon as you came near”. The monster went on, “your wisdom has impressed me, and I want to reward you, tell me of one wish of yours that I could grant”. 

The monkey had no other wish but to punish those that killed his friends. So he said to the monster, “I have no wish, but if you give me the diamond chain that you are wearing around your neck, I could bring you hundreds of men to eat”. The monster agreed right away and handed the chain to him. He took the chain and went instantly to meet the king. 

In the palace, the king was amazed to see the monkey with the large chain studded with diamonds. The monkey promised him more if he could fetch them out of the lake. Instantly, men were gathered, and all of them set out towards the lake. 

The King sat back while ordered those around him to jump into the lake to take out all its treasures. And, when they did, the monster came out and ate each and every one of them. Hundreds were soon dead. The king was shocked all of this and asked the monkey, “how could you do this, how could you allow so many to be killed”? The monkey looked at him, smiled, and replied, “just like you allowed all of my friends to be killed, just for one horse”. At that moment, the king had learned his lesson. He could now see the wickedness of his ways, his greed, and his selfishness. 

He walked back alone to his palace, very sad. He had lost his whole army because of his greed for treasures. As for the monkey, even though he had lost all his friends, he was able to punish those who had killed them. 

Moral: There is always a punishment for greed and selfishness. Such is life.

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