A gift of three monkeys was given to Mahatma Gandhi by a Chinese group which came to visit him in Shanti Niketan.
The monkey trio represents an old Sino-Japanese tradition dating back to the 7th century. The Three Wise Monkeys were introduced into Japan by a Buddhist monk of the Tendai sect, probably in the 8th century A.D. They embody the proverbial principle to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil. Their gestures of covering their ears, eyes and mouths with their paws was a way of conveying the command of the god. The depiction is part of the teaching that if we do not hear, see or talk evil, we ourselves shall be spared all evil. A famous carving of the Three Monkeys can still be seen on the sacred stable in the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Japan.
Gandhiji's three monkeys made of china clay, were his favourite. He kept them to remind him to
1. Do not tolerate any evil being done around you.
2. Do not participate in any wrong exploitation or sinful talk.
3. Do not speak ill about others and do not harm any beings.