Bamboo’s Father – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[Wasted Advice]
Once upon a time, there was a teacher who
meditated much and developed his mind. Gradu-
ally his fame spread. Those who wished to be
guided by a wise man came to hear him. Consid-
ering what he said to be wise indeed, 500 decided
to become his followers.
One of these 500, who considered his
teachings to be wise, was a certain pet lover. In
fact, he loved pets so much that there was no ani-
mal he did not wish to keep as a pet.
One day he came upon a cute little
poisonous snake, who was searching for food. He
decided he would make an excellent pet. So he
made a little bamboo cage to keep him in when he
had to leave him alone. The other followers called
the little snake, ‘Bamboo’. Because he was so
fond of his pet, they called the pet lover, ‘Bam-
boo’s Father’.
Before long, the teacher heard that one of
his followers was keeping a poisonous snake as a
pet. He called him to him and asked if this was
true. Bamboo’s Father said, “Yes master, I love
him like my own child!”
The wise teacher said, “It is not safe to live
with a poisonous snake. Therefore, I advise you to
let him go, for your own good.”
But Bamboo’s Father thought he knew bet-
ter. He replied, “This little one is my son. He
wouldn’t bite me. I can’t give him up and live all
alone!”
The teacher warned him, “Then surely, this
little one will be the death of you!” But the fol-
lower did not heed his master’s warning.
Later on, all 500 of the teacher’s followers
went on a trip to collect fresh fruits. Bamboo’s Fa-
ther left his ‘son’ locked up in the bamboo cage.
Since there were many fruits to collect, it
was several days before they returned. Bamboo’s
Father realized that poor Bamboo had not eaten
the whole time he was away. So he opened the
cage to let him out to find food.
But when he reached inside, his ‘son’ bit
his hand. Having been neglected for all that time,
Bamboo was angry as well as hungry. Since he
was only a snake, he didn’t know anything about
poison!
But his ‘father’ should have known better.
After all, he had been warned by the very teacher
he himself considered wise.
Within minutes of being bitten, Bamboo’s
Father dropped dead!
The moral is: There’s no benefit in following
a teacher, if you don’t listen to
what he says.