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THIS IS A SIDE PAGE

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INDIA & CHINA MONKEY LORE

BELOW STORY/PHOTO COURTESY OF
http://www.borobudur.tv/avadana_04.htm

The Cula-Nandiya Jataka, India
 First Gallery Balustrade Reliefs 196 - 200 AD

Cula-Nandiya Jataka; Balustrade Reliefs 196 - 200 AD

This story the Master told about his cousin Devadatta while dwelling in the Bamboo Grove (Venuvana). One day the brethren were talking amongst themselves in the Hall of Truth: "Friend, the man Devadatta is harsh, cruel, and tyrannical, full of baneful devices against the Supreme Buddha. He flung a stone and even used the aid of Nagagiri against the Master. There is no pity and compassion in him for the Tathagata!"

When the Master entered the Hall of Truth, he asked what they were talking about. After the brethren told him, he said: "This is not the first time, Brethren, that Devadatta has been harsh, cruel, and merciless. He was so before."

The Buddha then related the following old-world tale: Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta became a Monkey named Nandiya, or Jolly, and dwelt in the Himalaya region with his youngest brother Jollikin. The two were in charge of a band of 80,000 thousand monkeys. In addition, they had to care for their blind mother in her home.

One day after leaving their mother in her lair in the bushes, the two brothers went amongst the trees in search of sweet wild fruit of all kinds so that they could sent it back home to her. But the messengers that they despatched failed to deliver the fruit to their mother. Tormented with hunger, she dwindled down to mere skin and bone.

When the Bodhisattva saw her in this deplorable condition he said: "Mother, we sent you plenty of sweet fruits. Why then are you so thin?"

"My son, I never got it! "

The Bodhisatta pondered. "While I look after my herd, my mother will perish! Therefore I must leave the herd to look after my mother." Turning to Jollikin, he said: "Brother, you tend the herd, and I will care for our mother."

"Nay, brother," replied Jollikin, "What care do I have for ruling a herd? I too will care for only our mother!"

As the two brothers were of one mind, they left the herd, and brought their mother down out of the Himalaya mountains. Taking up their abode in a banyan tree of the borderland, they took good care of her.

At that time there was a certain Brahmin living at Takkasila. He had received his education from a famous teacher who had the power of divining the signs on a man's body. One day one of the Brahmin's pupils announced that he would forthwith depart.

"My son, you are harsh, and cruel, and violent," replied the Brahmin. "Not prospering during all seasons alike, such persons shall eventually meet dire woe and their own destruction. Therefore, be not harsh, nor do that of which you will afterwards repent." With this counsel, the teacher let the pupil go.

After arriving in Benares, the youth married and settled down. Unable to earn a livlihood by any other means, he eventually decided to live by his bow. After departing Benares to earn his living as a huntsman, he and his family took up residence in a border village. Thereafter he ranged the woods girt with bow and quiver, supporting himself and his family through the sale of the flesh of the various forest beasts that he slew.

One day as he was heading home after a fruitless day of hunting in the forest, he spied that very banyan tree where the two monkey brothers lived with their old, blind mother. "Perhaps," he thought, "there may be something over there."

Sitting just behind that tree were the two brothers together with their mother. When they saw that cruel man coming their way, they hid amongst the branches and thought: "If he sees our old, blind mother, what will he do?"

When the cruel man came up to that banyan tree and saw the old, blind mother monkey, he thought to himself: "Why should I return home empty-handed?"

When the Bodhisattva saw that cruel man lifting up his bow to shoot his mother, he said: "Jollikin, my dear. This man is going to shoot our mother! I must save her life. When I am dead, you must take care of her." Then the Bodhisattva came out hiding and called out to the hunter: "0 man, don't shoot my mother for she is old, blind, and weak. Kill me instead!"

After the hunter had agreed to spare his mother, the Bodhisattva sat down in a place within bowshot and allowed the man to pitilessly slay him. But as soon as the cruel man had shot the Bodhisattva dead, the hunter raised his bow once again and prepared to strike down the mother monkey as well.

When Jollikin saw this, he thought to himself: "Yon hunter wants to shoot my mother. Even if she only lives one day more, she will have received the gift of life. Therefore I will trade my life for hers."

Accordingly, he came down out of the tree's branches, and said: "0 man, please don't shoot my mother! I shall trade my life for hers. Shoot me -- take both us brothers, but spare our mother's life!"

When the hunter consented, Jollikin squatted down within bowshot range, and allowed the hunter to kill him.

Then thinking of his children at home, the hunter went back on his promise and shot the monkey mother dead. After hanging all three bodies on his carrying pole, he set out for home.

At that very moment, a thunderbolt struck the hunter's own house, burning up his wife and two children, sparing nothing but the dwelling's roof and bamboo uprights. As soon as the hunter entered his home village, a resident sadly told him what had happened. Overcome with sorrow for the loss of his wife and children, the hunter dropped his game pole and his bow, and threw off his garments. Wailing with outstretched hands, he ran home naked.

When the hunter entered the remains of his house, the bamboo uprights broke and the roof fell down and crushed his head. As the earth yawned open to reveal the flames of hell, the hunter recalled his master's warning: "This is the teaching that the Brahmin Parasariya gave to me!"

Lamenting his fate, the hunter uttered the following stanzas: 

"I call to mind my teacher's words:
so this was what he meant!
Be careful to do nothing of which you might repent.
Whatever a man does,
the same he in himself will find:
The good man, good;
and the evil man that evil he has designed.
For our deeds are all like seeds,
bringing forth fruit in kind."

Lamenting thus, he fell into the earth, thereafter coming to life in the very depths of hell.

When the Master had ended his discourse concerning how Devadatta had formerly been harsh, cruel, and merciless, he identified the Birth with these words: "In those days Devadatta was the hunter, Sariputta was the famous teacher, Ananda was Jollikin, the noble Lady Gotami was the mother and I was the monkey Jolly."  

ABOVE STORY/PHOTO COURTESY OF
http://www.borobudur.tv/avadana_04.htm

THIS IS A SIDE PAGE

CLICK HERE FOR MAIN STORY ON
INDIA & CHINA MONKEY LORE

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