... Petavatthu 19

Work by The Thālaka Group (@fiachra.harte, @khagga, @ficus, @a.messenger, @gillian).

7. Dhanapālaseṭṭhipetavatthuvaṇṇanā

The ghost story of Dhanapāla the Banker

“Naggo dubbaṇṇarūposi,
“You, who are naked and grotesque,
kiso dhamanisanthato;
strewn with veins,
Upphāsuliko kisiko,
with your protruding ribs,
ko nu tvamasi mārisa”.
who are you, sir?”

Ghost of Dhanapāla:
“Ahaṁ bhadante petomhi,
“I, Bhante, am a peta
duggato yamalokiko;
of the miserable realms, the world of death;
Pāpakammaṁ karitvāna,
having done evil deeds,
petalokaṁ ito gato".
[therefore] I am gone to the world of the Petas.”

“Kiṁ nu kāyena vācāya,
manasā dukkaṭaṁ kataṁ;
Kissa kammavipākena,
petalokaṁ ito gato”.

“What evil deeds done by your body, speech, and mind
resulted in you going to the Peta realm?”

Ghost of Dhanapāla:
“Nagaraṁ atthi paṇṇānaṁ,
"There is a leafy city, :thinking:
Erakacchanti vissutaṁ;
the famous Erakaccha,**
Tattha seṭṭhi pure āsiṁ,
where I was once a banker.
dhanapāloti maṁ vidū.
They knew me as Dhanapāla.

Asīti sakaṭavāhānaṁ,
hiraññassa ahosi me;
I had eighty cart-loads of gold.
Pahūtaṁ me jātarūpaṁ,
I had a lot of gold,
muttā veḷuriyā bahū.
and abundant pearls and gemstones.

Tāva mahaddhanassāpi,
For as long as I had great wealth**
na me dātuṁ piyaṁ ahu;
I would not give anything precious away.
Pidahitvā dvāraṁ bhuñjiṁ,
I ate with the door closed,
mā maṁ yācanakāddasuṁ.
the beggars did not see me.

Assaddho maccharī cāsiṁ,
I was faithless and stingy,
kadariyo paribhāsako;
I was miserly and abusive
Dadantānaṁ karontānaṁ,
to the givers and the doers.
vārayissaṁ bahū jane.
I would obstruct many people with

Vipāko natthi dānassa,
‘No result comes of giving,
saṁyamassa kuto phalaṁ;
“What are the fruits of self-control?’
The lotus ponds and drinking bowls,
ārāmāni ca ropite;
the pleasure gardens and plants,
Papāyo ca vināsesiṁ,
and the cisterns: I had them all destroyed,
dugge saṅkamanāni ca.
as well as bridges over difficult terrain.

Svāhaṁ akatakalyāṇo,
I myself am no doer of good.
katapāpo tato cuto;
As a doer of bad I passed on from there;
Upapanno pettivisayaṁ,
I arose in the world of the Peta,
afflicted by hunger and thirst.

For the 55 years
yato kālaṅkato ahaṁ;
since I died
Nābhijānāmi bhuttaṁ vā,
I have not known eating
pītaṁ vā pana pāniyaṁ.
or drinking of water.

Yo saṁyamo so vināso,
He who restrains [by not giving] is destroyed;
yo vināso so saṁyamo;
he who is destroyed is restrained [from food and beverage].
Petā hi kira jānanti,
The petas, I would expect, know that
yo saṁyamo so vināso.
he who restrains [by not giving] is destroyed.

Ahaṁ pure saṁyamissaṁ,
Before I was restrained
nādāsiṁ bahuke dhane;
I did not give funds;
Santesu deyyadhammesu,
Despite having the means to donate / Despite there being an obligation to give gifts] :thinking:
dīpaṁ nākāsimattano;
I did not make a refuge for myself.
Svāhaṁ pacchānutappāmi,
so I have regret.
I am undergoing the consequences of my former deeds.

Uddhaṁ catūhi māsehi,
After four months
kālaṅkiriyā bhavissati;
my time here will be done,
Ekantakaṭukaṁ ghoraṁ,
and what is more horribly bitter and awful,
nirayaṁ papatissahaṁ.
I will fall into hell.

Catukkaṇṇaṁ catudvāraṁ,
Four cornered, four doored
vibhattaṁ bhāgaso mitaṁ;
well measured and laid out
bounded by iron walls
ayasā paṭikujjitaṁ.
covered with iron.

Tassa ayomayā bhūmi,
Its floor is made of iron,
jalitā tejasā yutā,
Samantā yojanasataṁ,
pharitvā tiṭṭhati sabbadā.

always burning ablaze and glowing hot, for the breadth of a hundred leagues.

Tatthāhaṁ dīghamaddhānaṁ,
I am there for a long stretch,
Dukkhaṁ vedissa vedanaṁ;
experiencing feelings of suffering.
Phalaṁ pāpassa kammassa,
the fruit of (my) evil deeds.
Tasmā socāmahaṁ bhusaṁ.
I grieve greatly because of that.

Taṁ vo vadāmi bhaddaṁ vo,
I will tell you something auspicious: :thinking:
yāvantettha samāgatā;
as many as are gathered here:
Mākattha pāpakaṁ kammaṁ,
Do not do evil deeds,
āvi vā yadi vā raho.
whether openly or secretly.

Sace taṁ pāpakaṁ kammaṁ,
karissatha karotha vā;

If you do evil deeds now or in the future,
Na vo dukkhā pamutyatthi, pamutyattha
you will not get free from suffering
uppaccāpi palāyataṁ.
by flying or running away.

Matteyyā hotha petteyyā,
Love your mother and father,
kule jeṭṭhāpacāyikā;
and the clan elders.
Sāmaññā hotha brahmaññā,
Honor the samanas and honor the brahmins.
evaṁ saggaṁ gamissathā”ti.
Thus you will go to heaven."

Dhanapālaseṭṭhipetavatthu sattamaṁ.
The ghost story of Dhanapāla the banker, number seven.


Oh, this is lovely. I do hope you can put them up on SC. I really appreciate all the work of your group and your choice of suttas to translate.

Technically this is a comma splice. It’s one of the few cases where I would recommend a semi-colon.

Not knowing anything about the Pali, I wonder if you couldsay “held back” instead of “restrained”. To me “restrained” has such a positive connotation in the suttas that it’s hard to hear it here.

How would this be:

In any case, I think you need a comma here so the meaning of “previously” is clear.

Sadhu sadhu!!


Comma splice about to be corrected, thanks for the scrutiny. :slight_smile:
The second point referred for discussion.

And may I say how much we appreciate you taking the time.


Thanks @Snowbird for spending your time and attention on it.

Saŋyamati used here the same word used in a positive sense in the Suttas and our thought was that it might be deliberate - the hunger and privations of the Peta realm are like being analogous to what an ascetic voluntarily undergoes.

We were trying to compose an English play on words to be equivalent with to the Pali. “Held back” might work. If you or anyone has any more suggestions they would be welcome. The idea is:

Saŋyamati = he was restrained (miserly) in this world
Saŋyamati = he was restrained (involuntarily undergoing privations) in the world beyond.


Thanks everyone, great work!

May I ask, I’d like to reserve the ebt-translation tag for essays about EBT translation, especially by myself, Brahmali, Vimala, and others. So maybe use a different tag for these?

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Changed here, and in all other cases I trust.