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Verse 71: The Story of Ahipeta*

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (71) of this book, with
reference to a peta-ghost.

The Chief Disciple Maha Moggallana was on one occasion going on an alms-round with Thera
Lakkhana in Rajagaha. On seeing something, he smiled but said nothing. When they were back at
the monastery, Thera Maha Moggallana told Thera Lakkhana that he smiled because he saw a peta-
ghost with the head of a human being and the body of a snake. The Buddha then said that he
himself had seen that very peta-ghost on the day he attained Buddhahood. The Buddha also
explained that, a very long time ago, there was a Pacceka-Buddha, who was respected by many.
People going to his monastery had to traverse a field. The owner of the field, fearing that his field
would be damaged by too many people going to and from the monastery, set fire to it.
Consequently, the Pacceka-Buddha had to move to some other place. The disciples of the
Pacceka-Buddha, being very angry with the land-owner, beat him and killed him. On his death he was
reborn in Avici Niraya. In his present existence, he was serving out the remaining term of the evil
consequences (kamma) as a peta-ghost.

In conclusion, the Buddha said, "An evil deed does not bear fruit immediately, but it invariably
follows the evil doer. There is no escape from the consequences of an evil deed."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 71. An evil deed does not immediately bear fruit, just as the newly-drawn milk does not
curdle at once; but it follows the fool burning him like live coal covered with ashes.

* Ahipeta=Ahi + peta; ahi=snake + peta=peta-ghost, an ever-hungry spirit or ghost. In this instance
a ghost with the head of a human being and the body of a snake.

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


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