Ja 79 Kharassarajātaka
The Birth Story about the Beating (Drum) (1s)

In the present a minister makes an agreement with thieves and withdraws his men from protecting a village, which is then plundered. The Buddha tells how he did the same thing in a past life.

The Bodhisatta = the wise man who recited (the verse) (udāhārakapaṇḍitamanussa),
the minister = the same in the past life (amacca).

Keywords: Treachery, Greed.

“When cattle are plundered, murdered.” [1.202] This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about a certain Minister. He, ’tis said, ingratiated himself with the king, and, after collecting the royal revenue in a border-village, privily arranged with a band of robbers that he would march his men off into the jungle, leaving the village for the rascals to plunder – on condition that they gave him half the booty. Accordingly, at daybreak when the place was left unprotected, down came the robbers, who slew and ate the cattle, looted the village, and were off with their booty before he came back at evening with his followers. But it was a very short time before his cheating leaked out and came to the ears of the king. And the king sent for him, and, as his guilt was manifest, he was degraded and another headman put in his place. Then the king went to the Teacher at Jetavana and told him what had happened. “Sire,” said the Fortunate One, “the man has only shown the same disposition now which he showed in bygone days.” Then at the king’s request he told this story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, he appointed a certain minister to be headman of a border-village; and everything came to pass as in the above case. Now in those days the Bodhisatta was making the round of the border-villages in the way of trade, {1.355} and had taken up his abode in that very village. And when the headman was marching his men back at evening with drums beating, he exclaimed, “This scoundrel, who privily egged on the robbers to loot the village, has waited till they had made off to the jungle again, and now back he comes with drums beating – feigning a happy ignorance of anything wrong having happened.” And, so saying, he uttered this verse:

1. Yato viluttā ca hatā ca gāvo,
Daḍḍhāni gehāni jano ca nīto,
Athāgamā puttahatāya putto,
Kharassaraṁ ḍiṇḍimaṁ vādayanto ti.

When cattle are plundered, murdered, houses burned, and people led off, then the son returned a dead son, playing a drum with a harsh sound.

In such wise did the Bodhisatta condemn the headman. Not long after, the villany was detected, and the rascal was punished by the king as his wickedness deserved. [1.203]

“This is not the first time, sire,” said the king, “that he has been of this disposition; he was just the same in bygone days also.”

His lesson ended, the Teacher showed the connection and identified the Jātaka by saying: “The headman of today was also the headman of those days, and I myself the wise and good man who recited the verse.”