Panchatantra: The Foolish Friend

The story of what the monkey does here to the king is very similar to the story of the man who made friends with a bear. You can find that story in the fables of Bidpai, and from there it made its way into the fables of La Fontaine.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Panchatantra unit. Story source: The Panchatantra of Vishnu Sharma, translated by Arthur W. Ryder (1925).

The Foolish Friend
(a follow-up to The Sensible Enemy)

In this spot they sold all three gems, the merchant's son serving as their agent. The considerable capital thus obtained he laid before the prince, who, having appointed the son of the man of learning his prime minister, planned to seize the kingdom of the monarch of that countr, and made the merchant's son his secretary of the treasury. He then, by offering double pay, assembled an army of picked elephants, horse, and infantry, began hostilities with a prime minister intelligent in the six expedients, killed the king in battle, seized his kingdom, and himself became king. Next he delegated all burdensome administrative functions to his two friends and consulted his ease in a life of graceful luxury.

After a time, as he dallied now and then in the ladies' apartments, he made a pet and constant companion of a monkey from the stable nearby. For it is a well-known fact that kings take naturally to parrots, partridges, pigeons, rams, monkeys, and such creatures.

In course of time, the monkey, regaled with a variety of dainties from the royal hand, grew to be a big fellow, and became an object of respect to the entire court.


The king, indeed, felt such confidence in the monkey and such affection that he made him his personal sword-bearer.

Now the king had near his palace a pleasure-grove made charming by clumps of trees of various species. When springtime came, he perceived how delightful was this grove, since it advertised the glory of Love in the humming of swarms of bees, and was fragrant with the perfumes of crowding blossoms. He therefore entered it with his queen in a passion of love, and all his human retinue were left behind at the entrance.

After a period of delighted wandering and gazing, the king grew weary and said to the monkey: "I shall rest and sleep a moment in this arbour. You must keep careful watch to prevent anyone from disturbing me." With this he went to sleep.

Presently a bee, drawn by the fragrance of flowers, of musk, and other perfumes, hovered over him and alighted on his head. On seeing this, the monkey angrily thought: "What! Under my very eyes this wretched creature looks upon the king!" And he undertook to drive him away.

But when the bee, for all his efforts, continued to approach the king, the monkey went blind with rage, drew his sword, and fetched a blow at the bee a blow that split the king's head.

And the queen, who was sleeping beside him, started up in terror, screaming when she beheld the incomprehensible fact: "You fool! You monkey! The king trusted you. How could you do it?"

Then the monkey told what had happened, after which everybody, by common consent, scolded him and shunned him. So there is reason in saying that one should not make friends with a fool, inasmuch as the monkey killed the king.

To foes of sense, not foolish friends,
It's wiser far to cling:
The robber for his victims died;
The monkey killed the king.


(500 words)




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