The King And The Monkeys

Once upon a time, a king ruled over a kingdom near Benares. He was a rather selfish king who thought only of himself and did not care much for the people he reigned over.

One day, while bathing in the river beside his palace, he saw a strange fruit floating in the water.

The king snatched up the fruit and called to his courtiers on the river bank, “What kind of fruit is this?”

The courtiers and wise men looked closely at the strange fruit but could not name it. We do not know, your majesty,” they replied, “but we will ask the men who work in the royal forest. They might know.”

They took the strange fruit back to the palace and summoned the royal foresters to appear before the king…

The foresters examined the fruit for many long minutes, and at last, one of them spoke, “Your majesty, this is indeed a rare fruit,” he said. “It is a variety of mango which is sweeter and tastier than any other fruit in the world.”

The king was eager to taste it, but, as usual, he thought of himself first and wanted to ensure the fruit was not poisonous. Taking a knife, he cut off a slice of the mango and gave it to one of his courtiers.

“Eat it,” commanded the king, and he watched closely. But the mango seemed to have no ill effects on the man.

Now that the fruit was not poisonous, the king cut a slice for himself.

“It is true,” he cried, his face lighting up with joy. “I have never tasted a better fruit in all my life. Tell me, foresters, where can I find the tree that bears this mango?”

“This fruit grows upon a rare tree, which can only be found on the river bank many days’ journey from here,” one of the foresters replied.

“Then tomorrow, we shall all set sail up the river,” said the king.

The royal party boarded a boat the following day, and their journey began for five days. They sailed up the river, and as darkness fell on the fifth day, one of the foresters suddenly cried out. “Look. There is the tree we are searching for!”

The boat was anchored, and the king and his courtiers went ashore. The tree was indeed laden with the rare mango fruit, and the king was eager to taste it again. But by now, it was getting very dark, so reluctantly, he decided to save himself the pleasure until the following morning.

Giving orders for his soldiers to guard the tree so no one could steal the fruit, the king went to his tent and slept.

Late that evening, he was suddenly awoken by the screeching of monkeys and the shouts of his soldiers. To his horror, he rushed out of the tent and saw a troop of monkeys sitting in the mango tree, gobbling down as much fruit as possible.

“Get rid of them this minute,” screamed the king. “How dare they eat my fruit!”

The soldiers surrounded the tree and were just about to throw their spears When the leader of the monkeys looked down and saw the danger.

Quickly, he tied the end of a branch around his body and leapt in the air towards a neighbouring tree. He just managed to catch hold of a unit in his hands. Then he ordered all the monkeys to escape by running across the bridge formed by his body.

To the amazement of the king and soldiers below, the screeching and chattering monkeys trampled across their leader.

“One who uses his life to offer safety to others deserves a royal reward,” said the king, deeply impressed by what he had seen.

The poor monkey was taken back to the king’s camp, and his cuts and bruises were bathed. Then he was laid on a soft cushion to rest.

A little while later, the king came to him with a bowl of fruit and asked,

“Noble monkey, why did you risk your life so others might escape?”

“I am their leader,” replied the monkey. “It is the right of a leader to enjoy the respect and honour of his followers, but he must also earn that respect by guarding them in times of danger, even at the risk of his own life.”

The king suddenly realised what a selfish life he had led and how he had neglected his people.

He took the monkey to his palace to live with him, and there he ordered the royal stone cutters to carve these words above the palace gate for all to see: “Only he is honoured, who honours others.”

From that day on, the king ruled his people wisely and well, and every day, he had one of the rare mangoes for breakfast to remind himself of the monkey’s lesson.

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