How The Monkey's Colour Became Grey
: Folk-tales Of The Khasis
In olden times the monkeys had long hair of different colours covering
their bodies, and they were much more handsome than they are in the
present day. They were very inquisitive animals and liked to meddle
in the affairs of other people, and they caused a lot of trouble in
One day a monkey wandering on the plains met Ram, the god of the
Hindus, searching for the goddess Sita. Ram, thinking tha
by his inquisitiveness and audacity might help to find her, bribed
him to come to his service.
After making enquiries far and near, the monkey heard at last that Ka
Sita was confined in a fort in the island of Ceylon, so he went and
told the god Ram. Thereupon Ram gathered together a great host to go
and fight the king of the island of Ceylon, but they found the place
infested with dragons and goblins of the most hostile disposition,
so that they dared not venture to land.
The hosts of Ram then held a consultation, and they decided that,
as the monkey had been the cause of their coming there, he must find
out a way for them to land without being destroyed by the dragons. The
monkey, not knowing what to say, suggested that they should burn down
the forests of Ceylon so that the dragons could have no place to hide.
Upon this the hosts of Ram declared that the monkey himself must
go over to put his plan into execution. So they dipped a long piece
of cloth in oil and tied one end of it to the monkey's tail and set
fire to the other end of it, and the monkey went over to the island
and ran hither and thither dragging the flaming cloth behind him and
setting the forests on fire everywhere he went, until all the forests
of Ceylon were in flames.
Before he could get back to his companions he saw with dismay that
the cloth was nearly burnt out, and the heat from the fire behind him
began to singe his long hair; whereupon, fearing to be burnt alive,
he plunged into the sea and the flames were extinguished. From that
time the monkey's hair has been grey and short as a sign that he once
set the forests of Ceylon on fire.