Monks and Monkeys


Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

Monks are respected people in Christianity. A monk practises religious asceticism in the church and outside. Monk comes from the Greek word that means solitary or single.

However, they wear long robes and look attentively at the people whom they address in the churches. Some people say that they have sharp eyes which are understandably also referred to as Monkeyes.

Does the word monkey come from Monkeyes? A monkey is a long tailed four legged mammal that jumps around in and around habitations of human beings especially in tropical countries such as India. I do not know the answer but I do know the fear that these animals cause in humans and the devastation that occasionally follows.

They also lead to monetary gains in people in two different ways. One is simple and straightforward. Monkeys love bananas, and the people who sell this fruit on roadsides near jungles where one finds abundant number of monkeys, do roaring business. People buy five, ten or more bananas and offer them to these animals. Sometimes monkeys get so many bananas that they only eat half or less of a banana and throw the remainder, like some rich people do.

Once I asked a person who was buying bananas, why he did not offer the fruit to roadside hungry children. He did not answer me, but I partly know the answer. In Hinduism, the deity Hanuman is adored by people for reasons I need not provide in detail here. Hanuman looks exactly like a monkey with a long tail and does great service to Lord Ram, the popular and respected Hindu God. Offering bananas to the jungle monkeys is a manifestation of the love for Hanuman.

Another commercial gain provided by monkeys, ironically, is to the medical fraternity whose role becomes indispensable when a monkey bites someone. The person has to rush to a hospital or a doctor for injections against dreaded rabies. This disease can be caused by a dog, rat, or monkey bite. If one goes near a jungle  — and there are plenty of them with beautiful trees in India, one can see scores or even hundreds of monkeys jumping around or looking for bananas on the road.

The sight of a female monkey with a tiny baby holding the mother precariously is an amusing sight. How the mother with the tiny baby jumps around is an acrobatic feat. How did she learn to do so? Well, we must go to an expert of monkeys. There are other similar animal feats — a small sized kiwi bird in New Zealand, for example, that can outrun a human being.

Well, I cannot outrun this fearful animal and am afraid of being bitten as has happened with dreadful consequences. But I need to end here; otherwise I will face another fearful consequence of being rejected by the Editor.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Sep 2021.

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