Garahita Jataka (#219)

temple painting of Garahita Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a monkey. A forester caught him in the forest and gave him as a pet to the king. He lived in the palace for a long time, dutifully doing tricks whenever asked. Pleased with the Bodhisatta’s service, the king later had the forester take him back to the spot where he was captured and set him free.

Upon his return, the Bodhisatta told all the other monkeys where he had been, and they asked to hear what life was like in the realm of humans. The Bodhisatta said he did not want to discuss it, but the other monkeys insisted. So he explained that humans are blind fools who do not grasp the impermanence of things and always cry out, “Mine, mine.” They hold gold as precious but ignore religion. One of the masters of each house lacks a beard, but has long breasts, pierced ears, and braided hair and plagues everyone who lives there. The monkeys covered their ears, telling the Bodhisatta to stop. They were so horrified by such a life that they abandoned the place where they heard about it.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

A disciple of the Buddha could not conquer his passions, and he grew depressed. The Buddha told him this story to help him overcome his problem.

The monkeys who listened to the Bodhisatta were earlier births of the Buddha’s followers.

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