How could angulimala attain the fruition of arhatship even after killing so many human beings?

Greetings everyone.

As we see in angulimala’s story, he was a dangerous killer and then because of Buddha’s compassion became arhat, as story goes. Based on what I have read…Killing other humans is dangerous act and retribution is either birth in lower realms of suffering or getting killed by humans many times or short lifespan in coming lives or something similar to that.

So how was he able to become arhat even after killing so many people!?

Yes he may be having past roots of good kamma which caused him to attain nibbana in this life. But what about his kamma of killing so many people? Did he experience result(vipaka) of that kamma completely as arhat in his final life or was his kamma just dissipated? Yes we read that he was wounded by stones thrown by villagers but I am not sure if that dissipated his kamma of killing so many humans!(plz illuminate me here)

My another question is that, do we experience the result of our bad karma exactly as we performed it? I mean if one has killed a person with knife so will he in turn be killed by knife in the same way or there can be different way of retribution?

I will be completely honest… in my life I have killed many insects(houseflies) with rubberband as a sport when I was child, I killed a butterfly by piercing it with needle, I have killed a frog by stomping over it because I was greatly frighteneded of it and lastly I have killed a small snake(again because of getting frightened) by using big stick to his neck. I feel terrible regret for these acts of mine☹️. I sincerely wish I never did those things. I was child when I performed those stupid acts. I have abandoned killing since then and never killed any living being till now intentionally/knowingly, instead I always try to save insects and animals whenever possible from getting killed around me. I wish to save more lives from getting killed than I have killed before my death so that my store of good kamma will be more than the bad kamma. I am sure in past lives also I may have done such killings offcourse as I was habituated about it as a child. I want to end all of my inclinations & tendencies of doing every kind of bad karma. I am sure good karma cannot neutralize bad karma and we have to experience our bad karma some day in future definitely. So I wonder how will I experience the result of such heavy bad karmas? Will it be exactly same? Or will it be in different way?

I am asking this sincerely and out of fear of bad destinies and not out of curiousity.
Thank you for taking time to read and being kind. :pray:

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Variations in kamma result dependent on degree of mind expansion:

"“In the same way, there is the case where a trifling evil deed done by one individual takes him to hell; and there is the case where the very same sort of trifling deed done by the other individual is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment.”

—Anguttara Nikaya 3.99

"“A disciple has faith in that teacher and reflects: ‘The Blessed One in a variety of ways criticizes & censures the taking of life, and says, “Abstain from taking life.” There are living beings that I have killed, to a greater or lesser extent. That was not right. That was not good. But if I become remorseful for that reason, that evil deed of mine will not be undone.’ So, reflecting thus, he abandons right then the taking of life, and in the future refrains from taking life. This is how there comes to be the abandoning of that evil deed. This is how there comes to be the transcending of that evil deed.”


“Just as a strong conch-trumpet blower can notify the four directions without any difficulty, in the same way, when the awareness-release through good will is thus developed, thus pursued, any deed done to a limited extent no longer remains there, no longer stays there.”

—Samyutta Nikaya 42.8

The suttas always work by steps towards expansion, first spatial then consciousness. It’s necessary for the practitioner to discern the difference in feeling tone between deeds of limited and boundless extent.


Thank you sir @paul1 for replying.

What is the meaning of “awareness-release through good will”? Will you plz elaborate it?

The only killing that prevents one from attaining path and fruit in ones current life is the killing of parents or an arahant.

The only way one could conceive Ven. Angulimala’s enlightenment as somehow outrageous is if one ignores all the killing that all of us have done in previous lives. It’s an ocean of blood. The poor people he killed in his last life are likely just a small fraction of all the killing that he (and we!) have done in samsara.


Yes I accept this. I just wanted to know… That’s all. So just as the amount of tears we have shedded for death of loved ones in the last is like ocean, the beings we killed in past also are innumerable :frowning:. How sad it is. Its really alarming if we think upon it!

Ok so if one can attain first path and fruit in this life only, then what about his past bad karma? Will that person experience painful result of bad karmas of past in human realm only?(as such person has closed pathway of lower realms isn’t it!)

I probably should have clarified that this simile is not used (to my knowledge) in the suttas to describe the people we have killed. But if samsara is, as the Buddha says, without discoverable beginning, then it makes sense.

Have you read the Angulimala Sutta. It addresses this.

No, I don’t believe so. But I don’t think there is much EBT on this.

There is what I think is a commentarial add on to the five heavy actions that says that all trace of one of those actions has to be directly experienced before one attains final Nibbana. This is the explanation for the commentary story of Arahant Mahamoggallana’s death. That he had to be killed in a very extreme way because he killed his parents in a previous life in a similar manner.

This standard statement means the first of the Brahma-viharas, it then goes on to list the remaining three:

“an awareness imbued with compassion… appreciation… equanimity,”

—Samyutta Nikaya 42.8

Development of these as meditation subjects results in awareness release (tranquillity) as opposed to discernment release (insight).

The stages of mental expansion:

" [7] “There are these four perceptions. Which four? One perceives the limited [ordinary perceptions]. One perceives the enlarged [the mind in jhana]. One perceives the immeasurable [the mind in the Brahma attitudes]. One perceives the dimension of nothingness: ‘There is nothing.’ These are the four perceptions.”

—Anguttara Nikaya 10.29

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So, if one establishes in level of let’s say 1st brahmavihara then such deeds of limited extent get nullified? Is that so sir? One then won’t have to experience small deeds…can we draw this kind of conclusion?

And how can we know which is deed of limited extent and which not? Can you plz explain this?

I have read it but I don’t remember it much. I will read it now. Thank you!

Oh if that is so then plz forgive me for using it like that. I remember reading it somewhere hence I used.

So, can we say that all other bad actions except those 5 heavy actions can be escaped without experiencing them? Or in some way or other without being exactly same, one will have to experience them?


As already stated “It’s necessary for the practitioner to discern the difference in feeling tone between deeds of limited and boundless extent.”

Deeds of limited extent include the unwholesome and these have the most characteristic feeling of “narrow mindedness”.

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Ok sir this is making sense to me now. So one needs to establish oneself in cultivation of atleast 1st brahmavihara among 4 brahmaviharas in order to neutralize the effects of bad deeds of limited extend. This is really important…more Than just reading suttas…:pray: I will do that.

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