Once upon a time while Brahmadatta was King of Benares, the Bodhisattva was born at the foot of the Himalayas as a monkey. He lived in the trees by a curve of the river Ganges.
At that time there was a crocodile who lived in the Ganges. The crocodile saw the big monkey. She said to her son, “I must have that monkey’s heart to eat.”
“But I live in the water and he lives on dry land.”, complained the young crocodile.
“By hook or by crook”, she replied, “If I don’t get him, I shall die.”
“All right. I will think of something, don’t worry, I will get you his heart to eat.”
So when the bodhisattva came down to the river to drink, the crocodile came near, and said, “Oh Mr. Monkey, I see that this place is low on fruits especially bananas. But look there on the other side, how abundant they are.”
“Lord Crocodile”, the monkey answered, “The river is deep and wide. How shall I get across?”
“If you want to go, I will carry you over on my back. Put your arms around my neck and hold on tight.” The bodhisattva climbed onto the crocodile’s back. But when they were halfway, at the deepest spot, the crocodile plunged under the water while the monkey hanging on for dear life, held his breath. He was about to burst when the crocodile surfaced.
The monkey sputtered and gasped for air. Then he cried, “What are you trying to do kill me?” “I’m sorry little fellow, but if I don’t bring my mother monkey heart to eat she will die. So you must die.”
“So that’s it?" The monkey said, “You should have told me. I would have brought it with me.”
“What? Where do you keep it?” The crocodile wanted to know.
The monkey pointed to a plum tree in the distance. ”There are our hearts hanging over there. If they were inside us when we go jumping from tree to tree our hearts would be damaged.”
“Now listen, show me your heart and I won’t kill you.” begged the impatient crocodile.
“take me to the tree then and I will go up and get it.” the boddhisattva smiled.
Then the crocodile swam back to the river’s edge. The monkey scampered up the tree and sat there.
“Oh, silly crocodile, you thought that there were creatures that keep their hearts in treetops?” and he sang the verses.
Rose apples, jackfruit, and mangoes too
Across the water we can see
But sir crocodile, I’m on to you
I have my heart up here with me.
You know your body is very big
But how much smaller is your wit
Now go your way you silly boy
For I have had the best of it.