Project Description

In Sri Lanka

All of these books are available at the book shops in our monasteries. In Colombo they are available at the Tripitaka Sadaham Poth Medura in the YMBA building on Austin Place. Phone 01 14 255 987.

The Voice of Enlightened Nuns: Therigatha

This is a complete translation of the Petavatthu found in the Sutta Pitaka faithfully preserved in the theTheravada Buddhist tradition.

From this book you are going to learn the actions that lead to the ghost world and how beings are suffering living as ghosts. You will notice that they all lived in the human world like we do now. Here, the Supreme Buddha explains the suffering of the ghost world with a simile:


By investigating a person’s mind using my psychic powers I understand how that person behaves. This person having behaved in such a way, on the dissolution of the body, after death, will reappear in the realm of ghosts. Later on, I see that he has reappeared in the realm of ghosts and is experiencing much painful feelings. Suppose there was a tree growing on uneven ground with few leaves creating little shade, and then a man burnt and exhausted by hot weather, tired, dry and thirsty, headed to that tree in hopes of resting in the shade. A wise person then sees the thirsty man who has taken the path towards the tree and realizes that the path that man is on will lead him to a dry tree.


Meritorious Sons, Daughters, and Devotees,

We are very fortunate to learn about the knowledges of the Supreme Buddha. Our great teacher, the Supreme Buddha, had an extraordinary knowledge to see past lives of beings. In the Bhayaberava Sutta the Buddha tells us how he gained the knowledge to see his own past lives:

When my mind was concentrated, purified, bright, clear, free from defilements, open, soft, steady, and unshakeable, I directed my mind to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my various past lives, that is, one birth, two… five, ten… fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many eons of the cycle of formation and destruction of this earth. In one life I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that life, I was reborn in another place. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I was reborn here. I remembered my different past lives in every detail.

This was the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night. My ignorance was destroyed, knowledge arose, darkness was destroyed, light arose which happens in one who is mindful, passionate, and firm.

Next the Supreme Buddha gained the knowledge to see how other beings travel in this cycle of samsara, one life to another, because of their good and bad actions.

When my mind was concentrated, purified, bright, clear, free from defilements, open, soft, steady, and unshakeable, I directed it to gain the knowledge of the passing away and rebirth of beings. With my divine eye which is purified and surpassing the human eye, I saw beings passing away and re-appearing, and I discovered how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: beings who committed bad actions by body, speech and mind, who insulted enlightened ones, held wrong views and did bad deeds because of it, with the break-up of their body, after death, have been reborn in a bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But those beings who committed good deeds with body, speech, and mind, who did not insult enlightened ones, who held right views and did good deeds because of it, with the break-up of the body, after death, have been reborn in the good destinations, in the heavenly world. Therefore with the use of my divine eye, which is purified and surpassing the human eye, I saw beings passing away and reborn, and I discovered how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.

The Supreme Buddha is the knower of all worlds. He knows the qualities of all the worlds and the way beings are born in these different worlds as he explains in the Maha Sihanada Sutta:

Sariputta, there are five type of beings. What are the five? Hell beings, animals, ghosts, human beings and gods.

I understand hell, and the path and way leading to hell. And I also understand how people who will be born in hell, on the breaking up of the body, after death, reappear in a state of misery, in an unhappy destination, miserable, in hell.

I understand the animal world, and the path and way leading to the animal world. And I also understand how one who has entered this path will, on the breaking up of the body, after death, be reborn as an animal.

I understand the realm of ghosts, and the path and way leading to the realm of ghosts. And I also understand how one who has entered this path will, on the breaking up of the body, after death, reappear in the realm of ghosts.

I understand human beings, and the path and way leading to the human world. And I also understand how one who has entered this path will, on the breaking up of the body, after death, reappear among human beings.

I understand the gods, and the path and way leading to the world of the gods. And I also understand how one who has entered this path will, on the breaking up of the body, after death, reappear in a happy destination, in the heavenly world.

And most fortunately, Noble Disciples have the opportunity to escape from all worlds by attaining Nibbana. The Supreme Buddha is the only teacher to show the way to Nibbana.

I understand Nibbana, and the path and way leading to Nibbana. I also understand how one who has entered this path will, by realizing it for himself with direct knowledge, here and now enter upon and abide in the liberation of the mind and liberation by wisdom that is taintless with the destruction of the taints.

