The pig-faced ghost
This story was told while the Master was dwelling at Kalandakanivāpa in the Bamboo Grove near Savatthi about a certain pig-faced ghost. Long ago, in the time of the teaching of the Lord Buddha Kassapa, there was a brother who was self-controlled in body, but uncontrolled in speech, and who used to revile and abuse the brethren. When he died, he was reborn in hell. During the time intervening between the appearance of another Buddha he continued to burn there, and being reborn from thence in the period of this Buddha's appearance, through the ripening of his karma he came to life as a ghost at the foot of the Vulture Peak near Rājagaha, being tormented by hunger and thirst. His body was golden in colour, and his face like a pig's face.
Now the elder Nārada dwelt on the Vulture Peak, and early in the morning, after attending to his bodily needs, took his bowl and robe and went to Rājagaha, wandering about for alms. On the way he saw the ghost, and,
asking him what he had done 1 spoke this verse:
All golden does thy body seem,
In all directions does it shine;
But yet thy face is as a pig's,
What former action hast thou done?
The ghost, thus asked by the elder what he had done, explained in a verse:
With body self-controlled was I,
Yet was I uncontrolled in speech;
Therefore in colour am I so
As thou beholdest, Nārada.
So the ghost, being asked by the elder, explained the matter, and gave the reason; and, exhorting the elder, spoke this verse:
This to thee, Nārada, I tell,
Thou hast thyself my fate beheld:
Commit no evil with thy mouth,
Become not thou a pig-faced ghost.
Then the elder Nārada went for alms, and, returning in the afternoon with his food, related the matter, while the Master sat in the midst of the fourfold assembly. 2 The Master said, "Even before now I have seen this being." And he declared the doctrine, explaining the manifold worthlessness and evil results due to misbehaviour in speech, and the blessings resulting from right speech. And his teaching was beneficial to the assembly present. (Peta-vatthu, Comm.)
98:1 I.e. what karma had brought him to that state.
98:2 Brethren, sisters, lay brethren, lay sisters.