How a Great Monkey King Transformed a Human King
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Realisation: How a Great Monkey King Transformed a Human King
More precious than the most precious thing given is the heart that is willing to give it. - stonepeace
Once upon a time, in one of the previous lives of the Buddha (as a practising Bodhisattva - one who aspires to free all beings from suffering), he was reborn as a great monkey king in the Himalayas. He was so compassionate, wise and strong that he came to lead 80,000 monkeys. On the bank of the Ganges river was a mango tree with marvellous sweetness. It occured to the king that if any mango were to fall into the river, it would surely invite danger. Therefore, he asked the monkeys to guard against this. However, one ripe mango eventually fell into the river.
Just then, the King of Baranasi was bathing in the river. Discovering and tasting the delicious mango, he desired so much for more that he sent rafts in search of its source. When he came across the monkeys swinging from branch to branch, eating the very mangos that he craved, he immediately ordered his archers to shoot them. Seeing the grave danger, the monkey king led them to a branch which stretched almost over the river. With a tremendous leap, he jumped across to the opposite bank, where he found a vine, tied it around his waist, and leapt back. But alas! The vine was not long enough, and he had to cling on to the end of the branch. Nevertheless, he asked the monkeys to run along his back and the vine - towards safety. Each of the monkeys respectfully thanked their king, seeking his pardon as they scurried across his back. However, the last monkey, who secretly resented him, pounded so hard upon his back that it broke his heart, leaving him to hang on in great pain and exhaustion.
Witnessing all this with wide-eyed amazement, the human king realised how wrong it would be to kill the monkey king, who displayed such great selfless courage for the sake of saving others. He quickly ordered his men to rescue him. As they tried to nurse him, the king asked, "Noble monkey, you became a bridge to safety for all the other monkeys. Who are you to them, and who are they to you?" The monkey king replied, "Great king, I am the guardian and leader of the herd. Because I could save them and was willing to do so, I did not fear death. As a good king should, I did what I could to ensure the happiness of all who entrusted their lives to me. Sire, please understand this truth! If you wish to be a righteous ruler, the happiness of the people of your kingdom must be dear to you. It must be more precious to you than your life itself."
With these last words, the monkey king passed away peacefully. The king was so deeply touched and repentant, that he arranged a royal funeral to honour the monkey king and his relics. Henceforth, he took the monkey king's advice to heart, becoming an excellent king who showered pure concern on all his citizens. Having perfected the virtue of generosity among many other virtues some lives later, the monkey king was reborn as Prince Siddhartha, who eventually attained full Enlightenment, becoming the great Buddha. The human king happened to be reborn as Ananda, the Buddha's devoted personal attendant, while the wicked monkey was reborn as Devadatta, who continually tried to discourage the Bodhisattva from perfecting his compassion and wisdom for others life to life. Thankfully, due to the Bodhisattva's great determination to benefit all beings, Devadatta was never successful. - A Jataka Tale retold by Shen Shi'an
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