Kharassara Jataka (#79)

temple painting of Kharassara Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a merchant. The king had appointed one of his advisors to oversee the village where the Bodhisatta was currently staying. When it was time to collect taxes the village headman made a deal with a band of robbers that in exchange for half the loot, he would lead the village men on a short expedition into the forest so the robbers could come pillage with no resistance.

After the raid, the headman marched back into town feigning ignorance about what had happened. But the Bodhisatta knew that the village headman was the ringleader and heaped scorn on him as he returned. Soon after, the king learned what his advisor had done and had him brought back to the palace to be punished.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

A king visiting the Buddha told him how one of his advisors had been made the headman of a border village, and when it came time to collect taxes he schemed with a band of robbers. He marched the village’s men into the jungle for one day and let the robbers plunder the unprotected village in exchange for half the loot. The robbers killed the cattle, burned down houses, took everything of value, and got away. But soon the advisor’s role became known and the king punished him.

The Buddha told the king this story so he knew that in an earlier birth this same village headman had done the same thing to a different king.

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