|Structure of the Tipitaka|
Source: Adapted from Archaic translation by Robert ChalmersEdit
JATAKA No. 79
"He gave the robbers time."--This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana monastery, about a certain Minister. He, it is said, gained favor to himself with the king, and, after collecting the royal revenue in a border-village, secretly arranged with a band of robbers that he would march the men off into the jungle, leaving the village for the rascals to plunder, on condition that they gave him half the loot. Accordingly, at daybreak when the place was left unprotected, down came the robbers, who killed and ate the cattle, looted the village, and were off with their plunder before he came back at evening with his followers. But it was a very short time before his dishonesty 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 Master at Jetavana monastery and told him what had happened. "Sire," said the Lord Buddha, "the man has only shown the same nature now which he explained in past days." Then at the king's request he told this story of the past.
Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, he appointed a certain Minister to be headman of a border-village; and every-thing came to pass as in the above case. Now in those days the Bodhisattva was making the round of the border-villages in the way of trade, and had taken up his dwelling in that very village. And when the headman was marching his men back at evening with drums in beating, he exclaimed, "This scoundrel, who secretly 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 in beating, feigning a happy ignorance of anything wrong having happened." And, so saying, he uttered this stanza:-
He gave the robbers time to drive and kill The cattle, burn the houses, capture folk; And then with drums in beating, home he marched, A son no more, for such a son is dead (*1).
In such wise did the Bodhisattva condemn the headman. Not long after, the villany was detected, and the rascal was punished by the king as his wickedness deserved.
"This is not the first time, sire," said the king, "that he has been of this nature; he was just the same in past days also." His lesson ended, the Master explained the relation and identified the Birth by saying, "The headman of to-day was also the headman of those days, and I myself the wise and good man who recited the stanza."
(1)Implies a son who is so lost to all decency and shame, ceases to be a son, and that his mother is sonless even while her son is still alive.