A Wise Enemy Is Better Than a Foolish Friend

by Dr. Pran Rangan

Once, the Buddha was roaming around in the kingdom of Kaushal. He reached the hut of a poor farmer, who immediately recognized him. He invited him inside and offered food. After taking food, the Buddha went to walk around in the field adjoining the hut. Suddenly, he came across a barren area of the field, where there was neither a tree nor any grass.

On inquiring, the man replied: "A stupid boy watered the plants in proportion to the lengths of the roots, which he measured after plucking them out and re-planting them in their places. But all the plants died down and, thereafter, no plant grew up in this area."

The Buddha laughed and said: "The stupid boy has also done the same in his previous birth."

On showing inquisitiveness by the farmer to know about it, the Buddha narrated: "Once, in the kingdom of the King Brahamdutta of Kashi, there was held a gala of festivities for people of the kingdom. The gardener of the kingdom was also interested to attend the function. But he was in a fix as to who would look after the beautiful gardens in his absence."

The Buddha continued: "The gardener had a friendship with a monkey who was the leader of all the monkeys living in the kingdom. He thought it would be a good idea to hand over the responsibility to the monkey to look after the gardens. He approached his friend and requested to take care of plants in his absence. The monkey happily accepted to help his friend, assuring him that he would look after the plants well.

After the gardener left to enjoy the festivities, the leader monkey summoned all other monkeys to gather at his place. He then told them that his friend had requested him to look after his gardens in his absence. He instructed them to water each and every plant twice daily. He also explained that some plants had smaller roots while others had larger roots. So, they would have to water them carefully as plants with smaller roots would need less water but those with larger roots would need more water. He also warned them not to waste water. After giving clear instructions to the monkeys, he told them to get to their work.

The monkeys couldn't understand how to know how much water a plant needed. As they were in a dilemma, a monkey considered to be a wise one came forward to their help. He advised that first, they would pull out every plant to check if its roots were small or large. And then they would water it accordingly after re-planting it in its place. They went about doing their work sincerely. All the monkeys were very much tired after watering the gardens in this manner and they decided to go to their homes for rest.

When the gardener came the next day, he was shocked to see the devastation of his gardens. He was scared stiff how he would be able to explain the devastation of the gardens to the King. At last, he realized - a wise enemy is better than a foolish friend."

The farmer was astonished to hear the whole incidence.

The Buddha said: "The moral of the whole incidence is that the foolish friends would always make us land in odd situations that we would repent later. One should be discreet enough to be able to tell apart fools from others, otherwise, one is bound to land in troubles."

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