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Pv 2.1 Saṃsāramocaka Sutta: Sāriputta Bhante Helps a Ghost

Sāriputta Bhante sees a female ghost and asks,

Sāriputta Bhante:

You are naked and very ugly, your veins are popping out. You thin person, with your ribs sticking out, who are you?

Ghost:

I am a ghost, sir. I am suffering in the world of Yama. I have done an evil deed as a human and have been reborn in the world of ghosts.

Sāriputta Bhante:

Now what evil deed have you done by body, speech, or mind for you to have been born in the world of ghosts?

Ghost:

Nobody had sympathy for me. Neither my father, mother, nor relatives encouraged me to give alms to monks. Therefore, I did not give alms. I must wander around the world naked and always hungry for five hundred years. This is the result of my evil deed.

I pay respect to you good sir with a very happy mind. Please have compassion towards me, oh noble monk. Please offer something and share the merits with me. Please release me from this state of misery.

Sāriputta Bhante:

Very well.

Out of kindness Sāriputta Bhante offered a handful of rice, a piece of cloth and a bowl of water to monks. He then shared the merits with the female ghost. The result of that merit was received by the female ghost immediately in the form of food, drink, and clothing. She became clean and fresh with the cleanest and finest clothes. She approached Sāriputta Bhante.

Sāriputta Bhante:

Who are you, with heavenly beauty, shining in all directions like a star? Why are you so beautiful? What merit have you collected when you were a human?

Ghost:

Sāriputta Bhante, you were very compassionate when you saw me in a miserable state: thin, starved, and naked with rough skin. You offered the monks a handful of rice, a piece of cloth, and a bowl of water then dedicated the merit to me.

Now look at the result of offering a handful of rice. For a thousand years I will eat delicious food whenever I want.

Look at the result of offering a piece of cloth. I have as many clothes as King Nanda. Still I have more clothes than that, made from silk, wool, linen, and cotton. There are lots of expensive clothes, so many they even hang from the sky. I can wear whatever I want.

Look at the result of offering a bowl of water. I have gained a beautiful pond with clear and cool water. It is surrounded by fine sand and there are fragrant lotuses and lilies with flower petals floating in the water. I am very happy playing in the water. I am not afraid of anything. You were very compassionate to me Bhante. I have come to worship you.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 2.1 Saṃsāramocaka Sutta: Sāriputta Bhante Helps a Ghost by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, 日本語, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org.

Pv 2.2 Sāriputtatherassa Mātu Sutta: Sāriputta Bhante’s Mother

Sāriputta Bhante sees a female ghost and asks,

Sāriputta Bhante:

You are naked and very ugly. Your veins are popping out. You thin person, with your ribs sticking out, who are you?

Ghost:

I was your mother in a previous life. Now I am living in the ghost world suffering from hunger and thirst. My food is saliva, mucus, phlegm, the fat of burning bodies, the blood of women giving birth, blood of wounds, pus, and the blood from shaving wounds. I can only feed on the pus and blood of humans and animals. I do not have a house of my own, therefore I stay in the cemetery. Oh my son, please offer alms to monks and dedicate that merit to me. Then I will be free from eating pus and blood.

Having heard what his mother said, the compassionate Sāriputta Bhante called Moggallāna Bhante, Nārada Bhante, and Kappina Bhante. Sāriputta Bhante built four huts and offered those huts along with food and drink to the whole community of monks and dedicated the merit to his mother.

The result of this donation immediately took effect in the form of food, drink, and clothing for the ghost. She became pure, wearing the cleanest and finest clothes with jewelry. Then she approached Sāriputta Bhante.

Sāriputta Bhante:

Who are you, with heavenly beauty, shining in all directions like a star? Why are you so beautiful? What merit have you collected when you were a human?

Ghost:

I was your mother in a previous life. I was reborn in the ghost world suffering from hunger and thirst. My food was saliva, mucus, phlegm, the fat of burning bodies, the blood of women giving birth, the blood of wounds, pus, and the blood from shaving wounds. I could only feed on the pus and blood of humans and animals. I did not have a house of my own, therefore I stayed in the cemetery.

I am very happy now, rejoicing in Sāriputta Bhante’s gift. I do not fear anything. I have come here to worship the compassionate Sāriputta Bhante.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 2.2 Sāriputtatherassa Mātu Sutta: Sāriputta Bhante’s Mother by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org.

Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Pv 3.7 Migaluddaka Sutta: The Deer-Hunter

[In several of the Petavatthu stories we find situations like this where the ghosts do not feel exclusively painful feelings.]

Man:

You are young and surrounded by male and female deities. You look very happy with all the pleasures that you have. But in the daytime, you experience very painful feelings. What did you do in your previous life?

Ghost:

I was a cruel deer hunter living in the city of Rajagaha. I was always looking for something to kill. I did not have any pity on innocent beings.

I had a friend who was very compassionate, a disciple of the Supreme Buddha. He always said, “Do not do evil deeds my friend; do not be reborn in a bad world. If you wish to go to a happy world after death, then stop killing living beings.”

