Monday, November 5, 2012

The Monkey and the Crocodile (2 versions)

The Monkey and the Crocodile.

Tagalog Version.

One day, while a clever monkey was searching for his food along the river-bank, he saw a tall macopa-tree laden with ripe fruits. The tree was standing just by the shore of a river where a young crocodile lived. After eating all the fruit he wanted, the monkey climbed down the tree. He suddenly conceived the desire of getting on the other side of the wide river, but he found no means by which to cross. At last he saw the crocodile, [375]who had just waked up from his siesta; and the monkey said to him in a friendly way, “My dear crocodile, will you do me a favor?”
The crocodile was greatly surprised by this amicable salutation of the monkey. However, he answered humbly, “Oh, yes! If there is anything I can do for you, I shall be glad to do it.” The monkey then told the crocodile that he wanted to reach the other side of the river. Then the crocodile said, “I’ll take you over with all my heart. Just sit on my back, and we’ll go at once.”
When the monkey was firmly seated on the crocodile’s back, they began their trip. In a short while they reached the middle of the stream, and the crocodile began to laugh aloud. “Now, you foolish monkey!” it said, “I’ll eat your liver and kidneys, for I’m very hungry.” The monkey became nervous; but he concealed his anxiety, and said, “To be sure! I thought myself that you might be hungry, so I prepared my liver and kidneys for your dinner; but unfortunately, in our haste to depart, I left them hanging on the macopa-tree. I’m very glad that you mentioned the matter. Let us return, and I’ll get you the food.”
The foolish crocodile, convinced that the monkey was telling the truth, turned back toward the shore they had just left. When they were near, the monkey nimbly jumped on to the dry land and scampered up the tree. When the crocodile saw how he had been deceived, he said, “I am a fool.”

Zambal Version.

One stormy day a monkey was standing by the shore of a river, wondering how he could get to the other side. He could not get over by himself; for the water was deep, and he did not know how to swim. He looked about for some logs; but all he saw was a large crocodile with its mouth wide open, ready to seize him. He was very much frightened; but he said, “O Mr. Crocodile! pray, do not kill me! Spare my life, and I will lead you to a place where you can get as many monkeys as will feed you all your life.”
The crocodile agreed, and the monkey said that the place was on the other side of the river. So the crocodile told him to get on his back, and he would carry him across. Just before [376]they reached the bank, the monkey jumped to land, ran as fast as he could, and climbed up a tree where his mate was. The crocodile could not follow, of course: so he returned to the water, saying, “The time will come when you shall pay.”
Not long afterwards the monkey found the crocodile lying motionless, as if dead. About the place were some low Chile pepper-bushes loaded with numerous bright-red fruits like ornaments on a Christmas tree. The monkey approached the crocodile, and began playing with his tail; but the crocodile made a sudden spring, and seized the monkey so tightly that he could not escape. “Think first, think first!” said the monkey. “Mark you, Mr. Crocodile! I am now the cook of his Majesty the king. Those bright-red breads have been intrusted to my care,” and the monkey pointed to the pepper-shrubs. “The moment you kill me, the king will arrive with thousands of well-armed troops, and will punish you.”
The crocodile was frightened by what the monkey said. “Mr. Monkey, I did not mean to harm you,” he said. “I will set you free if you will let me eat only as many pieces of bread as will relieve my hunger.”
“Eat all you can,” responded the monkey kindly. “Take as many as you please. They are free to you.”
Without another word, the crocodile let the monkey go, and rushed at the heavily-laden bushes. The monkey slipped away secretly, and climbed up a tree, where he could enjoy the discomfiture of his voracious friend. The crocodile began to cough, sneeze, and scratch his tongue. When he rushed to the river to cool his mouth, the monkey only laughed at him.
MORAL: Use your own judgment; do not rely on the counsel of others, for it is the father of destruction and ruin.


