BY ITS EFFECTS EVIL IS KNOWN
Papo' pi passati bhadram yava papam na paccati
Yada ca paccati papam atha papo papani passati.
Even an evil person may still find happiness so long as his evil deed does not bear fruit;
but when his evil deed does bear fruit he will meet with evilconsequences.1
BY ITS EFFECTS GOOD IS KNOWN
Bhadro' pi passati papam yava bhadram na paccati
Yada ca paccati bhadram atha bhadro bhadrani passati.
Even a good person may still meet with suffering so long as his good deed does not bear fruit;
but when it does bear fruit he will reap the benefits of his gooddeed.2
Anatha Pindika was the donor of the Jetavana monastery. He was not only generous but also truly devoted to the Buddha. He would go to the Jetavana monastery and pay homage to the Enlightened One thrice daily. In the mornings he would bring along rice gruel, in the daytime some suitable food, and in the evenings some medicine and flowers. After some time Anatha Pindika became poor, but because of his confidence in the Dhamma he was not shaken by poverty, and continued to do his daily acts of charity. One night, a guardian spirit residing in his house appeared before him in person, and said, 'I am the guardian spirit. You have been offering your property to the Buddha with no thought for your future. That is why you are a poor man today. Therefore, you should make no more offering to him and should look after your own business affairs and get rich again.'
Anatha Pindika requested the guardian spirit to leave his house for saying such things, and as he was highly developed spiritually the guardian spirit could not disobey him and so had to leave the premises. He had nowhere to go and wanted to return but was afraid of Anatha Pindika. So, he approached Sakka, king of the devas. Sakka advised him first to do a good turn to Anatha Pindika, and after that, to ask his pardon, Then Sakka continued, 'There are debts taken as loans by some traders which are not yet repaid to Anatha Pindika, certain valuables buried by the ancestors of Anatha Pindika, which have been washed away into the ocean, some treasures which belong to no one, buried in a certain place. Go and recover all this wealth and fill up the rooms of Anatha Pindika.' The guardian spirit did as instructed by Sakka, and Anatha Pindika again became rich.
When the guardian spirit told Anatha Pindika what he had done for him, permission was granted for the spirit to reside in his house. Then Anatha Pindika took him to the Buddha. To both of them the Buddha said, 'One may not enjoy the benefits of a good deed, or suffer the consequences of a bad deed for a long time, but the time will surely come when good or bad deeds will bear fruit and ripen.'
- A wicked person may lead a prosperous life as the result of his past good deeds. He will experience happiness owing to the potentiality of his past good over the present evil, - a seeming injustice which often prevails in this world. When once, according to the inexorable law of kamma, his evil actions fructify, then he perceives the painful effects of his wickedness.
- A virtuous person, as often happens, may meet with adversity owing to the potentiality of his past evil actions over his present good acts. He is convinced of the efficacy of his present good deeds only when, at the opportune moment, they fructify, giving him abundant bliss.
The fact that at times the wicked are prosperous and the virtuous are unfortunate is itself strong evidence in support of the belief in kamma and rebirth.