I did not listen to his advice because I took pleasure in killing and was very foolish.

My friend again advised me saying “If you must kill in the daytime, then please at least stop killing at night.”

So I killed living beings in the daytime and stopped during the night.

That is why I enjoy heavenly pleasures at night, but in the day, dogs come and tear off my flesh.

Even though I only restrained from killing at night, I still gained good results from it. Now I imagine the disciples of the Supreme Buddha who practice the Dhamma diligently throughout their lives surely will attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 3.7 Migaluddaka Sutta: The Deer-Hunter by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org.

Pv 1.9 Mahāpesakāra Sutta: Master Weaver

Monk:

She eats excrement, urine, blood, and pus. Why does she do this? What has she done for her to have to always feed on blood and pus? New clothes which are very clean, soft, and beautiful turn to hard metal plates when they are given to her. What bad karma has this woman done?

Man:

She was my wife. She was very greedy, mean, and never gave to anyone. When I offered gifts to monks, she would insult me. She cursed me saying, “As you offer food, let this food return to you in the form of excrement, urine, blood, and pus! As you offer clothes, let these clothes return to you in the form of metal plates!” Since she had this evil mind, she now suffers in the ghost world eating filth for a long time.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 1.9 Mahāpesakāra Sutta: Master Weaver by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org.

Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, සිංහල, or Tiếng Việt. Learn how to find your language.

Pv 4.10 Gaṇa Sutta: Large Group of Ghosts

Moggallana Bhante:

You are naked, very thin, and ugly. Your rib bones are pressing against your skin. Who are you?

Ghost:

Bhante, we are ghosts. When we were in the human world, we did evil deeds. After death we were reborn in this ghost world and now suffer very much.

Moggallana Bhante:

What evil did you do by body, speech and mind to have come to this ghost world?

Ghosts:

There were many virtuous people and opportunities for collecting merits but we did not give anything. Now we have been roaming for half a month suffering from thirst.

When we feel very thirsty, we go to the river to drink. When we get close to it, the water appears as if it has dried up and all that is left is dry sand. When we are scorched by the sun, we go to the shade of a tree. Once we get there the shade disappears and the sun beats down.

A wind like fire blows and burns us. But we deserve this because we have done lots of evil deeds in our previous life. We are overcome by hunger. We travel many miles searching for food but we cannot find any. We faint and fall on the ground on our backs. Other times we fall face down. We hit our own heads and chests with frustration. Alas, this is our lack of merit. But we deserve this and other more terrible results than this. When we were rich, we did not give anything to others. We did not collect any merit.

Once we escape from this ghost world and are reborn in the human world we hope that we will be generous and virtuous. We must do many wholesome deeds.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 4.10 Gaṇa Sutta: Large Group of Ghosts by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org.

Pv 2.10 Uttaramātu Sutta: Uttara’s Mother

A female ghost who was very ugly and scary approached a monk who was resting on the bank of the Ganges River. Her hair was extremely long and touched the ground. Covered by her hair, she spoke to the monk.

Ghost:

Bhante, it has been 55 years since I died in the human world. I have not eaten anything or drunk water since then. Please give me some water, I am very thirsty.

Monk:

There is this cool water in the Gaṅges River flowing down from the Himalayan Mountains. You can take some from here and drink. Why do you ask me for water?

Ghost:

Oh Bhante, if I take water from the river, it turns into blood. That is why I am asking you for water.

Monk:

Now what evil deed did you do by body, speech, or mind so that the water of rivers now becomes blood for you?

Ghost:

I had a son named Uttara who was a disciple of the Supreme Buddha. He donated robes, alms food, shelters, and other supplies to monks. I did not approve of what he did, so I got angry and cursed him by saying, “Hey Uttara, may the food and everything you give be received as blood in your next life!” Because of this action, the water of rivers becomes blood when I take it.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 2.10 Uttaramātu Sutta: Uttara’s Mother by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org.

Pv 1.3 Pūtimukha Sutta: Stinky Mouth

Nārada Bhante:

Your body is as beautiful as an angel and you are floating in the sky. But your mouth is being eaten by worms and is very smelly. What have you done in your previous life?

Ghost:

I was an evil monk and insulted others using bad words. I pretended to be a good monk. I did not control what I said to others. However, I did not do any evil actions with my body. Because of this, my body is beautiful but my mouth is full of worms.

You have seen this with your own eyes, Nārada Bhante. The wise and compassionate Buddhas have taught about wholesome things. I say the same to you. Never tell lies or break friendships with divisive speech. Then you will be reborn in heaven and enjoy every happiness you desire.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 1.3 Pūtimukha Sutta: Stinky Mouth by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org.

Pv 3.9 Kūṭavinicchayika Sutta: The Back Biter

Narada Bhante:

You are wearing many garlands, a crown, and many other types of jewelry on your hands and legs. Your body is covered with sandalwood cream. Your facial expression is very pleasant and your body shines very brightly just like the sun.