Like the monkey and the turtle, the monkey and the crocodile have been traditional enemies from time immemorial. In our present group of stories, however, the rôles are reversed: the monkey is clever; the water-animal (crocodile), cruel and stupid. Two very early forms of this tale are the “Vānarinda-jātaka,” No. 57, which tells how the crocodile lay on a rock to catch the monkey, and how the latter outwitted the crocodile; and the “Sumsumāra-jātaka,” No. 208, in which a crocodile wanted the heart of a monkey, and the monkey pretended that it was hanging on a fig-tree. From the Buddhistic writings the story made its way into the famous collection known as the “Kalilah [377]and Dimnah,” of which it forms the ninth chapter in De Sacy’s edition, and the fifth section in the later Syriac version (English translation by I. G. N. Keith-Falconer, Cambridge, 1885). In the “Pancatantra” this story forms the framework for the fourth book. For a discussion of the variations this tale underwent when it passed over into other collections and spread through Europe, see Benfey, 1 : 421 ff. Apparently Benfey did not know of these two Buddhistic birth-stories; but he has shown very ingeniously that most of the fables in the “Pancatantra” go back to Buddhistic writings. Nor can there be any doubt in this case, either, though it is not to be supposed that the five hundred and forty-seven Jātakas were invented by the Buddhistic scribes who wrote them down. Many of them are far older than Buddhism.
Our Zambal form of the story does not represent the purest version. A variant much closer to the Buddhistic and close to the Tagalog is a tale collected by Wenceslao Vitug of Lubao, Pampanga. He says that the story is very common throughout his province, and is well known in the Visayas. His version follows in abstract form:—
A crocodile goes out to look for a monkey-liver for his wife, who is confined at home. As the crocodile starts to cross a stream, a monkey asks for passage on its back. The crocodile gladly complies, and, on arriving in mid-stream, laughs at the credulous monkey, and tells him that he must have a monkey-liver. The monkey says, “Why didn’t you tell me before? There’s one on a tree near the bank we just left.” The simple crocodile went back to the bank, whereupon the monkey escaped and scrambled up into a tree to laugh at the crocodile. The crocodile then tried to “play dead,” but he could not fool the monkey. Next he decided to go to the monkey’s house. The monkey, suspecting his design, said aloud, “When no one is in my house, it answers when I call.” The crocodile inside was foolish enough to answer when the monkey called to his house, and the monkey ran away laughing.

Our Zambal story has evidently been contaminated with the story of “The Monkey and the Turtle;” for it lacks the characteristic incident of the monkey-heart (or liver), and contains incident H from our No. 55. However, it does preserve an allusion to the principal episode of the cycle,—in the ride the monkey takes on the crocodile’s back across the stream. Other Oriental versions of the “heart on tree” incident are the following: Chinese, S. Beal’s “Romantic Legend of Sâkya Buddha” (London, 1875), pp. 231–234, where a dragon takes the place of the crocodile; Swahili, Steere, p. i, where, instead of a crocodile, we have a shark (so also Bateman, No. I); Japanese, W. E. Griffis’s “Japanese Fairy World,” p. 144, where the sea-animal is a jelly-fish. An interesting Russian variant, in which a fox takes the place of the monkey, is printed in the Cambridge Jātaka, 2 : 110.[378]
Once upon a time the king of the fishes was wanting in wisdom. His advisers told him that, once he could get the heart of a fox, he would become wise. So he sent a deputation consisting of the great magnates of the sea,—whales and others. “Our king wants your advice on some state affairs.” The fox, flattered, consented. A whale took him on his back. On the way the waves beat upon him. At last he asked what they really wanted. They said what their king really wanted was to eat his heart, by which he hoped to become clever. He said, “Why didn’t you tell me that before? I would gladly sacrifice my life for such a worthy object. But we foxes always leave our hearts at home. Take me back, and I’ll fetch it. Otherwise I’m sure your king will be angry.” So they took him back. As soon as he got near to the shore, he leaped on land, and cried, “Ah, you fools! Have you ever heard of an animal not carrying his heart with him?” and ran off. The fish had to return empty.

