The Unteachable Monkey

Once there lived a group of monkeys in a forest. During the winter, they were unable to stand the severe cold and heavy rains. One evening they found a firefly and believed it to be fire, so lifted it with care, covered it with dry grass and leaves, thrust forward their arms, scratched themselves, and enjoyed imagining that they were warm. One of them in particular, being especially chilly, blew repeatedly and with concentrated attention on the firefly.

Watching their vain effort in amusement, Suchimukha, a bird, flew down from her tree and said to the monkey, “My dear sir, do not put yourself to unnecessary trouble. This is not fire. This is a firefly. This will not save you from cold. Go and look for a shelter in a cave or a place free from wind. The clouds are thick and there will be no immediate relief from rain.” The monkey, however, did not heed her warning but blew again, nor did he stop when she tried more than once to correct him.

Finally angered by the repeated uncalled for advice, the monkey said, “You stupid, why do you poke your nose in our affairs? Go away. Haven’t the elders said that one should offer advice only to those who seek it and value it? Furthermore, he who cherishes his welfare should not talk to a gambler or an inefficient workman.

Disregarding the old monkey’s anger and not giving room to any other monkey to talk, Suchimukha went on repeating her advice to them to seek shelter elsewhere. Tired with the bird’s unwanted advice, one of the monkeys sprang at the bird and bashed her against a rock, thereby killing her on the spot.

The Duel between Elephant and Sparrow

In a dense bit of jungle lived a sparrow and his wife, who had built their nest on the branch of a Tamal tree, and in course of time the female laid eggs.

One afternoon a wild elephant with spring fever was distressed by the heat, and came beneath that Tamal tree in search of shade. Blinded by his fever, he pulled with the tip of his trunk at the branch where the sparrows had their nest, and broke it. In the process the sparrows’ eggs were crushed, though the parent-birds barely escaped death.

When they realized their eggs destroyed, they were pained and the hen-sparrow began to weep for her eggs. A woodpecker, a close friend of the sparrows, heard her crying and moved by her grief asked her, “My dear friend, why lament in vain? Only the foolish grieve over what is lost or what is dead or what is past. We should take lessons from what has happened and move on.”

“That is good doctrine,” said the hen-sparrow, “but what of it? This elephant has killed my babies. So if you are my friend, think of some plan to kill this big elephant. If that were done, I should feel less grief at the death of my children.”

“Madam,” said the woodpecker, “Everyone tries to be friendly when you are rich and wealthy. Only a friend in need is a friend indeed. Now see what my wit can devise. I, too, have a friend, a fly. I will approach her, so that this villainous beast of an elephant may be killed.”

So he went with the hen-sparrow, found the fly, and said: “Dear madam, this is my friend the hen-sparrow. She is mourning because a villainous elephant smashed her eggs. So you must lend your assistance while I work out a plan for killing him.”

“My good friend,” said the fly, “I also have a very intimate friend, a frog named Meghdoot. Let us do the right thing by calling him into consultation. In times of distress we should approach a trustworthy, righteous and wise friend.

So all three went together and told Meghdoot the entire story. And the frog said: “How feeble a thing is that wretched elephant when pitted against a great team! O’ Fly, you must go and buzz in his fevered ear, so that he may shut his eyes in delight at hearing your music. Then the woodpecker’s bill will peck out his eyes. After that I will sit on the edge of a pit and croak. And he, being thirsty, will hear me, and will approach expecting to find a body of water. When he comes to the pit, he will fall in and perish.”

When they carried out the plan, the fevered elephant shut his eyes in delight at the song of the fly, was blinded by the woodpecker, wandered thirst-smitten at noonday, followed the croak of the frog, came to a great pit, fell in, and died.