Ja 59 Bherivādajātaka
The Story about the Drummer (1s)

In the present the Buddha meets with a disobedient monk and tells him a story of how, through disobedience, he had drummed continuously, and lost all their earnings to thieves in a past life when they were drummers.

The Bodhisatta = the father (pitā),
the wilful monk = his son (putta).
Keyword: Disobedience.

“Go not too far.” [1.146] This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about a certain wilful monk. Asked by the Teacher whether the report was true that he was wilful, the monk said it was true. “This is not the first time, monk,” said the Teacher, “that you have shown yourself wilful; you were just the same in bygone times as well.” And so saying, he told this story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta came to life as a drummer, and dwelt in a village. Hearing that there was to be a festival at Benares, and hoping to make money by playing his drum to the crowds of holiday-makers, he made his way to the city, with his son. And there he played, and made a great deal of money. On his way home with his earnings he had to pass through a forest which was infested by robbers; and as the boy kept beating away at the drum without ever stopping, the Bodhisatta tried to stop him by saying: “Don’t behave like that, beat only now and again – as if some great lord were passing by.”

But in defiance of his father’s bidding, the boy thought the best way to frighten the robbers away was to keep steadily on beating away at the drum.

At the first notes of the drum, away scampered the robbers, thinking some great lord was passing by. But hearing the noise keep on, they saw their mistake and came back to find out who it really was. Finding only two persons, they beat and robbed them. “Alas,” cried the Bodhisatta, “by your ceaseless drumming you have lost all our hard-earned takings!” And, so saying, he repeated this verse:

1. “Go not too far, but learn excess to shun;
For over-drumming lost what drumming won.” {1.284}

His lesson ended, the Teacher showed the connection and identified the Jātaka by saying: “This wilful monk was the son of those days, and I myself the father.”