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Samyutta Nikaya
Lakkhaṇa Saṁyutta

19.4 Nicchavi Sutta
The Skinless Ghost

Seeing the results of being a sheep butcher.

This sutta begins in the same way as the first sutta in this chapter.

Bhante Moggallāna said, “This morning, friend, as I was coming down from the Gijjhakūṭa Mountain, I saw a skinless ghost moving through the air. Vultures, crows, and hawks were chasing after him. They were stabbing it and tearing it apart. The skinless ghost was crying out in pain. I thought then, ‘It is unusual, indeed! It is amazing, indeed! That there exists such a being, that there exists such a non-human, that there exists such a life.”

Then, the Blessed One said to the monks, “Monks, there are disciples who have gained the divine eye and special knowledge. They can know, see, and witness such a non-human. Monks, in the past, I, too, saw that being, but I did not speak of it. If I had spoken about it, there might have been some people who wouldn’t believe my words. If they had not believed my words, it would have led them to their harm and suffering for a long time.”

The Blessed One continued, “Monks, that non-human being used to be a sheep butcher in this same city of Rājagaha. As a result of that bad kamma, he was boiled in hell for many years, for many hundreds of years, for many thousands of years, for many hundreds of thousands of years. As a remaining result of that same kamma, he has been reborn as a ghost and is experiencing such terrible pain.”

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Saṁyutta Nikāya 19.4 Nicchavi Sutta: The Skinless Ghost

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Further Reading:

The Peta Vatthu has many more stories of ghosts.

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