Structure of the Tipitaka
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The Tipitaka
Vinaya Pitaka
Sutta Pitaka
Digha Nikaya
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Abhidhamma Pitaka

Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Khuddaka Nikaya >> Jataka >>Ārāmadūsaka-Jātaka

Source: Adapted from Archaic translation by Robert ChalmersEdit



"It is knowledge."--This story was told by the Master in a certain village of Kosala about one who spoiled a garden.

Tradition says that, in the course of an alms-journey among the people of Kosala, the Master came to a certain village. A official of the place invited the Buddha to take the mid-day meal at his house, and had his guest seated in the garden, where he explained hospitality to the Brotherhood(Monks Order) with the Buddha at its head, and courteously gave them leave to stroll at will about his grounds. So the Brethren(Monks) rose up and walked about the grounds with the gardener. Ob-serving in their walk a bare space, they said to the gardener, "Lay-disciple, elsewhere in the garden there is abundant shade; but here there's neither tree nor shrub. How comes this?"

"Sirs," replied the man, "when these grounds were being laid out, a village boy, who was doing the watering, pulled up all the young trees hereabouts and then gave them much or little water according to the size of their roots. So the young trees withered and died off; and that is why this space is bare."

Coming near to the Master, the Brethren told him this. "Yes, Brethren," said he, "this is not the first time that village boy has spoiled a garden; he did precisely the same in past times also." And so saying, he told this story of the past.


Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, a festival was proclaimed in the city; and at the first summoning notes of the festive drum out poured the townsfolk to keep holiday.

Now in those days, a tribe of monkeys was living in the king's garden; and the king's gardener thought to himself, "They 're holiday-making up in the city. I'll get the monkeys to do the watering for me, and be off to enjoy myself with the rest." So saying, he went to the king of the monkeys, and, first living on the benefits his majesty and his subjects enjoyed from residence in the garden in the way of flowers and fruit and young shoots to eat, ended by saying, "To-day there's holiday-making up in the city, and I'm off to enjoy myself. Couldn't you water the young trees while I'm away?"

"Oh! yes," said the monkey.

"Only mind you do," said the gardener; and off he went, giving the monkeys the water-skins and wooden watering-pots to do the work with.

Then the monkeys took the water-skins and watering pots, and fell to watering the young trees. "But we must mind not to waste the water," observed their king; "as you water, first pull each young tree up and look at the size of its roots. Then give plenty of water to those whose roots strike deep, but only a little to those with tiny roots. When this water is all gone, we shall be hard put to it to get more."

"To be sure," said the other monkeys, and did as he asked them to.

At this juncture a certain wise man, seeing the monkeys thus engaged, asked them why they pulled up tree after tree and watered them according to the size of their roots.

"Because such are our king's commands," answered the monkeys.

Their reply moved the wise man to think how, with every desire to do good, the ignorant and foolish only succeed in doing harm. And he recited this stanza:

It is knowledge crowns hard work with success,
For fools are stopped by their foolishness,
See the ape that killed the garden trees.

With this rebuke to the king of the monkeys, the wise man departed with his followers from the garden.

Said the Master, "This is not the first time, Brethren, that this village boy has spoiled gardens; he was just the same in past times also." His lesson ended, he explained the relation and identified the Birth by saying, "The village boy who spoiled this garden was the king of the monkeys in those days, and I was myself the wise and good man."

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