Cave No. 17

Identification: episodes 2 to 7 by Oldenburg (1895, narrative no. 7).—

There lived a big monkey in a remote Himalayan area where a peasant lost his way searching for a stray cow. The peasant climbed a Tinduka tree to pick some fruit. The branch broke off and he crashed into a ravine from where he could not get out. After several days, he was found by the monkey, who gave him fruits to eat. Then, after doing some climbing exercises with a load of stones, he lugged the peasant out of the ravine. Exhausted, the monkey lay down to rest and asked the peasant to guard him. The peasant, however, thought that he would need a lot of energy as he had miles to travel to reach home. He reasoned that only a big meaty meal would give him that kind of energy. So he hit the sleeping monkey with a huge stone. The monkey survived the attack, though he was severely injured, and pointed out to the peasant the wantonness of his deed. The monkey then took him through the wild mountains to a settlement. The peasant was struck with leprosy as punishment for his immorality. Scorned everywhere for his loathsome appearance, he wandered around, until one day he met a king, who asked him about his situation. The peasant told the king that he was paying the price for his shameful deed.—The monkey was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.

—Source: Singh 2019, 31-33; Schlingloff 2013, I, 136

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