When we think of a monkey, we think of mischief and trouble. But not of intelligence.
That’s why the phrase ‘clever as a monkey’ is used to refer to someone foolish or unintelligent. But studies say that monkeys are smarter than they seem. In fact, folk tales and fables have had monkeys displaying their intelligence to get out of difficult or tricky situations. One such example is the monkey and the crocodile story.
MomJunction brings the abridged version of this story along with information about the origin of the story and its popularity.
Monkey And The Crocodile Story
Once upon a time, a clever monkey lived on a berry tree, on the banks of a river. In the same forest lived a crocodile and his wife. One day, the crocodile wanders deep into the river and comes to rest under the berry tree, on which the monkey lived.
The crocodile, having swum up quite a distance, was tired and hungry. The kind monkey sees that the crocodile is hungry and shares the berries with the crocodile. The crocodile eats the sweet berries, thanks the monkey, and goes back home.
[ Read: Animal Stories For Kids ]
The beginning of a friendship
The crocodile, having enjoyed the sweet berries that the monkey shared, goes back to the tree the next day. The monkey happily shares the fruits from the tree. They spend the entire day talking and eating berries. Soon, the monkey and the crocodile became good friends and began to trust each other.
They started spending more time together, spending their afternoons eating the sweet berries and talking about everything under the sky. One day, the generous monkey sent a few fresh berries for the crocodile’s wife.
Jealous and cunning
The crocodile’s wife listened to her husband talk about the monkey and their friendship, as she ate the sweet berries. But she did not like that her husband spent a lot of time with the monkey. She was jealous.
She thought of a wicked plan and said, “The berries are lovely. I’m happy that you shared them with me. Why didn’t you tell about it sooner?” And then she added, “If the berries are so sweet, I wonder how sweet the monkey’s heart would be, given that he eats these berries every day?”
The crocodile was aghast at the thought. His wife, however, was insistent. She said “I want you to bring me the monkey’s heart. Get it to me if you want to make me happy”. The crocodile, shocked at the idea of killing his friend said, “I cannot do that to my friend. He trusts me. I will get you more berries if you like.”
“I don’t want more berries! I just want his heart or nothing. And I won’t eat anything until you bring that to me”, she insisted. Dejected, the crocodile finds himself in a rather difficult situation. Should I kill my friend to please my wife? Or should I save my friend and face the wrath of my wife? Thinking so, he sets out to the river where the monkey lives.
A plan is made
On his way there, the crocodile comes up with a scheme to deceive the monkey and take him home to his wife. The monkey sees the crocodile approaching and greets him. “Hello my friend, I am here at my wife’s request. She loved the sweet berries you sent for her and wants to meet you. She asked me to bring you home for dinner. Would you please accept our invitation and come with me to my home?”
[ Read: Moral Stories For Kids ]
Pleased, the monkey agrees. Since he cannot swim, the crocodile offers him a ride on his back. Trusting, the monkey hops on to the crocodile’s back. Happy to have gained the monkey’s trust, the crocodile swims towards his house. He plans to kill the monkey once they reach the middle of the river, where the monkey cannot escape.
Fools rush in
The crocodile was happy that he tricked the monkey, and blurted out the real reason for the invitation. The monkey was shocked but did not panic. He thought quickly and said, “Oh, why didn’t you say so earlier? I am more than happy to give my heart to your wife, but I usually keep it safely in the burrow of the berry tree. We will have to go back and get it if you want to make your wife happy”.
The crocodile foolishly believed the monkey’s words and said, “Oh! Okay. Let’s go back and get it then!” And, swam back to the berry tree as fast as he could. As soon as they reached the bank, the monkey jumped on to the tree and climbed to the tallest branch, away from the crocodile’s grasp.
“How can I keep my heart outside my body? Go back to your wife and tell her that she has married the biggest fool on this earth! And do not come back here ever. You are the worst friend I have ever had”, said the monkey. Disappointed and embarrassed at how foolish he was, the crocodile swam back home with empty hands.
Moral Of The Story
Different interpretations of the story gave rise to different morals for this story.
One moral is ‘Staying calm, and thinking can help you get out any difficult situation’. Another one goes ‘Don’t underestimate yourself. There are bigger fools in this world’. Our favorite one, though, is ‘Quick thinking and intelligence can beat physical strength’.
Origin Of The Story
The story of clever monkey and foolish crocodile is believed to be featured in the Panchatantra, folk tales written by an Indian scholar Vishnu Sharma. Variations of the story have been mentioned in other fable or story collections for kids. A story called The Heart of a Monkey by Edward Steere features in the Swahili fairy tale collection. Only in that story, the crocodile is replaced with a shark.
[ Read: Panchatantra Stories For Kids ]
What is your favorite part of the crocodile and the monkey story? Tell us about it here.
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