... Petavatthu 51

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

16. Saṭṭhikūṭapetavatthu

The ghost story about sixty sledgehammers

“Kiṁ nu ummattarūpova,
Migo bhantova dhāvasi;

“Why (do you) run insanely about, helter-skelter like a deer?
Nissaṁsayaṁ pāpakammanto,
No doubt, you are an evildoer,
Kiṁ nu saddāyase tuvan”ti.
I wonder who you are noisy?”

“Ahaṁ bhadante petomhi,
“I am, Bhante, a peta
duggato yamalokiko;
One suffering in the realm of Yama.
Pāpakammaṁ karitvāna,
Having done evil deeds,
petalokaṁ ito gato.
I have gone to the world of the petas.

Saṭṭhi kūṭasahassāni,
Sixty thousand sledgehammers
paripuṇṇāni sabbaso;
from all directions
Sīse mayhaṁ nipatanti,
fall on my head,
te bhindanti ca matthakan”ti.
they split my head from the top.”

“Kiṁ nu kāyena vācāya,
manasā dukkaṭaṁ kataṁ;

“What bad deeds have you done through body, speech and mind?
Kissa kammavipākena,
By what fully ripened kamma
idaṁ dukkhaṁ nigacchasi.
do you undergo such suffering here?

Saṭṭhi kūṭasahassāni,
paripuṇṇāni sabbaso;

Sixty thousand sledgehammers from all directions
Sīse tuyhaṁ nipatanti,*
fly down on your head,
te bhindanti ca matthakan”ti.
they split your head from the top.”

“Athaddasāsiṁ sambuddhaṁ,
sunettaṁ bhāvitindriyaṁ;
“I saw the enlightened Buddha Sunetta, with well-developed faculties
Nisinnaṁ rukkhamūlasmiṁ,
seated at the foot of a tree
jhāyantaṁ akutobhayaṁ.
meditating, with nothing to fear from anywhere.

With a slingshot
bhindissaṁ tassa matthakaṁ;
I split (his head) him from the top. :thinking:
Tassa kammavipākena.
With that ripening of kamma
idaṁ dukkhaṁ nigacchisaṁ.
here I undergo suffering.

Saṭṭhi kūṭasahassāni,
Sixty thousand sledgehammers
Paripuṇṇāni sabbaso;
all around, all directions
Sīse mayhaṁ nipatan”ti,
fly down on my head.”

Questioner: :thinking:
“Te bhindanti ca matthakanti.
“They split your head from the top.

Dhammena te kāpurisa,
Through Dhamma, you vile man, :thinking:
sixty thousand sledgehammers
Paripuṇṇāni sabbaso,
from all directions
sīse tuyhaṁ nipatanti;
fly down upon your head.
Te bhindanti ca matthakan”ti.
They split your head from the top.”


Is the meaning, “I wonder who you are, noisy one?”

I wonder if “here I suffer.” doesn’t go to ones heart more easily. It doesn’t match the Pali directly, but in English, someone in this situation would never say that they are “undergoing suffering.”

Sadhu sadhu! I’m so appreciative of the work you all are doing.


Thank you so much for your feedback and encouragement @Snowbird.

Your first point looks like a clerical error (ie mine). It should read as you suggest

I wonder who you are, noisy one?
I wonder who yiou are, Noisy?

As to the second: this general issue of “closely reflect the Pali” vs “make it read as well as possible in English” was discussed a lot in our group when we started and — as you can imagine – there was a spectrum of views.