A reminiscence of this incident is also found in Steel-Temple, No. XXI, “The Jackal and the Partridge,” where a partridge induces a crocodile to carry her and the jackal across a river, and en route suggests that he should upset the jackal, but at last dissuades him by saying that the jackal had left his life behind him on the other shore.
Related to our Zambal story are two modern Indian folk-tales in which a jackal is substituted for the monkey (this substitution is analogous to the Indian substitution of the jackal for the Philippines monkey in the “Puss-in-Boots” cycle). In the first of these—Frere, No. XXIV, “The Alligator and the Jackal”—we have the incident of the house answering when the owner calls. In Steel-Temple, No. XXXI, “The Jackal and the Crocodile,” the jackal makes love to the crocodile, and induces her, under promise of marriage, to swim him across a stream to some fruit he wants to eat. When she has brought him back, he says that he thinks it may be a long time before he can make arrangements for the wedding. The crocodile, in revenge, watches till he comes to drink, and then seizes him by the leg. The jackal tells her that she has got hold of a root instead of his leg: so she lets go, and he escapes. Next she goes to his den to wait for him, and shams dead. When the jackal sees her, he says that the dead always wag their tails. The crocodile wags hers, and the jackal skips off. Closely connected with this last is a story by Rouse, No. 20, “The Cunning Jackal,” only here the jackal’s opponent is a turtle. The original, unadapted story runs thus as given in the notes by Mr. Rouse:—
Jackal sees melons on the other side of the river. Sees a tortoise. “How are you and your family?”—“I am well, but I have no wife.”–“Why did you not tell me? Some people on the other side have asked me to find a match for their daughter.”—“If you mean it, I will take you across.” Takes him across on his back. When the melons are over (gone?), the jackal dresses up a jhan-tree as a bride. “There is your bride, but she is too modest to speak till I am gone.” Tortoise carries him back. Calls to the stump. No answer,—Goes up and touches it. Finds it a tree. [379]Vows revenge. As jackal drinks, catches his leg. “You fool! you have got hold of a stump by mistake; see, here is my leg!” pointing to stump. Tortoise leaves hold, Jackal escapes. Tortoise goes to jackal’s den. Jackal returns, and sees the footprints leading into the den. Piles dry leaves at the mouth, and fires them. Tortoise expires.

Compare also a Borneo tale of a mouse-deer and a crocodile (Evans, 475). In a Santal story (Bompas, No. CXXIII, “The Jackal and the Leopards”) a jackal tricks some leopards. In the second half he outwits a crocodile. Crocodile seizes jackal’s leg. Jackal: “What a fool of a crocodile to seize a tree instead of my leg!” Crocodile lets go, and jackal escapes. Crocodile hides in a straw-stack to wait for jackal. Jackal comes along wearing a sheep-bell it has found. Crocodile says, “What a bother! Here comes a sheep, and I am waiting for the jackal.” Jackal hears the exclamation, bums the straw-stack, and kills the crocodile.
The “Vānarinda-jātaka,” No. 57, contains what I believe is the original of the “house-answering owner” droll episode in our Pampangan variant. The monkey suspected the crocodile of lurking on the rock to catch him: so he shouted, “Hi, rock!” three times, but received no answer. Then he said, “How comes it, Friend Rock, that you won’t answer me to-day?” The crocodile, thinking that perhaps it was the custom of the rock to return the greeting, answered for the rock; whereupon the monkey knew of his presence, and escaped by a trick. The “house-answering owner” episode is also found in a Zanzibar tale of “The Hare and the Lion” (Bateman, No. 2, pp. 42–43). The hare here suggests a Buddhistic source.
Of all the modern Oriental forms of the story, our Tagalog version and Pampangan variant are closest to the Jātakas, and we may conclude without hesitation that they mark a direct line of descent from India. The fact that the story is popular in many parts of the Islands makes it highly improbable that it was re-introduced to the Orient through a Spanish translation of the “Kalilah and Dimnah.”
For further bibliography and discussion of this cycle, see Dähnhardt, 4 : 1–26.

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