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Hitopadesha Tales – Monkey and the Bell

Misunderstanding is common and it leads to a variety of problems. See here how a simple misunderstanding is taken as danger by some and as an ideal opportunity by another.

Once upon a time in a town at night, a robber had broken into a temple and he had looted all the wealth there, including the temple bell. He escaped from the town and started to climb up a mountain. As he was climbing, a tiger heard the jingling of the bell and pounced on him. The tiger killed him and ate him. All the robber’s loot lay spread across his body in the forest on the mountain. A group of monkeys then came and took the bell along with the other wealth.

Afterwards, the monkey started to play with the bell and spoon the entire forest echoed with the ringing of the bell. This ringing was not just heard in the forest, but it was even heard in the town below. Naturally, it was unusual to hear the bell ringing in a forest and so the people were scared. In order to investigate the matter further, the people sent one of their bravest men into the forest. This brave man climbed the hill and he could hear the bell ringing. As he approached the sound, the man came across the dead body of the robber. He at once got frightened. His own mind played tricks on him as he saw the dead boy and the sound of the bell echoed in his ears. The brave man ran down the hill in fear and in haste, he told everyone that the hill was haunted by the ghost of a dead robber. The people without giving a second thought, panicked and soon there was chaos in the town.

This news soon reached the king and he too grew worried at this development and so he made a royal proclamation saying that he would reward anyone who would get rid of the ghost in the hill. An old lady was listening to all this closely, right from the moment the brave man went up the hill until the king’s proclamation. She knew that the brave man was mistaken and that there was a simple solution to this problem. The old lady then went to the king and said that she would remove the ghost from the hill. The king then offered to send his troops with her, but she flatly refused and said that she needed some fruits for a ritual to be conducted. The king accepted and gave her some fruits for the ritual.

The old lady took the fruits and went up the hill. As she went up the hill, the ringing of the bell intensified and she soon came across the dead body of the robber. She then went further into the forest, towards the ringing of the bell. As she went nearer and nearer, she saw many monkeys sitting and hanging from the trees, playing with wealth. Her eyes then fell on a monkey playing with a bell. She then went as close as possible, and without scaring the monkeys away, she laid out all the fruits in a row and hid behind a tree. The monkeys saw this and leaving behind all the wealth, they rushed to eat the fruits. The bell too was left behind and the old went silently behind them and retrieved it.

Taking the bell, she went down the hill and to the king’s palace. She showed the bell to the king and he gave her a handsome reward as promised. The old lady then went home happily. 

Moral – One should not rush to conclusions without properly analysing a situation first. 

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