Dhammapada Verse 71
Na hi papam katam kammam
sajju khiramva muccati
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.
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 paccekabuddha, 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 paccekabuddha
had to move to some other place. The disciples of the paccekabuddha, 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.