The Bodhisatta was once a bird living in the Himalayas. His nest kept him dry, even in the rainy season, and one day when he saw a cold, wet monkey sitting nearby, he asked why, since he had hands like a human, he didn’t build a home for himself. The monkey answered that he had body parts like humans, but lacked their wisdom. The Bodhisatta told him he should give it a try, which the envious monkey felt was an insult and so he tried and failed to catch the Bodhisatta, but did smash up his nest.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
The monkey was an earlier birth of a wicked disciple who lived in a forest with the elder Maha Kassapa, one of the Buddha’s top disciples, He and another novice were there to care for the elder, but only the other one took his duties seriously. When the responsible disciple did something, the bad one took credit for it. Tired of this, the good disciple decided to expose the bad one. He heated water for Maha Kassapa’s bath and hid it in a back room so when the bad disciples called the elder to come bathe, he found no water. Then the good disciple brought the water he had heated into the room. Maha Kassapa now knew what the bad disciple had been doing and after bathing he scolded him and told him to not lie again.
The boy was furious at his master for calling him out and the next day refused to go on the morning alms round. Instead he visited a family who supported them and said Maha Kassapa was sick and he would take food back home for him. The next day the elder visited this family and heard about the bad disciple’s ruse, so after returning home he scolded him again.
The next day, after Maha Kassapa went out for alms, the bad disciple smashed all the cooking utensils with a hammer and burned down the elder’s leaf hut. Not long after, he died and was reborn in hell.
When some disciples living near Maha Kassapa came to visit the Buddha at his monastery, they told him what this bad disciple had done. The Buddha told them this story so they knew that the boy had also once destroyed his home.