King Chandra and The Monkey Chief - Panchatantra Stories

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In a city, there lived a king, Chandra. His sons kept a troop of monkeys. They always fed them on a variety of choice foods and the all the monkeys had become fat.

The chief of the monkeys was a follower of the philosophy of Shukra, Brihaspati and Chanakya. Not only did he follow them himself, but also he was always advising others to do so.

Now, at the palace, there was also a pair of rams, who used to draw the carriage for the young princes.

One of the rams was a glutton and he would go into the kitchen at all odd hours and take whatever food he could find there.

The cooks would get mad at him and hit him with anything they had.

When the chief of the monkeys noticed this, his intuition told him, This quarrel, between the cooks and the ram, is going to lead to the destruction of the monkeys. This ram craves for food. One day, when they can’t find anything else, they’ll hit him with a piece of burning wood. The ram is covered with wool and it will easily catch fire. Blazing, he may well rush into the stable, which is full of dry grass, and set that on fire. Then the horses will be burnt. ‘And that will be the end of the monkeys!’

So, the monkey chief called all the monkeys to him and told them, ‘This quarrel, between the cooks and the ram, is going to be deadly on us. Anyone who wants to stay alive, should leave this palace immediately. ‘So, let us leave this palace, before we are all destroyed.’

But the crazy monkeys paid not attention to him. They merely laughed and said, ‘Your’re getting old and going a bit off your head! That’s why you talk like this. We shall certainly not leave this heavenly palace where the princes feed us, with their own hands, on all kinds of nectareous foods.

When the monkey chief heard this said, ‘You fools! You don’t understand what this happy life will lead you to this tasty food will, in the end, become poison. I don’t want to see the destruction of my own tribe before my very eyes, so I am leaving for the jungle.

Then, the chief of the monkeys gave up everything and went to the jungle.
One day, the ram entered the kitchen again.

A cook, unable to lay hands on anything else, picked up a half-burnt log and struck the ram with it. The ram’s body, being covered with wool, started blazing and he rushed into the stable.

He rolled on a heap of grass lying there and it immediately caught fire, and soon the flames were enveloping everything around.

Some of the horses were burnt to death, some lost their eyes, some, half-burnt, some broke free from the ropes and began to dash.

The king came to now this. He was very distressed. He assembled his veterinary surgeons and said to them. ‘Please prescribe some remedy to heal the horses’ wounds, caused by the burns.

The veterinary surgeons said, Wounds caused by fire, disappear if monkey fat is applied to them. ‘So, we advise you to make use of this remedy, before the horses die of the burns.’

On this, The king ordered the massacre of the monkeys. The people killed them all with sticks and anything else that came to hand.

When the monkey chief heard about this all he was heartbroken.
He gave up eating and began to wander from one part of the jungle to another. He thought to himself, ‘How can I make this king pay for this wicked deed.

One day, the monkey chief, in the course of his wanderings, felt thirsty and came to a lake full of beautiful lotus blossoms.

He noticed that the footsteps of men and animals were going towards the lake but none were to be seen returning.

So, he began to think, ‘There must be a hideous monster in the lake who drags them in, while they’re drinking water. I will fetch the hollow stem of a lotus plant and drink from a safe distance.

“While he has drinking, out from the lake emerged a demon, with a necklace of jewels around his neck. ‘Hey you!’ he cried to the monkey. ‘I feed on whoever enters the lake. But I have never seen anyone as shrewd as you, for you are drinking water without coming in. I am pleased with you. You can ask for whatever you like and I will grant it to you’.”

I can eat hundreds, thousands and even millions, replied the Demon, but they have to enter the lake. Outside it, I can’t touch even a jackal.’

‘You see,’ said the monkey chief, ‘I have a great enmity with a certain king. Now, if you give me that necklace of yours, I promise to persuade the king and his court to enter the lake.’

The demon took the monkey at his word and handed over his necklace, saying, ‘I’ll leave it all to you.’ The monkey chief put the necklace around his neck and swung from tree to tree, until he came to King city.

When the people saw him dressed up like this, they said, ‘Monkey Chief! Where have you been all this time! And where did you get his necklace? Its splendor puts even the sun to shame.’

The Lord of wealth gave it to me, replied the monkey chief. ‘He has secretly made a lake in the jungle. And whoever takes a bath in the lake, when the sun has just half risen, gets a diamond necklace around his neck and the blessings of the God.’

The king too came to hear of this. He called the monkey chief and asked him, ‘Monkey Chief, does this lake full of diamond necklaces really exist?’

‘Your Majesty,’ said the monkey, ‘this necklace, adorning my neck, is a positive proof of it. If you want one, come with me all I’ll show you the lake.’

‘In that case,’ said the king, ‘I’ll come personally and bring entire court with me, so that we can have many of the necklaces.’

‘Please do come’ said the monkey chief. Greedy for diamonds, everyone in the king’s household, his wives, servants, ministers and everybody else started off.

The monkey chief was fondly put in the king’s lap, and stroked and patted. The party reached the lake early in the morning.

The monkey chief said to the king, ‘Your Majesty, whoever enters the lake, when the sun has half risen, gets the present, but everyone must go in simultaneously. However, you can enter the lake at another place that I will show you.’

‘So the king went off with the monkey chief and everyone else went into the lake and was eaten up by the Demon.

When the others did not reappear, the king said to the monkey, Oh, Monkey Chief! Why have my people taken so long to come out?

Then the monkey chief climbed up a tree and addressed the king. Oh, wicked King! Your court and the members of your household have been eaten up by the Demon, who lives in this lake. You killed my family and I have had my revenge on you. They say that it is no sin to return evil for evil.

When the king heard this, he was thoroughly shaken and returned to his kingdom. ‘When the king had gone, the Demon emerged from the lake and said delightedly to the monkey chief, ‘Well done, Monkey chief! You have destroyed your enemy, made friends with me and also acquired a diamond necklace. By drinking water through a lotus stem, you achieved everything you desired.’

Moral of The Story “And so,” continued Suvaranasiddhi, “that’s why I said, ‘A man who, overcome with greed, does not think about the consequences, will be put to scorn like king chander’ ‘And now, my friend, let me go home.”

“How can you go away and leave me like this!” said Chakradhar. “They say - He who deserts his friends in distress, shall surely go to hell.”

“That’s true,” said Suvaranasiddhi, “but only in a case where you can be helpful. In your case, no human being can do anything and I have no power to free you. In fact, the more I see your face in pain from that wheel, the more my heart tells me to get away from there. So, let me go home. You will have to stay here and pay for your greed and for not listening to my good advice.”

You’re right, said Chakradhar. “Go home.”

So. Suvaranasiddhi took his leave and left Chakradhara there to his fate.

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