Dhammapada Stories – The Cruel Butcher

There was once a Butcher who was a very mean and wicked man. Never in his life had he ever done any meritorious deeds. His job was slaughtering pigs and he loved it, often torturing them mercilessly before putting them to death.

One day he got very sick and finally died, but before he died he suffered such agony that he crawled around on his hands and knees for days, squealing and grunting like a pig being slaughtered.

It so happened that the butcher’s home was within ear’s reach of the monastery where the Buddha and his monks were staying. When the bhikkhus heard the desperate squeals coming from his house, they assumed that the miserable butcher was at his cruel work again and shook their heads in great disapproval.

The squeals and grunts went on for several days until, one day, they stopped just as suddenly as they had begun. The monks could not help but remark to each other how wicked and hard-hearted the butcher was for having caused his poor animals so much pain and suffering.

The Buddha overheard what they were saying and said, “Bhikkhus, the butcher was not slaughtering his pigs. He was very ill and in such great pain that he was acting like the pigs he used to enjoy inflicting pain upon.

His bad karma had finally caught up with him. Today he died and was reborn in a woeful state of existence”. The Buddha then exhorted his disciples to be alert at doing good, for anyone who did evil deeds would have to suffer for them. There was no way to escape from one’s evil deeds, he warned his disciples.

Here he grieves, hereafter he grieves. The evildoer grieves in both existences. He grieves and he suffers anguish when he remembers his impure deeds.

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