Jataka: The Thirsty Monkeys

There was once a troop of a thousand monkeys who were ruled over by the wisest monkey of all. One day the monkeys was wandering through the forest and became very thirsty. Luckily, they found a lake surrounded by a dense thicket of green canes. The monkeys were ready to jump at once into the waters of the lake, but the wise monkey shouted at them to stop. "Don't go into the water!" he commanded. "We have never been here before, so we should investigate first to see if it is safe."

The wise monkey then walked slowly towards the water, peering at the ground. He saw animal tracks in the muddy bank, but no tracks leading back out. "I see the tracks of many animals going down to the water," he said to himself, "but no sign of their return. Some kind of monster must live in this lake, and it will devour us too if we venture into the water!"

"Monkeys," he called in a loud voice, "listen carefully! There is a monster living in these waters, so we cannot just jump into the lake." All the monkeys, who were desperately thirsty, began to shriek and howl in despair. "But I have an idea," the wise monkey continued. "Let us gather up these hollow canes and use them as straws! That way we can stand at a distance from the lake while we drink all the water we want."

The monkeys eagerly did as he commanded, pulling up canes and using them as straws with which to drink the water. In this way they were able to quench their thirst safely, far beyond the reach of the monster of the lake. Having drunk their fill, the monkeys then followed their wise leader back to their home.

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