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XII:5 The untimely death of a devotee (Mahakala)
On a certain holy day, Mahakala, a lay disciple, went to the Jetavana monastery. On that day, he observed the eight moral precepts (Uposatha Sila) and listened to the discourses on the Dhamma throughout the night. It so happened that on that same night, some thieves broke into a house and the owners on waking up went after the thieves who ran away in all directions. Some ran in the direction of the monastery. It was then nearing dawn, and Mahakala was washing his face at the pond close to the monastery. The thieves dropped their stolen property in front of Mahakala and ran off. When the owners arrived they saw Mahakala with the stolen property. Taking him for one of the thieves, they caught hold of him and beat him. Mahakala died on the spot. Early in the morning, when some young bhikkhus from the monastery came to the pond to fetch water, they saw the dead body.
On their return to the monastery, they reported to the Buddha, 'Venerable Sir! The lay disciple who was at this monastery listening to the religious discourses all through the night has met with a death which he does not deserve.' The Buddha replied, 'Bhikkhus! If you judge from the good deeds he has done in this existence, he has indeed met with a death he does not deserve. But the fact is that he has only paid for the evil he had done in a past existence. In one of his previous existences, he fell in love with another man's wife and had beaten her husband to death. Thus, evil deeds surely get one into trouble; they even lead one to Hell.'
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