Chapter V - BALA VAGGA - Fools

Concentrate on your body


Yavadeva anatthaya nattam balassa jayati
Hanti balassa sukkamsam maddham assa vipatayam.

The skill of a fool can only harm him; it destroys his merit and his wisdom. (lit., it severs his head)

V:13 Be careful in actions

On another occasion Venerable Maha Moggallana saw a peta-ghost while going on an almsround with Venerable Lakkhana. The Buddha revealed that this particular peta-ghost named Satthi Kuta in one of his previous existences was very skilful in throwing stones at things. One day, he asked permission from his teacher to try out his skill. His teacher told him not to hit a cow, or a human being as he would have to pay compensation to the owner or to the relative, but to find some other target.

On seeing a holy person on his almsround, this foolish man thought that this would be an ideal target, because he had no relative or guardian and was not a cow either. So he threw a stone and killed the holy man. In turn, the public became angry and killed the man. Because of this evil deed he was reborn in a miserable state for a long period of time. In his present existence, he was reborn as a peta-ghost whose head was continuously being hit with red-hot hammers.

On this occasion, the Buddha said, 'To a fool, his skill or knowledge is of no use; it can only harm him.'


*Buddhism teaches that there are 31 states of existence into which beings are reborn according to their Kamma. When they die rebirth takes place in one of these 31 states of existence according to their own good and bad Kamma; and among these 31 states of existence, there are 4 miserable states called the Lower Worlds of Misery. These are:

  1. The Animal world(Tiracchina-yoni);
  2. The Ghost-worlds(Peta-yoni);
  3. The Demon-worlds(Asura-yoni); and
  4. The Hells,(Niraya), lit, 'the Downward Path',or the nether or infernal world, usually translated as 'Hell'.