From this book you are going to learn the actions that lead to the ghost world and how beings are suffering living as ghosts. You will notice that they all lived in the human world like we do now. Here, the Supreme Buddha explains the suffering of the ghost world with a simile:

By investigating a person’s mind using my psychic powers I understand how that person behaves. This person having behaved in such a way, on the dissolution of the body, after death, will reappear in the realm of ghosts. Later on, I see that he has reappeared in the realm of ghosts and is experiencing much painful feelings. Suppose there was a tree growing on uneven ground with few leaves creating little shade, and then a man burnt and exhausted by hot weather, tired, dry and thirsty, headed to that tree in hopes of resting in the shade. A wise person then sees the thirsty man who has taken the path towards the tree and realizes that the path that man is on will lead him to a dry tree.

Read these stories very carefully. Think about your own life and how you can apply the lessons these ghosts have learned from their bad behavior in the human world. May these stories help you to develop a fear of doing wrong actions in your precious human life.

May you practice generosity. May you keep the precepts well. May you control your bad thoughts. By practicing Dhamma, may you escape from rebirth in the ghost world and all bad worlds.

May all of you realize the Four Noble Truths in this Gautama Buddha’s Dispensation.

With metta,
Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnānānanda Thera
Mahamevnawa Monastery,
Waduwawa, Yatigal-oluwa, Polgahawela.
Sri Lanka.
2556th Year of the Buddha/ 2013

1. The Snake Chapter
1.1 Like a Field
1.2 Pig’s Mouth
1.3 Stinky Mouth
1.4 Advice to a Daughter
1.5 Outside the Walls
1.6 Eater of Five Sons
1.7 Eater of Seven Sons
1.8 The Ox
1.9 Master Weaver
1.10 Dressed in Hair
1.11 The Elephant
1.12 The Snake

2. The Ubbari Chapter
2.1 Sariputta Bhante Helps a Ghost
2.2 Sariputta Bhante’s Mother
2.3 The Ghost Matta
2.4 The Ghost Nanda
2.5 Mattakundali
2.6 King Kanha
2.7 Wealthy Dhanapala
2.8 The Ghost Chullasetti
2.9 The Merchant Ankura
2.10 Uttara’s Mother
2.11 The Thread Offering
2.12 The Dog with the Torn Ears
2.13 The Queen Ubbari

3. The Small Chapter
3.1 Without Rippling
3.2 The Monk from Mount Sanuvasi
3.3 The Ghost of Rathakara Lake
3.4 The Hay Ghost
3.5 The Abandoned Baby
3.6 The Ghost Serini
3.7 The Deer-Hunter
3.8 A Second Deer Hunter
3.9 The Back Biter
3.10 Insulting the Relics Puja

4. The Large Chapter
4.1 King Ambasakkhara
4.2 The God Serissaka
4.3 The Ghost Nandaka
4.4 The Ghost Revati
4.5 Sugar Cane Ghost
4.6 The Ghost Princes
4.7 The Son of a King
4.8 Excrement Eating Male Ghost
4.9 Excrement Eating Female Ghost
4.10 Large Group of Ghosts
4.11 The Woman from Pataliputta
4.12 The Mango Ghost
4.13 The Axle
4.14 Accumulation of Wealth
4.15 Wealthy Sons of Wealthy Merchants
4.16 Hit by Sixty Thousand Hammers

1.3 Stinky Mouth

Narada 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, Narada 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.

3.7 The Deer-Hunter

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.

4.7 The Son of a King

Supreme Buddha:
That prince experiences all these wonderful things as a result of his previous good karma, but he is obsessed by delightful forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. One day he went to a park and enjoyed dancing, singing, and playing sports. Upon returning, he entered the city of Rajagaha. There, he saw a Pacceka Buddha named Sunetta who was very calm, concentrated, and virtuous. He led a very simple life. He was on his alms round begging for food.

The prince was riding an elephant, so he climbed down and asked the Buddha mockingly, “Bhante, did you get food?” The prince forcefully snatched the Buddha’s bowl from his hands and smashed it on the ground. Laughing at the Buddha he said, “Hey monk, I am the son of King Kitava. You cannot do anything to me.”

The result of that evil deed was very painful. After death, he fell directly into hell. He suffered for a long time. Exactly how long? Six times eighty-four thousand years. That many years he had to suffer in the miserable hell. One time he was boiled legs first, and another time he was boiled head first. One time boiled from the left side, another time boiled from the right side. Thus he experienced immense pain.

Having gotten angry at that Buddha who never got angry, the foolish prince suffered many hundreds and thousands of years in hell. After a very long time, he died there and was reborn in the ghost world as a ghost suffering from hunger and thirst.

Arrogance caused this misfortune. Having understood the danger of too much enjoyment, wise people should be very humble. If one respects the Buddhas, that person is praised in this very life. After death, that wise person will be reborn in heaven.