A Wise Old Monkey

By Bhurijana dasa - 19.1 2023

The monkeys of Raman Reti can undoubtedly be cute. But are they wise? Mostly they use their amazing climbing skills to wander from tree to roof to balcony for the purpose of foraging for soft leaves, berries, or other eatables. When they’re not eating they fight, mate, or sleep. But, however, I’ve noted that they can also be clever and quite brave. Many strongly built males will always fiercely fight to protect from attack the young within their family. That can be said to be a type of wisdom, for it is required for the family’s survival, but are monkeys truly wise?

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura told a story about a wise old monkey and those of his followers who listened to him. And, of course, the lesson to be learned by noting the fate of those who didn’t. In his story, along with his accompanying lesson, Srila Saraswati Thakura seems to equate wisdom with the ability to see the future.

I found the simple story and the comment quite thought provoking, and it caused me to think about Srila Prabhupada, wisdom, faithfully following, discrimination, Iskcon?€?s current leaders, and its current followers. The story and the lesson given by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati is below.

A Wise Old Monkey

A king used to maintain a group of monkeys to entertain his sons. The monkeys were fed with sumptuous delicacies everyday. The leader of the monkeys was well-versed in the scriptures of wise personalities, such as Sukracrya, Brhaspati and Canayaka, and he used to teach the other monkeys these scriptures.
There was also a herd of sheep in the king’s palace and the little princes used to ride them for fun. Some sheep were fond of stealing food from the palace kitchen, and the cooks in the kitchen quite often would be forced to beat the sheep to inhibit this mischievious behavior.

The monkey leader thought that the sheeps behaviour and the cook?€?s reaction to that behaviour may in the long run result in disaster for the monkeys. He thought: “The sheep are extremely gluttonous and the cooks, on the other hand, are intent on beating them with whatever they find at hand. If the cooks at any time hit a sheep with a burning stick from the fire, the wooly body of the sheep would surely start burning.

If a sheep, burning and in a frenzy, starts running around and by chance enters into the nearby horse stable, the hay inside first will catch on fire and in no time the entire stable along with it’s horses will be ablaze.

One ancient expert Salihotra, who is well versed in animal husbandry, prescribes that burns on horse flesh can be healed by animal tallow obtained from monkeys. Accordingly, the king will then have the monkeys killed.”
Apprehending danger, the wise old monkey leader called all the monkeys and confidentially spoke, “In a place like this where the sheep and the cooks constantly
confront eachother, we, the monkeys, are sure to meet with destruction in the near future. So let us quickly take refuge in a nearbye forest before we are destroyed.”

But the arrogant young monkeys did not have any respect for the wise old monkey’s advice. They simply ridiculed the old monkey, “You must be under some sort of delusion due to your advancing age and so you talk like a lunatic. We are not interested in leaving the place for forest life, for in the forest we will only have distasteful fruits as our food. Here we eat varieties of nectarean foodstuffs. And we are served by the princes themselves!”

Upon hearing the reply of the puffed-up young monkeys, the old monkey told them with tearful eyes, “O fools, you do not know the future results of your temporary pleasures. Your desires will ultimately cause your destruction! I will leave for the forest alone, for I don’t want to witness your deaths.”

Saying thus, the monkey-leader started for the forest, leaving behind all the other monkeys.

The fateful day soon followed. A greedy sheep entered into the kitchen, and a cook struck the beast with a burning stick of firewood. Seeing his wool ablaze, the sheep immediately began loudly bleating and in a frenzy ran straight into the nearby horse stable. As the sheep, his body now aflame, rolled desperately over the hay within the stable, the entire structure caught fire and many of the horses were burnt to death. Others ran amok, which resulted in great consternation throughout the palace.

The king immediately summoned his veterinary surgeon to treat the remaining horses. The surgeon quoted Salihotra’s prescription that monkey’s tallow is essential for the quick healing of the burns suffered by horses. The king at once ordered that the prescribed treatment should be undertaken to save the horses, and accordingly he also issued instructions to kill the monkeys to collect their tallow.

When the monkey leader received the above news he became very depressed.

This moral of this story, as narrated by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, is that anyone who faithfully follows the instructions of his spiritual master and unflinchingly engages himself in devotional service to the Supreme Lord, will certainly attain the ultimate welfare. Those who contemplate that the ageing advisor
(spiritual master) may be under delusion and may not know more than a common person, and instead follow evil companions, will certainly meet a disastrous end.