Focus on Your Responsibility!

Dear Friends,

Last month we learnt Damanaka requested Karataka to tell the story of the monkey who lost his life by involving in a work not related to it. Let us learn that story this month.

Aridurgam was a town in the kingdom of Magadha. Sambhudatta was a rich merchant there.

He was rich but miser. He would do no charity. This apart he did lot of wrong deeds and sins to amass that wealth. As time passed by, fear of his wrong doings started bothering him. He wanted to make amends.

He narrated his story to a sage and sought advice. The sage asked him to build a temple and arrange to provide food to the poor every day. This he said would compensate for the wrong deeds and alleviate all the fears.

Following the advice, Sambhudatta arranged to build a temple in his town. He invited sculptors, carpenters, builders and artisans from across the country and assigned them various responsibilities.

The carpenters went into the nearby forest and brought trunks of big trees to make pillars for the building. Sculptors started carving true-life statues. All this activity brought lot of energy and vibrancy to the place.

A group of monkeys resided on a nearby tree. They were all eagerly watching the changes happening there.

One young monkey could not contain curiosity. He would frequent the place of construction site, and make note of various developments around. The elder ones warned in vain, against going to the work-site.

On one afternoon, the small monkey was loitering around the place when all the carpenters took off for lunch. They were in the middle of their work. They were cutting a huge trunk into two. To hold the two parts in place, they placed a couple of wooden pegs between the semi-cut log.

Our young champion was curious about that wooden peg. He wanted to free the peg from between the log. Applying all its might, he tried to pull the peg out. Finally, he was successful in pulling the peg out, but got trapped between the two halves.

Unable to pull himself out, the monkey bled profusely and died.

Thus narrating, Karataka warned Damanaka against involving in unrelated affairs.

However, Damanaka had a different perspective. He started explaining the importance of getting back their lost authority under
Pingalaka. “From the moment Pingalaka removed us from our posts, we are facing humiliation from other animals in the jungle. They do not fear us
anymore. We have faced situations where we felt, it is better to die than face this humiliation. Now, we have a nice opportunity to get back that position and authority. I am thinking of making good our loss, with this opportunity. I do not understand why you are not able to see this opportunity”?, he opined.

Karataka was more mature than Damanaka. He responded, “You are not able to understand the consequences of getting involved in unrelated affairs. Leave alone regaining our lost glory. This action may even cost us our life. Earlier, a donkey lost its life by getting involved in unrelated affairs.”

Damanaka got curious again and asked, “Please narrate me the story of that donkey”.

Karataka started narrating.

Story of the Dog and the Donkey

Once Dha:vakamalla was offering laundry services in Varanasi. He had a dog and a donkey. He used that donkey to carry the clothes
back and forth to the riverfront, where he used to wash and dry the clothes.

Since the donkey carried the burden of the clothes, he fed it well and took care of it nicely. He was not so caring about the dog. He felt feeding the dog was waste and started giving it food once in two days.

The dog could not bear this humiliation. He felt insulted. He started feeling jealous about the donkey. The donkey on the other hand took pity for the dog. He felt the master was not being fair in feeding them.

The dog wondered, “What is this donkey doing? He would carry the clothes from home to the riverbank in the morning and back in the evening. I would keep awake the whole night and protect my master from thieves. While he is away to the riverbank, I keep awake and take care of the house. I do so much of work and do not even get my rightful share of food to eat.”

Under these circumstances, a thief enters the house one night. He started packing all the valuables in the house. The master was tired of working the whole day and was in deep sleep. Both the dog and the donkey saw all this.

The donkey asked, “Why are you not barking? The thief is taking away everything in the house.”

The dog replied, “Why should I? I do all the hard work and he gives all the benefits to you. Only when he is robbed of his wealth he will realise his mistake.”

Donkey tried to explain, “That is not fair. You have to do your duty. Please bark and protect the master”.

The dog did not relent.

With no other option left, the donkey started braying.

Hearing the noise, the thief kept the things back and fled from the place safely.

The master woke up and felt the donkey spoiled his sleep by braying at that hour.

In a fit of anger, he picked up the wooden log nearby and started beating the donkey heavily. The dog was watching all this in silence.

The donkey could not bear the pain of his master’s thrashes and died.

Thus concluding Karataka tried to explain again, “We should not take upon us other’s responsibilities. If we do so, it will cost us dearly. Leave alone all the power, authority, etc., Let us keep looking for left over flesh of dead animals and happily enjoy eating that. There is enough food all around us. Come! Let us focus on our work.”

Next month we will see, what happens after that…

– Translated by Balaji Gorantla, Chennai from
Telugu Bala Nivedana