You are surrounded by ten thousand divine maidens who serve you whatever you want.

They wear bracelets and have golden wreaths on their heads. You look very mighty and your appearance is very majestic. When people look at you they are stunned by your appearance and their body hairs stand on end.

But you eat the flesh off your own back. What evil deed have you committed by body speech or mind to make you eat your own flesh?

Ghost:

When I was living in the human world I lied, broke friendships using divisive words, cheated others, and did lots of cunning deeds. In the middle of large gatherings of people, when I was asked to tell the truth, I lied.

I insulted others behind their backs. As a result of speaking behind others backs, today I have to eat the flesh off my own back.

You have seen how I am suffering, Narada Bhante. Now I see the truth of the words of the wise and compassionate Buddhas. I can tell you now, do not break friendships, do not tell lies, and may you not have to eat the flesh off your own back like I do!


Read this translation of Petavatthu 3.9 Kūṭavinicchayika Sutta: The Back Biter by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org.

Pv 1.9 Mahāpesakāra Sutta: Master Weaver

A monk sees a ghost and discusses his experience with others.

Monk:

She eats excrement, urine, blood, and pus. Why does she do this? What has she done for her to have to always feed on blood and pus? New clothes which are very clean, soft, and beautiful turn to hard metal plates when they are given to her. What bad karma has this woman done?

Man:

She was my wife. She was very greedy, mean, and never gave to anyone. When I offered gifts to monks, she would insult me. She cursed me saying, “As you offer food, let this food return to you in the form of excrement, urine, blood, and pus! As you offer clothes, let these clothes return to you in the form of metal plates!” Since she had this evil mind, she now suffers in the ghost world eating filth for a long time.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 1.9 Mahāpesakāra Sutta: Master Weaver by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Pv 1.12 Uraga Sutta: The Snake

A beloved son of a family died but none of the family members cried at his death. The son, reborn as the god Sakka, came to the family disguised as an old man and asked them why they didn’t cry.

Father:

Just as the serpent sheds its old skin and abandons it, humans also abandon their useless body and die. That burning dead body is unaware of the crying of its relatives. Therefore I do not cry over my dead son. He went to another life according to his karma.

Mother:

He came to this world without invitation and departed without permission. He was born in this world and went from this world according to his own karma. What is the use of crying? That burning dead body is unaware of the crying of its relatives. Therefore I do not cry over my dead son. He went to another life according to his karma.

Sister:

If I would cry, I would become very exhausted. What would I gain from crying? My crying would only bring more sadness to our relatives, friends, and family. That burning dead body is unaware of the crying of its relatives. Therefore I do not cry over my dead brother. He went to another life according to his karma.

Wife:

Just as a child cries asking for the moon, it is the same as someone crying over another’s death. That burning dead body is unaware of the crying of its relatives. Therefore I do not cry over my dead husband. He went to another life according to his karma.

Servant:

Just as a shattered pot cannot be fixed, it is the same as someone crying over another’s death. That burning dead body is unaware of the crying of its relatives. Therefore I do not cry over my dead master. He went to another life according to his karma.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 1.12 Uraga Sutta: The Snake by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu: Stories of Ghosts available on SuttaFriends.org.

Pv 1.11 Nāga Sutta: The Elephant

Monk:
The deva leading the gods is riding a white elephant. There is a deva in the middle of the line sitting on a chariot. At the end of the line, a female deva travels on a golden stage which shines brightly in ten directions. But you ghosts are carrying hammers in your hands with sad faces and broken bodies. You also drink each other’s blood. What bad karma have you done in the human world?

Ghost:
The one in the middle, sitting on a chariot was our second son. He was unselfish and very generous. He now shines brilliantly.

The female deva with soft eyes like a deer’s who is at the end, travelling on a golden stage is our youngest daughter. She was wise and donated half of her wealth. She is now happy and delighted.

In the human world, our children gave alms to monks with very pleasant minds. But we were very selfish and insulted monks. Our children are now very happy because they practiced generosity, but we are suffering like withered bamboo reeds.

Monk:
You are suffering today because you missed the opportunity to do good deeds when you had plenty of food and wealth. Now in the ghost world, what kind of food do you eat and what kind of bed do you sleep on? How do you live here?

Ghost:
Some rich people neither use their wealth nor do meritorious deeds. These greedy people are reborn in the ghost world and suffer.

These ghosts experience the results of their bad karma, suffering from hunger and thirst; they are burning from suffering.

Wealth and property are temporary things. Even this life is very short. Wise people should understand this impermanent nature of life and should seek a way to protect themselves.

There are wise people who understand the Dhamma well. Having heard the teachings of Arahants, they do not forget to give alms.


Read this translation of Petavatthu 1.11 Nāga Sutta: The Elephant by Venerable Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org.

You can find the entire translation of the Petavatthu, Stories of Ghosts, available on SuttaFriends.org.