逃避業報

         非於虛空及海中,亦非深山洞窟中;冀求逃遁惡業者,世間覓無可避處。

選譯自南傳巴利英譯法句經第九品惡品

譯於西元2006/6/24八關齋戒日

那時,佛陀還住在古印度的祇桓精舍裡。本篇的緣起是因為有三組從遠處來拜訪佛陀的比丘,途中遇到一些事件,讓他們感到很不可思議,當他們見到佛後所提出的問題,佛陀在本經中也作了翔實的答覆。

    第一組比丘在前往拜見佛陀的路上,來到某個村落歇腳,當地村民為供養比丘正忙著準備食物。其中一家不幸發生火災,大火凌空而燒。一隻烏鴉不巧飛進大火之中,活活地被燒死。比丘們看見這般情景,認為世上只有世尊能解釋這隻烏鴉的業與業果間的關係,他們決定見到佛後一併提出這個疑問。用過餐後,一行人又啟程繼續趕路。

    第二組比丘也是要拜見佛陀,他們走的是水路,但船在大海中竟停滯不前,船上的乘客決定以人作為獻祭,祭祀海神。他們決定用抽籤的方式來決定犧牲者,沒想到一連三次都抽中船長的妻子,船長悲傷地說:「這麼多人不能為這不祥的女人而死。」於是在妻子的頸部綁上沙袋,將她推落海裡。經過獻祭後,船竟然能行進了,到達岸邊後,比丘們又繼續趕路,他們決定去問佛,這個女人過去前生究竟造了什麼惡業,使她遇此不幸。

    第三組比丘的成員一共有七位,也同樣是要拜見佛陀。途中因不諳路線,向人問路,卻受人誤引來到一處山洞,他們無奈地只好在洞裡過一夜。沒想到,半夜裡從山上滾下一顆巨石,把洞口給堵住了。隔天住在附近的比丘發現了他們,於是發動七個村子的村民趕來幫忙營救,可是他們用盡一切的方法,那顆巨石仍是如如不動。這七名比丘就這樣受困在洞內長達七天,他們又餓又累。到了第七天,那顆大石竟奇蹟似的自動滑落,七名比丘逃出生天後,又繼續趕路,他們決定當面問佛這段業與業果間的關係。

    三組比丘都來到了佛前,他們依序向佛陀敘述所遭遇的經過。

佛陀對第一組比丘解釋:過去很久以前,有一個農夫,養了一頭牛,但他嫌這頭牛又懶又固執,有一次一氣之下竟在牛的頸部綁上稻草,把牛活活地燒死。因為這項惡業,農夫死後在地獄承受了一段很長時間的痛苦,轉生到人間時,一連七世都死於火災。

佛陀對第二組比丘解釋:過去很久以前,有一個女人養了一隻狗,那隻狗與她形影不離。一些年輕人取笑她,她感到羞辱與憤怒,把氣出在狗身上,在狗的脖子上綁上沙袋,丟進海裡。由於這項惡行,她在地獄裡受盡折磨,轉生到人間時,已連續一百世都被人丟進海裡而死。

佛陀對第三組比丘解釋:過去很久以前,有七個牧人,因一時頑皮,以泥土封閉蜥蜴的洞穴,過了七天他們才想起這件事,趕到洞前把土掘開,因此惡業,七名比丘會在山洞內受困挨餓七天。

佛陀最後以如下的偈語作總結:

非於虛空及海中,亦非深山洞窟中;冀求逃遁惡業者,世間覓無可避處。

Verse 127

IX (11) The Story of Three Groups of Persons

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (127) of this book, with reference to questions raised by three groups of bhikkhus concerning three extraordinary incidents.

The first group: A group of bhikkhus were on their way to pay homage to the Buddha and they stopped at a village on the way. Some people were cooking alms-food for those bhikkhus when one of the houses caught fire and a ring of fire flew up into the air. At that moment, a crow came flying, got caught in the ring of fire and dropped dead in the central part of the village. The bhikkhus seeing the dead crow observed that only the Buddha would be able to explain for what evil deed this crow had to die in this manner. After taking alms-food they continued on their journey to pay homage to the Buddha, and also to ask about the unfortunate crow.

The second group: Another group of bhikkhus wore travelling in a boat; they too wore on their way to pay homage to the Buddha. When they were in the middle of the ocean the boat could not be moved. So, lots were drawn to find out who the unlucky one was; three times the lot fell on the wife of the skipper. Then the skipper said sorrowfully, "Many people should not die on account of this unlucky woman; tie a pot of sand to her neck and threw her into the water so that I would not see her." The woman was thrown into the sea as instructed by the skipper and the ship could move on. On arrival at their destination. the bhikkhus disembarked and continued on their way to the Buddha. They also intended to ask the Buddha due to what evil kamma the unfortunate woman was thrown overboard.

The third group: A group of seven bhikkhus were also on their way to pay homage to the Buddha. On the way, they enquired at a monastery whether there was any suitable place for them to take shelter for the night in the neighbourhood. They were directed to a cave, and there they spent the night; but in the middle of the night, a large boulder slipped off from above and effectively closed the entrance. In the morning, the bhikkhus from the nearby monastery coming to the cave saw what had happened and they went to bring people from seven villages. With the help of these people they tried to move the boulder, but it was of no avail. Thus, the seven bhikkhus were trapped in the cave without food or water for seven days. On the seventh day, the boulder moved miraculously by itself, and the bhikkhus came out and continued their way to the Buddha. They also intended to ask the Buddha due to what previous evil deed they were thus shut up for seven days in a cave.

The three groups of travellers met on the way and together they went to the Buddha. Each group related to the Buddha what they had seen or experienced on their way and the Buddha answered their questions.

The Buddha answer to the first group: "Bhikkhus, once there was a farmer who had an ox. The ox was very lazy and also very stubborn. It could not be coaxed to do any work; it would lie down chewing the cud or else go to sleep. The farmer lost his temper many times on account of this lazy, stubborn animal; so in anger he tied a straw rope round the neck of the ox and set fire to it, and the ox died. On account of this evil deed the, farmer had suffered for a long time in niraya. and in serving out the remaining part of his punishment, he had been burnt to death in the last seven existences."

The Buddha's answer to the second group: "Bhikkhus, once there was a woman who had a pet dog. She used to take the dog along with her wherever she went and young boys of the city poked fun at her. She was very angry and felt so ashamed that she planned to kill the dog. She filled a pot with sand, tied it round the neck of the dog and threw it into the water; and the dog was drowned. On account of this evil deed that woman had suffered for a long time in niraya and in serving the remaining part of her punishment, she had been thrown into the water to drown in the last one hundred existences."

The Buddha's answer to the third group: "Bhikkhus, once, seven cowherds saw an iguana going into a mound and they dosed all the seven outlets of the mound with twigs and branches of trees. After closing the outlets they went away, completely forgetting the iguana that was trapped in the mound. Only after seven days, they remembered what they had done and hurriedly returned to the scene of their mischief and let out the iguana. On account of this evil deed, those seven had been imprisoned together for seven days without any food, in the last fourteen existences."

Then, a bhikkhu remarked, "O indeed! There is no escape from evil consequences for one who has done evil, even if he were in the sky, or in the ocean, or in a cave." To him, the Buddha said, "Yes, Bhikkhu! You are right; even in the sky or anywhere else, there is no place which is beyond the reach of evil consequences."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 127. Not in the sky, nor in the middle of the ocean, nor in the cave of a mountain, nor anywhere else, is there a place, where one may escape from the consequences of an evil deed.

At the end of the discourse all the bhikkhus attained Sotapatti Fruition.