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Verse 136: The Story of the Boa Constrictor peta:

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (136) of this book,
with reference to a boa constrictor peta*.

Once, as Thera Maha Moggallana was coming down the Gijjhakuta hill with Thera Lakkhana
he saw a boa constrictor peta and smiled, but he did not say anything. When they were back
at the Jetavana monastery, Thera Maha Moggallana told Lakkhana, in the presence of the
Buddha about the boa constrictor peta, with its long body burning in flames. The Buddha also
said he himself had also seen that very peta soon after he had attained Buddhahood, but
that he did not say anything about it, because people might not believe him and thus they
would be doing a great wrong to the Buddha. So out of compassion for these beings, the
Buddha had kept silent. Then he continued, "Now that I have a witness in Moggallana, I will
tell you about this boa constrictor peta. This peta was a thief during the time of Kassapa
Buddha. As a thief and a cruel-hearted man, he had set fire to the house of a rich man seven
times. And not satisfied with that, he also set fire to the perfumed hall donated by the same
rich man to Kassapa Buddha, while Kassapa Buddha was out on an alms-round. As a result of
those evil deeds he had suffered for a long time in niraya. Now, while serving out his term of
suffering as a peta, he is being burnt with sparks of flames going up and down the length of
his body. Bhikkhus, fools when doing evil deeds do not know them as being evil; but they
cannot escape the evil consequences"

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 136. A fool while doing evil deeds does not know them as being evil;
but that fool suffers for his evil deeds like one who is burnt by own fire.

* peta: an always hungry spirit or ghost.

Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, Burma 1986.


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