20 May 2022

#31. Mahākapi

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Cave No. 17

Identification: Foucher (1921, narrative no. 5).—

There lived a Great Monkey (‘Mahākapi’) with his herd on a fig tree, beside a river in the Himalayas. Once, a ripe fig from the tree fell into the river, where a king with his female attendants was bathing downstream. The king ate the fig and loved its taste and flavour. He had his men search the fig tree and found that it was full of monkeys. He ordered the tree to be vacated by shooting the monkeys. The great monkey, the only one capable of jumping across the stream, leapt across and tied a creeper to his feet. Then he jumped back so that a creeper bridge could be slung across, allowing his herd to escape. The creeper, however, fell short by a body length. So the great monkey selflessly used his body to complete the bridge, letting the others jump on his back, which they had to do to cross the stream. The king was amazed at the way he bore his pain to save his herd. He arranged for a safety net below the monkey and ordered his men to shoot through the creeper at his legs and also at the branch of the tree. The monkey fell down in the safety net, almost unconscious. The king had his wounds treated and treated him with honour and respect. Once recovered, the monkey instructed the king on a ruler’s duty towards his subjects.—Mahākapi, the monkey king, was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.

—Source: Singh 2019, 31-33; Schlingloff 2013, I, 139-143

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