The Bodhisatta was once a parrot. He and his younger brother were caught and given to the king, who kept them in a golden cage and fed them honey, parched grain, and sugar water. They got a lot of attention and respect from people in the palace. One day a hunter gave the king a monkey, and it got the best food and most attention. This bothered the brother, and he suggested they return to the forest. But the Bodhisatta said he did not want to leave and assured him the monkey’s honor would be short-lived. The monkey’s tricks, such as shaking its ears, frightened the king’s children, so it was soon sent away, and the Bodhisatta and his brother’s popularity was restored.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
The monkey was an earlier birth of Devadatta, a disciple of the Buddha who became his nemesis and tried to kill him three times. When the Buddha heard some of his disciples discussing how Devadatta lost his good reputation and popular support, he told them this story so they knew that Devadatta also had short-lived success in the past.
The brother was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples.